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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Liberals Love Just a Little Bit of Capitalism

Ed Koch gave voice today’s liberal view of what capitalism means.

He wrote:

I deplore fascism, socialism and communism. I'm a believer in the capitalist system that allows you, subject to reasonable restraints and taxes, to use for your own benefit and that of your family your personal abilities -- the skill of your hands and the power of your brain.

Koch believes in subjecting capitalism to “reasonable restraints and taxes”. We all know that it is those restraints and taxes that are the rub. Because reasonability is in the eye of the beholder.

Koch explains his modification of the principles of Adam Smith and the original Liberals:

I also believe just as firmly in fairness, which requires us to help those who need government assistance. It's not fair that those with the necessary ability should be denied the opportunity to pursue a higher education because they were born into the homes of financially poor parents. The country needs their talents. It is simply wrong that people should suffer because the country’s legislators favor helping those already better off. They are so shameless they have even eliminated subsidies intended to help poor families with their heating bills. Consider how shameful that is when at the same time our government stands by without taking appropriate regulatory and criminal actions against oil companies and foreign countries that violate the existing anti-trust laws intended to protect American consumers.

“Fairness” to Koch does not mean equal opportunity. Fairness to Koch does not mean a worker keeping control of his income for the needs he foresees of himself or his family-both, immediate and into the future. To Koch and the liberals, “fairness” mean redistribution. But, we followers of Adam Smith recognize that needs of the lower income citizens is best handled by a free market that provides more jobs for better pay and a low tax system that rewards the hard work of all and provides the ability to grow faster from one’s position than in a regulated economy.

Koch reminds us of his liberal credentials by explaining that

So long as the 45 million Americans who are without medical insurance continue to find themselves more and more in need of medical assistance, we will be a nation without a conscience.

He ignores the real issue of whether any without health insurance have ever been turned away by a hospital when facing any imminent need.

Koch then complains

That our government prohibits the Social Security Agency from securing lower prices by using its immense buying power with bulk purchases as an instrument to affect prices is scandalous and demonstrates how special interests control the President and the Congress.

Koch invokes “President Theodore Roosevelt’s administration 100 years ago” whose anti-trust laws:

were intended to protect the people of our country from cartels and monopolies that gouge us everyday, most flagrantly today in the unbridled prices they charge for oil and gasoline. Capitalism that is fairly administered and subject to fair laws works wonders.

Koch’s arguments for just a little regulation, higher taxes and redistribution of wealth ignores his own fabled lifetime of living in a rent-controlled apartment in Greenwich Village, all the while earning enough to have paid market value for the space. Somewhere a family could have used that apartment, were willing to pay the market rental all the while Koch complained that families could not afford reasonably priced housing.

This lover of capitalism seeks massive price controls of medicines, gas and oil. Some one seeking price controls and price ceilings, high taxes, national health insurance, anti-business regulations such as enforced by TR and government redistribution of wealth cannot claim to like capitalism very much.

What would he propose if he hated capitalism?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Plants Cause Global Warming?

Researchers have found that plants produce methane gas. Yes, plain old "Save the Rainforest" plants. Methane is second to carbon dioxide as the greenhouse gas claimed to cause alleged global warming. From Reuters:

They produce about 10 to 30 percent of the annual methane found in the atmosphere, according to researchers at the Max-Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany.

Scrappleface has Al Gore chopping down trees right now.

“Science now tells us,” Mr. Gore said, “that the only way to save Mother Earth is to slaughter her parasitic, methane-spewing rainforests, and burn them to enhance our radiation shield.”

Mr. Gore said he would soon launch a new grassroots campaign to “stop heartless corporations like Weyerhaeuser” that he accuses of “wholesale re-forestation of our precious clear-cut lands.”

Abramoff: Government Oversight of Gaming Is the Problem

The Abramoff scandal may lead to additional findings of conflicts of interest. Matt Towery advises that the money trail may lead to more discovery of the corruption of public officials beyond the headlined offenses of Tom Delay and other famous national politicians.

But shouldn't we consider the cause of this lobbying and influence salesmanship?

The only reason politicians receive such bribes and lobbying is because of their influence on competition in the gaming industry. Because government is so intertwined with the regulation of this business, it stands to reason that special interests will pursue the support of lawmakers. What laws are we talking about? If the business is legal, then why cannot anyone seeking to make a buck in it be allowed to do so---assuming they can get the requisite financing for capital and operation expenses.

The problem is that any time government can restrict competition, it will be a valuable asset to the entrepreneurs. Removing government from the process is a big order given local zoning oversight, employment regulation and general consumer protection. But cannot the free market provide the information to all parties that protects the public without the attendant graft?

Feminism's Failings

Mona Charen reviews Kate O'Beirne's new book ""Women Who Make the World Worse". The book provides the quotes from women's libbers over the years and proves empirically how wrong most of their claims and predictions have been.

Charen mentions one facet of feminism that rankles me. Women in the military. I have no problem with them in the service. But they should have limited exposure to combat. Writes Charen:

Large numbers of women soldiers are mothers (single or married), leaving behind babies and young children. Nor is the participation of women in combat situations good for readiness or morale. Women have far higher rates of injuries and sick days than men, to say nothing of pregnancy, which in one famous case sidelined 10 percent of the women sailors on a Navy ship.

The equality movement seeks to have population representation in all occupations. It ignores culture and proclivities of nationalities and groups. History shows that such population representation has never occurred naturally around the world. And discrimination was not the slightest cause.

In Thomas Sowell's "The Quest for Cosmic Justice" and in a Hoover Digest article, he explains how Jews were some 6% of the population in Hungary and 11% in Poland:

but they were more than half of all the physicians in both countries, as well as being vastly overrepresented in commerce and other fields. In the early twentieth century, all of the firms in all of the industries producing the following products in Brazil’s state of Rio Grande do Sul were owned by people of German ancestry: trunks, stoves, paper, hats, neckties, leather, soap, glass, watches, beer, confections, and carriages.

As respect the advantage of men over women in combat, Charen writes of O'Beirne:

She quotes historian S.L.A. Marshall, who found that a man will overcome his fear and do what he must because he risks losing "the one thing he is likely to value more highly than life -- his reputation as a man among men."

The Goose Is Shitting Gold

Econopundit quotes from the Associated Press:

Associated Press reports:The federal government posted the first budget surplus for December in three years as corporate tax payments hit an all-time high, helping offset a record level for spending, the Treasury Department reported Thursday.The department said...government receipts surpassed spending by $10.98 billion last month...[This reflects] the fact that government receipts were up 12.1 percent from a year ago to $241.88 billion while government spending rose by a slower 5.6 percent to $230.9 billion. The figure for outlays still represented an all-time high for spending for any month.

Now, if the Congress can cut the growth in spending or, even better, cut spending, the deficit may vanish.

And why are the tax receipts higher? And why do people want to kill the golden goose?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Massive Proof Of Iraqi-Al Qaeda Connection

Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard explains how millions of documents have been uncovered from Saddam's files that show how 8,000 terrorists were trains in Iraq at 3 camps from 1999-2002. Saddam kept complete records ala the Nazis. While many were destroyed prior to and during the US invasion, the wealth of information in forms of computer hard drives and discs is mammoth. What is now needed are a sufficient number of transaltors. hayes explains:

Intelligence officials believe that some of these terrorists returned to Iraq and are responsible for attacks against Americans and Iraqis...Most of the 50,000 translated documents relate directly to weapons of mass destruction programs and scientists, since David Kay and his Iraq Survey Group--who were among the first to analyze the finds--considered those items top priority. "At first, if it wasn't WMD, it wasn't translated. It wasn't exploited," says a former military intelligence officer who worked on the documents in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu says the non-WMD intelligence will now be of use in tracking the "insurgents". He writes:

Even more compelling at the moment than accessing the WMD material, is deciphering the list of names of the terrorists and their cell leaders. Considering that post-Operation Iraqi Freedom many of these thugs have been drawn back to the fight in Iraq like loathsome moths to the flame, it would assist both new Iraqi government and American military to have these names and the personal data accompanying them. Hayes quotes one official as saying “We had box loads of Iraqi Intelligence records - their names, their jobs, all sorts of detailed information. In an insurgency, wouldn't that have been helpful?”

History has a funny way of proving things (and people) right.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Personal Attacks Are Losing Value

One reason I left the fold of liberal political allegience was the failure to follow any principles. The liberals who are solely represented in the Democrat Party would dub every conservative as evil, Anti-Semitic, craven and any other negative term you can come up with. I began to think "All, all of them cannot be that bad". Then, I would hear a Bill Buckley or Jack Kemp speak and besides their making coherent and logical arguments, I would see people wrestling with modern day issues and attempting to find solutions. The other side, to which I was still a part, rarely offered as persuasive arguments.

Per Mark Levin, the rest of the country is seeing through the smokescreen of personal attack in the Alito hearing. Levin wrote:

The liberal senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee look frustrated and sound incoherent because, well, they are. Their problem is that when you don't have fidelity to the written Constitution, your judicial philosophy, such as it is, consists of nothing more than strained and often contradictory arguments made for the purpose of advancing a political and policy agenda. Hence, we hear Dianne Feinstein demand from Alito adherence to judicial precedent respecting Roe v. Wade (Arlen Specter refers to is as super-precedent), and in the next breath acceptance of something called a living and breathing Constitution.

As for Borking — the smearing of conservative Supreme Court nominees through blatant dissembling about their character and thinking — it falls flat today because the American people have become largely immune to the strategy. It has been unleashed with such frequency and fury during the last 20 years that even a casual observer understands that every conservative nominee cannot possibly be a racist, sexist, and unethical pervert. And the left-wing groups that serve this poison, such as Hollywood's People for the (Un)American Way and the radical Alliance for (In)Justice, have lost what little credibility they once may have had with the public.

Soldier Armor: Trade-offs Must Be Made

Thomas Sowell explains that every choice comes at the expense of what was given up. Was the choice ignored a better one? Everything in life has costs because you cannot do everything at once in this world. This is a world of limited resources with alternative uses. While I want the Celtics to win and make the playoffs, their mediocre but not horrible performance means they never get the first draft pick and thus never draft the top star out of college (I mean high school). That makes a championship almost impossible.

Michelle Malkin did the research on something I was wondering recently regarding the claimed increased deaths of soldiers due to inadequate body armor.

I was thinking of that economic principle of trade-offs. Just like high taxes trade off economic growth, like above market minimum wage laws trade off employment of the unskilled, like enjoying a delicious muffin trades off a svelte body, I wondered if the additional armor would actually cause more deaths than it saved by making soldiers less mobile in an activity requiring speed and quickness.

Malkin quotes two soldiers complaining about the already heavy (40lbs.) armor they must wear in desert heat.

Capt. Jamey Turner, 35, of Baton Rouge, La., a commander in the 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment bluntly reminded the Associated Press: "You've got to sacrifice some protection for mobility. If you cover your entire body in ceramic plates, you're just not going to be able to move."

Second Lt. Josh Suthoff, 23, of Jefferson City, Mo., said: "I'd go out with less body armor if I could."

Another soldier has blogged:

" ... Too much weight means a soldier moves slower, tires more easily, [maneuvers] less stealthily and spends more time feeling sorry for himself instead of focusing on the mission. And then there's the bulkiness that becomes an issue as you move through tight space and wedge into the seats of military vehicles that were not designed with comfort and/or legroom in mind. All these tradeoffs must be addressed before you make the decision to add armor, it must be determined that the armor will be effective, and then it must be designed in a way that minimizes impact on our ability to do our job."

He must think like an economist. He mentioned trade-offs.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

What Did Alito Say, Joe?

John Podhoretz in NRO's blog The Corner reports that Joe Biden allowed Alito to speak 72 words in the half-hour questioning.

I remember the first few candidates I interviewed as a manager about 12 years ago. After the interviews were over, I could not tell you one thing the candidates had said. I had fillibustered the thing. I had to pick the candidate that reacted best to my comments.

Did Alito laugh at all of Biden's jokes? If so, he is in.

Time Magazine Exposes Part Of The Abramoff Story

I have not completed reading Time Magazine's cover story on Jack Abramoff, "The Man Who Bought Washington" (subscription required). But I have looked at all of the pictures. Every one is of a Republican! The message I am getting from the magazine is all of the people involved with the corruption of governmental lobbying were Republicans!

Were any Democrats lobbied by this guy? If not, he was not a very good lobbyist as any party's fortunes can change in a short election cycle.

In small type in an inset entitled "Raking In The Cash", I see Charles Rangel's name. And Harry Reid's name. And a few others. (Andrew Sullivan provided this link to the complete list of money recipients).

But mostly we see Tom Delay's pictures with Abramoff. And then who is shown in pictures with the former House majority leader? George W. Bush. Do you get the connection? In one picture they are golfing together. In another GW is holding Delay's grandson. I think you can see part of the envelope holding the cash sticking out of the baby's snap-up.

Like Deep Throat said, "Follow the Money". Just wash your hands afterwards.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Europe Losing Its Cultural Anchor

Making my point of last week in support of Mark Steyn's prediction of Europe's demise due to demographic data, James P. Gannon in USA Today writes:

Surveys show a sharp decline in church attendance and religious practice in most European countries. A series of Eurobarometer surveys since 1970 in five key countries (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy) shows that regular church attendance fell from about 40% of the population to about half that figure. Declines were sharpest in predominantly Catholic nations.

As Evo Riguzzi once advised, his last visit to Italy found him and his wife 50% of the congregation one Sunday. That is alarming.

Assuming that practicing Catholicism is evidence of European culture and values, with this decline in religiosity, where is the current example going to come from for Muslims to observe and inculcate? No, I am not suggesting that they should convert from Islam. But, they need to reject the militaristic values of jihad and recognize the positive values of peaceful co-existence that has become the crux of modern Judeo-Christian life.

However, besides the lack of traditional religious faith, the economic programs of Europe will do little to attract Muslims to the Western modality. There is little positive in the example provided in Europe due to their economic strait-jacket of high taxation, regulation and labor laws. Anyone stuck in a 40% unemployment spiral is not going to accept the validity of that lifestyle or "society".

Osama Has Been Dead for 3 Weeks?

If he is dead then terrorism is over.

From The American Thinker quoting Michael Ledeen:

...according to Iranians I trust, Osama bin Laden finally departed this world in mid-December. The al Qaeda leader died of kidney failure and was buried in Iran, where he had spent most of his time since the destruction of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Iranians who reported this note that this year’s message in conjunction with the Muslim Haj came from his number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, for the first time.

Ledeen is pretty reliable. Now we need the report on how the 19 virgins morphed into old scags like in The Shining.

Abramoff Hurts Jews

Jack Abramoff is a fraud, a cheat and a louse. But to Jeff Jacoby, there is something much worse that Abramoff has done.

The worst is that Abramoff is a Jew. Not only a Jew, but an Orthodox Jew — someone who claims to be committed to strictly observing Jewish law and faithfully adhering to the Torah's ethical standards. But instead of upholding those ethical standards Abramoff trampled on them, and a "religious" Jew who behaves so corruptly disgraces not only himself but all religious Jews. He brings his faith into contempt. He is guilty of what Jewish tradition calls, with disgust, chillul HaShem — a desecration of G-d's name.

For me — also an observant Jew — that is the worst thing of all.

Abramoff allows bigots to use his religion as proof of the group's likelihood of wrongdoing. He literally and figuratively wore his religion to camoflage corrupt behavior. And as such, he has soiled the religion.

Jacoby writes:

One who behaves so unethically and illegally drags more than his own reputation through the mud. He is an embarrassment to his religion and his community, and that comes close to being unforgivable.

Jewish abhorrance towards criminals is so strong that such behavior is not countenanced. Jews do feel a personal stake in the US and personal pain in such actions by one of their members in abusing the system that has made them free.

Bush Said He Would Do It and Did It Without Apologies

Thanks to Paul Greenberg for providing this public statement (in "Shocking discovery: President determined to defend US") made by George Bush on 10/17/01 regarding the intended use of covert intelligence:

Ours will be a broad campaign, fought on many fronts. It's a campaign that will be waged by day and by night, in the light and in the shadow, in battles that you will see and battles you won't see. It's a campaign waged by soldiers and sailors, marines and airmen; and also by FBI agents and law-enforcement officials and diplomats and intelligence officers. . . . Our campaign will be difficult, and it will take time. But I can promise you this: It will be waged with determination, and it will be waged until we win. We will do whatever it takes to protect our country." - George W. Bush, Oct. 17, 2001.

Didn't some of us find solace in knowing that the CIC would use all available resources to flush out the enemy in the asymmetrical war? Many of those who scurried from the tumbling buildings of downtown Manhattan on 9-11 are now decrying those measures to ensure there is no repeat of that terrorist success.

Now safe in their apartments in outer boroughs or their Florida retirement villages, they have had time to collect themselves and revert to their pre-9-11 thinking. They are still scared as heck and many will not venture to Manhattan like they used to. But they can write letters about lost civil liberties and claims that this is like Watergate.

Or as Mark Steyn wrote:

It's very hard to fight a terrorist war without intelligence. By definition, you can only win battles against terrorists pre-emptively -- that's to say, you find out what they're planning to do next Thursday and you stop it cold on Wednesday. Capturing them on Friday while you're still pulling your dead from the rubble is poor consolation. For example, in 1988, a British SAS unit shot dead three IRA members on the streets of Gibraltar. The United Kingdom's Joint Intelligence Committee were acting on information that the cell was planning to blow up the changing-of-the-guard ceremony on the Rock. The two men and a woman were subsequently found to be ''unarmed,'' and as a result various civil liberties groups protested and critical TV documentaries were made. But there was no dispute that they were IRA members and that they had bomb-making materials in their car. If the state cannot take action until its sworn enemy uses those materials, it had better be prepared to lose the war.

No I do not want to police terrorism. I want to prevent it. But for you "outside" of the zone of danger, protect that hysteria. And leave the fighting to the brave.

Gov't Growth Sets Stage For Abramoff Abuse

In "Marks For Sharks" by John Fund, this was the best explanation of how lobbying in Congress gets out of hand:

Many Republicans have forgotten that as government grows, its increased power to grant favors or inflict pain attracts more people who would abuse the system. Sen. John McCain once told me that "the best long-term answer to corruption is a smaller government." Indeed, disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff observed a decade ago, "More money available from government is blood in the water for sharks." He proved to be one hungry shark.

While I question McCain's other policy positions, it is such sentiments that brought me over to the Republican wing of government. While the Democrats show no sign of being any different, at least some of them are not shy about admitting so. If the Republicans do not clean up their spending act, I will abstain. Anyone remember how Clinton was first elected?

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