Sunday, December 28, 2008

Canary in the Mine, Chirping

Few really bad ideas escape being floated in the New York Times:

In the case of the Treasury, the money comes from the same wellspring that has been financing American debt for decades: Investors in the United States and around the world — not least, the central banks of China, Japan and Saudi Arabia, which have parked national savings in the safety of American government bonds.

Americans have gotten accustomed to treating this well as bottomless, even as anxiety grows that it could one day run dry with potentially devastating consequences.

The value of outstanding American Treasury bills now reaches $10.6 trillion, a number sure to increase as dollars are spent building bridges, saving auto jobs and preventing the collapse of government-backed mortgage giants. Worry centers on the possibility that foreigners could come to doubt the American wherewithal to pay back such an extraordinary sum, prompting them to stop — or at least slow — their deposits of savings into the United States.

That could send the dollar plummeting, making imported goods more expensive for American consumers and businesses. It would force the Treasury to pay higher returns to find takers for its debt, increasing interest rates for home- and auto-buyers, for businesses and credit-card holders.

...But most economists cast such thinking as recklessly extreme, akin to putting an obese person on a painful diet in the name of long-term health just as they are fighting off a potentially lethal infection. In the dominant view, now is no time for austerity — not with paychecks disappearing from the economy and gyrating markets wiping out retirement savings. Not with the financial system in virtual lockdown, and much of the world in a similar state of retrenchment, shrinking demand for American goods and services.

Since the Great Depression, the conventional prescription for such times is to have the government step in and create demand by cycling its dollars through the economy, generating jobs and business opportunities. That such dollars must be borrowed is hardly ideal, adding to the long-term strains on the nation. But the immediate risks of not spending them could be grave.

“This is a dangerous situation,” says Mr. Baily, essentially arguing that the drunk must be kept in Scotch a while longer, lest he burn down the neighborhood in the midst of a crisis. “The risks of things actually getting worse and us going into a really severe recession are high. We need to get more money out there now.”

Had the government worried more about limiting spending than about the potential collapse of the mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it might have triggered precisely the dark scenario that consumes those who worry most about growing American debt, argues Brad Setser, an economist at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The most frequently voiced worry about the bailouts is that the Fed, by sending so much money sloshing through the system, risks generating a bad case of rising prices later on. That puts the onus on the Fed to reverse course and crimp economic activity by lifting interest rates and selling assets back to banks once growth resumes.

...But that, as most economists see it, is a worry for another day.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/28/weekinreview/28goodman.html?pagewanted=2&ref=weekinreview

This is wrong. I suppose its the price we pay for 1/3 of the US population being born since 1980. Most Americans, economists included, don't remember the bad old days of the 1970s.

The cutoff for the failure of the US bond market is NOT global disbelief in our power to pay back the bond. We're constitutionally required to do so, and so default is more than just a ministerial decision in this country.

The US bond market will fail when dollar inflation and dollar depreciation is so much higher than our interest rate, that, even after we've paid ten or thirty years of interest in full and on time, the Japanese or European investor comes close to losing money or breaking even, or, appears likely to do so. When we take valuable Euro or Yen and turn them into soft American dollars at a rate much lower than Bonn or London offers, then we're screwed.

And that's right where we're headed, even if we insist it's a problem for another day.

The experts have insisted for over ten years that interest rates need to be below 5% for sustained economic growth. That's nowhere near high enough to whip inflation. When inflation comes, and we waste a decade to fight it, then we're going to have very low growth and intense deficits.

Better a sharp recession now and for a year. We took that medicine in 1982 and our economy was better for it.

The other side of the coin is that it is NOT 11:55 on the Doomsday Clock, a nuclear war among the G8 seems remote, and nobody needs to keep America on all cylinders for their own survival.

I'm told I'm naive to think we can operate without our top tier of commercial lenders, that the private sector can't possibly do enough. It seems more naive to me to imagine that the rest of the planet will bury their wealth here, for our benefit, as we squander it faster than we can borrow.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Blogger wouldn't let me on to post yesterday...

Went to 10:30 am Mass and it was in Korean. A very interesting service and a reminder that we're really a global church, which was comforting.

Koreans hold the collection basket up front and the congregation walks up with their envelopes...a good fundraising technique.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Better Instincts?

"I think the party has to take a hard look at itself," Powell said in the interview, which was taped Wednesday. "There is nothing wrong with being conservative. There is nothing wrong with having socially conservative views — I don't object to that. But if the party wants to have a future in this country, it has to face some realities. In another 20 years, the majority in this country will be the minority."

Powell, who crossed party lines and endorsed President-elect Barack Obama just weeks before the election, said the GOP must see what is in the "hearts and minds" of African-American, Hispanic and Asian voters "and not just try to influence them by… the principles and dogma."

"I think the party has to stop shouting at the world and at the country,"Powell said. "I think that the party has to take a hard look at itself, and I've talked to a number of leaders in recent weeks and they understand that." Powell, who says he still considers himself a Republican, said his party should also stop listening to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

"Can we continue to listen to Rush Limbaugh?" Powell asked. "Is this really the kind of party that we want to be when these kinds of spokespersons seem to appeal to our lesser instincts rather than our better instincts?"


Since when is voting our race, appealing to a better instinct?

We can't approach ethnic minorities as Americans, taxpayers, employers, workers, parents? They've got something in their hearts and minds beyond that? Something that blocks any appeal to reason and non-racial politics?

Really?

I wonder if Colin Powell has ever lived in California. That's what not having a white majority looks like, and its why a liberal state enacted a ban on affirmative action based on race--you have nonwhites suing the state because other nonwhites get a "disproportionate" share of the pie.

It doesn't work. That's why we endorse and maintain the "principles and dogma" that oppose such stuff--the alternative doesn't work. You can't call yourself pragmatic if you're going to fail.

And I'd have a better opinion of Powell and most other moderates if they stopped arguing that conservatives, uh, "seem" to appeal to bigotry and racism and such, and started dealing with what we actually say. But then, they'd have to listen.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

God Bless Jim DeMint

[Hat tip: TheHill.com]

“The Capitol Visitor Center is designed to tell the history and purpose of our nation's Capitol, but it fails to appropriately honor our religious heritage that has been critical to America’s success. While the Architect of the Capitol has pledged to include some references to faith, more needs to be done. You cannot accurately tell the history of America or its Capitol by ignoring the religious heritage of our Founders and the generations since who relied on their faith for strength and guidance. The millions of visitors that will visit the CVC each year should get a true portrayal of the motivations and inspirations of those who have served in Congress since its establishment.

“The current CVC displays are left-leaning and in some cases distort our true history. Exhibits portray the federal government as the fulfillment of human ambition and the answer to all of society’s problems. This is a clear departure from acknowledging that Americans’ rights ‘are endowed by their Creator’ and stem from ‘a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.’ Instead, the CVC’s most prominent display proclaims faith not in God, but in government. Visitors will enter reading a large engraving that states, ‘We have built no temple but the Capitol. We consult no common oracle but the Constitution.’ This is an intentional misrepresentation of our nation’s real history, and an offensive refusal to honor America's God-given blessings. As George Washington stated clearly in his first inaugural address:

‘…[I]t would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge.’

“The fundamental principles of the freedom we enjoy in this country stem from our Founding Fathers’ beliefs in a higher power, beliefs put forth in the Declaration of Independence and manifest throughout our Constitution,” said Senator DeMint. “If we cease to acknowledge this fact, we may cease to enjoy some of the freedoms we take for granted. We must not censor historical references to God for the sake of political correctness. And we must truthfully represent the limited form of government the Constitution lays out so that our ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’ So help us God.”


This is now considered 'fringe ideology' to too many wielding political, social and economic power in this country.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Awesome!

Wow, I have been just too dead tired or isolated commuting from Orange County to Colton to keep current with blogging...

But I thought I'd test blogger with the new Blackberry...and you're reading this!

I can't do the massive quoting but I can check in!

Awesome!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Resuming the Opposition

Well it was a nice eight-year interlude, wasn't it?

Actually it feels like it ended a bit early...

There's a lot of bad advice coming our way as to how to react. From Powerlineblog:

But this column is addressed to politically active conservatives who fear the worst and are now wondering how to cope. The key, as always, is to maintain one's equilibrium. To this end, I offer, unsolicited, the following suggestions:

Pray that President Obama achieves greatness in office. Our overriding concern must always be the country we love, not the success of a party or an ideology.

Don't assume that Obama is always wrong. Judge all of his positions on the merits; don't conclude that a position is wrong just because he takes it. Republicans tended to fall into this trap with President Clinton. For example, some opposed our military involvement in Kosovo based not on an analysis of the situation there, but rather on a knee-jerk anti-Clinton response. This approach is irresponsible and unpatriotic.


Fellas, one thing remains clear as glass: most Americans don't vote. Most Americans would like the Right and the Left to SHUT UP. If you don't think our positions, our "ideology", is vitally necessary to keep this country from real collapse down the road, then give them what they want. I don't tout what NEEDS to be done except because I care about the country. When you run around saying you value country above ideology, it means your plans aren't that important, even to you. If that's true, go away and let us worry about Socialism.

Clinton PLANNED the Serbs would fall down begging for a deal because they were being lightly bombed by the great, the all powerful Wizard of Oz. That was the PLAN. When they didn't fold in the first week we had a general lack of ammunition, because they hadn't PLANNED for a 8-day bombardment. It lasted 90 days and will probably be remembered as the stroke that launched the new Russia. The mission continues because having bet NATO's moral credibility on the issue, America can't admit that NATO is confused, stagnant and incapable of resolving it even after 10 years.

There's plenty of sound reasons to oppose that war, even without Clinton's dumb lies to sell it --"Two world wars started here". Don't throw rocks about the motives that lead people to a CORRECT conclusion.

Be loyal in your opposition. As my blog partner Scott Johnson puts it, paraphrasing Steven Decatur: "May he always be in the right; but our president, right or wrong."


I have no idea what that means. He has the job. BUSH is our president at the moment, you see how much that moves anybody.

From what will probably be my last visit to HughHewitt.com:

The feds can, of course, print money and it isn't a bad thing to do when deflation is even a remote possibility. Significant public works --if they can get built over environmentalist objections-- are a great place to start if you are a new president seeking to cement your coalition, as is some aspect of health care "reform," though that will call out every deep division among Dems as well as thousands of lobbyists.

No one I have asked agrees with me, but I think the Obama Administration would be wise to try and jam through a quick immigration reform package that both regularizes the vast majority of illegal aliens already here but also delivers on the fence that the Bush Adminstration has, inexplicably, managed to barely get underway. Pushing on the immigration issue means delivering to one of the key constituencies that gave him the White House while also tempting some Republicans on the margin of the debate to renew their self-destructive rhetoric on the issue. Leading your institutional opponents into another meltdown while rallying your broad base seems to be a sure winner for Obama.

...The GOP had better be up and ready to respond with substance and a coordinated voice to whatever is unveiled as the new agenda of the new president. Every initiative will be an opportunity to distinguish and define the key differences between the parties moving forward. Letting the back benchers define the GOP on any issue --and especially on immigration reform if it surfaces-- will be disastrous for a party in need of political discipline and intellectual renewal.


I think Hugh is in the wrong party, if "party discipline" means defining the majority of the party as "the backbenchers" and "jam"ming policies down their throats.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hitler Sings

I'm not quite sure why this is sooooo funny.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Al Smith Dinner--Apolitical?

Not to TIME.

You can either fight liberals or assist them. They are of the Leftist tradition of George Orwell, who said "All writing is political; because the statement 'I am not a political writer' is itself political."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another Victim of the Bush Economy

I got hired!

Temp to hire, possibly.

So now I am a paralegal: a person who holds himself or herself
out to be a paralegal, who is qualified by education, training, or
work experience, who either contracts with or is employed by an
attorney, law firm, corporation, governmental agency, or other
entity, and who performs substantial legal work under the direction
and supervision of an active member of the State Bar of California,
as defined in Section 6060, or an attorney practicing law in the
federal courts of this state, that has been specifically delegated by
the attorney to him or her.


I'm very glad I landed. Already from a week's work, I see how valuable experience is in this profession.

This is a lifetime career for me; that is, I expect to work at it until I drop. My retirement plan is not to retire. I firmly believe, as even Republicans insist the federal government is the guarantor of failed enterprise and can pick the winners and losers in the economy wisely, that my generation will not be allowed to enjoy sufficient wealth to stop working. That 401(k) will not be left tax-free for your enjoyment. It just won't.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Then Again

Perhaps not! God Bless the House!

"I will not stand by and watch this great country destroy itself under mediocre leadership that drifts from one crisis to the next, eroding our national will and purpose." Reagan, July 17 1980

Stick it to them, guys!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Spitting Mad

I am very angry we're going to bail out failed banks rather than take a restorative recession.

This isn't socialism. Socialism is taking over industry. Making industry government's partner is fascism. It's what Italy and Germany did. It's what Putin does in Russia. It's the route we're going.

There's enough capital worldwide to resume liquidity in the US market regardless of what Federal Reserve members do. It's a phony threat. In six months Dubai and South Africa and Asia could form a new commercial bank with no ties to the mortgage crisis. Faster, if government helped cut the red tape. We don't owe failed banks a place at the table.

If these banks are too big to fail, NOW, and we get equity in them, then what? Are we gonna lose the money?

This is not the crisis of the century. This "Hock your shirt for a pig in a poke you sell to a sucker" ponzi-blowout has happened three times in 21 years. It will happen again, and we're going to say up front that Uncle Sucker is responsible to cure it. Because our equity partners are too big to fail and too vital to restructure.

We're going to destroy the dollar. I no longer have to worry about Social Security collapsing, because I don't think the government that issued it is going to survive. It is a whole lot easier to repudiate a Constitution and the debts of its regime than sustain decades of stagflation. Check the record. Look at France, look at Germany.

Forty years. I give the Constitution of 1797 forty years, on the outside.

God in Heaven, this is STUPID.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Busy At Nothing

Still looking for a paralegal job. While I miss the income, the idea of seriously hunting while trying to sleep all day would have been futile.

As a California resident, my vote for McCain would be a meaningless gesture, and I'm still inclined not to make it. But with a real conservative on the ticket, I'm more optimistic about the future than I was at any time in this campaign season. When did that start, 2005?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Still Blogging

Well it's been some time! I was hoping to have a new job lined up by now. Haven't yet, will keep trying.

I meant to post something sooner on the rape of Georgia by our strategic partners. I thought we defeated Kerry so we wouldn't be led around by the nose like this. To tell Georgia, who stood by us in Iraq when the UN ran, that we need to go to the Security Council to get permission to help them out, is obscene.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lesser Evil?

I've been slogging away at the hotel and trying to line up a paralegal job. But through the haze some new, dumb arguments of the center-right have oozed through.

"There's no debate about man-made global warming. It's real. The question is, to what extent it happens. And we can do something to lessen it. That's the science."

"People want a balance, they don't want hardline ideology anymore."

"For right now the public wants entitlements in place. We can adjust/correct/reverse them after we win the election. Then we can make the case to the American people as to what needs to be done in the long-term."

PFUI!!!

Anthropomorphic Global Warming was dropped on us as a whole theory, that is, that human pollution was creating a greenhouse atmosphere, and that we could physically observe it to be happening. Now that's fairly universally exploded, proponents are reduced to arguing that a possible statistical correlation makes up for the total lack of observable physical phenomena.

I always wondered why, if human pollution caused greenhouse effects, why there wasn't belts of heat matching the belts of smog. Smog certainly has areas of intense density and sparsity--you see lots of smog over Mexico City, and you don't see much smog over the central Atlantic. The bulk of pollution in Africa, for instance, is centered on the capital cities-- Third World countries generally see the bulk of the population explosion centered around colonial trade centers, and not in the bush. But there isn't a band or belt of higher temperatures. The argument was that at some level, a model predicted a uniform raising of global temperatures. Well, the atmosphere doesn't work that way. Look at Pinatubo. Look at Chernobyl. Look at the smog in Mexico City.

Statistical models have been telling us for nearly a century that Americans have 2.3 or 2.1 kids. That fraction of a child exists only in the statistical model--and in silly jokes--but when it comes to AGW we're suddenly told that a statistical fluke is very real, and it's meteorology that's flawed for not finding it in the real world. Nuts. The map is not the territory.

If there's no physical process that produces AGW, then statistical models that say it must be out there, are just wrong. And we don't need to form national consensus around phlogiston.

"People want a balance, they don't want hardline ideology anymore."

This is sadly a growing hardline ideology on the Republican side. The Democratic party isn't losing voters to the new moderation--it's growing its rank and file. What the center-right doesn't get, is that I can be a Not-Democrat by calling myself an Independent, and I don't have to try to excuse any Republican to family and friends. That's where the GOP is stuck--a majority of Americans don't like Democrats, but they won't rally behind Republicrats who will do what the Democrats do, only sloppily and haphazardly. There seems to be only one medicine for this malaise, and it is constant defeat of people who plan on losing the argument.

AGW, entitlements, earmarks...proven failures, open wounds...

The center-right, in forging a "New" party, propounds two basic axioms:

1. Republicans can't shape public opinion, they can only react to it. (the "demographics timebomb" crowd is especially adamant on this one.)

2. Let's just win, and then worry about policy. Entitlements will bankrupt us, but let's just win. AGW isn't real, but let's just win.

A political machine that will do the wrong thing, to wield power, is capable of any excess. There's nothing a Socialist Democrat would do out of sincere zeal that a New Republican would not do out of calculated greed.

And that being true, who's really the "lesser evil"?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Troubling Story

"It's hard being a member of the mean party," says Bob Borochoff, a lifelong Republican who was on Capitol Hill this week asking legislators to support bills that will benefit disabled people like his son, Bradley, and returning veterans suffering from mental illness. There's no shortage of horror stories when it comes to health insurance, but Borochoff's tale on behalf of his son took him on a political journey, as well, and his disillusionment is emblematic of the uphill climb the Republicans face in November.

Borochoff's tidy life as a restauranteur and happily married father of three, including newborn twins, was shattered in 1988 when his 3-year-old son Bradley was bitten by a mosquito, which triggered encephalitis, a swelling of the brain and then uncontrollable seizures, leaving him disabled. The family's insurance premiums jumped from $300 a month to $2,500 a month. Borochoff hired a lawyer to fight the increase but was told he had no choice, so he paid the premiums. A year later, a notice arrived in the mail that the insurance company was canceling his policy along with coverage for his 100 employees.

Well known in the restaurant business in Houston, Borochoff had political connections, and he worked every one of them, even securing an audience, along with other small-business owners, in the White House with President George H.W. Bush, all to no avail. In desperation, he contacted Sen. Ted Kennedy, telling a Houston Post reporter at the time, "I can't stand Ted Kennedy," but he hoped he would help. Kennedy intervened and the next day Borochoff got a call saying the insurance for him and his employees would be reinstated. It would be nice if the story ended there, but Bradley's care became more expensive. Medicine not covered by insurance was $2,800 a month. Borochoff's wife divorced him and in 2003, a single father with three teenagers, he filed for personal bankruptcy and received food stamps for six months.

Kennedy's office contacted him several times over the years asking him to testify, which he did only rarely because he didn't always agree with Kennedy's approach. He was once a strong backer of Tom DeLay, and he counts himself a personal friend of DeLay's successor and the two other Republican congressmen representing the Houston area. But he's angry with them and his party over health care and immigration, and that's what brings him to Washington. He's rebuilt his life and now manages four Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston. He serves on the board of a local agency that provides mental-health services to the poor, and the tug he feels is reflected in his political donations; once almost exclusively to Republicans, now he estimates 40 percent goes to Democrats.

This is one man's story but in a sense he is everyman.


That's from Eleanor Clift's latest column. (HT: Realclearpolitics.com).

I'm old-fashioned. I'm used to my leftist tales of American despair to be about dead children and bosses reduced to living under bridges.

Here's a guy, who gets hit with a tragic illness in his child. Bills mount up. His child gets the treatment. He gets divorced. His business collapes. He files for bankruptcy and wipes out the medical debt. He resumes his career as an entrepreneur. The boy lives.

He's mad as hell, and he's not going to take it anymore.

The traditional notion of America the Land of Promise, where a hard-worker can fulfill his obligations in life without some despot on his back, is pretty much dead to half (or more) of the country. Somebody Else ought to be helping, probably the State. It's not fair that a Borochoff should pay his own way, or, stumbling, be forced into bankruptcy. It should have been taken care off. All the other Borochoff's ought to have been bled a little to handle it.

Who's opposing this sort of thinking these days? Even Mitt Romney, the Businessman's Republican, had the bright idea of forcing everybody in Massachusetts to buy insurance they didn't need so there was sufficient profits in the kitty to pay out everybody.

That kind of robbery isn't sustainable. TAANSTAFL, and we forget that at our peril.

Monday, June 02, 2008

I Miss My Blog Anniversary Again

5/12/08. Again too busy and forgetful to honor THE day.

I've been browsing past blogging, the stuff from summer '06 about the failure of the GOP majority seems painfully prescient. I began this blog as an unemployed goober in a joint apartment with my pal, Vinse, looking to boost some skills and vent about the anti-war movement. Four years later and Vinse is nearly two years gone to rest, I've been standing guard through the late watches of the night for over three years, and it looks like my steadfast faith in the Iraq war project is going to be vindicated. Sometime during this summer I'll step out from behind the hotel counter and start work as a paralegal, most likely in some other city, and perhaps move the whole shebang yet again.

So here's to another four years of blogging, maybe... because this whole Internet thing is getting dated, by the hyperactive standards of the Computer Age.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Me, In Passing

Garrison Keillor can't stand Rolling Thunder.

I can't stand Garrison Keillor, really.

Somehow a person associates Memorial Day with long moments of silence when you summon up mental images of men huddled together on LSTs and pilots revving up B-24s and infantrymen crouched behind piles of rubble steeling themselves for the next push.
You don’t quite see the connection between that and these fat men with ponytails on Harleys.


That is odd, because people rode Harleys on WW2 battlefields but there were darn few French Impressionists.

It took 20 minutes until a gap appeared and then a mob of us pedestrians flooded across the street and the parade of bikes had to stop for us, and on we went to show our patriotism by looking at exhibits at the Smithsonian or, in my case, hiking around the National Gallery, which, after you’ve watched a few thousand Harleys pass, seems like an outpost of civilization...A work of art can lift you up from the mishmash of life, the weight of the unintelligible world, and vulgarity squats on you like an enormous toad and won’t get off.


For 20 minutes you were exposed to some of the best industrial design on the planet, and felt nothing but annoyance. Sculpture in steel and leather and chrome, a centenarian design improved with computers and increasingly complex and ornate gearing and pipework that increases function without sacrificing elegance. A modern Harley is about the same dimensions as the first to roll out of the factory, but is so much more capable. You can sit on one and cross a continent. You could ponder that, too, that our culture and civilization puts these resources and wealth not into a giant pipe organ or a series of fountains for priests or princes to possess and flaunt, but in a practical machine to carry an average person around the country. But instead your thoughts were on the level of a three-year-old waiting in line for a frogurt. A very ill-mannered and impatient three-year-old.

If anyone cared about the war dead, they could go read David Halberstam’s The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War or Stephen Ambrose’s Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany, June 7, 1944 to May 7, 1945 or any of a hundred other books, and they would get a vision of what it was like to face death for your country, but the bikers riding in formation are more interested in being seen than in learning anything. They are grown men playing soldier, making a great hullaballoo without exposing themselves to danger, other than getting drunk and falling off a bike.


Or you might talk to the fat men in ponytails. They were in the jungle, many against their will, and had friends who died alongside them there. Being American teens in the 1960s, perhaps they and their friends enjoyed tinkering with bikes before they went to Nam. Now the survivors are old and have the leisure and wealth to take 10 days to ride across this country as their friends can never do again, to honor them.

I am the boatman and maybe you are, too — it is quiet on the water, we lean on the oars, and we are suspended in time, united with every other man, woman and child who ever voyaged afar.

Unless they voyaged on two wheels, apparently.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sen Coburn: GOP In Denial

From the WSJ:
As congressional Republicans contemplate the prospect of an electoral disaster this November, much is being written about the supposed soul-searching in the Republican Party. A more accurate description of our state is paralysis and denial.

Many Republicans are waiting for a consultant or party elder to come down from the mountain and, in Moses-like fashion, deliver an agenda and talking points on stone tablets. But the burning bush, so to speak, is delivering a blindingly simple message: Behave like Republicans.

Unfortunately, too many in our party are not yet ready to return to the path of limited government. Instead, we are being told our message must be deficient because, after all, we should be winning in certain areas just by being Republicans. Yet being a Republican isn't good enough anymore. Voters are tired of buying a GOP package and finding a big-government liberal agenda inside. What we need is not new advertising, but truth in advertising.

Becoming Republicans again will require us to come to grips with what has ailed our party – namely, the triumph of big-government Republicanism and failed experiments like the K Street Project and "compassionate conservatism." If the goal of the K Street Project was to earmark and fund raise our way to a filibuster-proof "governing" majority, the goal of "compassionate conservatism" was to spend our way to a governing majority.

The fruit of these efforts is not the hoped-for Republican governing majority, but the real prospect of a filibuster-proof Democrat majority in 2009. While the K Street Project decimated our brand as the party of reform and limited government, compassionate conservatism convinced the American people to elect the party that was truly skilled at activist government: the Democrats.

Compassionate conservatism's starting point had merit. The essential argument that Republicans should orient policy around how our ideas will affect the poor, the widow, the orphan, the forgotten and the "other" is indisputable – particularly for those who claim, as I do, to submit to an authority higher than government. Yet conservatives are conservatives because our policies promote deliverance from poverty rather than dependence on government.

Compassionate conservatism's next step – its implicit claim that charity or compassion translates into a particular style of activist government involving massive spending increases and entitlement expansion – was its undoing. Common sense and the Scriptures show that true giving and compassion require sacrifice by the giver. This is why Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell his possessions, not his neighbor's possessions. Spending other people's money is not compassionate.

Regaining our brand as the party of fiscal discipline will require us to rejoin Americans in the real world of budget choices and priorities, and to leave behind the fantasyland of borrowing without limits. Instead of adopting earmarks, each Republican can adopt examples of government waste, largess and fraud, and restart the permanent campaign against big government.

Republicans can tear up the "emergency spending" credit card and refuse to accept any new spending whatsoever, including for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, until Congress does its job of eliminating wasteful spending. The federal budget contains a vast unexplored area of offsets. My office alone has identified $300 billion in annual waste. Borrowing from the next generation when we haven't done our job of oversight is unconscionable.

Regaining our brand is not about "messaging." It's about action. It's about courage. It's about priorities. Most of all, it's about being willing to give up our political careers so our grandkids don't have to grow up in a debtor's prison, or a world in which other nations can tell a weakened and bankrupt America where we can and can't defend liberty, pursue terrorists, or show compassion.


It is too bad Tom Coburn is being drowned out by all the GOP "leadership" promising that they "got the message" and will be changing any day now to reflect the "current needs" of the American people.

The depth of the problem is demonstrated by Coburn's last paragraph, which he felt compelled--or was impelled--to tack on:

John McCain, for all his faults, is the one Republican candidate who can lead us through our wilderness. Mr. McCain is not running on a messianic platform or as a great healer of dysfunctional Republicans who refuse to help themselves. His humility is one of his great strengths. In his heart, he's a soldier who sees one more hill to charge, one more mission to complete.


So much for spurning the Great Whosis coming down off the mountain with the agenda! While McCain is running, the GOP is the vehicle of McCain. Maybe after November, they'll be ready to absorb what Coburn is pitching here without distractions or equivocations.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

McCain at Wake Forest University

From the speech:

Of course, in the daily routine of Senate obstructionism, presidential nominees to the lower courts are now lucky if they get a hearing at all. These courts were created long ago by the Congress itself, on what then seemed the safe assumption that future Senates would attend to their duty to fill them with
qualified men and women nominated by the president. Yet at this moment there are 31 nominations pending, including several for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that serves North Carolina. Because there are so many cases with no judges to hear them, a "judicial emergency" has been declared here by the
Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. And a third of the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is vacant. But the alarm has yet to sound for the Senate majority leadership. Their idea of a judicial emergency is the possible confirmation of any judge who doesn't meet their own narrow tests of party and ideology. They want federal judges who will push the limits of constitutional law, and, to this end, they have pushed the limits of Senate rules and simple courtesy.

As my friend and colleague Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma points out, somehow these very same senators can always find time to process earmark spending projects. But months go by, years even, and they can't get around to voting on judicial nominations -- to meeting a basic Senate duty under our Constitution. If a lobbyist shows up wanting another bridge to nowhere, or maybe even a courthouse with a friend's name on it, that request will be handled by the Senate with all the speed and urgency of important state business. But when a judicial nominee arrives to the Senate -- a nominee to preside at a courthouse and administer justice -- then he or she had better settle in, because the Senate majority has other business and other priorities.

Things almost got even worse a few years ago, when there were threats of a filibuster to require 60 votes for judicial confirmations, and threats in reply of a change in Senate rules to prevent a filibuster. A group of senators, nicknamed the "Gang of 14," got together and agreed we would not filibuster
unless there were "extraordinary circumstances." This parliamentary truce was brief, but it lasted long enough to allow the confirmation of Justices Roberts, Alito, and many other judges. And it showed that serious differences can be handled in a serious way, without allowing Senate business to unravel in a chaos of partisan anger.

There were not threats of a filibuster of nominees. There were actual filibusters of nominees--the modern sort, where the Senate president agrees that any topic can be brought to the floor without cloture except the subject of the filibuster.




There were not "threats" to change Senate rules to prevent a filibuster. There was a serious national campaign to make 2004 Senate races a referendum on the plan. Money and volunteers crossed state lines to ensure enough Republican Senators to implement the scheme. And despite the victory of Republicans and the efforts of the Republican leadership to fulfill their election promises, McCain & Co. torpedoed the idea for the "Gang of 14".

You can't name a judge or justice confirmed under the Gang of 14 who would have failed after the Nuclear Option. You can name several who went under the bus because the filibuster is still a possibility. It is because each and every nomination can result in a filibuster, that there is delay in nominations--the leadership must rally a supermajority every time. Ted Olson thinks this was just a "tactical maneuver" by McCain--perhaps he should give thought to why Democrats signed onto the same maneuver? They surely had no desire to get good judicial conservatives confirmed.

Perhaps McCain's Senate caracoles are not directly relevant to his possible performance as President; but he thinks we ought to remember it, because he brought it up. And he'd like some applause for it, too.

Let the verdict be McCain's:

It is part of the discipline of democracy to respect the roles and
responsibilities of each branch of government, and, above all, to respect the verdicts of elections and judgment of the people. Had we forgotten this in the Senate, we would have been guilty of the very thing that many federal judges do when they overreach, and usurp power, and betray their trust.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Drifting like the Tumblin' Tumbleweeds

There's nothing less conducive to political blogging than the sense of proportion given by a three-week gap in posting...

[ed. Given by? Gained from? Earned?--"earned" is active. "Earned through".]

I knew when I registered for two courses of night school in one quarter that it would be a challenge.

It is. I'm relearning how to be tired all the time. Now if only the sense of discipline regarding schoolwork would kick into high...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Medellin v Texas

The Supreme Court ruling is here.

Basically, when we signed the Vienna Treaty entitling foriegn nationals to consular meetings upon arrest, the treaty did not create a method for enforcement in our domestic courts, and Congress did not create statutory law doing so.

In the absence of those laws, President Bush can't order a state court to review its rulings in light of the Vienna Treaty.

This isn't getting much play in the media, because the accused are undoubtably guilty of child murder and rape, and because Congress doesn't want to touch the issue of greater guarantees for foriegn nationals within state courts with a ten-foot pole. Perhaps after the election.

I'm interested in the Mexican reaction to this case. We'll see if the bawling starts.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Scandalmongery

Hugh Hewitt is busily shoving the idea that Barack Obama is guilty of skullduggery with Tony Rezko. He's got a link to the National Review Online:
Barack Obama would not be living in the Chicago mansion that he calls home if it had not been for Tony Rezko. The previous owner was only willing to sell the mansion property along with an adjacent vacant lot. Rezko's wife agreed to buy the vacant lot while the Obamas bought the mansion. This purchase occurred in 2005, after Obama became a U.S. Senator...Did Tony Rezko buy Obama's house? No. But he made it possible for Obama to buy his house. He did him a favor to the tune of $625,000. What, exactly, did Rezko expect in return from the U.S.
Senator?

This just stinks.
What did Rezko get? Well, for one thing, he got a personal tie to the junior Senator from his state. He did him a favor. He helped him get the home of his choice.
But the other thing he got, was title to a parcel of land worth $625,000.
And if the day came, as it has, when U.S. Senator Barack Obama told him to get stuffed and don't call anymore, Rezko still has title to a parcel of real estate worth over half a million, in a good neighborhood.
Tony Rezko did not help Senator Obama buy a house.
Rezko helped him buy that house.
Legal value of the difference: $0.
If Rezko had backed out of the deal, and the seller had refused to sell the house to Obama, forcing him to buy a home of equal value elsewhere, he might have been able to sue Rezko for actual expenses of finding a new house. Maybe.
Definitely not the value of that house, definitely not any pain or suffering, definitely not $625,000.
From the facts, it is just as plausible to argue that indicted realtor Tony Rezko did a million-dollar favor to the seller, enabling him to cash out his real estate more quickly.
Am I naive? I don't think so. I know many wealthy men find it shrewd to enrich themselves in partnership with politicians, and we ought to watch out for it. Obama himself says in hindsight, he wouldn't have done the deal. I can believe that; he's tied in with Rezko now.
But when that happens, helping a politician buy a residence by becoming a party to the deal, that isn't corruption. It might easily lead to corruption, but it's not corruption. Obama isn't doing this all over the state, or even in the city of Chicago. He wanted a home.
I think Hugh Hewitt knows it darn well, but he's on a mission to smear a political opponent. Again.
There were two reasons I didn't come down behind Romney. For one thing, I didn't believe he was so happy to be a Massachusetts Republican and suddenly saw the light of mainstream conservatism just in time to become President.
The other was, how sleazy his supporters were. It was Dean Barnett, on Hewitt's site, who assured us as a Boston Republican that Romney had known all along abortion was murder, but just went along with the pro-choice crowd in Massachusetts to advance the Party. This, to Barnett, was a testament to the steadfastness of Romney's core values, that they could remain intact after a decade of submerging them in pragmatic politics. To guys like me who were in the street in 1993 against the Freedom of Choice Act, it told another story...
Only a matter of months ago, Hewitt was shouting that McCain was too old for the job. "Great American. Lousy Senator. Terrible Republican." After Romney dropped out, Hewitt plunked for McCain without an apology. Refused to give one. "I don't apologize for playing hardball."
Well here's the hardball. Rezko. Indicted. Obama. Money. Land Corruption?--who can prove there ain't? Gerahty in NRO again:
Nothing that we know of so far. We didn't know until a month ago that Rezko toured the property with Obama before the purchase. If there was anything scandalous going on, it seems safe to assume that these guys would try to keep it secret.

Hardball...and it's low and inside. I've already walked.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Go With What You Know

Clinton showed a tendency toward an insular management style, relying on a
coterie of aides who have worked for her for years, her aides and associates
said. Her choice of lieutenants, and her insistence on staying with them even
when friends urged her to shake things up, was blamed by some associates for the
campaign's woes. Again and again, the senator was portrayed as a manager who
valued loyalty and familiarity over experience and expertise.

If she didn't stress loyalty and familiarity, she would have been convicted in federal court some time ago.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Situation Normal...

The colors and the sidebar are restored, somewhat. I can now resume sporadic blogging as usual.

I do prefer this new template, though.

And if the extended quotes work legibly... Somewhat.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

What the Heck Happened????

For some reason, my beautiful custom template job went blooey and I lost the black text to my posts. Perhaps Blogger dropped Trebuchet MS Verdana as a font type.

Whatever the reason, by switching to a generic template I rescued the post content. I copied the full HTML of my other, happier template and emailed it to myself.

So now I have a project, to figure how to edit this generic template to restore my old header and sidebar goodies. I hope.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blood on the Water I

I am sure there'll be more Blood on the Water posts to come. Sadly, unlike 2004 it is the "conservative" candidate who is a dead duck.

Senator John McCain is not competent to win a Presidential election.

Ed Morrissey thinks this is about "Barack Hussein Obama". It isn't. It's about saying anything negative and critical, "disparaging", about "honorable Americans" named Obama and Clinton.

Yes, Cunningham called Sen. Obama by his full name three times. He also called him "Barack Obama" a fourth time, when he conjured up an angelic vision of "Barack Obama in the White House, Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House", and Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader". Ed Morrissey makes a distinction that Senator McCain does not. It's not just about a middle name. The whole critique is repudiated as "inappropriate".

I agree Cunningham laid it on with a trowel here, calling Obama a Chicago-style hack who will steal our money and get us all killed. That is, however, the basis of the post-World-War conservative movement: Liberalism is inherently corrupt, confiscatory and incapable of protecting the United States from its global enemies. And if you agree with that, but think name-calling is bad---"ism"s don't hold office, individuals do. "Fascism" and "Communism" never gave an order to anybody.

Anybody who does any surfing of the Right-Wing blogosphere knows that a lot of people backing McCain do it from "fear and dislike" of the alternatives, not because they rave about John McCain. In a time when "agenda" is a sinister term, John McCain is touted as the most "electable" barrier to the Democrat agenda, while apparently having sold America on the idea that he has no agenda of his own. I am a former Republican largely because too many within that party think simply opposing liberal Democrats is adequate, and preferrable to enacting a positive program of reform and renewal. McCain, today, did not even do that much, and promised to roll over again down the road. That approach is going to forfeit the "Anybody But A Socialist" faction as well as the conservatives.

Dole got less than 40 million votes in 1996. It may get that bad in 2008.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Terri Schiavo case is a good example of what is "tearing the country apart".
Here we see a strict, organized ideology, which holds to a universal truth, unalterable, holy, righteous, that demands total obedience in every situation. Schiavo could not be killed absent her directive. Period. Exclamation point!
And I do see, I really can, how people could feel that is not right, not correct, not holy, is arrogant, preachy, oppressive, mean, cruel, harsh, unfair, unAmerican and a sure loser. I can see that.
BUT
In practical terms, either the woman was killed or she wasn't. Either she died or she didn't. There wasn't a gray area between life and death, or reasonably, a shade in terms of precedent. We couldn't kill Schiavo and promise never to kill anybody in that situation ever again; or agree everybody could die in that situation except Terry Schiavo. It was definite and binding and determinative.
Nobody on our side of that issue will argue we were moderate, compromising, broad-minded. We wanted Terry Schiavo spared death by torture because it was right and necessary that always be the law.
What is tearing our country apart is the fiction that doing the direct opposite of our "ideology" is not an opposite, equally oppressive, equally immoderate, equally arrogant, equally strict ideology. What the opponents want to pretend is that striking us down every time is somehow "moderation".
If the Center-Right were truly moderate, broad-minded, avoiding the "evils" of knowing what to do all the time, they would always be a little bit unsure of whether the Religious Right wasn't onto something on any issue. Gay marriage--maybe. Abortion--maybe. No-fault divorce--maybe. If they didn't have their minds made up they'd argue each one separately. But they don't. They declare us wrong and dogmatic to boot.
The opposite of an ideology is not anarchy. The direct, constant opposite of an ideology is a contrary ideology.
I think involuntary euthanasia is wrong. That is a moral point of view. My morality guides my politics--I want involuntary euthanasia banned. Enough moral politics and I have an ideology--a philosophy of proper government.
If you want to challenge the moral basis of my ideology, and say abortion is fine and involuntary euthanasia is fine, that's part of our American freedom to have a different morality. But government policy cannot be unsettled. Either your opposite moral views are enacted or are mine. That fusion of policy issues with your morality means you have created a philosophy of how government out to be run--an ideology.
Only the Center-Right doesn't seem capable of admitting it. They're just being pragmatic instead of dogmatic. They're just leaving matters open. They're just restoring the American balance. They're avoiding the pitfalls of totalitarian government which flow from imagining you always know what is right.
Baloney. They're crusaders of a different faith.
"Get the morality out of politics" is putting a different morality into politics. And coupled to this inability to call that quacking bird a duck, is the strange notion that not only can you not enslave a free man, you can't engage him on a debate about right and wrong.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sickening!

In a chamber once known for cordiality if not outright gentility, McCain has battled his fellow senators for more than two decades in a fashion that has been forceful and sometimes personal. Now, with the conservative maverick on the brink of securing his party's presidential nomination, McCain's Republican colleagues are grappling with the idea of him at the top of their ticket.

"There would be a lot of people who would have to recalibrate their attitudes toward John," said Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), a supporter of Mitt Romney's who has clashed with McCain.

Many Senate Republicans, even those who have jousted with McCain in the past, say their reassessment is underway. Sensing the increasing likelihood that he will be the nominee, GOP senators who have publicly fought with him are emphasizing his war-hero background and playing down past confrontations.

"I forgive him for whatever disagreements he has had with me. We can disagree on things, but I have great admiration for him," said Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee who has often argued with McCain over government spending.

As president, one of McCain's most critical relationships would be with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a necessary ally in the conflict with a Democratic-led Congress. But their relationship has been gravely tested... But McConnell said last week that he would have no trouble with McCain as the nominee or as president.

"We've had a great relationship since," McConnell said. "All of them [McCain's fights] have been respectable and entirely within the traditions of the Senate."

...Despite the senator's heresies on taxes, immigration and campaign finance, Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), chairman of the Republican campaign committee, said McCain could appeal to independent voters.

"You'll have more Democrats running away from
Hillary Clinton than you'll have Republicans running away from our nominee," he said.

...After spending six weeks away from the Senate, he showed up for final negotiations on a fragile immigration bill, leading Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) to question where he had been. McCain responded by swearing at Cornyn loudly and repeatedly, according to witnesses.

Cornyn, who has not endorsed a presidential candidate, doesn't expect to befriend McCain anytime soon but said he will happily stump for him as the nominee.

"We've had our moments, but we've gotten over that and moved on down the road," Cornyn said. "You're talking about people who are professionals. You don't have to link arms and sing 'Kumbaya' to get things done."

I'm not about to give total trust to the Washington Post, even on direct quotes, but I don't hear of a flock of angry denials of misquotes here.

Such melting doesn't come from strength and confidence. It comes from desperation.

"You'll have more Democrats running away from Hillary Clinton than you'll have Republicans running away from our nominee," he said.

That's the Republican game plan? The other guys are more demoralized than we are?

There's a gangrene odor coming off the Grand Old Pachyderm. McCain will take well-deserved blame as the chief architect of the failure. But he's got willing accomplices who won't be remembered. You see some of them named here.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Grow Up. Vote For McCain.

Thought I'd pass that on. Zu Befehl!



If we don't elect McCain, Hillary and/or Obama will do irreversible damage to America, and the Democrats will win forever! And you conservatives will have to answer to posterity!


Heard that one lately?

Isn't that basically a center-right, Republican-partisan admission of failure? The GOP is incapable of changing minds. It can only hold fast against an irreversible tide of liberalism.

Why? How so?

The Big Tent of the Republican Party seems adamant there are no moral choices in politics, that we have to be pragmatic and practical. Raising taxes, for instance, is not the most popular choice, but it remains an option that must be considered--hence time limits on tax cuts. The notion that tax cuts are morally right, better than raising taxes, that the taxes come from people's money that is rightfully theirs, that taxes are a necessary wrong imposed on the public, is just a point of view that Republican policy makers are free to take or leave.

The problem there is that a moral code is not just a guide and a measure, but also a goal. The moral barrier to a life of theft not only puts our past behavior in perspective, and instructs our current choices, but it drives us to create a future where we earn honestly and are not reliant upon or tempted by theft. And when we abandon a moral code, and declare choices amoral, we not only "free" our present, but we unwrite our past and cast our future adrift.

If it is not morally right to keep taxes low, then it is not morally wrong to raise them. If we do not have to avoid future occasions of higher taxes, then we do not have to organize our budgets to do without that confiscated wealth. We will make pragmatic, practical solutions for our present prodigality. And that will mean chaos down the road.

And that's...OK. Not as if we had a moral crusade or something.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heath Ledger, R.I.P.

I hope this had nothing to do with it. But I'm afraid it probably did.
From IMDB:
The Joker's character is based on his first two appearances in the comic books, as well as his portrayal in the graphic novel "The Killing Joke." To prepare for the role, Heath Ledger lived alone in a hotel room for a month researching the character and developing his performance, which he claims is based upon Sid Vicious and the character of Alex in A Clockwork Orange (1971). Ledger found the role extremely difficult, and suffered insomnia as a result.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Something's Phony Here

Kay returned to California to start Golden State Fence in 1984 with five employees and was on a roll by the early 1990s. Almost from the start, he relied on illegal immigrants. Nearly all his workers took advantage of the 1986 amnesty but he soon struggled to fill jobs. He shunned applicants who came in off the street, instead relying on Mexican
employees to recruit family and friends.
"They were more trustworthy and more apt to stay long term," Kay told The Associated Press at his office in Riverside, a sparsely furnished room with a white linoleum floor and an empty desktop.
...Installing fences is punishing labor, especially in Southern California's desert heat and rocky soil. Kay requires job applicants to raise 60 pounds over their heads and move wheelbarrows of dirt. About 75
percent of his workers are Hispanic. But Kay compensated his employees well. New hires start at $35,000 a year and jump to about $60,000 after three years. Full-time workers get health and life insurance, sick leave and at least two weeks vacation.
...As they pored over files, investigators discovered a
government audit in 1999 that found 15 employees were illegal immigrants, including three they had just arrested. ....Kay says he ignored the warnings not to rehire the men: "They had been working for me a long time." ...Kay and his son-in-law pleaded guilty to knowingly hiring at least 10 illegal immigrants over a 12-month period. "They give you some ground, you give them some ground,"
Kay says. "That's the best I could get."
...When Kay arrived at his sentencing in March, U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz said his initial
instinct was to send him to prison. But Moskowitz noted Kay's strong work ethic and support from employees who overflowed the courtroom
into the hallway. The judge said he couldn't ignore that Kay and McLaughlin treated employees like
family. After a federal raid forced them to fire about 200 illegal immigrants, they paid each two weeks' severance, though they were not legally obligated.
..."Are these the poster children for being the first ones to get jail time?" Moskowitz asked. "I think the answer is no."

YES. YES. YES.

Put this in any other context. An employer offers between $35,000 - $60,000 a year, plus full benefits, for entry-level manual labor. He is particularly impressed with Smurfs as employees because they have wonderful qualities. Three out of four of his workers are Smurfs. Most of his workers are friends and relatives of Smurfs who referred them in. He treats his Smurfs "just like family". Non-smurfs brought in to work "just don't work out".

Isn't that boss a prime target for an employment discrimination lawsuit? Who's kidding who? Every non-Smurf who keeps his job is blocking a $35,000 job from a Smurf brother or cousin or classmate. Funny how they "just don't work out", ain't it?

And the fact that these are not Smurfs, but actually people who have no legal right to work here, and he knows it, is just insult to injury.

This is also why I would like Congress to fight hard for mandatory sentencing laws. I did not vote for Judge Moskowitz. Nobody voted for Judge Moskowitz. His arbitrary sense of which guilty people really deserve the statutory penalty, has no remedy.