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Topic: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces (Read 401419 times)
The Homogeneity of the Ruling Class, 2
Reply #800 on:
July 16, 2010, 05:25:29 PM »
World War I and the chaos at home and abroad that followed it discredited the Progressives in the American people's eyes. Their international schemes had brought blood and promised more. Their domestic management had not improved Americans' lives, but given them a taste of arbitrary government, including Prohibition. The Progressives, for their part, found it fulfilling to attribute the failure of their schemes to the American people's backwardness, to something deeply wrong with America. The American people had failed them because democracy in its American form perpetuated the worst in humanity. Thus Progressives began to look down on the masses, to look on themselves as the vanguard, and to look abroad for examples to emulate.
The cultural divide between the "educated class" and the rest of the country opened in the interwar years. Some Progressives joined the "vanguard of the proletariat," the Communist Party. Many more were deeply sympathetic to Soviet Russia, as they were to Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Not just the Nation, but also the New York Times and National Geographic found much to be imitated in these regimes because they promised energetically to transcend their peoples' ways and to build "the new man." Above all, our educated class was bitter about America. In 1925 the American Civil Liberties Union sponsored a legal challenge to a Tennessee law that required teaching the biblical account of creation. The ensuing trial, radio broadcast nationally, as well as the subsequent hit movie Inherit the Wind, were the occasion for what one might have called the Chautauqua class to drive home the point that Americans who believed in the Bible were willful ignoramuses. As World War II approached, some American Progressives supported the Soviet Union (and its ally, Nazi Germany) and others Great Britain and France. But Progressives agreed on one thing: the approaching war should be blamed on the majority of Americans, because they had refused to lead the League of Nations. Darryl Zanuck produced the critically acclaimed movie [Woodrow] Wilson featuring Cedric Hardwicke as Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, who allegedly brought on the war by appealing to American narrow-mindedness against Wilson's benevolent genius.
Franklin Roosevelt brought the Chautauqua class into his administration and began the process that turned them into rulers. FDR described America's problems in technocratic terms. America's problems would be fixed by a "brain trust" (picked by him). His New Deal's solutions -- the alphabet-soup "independent" agencies that have run America ever since -- turned many Progressives into powerful bureaucrats and then into lobbyists. As the saying goes, they came to Washington to do good, and stayed to do well.
As their number and sense of importance grew, so did their distaste for common Americans. Believing itself "scientific," this Progressive class sought to explain its differences from its neighbors in "scientific" terms. The most elaborate of these attempts was Theodor Adorno's widely acclaimed The Authoritarian Personality (1948). It invented a set of criteria by which to define personality traits, ranked these traits and their intensity in any given person on what it called the "F scale" (F for fascist), interviewed hundreds of Americans, and concluded that most who were not liberal Democrats were latent fascists. This way of thinking about non-Progressives filtered down to college curricula. In 1963-64 for example, I was assigned Herbert McCloskey's Conservatism and Personality (1958) at Rutgers's Eagleton Institute of Politics as a paradigm of methodological correctness. The author had defined conservatism in terms of answers to certain questions, had defined a number of personality disorders in terms of other questions, and run a survey that proved "scientifically" that conservatives were maladjusted ne'er-do-well ignoramuses. (My class project, titled "Liberalism and Personality," following the same methodology, proved just as scientifically that liberals suffered from the very same social diseases, and even more amusing ones.)
The point is this: though not one in a thousand of today's bipartisan ruling class ever heard of Adorno or McCloskey, much less can explain the Feuerbachian-Marxist notion that human judgments are "epiphenomenal" products of spiritual or material alienation, the notion that the common people's words are, like grunts, mere signs of pain, pleasure, and frustration, is now axiomatic among our ruling class. They absorbed it osmotically, second -- or thirdhand, from their education and from companions. Truly, after Barack Obama described his opponents' clinging to "God and guns" as a characteristic of inferior Americans, he justified himself by pointing out he had said "what everybody knows is true." Confident "knowledge" that "some of us, the ones who matter," have grasped truths that the common herd cannot, truths that direct us, truths the grasping of which entitles us to discount what the ruled say and to presume what they mean, made our Progressives into a class long before they took power.
The Homogeneity of the Ruling Class, 3
Reply #801 on:
July 16, 2010, 05:26:11 PM »
The Agenda: Power
Our ruling class's agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof. Like left-wing parties always and everywhere, it is a "machine," that is, based on providing tangible rewards to its members. Such parties often provide rank-and-file activists with modest livelihoods and enhance mightily the upper levels' wealth. Because this is so, whatever else such parties might accomplish, they must feed the machine by transferring money or jobs or privileges -- civic as well as economic -- to the party's clients, directly or indirectly. This, incidentally, is close to Aristotle's view of democracy. Hence our ruling class's standard approach to any and all matters, its solution to any and all problems, is to increase the power of the government -- meaning of those who run it, meaning themselves, to profit those who pay with political support for privileged jobs, contracts, etc. Hence more power for the ruling class has been our ruling class's solution not just for economic downturns and social ills but also for hurricanes and tornadoes, global cooling and global warming. A priori, one might wonder whether enriching and empowering individuals of a certain kind can make Americans kinder and gentler, much less control the weather. But there can be no doubt that such power and money makes Americans ever more dependent on those who wield it. Let us now look at what this means in our time.
By taxing and parceling out more than a third of what Americans produce, through regulations that reach deep into American life, our ruling class is making itself the arbiter of wealth and poverty. While the economic value of anything depends on sellers and buyers agreeing on that value as civil equals in the absence of force, modern government is about nothing if not tampering with civil equality. By endowing some in society with power to force others to sell cheaper than they would, and forcing others yet to buy at higher prices -- even to buy in the first place -- modern government makes valuable some things that are not, and devalues others that are. Thus if you are not among the favored guests at the table where officials make detailed lists of who is to receive what at whose expense, you are on the menu. Eventually, pretending forcibly that valueless things have value dilutes the currency's value for all.
Laws and regulations nowadays are longer than ever because length is needed to specify how people will be treated unequally. For example, the health care bill of 2010 takes more than 2,700 pages to make sure not just that some states will be treated differently from others because their senators offered key political support, but more importantly to codify bargains between the government and various parts of the health care industry, state governments, and large employers about who would receive what benefits (e.g., public employee unions and auto workers) and who would pass what indirect taxes onto the general public. The financial regulation bill of 2010, far from setting univocal rules for the entire financial industry in few words, spends some 3,000 pages (at this writing) tilting the field exquisitely toward some and away from others. Even more significantly, these and other products of Democratic and Republican administrations and Congresses empower countless boards and commissions arbitrarily to protect some persons and companies, while ruining others. Thus in 2008 the Republican administration first bailed out Bear Stearns, then let Lehman Brothers sink in the ensuing panic, but then rescued Goldman Sachs by infusing cash into its principal debtor, AIG. Then, its Democratic successor used similarly naked discretionary power (and money appropriated for another purpose) to give major stakes in the auto industry to labor unions that support it. Nowadays, the members of our ruling class admit that they do not read the laws. They don't have to. Because modern laws are primarily grants of discretion, all anybody has to know about them is whom they empower.
By making economic rules dependent on discretion, our bipartisan ruling class teaches that prosperity is to be bought with the coin of political support. Thus in the 1990s and 2000s, as Democrats and Republicans forced banks to make loans for houses to people and at rates they would not otherwise have considered, builders and investors had every reason to make as much money as they could from the ensuing inflation of housing prices. When the bubble burst, only those connected with the ruling class at the bottom and at the top were bailed out. Similarly, by taxing the use of carbon fuels and subsidizing "alternative energy," our ruling class created arguably the world's biggest opportunity for making money out of things that few if any would buy absent its intervention. The ethanol industry and its ensuing diversions of wealth exist exclusively because of subsidies. The prospect of legislation that would put a price on carbon emissions and allot certain amounts to certain companies set off a feeding frenzy among large companies to show support for a "green agenda," because such allotments would be worth tens of billions of dollars. That is why companies hired some 2,500 lobbyists in 2009 to deepen their involvement in "climate change." At the very least, such involvement profits them by making them into privileged collectors of carbon taxes. Any "green jobs" thus created are by definition creatures of subsidies -- that is, of privilege. What effect creating such privileges may have on "global warming" is debatable. But it surely increases the number of people dependent on the ruling class, and teaches Americans that satisfying that class is a surer way of making a living than producing goods and services that people want to buy.
Beyond patronage, picking economic winners and losers redirects the American people's energies to tasks that the political class deems more worthy than what Americans choose for themselves. John Kenneth Galbraith's characterization of America as "private wealth amidst public squalor" (The Affluent Society, 1958) has ever encapsulated our best and brightest's complaint: left to themselves, Americans use land inefficiently in suburbs and exurbs, making it necessary to use energy to transport them to jobs and shopping. Americans drive big cars, eat lots of meat as well as other unhealthy things, and go to the doctor whenever they feel like it. Americans think it justice to spend the money they earn to satisfy their private desires even though the ruling class knows that justice lies in improving the community and the planet. The ruling class knows that Americans must learn to live more densely and close to work, that they must drive smaller cars and change their lives to use less energy, that their dietary habits must improve, that they must accept limits in how much medical care they get, that they must divert more of their money to support people, cultural enterprises, and plans for the planet that the ruling class deems worthier. So, ever-greater taxes and intrusive regulations are the main wrenches by which the American people can be improved (and, yes, by which the ruling class feeds and grows).
The 2010 medical law is a template for the ruling class's economic modus operandi: the government taxes citizens to pay for medical care and requires citizens to purchase health insurance. The money thus taken and directed is money that the citizens themselves might have used to pay for medical care. In exchange for the money, the government promises to provide care through its "system." But then all the boards, commissions, guidelines, procedures, and "best practices" that constitute "the system" become the arbiters of what any citizen ends up getting. The citizen might end up dissatisfied with what "the system" offers. But when he gave up his money, he gave up the power to choose, and became dependent on all the boards and commissions that his money also pays for and that raise the cost ofcare. Similarly, in 2008 the House Ways and Means Committee began considering a plan to force citizens who own Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) to transfer those funds into government-run "guaranteed retirement accounts." If the government may force citizens to buy health insurance, by what logic can it not force them to trade private ownership and control of retirement money for a guarantee as sound as the government itself? Is it not clear that the government knows more about managing retirement income than individuals?
Who Depends on Whom?
In Congressional Government (1885) Woodrow Wilson left no doubt: the U.S. Constitution prevents the government from meeting the country's needs by enumerating rights that the government may not infringe. ("Congress shall make no law..." says the First Amendment, typically.) Our electoral system, based on single member districts, empowers individual voters at the expense of "responsible parties." Hence the ruling class's perpetual agenda has been to diminish the role of the citizenry's elected representatives, enhancing that of party leaders as well as of groups willing to partner in the government's plans, and to craft a "living" Constitution in which restrictions on government give way to "positive rights" -- meaning charters of government power.
Consider representation. Following Wilson, American Progressives have always wanted to turn the U.S. Congress from the role defined by James Madison's Federalist #10, "refine and enlarge the public's view," to something like the British Parliament, which ratifies government actions. Although Britain's electoral system -- like ours, single members elected in historic districts by plurality vote -- had made members of Parliament responsive to their constituents in ancient times, by Wilson's time the growing importance of parties made MPs beholden to party leaders. Hence whoever controls the majority party controls both Parliament and the government.
In America, the process by which party has become (almost) as important began with the Supreme Court's 1962 decision in Baker v. Carr which, by setting the single standard "one man, one vote" for congressional districts, ended up legalizing the practice of "gerrymandering," concentrating the opposition party's voters into as few districts as possible while placing one's own voters into as many as possible likely to yield victories. Republican and Democratic state legislatures have gerrymandered for a half century. That is why today's Congress consists more and more of persons who represent their respective party establishments -- not nearly as much as in Britain, but heading in that direction. Once districts are gerrymandered "safe" for one party or another, the voters therein count less because party leaders can count more on elected legislators to toe the party line.
To the extent party leaders do not have to worry about voters, they can choose privileged interlocutors, representing those in society whom they find most amenable. In America ever more since the 1930s -- elsewhere in the world this practice is ubiquitous and long-standing -- government has designated certain individuals, companies, and organizations within each of society's sectors as (junior) partners in elaborating laws and administrative rules for those sectors. The government empowers the persons it has chosen over those not chosen, deems them the sector's true representatives, and rewards them. They become part of the ruling class.
Thus in 2009-10 the American Medical Association (AMA) strongly supported the new medical care law, which the administration touted as having the support of "the doctors" even though the vast majority of America's 975,000 physicians opposed it. Those who run the AMA, however, have a government contract as exclusive providers of the codes by which physicians and hospitals bill the government for their services. The millions of dollars that flow thereby to the AMA's officers keep them in line, while the impracticality of doing without the billing codes tamps down rebellion in the doctor ranks. When the administration wanted to bolster its case that the state of Arizona's enforcement of federal immigration laws was offensive to Hispanics, the National Association of Chiefs of Police -- whose officials depend on the administration for their salaries -- issued a statement that the laws would endanger all Americans by raising Hispanics' animosity. This reflected conversations with the administration rather than a vote of the nation's police chiefs.
Similarly, modern labor unions are ever less bunches of workers banding together and ever more bundled under the aegis of an organization chosen jointly by employers and government. Prototypical is the Service Employees International Union, which grew spectacularly by persuading managers of government agencies as well as of publicly funded private entities that placing their employees in the SEIU would relieve them of responsibility. Not by being elected by workers' secret ballots did the SEIU conquer workplace after workplace, but rather by such deals, or by the union presenting what it claims are cards from workers approving of representation. The union gets 2 percent of the workers' pay, which it recycles as contributions to the Democratic Party, which it recycles in greater power over public employees. The union's leadership is part of the ruling class's beating heart.
The point is that a doctor, a building contractor, a janitor, or a schoolteacher counts in today's America insofar as he is part of the hierarchy of a sector organization affiliated with the ruling class. Less and less do such persons count as voters.
Ordinary people have also gone a long way toward losing equal treatment under law. The America described in civics books, in which no one could be convicted or fined except by a jury of his peers for having violated laws passed by elected representatives, started disappearing when the New Deal inaugurated today's administrative state -- in which bureaucrats make, enforce, and adjudicate nearly all the rules. Today's legal -- administrative texts are incomprehensibly detailed and freighted with provisions crafted exquisitely to affect equal individuals unequally. The bureaucrats do not enforce the rules themselves so much as whatever "agency policy" they choose to draw from them in any given case. If you protest any "agency policy" you will be informed that it was formulated with input from "the public." But not from the likes of you.
Disregard for the text of laws -- for the dictionary meaning of words and the intentions of those who wrote them -- in favor of the decider's discretion has permeated our ruling class from the Supreme Court to the lowest local agency. Ever since Oliver Wendell Holmes argued in 1920 (Missouri v. Holland) that presidents, Congresses, and judges could not be bound by the U.S. Constitution regarding matters that the people who wrote and ratified it could not have foreseen, it has become conventional wisdom among our ruling class that they may transcend the Constitution while pretending allegiance to it. They began by stretching such constitutional terms as "interstate commerce" and "due process," then transmuting others, e.g., "search and seizure," into "privacy." Thus in 1973 the Supreme Court endowed its invention of "privacy" with a "penumbra" that it deemed "broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy." The court gave no other constitutional reasoning, period. Perfunctory to the point of mockery, this constitutional talk was to reassure the American people that the ruling class was acting within the Constitution's limitations. By the 1990s federal courts were invalidating amendments to state constitutions passed by referenda to secure the "positive rights" they invent, because these expressions of popular will were inconsistent with the constitution they themselves were construing.
By 2010 some in the ruling class felt confident enough to dispense with the charade. Asked what in the Constitution allows Congress and the president to force every American to purchase health insurance, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi replied: "Are you kidding? Are you kidding?" No surprise then that lower court judges and bureaucrats take liberties with laws, regulations, and contracts. That is why legal words that say you are in the right avail you less in today's America than being on the right side of the persons who decide what they want those words to mean.
As the discretionary powers of officeholders and of their informal entourages have grown, the importance of policy and of law itself is declining, citizenship is becoming vestigial, and the American people become ever more dependent.
The Homogeneity of the Ruling Class, 4
Reply #802 on:
July 16, 2010, 05:26:53 PM »
Disaggregating and Dispiriting
The ruling class is keener to reform the American people's family and spiritual lives than their economic and civic ones. In no other areas is the ruling class's self-definition so definite, its contempt for opposition so patent, its Kulturkampf so open. It believes that the Christian family (and the Orthodox Jewish one too) is rooted in and perpetuates the ignorance commonly called religion, divisive social prejudices, and repressive gender roles, that it is the greatest barrier to human progress because it looks to its very particular interest -- often defined as mere coherence against outsiders who most often know better. Thus the family prevents its members from playing their proper roles in social reform. Worst of all, it reproduces itself.
Since marriage is the family's fertile seed, government at all levels, along with "mainstream" academics and media, have waged war on it. They legislate, regulate, and exhort in support not of "the family" -- meaning married parents raising children -- but rather of "families," meaning mostly households based on something other than marriage. The institution of no-fault divorce diminished the distinction between cohabitation and marriage -- except that husbands are held financially responsible for the children they father, while out-of-wedlock fathers are not. The tax code penalizes marriage and forces those married couples who raise their own children to subsidize "child care" for those who do not. Top Republicans and Democrats have also led society away from the very notion of marital fidelity by precept as well as by parading their affairs. For example, in 1997 the Democratic administration's secretary of defense and the Republican Senate's majority leader (joined by the New York Times et al.) condemned the military's practice of punishing officers who had extramarital affairs. While the military had assumed that honoring marital vows is as fundamental to the integrity of its units as it is to that of society, consensus at the top declared that insistence on fidelity is "contrary to societal norms." Not surprisingly, rates of marriage in America have decreased as out-of-wedlock births have increased. The biggest demographic consequence has been that about one in five of all households are women alone or with children, in which case they have about a four in 10 chance of living in poverty. Since unmarried mothers often are or expect to be clients of government services, it is not surprising that they are among the Democratic Party's most faithful voters.
While our ruling class teaches that relationships among men, women, and children are contingent, it also insists that the relationship between each of them and the state is fundamental. That is why such as Hillary Clinton have written law review articles and books advocating a direct relationship between the government and children, effectively abolishing the presumption of parental authority. Hence whereas within living memory school nurses could not administer an aspirin to a child without the parents' consent, the people who run America's schools nowadays administer pregnancy tests and ship girls off to abortion clinics without the parents' knowledge. Parents are not allowed to object to what their children are taught. But the government may and often does object to how parents raise children. The ruling class's assumption is that what it mandates for children is correct ipso facto, while what parents do is potentially abusive. It only takes an anonymous accusation of abuse for parents to be taken away in handcuffs until they prove their innocence. Only sheer political weight (and in California, just barely) has preserved parents' right to homeschool their children against the ruling class's desire to accomplish what Woodrow Wilson so yearned: "to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible."
At stake are the most important questions: What is the right way for human beings to live? By what standard is anything true or good? Who gets to decide what? Implicit in Wilson's words and explicit in our ruling class's actions is the dismissal, as the ways of outdated "fathers," of the answers that most Americans would give to these questions. This dismissal of the American people's intellectual, spiritual, and moral substance is the very heart of what our ruling class is about. Its principal article of faith, its claim to the right to decide for others, is precisely that it knows things and operates by standards beyond others' comprehension.
While the unenlightened ones believe that man is created in the image and likeness of God and that we are subject to His and to His nature's laws, the enlightened ones know that we are products of evolution, driven by chance, the environment, and the will to primacy. While the un-enlightened are stuck with the antiquated notion that ordinary human minds can reach objective judgments about good and evil, better and worse through reason, the enlightened ones know that all such judgments are subjective and that ordinary people can no more be trusted with reason than they can with guns. Because ordinary people will pervert reason with ideology, religion, or interest, science is "science" only in the "right" hands. Consensus among the right people is the only standard of truth. Facts and logic matter only insofar as proper authority acknowledges them.
That is why the ruling class is united and adamant about nothing so much as its right to pronounce definitive, "scientific" judgment on whatever it chooses. When the government declares, and its associated press echoes that "scientists say" this or that, ordinary people -- or for that matter scientists who "don't say," or are not part of the ruling class -- lose any right to see the information that went into what "scientists say." Thus when Virginia's attorney general subpoenaed the data by which Professor Michael Mann had concluded, while paid by the state of Virginia, that the earth's temperatures are rising "like a hockey stick" from millennial stability -- a conclusion on which billions of dollars' worth of decisions were made -- to investigate the possibility of fraud, the University of Virginia's faculty senate condemned any inquiry into "scientific endeavor that has satisfied peer review standards" claiming that demands for data "send a chilling message to scientists...and indeed scholars in any discipline." The Washington Post editorialized that the attorney general's demands for data amounted to "an assault on reason." The fact that the "hockey stick" conclusion stands discredited and Mann and associates are on record manipulating peer review, the fact that science-by-secret-data is an oxymoron, the very distinction between truth and error, all matter far less to the ruling class than the distinction between itself and those they rule.
By identifying science and reason with themselves, our rulers delegitimize opposition. Though they cannot prevent Americans from worshiping God, they can make it as socially disabling as smoking -- to be done furtively and with a bad social conscience. Though they cannot make Americans wish they were Europeans, they continue to press upon this nation of refugees from the rest of the world the notion that Americans ought to live by "world standards." Each day, the ruling class produces new "studies" that show that one or another of Americans' habits is in need of reform, and that those Americans most resistant to reform are pitiably, perhaps criminally, wrong. Thus does it go about disaggregating and dispiriting the ruled.
Meddling and Apologies
America's best and brightest believe themselves qualified and duty bound to direct the lives not only of Americans but of foreigners as well. George W. Bush's 2005 inaugural statement that America cannot be free until the whole world is free and hence that America must push and prod mankind to freedom was but an extrapolation of the sentiments of America's Progressive class, first articulated by such as Princeton's Woodrow Wilson and Columbia's Nicholas Murray Butler. But while the early Progressives expected the rest of the world to follow peacefully, today's ruling class makes decisions about war and peace at least as much forcibly to tinker with the innards of foreign bodies politic as to protect America. Indeed, they conflate the two purposes in the face of the American people's insistence to draw a bright line between war against our enemies and peace with non-enemies in whose affairs we do not interfere. That is why, from Wilson to Kissinger, the ruling class has complained that the American people oscillate between bellicosity and "isolationism."
Because our ruling class deems unsophisticated the American people's perennial preference for decisive military action or none, its default solution to international threats has been to commit blood and treasure to long-term, twilight efforts to reform the world's Vietnams, Somalias, Iraqs, and Afghanistans, believing that changing hearts and minds is the prerequisite of peace and that it knows how to change them. The apparently endless series of wars in which our ruling class has embroiled America, wars that have achieved nothing worthwhile at great cost in lives and treasure, has contributed to defining it, and to discrediting it -- but not in its own eyes.
Rather, even as our ruling class has lectured, cajoled, and sometimes intruded violently to reform foreign countries in its own image, it has apologized to them for America not having matched that image -- their private image. Woodrow Wilson began this double game in 1919, when he assured Europe's peoples that America had mandated him to demand their agreement to Article X of the peace treaty (the League of Nations) and then swore to the American people that Article X was the Europeans' non-negotiable demand. The fact that the U.S. government had seized control of transatlantic cable communications helped hide (for a while) that the League scheme was merely the American Progressives' private dream. In our time, this double game is quotidian on the evening news. Notably, President Obama apologized to Europe because "the United States has fallen short of meeting its responsibilities" to reduce carbon emissions by taxation. But the American people never assumed such responsibility, and oppose doing so. Hence President Obama was not apologizing for anything that he or anyone he respected had done, but rather blaming his fellow Americans for not doing what he thinks they should do while glossing over the fact that the Europeans had done the taxing but not the reducing. Wilson redux.
The Homogeneity of the Ruling Class, 5
Reply #803 on:
July 16, 2010, 05:27:29 PM »
Similarly, Obama "apologized" to Europeans because some Americans -- not him and his friends -- had shown "arrogance and been dismissive" toward them, and to the world because President Truman had used the atom bomb to end World War II. So President Clinton apologized to Africans because some Americans held African slaves until 1865 and others were mean to Negroes thereafter -- not himself and his friends, of course. So assistant secretary of state Michael Posner apologized to Chinese diplomats for Arizona's law that directs police to check immigration status. Republicans engage in that sort of thing as well: former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev tells us that in 1987 then vice president George H. W. Bush distanced himself from his own administration by telling him, "Reagan is a conservative, an extreme conservative. All the dummies and blockheads are with him..." This is all about a class of Americans distinguishing itself from its inferiors. It recalls the Pharisee in the Temple: "Lord, I thank thee that I am not like other men..."
In sum, our ruling class does not like the rest of America. Most of all does it dislike that so many Americans think America is substantially different from the rest of the world and like it that way. For our ruling class, however, America is a work in progress, just like the rest the world, and they are the engineers.
The Country Class
Describing America's country class is problematic because it is so heterogeneous. It has no privileged podiums, and speaks with many voices, often inharmonious. It shares above all the desire to be rid of rulers it regards inept and haughty. It defines itself practically in terms of reflexive reaction against the rulers' defining ideas and proclivities -- e.g., ever higher taxes and expanding government, subsidizing political favorites, social engineering, approval of abortion, etc. Many want to restore a way of life largely superseded. Demographically, the country class is the other side of the ruling class's coin: its most distinguishing characteristics are marriage, children, and religious practice. While the country class, like the ruling class, includes the professionally accomplished and the mediocre, geniuses and dolts, it is different because of its non-orientation to government and its members' yearning to rule themselves rather than be ruled by others.
Even when members of the country class happen to be government officials or officers of major corporations, their concerns are essentially private; in their view, government owes to its people equal treatment rather than action to correct what anyone perceives as imbalance or grievance. Hence they tend to oppose special treatment, whether for corporations or for social categories. Rather than gaming government regulations, they try to stay as far from them as possible. Thus the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo, which allows the private property of some to be taken by others with better connections to government, reminded the country class that government is not its friend.
Negative orientation to privilege distinguishes the corporate officer who tries to keep his company from joining the Business Council of large corporations who have close ties with government from the fellow in the next office. The first wants the company to grow by producing. The second wants it to grow by moving to the trough. It sets apart the schoolteacher who resents the union to which he is forced to belong for putting the union's interests above those of parents who want to choose their children's schools. In general, the country class includes all those in stations high and low who are aghast at how relatively little honest work yields, by comparison with what just a little connection with the right bureaucracy can get you. It includes those who take the side of outsiders against insiders, of small institutions against large ones, of local government against the state or federal. The country class is convinced that big business, big government, and big finance are linked as never before and that ordinary people are more unequal than ever.
Members of the country class who want to rise in their profession through sheer competence try at once to avoid the ruling class's rituals while guarding against infringing its prejudices. Averse to wheedling, they tend to think that exams should play a major role in getting or advancing in jobs, that records of performance -- including academic ones -- should be matters of public record, and that professional disputes should be settled by open argument. For such people, the Supreme Court's 2009 decision in Ricci, upholding the right of firefighters to be promoted according to the results of a professional exam, revived the hope that competence may sometimes still trump political connections.
Nothing has set the country class apart, defined it, made it conscious of itself, given it whatever coherence it has, so much as the ruling class's insistence that people other than themselves are intellectually and hence otherwise humanly inferior. Persons who were brought up to believe themselves as worthy as anyone, who manage their own lives to their own satisfaction, naturally resent politicians of both parties who say that the issues of modern life are too complex for any but themselves. Most are insulted by the ruling class's dismissal of opposition as mere "anger and frustration" -- an imputation of stupidity -- while others just scoff at the claim that the ruling class's bureaucratic language demonstrates superior intelligence. A few ask the fundamental question: Since when and by what right does intelligence trump human equality? Moreover, if the politicians are so smart, why have they made life worse?
The country class actually believes that America's ways are superior to the rest of the world's, and regards most of mankind as less free, less prosperous, and less virtuous. Thus while it delights in croissants and thinks Toyota's factory methods are worth imitating, it dislikes the idea of adhering to "world standards." This class also takes part in the U.S. armed forces body and soul: nearly all the enlisted, non-commissioned officers and officers under flag rank belong to this class in every measurable way. Few vote for the Democratic Party. You do not doubt that you are amidst the country class rather than with the ruling class when the American flag passes by or "God Bless America" is sung after seven innings of baseball, and most people show reverence. The same people wince at the National Football League's plaintive renditions of the "Star Spangled Banner."
Unlike the ruling class, the country class does not share a single intellectual orthodoxy, set of tastes, or ideal lifestyle. Its different sectors draw their notions of human equality from different sources: Christians and Jews believe it is God's law. Libertarians assert it from Hobbesian and Darwinist bases. Many consider equality the foundation of Americanism. Others just hate snobs. Some parts of the country class now follow the stars and the music out of Nashville, Tennessee, and Branson, Missouri -- entertainment complexes larger than Hollywood's -- because since the 1970s most of Hollywood's products have appealed more to the mores of the ruling class and its underclass clients than to those of large percentages of Americans. The same goes for "popular music" and television. For some in the country class Christian radio and TV are the lodestone of sociopolitical taste, while the very secular Fox News serves the same purpose for others. While symphonies and opera houses around the country, as well as the stations that broadcast them, are firmly in the ruling class's hands, a considerable part of the country class appreciates these things for their own sake. By that very token, the country class's characteristic cultural venture -- the homeschool movement -- stresses the classics across the board in science, literature, music, and history even as the ruling class abandons them.
Each of the country class's diverse parts has its own agenda, which flows from the peculiar ways in which the ruling class impacts its concerns. Independent businesspeople are naturally more sensitive to the growth of privileged relations between government and their competitors. Persons who would like to lead their community rue the advantages that Democratic and Republican party establishments are accruing. Parents of young children and young women anxious about marriage worry that cultural directives from on high are dispelling their dreams. The faithful to God sense persecution. All resent higher taxes and loss of freedom. More and more realize that their own agenda's advancement requires concerting resistance to the ruling class across the board.
Not being at the table when government makes the rules about how you must run your business, knowing that you will be required to pay more, work harder, and show deference for the privilege of making less money, is the independent businessman's nightmare. But what to do about it? In our time the interpenetration of government and business -- the network of subsidies, preferences, and regulations -- is so thick and deep, the people "at the table" receive and recycle into politics so much money, that independent businesspeople cannot hope to undo any given regulation or grant of privilege. Just as no manufacturer can hope to reduce the subsidies that raise his fuel costs, no set of doctors can shield themselves from the increased costs and bureaucracy resulting from government mandates. Hence independent business's agenda has been to resist the expansion of government in general, and of course to reduce taxes. Pursuit of this agenda with arguments about economic efficiency and job creation -- and through support of the Republican Party -- usually results in enough relief to discourage more vigorous remonstrance. Sometimes, however, the economic argument is framed in moral terms: "The sum of good government," said Thomas Jefferson, is not taking "from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned." For government to advantage some at others' expense, said he, "is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association." In our time, more and more independent businesspeople have come to think of their economic problems in moral terms. But few realize how revolutionary that is.
As bureaucrats and teachers' unions disempowered neighborhood school boards, while the governments of towns, counties, and states were becoming conduits for federal mandates, as the ruling class reduced the number and importance of things that American communities could decide for themselves, America's thirst for self-governance reawakened. The fact that public employees are almost always paid more and have more generous benefits than the private sector people whose taxes support them only sharpened the sense among many in the country class that they now work for public employees rather than the other way around. But how to reverse the roles? How can voters regain control of government? Restoring localities' traditional powers over schools, including standards, curriculum, and prayer, would take repudiating two generations of Supreme Court rulings. So would the restoration of traditional "police" powers over behavior in public places. Bringing public employee unions to heel is only incidentally a matter of cutting pay and benefits. As self-governance is crimped primarily by the powers of government personified in its employees, restoring it involves primarily deciding that any number of functions now performed and the professional specialties who perform them, e.g., social workers, are superfluous or worse. Explaining to one's self and neighbors why such functions and personnel do more harm than good, while the ruling class brings its powers to bear to discredit you, is a very revolutionary thing to do.
America's pro-family movement is a reaction to the ruling class's challenges: emptying marriage of legal sanction, promoting abortion, and progressively excluding parents from their children's education. Americans reacted to these challenges primarily by sorting themselves out. Close friendships and above all marriages became rarer between persons who think well of divorce, abortion, and government authority over children and those who do not. The homeschool movement, for which the Internet became the great facilitator, involves not only each family educating its own children, but also extensive and growing social, intellectual, and spiritual contact among like-minded persons. In short, the part of the country class that is most concerned with family matters has taken on something of a biological identity. Few in this part of the country class have any illusion, however, that simply retreating into private associations will long save their families from societal influences made to order to discredit their ways. But stopping the ruling class's intrusions would require discrediting its entire conception of man, of right and wrong, as well as of the role of courts in popular government. That revolutionary task would involve far more than legislation.
The Homogeneity of the Ruling Class, 6
Reply #804 on:
July 16, 2010, 05:28:01 PM »
The ruling class's manifold efforts to discredit and drive worship of God out of public life -- not even the Soviet Union arrested students for wearing crosses or praying, or reading the Bible on school property, as some U.S. localities have done in response to Supreme Court rulings -- convinced many among the vast majority of Americans who believe and pray that today's regime is hostile to the most important things of all. Every December, they are reminded that the ruling class deems the very word "Christmas" to be offensive. Every time they try to manifest their religious identity in public affairs, they are deluged by accusations of being "American Taliban" trying to set up a "theocracy." Let members of the country class object to anything the ruling class says or does, and likely as not their objection will be characterized as "religious," that is to say irrational, that is to say not to be considered on a par with the "science" of which the ruling class is the sole legitimate interpreter. Because aggressive, intolerant secularism is the moral and intellectual basis of the ruling class's claim to rule, resistance to that rule, whether to the immorality of economic subsidies and privileges, or to the violation of the principle of equal treatment under equal law, or to its seizure of children's education, must deal with secularism's intellectual and moral core. This lies beyond the boundaries of politics as the term is commonly understood.
The Classes Clash
The ruling class's appetite for deference, power, and perks grows. The country class disrespects its rulers, wants to curtail their power and reduce their perks. The ruling class wears on its sleeve the view that the rest of Americans are racist, greedy, and above all stupid. The country class is ever more convinced that our rulers are corrupt, malevolent, and inept. The rulers want the ruled to shut up and obey. The ruled want self-governance. The clash between the two is about which side's vision of itself and of the other is right and which is wrong. Because each side -- especially the ruling class -- embodies its views on the issues, concessions by one side to another on any issue tend to discredit that side's view of itself. One side or the other will prevail. The clash is as sure and momentous as its outcome is unpredictable.
In this clash, the ruling class holds most of the cards: because it has established itself as the fount of authority, its primacy is based on habits of deference. Breaking them, establishing other founts of authority, other ways of doing things, would involve far more than electoral politics. Though the country class had long argued along with Edmund Burke against making revolutionary changes, it faces the uncomfortable question common to all who have had revolutionary changes imposed on them: are we now to accept what was done to us just because it was done? Sweeping away a half century's accretions of bad habits -- taking care to preserve the good among them -- is hard enough. Establishing, even reestablishing, a set of better institutions and habits is much harder, especially as the country class wholly lacks organization. By contrast, the ruling class holds strong defensive positions and is well represented by the Democratic Party. But a two to one numerical disadvantage augurs defeat, while victory would leave it in control of a people whose confidence it cannot regain.
Certainly the country class lacks its own political vehicle -- and perhaps the coherence to establish one. In the short term at least, the country class has no alternative but to channel its political efforts through the Republican Party, which is eager for its support. But the Republican Party does not live to represent the country class. For it to do so, it would have to become principles-based, as it has not been since the mid-1860s. The few who tried to make it so the party treated as rebels: Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. The party helped defeat Goldwater. When it failed to stop Reagan, it saddled his and subsequent Republican administrations with establishmentarians who, under the Bush family, repudiated Reagan's principles as much as they could. Barack Obama exaggerated in charging that Republicans had driven the country "into the ditch" all alone. But they had a hand in it. Few Republican voters, never mind the larger country class, have confidence that the party is on their side. Because, in the long run, the country class will not support a party as conflicted as today's Republicans, those Republican politicians who really want to represent it will either reform the party in an unmistakable manner, or start a new one as Whigs like Abraham Lincoln started the Republican Party in the 1850s.
The name of the party that will represent America's country class is far less important than what, precisely, it represents and how it goes about representing it because, for the foreseeable future, American politics will consist of confrontation between what we might call the Country Party and the ruling class. The Democratic Party having transformed itself into a unit with near-European discipline, challenging it would seem to require empowering a rival party at least as disciplined. What other antidote is there to government by one party but government by another party? Yet this logic, though all too familiar to most of the world, has always been foreign to America and naturally leads further in the direction toward which the ruling class has led. Any country party would have to be wise and skillful indeed not to become the Democrats' mirror image.
Yet to defend the country class, to break down the ruling class's presumptions, it has no choice but to imitate the Democrats, at least in some ways and for a while. Consider: The ruling class denies its opponents' legitimacy. Seldom does a Democratic official or member of the ruling class speak on public affairs without reiterating the litany of his class's claim to authority, contrasting it with opponents who are either uninformed, stupid, racist, shills for business, violent, fundamentalist, or all of the above. They do this in the hope that opponents, hearing no other characterizations of themselves and no authoritative voice discrediting the ruling class, will be dispirited. For the country class seriously to contend for self-governance, the political party that represents it will have to discredit not just such patent frauds as ethanol mandates, the pretense that taxes can control "climate change," and the outrage of banning God from public life. More important, such a serious party would have to attack the ruling class's fundamental claims to its superior intellect and morality in ways that dispirit the target and hearten one's own. The Democrats having set the rules of modern politics, opponents who want electoral success are obliged to follow them.
Suppose that the Country Party (whatever its name might be) were to capture Congress, the presidency, and most statehouses. What then would it do? Especially if its majority were slim, it would be tempted to follow the Democrats' plan of 2009-2010, namely to write its wish list of reforms into law regardless of the Constitution and enact them by partisan majorities supported by interest groups that gain from them, while continuing to vilify the other side. Whatever effect this might have, it surely would not be to make America safe for self-governance because by carrying out its own "revolution from above" to reverse the ruling class's previous "revolution from above," it would have made that ruinous practice standard in America. Moreover, a revolution designed at party headquarters would be antithetical to the country class's diversity as well as to the American Founders' legacy.
Achieving the country class's inherently revolutionary objectives in a manner consistent with the Constitution and with its own diversity would require the Country Party to use legislation primarily as a tool to remove obstacles, to instruct, to reintroduce into American life ways and habits that had been cast aside. Passing national legislation is easier than getting people to take up the responsibilities of citizens, fathers, and entrepreneurs.
Reducing the taxes that most Americans resent requires eliminating the network of subsidies to millions of other Americans that these taxes finance, and eliminating the jobs of government employees who administer them. Eliminating that network is practical, if at all, if done simultaneously, both because subsidies are morally wrong and economically counterproductive, and because the country cannot afford the practice in general. The electorate is likely to cut off millions of government clients, high and low, only if its choice is between no economic privilege for anyone and ratifying government's role as the arbiter of all our fortunes. The same goes for government grants to and contracts with so-called nonprofit institutions or non-governmental organizations. The case against all arrangements by which the government favors some groups of citizens is easier to make than that against any such arrangement. Without too much fuss, a few obviously burdensome bureaucracies, like the Department of Education, can be eliminated, while money can be cut off to partisan enterprises such as the National Endowments and public broadcasting. That sort of thing is as necessary to the American body politic as a weight reduction program is essential to restoring the health of any human body degraded by obesity and lack of exercise. Yet shedding fat is the easy part. Restoring atrophied muscles is harder. Reenabling the body to do elementary tasks takes yet more concentration.
The grandparents of today's Americans (132 million in 1940) had opportunities to serve on 117,000 school boards. To exercise responsibilities comparable to their grandparents', today's 310 million Americans would have radically to decentralize the mere 15,000 districts into which public school children are now concentrated. They would have to take responsibility for curriculum and administration away from credentialed experts, and they would have to explain why they know better. This would involve a level of political articulation of the body politic far beyond voting in elections every two years.
If self-governance means anything, it means that those who exercise government power must depend on elections. The shorter the electoral leash, the likelier an official to have his chain yanked by voters, the more truly republican the government is. Yet to subject the modern administrative state's agencies to electoral control would require ordinary citizens to take an interest in any number of technical matters. Law can require environmental regulators or insurance commissioners, or judges or auditors to be elected. But only citizens' discernment and vigilance could make these officials good. Only citizens' understanding of and commitment to law can possibly reverse the patent disregard for the Constitution and statutes that has permeated American life. Unfortunately, it is easier for anyone who dislikes a court's or an official's unlawful act to counter it with another unlawful one than to draw all parties back to the foundation of truth.
How, for example, to remind America of, and to drive home to the ruling class, Lincoln's lesson that trifling with the Constitution for the most heartfelt of motives destroys its protections for all? What if a country class majority in both houses of Congress were to co-sponsor a "Bill of Attainder to deprive Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and other persons of liberty and property without further process of law for having violated the following ex post facto law..." and larded this constitutional monstrosity with an Article III Section 2 exemption from federal court review? When the affected members of the ruling class asked where Congress gets the authority to pass a bill every word of which is contrary to the Constitution, they would be confronted, publicly, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's answer to a question on the Congress's constitutional authority to mandate individuals to purchase certain kinds of insurance: "Are you kidding? Are you kidding?" The point having been made, the Country Party could lead public discussions around the country on why even the noblest purposes (maybe even Title II of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964?) cannot be allowed to trump the Constitution.
How the county class and ruling class might clash on each item of their contrasting agendas is beyond my scope. Suffice it to say that the ruling class's greatest difficulty -- aside from being outnumbered -- will be to argue, against the grain of reality, that the revolution it continues to press upon America is sustainable. For its part, the country class's greatest difficulty will be to enable a revolution to take place without imposing it. America has been imposed on enough.
Angelo M. Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University.
POTH's Maureen Dowd?
Reply #805 on:
July 18, 2010, 10:19:20 AM »
On the whole I hold Dowd in utter contempt, but it seems to me that here she makes many telling points.
Rome Fiddles, We BurnBy MAUREEN DOWD
Published: July 16, 2010
If the Vatican is trying to restore the impression that its moral sense is intact, issuing a document that equates pedophilia with the ordination of women doesn’t really do that. The Catholic Church continued to heap insult upon injury when it revealed its long-awaited new rules on clergy sex abuse, rules that the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said signaled a commitment to grasp the nettle with “rigor and transparency.”
The church still believes in its own intrinsic holiness despite all evidence to the contrary. It thinks it’s making huge concessions on the unstoppable abuse scandal when it’s taking baby steps.
The casuistic document did not issue a zero-tolerance policy to defrock priests after they are found guilty of pedophilia; it did not order bishops to report every instance of abuse to the police; it did not set up sanctions on bishops who sweep abuse under the rectory rug; it did not eliminate the statute of limitations for abused children; it did not tell bishops to stop lobbying legislatures to prevent child-abuse laws from being toughened.
There is no moral awakening here. The cruelty and indecency of child abuse once more inspires tactical contrition. All the penitence of the church is grudging and reactive. Church leaders are merely as penitent as they need to be to protect the institution.
Can you imagine such a scene in the confessional?
“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I am as sorry as my job or school requires me to be.”
“But my daughter, that is not true penitence. That’s situational penitence.”
After the Belgian police bracingly conducted raids on the church hierarchy, inspired in part by the horrifying case of a boy molested for years by his uncle, the bishop of Bruges, a case that the church ignored and covered up for 25 years, the pope did not applaud the more aggressive tack. He condemned it.
In a remarkable Times story recently, Laurie Goodstein and David Halbfinger debunked the spin that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had been one of the more alert officials on the issue of sexual abuse:
“The future pope, it is now clear, was also part of a culture of nonresponsibility, denial, legalistic foot-dragging and outright obstruction. More than any top Vatican official other than John Paul, it was Cardinal Ratzinger who might have taken decisive action in the 1990s to prevent the scandal from metastasizing in country after country, growing to such proportions that it now threatens to consume his own papacy.”
If Roman Polanski were a priest, he’d still be working here.
Stupefyingly, the new Vatican document also links raping children with ordaining women as priests, deeming both “graviora delicta,” or grave offenses. Clerics who attempt to ordain women can now be defrocked.
On Beliefnet, Mark Silk, a professor of religion at Connecticut’s Trinity College, suggested that the stronger threat against women’s ordination is not “a maladroit add-on” but the medieval Vatican’s “main business.”
After the Vatican launched two inquisitions of American nuns, it didn’t seem possible that the archconservative Il Papa and his paternalistic redoubt could get more unenlightened, but they have somehow managed it.
Letting women be priests — which should be seen as a way to help cleanse the church and move it beyond its infantilized and defensive state — is now on the list of awful sins right next to pedophilia, heresy, apostasy and schism.
Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, the chairman of the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, asserted, “The Catholic Church, through its long and constant teaching, holds that ordination has been, from the beginning, reserved to men, a fact which cannot be changed despite changing times.”
But if it was reserved to celibate men centuries ago simply as a way for the church to keep land, why can’t it be changed? If a society makes strides in not subordinating women, why can’t the church reflect that? If men prove that all-male hierarchies can get shamefully warped, why can’t they embrace the normality of equality? The Vatican’s insistence on male prerogative is misogynistic poppycock — enhancing American Catholics’ disenchantment with Rome.
In The New Republic, Garry Wills wrote about his struggle to come to terms with the sins of his church: Jesus “is the one who said, ‘Whatever you did to any of my brothers, even the lowliest, you did to me.’ That means that the priests abusing the vulnerable young were doing that to Jesus, raping Jesus. Any clerical functionary who shows more sympathy for the predator priests than for their victims instantly disqualified himself as a follower of Jesus. The cardinals said they must care for their own, going to jail if necessary to protect a priest. We say the same thing, but the ‘our own’ we care for are the victimized, the poor, the violated. They are Jesus.”
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #806 on:
July 19, 2010, 01:44:32 PM »
"On the whole I hold Dowd in utter contempt, but it seems to me that here she makes many telling points."
Crafty, I see you did not necessarily endorse all of her points.
Dowd mixes in a point about letting women be priests, and Rachel here has poked fun on the board at 'the men at the Vatican' regarding women's so called 'reproductive rights', but Dowd omits the key point that approximately 100% of the offending male priests are gay. How can there can be serious analysis of what happened without addressing the elephant in the room, gay men were the pedophiles perpetrating these crimes against children.
I would take more than one lesson here from the Boy Scouts who fought hard to keep out homosexual leaders. Don't put gay men in a position of power over young boys, sorry - it doesn't work, and it is the right of these groups to chose their leaders. It is the duty of the jurisdictions to prosecute the crimes, not to re-order the private group. If the whole order of the Catholic Church was a scam to promote this crime, then they should and would be shut down, but it isn't.
The size and scope of this is unbelievable. Those who committed the crimes should be hanged IMO, if that was the statutory punishment. For those who KNEW and merely re-assigned the perps to continue their ways - same.
Still that does not give outsiders standing to re-order principles within the church like gender inequity or sameness. If it was, we could go further and requirer Bibles to be printed with the gender order in the Commandments reversed or random: Honor your mother and your father, your father and your mother, in some cases your mother and your mother, as we do not distinguish between the genders. It doesn't work that way. I would shy away from calling for change in religions other than stopping the abuse and punishing the guilty.
In the same vein as NCAA penalties on USC long after both the coach and player are gone, the costs of these lawsuits will be paid by the unknowing parishioners, not the perpetrators who abused the children and the broke the trust.
Not that Kunstler: What is it?
Reply #807 on:
July 26, 2010, 12:44:53 PM »
What Is It?
By James Howard Kunstler
on July 26, 2010 9:26 AM
The New York Times ran a story of curious import this morning: "Mel Gibson Loses Support Abroad." Well, gosh, that's disappointing. And just when we needed him, too. Concern over this pressing matter probably reflects the general mood of the nation these dog days of summer - and these soggy days, indeed, are like living in a dog's mouth - so no wonder the USA has lost its mind, as evidenced by the fact that so many people who ought to know better, in the immortal words of Jim Cramer, don't know anything.
Case in point: I visited the Slate Political Gabfest podcast yesterday. These otherwise excellent, entertaining, highly educated folk (David Plotz, Emily Bazelon, and Daniel Gross, in for vacationing John Dickerson) were discussing the ramifications of the economic situation on the upcoming elections. They were quite clear about not being able to articulate the nature of this economic situation, "...this recession, or whatever you want to call it..." in Ms. Bazelon's words. What's the point of sending these people to Ivy League colleges if they can't make sense of their world.
Let's call this whatever-you-want-to-call-it a compressive deflationary contraction, because that's exactly what it is, an accelerating systemic collapse of activity due to over-investments in hyper-complexity (thank you John Tainter). A number of things are going on in our society that can be described with precision. We've generated too many future claims on wealth that does not exist and has poor prospects of ever being generated. That's what unpayable debt is. We have such a mighty mountain of it that the Federal Reserve can "create" new digital dollars until the cows come home (and learn how to play chamber music), but they will never create enough new money to outpace the disappearance of existing notional money in the form of welshed-on loans. Hence, money will continue to disappear out of the economic system indefinitely, citizens will grow poorer steadily, companies will go out of business, and governments at all levels will not have money to do what they have been organized to do.
This compressive deflationary collapse is not the kind of cyclical "downturn" that we are familiar with during the two-hundred-year-long adventure with industrial expansion - that is, the kind of cyclical downturn caused by the usual exhalations of markets attempting to adjust the flows of supply and demand. This is a structural implosion of markets that have been functionally destroyed by pervasive fraud and swindling in the absence of real productive activity.
The loss of productive activity preceded the fraud and swindling beginning in the 1960s when other nations recovered from the traumas of the world wars and started to out-compete the USA in the production of goods. Personally, I doubt this was the result of any kind of conspiracy, but rather a comprehensible historical narrative that worked to America's disadvantage. Tough noogies for us. The fatal trouble began when we attempted to compensate for this loss of value-creation by ramping up the financial sector to a credit orgy so that every individual and every enterprise and every government could enjoy ever-increasing levels of wealth in a system that no longer really produced wealth.
This was accomplished in the financial sector by "innovating" new tradable securities based on getting something for nothing. That is what the aggregate mischief on Wall Street and its vassal operations was all about. The essence of the fraud was the "securitization" of debt, because the collateral was either inadequate or altogether missing. That's how you get something for nothing. The swindling came in when these worthless certificates were pawned off on credulous "marks" such as pension funds and other assorted investors.
Tragically, everybody in a position to object to these shenanigans failed to issue any warnings or ring the alarm bells - and this includes the entire matrix of adult authority in banking, government (including the law), academia, and a hapless news media. Everyone pretended that the orgy of mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt and loan obligations, structured investment vehicles, collateralized debt obligations, and other chimeras of capital amounted to things of real value.
Certainly the editors and pundits in the media simply didn't understand the rackets they undertook to report. You can bet that the players on Wall Street made every effort to mystify the media with arcane language, and they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. (Making multiple billions of dollars by trading worthless certificates based on getting something for nothing must be the ultimate definition of succeeding beyond one's wildest dreams.) It's harder to account for the dimness of the news media. I doubt they were in on the caper. More likely there is a correlation between their low pay and their low capacity. But I wouldn't discount the fog of assumptions and expectations about the way the world is supposed to work that can disable even people of intelligence.
I'm as certain as the day is long that the folks on Wall Street, from the myrmidons in the trading pits to the demigods like John Thain, with his thousand-dollar trash basket, knew that they were trafficking in tainted paper. Many of them deserve to be locked up in the federal penitentiary for years on end, and they probably never will because president Barack Obama lacked the courage to set the dogs of justice after them and now it is too late.
The most confused of any putative authorities are the academic economists, lost in the wilderness of their models and equations and their quaint expectations of the way things ought to go if you can tweak numbers. These are the people who believe with the faith of little children that if you can measure anything you can control it. They will go down in history as the greatest convocation of clowns ever assembled, surpassing all the collected alchemists, priests, and vizeers employed in the 1500 years following the fall of Rome.
It's harder to tell whether the elected officials and their appointees in sensitive places like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI had a clue as to the scale of misconduct in the financial sector, or if they were bought off plain and simple, or just too stupid to understand what was going on all around them. The term "regulatory capture" provides valuable insight. How could Christopher Cox at the SEC fail to notice the stupendous malfeasance in the mortgage-related securities rackets. Why isn't he working for fifty cents a day in the laundry of Allenwood Federal Correctional Facility? Why is the grifter of Countrywide mortgage favors, Christopher Dodd, still free to guzzle the fabled bean soup in the Senate lunch room? I could go on in this vein for two hundred pages, but you get the drift.
The collective failure of authority, whether of intention or oversight or mental deficiency boggles the mind. And it leaves us where we are: in a compressive deflationary contraction, a.k.a. the long emergency. This is not a cyclical recession. It's the end of one thing and the beginning of another thing, another phase of history in which people will have to learn to live differently or perish. I'm convinced that just about very elected official who can be swept out of office will be swept out of office - even if their replacements turn out to be a very unsavory gang of sadists and morons who will certainly make things worse.
But these dog days of summer nobody will be paying attention, even as the markets themselves roll over and puke, as I rather imagine they will between now and Halloween, if not next week.
P.S. I have not come to any conclusions about the fate of the Macondo blow-out and the claims of Matthew Simmons, though I have certainly got a lot of mail about it, some of it very intelligent. The BP oil spill has vanished from the news headlines again as the world waits for the final push at the relief wells. We do know that we are entering the heart of the hurricane season and that will make for some excitement.
Day by Day: Declaration of Independence
Reply #808 on:
July 26, 2010, 06:20:14 PM »
Second post of the day:
Reply #809 on:
July 30, 2010, 12:10:36 PM »
I don't care if the Clintons spend whatever they want for their only daughter's wedding. It is just the hyporcracy of it all. Chelsea who is some sort of assistant fund raiser for NYU has a building set aside for her that is the size of half a city block! Marrying her hedge fund guy who is the son of a convicted crook.
NYU which is going global setting up the liberal child of their favorite liberal secretary of state. The same liberal who feels that succesful people don't pay enough. The hypocracy of limousine liberals is astounding. Obviously grooming Chelsea for public office. This folks, is big money/political power at its worst:
****I'm constantly amazed at how much some money people blow on the Great White Wedding.
But Chelsea Clinton's forthcoming extravaganza takes the cake. The $11,000 cake, reportedly.
So in honor of this weekend's crazy Gilded Age circus, here are seven financial messages for would-be brides, grooms—and their parents.
1. Yes, the wedding-industrial complex marches on. The Age of Austerity? Ha. If you thought the recession was going to kill the GWW, think again. "We're in a recession-resistant industry," says Carley Roney, editor-in-chief of Knot Inc.'s TheKnot, the weddings website. The company's data suggest that the price of the median wedding, which dropped from $19,000 to $17,500 from 2008 to 2009, has now stabilized this year. Revenues rose 16% in the first quarter of 2010.
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A sign outside a store in Rhinebeck, N.Y., where Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky are to be married on Saturday.
2. Spending a fortune on a wedding is a choice, not a necessity. Chelsea's wedding is likely to cost $2 million to $3 million, says Ms. Roney. But first daughter Jenna Bush managed to hold a somewhat quieter affair for a lot less when she got married two years ago. She invited about 200 guests and held the wedding on her parents' ranch in Texas. It was hardly cheap, but at $100,000, the tab wasn't even in the same ballpark.
3. Spend what you can afford. Sure, the Clintons are spending a lot, but they are rich. Their net worth was estimated at $35 million not long ago. Chelsea is their only child. And Bill gets paid about $250,000 a speech. After taxes, that's about $160,000. So he could clear a $3 million tab for Chelsea's big day with 19 speeches. Even at one speech a day, that's three weeks' work. The average family maybe earns $3,000 in three weeks. Yet they spend about $17,500 on a wedding.
4. Look at the hourly costs. For Chelsea's event, if the ceremony starts at 6 p.m. and the guests party into the small hours, the whole affair may last maybe 11 hours. For $3 million, that's $270,000 an hour. How much fun can anyone have in an hour? Even if you're, say, doing the tango with Oprah Winfrey? Look at the numbers for a regular wedding. A $17,500 event that lasts 11 hours is costing you about $1,500 an hour. If it lasts only, say, six hours, you're spending nearly $3,000 an hour. Enjoy.
Rhinebeck Wedding Gridlock Rhinebeck Conspiracy Theory 5. The lifetime cost is off the map. People get angry when I point this out. But if your money earns, say, 4% a year above inflation, every dollar you save at age 20 will grow to about $6 by the time you retire. So that $17,500 will grow to about $100,000. If you're financially secure, maybe it doesn't matter so much. But most middle-class Americans are in a far more precarious situation than they realize. They have saved little, if anything, for their retirement, and they are deeply in debt. (Household debts are about twice what they were a decade ago.) And we've seen what can happen to jobs and wages in a slump. In these circumstances, saving money instead of spending it matters very much.
6. You might—possibly—be able to profit from others' extravagance. For those who still play the market, Knot Inc. may be of speculative interest. With its stock trading at $8, the company's entire market value is down to $270 million. It has about $130 million of cash and equivalents and no debt. Operating cash flow last year was $12 million. Results are due next week. One to watch.
7. How do you cut costs and still have a great wedding? Avoid Saturdays and peak seasons, says Ms. Roney. Avoid fancy venues and big cities. Make it more casual: A lot of the money goes toward those big formal dinners. And invite fewer guests. Five hundred people is going to cost you, even if they're not famous.
Bottom line? Think more like Jenna Bush, and less like Chelsea Clinton.
Write to Brett Arends at
Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved***
Re: P.C.'s Rant
Reply #810 on:
August 01, 2010, 05:05:52 AM »
Yeah, It's A Rant, I Checked It Twice Just To Make Sure; I Haven't Been Feeling The Love Recently:
After 9/11 I wrote President Bush concerning the security threats from having so many illegal immigrants coming into the country, as well as those that come in legally but then overstay their visas (I think one or two of the 9/11 hijackers, fell into this category), then too is the problem of catch and release, when those caught simply don't show up for their deportation hearing. I also pointed out that the number of Americans killed over the years by criminal acts committed by illegal aliens made the number of Americans killed on 9/11 (terrible as it was), look small in comparison.
I was quite surprised when I checked my mail a week later and there was a letter from President Bush, that not only thanked me for my suggestions, but also detailed his plans to revamp the entire immigration bureaucracy. He of course did make changes but they had little effect, and with all the talk of amnesty, there was actually a marked increase in the number illegal aliens coming across our southern border. So much for trying to make things better.
Nothing much has changed since the Obama administration took over on our side of the border, but things have certainly gotten more violent to the south of us. One of the things I mentioned in the letter to President Bush was that if we didn't control our borders, someone else would. Could America's enemies see this as an opportunity? What if one of these drug cartels or human smugging operations became a partner to the global operation of terrorism? I mean there already is a drug connection.
Our politicians are playing Russian roulette with our lives everytime a drug shipment or band of illegal aliens are allowed to violate our border. However, the politicians are also taking a huge risk personally. I doubt that the American people will be so forgiving if another attack happens on our soil. I'm guessing that it's not something our politicians think about because if they did maybe they would show a little more caution and enforce our laws. Maybe we need to be a little more vocal. Let them know that if we are attacked again, because they
for purely political reasons not to enforce our immigration laws and to secure our borders, then we the People will surely see to it that they pay a terrible price for their dereliction of duty.
If another attack happens, the People should reach deep into the rotten, corrupt bowels of governmet and drag every bureaucrat and political brown nosing department head, that didn't do their up most to faithfully discharge their duties, out from under their desks, put them on trial, then make them dig the bodies of our fellow citizens out from under whatever disaster they let fall on us, then have them lay the bodies of the dead on the White House lawn and Capital steps. The blood will be on their hands! That's the message.
As for these judges that interpret the Constitution as being a document designed to protect the government from its people, we need to stand them back on their feet. They've been standing on their heads for so long our Republic is upside down. Is that what you think the Founding Fathers had in mind? Come on! These jerks aren't judges, they are idealogical thieves stealing our freedoms, and putting us at the mercy of corrupt politicians and a enemy
that has no mercy
! God help us. I would say something corny at this point like, 'Wake up! America!", but that's not the problem. We have been wide awake and listening to sweet nothings in one ear and lies in the other. That's right, they have talked us right out of our tighty whitey's! And be warned, that won't be the worse analogy you'll see me write.
Now I know that there will be people out there that say I'm a fear monger. And that's bad, how? A little fear in the heart of the right public servant, could save us another 9/11. I think fear in the hearts of our so called leaders is in short supply right now. They should be afraid, very afraid of failing the American people. At this point they only seem to be concerned with their political base and pushing through a radical agenda. If they were shaking in their boots, as they should be, maybe things wouldn't be in such a mess. We need to take that arrogant smirk off their faces, and humble them in light of the responsibility they have to the People.
I'm telling you folks, the gun is pointed at our heads and these idiots are pulling the trigger! It's just a matter of time before the loaded chamber comes around. The border could be sealed tomorrow and effective enforcement could start today but they are choosing not to do it. Choosing!
We the People need to get back in control of our government before it's too late and we need to make sure that every politician and government bureaucrat knows that they will be held accountable for what they do, and what they don't do. If not, one of these days the gun they have on us is going to go. Boom!
They failed us miserably on 9/11 and we gave them a pass, we can't let it slide next time and it's up to you to let them know about it and that way, maybe there won't be a next time. We can't get our virginity back but we can hike up our undies and carry on. I warned you about the analogy.
By P.C. All Rights Reserved, copyright 2010
Last Edit: August 06, 2010, 07:24:57 PM by prentice crawford
We're All Kulaks, Comrade
Reply #811 on:
August 10, 2010, 11:36:17 AM »
James Lileks · 12 hours ago
My friend the Crazy Uke is a mortgage guy; he’s getting me another refi. Years ago - oh, decades - we sat up all night in the back booth of a college restaurant and argued politics; now we sit around the kitchen table of the house he helped us buy, sign endless forms and documents, then pour a drink and agree about politics. I changed. He didn’t. As the son of Ukrainian DPs, he had anti-Soviet and anti-statist ideas poured into his marrow as he grew up, and his accounts of his parents’ lives during the famine and the war were not inconsiderable elements in my political education. It’s one thing to have a college bull session about the Cold War; it’s another to argue with a guy who was actually detained by the KGB and kicked out of the Eastern Bloc.
The Ukrainian famine is one of those episodes known more to anti-commies, I suspect; if I’m right about that, it says something about the people who regard such episodes as inconvenient anomalies and insist we talk about smallpox-infested blankets. But I remember hearing about how people were hauled away for harboring wheat - Kulaks! Wreckers! - and so I got a jolt when I read a NYT article last month about the Administration’s pivot on the health-care mandate question. Uh, well, yeah, it’s a tax, I guess, they said, and they cited some interesting Supreme Court law:
In their lawsuit, Florida and other states say: “Congress is attempting to regulate and penalize Americans for choosing not to engage in economic activity. If Congress can do this much, there will be virtually no sphere of private decision-making beyond the reach of federal power.”
In reply, the administration and its allies say that a person who goes without insurance is simply choosing to pay for health care out of pocket at a later date. In the aggregate, they say, these decisions have a substantial effect on the interstate market for health care and health insurance.
In its legal briefs, the Obama administration points to a famous New Deal case, Wickard v. Filburn, in which the Supreme Court upheld a penalty imposed on an Ohio farmer who had grown a small amount of wheat, in excess of his production quota, purely for his own use.
The wheat grown by Roscoe Filburn “may be trivial by itself,” the court said, but when combined with the output of other small farmers, it significantly affected interstate commerce and could therefore be regulated by the government as part of a broad scheme regulating interstate commerce.
If you’ve read Amity Shlaes’ “Forgotten Man,” this isn’t a total surprise, but to put in the modern web vernacular: Wow. Just - wow. So a guy grows wheat for himself, and bang! he’s a Kulak, too - not because he intended to sell the wheat, mind you, but he could have, and everyone did it, then prices would collapse and Walker Evans would have to go out and reshoot the Midwest to capture the new wave of human misery.
Something to keep in mind when someone says “if they can do this, they can do anything.” They’ve already done that. They already can do anything. I don’t know what’s worse: that it still exists as a decision the government could cite, or the fact that the administration thought it would be a good idea to bring it up to defend their tax.
By the way, the Crazy Uke’s parents are still alive, hale and sturdy. They lived long enough to see Ukraine declare its independence; they lived long enough to go home for a visit without Intourist minders.
Reply #812 on:
August 11, 2010, 08:19:48 AM »
Saul Alinsky: A Complicated Rebel
Nicholas von Hoffman’s new book complicates a right-wing caricature.
Radical: A Portrait of Saul Alinsky by Nicholas von Hoffman (Nation Books, 237 pp., $26.95)
Nicholas von Hoffman’s short, breezy, and informative sketch of Saul Alinsky — and of the decade he spent with him working as a community organizer — offers us a very different take on the legendary activist than the narrative we are accustomed to. This is especially the case for those conservatives who consider Alinsky close to the devil. Alinsky made the comparison himself, invoking Lucifer, along with Thomas Paine and Rabbi Hillel, in the epigraphs to his classic, bestselling 1971 guide, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals. As Alinsky put it, clearly facetiously, Lucifer was “the very first radical . . . who rebelled against the establishment,” and who was so effective “that he . . . won his own kingdom.” But the reality of Alinsky and his work was significantly different from what this tongue-in-cheek self-presentation — and, a fortiori, today’s conservative attacks on Alinsky — would have us believe. He was not a radical believer in Big Government, and he probably would have had serious problems with Barack Obama’s agenda.
Alinsky became famous by organizing ethnic workers in the old Chicago stockyards from 1939 to the end of the 1950s, where he created the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council as the vehicle to organize them. Because of his work, von Hoffman notes, “what had been an area of ramshackle, near-slum housing tilting this way and that had been rebuilt into a model working-class community of neat bungalow homes.”
Candidly, von Hoffman adds that Alinsky did not challenge the neighborhood’s pattern of segregation, which had “become an impregnable fortification of whites-only exclusionism.” Back in 1919, these same workers played a part in the famous 1919 Chicago-area race riots, in which 500 people, most of them black, were wounded and 38 killed. Alinsky did manage to obtain permission for blacks to have unmolested passage through the Back of the Yards as they were on their way to other places — which seems little by today’s standards, but, as von Hoffman notes, was a major accomplishment then.
As for the Neighborhood Council’s funding, it came not from government largesse, but from — of all things — the illegal-gambling activities of Alinsky’s partner, Joe Meegan. This spoke to Alinsky’s longstanding friendly relations with gangsters, thugs, and the organized-crime syndicates. That source of funding meant that any pressure from government to end racial exclusion would come to naught. Moreover, Alinsky’s belief that the people had to determine their own destiny meant, for him, that if the people wanted an all-white community, they should not be challenged on the matter. Although he wanted integration, and hoped that he could select and induce a few middle-class black families to buy homes in the Back of the Yards neighborhood and then convince whites to accept them, his partner Meegan nixed the idea. “Even public discussion of a Negro family,” von Hoffman writes, “would have the same effect as news that the bubonic plague was loose.” Even fair-minded whites in the area believed that blacks’ moving in meant “slumification, crime, bad schools, and punishing drops in real-estate values,” and hence the simple idea of an interracial neighborhood “would destroy the community and the council.” Alinsky’s code of loyalty to the Back of the Yards Council came before his personal opposition to segregation. (As von Hoffman rationalizes it, “the leaders behind the whites-only policy were his friends.”) The people pursued a policy he abhorred; and he had no choice but to stand with the people.
An even more surprising revelation is that Alinsky admired Sen. Barry Goldwater, whose libertarian objections to the proposed 1964 civil-rights act he shared. Countervailing power from organizations, not decisions made by courts, Alinsky thought, was the only way to achieve permanent change. Thus, von Hoffman tells us, “he was less than enthusiastic about much civil-rights legislation,” and during Goldwater’s run for the presidency, he had at least one secret meeting with the conservative senator, during which they discussed Lyndon Johnson’s civil-rights proposal. “Saul,” von Hoffman writes, “shared the conservative misgivings about the mischief such laws could cause if abused,” but would not publicly oppose the bill, since he had no better idea to propose in its place.
Alinsky also opposed Martin Luther King Jr.’s attempted march in Chicago in 1965, criticizing King for not building a “stable, disciplined, mass-based power organization.” He saw King as a man without local roots, who did not know the community, and who did not have any idea about how to organize it. Von Hoffman writes that King led “a little army stranded inside a vast and hostile terrain,” whose efforts “accomplished nothing except to reinforce the perception” that King “was an outsider.”
But what did Alinsky think about the other major liberal ideas of the time — for example, Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society program, or Robert F. Kennedy’s program for the poor? According to David Horowitz, the conservative activist and author — in his very influential pamphlet “Barack Obama’s Rules for Revolution: The Alinsky Model” — Alinsky’s radical organizers had a responsibility to work “within the system.” They did not follow the path advocated by the New Left, who preferred to utter meaningless calls for “revolution.” Thus, Horowitz writes, they “infiltrated the War on Poverty, made alliances with the Kennedys and the Democratic Party, and secured funds from the federal government. Like termites, they set about to eat away at the foundations of the building in expectation that one day they could cause it to collapse.” While the New Left created riots like that at the Chicago Democratic convention in 1968, “Alinsky’s organizers were insinuating themselves into Johnson’s War on Poverty program and directing federal funds into their own organizations and causes.”
According to von Hoffman, though, Alinsky had nothing but contempt for activists who gladly took money from the government, and hence his own group did not work within or for the government’s War on Poverty programs. Writes von Hoffman:
Although Alinsky is described as some kind of liberal left-winger[,] in actuality big government worried him. He had no use for President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society with its War on Poverty. He used to say that if Washington was going to spend that kind of dough the government might as well station people on the ghetto street corners and hand out hundred-dollar bills to the passing pedestrians. For him governmental action was the last resort, not the ideal one.
Moreover, according to von Hoffman, Alinsky also opposed putting community organizers on the government payroll, as Bobby Kennedy sought to do, since “it made an independent civil life next to impossible.” It also created the conditions by which any administration could use their work for “social and political control.” It would “stifle independent action,” and possibly turn paid organizers “into police spies.” As von Hoffman sees his mentor, Alinsky opposed not only big government, but also large corporations and big labor. What he wanted was not revolution — despite his radical rhetoric meant to appeal to the New Left — but “democratic organizations which could pose countervailing power against modern bureaucracies.” Thus, in von Hoffman’s view, Saul Alinsky was a radical, but a Tory radical or a radical conservative: a man with a libertarian sensibility who supported all the little men fighting against any large structure, whether it was the government, a corporation, or organized labor.
In today’s America, conservatives have paid a great deal of attention to what was — until its recent demise after a series of scandals — the largest and most successful community organization, ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Critics have accused the group of electoral fraud, of shakedowns of large banking and manufacturing firms, and of helping to create the housing bubble by fighting to have community banks grant loans to those who had no way to pay them back. Many of the critics claim that the organization, formed in 1970, was inspired by Alinsky’s methods and concepts — but Alinsky had nothing to do with its founding.
This is an important issue, because the great interest Alinsky has for commentators today stems largely from his reputed influence on Barack Obama. One often hears critics of President Obama’s policies proclaim that he is acting “straight out of the Alinsky playbook.” Because Obama was a community organizer for a brief time before going to law school, many people have assumed that, as a disciple of Saul Alinsky, he was committed thereafter to apply Alinsky’s principles as a guide for whatever position he held in life. Many therefore assume that he is now acting on them as president.
It is true that Obama’s mentors were trained by Alinsky’s organization. In re searching a piece for The New Republic in 2007, Ryan Lizza spoke to Gregory Galluzzo, one of the three men who instructed Obama when he became a community organizer. Galluzzo told Lizza that many organizers would start as idealists, and that he urged them to become realists and not be averse to Alinsky’s candid advocacy of gaining power, since “power is good” and “powerlessness is evil.” Galluzzo taught Obama that people have to be organized according to their self-interest, and not on the basis of what Obama himself has characterized as “pie-in-the-sky idealism.”
In 1992, Obama famously worked for a voter-registration group called Project Vote, which was an ACORN partner, and helped Carol Moseley Braun defeat an incumbent U.S. senator in the 1992 Democratic primary. A few years later, Lizza reported, Obama became ACORN’s attorney, and won a decision forcing Illinois to implement the Motor Voter Law, with what the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund called “loose voter-registration requirements that would later be exploited by ACORN employees in an effort to flood voter rolls with fake names.” Obama cited ACORN first on a list he composed in 1996 of key supporters for his campaign for the state senate.
So Obama’s association with ACORN was real, and close. This, combined with the fact that Obama taught Alinsky’s methods when he worked with community organizers, has led many to assume that Alinsky himself approved of ACORN. Von Hoffman, however, challenges this notion. He writes: “[ACORN’s] cheekiness, truculence, and imaginative tactical tropes have an Alinskyan touch but the organization’s handling of money, embezzlement, and nepotism would have drawn his scorn. Nor would he have been comfortable with the large amounts of government money flowing into the organization.” (Emphasis added.) This conclusion is essentially confirmed by the activist and writer John Atlas, whose new pro-ACORN book, Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN, explains that the group broke with the Alinsky model in a number of ways — most importantly, by applying for and receiving government contracts.
According to von Hoffman, Alinsky had nothing but disdain for the New Left with which Obama was associated. He thought Bill Ayers was wedded to “petulant ego decision making,” as well as a “comic-book leftism whose principal feature was anger at a government which did not do as they bade it. Their foot-stamping anger and humiliation at their failures . . . made them believe they were justified in taking up violence.” He saw the Weather Underground as a group prone to tantrums and “Rumpelstiltskin politics.”
Alinsky’s own approach had some major successes. In Rochester, N.Y., he got Eastman Kodak to agree to hire more blacks. In 1965, he had been approached by ministers from Rochester after Martin Luther King Jr. had turned down an overture from them. This in itself provides an interesting contrast with some of the activism of later times: Alinsky took action after he was asked to intervene by community ministers. This was quite different from the kind of shakedown associated in more recent years with Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton, the kind in which large corporations fill an organization’s coffers with money in exchange for a hands-off agreement.
Yet, even in the Rochester fight, Alinsky’s methods often appeared rather comical, and it is rather hard to believe that they were taken seriously. According to von Hoffman, what Alinsky proposed, and scared the city’s elite with, was a scheduled “fart-in” at the Kodak-sponsored Rochester Symphony. He planned to gather black activists — for whom concert tickets had been bought — for a pre-concert dinner made up exclusively of baked beans. This would be his substitute for sit-ins and picket lines. Alinsky called it a “flatulent blitzkrieg,” and the result of this threat (along with other tactics, including the use of proxies at stockholder meetings) evidently was a settlement in which the city fathers agreed to the demands. In Chicago, he threatened a “piss-in” at O’Hare Airport, which immediately led the city to the bargaining table. That such juvenile tactics worked perhaps says more about the fears of the politicians than the genius of Alinsky.
Alinsky had some impressive backers. Among them was the old giant of the mine workers’ union, John L. Lewis, who advised him and supported him. (Like Lewis, he used Communists as orga nizers on his staff. He disdained the Communist Party and its Marxist and pro-Soviet positions, and regarded its members as “servants of an antidemo cratic foreign power” — but because he valued the organizing skill of individual Communists, he hired them as staffers anyway.) He also bonded with key figures in the Catholic archdiocese of Chicago. The whites he sought to organize were mainly believing Catholics, and thus Alinsky became particularly close to Fr. John O’Grady, whom von Hoffman credits with doing away with clerically dominated local charities and replacing them with charities run by professionals from social-work schools in Catholic colleges and universities. Later, Alinsky became close to the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, with whom he regularly corresponded. He also befriended Cardinal Stritch and Fr. Jack Egan, who got the archdiocese to give him the money to launch organizing drives in the 1950s. This constituency is hardly what one thinks of as a force for social revolution in America.
So what were Alinsky’s goals in the end? Von Hoffman does not really answer this question, perhaps because Alinsky never did. Before people decide whether Saul Alinsky was a man with an actual revolutionary plan, they owe it to themselves to take into consideration von Hoffman’s contrary assessment of the father of community organizing.
— Ronald Radosh, an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute and a blogger for PajamasMedia.com, is the author of Commies: A Journey through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #813 on:
August 13, 2010, 01:30:59 AM »
So, BBG, what do you make of this piece?
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #814 on:
August 13, 2010, 07:18:25 AM »
Mohamed said war deception. Didn't Alinsky say view everything as black and white otherwise nothing gets done? I think he is much more radical than the piece makes out. Reader beware!
Last Edit: August 13, 2010, 07:43:41 AM by Freki
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #815 on:
August 13, 2010, 10:44:36 AM »
This is just corruption plain and simple. There is just nothing, or no one money can't buy. Someone at the FHA should go to jail for this nonsense. Has anyone tried to get a Federal employee fired? Almost impossible. Talk about an "club".
****Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Housing Administration is providing a lifeline to new Manhattan luxury condominiums after sales stalled. Bloomberg's Monica Bertran reports. (Source: Bloomberg)
A one-bedroom apartment is pictured at the 99 John Deco Loft condo building in New York. Photographer: Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg
Whitney Gollinger, marketing chief for a Manhattan condo building with an outdoor movie theater and panoramic city views, is highlighting a different amenity to spur sales: the financial backing of the federal government.
The Federal Housing Administration agreed in March to insure mortgages for apartments at the 98-unit Gramercy Park development, known as Tempo. That enables buyers to make a down payment of as little as 3.5 percent in a building where apartments range from $820,000 to $3 million.
“It’s a government seal of approval,” said Gollinger, a director at the Developments Group of New York-based brokerage Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “We need as many sales tools as we can have these days, and it’s one more tool.”
The FHA, created in 1934 to make homeownership attainable for low- to moderate-income Americans, is providing a lifeline to new Manhattan luxury condominiums after sales stalled. Buildings featuring pet spas, concierges and rooftop lounges are applying for agency backing to unlock bank financing for purchasers. The FHA guarantees that if a homebuyer defaults on his mortgage, the agency will pay it.
At least nine Manhattan condo developments south of 96th Street have sought approval for FHA backing since the agency loosened its financing rules in December, according to a database of applications kept by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The change allows the FHA to insure loans in new projects where only 30 percent of units are in contract, down from at least 50 percent. About 1,900 apartments in New York’s most expensive neighborhoods would be covered by the applications.
Filling a Void
The agency also offers insurance to half of all mortgages in a single building after previously setting a limit at 30 percent, according to the new standards, which expire in December. The entire property must be approved for a buyer to get backing. Most of those that applied in Manhattan are buildings converted to condos or built since 2007.
The FHA is filling a void left after mortgage-finance agency Fannie Mae tightened its condo lending standards last year. The Washington-based company won’t back loans made in new buildings where fewer than 51 percent of the units are in contract, sometimes setting a requirement as high as 70 percent.
That in turn makes mortgage lenders hesitant to make loans at developments under those thresholds, said Orest Tomaselli, chief executive officer of White Plains, New York-based National Condo Advisors LLC, which advises condominiums on how to adhere to Fannie Mae and FHA standards.
‘Not an Accident’
“It’s not an accident that the FHA is offering this -- not private lenders,” said Christopher Mayer, senior vice dean at Columbia Business School’s Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate in New York. “An unfilled condominium complex is not the kind of thing that a bank looking to rebuild its balance sheet on real estate is looking to do.”
In New York City, the priciest urban U.S. housing market, the FHA insures loans of as much as $729,750, and permits buyers to borrow up to 96.5 percent of the price.
No buildings in Manhattan applied for FHA recognition between 1998 and 2008 -- though in those years the program didn’t require an entire property be approved and condo buyers could seek FHA-insured loans on their own, Tomaselli said.
New development in Manhattan represented 23 percent of the sales market in the second quarter, compared with 35 percent two years earlier, according to New York appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. About 8,700 new apartments in the borough were empty as of June, partly because of a lack of available financing for buyers, said Jonathan Miller, president of the firm.
“Something has to happen for this product to be marketable,” Miller said. “I just find the whole thing ironic that FHA is providing financing for luxury housing.”
The FHA loosened the condo rules because of “market conditions,” according to Lemar Wooley, an agency spokesman.
“We are certainly cognizant of falling sales prices, limited availability of liquidity, etc., so we wanted to be flexible,” Wooley wrote in an e-mail. “The risk was considered before issuance of the temporary guidance.”
The new rules are a “game changer,” said Ryan Serhant, vice president at Nest Seekers International, a brokerage with offices in New York and Florida. He’s marketing 99 John Deco Lofts, a 442-unit conversion project in downtown Manhattan that features a “zen” flower garden and Brooklyn Bridge views.
The development, where sales began more than two years ago, had 10 units go into contract with FHA backing since approval in March. The FHA suspended its support for the building Aug. 3, according to the agency website. The property is working to have it reinstated, Serhant said.
Eager for Approval
Angela Ferrara, who markets the Sheffield condos on West 57th Street, checks every day whether the 597-unit property, which applied to the FHA in May, has won approval. Ferrara, vice president of sales for New York-based the Marketing Directors Inc., says she is eager to start touting the FHA backing to potential buyers. That’s a reversal from the past, when government loan programs weren’t necessary -- or advertised.
“People would get the wrong idea, and think it was a different type of government-subsidized product,” Ferrara said. “It was almost regarded as a negative, particularly in the luxury properties.”
Now, she said, “It’s actually became a widely accepted marketing tool.”
The Sheffield promotes amenities such as concierge service, a pet spa and massage rooms, according to the project’s website. A neighborhood guide on the site lists chef Thomas Keller’s four-star restaurant Per Se as a nearby attraction, along with Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and Tiffany & Co.’s flagship Fifth Avenue store.
The Sheffield’s owner, New York-based Fortress Investment Group LLC, took over the condo conversion project in foreclosure last August after the original developer, Kent Swig, defaulted on a loan. With 56 percent of the converted units sold or in contract, the building has about 230 units left to sell, Ferrara estimates.
FHA is “definitely is a great solution right now,” said Tomaselli of National Condo Advisors, which prepared the FHA applications for Tempo and Sheffield.
“The savvy developers did it first,” Tomaselli said. “But everybody else is catching up.”
In the borough of Brooklyn, FHA support accounted for half of the 29 units sold at the 111 Monroe condos in Clinton Hill and a quarter of apartments in Williamsburg’s NV building, which is sold out after two years on the market, said David Behin, executive vice president at the Developers Group, a New York brokerage for new buildings.
Limits to Success
The FHA’s effectiveness will be limited in Manhattan because apartment prices are higher than in Brooklyn and the insured loan is capped at $729,750, Behin said. The median price of a Manhattan apartment in a new development was $1.4 million in the second quarter, according to Miller Samuel and Prudential Douglas Elliman.
“With apartments over $1 million, FHA isn’t going to help you,” Behin said. “You’d have to put down 30 percent to get the loan of $729,000. And if you have 30 percent to put down, a bank will loan to you without FHA.”
Borrowers backed by FHA are essentially buying mortgage insurance, said Debra Shultz, managing director at Manhattan Mortgage Company Inc. in New York. Buyers pay an upfront premium of 2.25 percent of their loan value, and a monthly fee equal to about 0.5 percent of the loan amount for at least five years, she said.
Nationwide, the FHA insured 21 percent of all mortgages made in the second quarter, or $71.4 billion worth of loans, according to Geremy Bass, publisher of the Inside FHA Lending newsletter. That’s close to the $79.5 billion total value of all FHA-backed loans in 2007.
Nine percent of all FHA-insured loans were 90 days or more past due or in the process of foreclosure in the first quarter, compared with 7.4 percent a year earlier, data from the Washington-based Mortgage Bankers Association show.
The agency doesn’t require a minimum credit score for the mortgage insurance, though many lenders who fund the loans insist on a rating of at least 580, said Shultz.
The FHA is considering a minimum required score of 500, according to a notice the agency filed in the Federal Register on July 15. A person with a 500 rating is in the lowest one percentile of credit scores nationally and was likely delinquent on several accounts in the last year, said John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education for Credit.com, a consumer and credit education company based in San Francisco.
Taking on Risk
“The government is taking on more risk,” said Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance. “That’s the bottom line. They really can’t say no, because that’s their purpose. It’s to support the housing market when there’s no other funding.”
Until they heard about FHA, Asha Willis and her boyfriend, Cesar Rivera, didn’t think they would buy a place for at least five years -- enough time to save a 20 percent down payment, she said. The couple reasoned that they earned enough to make monthly mortgage payments, and began an apartment search in February, limiting their hunt to buildings with agency backing.
Willis, an attending physician at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn; and Rivera, a sales associate at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, toured several glass and steel high rises and decided on a one-bedroom at Toll Brothers Inc.’s Two Northside Piers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It didn’t have FHA approval at the time, but developers promised it was on its way, Willis said.
“Our contract had a contingency that if they weren’t FHA approved we could get out of the contract,” said Willis, currently a renter at Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town.
Prices at the building range from the “high $300,000s” to more than $2 million, according to Adam Gottlieb, project manager for Northside Piers. The property, which began sales in October 2008, received FHA approval in June.
Shultz, whose Manhattan Mortgage has sourced FHA loans for buyers in Brooklyn, the borough of Queens and on New York’s Long Island, said the last month brought a sudden surge of calls from would-be buyers seeking FHA insurance for Manhattan purchases.
“It’s definitely breaking through to the Manhattan market,” she said.
At Tempo, which is still under construction, developers are hoping that FHA approval will appeal to buyers of lower-priced units and inch the number of contracts signed to the 51 percent that conventional mortgage lenders require, Gollinger said. About 15 percent of the 98 units are under contract.
The developers plan to tout FHA support in e-mails and other promotions in a sales push next month as the building nears completion, Gollinger said.
“I never even dealt with this,” she said. “All of a sudden it became an absolute must.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Oshrat Carmiel in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org.****
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #816 on:
August 14, 2010, 01:38:56 AM »
May I suggest that this piece better belongs in the Housing thread?
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #817 on:
August 14, 2010, 02:17:37 AM »
So, BBG, what do you make of this piece?
Oh, I basically agree with it. I came up in Chicago under a bunch of Alinskyites back in the bad old days of Dick Nixon and the original Mayor Daley. Several of the folks I hung with had the special garbage truck come by for their trash (we always had an eye out for roadkill and other nasty stuff to garnish their garbage with) and there was all sorts of other wacky stuff going on in the wake of the '68 Democratic national convention. I always saw the organizing stuff as a response to heavy handed tactics, a response that didn't have the marxist overtones of college/Yippie/SDS types wandering around those days.
Reply #818 on:
August 25, 2010, 07:48:44 AM »
George Gilder on Austrian Finance, Internet Technology and the Virtues of Supply-Side Economics
The Daily Bell is pleased to present an exclusive interview with George Gilder (left).
Introduction: George Gilder is Chairman of George Gilder Fund Management, LLC and host of the Gilder Telecosm Forum. He is also a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute where he directs Discovery's program on high technology and public policy, and the former Editor in Chief of the Gilder Technology Report (published by Forbes Inc., 1996-2007). Mr. Gilder pioneered the formulation of supply-side economics when he served as Chairman of the Lehrman Institute's Economic Roundtable, as Program Director for the Manhattan Institute, and as a frequent contributor to A.B. Laffer's economic reports and the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. In the 1980s he also consulted leaders of America's high technology businesses. According to a study of presidential speeches, Mr. Gilder was President Reagan's most frequently quoted living author. In 1986, President Reagan gave George Gilder the White House Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence. Mr. Gilder hosts the web's premier technology investment discussion forum, the Gilder Telecosm Forum, and co-hosts (with Steve Forbes) the annual Gilder/Forbes Telecosm Conference.
Daily Bell: Can you give us some background on your life – where you grew up and what your interests were?
George Gilder: I grew up on a dairy farm in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, where my prime interests were cows, birds, sports, and girls.
Daily Bell: How did you become involved in free-market thinking?
George Gilder: I didn't. I got interested in human creativity and the conditions that foster it. It is enterprise that causes free markets, not free markets that summon enterprise. Adam Smith was wrong in his assertion that the extent of the division of labor is determined by the extent of the market. It is the other way around. The extent of the division of labor - the creativity of entrepreneurs - determines the extent of the market.
Daily Bell: Who were your big influences?
George Gilder: Jean Baptiste Say of Say's Law – supply creates its own demand – introduced to me by Thomas Sowell, who devoted his thesis to the subject. Supply-side economics is not a mere elaboration of free market theory. It is a new theory, founded by Say. It says markets are mere effects of enterprise.
Now from my studies of communications technology and Claude Shannon, I am intrigued with information theory and its concept of information entropy, which registers unexpected bits. Creativity always comes as a surprise to us. No information is transmitted unless it is unexpected. In this sense, Entropy is another word for "news."
I believe that information entropy also represents entrepreneurial "profit" (the unexpected component of returns; the expected component is the interest rate). Entrepreneurial economics is the economics of entropy. My former colleague Bret Swanson has an excellent website
The key rule of information theory is that it takes a low entropy carrier (no surprises) to bear high entropy information. That is why information gravitates to the electromagnetic spectrum, with its predictable waves guaranteed by the speed of light. And that is why creative enterprise gravitates to countries with stable currencies attuned to gold and the rule of law (no surprises).
Daily Bell: Explain your views on feminism and affirmative action as a young man.
George Gilder: I always valued the differences between the sexes as crucial to life and love.
Daily Bell: Have your views evolved since then?
George Gilder: Just grown stronger as the evidence from biology has mounted.
Daily Bell: Do you see differences between the Austrians like FA Hayek and the Fresh Water school of Milton Friedman?
George Gilder: Yes. The Austrians stress entrepreneurial creativity over free markets. When I went to China in the 1990s with Milton Friedman, he urged the Chinese to "take control over their money supply" as if the communists needed any further recommendations for "controls." I urged them to "let a billion flowers bloom." As I have said, there can be no free markets without free entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are not tools of the market, they are creators of new tools. The entrepreneur precedes the market. Without him, there is no market. The computerized markets of the quants careened to a predictable crash.
Daily Bell: Did you at the time you were writing Wealth and Poverty, a great book in our opinion.
George Gilder: Yes, I always preferred the Austrians for their stress on entrepreneurial creativity, but even the Austrians, beyond Von Mises, fell for the temptation of seeing entrepreneurs as products of "the free market" rather than its creator.
Daily Bell: Would you define yourself today - Republican, Conservative, Libertarian?
George Gilder: Yes.
Daily Bell: What do you think of the growing movement of Austrian economics?
George Gilder: Ever since Ludwig von Mises, the Austrians have been supreme in economics. But as far as I know no one has excelled the master.
Daily Bell: What do you think of Murray Rothbard?
George Gilder: Murray always struck me as a brilliant dogmatist, letting the ideal always trump the possible advance and allowing his hatred of bureaucracy to blur his ability to distinguish between totalitarianism and mere political muddle, between the Soviet Union and the United States, for relevant examples.
Daily Bell: What do you think of the Internet?
George Gilder: I have written several books on the Internet, beginning with Life After Television in 1990, which predicted "worldwide webs of glass and light." I think the Internet is now close to the end, because TCP-IP has become a cumbersome obstacle to communications in an age when video is the dominant form of traffic and thus the governing determinant of optimal technology. The new network will resemble a broadband synchronous version of the old telephone network, optimized for video. The current Internet, as Henry Gau has said, resembles an old telegraph system patched and upgraded for video.
Daily Bell: Is the Internet a force for freedom?
George Gilder: Yes. Communication is a form of freedom.
Daily Bell: How has your opinion of technology evolved over the years?
George Gilder: I have strengthened my view that government financed science and technology (such as global warming or "alternative" energy) are nearly always reactionary.
Daily Bell: Why did you stop writing about free-markets when you were such an eloquent proponent? Your voice has been missed.
George Gilder: I never stopped, but I wrote more about the fruits of enterprise and creativity than about the perfection of "free markets" themselves. Like "perfect competition," a cant of "free markets" has become an excuse for oppressive regulations and controls. As markets are never finally free or competition ever perfect, critics can always find reasons for new beadles and bureaucrats. Ostensible advocates of free markets, such as Paul Romer, end up denying the existence of real entrepreneurial invention (de novo) by depicting it as the mere materialist "reassembly of chemical elements."
Even Austrians depict the entrepreneur as a mere "scout of opportunities" or "arbitrageur" rather than as a creator of radical novelties based on imagination and original inspiration. They see the entrepreneur as a tool of markets rather than a creator of markets. Creation is a real thing in the world. Treating it as some kind of material process is arrant reductionism which leads to the notion that computer based financial markets are ideal. As we have seen in the recent financial crash, markets cannot function without human creativity and judgment.
Daily Bell: What do you think technology is capable of?
George Gilder: Empowerment of capitalists to defend themselves without retreat to Galt's Gulch.
Daily Bell: How is it going to change the future?
George Gilder: Enable global individualism and enterprise.
Daily Bell: Will it have a political impact? Is it?
George Gilder: Technological progress renders totalitarianism impotent. Only freedom can enable innovation and empower progress. Despots impoverish themselves.
Daily Bell: Where do you stand on fiat money versus a gold and silver standard?
George Gilder: Although I do not believe a restoration of the old gold standard is possible or desirable, I believe that gold is the monetary element and provides an extremely valuable gauge of the appropriate monetary policy. Ignoring the price of gold is perilous for any nation, such as the U.S. Gold will prevail over blind monetarism.
Daily Bell: What do you think of Congressman Ron Paul?
George Gilder: Like many movement libertarians, he always prefers the quixotic ideal (radical spending cuts) to the feasible improvement of lower tax rates. By opposing defense spending and American power he has become a shill for the enemies of capitalism and freedom.
Daily Bell: What do you think of the Tea Party movement?
George Gilder: A fully beneficial force as long as they stress tax cuts rather than spending cuts. Lower tax rates are good in themselves. Lower spending always ends up focusing on defense.
The chief damage of the new health care "reform" will come from the 16,500 new Internal Revenue Service Agents, each with $600K, assigned to enforce it. To focus on spending is wrong. It is coercive taxation that is the problem. It destroys capitalism.
Daily Bell: What do you think of the European Union and the move toward globalism generally. A good thing?
George Gilder: Global capitalism is good. Global socialism and bureaucracy is evil.
Daily Bell: Is America in good shape these days? Are you encouraged or discouraged?
George Gilder: America is in relatively bad shape. But it is showing strong signs of a revulsion against the ascendant socialism.
Daily Bell: What are some of the most influential books and web sites you can recommend to our readers?
George Gilder: Panic: the betrayal of capitalism by Andrew Redleaf and Richard Vigilante is the definitive account of the financial crash. Bret Swanson's EntropyEconomics website is excellent.
Daily Bell: Please recommend further reading from your own oeuvre as well.
George Gilder: My new book, The Israel Test, explains how anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are chiefly forms of anti-capitalism.
Daily Bell: Thank you for your time and insights.
George Gilder is a provocative writer with a formidable intellect. The arc of his literary career is broad and glittering, and his arrival on the national scene was a literary event. He was an original thinker from the beginning, attracting attention for his plain-speaking about male/female relationships and then, before it was fashionable, the necessity for free-markets in a Western world that was trending toward socialism. Many read his 1981 bestseller Wealth and Poverty and were favorably influenced by his arguments for freedom and free-markets. The book was timely and erudite - a pleasure to read. (One can see even from the interview above that George Gilder is an artist with words.)
Anyway, the whole idea of supply-side economics, which George Gilder helped pioneer as Chairman of the Lehrman Institute's Economic Roundtable, was a sociopolitical revelation. It could be realistically implemented and supported ideologically by US conservatives of the day. It also worked. In fact, every time taxes have been cut (in the U.S.) an energetic economy has been the result. By cutting taxes, a government can actually gain revenue – because entrepreneurs work harder – which is something the Obama administration should remember as it begins to arm revenue officers with rifles to facilitate further collections.
But the major point of enlightenment as regards this interview – from our viewpoint – is the statement made about libertarian congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex). Now from our point of view, Ron Paul is a man with a cast of mind similar to George Gilder's. Gilder, however, doesn't see it that way. He seems somewhat skeptical of Ron Paul.
"Like many movement libertarians, he always prefers the quixotic ideal (radical spending cuts) to the feasible improvement of lower tax rates," Gilder states in the interview above. And then he adds of Ron Paul, that, "by opposing defense spending and American power he has become a shill for the enemies of capitalism and freedom."
He also states in answer to the next question about the impact of the US Tea Party movement, "[They are] a fully beneficial force as long as they stress tax cuts rather than spending cuts. Lower tax rates are good in themselves. Lower spending always ends up focusing on defense."
We can see from the above perspective that George Gilder believes in a robust defense posture and an expenditure (one assumes from his answers) roughly analogous to trillions being spent now by the Pentagon. Not only that, but he seems to imply that the Reagan era focus on CUTTING TAXES versus CUTTING SPENDING was a purposeful one at the highest levels – a way of presenting one's free-market bona fides without chopping expenditures. In fact, Reagan ended up increasing government, which was certainly not his stated intention.
Now leaving aside the issue of military spending – a contentious one to be sure (given America's serial, global wars) – what George Gilder is telling us is that supply-side economics allowed the Reagan era Republican party to promote free-markets without running the danger of encouraging military spending cuts. In other words, government could continue to grow at the federal level even though it was implementing free-market solutions.
This is an astonishing perspective and one that we had not fully contemplated. Perhaps we've simply not read the right articles or books, but we've believed all along that supply-side economics was proposed as a libertarian solution to the problem of OUT OF CONTROL government. In fact, we are informed herein, it was proposed as a libertarian-style alternative that allowed government to CONTINUE to grow – or so George Gilder seems to explain. (Maybe we have missed something in our analysis or misunderstood him, in which case we apologize.)
Armed with acute insights, George Gilder makes other provocative statements in this interview, and we won't presume on the reader's time to point them out. They are evident enough and are cast forth as sparks, in our view, from a brilliant mind. He is certainly not a man equipped to endorse common wisdom, though his track record shows us that he is fully capable of anticipating society's most profound transformations.
Finally, we will not pretend that this interview reveals an entirely candid George Gilder. He was obviously somewhat guarded and occasionally monosyllabic, or nearly so. But we were pleased, nonetheless, to elicit his fascinating responses on any terms and wish to state he was most gracious to give us even a little of his valuable time.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #819 on:
August 25, 2010, 08:11:41 AM »
**My favorite part:
Daily Bell: What do you think of Congressman Ron Paul?
George Gilder: Like many movement libertarians, he always prefers the quixotic ideal (radical spending cuts) to the feasible improvement of lower tax rates. By opposing defense spending and American power he has become a shill for the enemies of capitalism and freedom.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #820 on:
September 03, 2010, 09:42:10 AM »
Some have said that the mosque on ground zero is akin to the Japanese building a religious shrine at Pearl Habor.
Looking at it from the opposite perspective:
Could any American dream or think it a good idea to build a memorial to Harry S. Truman on the site of Hiroshima?
It seems to me the fact I have never heard anyone even use this as an analogy suggests no American would be that obnoxious to even think of doing that to the Japanese.
There is simply no other explanation for building this mosque at the WTC site than it is meant to be a symbol of of victory. The progressives who than turn around and agree with the argument that it is all about religious freedom - it is as Malken would say, "head exploding."
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #821 on:
September 03, 2010, 10:39:40 AM »
Very well put CCP, the Truman center in Hiroshima. We didn't build that and we can't put a church or synagogue anywhere in a Muslim land. This is a fascinating and emotionally charged upside-down issue. True free market thinking says this site goes to the high bidder - strip club, pot shop, shooting range, what ever. NY of course is a heavily zoned and regulated town, what gets built is what they want to get built. Do developers survive without political contributions? I don't think so and why, because jobs don't get approved by just showing up with permit fees.
The whole issue is about bad taste. A mosque is a monument to honor Islam and there are 100 of them operating freely in New York. This isn't
ground zero; this is where blood stained plane parts landed. I think people forget the hundred in the planes died too, not just in the building. Blood of mass murder is sacred ground, if you believe in that sort of thing. The city could 'take' the property for public purposes and under Kelo the city could 'take' the property for any private purposes that it sees fit. I didn't see Obama slamming that Supreme Court decision that gives local government complete control over what goes where.
The strangest part of it is to see no objection because it is not our place to say what can be built or cannot be built on sacred ground in New York City because of unbending principle and tolerance and meanwhile with a straight face tell Israel what religions of people can build in what areas of their land. Go figure.
freedom of speech?/how about a cultural theme park
Reply #822 on:
September 03, 2010, 12:39:43 PM »
"this site goes to the high bidder - strip club, pot shop, shooting range, what ever"
Good idea Doug.
Rush had suggested a gay bar open next door. May I add a strip club titled "99 virgins" would be excellent for the other side of the mosque.
Across the street a Church with a statue of Jesus and Mother Mary. Adjacent to that my favorite = a museum about Zionism.
A NOW center also would help complete a culturally diverse theme park around the mosque.
OK you wise guys (there is certainly no nicer way to put it). You want to speak of freedom of speech - lets give you the whole works! In your faces too.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #823 on:
September 03, 2010, 01:40:49 PM »
Gutfeld on the Muslim gay bar: “This might be the greatest idea I’ve ever had”
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #824 on:
September 04, 2010, 06:28:08 AM »
Ofend local sensibilities and you can expext to pay a price. I like the concept of a new "PC Square" where the various fringe groups in this culture can build their monuments. They can learn the concept of tolerance if they are intolerant, or gain some notice if they are quiet, but want to be discreetly visible.
VDH: New Old World Order
Reply #825 on:
September 04, 2010, 01:07:49 PM »
NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE
Victor Davis Hanson
September 2, 2010 12:00 A.M.
The New Old World Order
A global shift to past politics also signals a return to past solutions like free markets and strong borders.
The post–Cold War New World Order is rapidly breaking apart. Nations are returning to the ancient passions, rivalries, and differences of past centuries.
Take Europe. The decades-old vision of a united pan-continental Europe without borders is dissolving. The cradle-to-grave welfare dream proved too expensive for Europe’s shrinking and aging population.
Cultural, linguistic, and economic divides between Germany and Greece, or Holland and Bulgaria, remain too wide to be bridged by fumbling bureaucrats in Brussels. NATO has devolved into a euphemism for American expeditionary forces.
Nationalism is returning, based on stronger common ties of language, history, religion, and culture. We are even seeing the return of a two-century-old European “problem”: a powerful Germany that logically seeks greater political influence commensurate with its undeniable economic superiority.
The tired Israeli-Palestinian fight over the future of the West Bank is no longer the nexus of Middle East tensions. The Muslim Arab world is now more terrified by the re-emergence of a bloc of old familiar non-Arabic, Islamic fundamentalist rivals.
With nuclear weapons, theocratic Iran wants to offer strategic protection to radical allies such as Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas, and at the same time restore Persian glory. While diverse, this rogue bunch shares contempt for the squabbling Sunni Arab world of rich but defenseless Gulf petro-sheikdoms and geriatric state authoritarians.
Turkey is flipping back to its pre-20th-century past. Its departure from NATO is not a question of if, but when. The European Union used to not want Turkey; now Turkey does not want the shaky EU.
Turkish revisionism now glorifies the old Ottoman sultanate. Turkey wants to recharge that reactionary model as the unifier and protector of Islam — not the modern, vastly reduced secular state of Kemal Ataturk. Weak neighbors Armenia, Cyprus, Greece, and Kurdistan have historical reasons to tremble.
Japan’s economy is still stalled. Its affluent population is shrinking and aging. Elsewhere in the region, the Japanese see an expanding China and a lunatic nuclear North Korea. Yet Japan is not sure whether the inward-looking United States is still credible in its old promise of protection against any and all enemies.
One of two rather bleak Asian futures seems likely. Either an ascendant China will dictate the foreign policies of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, or lots of new freelancing nuclear powers will appear to deter China since it cannot count on an insolvent U.S. for protection.
Oil-rich Russia — deprived of its Communist-era empire — seems to find lost imperial prestige and influence by being for everything that the U.S. is against. That translates into selling nuclear expertise and material to Iran, providing weapons to provocative states such as Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, and bullying neighbors over energy supplies.
Closer to home, Mexico has become a strange sort of friend. It devolves daily into a more corrupt and violent place than Iraq or Pakistan. The fossilized leadership in Mexico City shows no interest in reforming, either by opening its economy or liberalizing its political institutions.
Instead, Mexico’s very survival for now rests on cynically exporting annually a million of its impoverished and unhappy citizens to America. More interested in money than in its own people, the Mexican government counts on the more than $20 billion in remittances that return to the country each year.
But American citizens are tired of picking up the tab to subsidize nearly 15 million poor illegal aliens. The growing hostility between the two countries is reminiscent of 19th-century tensions across the Rio Grande.
How is America reacting to these back-to-the-future changes?
Politically divided, committed to two wars, in a deep recession, insolvent, and still stunned by the financial meltdown of 2008, our government seems paralyzed. As European socialism implodes, for some reason a new statist U.S. government wants to copy failure by taking over ever more of the economy and borrowing trillions more to provide additional entitlements.
As panicky old allies look for American protection, we talk of slashing our defense budget. In apologetic fashion, we spend more time appeasing confident enemies than buttressing worried friends.
Instead of finishing our border fence and closing the southern border, we are suing a state that is trying to enforce immigration laws that the federal government will not apply. And as sectarianism spreads abroad, we at home still pursue the failed salad bowl and caricature the once-successful American melting pot.
But just as old problems return, so do equally old solutions. Once-stodgy ideas like a free-market economy, strong defense, secure borders, and national unity are suddenly appearing fresh and wise.
— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern. © 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
Pat Cadell on GZM
Reply #826 on:
September 08, 2010, 06:54:45 AM »
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #827 on:
September 09, 2010, 02:01:56 PM »
"But just as old problems return, so do equally old solutions. Once-stodgy ideas like a free-market economy, strong defense, secure borders, and national unity are suddenly appearing fresh and wise."
To many it does, including me and most on this board.
But "old solutions" are going to come with MUCH pain. I don't hear many politicians being honest about that.
Bamster who has criticized the previous politicians for kicking the can down the road has done more to kick the can down the road then everyone before him.
The left is still hanging on hoping he is not the disaster that I/most of us think he is.
Noonan: The Enraged vs. the Exhausted
Reply #828 on:
September 24, 2010, 08:38:15 PM »
DECLARATIONSSEPTEMBER 25, 2010
The Enraged vs. the Exhausted
If you thought the 1994 election was historic, just wait till this year.
By PEGGY NOONAN
All anyone in America who cares about politics was talking about this week was the
searing encounter that captured, in a way that hasn't been done before, the essence
of the political moment we're in. When 2010 is reviewed, it will be the clip
producers pick to illustrate the president's disastrous fall.
It is Monday, Sept. 20, the middle of the day, in Washington. CNBC is holding a town
hall for the president. A woman stands—handsome, dignified, black, a person with
presence. She looks as if she may be what she turns out to be, an Obama supporter
who in 2008 put up street signs, passed out literature and tried to win over
co-workers. As she later told the Washington Post, "I was thinking that the people
who were against him and didn't believe in his agenda were completely insane."
The president looked relieved when she stood. Perhaps he thought she might lob a
sympathetic question that would allow him to hit a reply out of the park. Instead,
and in the nicest possible way, Velma Hart lobbed a hand grenade.
"I'm a mother. I'm a wife. I'm an American veteran, and I'm one of your middle-class
Americans. And quite frankly I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted of defending you,
defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and
deeply disappointed with where we are." She said, "The financial recession has taken
an enormous toll on my family." She said, "My husband and I have joked for years
that we thought we were well beyond the hot-dogs-and-beans era of our lives. But,
quite frankly, it is starting to knock on our door and ring true that that might be
where we are headed."
View Full Image
What a testimony. And this is the president's base. He got that look public figures
adopt when they know they just took one right in the chops on national TV and cannot
show their dismay. He could have responded with an engagement and conviction equal
to the moment. But this was our president—calm, detached, even-keeled to the point
of insensate. He offered a recital of his administration's achievements: tuition
assistance, health care. It seemed so off point. Like his first two years.
But it was the word Mrs. Hart used that captured everything: "exhausted." From what
I see, that's how a lot of Democrats feel. They've turned silent, too, like people
who witnessed a car crash and can't talk anymore about the reasons for the accident
or how many were injured.
This election is more and more shaping up into a contest between the Exhausted and
In a contest like that, who wins? That's like asking, "Who would win a sporting
event between the depressed and the anxious?" The anxious are wide awake. The wide
But Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee suggests I have the wrong word for the
Republican base. The word, she says, is not enraged but "livid."
The three-term Republican deputy whip has been campaigning in Alabama, Colorado,
Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. We
spoke by phone about what she is seeing, and she sounded like the exact opposite of
There are two major developments, she says, that are new this year and
insufficiently noted, but they're going to shape election outcomes in 2010 and
First, Washington is being revealed in a new way.
The American people now know, "with real sophistication," everything that happens in
the capital. "I find a much more knowledgeable electorate, and it is a real-time
response," Ms. Blackburn says. "We hear about it even as the vote is taking place."
Voters come to rallies carrying research—"things they pulled off the Internet,
forwarded emails," copies of bills, roll-call votes. The Internet isn't just a tool
for organization and fund-raising. It has given citizens access to information they
never had before. "The more they know," Ms. Blackburn observes, "the less they like
Second is the rise of women as a force. They "are the drivers in this election
cycle," Ms. Blackburn says. "Something is going on." At tea party events the past 18
months, she started to notice "60% of the crowd is women."
She tells of a political rally that drew thousands in Nashville, at the State
Capitol plaza. She had brought her year-old grandson. When the mic was handed to
her, she was holding him. "I said, 'How many of you are grandmothers?' The hands!
That was the moment I realized that the majority of the people at the political
events now are women. I saw this in town halls in '09—it was women showing up at my
listening events, it was women talking about health care."
Why would more women be focusing more intently on politics this year than before?
Ms. Blackburn hypothesizes: "Women are always focusing on a generation or two down
the road. Women make the education and health-care decisions for their families, for
their kids, their spouse, their parents. And so they have become more politically
involved. They are worried about will people have enough money, how are they going
to pay the bills, the tuition, get the kids through school and college."
More Peggy Noonan
Read Peggy Noonan's previous columns
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Ms. Blackburn suggested, further in the conversation, that government's reach into
the personal lives of families, including new health-care rules and the prospect of
higher taxes, plus the rise in public information on how Washington works and what
it does, had prompted mothers to rebel.
The media called 1994 "the year of the angry white male." That was the year of the
Republican wave that yielded a GOP House for the first time in 40 years. "I look at
this year as the Rage of the Bill-Paying Moms," Ms. Blackburn says. "They are saying
'How dare you, in your arrogance, cap the opportunities my child will have? You'll
burden them with so much debt they won't be able to buy a house—all because you
can't balance the budget.'"
How does 2010 compare with 1994 in terms of historical significance? Ms. Blackburn
says there's an unnoted story there, too. Whereas 1994 was historic as a party
victory, a shift in political power, this year feels more organic, more
from-the-ground, and potentially deeper. She believes 2010 will mark "a
philosophical shift," the beginning of a change in national thinking regarding the
role of the individual and the government.
This "will be remembered as the year the American people said no" to the status quo.
The people "do not trust" those who make the decisions far away. They want to
What is the mainstream media getting wrong about this election, and what is it
getting right? The media, Ms. Blackburn says, do not fully appreciate "how livid
people are with Washington." They see the anger but don't understand its
implications. "They're getting right that people want change, but they're wrong
about what that change is going to be." The media, she said, "are going to be amazed
when Carly Fiorina and Sharron Angle win."
The mainstream media famously like the horse race—red is up, blue is down; Smith is
in, Jones is out. But if Ms. Blackburn is right, the election, and its meaning, will
be more interesting than the old, classic jockeying. And the outcomes won't be
controlled by the good ol' boys but by those she calls "the great new gals."
Whose money is it anyway?
Reply #829 on:
September 26, 2010, 07:08:25 PM »
Whose Money Is It Anyway?
"A just security to property is not afforded by that government under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species." --James Madison
He may be the Joker, but the joke is on you.My children are big fans of Drew Carey's comedy show, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" Carey selects scenarios for the cast, who then improvise characters, songs and scenes. At the end of each assignment, Carey then arbitrarily assigns "1,000 points" to the funniest performer adding the caveat, "But the points don't matter."
I mention this because there's another improvisational comedy show that the whole world has been watching for almost two years. Unfortunately, this one uses real scenarios, which have real consequences for millions of real people. The cast is far less creative than Carey and his comedy troupe, but, unfortunately, these real world points do matter.
I am, of course, talking about The BHO Show, and Obama's cadre of characters, who do his political bidding as they endeavor to accomplish "the fundamental transformation of the United States of America."
The underlying theme of The BHO Show is that bigger government is better government -- that the central government should be the ultimate arbiter of all enterprise through either taxation or regulation. To support this theme, Obama's cast is tasked with reinventing the truth in order to expand the Barackracy.
One of the most subtle but insidious means used by the BHO Players to subjugate the masses is manipulation of the common vernacular, the use of common words in a revised context to reframe the perceptions of the audience.
For example, government spending becomes "investment." Tax cuts "cost the government." Lower taxes are those that the government "can't afford." Redistributing your income to those who pay no taxes becomes "a rebate." Advocating for lower taxes is framed as "selfish."
BHO's cast even twists the most basic economic formulations. For example, they insist that lower taxes cause deficits, while anyone with a wisp of wit knows that spending causes deficits. They insist that pilfering trillions of dollars in tax obligations from future generations is justified by counting fictitious "jobs created or saved" now, but only an ideological Socialist believes the role of the central government is to "create or save jobs."
Of course, the show's host is the master of this deceptive dialect, especially effective when armed with Teleprompters.
In his most recent calls for tax increases, Obama claimed, "I can't give tax cuts to the top 2 percent of Americans ... and lower the deficit at the same time. ... It would cost us $700 billion to do it. ... We are not going to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to give tax cuts to people who don't need them. ... On average millionaires would get a check of a hundred thousand dollars. ... We can't give away $700 billion to folks who don't need it. ... We can't afford the $700 billion price tag."
This nugget of ObamaSpeak translates, "Your money is actually my money, so I'll determine how much of it you can keep. If I let you keep more of your money, it will cause deficits, because I'm certainly not going to cut spending. Let me be clear, if I give a small business owner who wants to create a private sector job a tax break, it'll cost me a government job. I'm not going to fund private sector job growth when these business owners already have enough well-paid employees."
Given all this, I'd submit that the most fitting title for The BHO Show is, "Whose Money Is It Anyway?"
On this question, he certainly has the Leftmedia stumped.
Consider this "analysis" of tax cuts from CNN's Ali Velshi: "[L]et me put this into perspective. First, it's not free. Extending the tax breaks to the top 3 percent of earners would cost between $650 and $700 billion. Extending it for the rest of us is going to cost a lot more, possibly $3 trillion."
Notably, however, one lone Leftmedia talkinghead takes exception to BHO's wacky wordplay. MSNBC's Chris "The Thrill" Matthews nitpicks, "I have one small [SMALL?] tweak to make to what the president said today -- he should stop saying that giving people tax cuts is giving people money. It's their money! A tax cut is when the government doesn't take our money. It's an important distinction."
Of course, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
In regard to the growing ranks of conservative Republicans who are steadfastly refusing to negotiate with Obama on his proposed tax increases, Obama says, "They are the Party of 'No.'"
But the fact is, those conservatives are restoring "the Party of Know," the Party of Ronald Reagan, whose timeless model for economic restoration is the only path to prosperity. They understand the consequences of tax increases and see through Obama's myths about tax cuts.
Will they succeed?
Thomas Jefferson declared, "Excessive taxation ... will carry reason and reflection to every man's door, and particularly in the hour of election." However, his was an era when taxation was levied, appropriately, on consumption -- in other words, when the burden of the cost of government was appropriately spread over enough people to ensure accountability.
Today, however, almost 90 percent of the cost of government is borne by 25 percent of income earners, and more than 50 percent of Americans now have no net income tax liability. Consequently, I have often quoted George Bernard Shaw: "A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." (See how you rank as a taxpayer.)
The only hope for restoring the "reason and reflection" of which Jefferson wrote is to replace the current system of taxation with a national sales tax or a flat income tax. Unfortunately, the socialist fix is in: Few among that 50 percent of Americans with no net income tax liability will now vote themselves a share of the cost of government.
There is, however, another path to reason and reflection, which is a more enduring formula for success. The Tea Party movement has founded its grassroots platform on an appeal to restore Essential Liberty and Rule of Law as established by our Constitution, and that appeal is spreading the "brushfires of freedom."
To that end, I encourage every American Patriot reading these words to join one more Freedom Front, and help us distribute a small but highly effective instrument for educating Americans on First Principles, the Tea Party Primer. With tools like this pocket guide increasing the ranks of those steadfastly devoted to Liberty, in a few election cycles we will yank The BHO Show, and others like it, off the viewing schedule, and restore the integrity of our Constitution.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Publisher, The Patriot Post
Geert Wilders in Berlin
Reply #830 on:
October 03, 2010, 07:33:16 PM »
Geert Wilders: Speech in Berlin yesterday
from Jihad Watch by Robert
Geert Wilders Speech in Berlin
October 2, 2010
I am very happy to be here in Berlin today. As you know, the invitation which my friend René Stadtkewitz extended to me, has cost him his membership of the CDU group in the Berlin Parliament. René, however, did not give in to the pressure. He did not betray his convictions. His dismissal prompted René to start a new political party. I wish him all the best. As you may have heard, the past weeks were extremely busy for me. Earlier this week we succeeded in forging a minority government of the Liberals and the Christian-Democrats which will be supported by my party. This is an historic event for the Netherlands. I am very proud of having helped to achieve this. At this very moment the Christian-Democrat Party conference is deciding whether or not to approves this coalition. If they do, we will be able to rebuild our country, preserve our national identity and offer our children a better future.
Despite my busy schedule at home, however, I insisted on coming to Berlin, because Germany, too, needs a political movement to defend German identity and to oppose the Islamization of Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel says that the Islamization of Germany is inevitable. She conveys the message that citizens have to be prepared for more changes as a result of immigration. She wants the Germans to adapt to this situation. The Christian-Democrat leader said: "More than before mosques will be an integral part of our cities."
My friends, we should not accept the unacceptable as inevitable without trying to turn the tide. It is our duty as politicians to preserve our nations for our children. I hope that René's movement will be as successful as my own Partij voor de Vrijheid, as Oskar Freysinger's Schweizerische Volkspartei in Switzerland, as Pia Kjaersgaard's Dansk Folkeparti in Denmark, and similar movements elsewhere.
My good friend Pia recently spoke in Sweden at the invitation of the Sverigedemokraterna. She said: "I have not come to mingle in Swedish domestic politics because that is for the Swedish people to be concerned with. No, I have come because in spite of certain differences the Swedish debate in many ways reminds me of the Danish debate 10-15 years ago. And I have come to Sweden because it is also a concern to Denmark. We cannot sit with our hands in our lap and be silent witnesses to the political development in Sweden."
The same applies for me as a Dutchman with respect to Germany. I am here because Germany matters to the Netherlands and the rest of the world, and because we cannot establish an International Freedom Alliance without a strong German partner.
Dear friends, tomorrow is the Day of German Unity. Tomorrow exactly twenty years ago, your great nation was reunified after the collapse of the totalitarian Communist ideology. The Day of German Unity is an important day for the whole of Europe. Germany is the largest democracy in Europe. Germany is Europe's economic powerhouse. The wellbeing and prosperity of Germany is a benefit to all of us, because the wellbeing and prosperity of Germany is a prerequisite for the wellbeing and prosperity of Europe.
Today I am here, however, to warn you for looming disunity. Germany's national identity, its democracy and economic prosperity, is being threatened by the political ideology of Islam. In 1848, Karl Marx began his Communist Manifesto with the famous words: "A specter is haunting Europe - the specter of communism." Today, another specter is haunting Europe. It is the specter of Islam. This danger, too, is political. Islam is not merely a religion, as many people seem to think: Islam is mainly a political ideology.
This insight is not new.
I quote from the bestselling book and BBC television series The Triumph of the West which the renowned Oxford historian J.M. Roberts wrote in 1985: "Although we carelessly speak of Islam as a 'religion'; that word carries many overtones of the special history of western Europe. The Muslim is primarily a member of a community, the follower of a certain way, an adherent to a system of law, rather than someone holding particular theological views." The Flemish Professor Urbain Vermeulen, the former president of the European Union of Arabists and Islamicists, too, points out that "Islam is primarily a legal system, a law," rather than a religion.
The American political scientist Mark Alexander writes that "One of our greatest mistakes is to think of Islam as just another one of the world's great religions. We shouldn't. Islam is politics or it is nothing at all, but, of course, it is politics with a spiritual dimension, ... which will stop at nothing until the West is no more, until the West has ... been well and truly Islamized."
These are not just statements by opponents of Islam. Islamic scholars say the same thing. There cannot be any doubt about the nature of Islam to those who have read the Koran, the Sira and the Hadith. Abul Ala Maududi, the influential 20th century Pakistani Islamic thinker, wrote - I quote, emphasizing that these are not my words but those of a leading Islamic scholar - "Islam is not merely a religious creed [but] a revolutionary ideology and jihad refers to that revolutionary struggle ... to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth, which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam."
Ali Sina, an Iranian Islamic apostate who lives in Canada, points out that there is one golden rule that lies at the heart of every religion - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. In Islam, this rule only applies to fellow believers, but not to Infidels. Ali Sina says "The reason I am against Islam is not because it is a religion, but because it is a political ideology of imperialism and domination in the guise of religion. Because Islam does not follow the Golden Rule, it attracts violent people."
A dispassionate study of the beginnings of Islamic history reveals clearly that Muhammad's objective was first to conquer his own people, the Arabs, and to unify them under his rule, and then to conquer and rule the world. That was the original cause; it was obviously political and was backed by military force. "I was ordered to fight all men until they say 'There is no god but Allah,'" Muhammad said in his final address. He did so in accordance with the Koranic command in sura 8:39: "Fight them until there is no more dissension and the religion is entirely Allah's."
According to the mythology, Muhammad founded Islam in Mecca after the Angel Gabriel visited him for the first time in the year 610. The first twelve years of Islam, when Islam was religious rather than political, were not a success. In 622, Muhammad emigrated to Yathrib, a predominantly Jewish oasis, with his small band of 150 followers. There he established the first mosque in history, took over political power, gave Yathrib the name of Medina, which means the "City of the Prophet," and began his career as a military and a political leader who conquered all of Arabia. Tellingly, the Islamic calendar starts with the hijra, the migration to Medina - the moment when Islam became a political movement.
After Muhammad's death, based upon his words and deeds, Islam developed Sharia, an elaborate legal system which justified the repressive governance of the world by divine right - including rules for jihad and for the absolute control of believers and non-believers. Sharia is the law of Saudi Arabia and Iran, among other Islamic states. It is also central to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which in article 24 of its Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, proclaims that "all rights and freedoms are subject to the Islamic Sharia." The OIC is not a religious institution; it is a political body. It constitutes the largest voting block in the United Nations and writes reports on so-called "Islamophobia" in Western Countries which accuse us of human rights violations. To speak in biblical terms: They look for a speck in our eye, but deny the beam in their own.
Under Sharia law people in the conquered territories have no legal rights, not even the right to life and to own property, unless they convert to Islam.
Before I continue, and in order to avoid any misunderstandings, I want to emphasize that I am talking about Islam, not about Muslims. I always make a clear distinction between the people and the ideology, between Muslims and Islam. There are many moderate Muslims, but the political ideology of Islam is not moderate and has global ambitions. It aims to impose Islamic law or Sharia upon the whole world. The way to achieve this is through jihad. The good news is that millions of Muslims around the world - including many in Germany and the Netherlands - do not follow the directives of Sharia, let alone engage in jihad. The bad news, however, is that those who do are prepared to use all available means to achieve their ideological, revolutionary goal.
In 1954, in his essay Communism and Islam, Professor Bernard Lewis spoke of "the totalitarianism, of the Islamic political tradition." Professor Lewis said that "The traditional Islamic division of the world into the House of Islam and the House of War, ... has obvious parallels in the Communist view of world affairs. ... The aggressive fanaticism of the believer is the same."
The American political scientist Mark Alexander states that the nature of Islam differs very little - and only in detail rather than style - from despicable and totalitarian political ideologies such as National-Socialism and Communism. He lists the following characteristics for these three ideologies.
* They use political purges to "cleanse" society of what they considere undesirable;
* They tolerate only a single political party. Where Islam allows more parties, it insists that all parties be Islamic ones;
* They coerce the people along the road that it must follow;
* They obliterate the liberal distinction between areas of private judgment and of public control;
* They turn the educational system into an apparatus for the purpose of universal indoctrination;
* They lay down rules for art, for literature, for science and for religion;
* They subdue people who are given second class status;
* They induce a frame of mind akin to fanaticism. Adjustment takes place by struggle and dominance;
* They are abusive to their opponents and regard any concession on their own part as a temporary expedient and on a rival's part as a sign of weakness;
* They regard politics as an expression of power;
* They are anti-Semitic.
Reply #831 on:
October 03, 2010, 07:33:51 PM »
There is one more striking parallel, but this is not a characteristic of the three political ideologies, but one of the West. It is the apparent inability of the West to see the danger. The prerequisite to understanding political danger, is a willingness to see the truth, even if it is unpleasant. Unfortunately, modern Western politicians seem to have lost this capacity. Our inability leads us to reject the logical and historical conclusions to be drawn from the facts, though we could, and should know better. What is wrong with modern Western man that we make the same mistake over and over again?
There is no better place to ponder this question than here in Berlin, the former capital of the evil empire of Nazi Germany and a city which was held captive by the so-called German "Democratic" Republic for over forty years.
When the citizens of Eastern Europe rejected Communism in 1989, they were inspired by dissidents such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Václav Havel, Vladimir Bukovsky, and others, who told them that people have a right, but also an obligation, to "live within the truth." Freedom requires eternal vigilance; so it is with truth. Solzhenitsyn added, however, that "truth is seldom sweet; it is almost invariably bitter." Let us face the bitter truth: We have lost our capacity to see the danger and understand the truth because we no longer value freedom.
Politicians from almost all establishment politicians today are facilitating Islamization. They are cheering for every new Islamic school, Islamic bank, Islamic court. They regard Islam as being equal to our own culture. Islam or freedom? It does not really matter to them. But it does matter to us. The entire establisment elite - universities, churches, trade unions, the media, politicians - are putting our hard-earned liberties at risk. They talk about equality, but amazingly fail to see how in Islam women have fewer rights than men and infidels have fewer rights than adherents of Islam.
Are we about to repeat the fatal mistake of the Weimar Republic? Are we succumbing to Islam because our commitment to freedom is already dead? No, it will not happen. We are not like Frau Merkel. We do not accept Islamization as inevitable. We have to keep freedom alive. And, to the extent that we have already lost it, we must reclaim it in our democratic elections. That is why we need political parties that defend freedom. To support such parties I have established the International Freedom Alliance.
As you know, I am standing trial in the Netherlands. On Monday, I have to go to court again and I will have to spend most of the coming month there. I have been brought to court because of my opinions on Islam and because I have voiced these opinions in speeches, articles and in my documentary film Fitna. I live under constant police protection because Islamic extremists want to assassinate me, and I am in court because the Dutch establishment - most of them non-Muslims - wants to silence me.
I have been dragged to court because in my country freedom can no longer be fully enjoyed. Unlike America, we do not have a First Amendment which guarantees people the freedom to express their opinions and foster public debate by doing so. Unlike America, in Europe the national state, and increasingly the European Union, prescribes how citizens - including democratically elected politicians such as myself - should think and what we are allowed to say.
One of the things we are no longer allowed to say is that our culture is superior to certain other cultures. This is seen as a discriminatory statement - a statement of hatred even. We are indoctrinated on a daily basis, in the schools and through the media, with the message that all cultures are equal and that, if one culture is worse than all the rest, it is our own. We are inundated with feelings of guilt and shame about our own identity and what we stand for. We are exhorted to respect everyone and everything, except ourselves. That is the message of the Left and the politically-correct ruling establishment. They want us to feel so ashamed about our own identity that we refuse to fight for it.
The detrimental obsession of our cultural and political elites with Western guilt reinforces the view which Islam has of us. The Koran says that non-Muslims are kuffar (the plural of kafir), which literally means "rejecters" or "ingrates." Hence, infidels are "guilty." Islam teaches that in our natural state we have all been born as believers. Islam teaches that if we are not believers today this is by our own or by our forefathers' fault. Subsequently, we are always kafir - guilty - because either we or our fathers are apostates. And, hence, according to some, we deserve subjugation.
Our contemporary leftist intellectuals are blind to the dangers of Islam.
Former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky argues that after the fall of communism, the West failed to expose those who had collaborated with the Communists by advocating policies of détente, improved relations, relaxation of international tension, peaceful coexistence. He points out that the Cold War was "a war we never won. We never even fought it. ... Most of the time the West engaged in a policy of appeasement toward the Soviet bloc - and appeasers don't win wars."
Islam is the Communism of today. But, because of our failure to come clean with Communism, we are unable to deal with it, trapped as we are in the old Communist habit of deceit and double-speak that used to haunt the countries in the East and that now haunts all of us. Because of this failure, the same leftist people who turned a blind eye to Communism then, turn a blind eye to Islam today. They are using exactly the same arguments in favor of détente, improved relations, and appeasement as before. They argue that our enemy is as peace-loving as we are, that if we meet him half-way he will do the same, that he only asks respect and that if we respect him he will respect us. We even hear a repetition of the old moral equivalence mantra. They used to say that Western "imperialism" was as bad as Soviet imperialism; they are now saying that Western "imperialism" is as bad as Islamic terrorism.
In my speech near Ground Zero in New York on September 11, I emphasized that we must stop the "Blame the West, Blame America"-game which Islamic spokesmen are playing with us. And we must stop playing this game ourselves. I have the same message for you. It is an insult to tell us that we are guilty and deserve what is happening to us. We do not deserve becoming strangers in our own land. We should not accept such insults. First of all, Western civilization is the freest and most prosperous on earth, which is why so many immigrants are moving here, instead of Westerners moving there. And secondly, there is no such thing as collective guilt. Free individuals are free moral agents who are responsible for their own deeds only.
I am very happy to be here in Berlin today to give this message which is extremely important, especially in Germany. Whatever happened in your country in the past, the present generation is not responsible for it. Whatever happened in the past, it is no excuse for punishing the Germans today. But it is also no excuse for you to refuse to fight for your own identity. Your only responsibility is to avoid the mistakes of the past. It is your duty to stand with those threatened by the ideology of Islam, such as the State of Israel and your Jewish compatriots. The Weimar Republic refused to fight for freedom and was overrun by a totalitarian ideology, with catastrophic consequences for Germany, the rest of Europe and the world. Do not fail to fight for your freedom today.
I am happy to be in your midst today because it seems that twenty years after German reunification, a new generation no longer feels guilty for being German. The current and very intense debate about Thilo Sarrazin's recent book is an indication of the fact that Germany is coming to terms with itself.
I have not yet read Dr. Sarrazin's book myself, but I understand that while the ruling politically-correct establishment is almost unanimously critical of his thesis and he lost his job, a large majority of Germans acknowledges that Dr. Sarrazin is addressing important and pressing issues. "Germany is abolishing itself," warns Sarrazin, and he calls on the Germans to halt this process. The enormous impact of his book indicates that many Germans feel the same way. The people of Germany do not want Germany to be abolished, despite all the political indoctrination they have been subjected to. Germany is no longer ashamed to assert its national pride.
In these difficult times, where our national identity is under threat, we must stop feeling guilty about who we are. We are not "kafir," we are not guilty. Like other peoples, Germans have the right to remain who they are. Germans must not become French, nor Dutch, nor Americans, nor Turks. They should remain Germans. When the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan visited your country in 2008, he told the Turks living here that they had to remain Turks. He literally said that "assimilation is a crime against humanity." Erdogan would have been right if he had been addressing the Turks in Turkey. However, Germany is the land of the Germans. Hence, the Germans have a right to demand that those who come to live in Germany assimilate; they have the right - no they have a duty to their children - to demand that newcomers respect the German identity of the German nation and Germany's right to preserve its identity.
We must realize that Islam expands in two ways. Since it is not a religion, conversion is only a marginal phenomenon. Historically, Islam expanded either by military conquest or by using the weapon of hijra, immigration. Muhammad conquered Medina through immigration. Hijra is also what we are experiencing today. The Islamization of Europe continues all the time. But the West has no strategy for dealing with the Islamic ideology, because our elites say that we must adapt to them rather than the other way round.
There is a lesson which we can learn in this regard from America, the freest nation on earth. Americans are proud of their nation, its achievements and its flag. We, too, should be proud of our nation. The United States has always been a nation of immigrants. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was very clear about the duty of immigrants. Here is what he said: "We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else ... But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American. ... There can be no divided allegiance here. ... We have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
It is not up to me to define what Germany's national identity consists of. That is entirely up to you. I do know, however, that German culture, like that of neighboring countries, such as my own, is rooted in judeo-christian and humanist values. Every responsible politician has a political obligation to preserve these values against ideologies which threaten them. A Germany full of mosques and veiled women is no longer the Germany of Goethe, Schiller and Heine, Bach and Mendelssohn. It will be a loss to us all. It is important that you cherish and preserve your roots as a nation. Otherwise you will not be able to safeguard your identity; you will be abolished as a people, and you will lose your freedom. And the rest of Europe will lose its freedom with you.
My friends, when Ronald Reagan came to a divided Berlin 23 years ago he uttered the historic words „Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall." President Reagan was not an appeaser, but a man who spoke the truth because he loved freedom. Today, we, too, must tear down a wall. It is not a wall of concrete, but of denial and ignorance about the real nature of Islam. The International Freedom Alliance aims to coordinate and stimulate these efforts.
Because we speak the truth, voters have given my party, the Partij voor de Vrijheid, and other parties, such as the Dansk Folkeparti and the Schweizerische Volkspartei, the power to influence the political decision process, whether that be in opposition or in government or by supporting a minority government - as we want to do in the Netherlands. President Reagan showed that by speaking the truth one can change the course of history. He showed that there is no need to despair. Never! Just do your duty. Be not afraid. Speak the truth. Defend Freedom. Together we can preserve freedom, together we must preserve freedom, and together, my friends, we will be able to preserve freedom.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #832 on:
October 03, 2010, 07:51:21 PM »
Wilders, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is a heroic figure. If the west is to survive, their warnings must be heeded.
Alexander: Poverty Pimps
Reply #833 on:
October 07, 2010, 10:44:04 AM »
Alexander's Essay – October 7, 2010
"The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would ... assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it." --Adam Smith
The lead poverty pimpAs a measure of community service, I round up my Boy Scout Troop periodically to meet with my friend, and Patriot Chaplain, Lurone Jennings, an inner-city community pastor.
We gather early on Saturday mornings to serve families who are struggling to make ends meet, most of them elderly and living in squalor. After cleaning around their shacks, providing meals and praying over those families, we always reconvene with Pastor Jennings for a time of fellowship.
Recently, I asked Lurone to explain what factors he thinks have contributed most to poverty in our city and nation. Without missing a beat, he said, "Poverty Pimps," referring to those who are elected to public office on the promise of a handout rather than a hand up -- this from a man who has devoted his life to serving those most irreconcilably ensnared by those pimps.
Handouts, of course, are a much easier sell than hand-ups, but the consequences in terms of human dignity and society are devastating.
Promising to give a man a fish rather than encouraging him to take up fishing to provide for himself is one of the clearest philosophical delineations between the worldviews of contemporary liberals and conservatives.
Lurone explained that, while New Deal and Great Society liberals may have had good intentions, the net result of their socialist endeavors has been the institutionalization of poverty, and the victimization and enslavement of what has become the Left's most reliable constituency of any stripe or association: black folks.
These days, a candidate for office can count on receiving 90-plus percent of the black vote in any election, so long as he has that all-important "D" next to his or her name.
Generations of Americans have become accustomed to being given, or at least promised, fish caught by someone else. Today, Barack Hussein Obama and his socialist bourgeoisie have banked their entire political fortunes on classist rhetoric, promoting disparity in order to foster dependence.
Once was the time that the Democrat Party was the embodiment of individual responsibility and states' rights. But the party was led astray by "useful idiots" on the Left, and by the end of Franklin Roosevelt's reign, the Party had been turned on end.
Indeed, the most famous of former Democrats, when asked why he left that once-proud party, replied, "I did not leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me." That, of course, was Ronald Reagan.
Now, the Democrat Party, with Obama and his Leftists cadres leading the charge, is determined to break the back of free enterprise and thereby ensure an impoverished voting majority. And they're well on the way to doing so.
The objective of Obama's "fundamental transformation of the United States of America" is to replace free enterprise with a "social democracy," which Merriam-Webster aptly defines as "1: a political movement advocating a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means; 2: a democratic welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices."
Unfortunately, whether it's Marxist, Nationalist or Democratic Socialism, the terminus of statism is tyranny, for as Historian Lord John Acton noted, "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Eighteenth-century philosopher and political economist Adam Smith once wrote, "It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people." In his 1776 masterpiece on man and economy, "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," Smith set forth that Liberty and free enterprise go hand in hand, and that should any potentate of state attempt to centralize the economy, that would most certainly be the end of Liberty.
Today, we Americans, in this last "Shining City on a Hill," stand at the precipice separating Liberty from tyranny.
In a few short weeks, we'll learn whether our nation is going to plant its feet firmly, shout "Enough!" and fight for the restoration of Essential Liberty, or be pushed yet another step closer to the abyss of totalitarianism.
With less than a month until the midterm referendum on the most menacing socialist agenda in U.S. history, I'm reminded of a pamphlet published in 1916 by an outspoken advocate for Liberty, William J. H. Boetcker. He entitled his tract "The Ten Cannots," and it fittingly contrasts the competing political and economic agendas of the right and left in this era: "You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves."
In the meantime, let us stand firm against the Poverty Pimps, and, noli nothis permittere te terere (Don't let the bastards get you down)!
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Publisher, The Patriot Post
Awful, awfuler, awfulest
Reply #834 on:
October 09, 2010, 10:40:26 AM »
Awful, Awfuler, Awfulest
By GAIL COLLINS
Published: October 8, 2010
I recently wrote a column on the pressing question of which state is having the most terrible election this year. Nevada won. Immediately, there were outcries from voters who believed their state had been unfairly overlooked on the dreadfulness meter.
“How could you leave out Connecticut?”
“Give credit where it is due for top honors to KENTUCKY.”
“Dang! Feeling a bit left out here in Massachusetts.”
“What about Maine?”
A reader from Missouri demanded consideration for his state, where Representative Roy Blunt, father of former Gov. Matt Blunt, is running against Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, sister of Representative Russ Carnahan, whose father was a governor and mother a senator. “There probably hasn’t been an election in Missouri in 30 years in which a Blunt or Carnahan wasn’t on the ballot,” he complained.
And you know what? That seems to be true. Thirteen Blunt candidacies and thirteen Carnahan ones since 1980. While extreme boredom is not nearly enough to get a state into the awful-election finals, Missouri, you do need to think about getting a little variety.
Several readers from Maine pointed out that their Republican candidate for governor, Paul LePage, has homes in both Maine and Florida, each of which got tax breaks as the family’s principal residence.
“If elected (he leads in polls) will he be governor of both states?” one correspondent demanded.
No, gentle reader. Florida has its own governor’s race, where the leading candidate is a wealthy businessman who made history when his company was fined $1.7 billion for fraudulent Medicare billing. It has enough on its hands. On the plus side, Florida might soon be able to bill itself as The Place Where Other States’ Officials Stash Their Loved Ones. West Virginia’s Republican candidate for the Senate, John Raese, has a house in Palm Beach where his wife lives with the kids, who attend local schools.
Raese is a very rich guy. (“I made money the old-fashioned way. I inherited it,” he told an interviewer.) His $2.9 million, 7,000-square-foot crash pad has made numerous appearances in Democratic campaign literature, which always notes that the driveway is paved in pink marble. Raese rejoined that it is “peach-colored tile” that he didn’t even pick himself, leading a West Virginia union leader to say that the coal miners felt “great sympathy and understanding for multimillionaires who were steered in a wrong direction by their interior designers.”
The presence of one outrageous candidate in a race is not nearly enough to make it the worst election in the country given all the competition we have this year. Here in New York, the Republican candidate for governor, Carl Paladino, seems incapable of discussing anything, including the state budget, without making a reference to his opponent Andrew Cuomo’s sex life.
Cuomo has barely said a word since the campaign began. We would be looking forward to the upcoming gubernatorial debate, except there will be so many minor candidates on the stage that it will be hard to pick him out. And when I tell you that one of the debaters is going to be a woman who claims to have supplied former Gov. Eliot Spitzer with prostitutes, you will understand that I am setting the bar for Worst Election winner very, very high.
Nevada won the contest because it has a high-profile race for the Senate in which voters seem to find both candidates so loathsome that neither incumbent Harry Reid nor his Republican opponent, Sharron Angle, wants to come out and campaign. The voters were tired of Reid, the powerful Senate majority leader, even before he attempted to run for re-election while his son was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee. Too many Reids! Really, Harry, if you wanted to pull something like this, you could have moved to Missouri.
Angle did make an appearance last week at a rally of Tea Party supporters in Mesquite, where she responded to a question about “Muslims wanting to take over the United States” by decrying the fact that Dearborn, Mich., and Frankford, Tex., were governed under Islamic law, called Sharia. Which, of course, they are not.
The Associated Press, which reported on this event, noted that while Dearborn does at least have “a thriving Muslim community,” it was not clear why Angle picked on Frankford, Tex., which did not seem to have many Muslims, and also went out of existence around 1975.
Nevada, you are the winner, and we appreciate the way you make the rest of us feel better about our own political woes.
“Wow! Texas did not make the list. Things are looking up,” wrote a grateful Texan.
“I can’t tell if this is a sign we’re improving or the rest of the country is going to hell,” wrote another.
More PC MSM
Reply #835 on:
October 11, 2010, 11:26:08 AM »
I guess the political correct crowd has won. When CNN anchors can label Palidino's comments as extreme then this is another example of us being turned upside down. So gay marriage, adoption, parades is now mainstream and those who don't feel it is normal are now the "extreme" ones. I think it still so most would agree with Palidino.
Republicans are on full retreat on this one.
***New York — Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino told Orthodox Jewish leaders on Sunday that there's "nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual."
Paladino, who has received tea party support, made the comments at a synagogue in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section while trying to strike a contrast between himself and his Democratic rival, state Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo. Paladino said he chose not to march in this summer's gay pride parade but his opponent did.
"That's not how God created us," Paladino said of being gay, "and that's not the example that we should be showing our children."
He added that children who later in life choose to marry people of the opposite sex and raise families would be "much better off and much more successful."
"I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option," he said.
Paladino, a multimillionaire developer from Buffalo, has stated that he is opposed to same-sex marriage. His most recent comments came as eight people were arraigned Sunday in an attack on a gay man and two gay teens in the Bronx on Oct. 3.
Asked whether his comments were appropriate given the attack, Paladino said he does not support violence against gays.
"Don't misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie," he said. "My approach is live and let live."
A Cuomo campaign spokesman, Josh Vlasto, said Paladino's comments demonstrated "a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality."
Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.****
Throw the Books at Him
Reply #836 on:
October 11, 2010, 12:26:54 PM »
Jimmy Carter: Can't Stop the Typing
In November 1980, the American people made a disastrous decision whose reverberations are still being felt today. Rather than biting the bullet and re-electing the glum, uncharismatic, hopeless Jimmy Carter to the White House—thereby ensuring that he would return to Plains, Ga., at the conclusion of his second term and keep his blabberpuss shut—they turfed him out into the street.
That made him mad. Really mad. By giving one of America's dopiest presidents the bum's rush, the American people ensured that Mr. Carter would spend the rest of his life trying to even the score, trying to persuade them that they had made a huge mistake when they cast their lot with Ronald Reagan, trying to convince them that they were a bunch of jerks.
The particular form of retribution Carter chose was as sinister and cruel as any known to man. He took his pen in hand and began to write books. Long books. Boring books. Dour books. Yes, long, boring, dour, numerous books. Books with sanctimonious names like "Keeping Faith" and "Living Faith" and "Leading a Worthy Life." Books with pompous names like "Turning Point," "Our Endangered Values" and "Always a Reckoning." Books with hokey names like "Christmas in Plains" and "Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life." And yes, even books with names like "The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer" that defy classification.
He has not set his pen down since.
With the recent release of the exquisitely pointless "White House Diary," his 25th entry in the literary sweepstakes, Mr. Carter has now written more books than James Joyce, Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert, George Eliot, Virgil, Homer and Jonathan Franzen. He has also written more books than Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower, Woodrow Wilson, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and a whole lot of other presidents who got more points on the scoreboard than he ever did. Most ex-presidents have the good grace to stop at a single publication after they leave office, though more than a few have obligingly opted for the public's favorite number in this lethal genre: zero.
The Oval Office equivalent of the Edsel, Mr. Carter has spent three decades in the wilderness retrofitting his image as the best, the brightest, and the noblest ex-president of them all. This is like trying to get credit for touchdowns 30 years after the clock has run out, with the score reading Eureka College 50, Navy 0.
Being history's most admired ex-president is like being the most beloved former skipper of a torpedoed aircraft carrier. If the ship sank while you were at the helm, it doesn't really matter what a great job you did manning the inflatable lifeboat afterward. Mr. Carter inhabits some weird parallel universe with people like George Foreman, who were despised when they were at their peak and then manufactured a touchy-feely post-career aura that made some people forget how much they disliked them when they were famous. But George Foreman, unlike Jimmy Carter, is funny. And George Foreman could throw a punch.
Carter's extraneous exhumation of the musty old diary he kept during his four long, horrid years in office suggests that he is scraping the bottom of the barrel for material. Publishing a diary describing the four years in office that were so awful they got you booted out into the street is like George Pickett publishing "Gettysburg Diary" or Mike Brown publishing "Quiet Days in Katrina: A FEMA Diary." And if Carter's gone back to the dismal years 1977-80 to exhume diary material, what comes next? "Tuesdays with Bert Lance"?
This is a classic case of being careful what you wish for. The American people wanted Jimmy Carter out of office in the worst way, and to this day they are paying the price. If we had to do it all over again, I think a lot of people would vote to amend the Constitution and allow presidents to run for five, six—as many terms as they wanted. That wouldn't leave them much spare time to write books.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #837 on:
October 11, 2010, 12:38:35 PM »
"George Foreman, who were despised when they were at their peak and then manufactured a touchy-feely post-career aura that made some people forget how much they disliked them"
Foreman despised? By whom?
Actually I rooted for Foreman to wipe the smirk off Ali. I appreciated GF when he proudly waved an American flag at the Olympics!
That was a refreshing turn form the Black power waving of fists from the Olympian runners and the celebrating of the draft dodging Ali.
Yet I did give Ali credit for beating the guy as he said he would. The same guy who destroyed Frazier and Norton just earlier.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #838 on:
October 11, 2010, 05:24:29 PM »
For me, and I think for most fight fans today, Foreman is about what he went through, what he did to change, and what he did to come back-- and take the heavyweight title again (I made money betting on him btw
Why Vilify those who Deliver Growth?
Reply #839 on:
October 16, 2010, 08:44:17 PM »
Time to shop Home Depot:
Stop Bashing Business, Mr. President
If we tried to start The Home Depot today, it's a stone cold certainty that it would never have gotten off the ground.
By KEN LANGONE
Although I was glad that you answered a question of mine at the Sept. 20 town-hall meeting you hosted in Washington, D.C., Mr. President, I must say that the event seemed more like a lecture than a dialogue. For more than two years the country has listened to your sharp rhetoric about how American businesses are short-changing workers, fleecing customers, cheating borrowers, and generally "driving the economy into a ditch," to borrow your oft-repeated phrase.
My question to you was why, during a time when investment and dynamism are so critical to our country, was it necessary to vilify the very people who deliver that growth? Instead of offering a straight answer, you informed me that I was part of a "reckless" group that had made "bad decisions" and now required your guidance, if only I'd stop "resisting" it.
I'm sure that kind of argument draws cheers from the partisan faithful. But to my ears it sounded patronizing. Of course, one of the chief conceits of centralized economic planning is that the planners know better than everybody else.
But there's a much deeper problem than whether I am personally irked or not. Your insistence that your policies are necessary and beneficial to business is utterly at odds with what you and your administration are saying elsewhere. You pick a fight with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, accusing it of using foreign money to influence congressional elections, something the chamber adamantly denies. Your U.S. attorney in New York, Preet Bahrara, compares investment firms to Mexican drug cartels and says he wants the power to wiretap Wall Street when he sees fit. And you drew guffaws of approving laughter with your car-wreck metaphor, recently telling a crowd that those who differ with your approach are "standing up on the road, sipping a Slurpee" while you are "shoving" and "sweating" to fix the broken-down jalopy of state.
View Full Image
President Barack Obama during a September 20th town hall.
That short-sighted wavering—between condescending encouragement one day and hostile disparagement the next—creates uncertainty that, as any investor could tell you, causes economic paralysis. That's because no one can tell what to expect next.
A little more than 30 years ago, Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Pat Farrah and I got together and founded The Home Depot. Our dream was to create (memo to DNC activists: that's build, not take or coerce) a new kind of home-improvement center catering to do-it-yourselfers. The concept was to have a wide assortment, a high level of service, and the lowest pricing possible.
We opened the front door in 1979, also a time of severe economic slowdown. Yet today, Home Depot is staffed by more than 325,000 dedicated, well-trained, and highly motivated people offering outstanding service and knowledge to millions of consumers.
If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated, it's a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive. Rules against providing stock options would have prevented us from incentivizing worthy employees in the start-up phase—never mind the incredibly high cost of regulatory compliance overall and mandatory health insurance. Still worse are the ever-rapacious trial lawyers.
Meantime, you seem obsessed with repealing tax cuts for "millionaires and billionaires." Contrary to what you might assume, I didn't start with any advantages and neither did most of the successful people I know. I am the grandson of immigrants who came to this country seeking basic economic and personal liberty. My parents worked tirelessly to build on that opportunity. My first job was as a day laborer on the construction of the Long Island Expressway more than 50 years ago. The wealth that was created by my investments wasn't put into a giant swimming pool as so many elected demagogues seem to imagine. Instead it benefitted our employees, their families and our community at large.
I stand behind no one in my enthusiasm and dedication to improving our society and especially our health care. It's worth adding that it makes little sense to send Treasury checks to high net-worth people in the form of Social Security. That includes you, me and scores of members of Congress. Why not cut through that red tape, Mr. President, and apply a basic means test to that program? Just make sure that money actually reduces federal spending and isn't simply shifted elsewhere. I guarantee you that many millionaires and billionaires will gladly forego it—as my wife and I already do when we forward those checks each month to charity.
It's not too late to include the voices of experienced business people in your efforts, small business owners in particular. Americans would be right to wonder why you haven't already.
Mr. Langone, a former director of the New York Stock Exchange and co-founder of Home Depot, is chairman of Invemed Associates.
Reply #840 on:
October 19, 2010, 07:43:06 AM »
In the beginning was the plan.
And then came the Assumptions.
And the Assumptions were without form.
And the Plan was without substance.
And darkness was upon the face of the Workers.
And they spoke among themselves, saying,
"It is a crock of shit, and it stinketh."
And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and said,
"It is a pail of dung, and none may abide the odor thereof."
And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying,
"It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong,
such that none may abide by it."
And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying,
"It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength."
And the Directors spoke amongst themselves, saying one to another,
"It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong."
And the Directors then went unto the Vice-Presidents, saying unto them,
"It promotes growth, and it is very powerful."
And the Vice-Presidents went unto the President, saying unto him,
"This new plan will actively promote the growth and vigor
of the company, with powerful effects."
And the President Looked upon the Plan, and saw that it was good.
And the Plan became Policy.
This is how Shit Happens
interesting thought pieces - The new, old world order - VDH
Reply #841 on:
October 21, 2010, 11:37:20 PM »
Posting this wide-ranging interview into a different category and looking for comment. Download and set aside 37 minutes. He calmly makes some startling predictions and observations across the globe. Worth listening more than once IMO.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #842 on:
October 22, 2010, 11:06:05 AM »
It doesn't seem to vary much from the threads found here.
It's the Constitution, Stupid
Reply #843 on:
October 26, 2010, 07:37:57 PM »
Our Next Stop: Greece -- or Rome
by Roger Pilon
If there's one theme dominating our midterm elections this year, it's outrage over runaway government — government running our lives, and trampling morality in the process. CNBC financial reporter Rick Santelli, who gave the Tea Party its name, captured it perfectly last year in his "rant heard 'round the world" — "The government is promoting bad behavior." With the bailouts mounting, he touched a nerve when he asked how many people wanted to pay their neighbor's mortgage when they were struggling to pay their own.
The question hit home (literally) as more and more Americans were coming to see government's hand in the economic mess around them. Their neighbor was in trouble because Congress's irresponsible Community Reinvestment Act, the Fed's prolonged easy money policy, and the shenanigans of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had put people in homes they couldn't afford, leading to rising foreclosures, plummeting housing values, and job losses that have hit us all in countless ways.
It's not simply economics. It's government encouraging irresponsible behavior, and responsible people paying the price.
But are there any people in public life today behaving more irresponsibly than so many in Congress? They don't even read the bills they vote for? Look how Obamacare was passed. The "Louisiana Purchase." The "Cornhusker Kickback." Does anyone know what's in that law, even though it affects our very lives? We don't, and we won't know until the regulations get written. But here too, Congress delegated the power to write that law to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. Yet the Constitution's very first sentence states plainly that "[a]ll legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress."
]re there any people in public life today behaving more irresponsibly than so many in Congress?
And so we come to what really is agitating the voters this year, as seen on so many homemade Tea Party signs: The Constitution today is all but irrelevant. In their hearts, Americans know that it was written to limit government and protect our liberty — that's what the Revolution was about, after all. But time and again they see unlimited government running their lives — and irresponsibly at that.
Government is planning our retirement and health care, for example. Yet the three big "entitlement" programs — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — are going broke as Congress, rather than deal with that, creates an even larger and even more unfunded entitlement scheme, Obamacare. And states too have mortgaged themselves as far as the eye can see to give public sector employees health and retirement benefits that far exceed anything available to the private sector workers whose taxes have to pay for them.
Indeed, taxes and regulations today have so hammered the private sector that states like California appear to be in a demographic death spiral, with taxpayers fleeing while tax-takers flow in. Just look at the latest census estimates: for the first time in over a century, California will gain no new House seats.
Yet the Constitution gives only limited powers to the federal government, and it checks what states can do as well by recognizing the inherent right of individuals to plan and live their own lives, free from government interference — indeed, from government's planning our lives for us.
So how did we go from the Constitution's vision of liberty through limited government to the Leviathan we've got today? That's a long story, but at its core, it's really quite simple. The watershed was the Progressive Era, in the early decades of the 20th century, when the forebears of today's liberals rejected the founders' view of liberty. Their idea was to empower government bureaucrats, elites trained at the best schools, to plan everything from the economy to our living arrangements — even to our population, as in the infamous Supreme Court case of Buck v. Bell, which upheld a Virginia statute that authorized the sterilization of people thought to be of insufficient intelligence, all part of the eugenics movement aimed at improving the human race.
To some extent the court resisted the Progressives, citing the Constitution, but with the New Deal, especially after President Franklin Roosevelt's notorious court-packing threat in 1937, the court caved, and the Constitution was turned on its head. The floodgates were thus opened for the modern welfare state, the unsustainable foundations of which are now so obvious that they can no longer be ignored.
And so, having abandoned individual responsibility, succumbing instead to the siren song of government responsibility, we're now at another watershed. Either we grasp the nettle and restore our founding principles — gradually, as we must — or we go the way of Greece, or France, or, much earlier, Rome.
Open Letter of an Ex-Democrat, I
Reply #844 on:
October 28, 2010, 01:53:30 PM »
Whoa, if this is indeed a common sentiment among (former) Democratic Party activists, then that party has some rough road ahead.
It’s my great hope that some of your listeners find a way to get this letter to you, or that it makes it to “Snerdley” and finds its way into your hands. I don’t think even you understand just how much damage Obama has done to the Democrat Party — to the point where formerly lifelong Democrats like myself, and everyone here at HillBuzz.org, are actively working to expose the party and literally burn it to the ground for the good of the country.
None of this is being reported in the media, but a Civil War in the Democrat ranks has been raging since May 31st, 2008…a date every Hillary Clinton supporter knows well, because that was the date of the Democrat Rules & Bylaws Committee Meeting where Howard Dean (then-DNC Chair), Donna Brazile, and scores of other Kool-Aid slurping Obama flunkies took off their masks and revealed the full extent of the Leftist coup that had taken over the party. This was the day when the DNC took delegates Hillary Clinton won in Michigan away from her and handed them to Obama (despite the fact he wasn’t even on the primary ballot in that state, because he removed his name when his campaign realized he’d come in third in that race).
May 31st, 2008 was a day when Hillary “babes” (as you call us sometimes) like us flew to Washington in large numbers to stand outside the Marriott near the National Zoo, where this Rules & Bylaws Committee Meeting was held, to shout for the DNC to count all the votes and operate the nominating process fairly — but they refused. The anger over that day has never abated. In fact, it’s grown considerably since then.
This was the determining factor in millions of us leaving the Democrat Party for good. This was the day when the P.U.M.A. movement began — in response to Donna Brazile’s calls for “party unity” following the Rules & Bylaws Committee Meeting, we “Hillary babes” said “Party Unity My A$$” (or People United Means Action, depending on how you want to phrase it). Exit polls showed 8 million PUMA voted Republican for the first time in our lives in the fall of 2008…casting ballots for McCain/Palin (and in truth, mainly for Palin, whom we support, and not to a small degree because she receives many of the same attacks lobbed at Hillary Clinton all these years).
You seem to know most of all this, so I’ll end the history lesson by noting the people alienated by the Democrat Party during the primaries in 2008 — where it was clear the party and the media colluded at great lengths to push Obama while hammering Hillary Clinton into the ground — never came back to the Democrat Party.
This is also when most of us stopped using the term “Democratic Party”, since there’s nothing “democratic” about these people. They are the “Democrat Party”, and even that is hard to acknowledge because they really and truly have proved themselves to be enemies of real democracy.
I’m still registered as a Democrat here in Chicago (because the Cocktail Party GOP establishment so disgusts me I can’t will myself to party-ID Republican, and there’s no Independent option here in Illinois) but I can’t imagine ever voting for another Democrat again, as long as I live. To Hell with Democrats. This was solidified for me on Christmas Eve of last year, when Democrats rushed Obamacare through the Senate in the dead of night, through various secret channels, and every single Democrat voted for its passage (even supposed moderates like Evan Bayh in Indiana, who quickly realized his vote would cost him re-election…so the coward retired rather then face angry voters over what he did). I just don’t believe Democrats should be given elected office by voters because they cannot be trusted to even read bills before they vote on them, not even when said bills seek to permanently alter the entire American economy. This is reckless and reprehensible to the point of treason.
I was a Democrat for 32 years before the heavy-handed push for Obama alienated me from the party…and I borrow what Hillary Clinton said about Republicans once, back when she was a Goldwater Girl, and will paraphrase by saying that I didn’t leave the Democrat Party, the Democrat Party left me.
After it beat me to a pulp, called me a racist, berated and insulted me, and used Alinsky Rules to hit me with everything it had. Not just me, but all Hillary supporters.
This is the part I don’t think you understand because I don’t know if you and your listeners paid much attention to what the Obama campaign and DNC did to malign and assault Hillary Clinton’s supporters during the 2008 campaign. None of this has been forgotten by any of us.
If you have not seen it already, Rush, you need to watch Gigi Gaston’s documentary “We Will Not Be Silenced 2008″. I’m featured in a segment on the voter fraud that was committed in the Iowa Caucus back in January of 2008. While I was always aware Democrats use unions and other means to cheat in elections, I never knew the Democrat Party was capable of the large-scale, aggressive, unapologetic fraud it committed on Obama’s behalf all through 2008. In Iowa, I watched Obama’s ACORN and SEIU goons push and shove old people, bully them, and intimidate them when they wanted to vote for Hillary Clinton. I saw scores of Illinois license plates fill the parking lots outside caucus locations, with Chicagoland Obama supporters illegally entering the Caucus sites to vote for Obama and game Iowa for him. Having planned ahead, Obama supporters actually RAN those caucus sites, and held the doors open for all these fraudulent voters to walk right in, without being asked for IDs, where they then took control of the caucuses and bullied the Iowa residents into supporting Obama — lest they be called RAAACISTS! out in the open in front of their friends and neighbors in those open-air caucuses.
The media has never talked about this. I don’t remember ever hearing you talk about it. But one of the biggest reasons the Democrats are in the trouble they’re in right now is because of how frequently the Left and the media (one and the same, really) called anyone who opposed Obama a RAAACIST. If you supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries instead of Obama, you were called a RAAACIST. If you were someone like me who fundraised for Hillary, who hosted events for her, who put yourself out there and wrote columns advocating her or did media spots talking up her candidacy, you were aggressively targeted by the Obama campaign and his supporters…relentlessly attacked as a RAAACIST! and assaulted with the Alinksy Rules for Radicals in hopes of breaking your spirit, terrorizing you, and making you abandon Clinton for fear of having these people destroy your life, ruin your business, and make you an absolute pariah in your community.
This is what the Obama campaign, the media, and the DNC did to DEMOCRATS.
For almost a year, the Obama zealots and the Left waged all-out-war not just on Hillary Clinton, but on lifelong, loyal, dyed-in-the-wool Democrat voters like me. This came straight from the top, from Obama himself. Both he and his wife Michelle called the Clintons racists. Obama’s surrogates like James Clyburne, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, John Lewis, and others called Geraldine Ferraro, Madeline Albright, and others racists. The Obamas toxified the South Carolina primary, in particular, with foul race-baiting and turned North Carolina and Indiana into racial powder kegs by ramping up accusations that anyone not supporting Obama was a vile racist that needed to be pounded into the ground.
Stephanie Tubbs Jones, my former Congresswoman back home in Cleveland, was a black Hillary Clinton supporter to the very end — and she was called a “race-traitor”, an “Aunt Jane”, and all manner of worse names as she was bullied, berated, and verbally assaulted by the Obama team…because she was black and dared to stand with her friend Hillary Clinton, the person Tubbs Jones knew would make a better president than “The One”. To her dying day in August of 2008, Tubbs Jones was threatened by the Obama campaign and told she’d be primaried in 2010 and kicked to the curb for being a “race-traitor”. She died of a brain aneurysm while driving her car, and Obama supporters filled Daily Kos, DemocratUnderground, and other George Soros-supported sites with lies about her drunk driving, doing drugs, and other slurs because even after she died these people wouldn’t stop hating her for daring to be an outspoken black woman who would never abandon Hillary for Obama.
This is similar to the grief that I’ve received here in Chicago for being a gay Hillary former Democrat in Boystown who never drank any Kool-Aid, never stopped speaking out against Obama, and who recently fully came out as a conservative — in the face of the same kind of Alinsky-grade, identity-based, “traitor” hectoring that Tubbs Jones got for being a black woman who didn’t kneel before the Obama altar.
Well, Rush, let me just tell you, from personal experience, that the tens of millions of people relentlessly abused and hounded by Obama supporters (remember that back in 2008 he urged his followers to “get in their faces” and “confront their neighbors” if they weren’t drinking his unicorn-pumped sparkly Kool-Aid ) will NEVER EVER FORGET what the Obama campaign directed at them, in terms of all this Alinsky bullying.
To quote Jeremiah Wright, the man Obama spent twenty years eagerly listening to at Trinity United Church of Christ: somebody’s chickens have now come back to roost.
During the campaign, Donna Brazile famously said that the Democrat Party no longer needed the people Obama once described as “bitter, religion-and-guns-clinging, Midwesterners”. Brazile took this further and said, outright, that the Democrat party did not need blue-collar white voters, the Jacksonian voters, the Hillary voters, because the party was “Obamafied” and would win elections for generations with the Obama coalition of blacks, Leftist elites, Hispanics, low information gay voters, and self-hating Jews.
This is all the Democrats have left, Rush.
Speaking from personal experience, as someone who has worked in fundraising for over 10 years and who has been a part of every presidential campaign since 1992, the Democrats have permanently alienated tens of millions of people who normally turned out reliably every year not just to vote Democrat, but also to write checks and otherwise participate in campaigns.
No more. Never again.
Here in Chicago, just about everyone who was part of Team Hillary efforts with me on the ground has completely divorced themselves from the Democrat Party. Being called a racist repeatedly and hearing from Donna Brazile that we are not needed will do that to a person.
But in a bigger sense, Democrats, by being so shameless and aggressive with the voter fraud in 2008 have opened too many eyes for us to ever go back to pretending that fraud and corrupt practices aren’t the hallmark of the Democrat Party.
There was a show on ABC a few years ago called Alias starring Jennifer Garner in which she played a woman working for a company called Credit Dauphine…which she was told was a front for a CIA organization called SD6. Garner’s character, Sidney Bristow, carried out her missions for SD6, overlooking different things the organization did that she might not have liked, because she thought she was doing what was best for the country. And then, one day, Sidney learned SD6 was actually an enemy of America…that it’s real mission was to destroy the country…that everything Sidney was told about SD6 was a lie. The mask came off SD6, and Sidney Bristow realized she had to work aggressively to take the whole enterprise down.
Rush (and his listeners), please hear me on this because you will not read this in the media — but just about every one of us from the Hillary 2008 campaign is a Sidney Bristow today.
Those of us who worked Democrat campaigns in the past put up with union associations and the other unsavory aspects of being a Democrat because we were told this was the only way Democrats could win…with union muscle. But, in 2008 the Democrats revealed themselves to be an SD6 conglomeration of every force in this country that wants to bring America down, tank our economy, usurp our Constitution, and lay waste to the American way of life.
Democrats took off the mask. The DNC reveled in being fully Leftist-controlled. Crazy people unapologetic in their Communist admiration took over positions of great influence not just in the DNC, but in our state and federal governments as well.
I’m horrified by that.
Hillary supporters are horrified by that.
And we have not sat back quietly to allow this to happen without a fight.
Open Letter of an Ex-Democrat, II
Reply #845 on:
October 28, 2010, 01:53:53 PM »
I know for a fact that people I worked with on the Hillary 2008 campaign have been actively working against every single Democrat who supported Obama’s nomination. Everyone who backstabbed Hillary Clinton is being undermined and sabotaged by people who might still be registered as Democrats but have no more loyalty to the party. Sometimes, conservative sites try to make this into a “sour grapes” sort of “Hillary’s revenge” meme — and there might be a taste of this in what’s going on — but the real driving force is that we former Democrats saw just how insane these people really are and we are now doing everything we can, behind the scenes, to use everything we know about the Democrat Party to collapse it from within.
If you think about it logically, there is not enough energy to sustain a years-long drive to remove Obama supporters from office just because people are still upset Hillary Clinton was not the 2008 nominee and is not president today. Sometimes, I think even you believe this is what this is all about. Your “Reverse Operation Chaos” initiative seems predicated on this, but that belief is apocryphal in that it misses a few big marks.
This is and it isn’t about Hillary.
What it’s really about is what the Democrat Party did to Hillary that alienated tens of millions of Jacksonian/Clintonian/middleclass Americans from the party permanently — and this includes what the party and Obama campaign did to Hillary’s supporters themselves (ie, calling them racists, telling them they weren’t wanted, calling them bitter clingers, etc.).
For the first time in our lives, so many of us former Democrats were given an Alinsky taste of what the Democrat Party really stand for…what it really believes…and how it really feels about America, our Constitution, our economy, and our way of life.
Howard Dean, Donna Brazile, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Obama took the mask off the Democrat Party…and the Leftist gorgon that lurked beneath is something America-loving, middleclass, Jacksonian/Clintonian Democrats want nothing to do with.
As part of your “Reverse Operation Chaos”, you really need to emphasize something the media just won’t talk about — and that’s the simple fact that even if you called yourself a Democrat for 32 years, the way I did, because everyone you grew up with and everyone in your family was a Democrat, that in 2010 it’s time to ask yourselves what that really means.
Do you want to be in a party that calls people racists for stepping out of line and voicing opposition to the socialist lurch of the current administration?
Do you condone voter fraud and the shameless, undemocratic tactics employed by Democrats?
Do you wish to associate with the likes of ACORN, the SEIU, the Black Panthers, and all the other thugs, goons, and degenerates the Obama campaign and White House employ as the DNC’s muscle on the ground?
It is crystal clear that being a patriotic American who loves this country is intellectually incompatible with being a Democrat. If you love America and want it to prosper, the Democrat Party is at absolute odds with everything we need for a thriving, successful economy.
Hillary supporters realize this.
We received a heaping helping of Alinsky assaults to wake us up to this reality.
The reason so many of us support Governor Palin is not just because we see the same Alinksy assaults being waged upon her…but the woman is pitch-perfect in outlining exactly why Obama and the Left are wrong, and why Democrats under Obama are dangerous to have in elected office.
I know you talk about a “Hillary 2012″ but Rush, as much as I love Hillary Clinton, and as much as I worked my heart out for her in 2008, there’s no way that even she can repair the damage Obama has done to the party. Certainly not by 2012. MAYBE the Clintons and their supporters can purge the Obama lunatics from the party by 2016…but I doubt even that will happen. Just like with the Leftists Carter infected the Democrat Party with, Obama legacy hires will be in the DNC for a generation to come…and it might not be until the 2030s before the Democrats can remove the taint Obama and his Leftist agenda have put on the party.
Democrats have made themselves synonymous with anti-Americanism, anti-capitalism, and anti-democracy. Obama and his acolytes decidedly upped the ante when it came to their aggressive push towards socialism…and this Center-Right nation is resisting it in what I am certain will be an epic refudiation (to borrow the Governor’s term) next week.
On November 3rd, no one I know will be resting on any laurels. November 3rd starts the 2012 campaign…and not just the presidential race (where we’ll back Governor Palin) but the drive to knock people like Claire McCaskill out of office, continuing our work to take down every last one of the Obama supporters who backstabbed Hillary Clinton and helped install this socialist into the White House back in 2008. When you hear talk of a Hillary “enemies’ list”, or just “The List” as we call it in HRC supporter circles, this is very much real…and we are truly committed to making sure the Claire McCaskills out there get everything that is coming to them for all their service to Obama and his agenda.
Hear that, Ben Nelson…voters will be coming for you.
You and everyone like you.
Every last one of you.
If you voted for Obamacare, you are politically dead but may not know it…and it is your own fault. Being intensely stupid is no defense. If you were a YES vote on anything related to Obamacare you are going to be defeated…if not in 2010, then in the primaries in 2012. If you survive those, you will be taken down in the 2012 general election. Your political career is over…dummy.
Hope your time on the Obama Kool-Aid bandwagon was worth ruining your life over.
We will not forget those Obamacare votes. We will not forgive being called a racist because we don’t support this terrible man and his awful agenda. We will not be silenced.
We will not give up.
It’s going to be years, if ever, before the lamestream media ever catches up to any of this, and realizes that a large swath of people who used to be Democrat loyalists are now doing everything they can to destroy the party. Some of them are out and open, like me and my friends here at HillBuzz, but many are doing their part quietly. They just stop writing checks. Or maybe now they write checks to Democrat opponents. They might continue to attend events and fundraisers, but now they call up Republican sites and give them all the dirt on what they heard in those meetings. The Democrat Party alienated so many people who are now working to bring it down that I could go on for pages and pages more on this topic.
It’s very Sidney Bristow, Rush. And if you watched that show Alias, you’d know she not only won in the end, but looked damn good kicking ass while doing it.
THAT, El Rushbo, is what your “Hillary babes” are up to.
Here in Boystown, and in every town, because the Civil War Howard Dean, Donna Brazile, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Obama started on May 31st, 2008 is raging without end until the Democrat Party is no more.
Tell your listeners to count on that.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #846 on:
October 28, 2010, 04:49:14 PM »
Fascinating piece, despite its utter lack of self-awareness of the Billary Hillbillies corruption, politics of personal destruction, and progressivism.
Reply #847 on:
October 31, 2010, 10:13:48 AM »
Thomas Friedman is often an intellectual legend in his own mind, and frequently in over his head, but as the saying goes about blind pigs , , ,
Josh Haner/The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman
This week’s award for not knowing what world you’re living in surely goes to the French high school and college students who blockaded their campuses, and snarled rail traffic, in a nationwide strike against the French government’s decision to raise its pension retirement age from 60 to 62. If those students understood the hypercompetitive and economically integrated world they were living in today, they would have taken to the streets to demand smaller classes, better teaching, more opportunities for entrepreneurship and more foreign private investment in France — so they could have the sorts of good private sector jobs that would enable them to finance retirement at age 62. France already discovered that a 35-hour workweek was impossible in a world where Indian engineers were trying to work a 35-hour day — and so, too, are pension levels not sustained by a vibrant private sector.
What is most striking to me being in India this week, though, is how many Indians, young and old, expressed their concerns that America also seems at times to be running away from the world it invented and that India is adopting.
With President Obama scheduled to come here next week, at a time when more than a few U.S. politicians are loudly denouncing immigration reforms, free trade expansion and outsourcing, more than a few Indian business leaders want to ask the president: “What’s up with that?” Didn’t America export to the world all the technologies and free market dogmas that created this increasingly flat, global economic playing field — and now you’re turning against them?
“It is the Silicon Valley revolution which enabled the massive rise in tradable services and the U.S.-built telecommunication networks that allowed creation of the virtual office,” Nayan Chanda, the editor of YaleGlobal Online, wrote in the Indian magazine Businessworld this week. “But the U.S. seems sadly unprepared to take advantage of the revolution it has spawned. The country’s worn-out infrastructure, failing education system and lack of political consensus have prevented it from riding a new wave to prosperity.” Ouch.
Saurabh Srivastava, co-founder of the National Association of Software and Service Companies in India, explained that for the first 40 years of Indian independence, entrepreneurs here were looked down upon. India had lost confidence in its ability to compete, so it opted for protectionism. But when the ’90s rolled around, and India’s government was almost bankrupt, India’s technology industry was able to get the government to open up the economy, in part by citing the example of America and Silicon Valley. India has flourished ever since.
“America,” said Srivastava, “was the one who said to us: ‘You have to go for meritocracy. You don’t have to produce everything yourselves. Go for free trade and open markets.’ This has been the American national anthem, and we pushed our government to tune in to it. And just when they’re beginning to learn how to hum it, you’re changing the anthem. ... Our industry was the one pushing our government to open our markets for American imports, 100 percent foreign ownership of companies and tough copyright laws when it wasn’t fashionable.”
If America turns away from these values, he added, the socialist/protectionists among India’s bureaucrats will use it to slow down any further opening of the Indian markets to U.S. exporters.
It looks, said Srivastava, as if “what is happening in America is a loss of self-confidence. We don’t want America to lose self-confidence. Who else is there to take over America’s moral leadership? American’s leadership was never because you had more arms. It was because of ideas, imagination, and meritocracy.” If America turns away from its core values, he added, “there is nobody else to take that leadership. Do we want China as the world’s moral leader? No. We desperately want America to succeed.”
This isn’t just so American values triumph. With a rising China on one side and a crumbling Pakistan on the other, India’s newfound friendship with America has taken on strategic importance. “It is very worrying to live in a world that no longer has the balance of power we’ve had for 60 years,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “That is why everyone is concerned about America.”
India and America are both democracies, a top Indian official explained to me, but emotionally they are now ships passing in the night. Because today the poorest Indian maid believes that if she can just save a few dollars to get her kid English lessons, that kid will have a better life than she does. So she is an optimist. “But the guy in Kansas,” he added, “who today is enjoying a better life than that maid, is worried that he can’t pass it on to his kids. So he’s a pessimist.”
Yes, when America lapses into a bad mood, everyone notices. After asking for an explanation of the Tea Party’s politics, Gupta remarked: “We have moved away from a politics of grievance to a politics of aspiration. Where is the American dream? Where is the optimism?”
Reply #848 on:
November 05, 2010, 09:59:46 AM »
Peasants and Liberty
Reply #849 on:
November 10, 2010, 07:53:02 PM »
lies, half-truths, and omissions.
The BBC has an article up on the gun-smuggling from the US to Mexico. In typically one-sided fashion, it mentions that guns seized from narcos in Mexico are often traced back to the United States, and that the ATF isn’t effectively fighting this problem.
For those without much knowledge on the subject, it gives the impression that there’s a flood of illegal guns being bought in the US across the counter legally, and then shipped into Mexico to fuel the gun crime there–blaming our “lax gun laws” for Mexico’s narco turf war violence.
First of all, let’s point out that Mexico has a narco problem because the US has a hard-on for drug prohibition, not because Americans can buy guns legally. I’ve often read that canard about drug buyers financing drug crime with their purchases, but the simple twofold truth is that a.) people will always desire and buy mind-altering substances, no matter what the law says, and b.) the War on Drugs serves as a price control mechanism and profit guarantee for dealers and traffickers.
Second, let’s look at that article a little more closely. The picture that accompanies it shows a bunch of 40mm grenade launchers along with ammunition. Looking at that, your average BBC reader could be lead to believe that those things are legal to buy and own freely in the US, and that they originated at a US gun show or gun store. Grenade launchers are, of course, illegal to own, purchase, or sell in the United States without a special registration and tax stamp. Grenade launchers are tightly controlled “destructive devices”, as is their ammunition. (Every single 40mm grenade is also classified as a DD, and subject to a $200 transfer tax per round. Each grenade must be individually registered with the BATFE, which makes them super-expensive and very rare to find in civilian hands.) Considering the difficulty and expense of obtaining a launcher and the ammo for it, never mind the fact that every single launcher and round is registered to an owner with the ATF, I guarantee that the 40mm launchers in that picture came not from the US, but from Mexican military armories.
Third, the language in the article isn’t quite misleading, but it omits a few facts. We are told that “the majority of guns confiscated by Mexico and submitted to the ATF for tracing do originate in the US <emphasis mine>.” What it doesn’t mention is that the majority of guns seized from Mexican narcos do not originate in the US. The Mexican Federales do not submit most of their seized guns to the ATF for tracing because they know their provenance already. Mexico uses a licensed version of the H&K G36 assault rifle, for example, and whenever one of those shows up, they know it didn’t walk out of a gun store in San Antonio. (They also use the licensed version of the H&K 40mm grenade launcher, which happens to look exactly like the weapon in the center of the picture.) So they only send the serial numbers of the non-domestic guns to the ATF, which is the minority of seized weapons. Reading the article over a quick latte, one could however get the impression that most of the crime guns in Mexico are traced back to the US, because they omit that information.
Lastly, even those guns that were bought in the US and then smuggled into Mexico for use by narcos didn’t get sold to Mexican nationals legally. Gun shops have to run federal background checks on every single gun purchase, and foreign nationals, with few exceptions, are not eligible to buy firearms in the United States. If a rifle made it from a legal buyer into the hands of a Mexican criminal, the person buying the rifle and then handing it to said criminal broke federal law. (Buying a gun for a non-eligible person is called a “straw sale”, and will get you ten years in Club Fed.)
Mexico has plenty of problems, but corruption (where and how do you think the narcos get Mexican military hardware?) and the economic incentives created by drug prohibition make up the lion’s share of those, not legal gun sales in the United States. You want to curb the flow of guns and stop the violence in Mexico, you stop guaranteeing those dealers and traffickers a 10,000% profit margin on some powdered plant product. Drug dealers don’t care about cocaine or “poisoning America’s children”, they care about profit. If you held a voter referendum on keeping or tossing drug prohibition, all the drug dealers in the country would vote to keep them illegal. Take away their price control system, and they’ll go the way of the booze runners of the Prohibition era.
But nobody’s going to do that, of course. Between asset forfeiture, inability to learn from the Prohibition, the suitability of drug laws to curb inconvenient liberties, and the millions on the payroll of drug task forces and agencies nationwide, that wouldn’t be good business. And civil liberties continue to take it in the pants.
Remember: a vote for drug prohibition is a vote for gun control. Without illicit substance turf wars, we wouldn’t even have NFA ’34, GCA ’68, or the 1994 Crime Bill. We wouldn’t have asset forfeiture, RICO, or any of the many other onerous laws that shackle our movements and make a mockery of the Bill of Rights. But point that out to a self-righteous dope prohibitionist, and you get the old saw about the damage drugs can do, and do you want to see schoolchildren legally light up crack pipes in front of the CVS at eight in the morning? It’s the same kind of arrogant paternalism that the gun banners display when they talk about how blood would flow in the streets if we removed all the restrictions on gun ownership and carry. “Well, I know that I wouldn’t abuse them, but I’m damned sure those peasants all around me couldn’t handle the liberty…”
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