22 October 2009

Daniel Lipinski, Pocket Dictator of the Day!

Our Constitution has succeeded for more than 200 years in preventing the ascension of a real, full-fledged dictator in the United States. But don't think for a minute that this is for lack of aspiring candidates for the role. The urge to tell other people what to do in the every aspect of their lives drives many in our society, not least among them our elected officials.

Sadly, they too often succeed in poisoning our laws with restrictions on freedom. Because they are thwarted in their obvious, underlying desire for absolute power, though, they must remain only pocket-sized dictators.

Our "Pocket Dictator" of the Day is Representative Daniel Lipinski (D - IL).

In response to the great national security issue of oversized carry-on bags, the Honorable Mr. Lipinski has introduced legislation limiting, by law, the size of the bags you can bring onto your plane.

His knowledge of airplane design, luggage dimensions, your personal needs, and how to properly run an airline is so obviously superior to all the airlines and passengers in the United States that he seeks to enforce, with the power of the United States government, the size his own delicate sensibilities and superior judgment has determined will serve your needs best.

What the Pocket Dictators like Mr. Lipinski fail to understand, as they solemnly contemplate at what point men with guns should seize our luggage, is that while they may not believe us smart enough to pack our own underwear, it is they who should not be trusted with sharp scissors.

16 October 2009

They weren't smearing just Rush. They were smearing you.

Much has already been written about the Rush Limbaugh smear campaign which ended in him being dropped from a group that is seeking to buy the St. Louis Rams football team.

It is clear by now that the two widely repeated quotes used to brand Limbaugh a racist were completely fabricated. A few writers have backhandedly retracted it with mealy-mouthed phrasing like "I take him at his word when he denies having said it." I've yet to read one who says "I should not have run with that quote without verifying it, because it is so over-the-top, and potentially career-damaging to the person I am writing about, that the least I cold have done was basic journalism."

Instead, the "okay, if you says so" retraction generally continues with some variation of "he is clearly so racist and vile that I hardly think retracting the quote changes anything. It certainly doesn't change my opinion."

This is not intellectual laziness. This is pure, ignorant, bigotry. It is nothing new that Rush Limbaugh is targeted by such hate, but there was a larger target implicated as racists in this campaign: Rush's 20 million listeners.

Think about that for a minute. What kind of nation do these media buffoons think that they live in? Twenty million people listen to Rush Limbaugh every week. He is a pop culture icon who has been the cornerstone of talk radio for more than twenty years. And we are expected to believe that he can laud the murderer of Martin Luther King, Jr. and advocate slavery, and still have that kind of devoted following? That prominent politicians, even presidents, would meet with him publicly, and even appear on the show of a man who would make such outrageous statements?

You cannot believe these things to be true and also live in the real world. You cannot believe that the most-listened-to radio personality in the world praised the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. eleven years ago, and nobody noticed that until now? And nobody protested at the time? Nobody stopped listening?

A country with that many racists would not have elected Barack Obama. It simply could not happen.

But now, days after it has become clear that these racist quotes were made up out of whole cloth, the liberal media still sees nothing wrong with its reporting.

Because all of you people are stupid racists.

13 October 2009

Two strikes on O'Reilly

I watch Bill O'Reilly from time to time, but find his program tremendously frustrating. He rarely asks tough questions, and often lets his guests get away with saying whatever they want. Interjecting with an occasional "come on, Senator!" doesn't make you a tough interviewer.

Earlier this evening, Sen Claire McCaskill was on The Factor, and O'Reilly let her get away with some whoppers. Here are a few:

  1. "We are going to make preventive screenings free" The senator was trying to explain the many cost-saving measures in the bill. Unfortunately, nobody can "make things free." If it is a good or service that has value, then its cost will be borne by somebody. What McCaskill no doubt meant is that the bill would require insurers to pay for preventive care screenings with no out-of-pocket costs for the patient. But that isn't "free." It is a cost, and an enormous new cost. It may not affect the Federal budget, but it will affect the family budget of everybody in America who has to pay for this new Government regulation through higher premiums. And they will be much, much higher. I don't know if McCaskill is too economically ignorant to understand that, or dishonest enough to say it, knowing how grossly misleading the statement is. All I know for sure is that O'Reilly let her make the claim completely unchallenged.
  2. "The CBO couldn't score the long-term benefits of preventive care" In fact, as you would think O'Reilly would know, the CBO has previously said that preventive care will raise costs. Again, if this is all done through mandates on private insurers, it won't raise Federal budget spending, but it will raise costs enormously for everybody in America. But O'Reilly let it hang there, unchallenged.
Look, I don't mean to single out O'Reilly - that's just the program I watched tonight. But he let some high, hanging curveballs go right past him, and a lot of viewers who depend on him to help cut through the spin were let down tonight.

10 October 2009

Great words, great thoughts

Reading reminds us, as Lincoln once said, that those great thoughts we have are not so original, after all. Here are some good ones to think about today.

Ah, consensus...the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner 'I stand for consensus'?
Margaret Thatcher

For over ten years, bombs rained down on every village and hamlet in South Vietnam, and no one budged. It took the coming of a Communist ‘peace’ to send hundreds of thousands of people out into the South China Sea, on anything that could float, or might float, to risk dehydration, piracy, and drowning.
General Vernon Walters

Well done is better than well said.
Benjamin Franklin

09 October 2009

Who says he has done nothing?

On the 20th Anniversary of the Dalai Lama winning the Nobel Peace Prize, it is awarded to the first US President to snub the Dalai Lama in an effort to appease the very Chinese dictatorship that continues to deny liberty to the Tibetan people.

So who says Obama has done nothing?

UPDATE: And by the way, the Nobel citation says Obama has "created a new climate." Wait a minute...didn't they just give this award to Al Gore for fighting against climate change?

08 October 2009

Read what bill?

Over the summer, many angry constituents showed up at town hall meetings demanding that their elected representatives at least read the massive health care bills before ramming them through. It sounds like a reasonable enough demand, don't you think?

Now comes the Baucus "Bill," from the Senate Finance Committee. There can be no demands that committee members read the bill before voting. Our fine senators have come up with a great workaround to that demand.

They intend to vote without writing a bill. That silly little detail can be taken care of after it passes.

06 October 2009

Markets are the physics of economic reality

I saw part of an interview of Michael Moore on the Sean Hannity show this evening. It was difficult to watch for a lot of reasons, but here are just a couple.

First, Hannity tries too hard to take the partisan line sometimes. In trying to focus on the Community Reinvestment Act as the cause of the so-called "mortgage crisis," he tried to make the case that it was only Carter's CRA, along with Clinton's later modifications of the Act, that were the root of the problems, and that it was only Democratic intransigence when Bush proposed reforms at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that allowed the final collapse. But this analysis ignores that at the time of the Democrats' resistance to Republican reforms, Republicans controlled the Congress. Further, it ignores that Bush, who quite vocally promoted an "ownership society," never advocated reining in the unsound lending practices encouraged by the CRA and subsequent modifications. Indeed, Bush fully shared the goals of those regulations. It's fine to name names, but to pretend that the party which controlled Congress for three-fourths of both the Bush and Clinton administrations have no responsibility for the problem is a dangerous position to take.

Second, and related to the above problem, Hannity never really called Moore on the central problem with the arguments (such as they are) which Moore makes. Indeed, Hannity seems to agree with Moore that the capitalist "system" is in need of reforms and improvements, he only disagrees on what form those improvements should take.

Yet for every bad thing, for every bad person that Moore holds up as an example of all that is wrong with the system, he fails to ever make a case that a "system" caused the problem, much less that the guilty system is capitalism. There will always be sad stories, there will always be bad people. Some of those people will be in politics, some will be in business, some will be in gangs, some will be in prison, and some will even be in Hollywood. That's not the fault of capitalism or any other system. It is a fact of human nature, and I don't understand why nobody simply asks Mr. Moore whether he believes there is a system that can possibly overcome human nature.

Capitalism, after all, is a term invented by Karl Marx to describe the world as he saw it. It is socialism which is a designed system. A better, and more accurate term for capitalism is "free markets." Markets, you see, are not a system to be designed or managed. Markets cannot be abolished or overcome. Markets are better described as the physics of our economic reality. You can no more change the fundamental operation of markets than you can change the law of gravity. That's why socialist economies never work. That's why the most efficient and best operating markets are free markets.

But there is probably no point trying to explain that to Mr. Moore. Perhaps a better question for him is how, if we are to consolidate more power over our economy and our freedom in the hands of a few people in Washington, we can be sure that those people won't be the same bad people who now cause bad things.

Free markets benefit from a value which Americans, more than any other people on earth, have always held dear: freedom. In a free market, power is not held by only a few, whether they be on Wall Street or Washington. No company is "too big to fail." To the contrary, all are free to succeed or fail, because all are subject to the same rules - the rules of markets.

The less free the markets, the less free the people.