Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Hope’s Residue

November 22, 2008

The students at an elementary school spontaneously asked for their school to be renamed Barack Obama Elementary School. At least, some fifth graders who held a mock debate and who came to a school board meeting to request the change. And then the school board unanimously and immediately accepted the change.

I can’t say anything else about this. Do I comment about the sorry state of education, the deification of The One, or cynical manipulation of children? I’m at a loss.


Link Dump-President Obama Edition

November 10, 2008

Interesting news is coming furiously since the election and I just can’t muster enough wherewithal to write whole entries about it. So here’s another barf:

  • So Obama’s plans for enlisting teenagers and college students into national service morphed from “require” to a “setting a goal” after a few hours of bad publicity. I saw this on Friday too and was aghast at the thought, but it was something that both Obama and McCain had campaigned on all along. I don’t understand the furor and I was glad that he was finally coming clean about “expecting you to work.” Does this mean that he’ll be the panderer everyone right of him hoped he’d be? I had considered him to be a closet Marxist given the company he kept, the statements he casually dropped, and the path by which he had risen. This incident plus the hint that he’s going to pull from the Clinton dugout for his Cabinet makes me hopeful, but not too much so.
  • The encomiums continue as writers gush over the ascendance. I love how they delude themselves into thinking that he’s writing these speeches himself. And I’m sure they’re off the cuff. And those teleprompters are there just in case he gets distracted by a flash of inspiration. Bush is routinely accused of being anti-intellectual, but who looks to the president for inspiration or validation? Oh, collectivist writers.
  • Earlier I linked to an inspiring call to action by Representative Jeff Flake the day after the election. It was clear to me during the entire campaign (and really during the whole Bush administration) that the GOP had strayed far from its Goldwater days. Back then, it was a party in favor of limited government and individual freedom. (For the most part, that is, because there was a sizable states’ rights faction that fought desegregation. Goldwater wasn’t a part of that at all.) The neoconservative movement had systematically taken over the Republican Party, reorienting it towards big government. I had (and have) high hopes that this defeat will bring about a shift or retrenchment away from the neocon philosophy. There are now a lot of voices joining Flake’s in calling for a refocusing and a return.

    But I worry that Republicans might get the wrong lesson from this election. I worried that they might conclude that they weren’t religious enough (Pence, I retract my earlier praise), that McCain was too moderate, or that they should veer left to get back in power. Reading this conservative post-mortem, only Richard A. Viguerie nailed the proper conclusion. We must take back the GOP and put it on a principled footing of individual rights and limited government. Only then can the voters make a valid choice between two opposing viewpoints.

  • One of the oft-repeated canards of this election cycle is that voter turnout was unprecedented. The story goes that Obama is such a charismatic and inspiring leader that he aroused the average apathetic American out of electoral slumber. More people voted, but the turnout was about the same. It appears that the average apathetic American was just as apathetic—rightly so, given the contest between Socialism and Socialism Light—as ever, but the average Democrat was much more involved. And the youth really came through for Obama. This alarms me somewhat, but I think their expectations are so high that they’re in for a rude awakening. There’s already been some move to cushion the fall for when Obama Claus can’t deliver.
  • I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry about Al Gore’s recent editorials. On the one hand, I’m heartened by his need to disguise his eco-fascism as “capitalism.” That suggests that he thinks he couldn’t get away with baring his teeth openly. On the other, the prescription he lays out for making capitalism “sustainable” is so nakedly anti-capitalistic that I can’t believe anyone would be snookered by it. Yet surely they must be. “100% carbon-free electricity within 10 years” WTF? HFS! “At this moment, we are faced with the convergence of three interrelated crises: economic recession, energy insecurity and the overarching climate crisis. Solving any one of these challenges requires addressing all three.” Solving any of these “problems” will require massive dislocations, inconceivable expenditures, and unprecedented government interventions. None of these “crises” are legitimate: the bugaboo is but a dodge to distract while the statists expand their power. Taken together, it’s of a piece with 9/11 and the rise of Homeland Security—fear overcomes many people’s natural aversion to government intrusion.
  • This cartoon illustrates one of the things that Americans just don’t understand about immigration: it is almost impossible to do it legally. Yet hundreds of thousands do every year and a decent percentage of them go on to become American citizens. Freedom isn’t something that depends on where you popped out of the uterus; it is inherent in our humanity. If people want to come to America, then we should welcome them so long as they are not contagious or criminal. It worked—for the most part—the first hundred and fifty years so why not re-open our borders?

My Golden Years Might Just Be Pyrite

November 8, 2008

A House committee is considering nationalizing 401(k)s but you wouldn’t know it from the press release they put out. Luckily, the Carolina Journal, a publication of the John Locke Foundation, investigated more deeply and has publicized the testimony of Theresa Ghilarducci. To read the aforementioned press release, the only notable outcome from the two witnesses was that the situation has workers and retirees spooked. (The later field hearing in San Francisco was much more muted and reasonable in its calls to action.)

Thus far, a call for better information and education is the only thing that has come from committee chairman George Miller. But he’s “considering” all options, including those of Ghilarducci and Weller. Their preference is for the government to offer Guaranteed Retirement Accounts to those worried about their retirement and eventually phase in a replacement of everyone’s 401(k) with a GRA, which is fully “invested” in Treasury bonds guaranteeing a 3% annual return.

But with a statement of commitment like the following, how long will Miller hold out?

“We will fight to restore workers’ rights, so that every American can benefit from economic opportunity. And we will make the preservation and strengthening of retirement savings a priority, so that all Americans can enjoy a secure retirement after a lifetime of hard work.”

The whole retirement savings sector is suffused with government meddling and distortion. It needs to exit in an orderly fashion, protecting commitments already made but leaving those without such guarantees to make their own decisions. People earn the money that they segregate for their later years; why can’t they be allowed responsibility for managing it?

The Out-of-Touch-O-Meter is Off the Charts

November 5, 2008

Let’s compare how I voted to how the rest of my Arizonans voted. Outside of my district and county, I pretty much am out of step. I’m glad they voted down the “homeowner’s bill of rights” and took a tax on home sales off the table permanently, but they also stopped same-sex marriage with a constitutional amendment, snuffed payday loans out of existence, and enabled a Masschusetts-style denial of private insurance.

My wife thinks that the proposition voting mirrored the spending trends on commercials. I cannot believe that, but it’s a compelling argument. Some of the proposition wording was very precise and commercials about those measures were very deceptive—did people not look into the matter further?

It’s done finally, so now’s the time to move on and start accepting the outcome. I have got a couple of months to lay low, relax, and study before I join the Kulturkampf. An Obama presidency is a grand opportunity to publicize Ayn Rand and Objectivism since he represents such a stark contrast to us.

Issue Me Them
President McCain McCain
U.S. Representative, District 3 Shadegg Shadegg
State Senator, District 6 Gorman Gorman
State Representative, District 6 Crump Crump, Seel
Corporation Commissioner Wong, McClure, Stump Kennedy, Newman, George
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, District 3 Kunasek Kunsaek
Maricopa County Assessor Russell Russell
Maricopa County Attorney Thomas Thomas
Maricopa County Recorder Purcell Purcell
Maricopa County School Superintendent Covey Covey
Maricopa County Sheriff Saban Arpaio
Maricopa County Treasurer Hoskins Hoskins
Justice of the Peace, Desert Ridge Henderson (write-in) Jayne
Constable, Desert Ridge Hazlett Hazlett
Maricopa County Special Health Care District, District 3 Gerard Gerard
Maricopa County Community College, District 3 Petty Pearson
PVUSD School Board Kenyon, Case, Greenberg Case, Greenberg, Skidmore
PVUSD Question 1 No No
PVUSD Question 2 No Yes
Proposition 100 Yes Yes
Proposition 101 Yes No
Proposition 102 No Yes
Proposition 105 Yes No
Proposition 200 Yes No
Proposition 201 No No
Proposition 202 Yes No
Proposition 300 No No

Loser Talk

November 5, 2008

Barack Obama is president.

I listened to John McCain’s concession speech with disgust. It succinctly summed up McCain: a pragmatist and compromiser to the end. A principled opponent would have conceded the battle but laid the groundwork for the larger war. He would have pledged to relight the flame of liberty during the dark times ahead.

In today’s climate, such a speech is unthinkable. Unity is the buzzword of the day. Like many times during his flawed, unprincipled run at the presidency, I sought comfort in the 1964 campaign. After listening to McCain’s terrible convention acceptance speech, Goldwater’s was a palliative. I figured that his concession in that same year might provide the inspiring call to action that McCain’s wasn’t. There’s some of that but I think there must be a pattern of graciousness in these matters that I was unaware of. Or maybe the losing candidates are just as sick of campaigning as we are.

I’ve waited ’til now to make any statement about this election because I wanted to find out more of the details of the vote—not just the total but the spread of it, what it might portend at this very early date.

I know many of you expected me to make some statement last night but I held that off. I sent the President the following wire, which I think will be available for you if you don’t have it now:

“To President Lyndon Johnson in Johnson City, Texas.

Congratulations on your victory. I will help you in any way that I can toward achieving a growing and better America and a secure and dignified peace. The role of the Republican party will remain in that temper but it also remains the party of opposition when opposition is called for. There is much to be done with Vietnam, Cuba, the problem of law and order in this country, and a productive economy. Communism remains our No. 1 obstacle to peace and I know that all Americans will join with you in honest solutions to these problems.”

I have no bitterness, no rancor at all. I say to the President as a fellow politician that he did a wonderful job. He put together a vote total that’s larger than has ever been gained in this country.

However, it’s interesting to me and very surprising to me that the latest figures that I can get do not reach the totals of the 1960 election. I am disappointed in this because I thought that the American people would have turned out in greater numbers than they seem to have done.

But he did a good job and I have to congratulate him on it.

Also I want to express my gratitude to the more than 25 million people in this country who not necessarily voted for me but they voted for a philosophy I represent, a Republican philosophy that I believe the Republican party must cling to and strengthen in the years ahead.

I want to thank all of you across this nation who turned out in those numbers to support my candidacy and that of Bill Miller and the Republican party.

I don’t think that I’ve ever seen more dedicated people in my life, people who worked as hard or who worked as long and produced the results that they did. These people are dedicated to, as I say, the Republican philosophy.

There is a two-party system in this country and we’re going to keep it. We’re going to devote our days and the years ahead to strengthening the Republican party, to getting more people into it and I feel that the young people coming along will provide the army that we need.

This effort that we engaged in last January 3 turns out to be a much longer effort than we thought. It’s not an effort that we can drop now nor do we have any intentions of dropping it now.

I will devote—being unemployed as of January 3 or thereabouts—I’ll have a lot of time to devote to this party, to its leadership and to the strengthening of the party, and that I have every intention of doing. I want to just ask the people in this country who worked so hard in this election not to be despondent, that we have a job to do and let’s get along with it, because there are many questions that have to be answered.

I’m very hopeful that the President will, now that the election is over, get along with the answers that we’ve sought during the campaign—the answers about Vietnam, about Cuba, about Communism—Communism’s continuing growth all around the world—about the growing tendency to the control of our economy and our daily lives in this country.

As I said in my wire, anything that I can do—and I’m sure that I speak for all Americans—anything that we can do to help the President get along with the solutions to these problems, we’re ready, willing and able to do.

Now with that I have nothing further to say. I will entertain a few questions—not any prolonged period at it. Mr. Wagner will recognize.

Link Dump: Week Before Election Edition

November 1, 2008

Election fatigue has really set in this last week. I have started several blog entries only to feel dispirited and end up canceling them. I have dutifully collected dozens of links for those entries, and I feel like I should share them in rapid-fire fashion just to get them out of my consciousness:

  • “How Capitalism Will Save Us”: Steve Forbes weighs in on the current financial crisis. This is a great explanation of how we came to be where we are along with a prescription for what we need to do once the crisis is resolved, which he predicts will be by next spring. Reading this essay, I lapsed into a daydream about what if he had been elected president back in 1996 or 2000. He makes every presidential candidate of either party seem like an intellectual lightweight (except for maybe Al Gore). I may disagree with him at times, but I know that his arguments are genuinely held, well informed, and thoughtful. I hope he runs again; if he did, I would volunteer much more hardily than I did in his previous presidential adventures.
  • “Checks on ‘Joe’ more extensive than first acknowledged”: this plus the legal intimidation (the entry’s a little hard to read, but the controversy seems to surround temporary Obama campaign workers registering and voting) and the media freeze plus spells out how dissenters might fare under an Obama administration. He does not handle opposition well.
  • “Obama’s Moving Tax Threshold”: when someone says that they want to close the gap between the rich and poor, there’s only two ways to do it: spread the rich’s wealth around to make the poor richer—the Robin Hood model—or redefine rich down so that the spread is nominally smaller. It’s a rare candidate indeed who does both.
  • Obama’s Constitution: it discusses Professor Cass Sunstein’s infatuation with FDR’s Second Bill of Rights, which is the clearest statement of economic collectivism that I’ve seen from an American politician. Sunstein was the Obama campaign’s go-to guy over Obama’s 2001 radio interview wherein The One implicitly confirmed what he meant by spreading the wealth.
  • Prepared Remarks of Senator John McCain in NH: it’s a decent speech complaining about Obama’s tax plan. It’s just too bad that he contradicts it all the time by wanting to tax “windfall” profits and denouncing corporate greed. That’s McCain in a nutshell: a contradictory, unprincipled demagogue.
  • “White People Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Vote”: this will be a common refrain should Obama somehow lose. The racist voters just weren’t up to the challenge of voting for a black man. It’s definitely not that he’s the most liberal candidate put up by either party in the last twenty years or that he associates with anti-American radicals, or that he’s a Chicago politician of the worst kind. Nope, we’re just as racist as ever.
  • “Obama’s Carbon Ultimatum”: and this is one of the biggest reasons I’m afraid of an Obama administration. He’s bad enough, but the people he’ll bring to Washington amplify and expand his reach. The Senate is already prepared to fast track any nominees he puts forth. That includes packing the courts.

That’s about half the links I’ve been collecting, sadly. So expect another link dump in a few days.

[UPDATE (11/1/2008): You mean the checks on Joe’s child support records were politically motivated? No way!]

The Coming Depression

October 22, 2008

Much has been made about how the nine largest banks were coerced into accepting the federal equity purchase, but it appears that regulators will also decide which of the smaller banks are unduly suffering and must accept government ownership:

Federal regulators said they did expect some banks to volunteer, though none stepped forward yesterday. But they added that they would not rely on volunteers. Treasury will set standards for deciding which banks can be helped, and the regulatory agencies will triage the banks they oversee: The institutions faring best and worst will not receive investments. The institutions in the middle, whose fortunes could be improved by putting a little more money in the bank, will be pushed to accept the money from the government.

I can’t even begin to describe the problems this is going to create down the road. The Treasury and the Federal Reserve are floundering: taking action where none is warranted, overreaching their Constitutional bounds, and moving the center of American finance from New York City to Washington. All on the pretext of averting another Great Depression, even though almost nothing outside of the stock market points to a general economic slowdown. Unemployment is up, but that could still be the lingering effects of a market adjusting to the minimum wage increase. Retail sales are down, but uncertain times lead people to hold back on purchases.

I sincerely believe that the next president will usher in an era of malaise and bad times, no matter which candidate wins. We may in fact be in for another Great Depression since, like the first one, government intervention will deepen and prolong any downturn.

[UPDATE (10/23/2008): I was most disappointed to hear that John Kovacevich, CEO of Wells Fargo, folded but I’m not surprised. Even Henry Rearden signed away Rearden Metal. The parallels between today’s political environment and Atlas Shrugged are many and distressing.]

The Reports are Greatly Exaggerated

October 22, 2008

Something’s going on over at The Washington Post. First, they publish an article entitled “Don’t Blame Capitalism”. Now there’s an unsigned editorial affirming that the “unregulated free-for-all financial sector” wasn’t free. This represents a different tack from the one taken earlier.

I’m not going to go crazy and get all hopeful about this turn, but I am glad that the editors at WaPo are willing to acknowledge the government’s role in both catalyzing and aggravating this financial problem.

Power Hoarders

October 16, 2008

“It’s not the proper role of government to prop up stocks, housing or any other market. Yet like the vaudeville performer on the old Ed Sullivan show, politicians now see their duty as to keep the plates spinning just a few more months, maintaining constituents in their homes and jobs at least until after the elections, without any thought to the long-term cost being paid to do so.”

“What Americans don’t get, however, is that the goal of the bill isn’t to help Wall Street or Main Street, but to centralize power in Washington. Not surprisingly, that’s where its biggest proponents just happen to reside.” – Jonathan Hoenig “Politicians Use Bailout to Grab More Power”

We’re All Venezuelans Now

October 15, 2008

Statists may want to tiptoe around the N-word, but when the federal government buys equity stakes in private firms and dictates how they should be run, that’s nationalization.