Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oops, I Did It Again

It's been so long since I posted on this blog that I almost forgot my username and password.

The other blog is going well. I hope you visit there. My sister does not like it as much as this one. But then, she's a liberal who can barely tolerate what I write, so I'm sure reading six other Objectivists is asking too much from her.

I swore I would stop acting. I really need to focus on writing. I saw an audition notice for Much Ado About Nothing, and told myself not to audition for Dogberry even though I've wanted to do the part for 35 years. Then the director called me and asked me to play Dogberry. I said no. Then I said yes.

I feel like Michael Corleone in The Godfather II. They keep dragging me back in!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Miss World

Well, I guess I wouldn't kick her out of bed for eating crackers.

It Ain't Lookin' Good

Woke up to the sound of a civil war,
Wondered what the screamin' was for.
Looked out the window to get a peek
Bobby Joe asked, "How's the weather, Zeke?"

It ain't lookin' good.
It ain't lookin' good.
Daddy's done been drinkin',
Mama's got a gun.
It won't be much fun.

My Daddy is a family man, you bet.
About as good a man as you can get.
Got too much love for just one family.
Got another wife in Franklin, Tennessee.

It ain't lookin' good.
It ain't lookin' good.
Daddy's done been drinkin',
Mama's got a gun.
It won't be much fun.

We're a tight-knit family, I guess,
Tighter than Aunt Eloise's dress.
If you want some proof, I know you do,
My Dad's my father and my uncle, too.

It ain't lookin' good...

My daddy took to gardening this spring,
But he don't grow no ordinary thing.
His agriculture makes me scratch my head,
He grows some funny weeds out in the shed.

It ain't lookin' good.
It ain't lookin' good.
Daddy's smokin' something,
Mama's got a gun.
It won't be much fun.

(Copyright William Greeley 2008)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Something's Coming

I'm sorry that posting has been light, but I'm about to start posting on a new blog with Bill Brown and others. In fact, I've already written a post for it, "The Purpose Of It All," about the tsunami of spending and regulation Obama has in store for us. As soon as the new blog gets going, we'll let you know and you'll be able to read it there.

I will leave this blog intact for more personal posts and offbeat stuff. If I ever sell a play or get my songwriting project off the ground, I will use this blog to promote those efforts. Who knows, I might sneak in some self-promotion on the other blog as well.

UPDATE: The new blog is ready for you. It's called The New Clarion.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 82

1. The Mayor of Batman, Turkey is suing Warner Brothers for using their town's name. The case is being followed closely by the mayors of Conan the Barbarian, Finland, Plastic Man, Uzbekistan and Captain America, Nigeria.

2. Cafe Press has a line of Impeach Obama gear. He's not even president yet. Needless to say, he has not done anything to deserve impeachment. This is just partisan politics hatred combined with the urge to be the first kid on the block to wear a hip new t-shirt. This is the kind of thing I would expect from the left. Disappointing.

3. This will cheer you up.

4. Recently in my day job I listened to an Urban station that celebrated Obama's election as President by playing clips of guests explaining why they supported Obama. Most answers broke down to two reasons:

a. It will be historic to elect an African-American president.

b. Obama makes us feel hopeful.

One person got specific and said that Obama would give everyone health care. (How does he do that? Is he magical?)

John Ziegler has interviewed Obama supporters in How Obama Got Elected. It is astonishing how ignorant people who depend on the MSM for news are.

5. Victor Davis Hanson has interesting thoughts on the death of the media and on recession.

6. Funny. They go down like bowling pins at this wedding.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

How Socialism Comes to America

Robert Tracinski writes of Obama's planned $50 billion bailout of the "Big Three" Detroit auto manufacturers:

It is actually a plan for de facto nationalization which will turn the Big Three into permanent wards of the state whose purpose is not to make a profit but to serve the "social goals" set by government.

Obama is backing a plan to pump $50 billion into the big American automakers, while also establishing "a czar or board to oversee the companies"—call it Gosplan—which will supervise "a restructuring of the auto industry." That's exactly what Detroit needs to recover: the benefit of government central planning.

In essence, this is a plan for nationalization of the American auto industry under a new government-appointed board of directors who will supposedly tell the Big Three how to make a profit again.

Blinkered pragmatists will sputter, "But the government is not seizing the property, so it's not socialism!" No, that would be socialism on the communist plan. This is socialism on the fascist plan, in which the property remains nominally in private ownership, but the government dictates what the owner will do with his property. In America the dictation is called "regulation." In this case the dictator will be an "auto czar."

As Tracinski goes on to demonstrate, this is being done to protect a powerful pressure group, the unions. If the Big Three went bankrupt and were bought up by other auto makers, the power of the United Auto Workers would suffer.

American fascism makes corporations bureaucratic managers of the welfare state. Instead of just paying workers, corporations also provide health care and retirement pensions. These functions, along with a sea of regulations, give corporations two missions: make a profit and serve as a mini-welfare state. By passing welfare state functions to the corporations, the government expands the welfare state, but evades any censure for the expansion or any blame for the corporations' failures.

The Democrats are driving this intervention in auto manufacturing, but is there any doubt they were emboldened by the Republicans' bailout of Wall Street? (The Republican led bailout started at $700 million, then was revised to $1 trillion. Now the cost is estimated at $1.8 trillion. The plan has been around less than two months.)

Michael Barone writes,

The Detroit Three are taking advantage of the passage of the $700 billion financial bailout to argue that they, too, need government money to go on.

The conservative David Brooks thinks the bailout is a bad idea, but gets the cause wrong:

It is all a reminder that the biggest threat to a healthy economy is not the socialists of campaign lore. It’s C.E.O.’s. It’s politically powerful crony capitalists who use their influence to create a stagnant corporate welfare state.

But if America had a laissez-faire capitalist economy, then C.E.O.'s would have no influence and no recourse but to pursue a profit in the free market. By Brooks' thinking, if we just had virtuous people in the private sector, then statists such as Obama would never dream of increasing state intervention in the economy.

America's descent into fascism proceeds by the script written by Ludwig von Mises. Government intervention (regulations and government backed union power) have created a crisis in automobile manufacturing. This crisis does not inspire the government to withdraw its intervention, but to increase it with a $50 billion subsidy and the creation of an auto czar who will dictate even further to the industry. In the end we will have the same result as communism, but with private ownership serving to hide the extent of state control.

We are at a turning point in America. The state is about to make an enormous power grab. In addition to the de facto nationalizing of Wall Street and the auto industry, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support are plotting to nationalize 401k pension funds. This plan would give the government trillions of dollars in pension funds to spend now; the money would be replaced by government IOU's like the nonexistent social security trust fund. With Obama in the White House and increased Democrat majorities in the Senate and House, can this looting be stopped?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is There a There There?

It is early yet. The election was one week ago. Obama will be President-Elect until January 20, 2009.

After one week it looks like the defining theme of Obama's presidency will be his famous self-definition, "blank screen." I think it was Tallulah Bankhead who said, "Deep down I'm really quite shallow." I'm beginning to think this a good description of Obama. At his core he has no core. He is a man whose essence is the desire to show other people what they want to see.

What would you expect from a Democrat blank screen? The Democrat status quo. Ron Radosh writes,

The appointment of Rahm Emanuel is more evidence for what I suggested the other day, that Barack Obama will seek to govern from the political center. As Ben Smith and John Harris suggest on Politico.com today, one must not confuse Emanuel’s tough game playing with ideology. As they and others have argued, Emanuel’s reputation is that of a centrist, who has often sought to reign in the left-wing of his party, “who does not share the reflexively liberal views of many of his House colleagues.” That judgment was seconded by Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA) who said that Emanuel “is closer to the center, from a policy standpoint, than many of the Democratic Party.” It was also shared by Lindsey Graham, who said that while a “tough partisan, he understands the need to work together.” Graham called him “honest, direct, and candid” and a man who will “work to find common ground.”

Max Boot sees Encouraging Signs From Obama:

I worked for the other guy in the presidential race, but I have been cheered so far by the early indications of how the Obama administration is shaping up. Scuttlebutt has it that the front-runners for Treasury secretary are economist Larry Summers and New York Fed President Timothy Geithner. Either one would be a good, centrist choice. So, too, would be Jim Steinberg, a deputy national security adviser for Bill Clinton, who is now a rumored choice for national security adviser in the Obama administration.

It goes almost without saying that nothing would signal Obama’s moderate credentials more than retaining Bob Gates at Defense. So it is encouraging to read in the Wall Street Journal that the president-elect is “leaning toward” such a move, and that Gates “would likely accept the offer if it is made.” As the Journal notes: “the defense secretary strongly opposes a firm timetable for withdrawing American forces from Iraq, and his appointment could mean that Mr. Obama was effectively shelving his campaign promise to remove most troops from Iraq by mid-2010.”

Going with the status quo is better than the wildest fears of the right, that Obama would try to create a socialist dictatorship from day one. However, in a time when Republicans socialize Wall Street with some trillion dollars and Democrats want to nationalize 401k plans, the status quo is bad enough. There is no widespread movement to cut spending and dismantle government intervention in the economy.

But what choice does Obama have, if he wants experienced hands in his administration, than to choose from, well, those who have experience? Radical leftists are a double risk in that they have no experience. In today's climate, when politicians are terrified of taking blame for anything that goes wrong, it's hard to see how the Democrat establishment would let Obama fill his administration with unknown faces.

Another sign of Obama's deep down shallowness -- an amateurishness that merits watching in the coming years -- is his uncertainty and flip-flopping, the same stuff we saw during the campaign.

First, he was for involuntary servitude for college students, then he decided that it should be voluntary and pay $40 per hour! Then he deleted his website and we have no idea what he wants.

Then, he was for the Polish missile-shield when he was talking to Poland's president, but backtracked when he was talking to the U.S. press. (Now, Poland is kowtowing to Obama, saying it was all a misunderstanding.) This is an echo of Obama's NAFTA gaffe with Canada, which was also blamed on a misunderstanding with one of Obama's advisers.

This morning he was for closing Guantanamo Bay, and having the detainees face criminal charges in U.S. criminal courts, courts using the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or new, specially created national security courts. This evening, he has backtracked yet again.

"There is absolutely no truth to reports that a decision has been made about how and where to try the detainees, and there is no process in place to make that decision until his national security and legal teams are assembled," said Denis McDonough, a senior foreign policy adviser for the transition team, in a statement.

So where did those original reports come from? According to the AP, Obama's legal advisers.

One hand doesn't know what the other is doing so we end up with many conflicting statements. Mr. President-elect has to keep "clarifying" the positions his subordinates keep releasing on his behalf. It's almost like he has no leadership experience whatsoever.

If this goes on, then Obama will quickly disappoint his more intelligent supporters.

Competence isn't just a technique you learn from reading management books. It rests on having firm convictions. A man who can be blown one way or another by any gust of wind will be incompetent. All the evidence we have so far, from the campaign and one week as President-Elect, points to a man without principles, a man who can change 180 degrees on an issue if the need of the moment requires it.

I find all this immensely encouraging. If my analysis is correct, then Obama will be the second Democrat president in a row who was a social metaphysician -- a man who primary orientation to reality was not the facts but what others think of the facts.

A man without a core is easy to push around. Look at what the Republicans did to Clinton, a Democrat who was so intimidated by the right that he declared the era of big government to be over. The best thing that could happen to America right now is a neutered Obama worrying about uniforms for school children.

But it is still early and Obama could have big surprises in store for us. Clinton had to suffer the national health care debacle before his presidency diminished. Plus, Obama will not be hampered by Clinton's sexual appetite and risky behavior.

Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, "There is no there there." Will Obama be an Oakland president?

UPDATE: From Gabriel Melor:

Obama appears to be abandoning his promised commitment to end government torture.

Melor concludes:

The Administration-elect is only a week old and already it's foundering because of a lack of leadership.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cartoon Politics

John Derbyshire writes,

What routinely happens with a pointed NRO column is that you get a flutter of emails from appreciative conservative readers, some perhaps taking you to task on some particular point or other, or scolding you for grammatical faults (NRO readers are terrific grammarians). Then there's a pause. Then your piece get out into the Lefty blogosphere somehow, and you get a second wave of emails from ourtraged Lefties.

This is, as I said, routine. It's happened often enough, I have the measure of it, and know what to expect. Last week's Lefty emails were, though, quite unusually vituperative. I noticed the same in the weekend Letters columns of the New York Post. The Post editorialized for McCain, and carries some good conservative Op-Ed writers (including some of ours), but treated Obama with kid gloves, as McCain did. Yet they got some really vituperative letters from scandalized Obamarrhoids, furiously indignant that anyone should criticize The One.

It occurs to me that the left treats Obama the exact opposite of how it treated Bush. Bush was reviled as evil. For eight long years the left hated Bush intensely. Leftists mocked, screamed, chanted, fund-raised against, demonstrated and wrote furiously, clogging the internet with some criticisms that had something to do with reality and a lot of lies, smears and fantasies.

Just as the left demonized Bush, it beatifies Obama. It writes hagiographies. It ignores any potentially embarrassing investigations. It obsesses about how happy America is at the election of Obama. (In Topeka, Kansas, there is a movement afoot to make a national holiday after Obama. Never mind that Obama has achieved nothing but to be elected president; these people think Obama deserves a national holiday simply because of the way he makes them feel.)

In both cases the left makes a cartoon of reality -- or perhaps a Soviet propaganda poster would be a better fit. Leftists cannot think of politics in a sophisticated, adult analysis; they look with the eyes of a child or a savage. Bush is Chimpy McHalliburton, and Obama is the One.

I'm not making a pragmatist case for complexity-worship here. I'm not saying there are no absolutes, only shades of gray. I'm saying the left simplifies reality in accordance to its ideology and looks no further. The left evades reasoning about either Bush or Obama.

This cartoon version of politics is what happens when a faction loses confidence in reason and believes that force only is useful. Leftists demonize or beatify depending on the emotion they feel. No further examination is necessary. What's the point? Bush evil, Obama holy; the truth is obvious. Who needs evidence, analysis or a decent respect for the opinions of mankind?

The criticisms of Obama from the non-left will continue, much to the dismay of the President-Elect's supporters. The left does not want to answer disagreement, but wants to stifle it. With help from the MSM, Democrats will demonize the Obama deniers. How far will the left go to shut up the opposition? A better question: how far will the American people let the left go in shutting up the opposition?

A Nation of Followers

My brother is a tattoo artist. He reports he is getting college girls who want the Obama O tattooed on them. (Is this better than a tramp stamp?)

Have you ever heard of people getting a tattoo of a politician's symbol? Did any Republican girls get W tattoos in 2000? Obama is an entirely new phenomenon. He brings a cult of personality into American politics.

Peggy Noonan notes,

...[The GOP] lost the vote of two-thirds of those aged 18 to 29. They lost a generation!

Two thirds of young voters voted for Obama. Most of these people, I suspect, did not question Obama when he said in his typically gaseous victory speech,

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

It did not occur to them to ask, "Where? What the hell are you talking about, Obama? Exactly what is your goal?" Instead, they cheered. Wherever you want to take us, our leader, we will follow.

Some Obama supporters, like Peggy Joseph, who thinks voting for Obama means she won't have to pay for her own gas or mortgage, are the product of the welfare state. These people have been taught all their life to look to the state for handouts.

Others are the fruit of progressive education. These are socialized people. They are collectivists terrified to think for themselves. They want to be told by the group what is cool, what is hip, what bears the stamp of approval of the group. Obama is so cool! Let's get his tattoo!

Those who do not go along with the group will be denounced as unpatriotic, racist and selfish. The popular phrase, "They just don't get it" will be used. It's a convenient phrase for those who follow the vibe of the group, as it obviates any rational argument. You either feel it or you don't, you get it or you don't.

These people are ready for a dictatorship. They are a collective waiting to be told what to do.

You can't have a dictatorship without a significant portion of the population that is willing to follow orders blindly. Benjamin Franklin's words haunt us. When asked what they were creating in the Constitutional Convention, he said, "A republic -- if you can keep it."

We cannot keep it with a nation of people who are unquestioning, passive sheep.

UPDATE: Revision.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 81

1. Obama made an ungracious joke about Nancy Reagan today in his press conference, for which he has since apologized. He has an odd juvenile streak, as when he scratches his face with his middle finger. I don't want to psychologize, but I have to wonder if these moments of inappropriate humor are expressions of a frightened little man, way in over his head, who does not want to be taken completely seriously.

2. How nice that Maya Angelou does not have to apologize for America any more. Unfortunately, the rest of us still must apologize for bad American poetry.

3. Imagine if the MSM had supported the Bush presidency. Imagine them not opposing everything Bush did, not searching for scandals in everything from Enron to Halliburton to torture to the Patriot Act. How different would the last eight years have been? We're about to see in the Obama presidency. Chris Matthews said his job is to help make the Obama presidency work -- not to judge it fairly or to examine it with an eye to keeping it honest, but to help make it work. I have never in my life heard a member of the media say something like this.

The danger here: an administration that knows the MSM will look the other way will have less fear of being caught in corruption.

4. Nancy Pelosi, in her first press conference after the election, warned of diminishing options.

Nancy Pelosi gave her first post-election press conference Wednesday, offering a sober analysis of the Democratic agenda in the near term.

“Many of our options have been diminished because of the downturn in the economy over the last couple months,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi said the economy is “the top item” on the agenda moving forward and said she plans to continue to push for a second economic stimulus package. She also mentioned a children’s health care bill and stem cell research legislation as key priorities in the short-term.

The speaker acknowledged the enormous expectations facing Obama after Democrats increased their majorities in both chambers, but warned that Democrats will face some tough decisions in the coming months.

“We have to choose our priorities very carefully according to what is achievable,” she said.

She also said Obama should govern from the middle. Why the caution? Democrats are in control of the Presidency, Senate and House; why don't they go all out?

The Speaker of the House counsels caution because things could go wrong and politicians are terrified of getting the blame for anything. They remember Clinton's first two years, which led to Newt Gingrich and the Republicans winning the House in 1994 with the Contract for America. (The Republicans collapsed like a cheap lawn chair during the budget battle of 1995, and have been a me-too big government party since, but that's a different story.)

Imagine if laissez-faire capitalists were in the Democrats' position. Would they fear going all out? Would they fear being blamed for failure? No, they would not, because they would know their policies are both moral and practical. They would know that dismantling the welfare state would generate tremendous wealth and increase every American's standard of living. They would know that repealing laws and regulations that violate individual rights is the moral thing to do. Just as a man cannot have too much health, a nation cannot have too much liberty.

The Democrats must proceed with moderation because they are dispensing poison. If they give America too much poison, it will die; they must temper their poison so that the state can ride the private sector as a parasite.

5. Don't be fooled by Obama's changing the wording of his national service plan from "require" to "setting a goal." Can you imagine how much intimidation an individualist student who refused to participate in the program would get from the thugs of the left? Service to the collective will be as voluntary as our tax system supposedly is.

6. There is a lot of talk that Republicans need another Great Communicator like Reagan.

Two related points: First, the Great Communicator was a smear created by leftists who thought Reagan fooled the American people into accepting what was bad for them -- you know, all that nonsense about the free market. The left painted Reagan as all style and no substance.

Second, GHW Bush, Dole, George W. Bush and McCain have all been lousy communicators because they had nothing to communicate. Pragmatism is not a banner to rally around. "I'm not as bad as a Democrat" does not give voters a positive value for which to vote.

Reagan was the last Republican presidential candidate who had something to say. He was indeed terribly flawed, but compared to his successors he had principles.

And remember, when Reagan developed an interest in politics he studied Austrian economics and was familiar with the Foundation for Economic Education. Although he was smeared as an "amiable dunce," he was actually the intellectual superior to most politicians these days. His effectiveness was tragically undercut by pragmatism and religious values, but he knew that government was not the solution, it was the problem.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Here It Comes

Obama has called for a "draft" to force young people to do compulsory service:

The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.

Wow. Obama gets elected and the first big idea he floats is forced labor. I don't know what is more stunning, Obama's plans or the fact that America just shrugs and yawns like a nation of sleepwalkers. The state forcing people to work? No big deal. What's on TV tonight?

Well, Michelle Obama did say, "Barack Obama will require you to work." We can't say we were not warned.

Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, has called for compulsory service in a book he co-wrote:

It's time for a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us. We propose universal civilian service for every young American. Under this plan, All Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five will be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic training, civil defense preparation and community service. ...

Here's how it would work. Young people will know that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service. They'll be asked to report for three months of basic civil defense training in their state or community, where they will learn what to do in the event of biochemical, nuclear or conventional attack; how to assist others in an evacuation; how to respond when a levee breaks or we're hit by a natural disaster. These young people will be available to address their communities' most pressing needs.

J.D. Tuccille goes on to note,

Emanuel and co-author Bruce Reed insist "this is not a draft," but go on to write of young men and women, "the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service." They also warn, "[s]ome Republicans will squeal about individual freedom," ruling out any likelihood that they would let people opt out of universal citizen service.

Emanuel does not seem worried that Democrats will squeal.

I'm not so sure many Republicans these days will squeal at Obama and Emanuel's dream of enforced servitude. I told my Christian friend, who is certainly no liberal, that Obama wants compulsory service for young people. He thought it was a great idea, that all young people should have to do time serving our country and learning good values in the process. The conservative loon Michael Savage thinks it's a great idea. William F. Buckley thought it was a great idea.

So now, finally, we know what change means. Change means bringing slavery to America.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Bright Side

Barack Obama had to lie in order to win the presidency.

Obama had to lie that he would cut taxes. He had to act tough toward our enemies. He had to turn his back on radical anti-Americans he has allied with over the last 20 years.

Despite the urging of the netroots, Democrats still cannot campaign proudly and honestly as who they are. They cannot say, "I am a liberal. I want to expand government control over your lives. I want to raise your taxes and deny you the right to bear arms. And I intend to appease our enemies abroad."

So maybe America has not moved to the left. Maybe Obama won for superficial reasons in a country full of voters who don't give politics much deep thought. Given a choice of statists, they went with the charismatic young one.

The Republicans have a great thing thing going for them for the next two years: the Democrats control the Presidency, Senate and House.

Remember, the Jimmy Carter presidency led to the second best president of the 20th century, Ronald Reagan.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Meet the New Boss

A year ago I predicted that a Republican would win in a landslide on November 4, 2008 because Hillary Clinton would be the Democrat nominee and America would never elect someone that far left as president. Today Barack Obama, who is even farther to the left than Hillary, won a solid victory as president.

I might have been right 20 years ago, but America has changed. It looks as if America has moved to the left.

People make much of Obama being the first black president, and indeed that is a good sign that America is not a racist nation. The ideal that all men are born equal lives in our country. Aside from this, I can find little to celebrate in an Obama victory. He is pro-choice, and the religious right has suffered a temporary setback; these are good things.

The bad far outweighs the good. Obama has promised some trillion dollars in new spending. He will probably appease our foreign enemies. As Biden said, he will be tested by enemies who smell weakness. He wants all Americans to sacrifice for the good of the collective. Reviving the Fairness Doctrine is a threat. Three Supreme Court Justices will retire in the next four years, and they will be replaced by the worst judges imaginable.

And the maddening thing is that we know very little about who Obama really is, so we don't know how bad the next four years will be. Is he your typical Democrat? Or is he a radical leftist with a hidden agenda? There were a lot of troubling little things during the campaign, such as Michelle Obama's ominous statement, "Barack Obama will require you to work." These folks don't seem to understand that in a free country the president does not force people to work.

But then, with large Democrat majorities in the Senate and the House, just being a typical Democrat might be bad enough to seriously expand state power and destroy liberty in America.

Well, congratulations to Barack Obama. And to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. It's their show now. Let us see what Democrat power brings to America.

UPDATE: In my channel surfing last night I heard Jeffrey Toobin on CNN say something about how wonderful it is to see "gender diversity" in the crowd at Obama's rally. Gender diversity. In other words, there were men and women there. As if only men go to Republican rallies, I guess.

New Leftist jargon leads one to sheer blithering idiocy.

My Vote Is Cast

I left the presidential vote blank. I voted for my Republican Congressman, Jerry Lewis. (Hey, lady!) He's a worthless old pragmatist and a champion of pork, but we need Republicans in the Senate and Congress to oppose the coming push for socialism from the Democrats.

I voted yes on Propositions 9 and 11. One was about notifying victims if criminals get bail and the other was about having a commission do redistricting instead of the politicians in Sacramento. Perhaps Proposition 11 will stop outrageous gerrymandering. On all the other propositions I was Dr. No.

There was no line at my polling place, as usual.

I remember on election day in 1992 when Bush was photographed in the afternoon, way before polls closed, carrying a fishing pole as he got in a car. That was the year the bizarre Ross Perot got 19%, which allowed Clinton to win. Bush knew it was over and was already thinking of fishing. It was the last symbolic act of his half-assed presidency. I'll be watching TV this afternoon for any shots of McCain carrying a fishing pole.

I would not expect Obama ever to carry a fishing pole, especially if it looks like he will lose. At that point he will be working hard with his advisers on how they can use legal maneuvers to undermine the election. Leftists are serious about power; they're not about to give up and go fishing.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Random Thoughts the Day Before

If Obama is elected tomorrow, then for the first time in history America will have a president who loves America less than the President of France loves America. I do not write this in jest; I'm serious. Here is the highlight from President Sarkozy's speech to Congress:

America did not tell the millions of men and women who came from every country in the world and who—with their hands, their intelligence and their heart—built the greatest nation in the world: "Come, and everything will be given to you." She said: "Come, and the only limits to what you'll be able to achieve will be your own courage and your own talent." America embodies this extraordinary ability to grant each and every person a second chance.

Here, both the humblest and most illustrious citizens alike know that nothing is owed to them and that everything has to be earned. That's what constitutes the moral value of America. America did not teach men the idea of freedom; she taught them how to practice it.

On Friday Obama said electing him would "fundamentally transform" America. I believe the transformation he has in mind will be the death of the individualism that Sarkozy believes is the "moral value of America." Obama wants to destroy the remnants of individualism and turn American into France.


I watched CSNY/Deja Vu over the weekend. This is a documentary of their tour in 2006 to protest the war in Iraq. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young used to be smug, insufferable, moronic hippies. Now they are smug, insufferable, moronic, fat old hippies. Anyone who goes to any rock star for politics deserves what he gets, and this goes double for hippie rock stars. I knew the politics in this movies would be bad, but I was hoping for some good music. There is none. The songs are cut short to make way for more idiocy.

Not once in the entire film does anyone make a case against the war. Rational argumentation is ignored. Instead we get emotion. We are shown a group of veterans that needs to get together and hug and cry. (My liberal sister, watching with me, said they need to "man up.") We are shown a mother who lost her son in Iraq. She says the war is "just wrong" and then she cries a lot. This is not a film meant to persuade its opponents; it is emotion for those who agree to wallow in. A complete waste of time.


We hear a lot of talk about how blacks will riot if Obama loses. Do I detect wishful thinking among the liberals who make these predictions? Is this another form of intimidation? Hey, white people -- vote for Obama or else!


Do you remember one of the first things Clinton did as president? It was to throw out his promise to cut taxes. That promise was always a lie. Clinton never had any intention of cutting any tax, but he felt he had to lie about it to win the election.

Is there any doubt Obama's promise of cutting taxes is another lie meant to win an election? Already the Democrats are signaling it's a lie by throwing out different numbers of how much a taxpayer will have to make before he gets taxed-- $250,000, $200,000, $120,000. The top figure is pure fiction meant to win the election. The other figures are meant to confuse and to ease people into the reality that their taxes will be raised when Obama is election.

Sometime around mid-November, I would guess, one of Obama's economists will announce that the deficit is even greater than anyone had suspected -- damn that Bush and those careless Republicans! -- and the tax threshold will just have to be lowered. Everyone will be called to sacrifice.

If Obama is serious about spending and redistributing wealth -- and what else are Democrats serious about? -- then he will have to raise taxes, I believe, on the upper middle and middle middle class.

One option is to start at, say, $60,000 a year, gradually increasing the percentage of the tax increase as you go up from there. Then inflate the hell out of the currency so that your average clerk in a grocery store makes $60,000 a year. Thus you achieve your goal of making everyone in America work a little bit more for the state. The destruction of wealth will be ghastly, but if they cared about the destruction of wealth, they would not be Democrats.


All of the items in this post have been attacks on the left -- and yet, I kind of hope Obama wins tomorrow. Why? Clarity.

Obama has attacked the virtue of selfishness. It is clear that he opposes the philosophy of Ayn Rand. As his big government policies fail, many Americans will put two and two together, if they still teach putting two and two together in public schools.

Plus, an Obama presidency will provide limitless content for this blog.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Gather Darkness

Recently I discussed the financial crisis with a Christian who has never read a book of economics. He began by denouncing the greedy CEO's on Wall Street. I argued that greed had nothing to do with the problem, but it was entirely the fault of government intervention in the economy. After all, how does it help a greedy CEO to bankrupt his company? He won't get another job if he does. How is it greedy to commit career suicide?

The Christian took my points several times. He is an honest man who wants to know the truth, and he accepted my arguments. Then a few minutes would pass and he would be back talking about greed. I was struck by how he would return to the point of greed even though he understood it was not really the issue. His morality and the premises he had automatized in his subconscious would not let him believe greed was not at fault.

I take this conversation as evidence that the entire political battle in America is really a battle of ethics. You can win economic arguments all day, but as long people think that morality is self-sacrifice, we will never make significant progress in rolling back the state. The 20th century is one long cautionary tale with a clear moral: socialism does not work. And yet both Republicans and Democrats are leaping over themselves to expand government control of the economy. Spending just keeps skyrocketing and liberals crow that the age of the free market is over. No more of that trickle down stuff for America! We're gonna take as much money from the rich as we want and shower in wealth!

Democrats know full well that the battle is moral. They never bother to make complicated economic arguments. In part this is from ignorance: somehow I don't think geniuses such as Henry Waxman or Robert Byrd have spent 10 minutes trying to understand Ludwig von Mises. But their ignorance is not the fruit of sloth. They don't care about economics because they know it's a waste of time. All they need do is mention obscene profits or greed, and conventional morality makes the rest of their case.


Those who pooh-pooh the fear that Republicans are becoming the party of religion are not paying attention. On my local right-wing talk radio station, part of Salem broadcasting, all the political ads are meant to appeal to the religious right. There are no ads for McCain (it's California), but there are ads about propositions. The two issues getting advertising are abortion and gay marriage (they're against both). Three of the stars on the Salem network are Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved and Dennis Prager -- all religious conservatives. (Hewitt and Medved, at least, are very much economic pragmatists who denounce "extremism" because they think moderates only can be elected these days. Limbaugh is better in this respect.)

Former baseball pitcher Frank Pastore, who sometimes fills in for Hewitt, has titled his latest column, The Christian Case Against Barack Obama. He does not give any reasons in the column, just advertises some videos in which he supposedly lays out his case. My point is that you see more stuff like this than you used to.

20 years ago we knew that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were part of the Republican Party, but it felt like they were confined to a ghetto within the party. They were the voice of the Bible Belt. I was amused or sometimes disgusted by them, but I never took them too seriously. Now the religion is more widespread. Prager and Medved, intellectual Jews, would not be mistaken by anyone for Southern Bible thumpers.

John McCain had to pick the very religious Sarah Palin in order to win the base of the Republican Party.

President Bush is the religious right's greatest success so far. His pathbreaking presidency has integrated religion with the welfare state. He calls it "faith based initiatives." Dr. Peikoff says George W. Bush is to the religious state as FDR was to the welfare state.

The question of how dangerous the religious right is compared to the socialist/nihilist left, in both the near and long term, is legitimate; however, it cannot be argued any more that the religious right is increasing its hold on the Republican Party. Perhaps it controls the party.


In the comments on the last post on this blog I dismissed the idea of trying to predict the future. That was before I read this quote Donald J. Boudreaux uses from the socialist Norman Thomas in the early 20th century:

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened."

There is a man with a crystal ball.

We seem to be at the beginning of a new period in American history, a dark time of increasing state control. In such a moment people speculate a lot about the future. What will happen? Galileo Blogs thinks we will relive the '70s. (If so, can we do it without the bell bottom pants and leisure suits?) Arthur Laffer says the age of prosperity is over.

Those are educated guesses. We might live through something entirely unlike anything America has yet seen.

One event can change the world. World War I destroyed the benevolent and secure -- leftists would say smug and bourgeois -- culture of the 19th century. Things could never be quite the same after that cataclysm. As I have written several times on this blog, both Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises noted that no one who did not live before WWI can quite understand how positive and benevolent the west was then. The idea that fuels all of Joseph Roth's fiction is a longing for that era, a culture that would never live again. As another writer put it, you can't go home again.

The greatest world-changing event in history is Alaric and the Huns' sacking of Rome in 410 a.d. Until then the city of Rome had been accepted as a metaphysical fact of reality, like gravity or the sun rising in the east or the stars coming out at night. The sack of Rome shocked people throughout the Empire and destroyed their confidence. Augustine wrote City of God in response: all of man's creation on earth is impermanent; only the realm of God is permanent and real. The Roman Empire was over -- it was just a matter of time.

Could such an event happen in America? Yes, if there were a force in the world comparable to the barbarians in the 5th century. If, say, a religion wanted to destroy America and erect a worldwide theocracy -- a religion whose adherents believed God wanted them to kill infidels and who were willing to commit suicide in order to enjoy 72 virgins in paradise -- yes, there might be some danger if such a religion were at war with America. Fortunately, as we have been told, Islam is a religion of peace.

Besides, if such a totalitarian ideology were at war with us, we would quickly destroy all states that sponsored these warriors. We would wipe them out and demoralize their cause for all time. We would not make a half-hearted effort, swatting them down some, then appeasing this enemy and letting him survive to attack us another day. To take such a tremendous risk with America's security would be foolish and suicidal. Our leaders in Washington, D.C. are good and wise; why, they would sooner do something futile and senseless like socialize Wall Street than appease an enemy that wants to destroy us.

One suitcase nuke could change the world.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 80

1. George Reisman on the notion that laissez-faire capitalism is responsible for the latest economic crisis.

2. Renee Katz of Adventures In Existence has a You Tube page of her own. Somehow she survived 12 years of lower education with her ability to think independently intact. Maybe there's hope.

3. This magician/comedian is hilarious.

4. The most benevolent and revered One has been embarrassed recently by Joe the Plumber and the broadcast journalist Barbara West. Both people had the poor judgment to ask Obama or Biden tough questions. Now Joe the Plumber and Barbara West's husband are being investigated. This is what life under Obama will be -- anyone who does not toe the line will find himself subject to intimidation and character smears.

5. Interesting insight into the mind of Bill Ayers by Larry Grathwohl, an FBI informant who infiltrated the Weathermen.

If you read the whole interview, it becomes apparent that, at least to Grathwohl, Ayers is an egoist — but one who placed others at risk, counting on them to do much of the dirty work. Grathwohl notes that oftentimes Ayers left the heavy lifting to the women in the movement, while he himself wanted nothing more than to be in charge.

Power at all cost. Attack by proxy. A sense of entitlement. The arrogant notion that of course he should be in charge of the revolution and the refiguration of the country and all its citizens. A cadre of sycophants willing to follow his lead, oftentimes without question. A complete and utter disregard for the bourgeois rules of the “Establishment” — be it the law, the courts, or the principles upon which this country was founded.

Sounds to me like he built Obama into a polished, improved (in the Alinsky sense), multicultural likeness of himself — and has taught him to play the system and build his own army of political golems.

It remains to be seen just how radical Obama is, but if the worst fears of the right turn out to be justified (and if Obama wins next week), then we'll be living through the most remarkable political story our our time: a leftist radical gains the ultimate power in America in order to destroy capitalism. That's pretty damned dramatic.

6. Michael S. Malone is embarrassed to call himself a journalist.

If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography.

That isn't Sen. Obama's fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media's fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Why is this happening?

Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you've spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power & only to discover that you're presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn't have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you'll lose your job before you cross that finish line, 10 years hence, of retirement and a pension.

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -- and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway -- all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself -- an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career.

With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived fairness doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it's all for the good of the country...

Journalists in the tank for Obama because of the self-interested desperation of a dying industry? Could be.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Savoring Ayn Rand's "Red Pawn"

Savoring Ayn Rand's "Red Pawn" by Dina Schein is an excellent literary analysis of a great story that is little known. It's one of the best stories I have ever read, which is remarkable because it is not a novel or a short story or a script, but a treatment Ayn Rand wrote to sell the story to Hollywood. It was her first sale.

The movie was never made because it takes place in Soviet Russia and, although politics is not the subject of the story, Rand portrays communism honestly. An honest movie about communism was not possible in the 1930's, Hollywood's "red decade." Almost 80 years later, the Soviet Union no longer exists, but the movie still has not been made. Now the problem is more likely to be that filmmakers in our present culture would not know what to do with a great romantic story. In the '30's MGM, with its stable of glamorous stars and great directors, might have done the story justice; one cringes at what today's Hollywood would do to this story.

It would be criminal to spoil the plot here, so I won't say a thing about it, except that it is great drama. Rand follows her own teaching in The Art of Fiction to create an intense value-conflict that builds to stunning climax. You can read the story in The Early Ayn Rand. Certainly, you should read it before you consider listening to Dina Schein's lectures.

Dr. Schein analyzes the plot, characters and theme of "Red Pawn." She looks at how to analyze fiction, so the listener learns not just about "Red Pawn," but also about how to think about fiction in general. The course is especially useful to fiction writers, as Dr. Schein looks at Ayn Rand's fiction writing process. There are also some excellent tips for screenwriters.

I sometimes think of Ayn Rand's teachings on fiction writing as my secret weapon that most writers know nothing about. After a century of naturalism, writers have forgotten how to use value-conflicts to build a suspenseful plot that culminates in a climax. They know about conflict, but they give it little thought beyond something like, "the bad guy wants to destroy the world and the good guy wants to stop him." And it would be the better ones, who want to write an exciting plot, who think that much. Without a conscious understanding of value-conflicts, it's easy for a plot writer to get bogged down in trivia or sidetracked by nonessential matters.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bureaucratizing Wall Street

I heard a radio morning show in which the DJ's and their callers were outraged over a Wall Street firm that received bailout money from the US government, then sent its executives to a posh spa for a retreat that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Everyone was outraged over this irresponsible behavior. To the people on this show, here was evidence of the fundamental cause behind the financial crisis: corporate greed. The fat cats only care about themselves and that's why America is in trouble.

My reaction is different. Let's say you give a man $10, and he spends it irresponsibly. He buys cheap wine and cigarettes and spends the night in foggy dissipation. It seems to me you can reach one of two conclusions:

1. I should not give this man any more money.

2. In the future I must watch this man carefully to make sure he spends the money I give him well.

Private individuals should choose #1. Once you give someone money, it is his property. You have no power to force him to do what you want with the money. If you continue to give money to someone who wastes it, whose fault is that?

The government always chooses #2. Unlike private individuals, the government has the power to force people to act as it wishes. Not only will it watch how Wall Street spends the money the government "invests," but it will pass laws dictating what can and cannot be done with the money. With the money will come regulation.

As Ludwig von Mises explains in his brilliant little book, Bureaucracy, government has to use regulation because it is not driven by the pursuit of profit.

In the private sector, everyone pursues one goal: make a profit. A chain store does not need a bookshelf full of regulations directing store managers on how to pursue profit. Within a few simple rules such as employee uniforms and corporate image, the individual store manager is left alone to solve the problem of making a profit.

In the public sector, however, functions such as police, courts and military are not motivated by the pursuit of profit. Thus the government must write books of regulations telling employees in detail what they must do in every situation.

To the extent to which government subsidizes the financial sector, that sector becomes a government agency. Its function becomes part private and part state. Wall Street firms that take government money will have two purposes: to make a profit and to do what the government wants.

Supposedly, the government is spending a trillion dollars to keep firms from going bankrupt. In theory all this money should go toward the pursuit of profit. But watch how this government involvement grows in the coming years. The government is not driven by the pursuit of profit, but by other concerns, such as altruism, collectivism and the public good -- not to mention giving money to pressure groups in order to buy votes. Government will force Wall Street to cater to its concerns, not just to pursue a profit.

Look for a big push in the coming years to turn corporations into mini-welfare states. This trend goes back to the 1940's, when employers sought to get around confiscatory income taxes by giving employees "free" health insurance. Tying insurance to work was a disastrous unintended consequence of high taxes.

Making corporations do welfare state functions is the fascist way to socialism. Mises, writing in 1944 when the Nazis still existed, describes the totalitarian end of turning entrepreneurs into bureaucrats:

The Nazis have succeeded in entirely eliminating the profit motive from the conduct of business. In Nazi Germany there is no longer any question of free enterprise. There are no more entrepreneurs. The former entrepreneurs have been reduced to the status of Betriebsführer (shop manager). They are not free in their operation; they are bound to obey unconditionally the orders issued by the Central Board of Production Management, the Reichswirtschaftsministerium, and its subordinate district and branch offices. The government not only determines the prices and interest rates to be paid and to be asked, the height of wages and salaries, the amount to be produced and the methods to be applied in production; it allots a definite income to every shop manager, thus virtually transforming him into a salaried civil servant. This system has, but for the use of some terms, nothing in common with capitalism and a market economy. It is simply socialism of the German pattern, Zwangswirtschaft. It differs from the Russian pattern of socialism, the system of outright nationalization of all plants, only in technical matters. And it is, of course, like the Russian system, a mode of social organization that is purely authoritarian.

It's hard to imagine America getting this bad, but according to Mises it's just a matter of time before interventionism ends in totalitarian control of the economy. Intervention leads to crisis, which leads to further intervention, which leads to further crisis, which leads to... you get the idea.

"Socialism of the German pattern" has an added, irresistible benefit to politicians: they evade responsibility. They dictate to corporations what welfare state programs they must enact, but when things go wrong, the politicians blame the greedy corporations. As long as the corporations are driven in part by the profit motive, they are immoral to altruists. With each new crisis, the capitalists, "blinded by greed," will always be blamed, as noble altruists such as Hillary Clinton and John McCain preen about how they just want to help the little guy.

But there will be other unintended consequences of forcing entrepreneurs to behave like bureaucrats -- so many that it would take a book to be comprehensive. To look at just one more, Mises writes,

To say to the entrepreneur of an enterprise with limited profit chances, “Behave as the conscientious bureaucrats do,” is tantamount to telling him to shun any reform. Nobody can be at the same time a correct bureaucrat and an innovator. Progress is precisely that which the rules and regulations did not foresee; it is necessarily outside the field of bureaucratic activities.

The virtue of the profit system is that it puts on improvements a premium high enough to act as an incentive to take high risks. If this premium is removed or seriously curtailed, there cannot be any question of progress.

The more capitalists are forced to follow regulations, the less progress and innovation we will have.

This trillion dollar bailout of Wall Street will prove to be more costly than just the money involved. The financiers should have declined the money, saying, "No thanks -- we can't afford it." The greatest cost will be our liberty.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Goodbye, GOP

I listened to a lot of talk radio yesterday. Both Rush Limbaugh and Hugh Hewitt emphasized Obama's pro-choice in abortion stand in hopes of motivating the religious right to vote. Hewitt spent his entire show taking calls only from Catholics in battleground states, hoping to use Cardinal Rigali's message to Pennsylvia Catholics to get out the vote on the religious right. Limbaugh even expressed the wish that those who support abortion leave the party.

There was nothing from them about the creeping fascism that economic interventionism is bringing us. Clearly, both men see the Republican Party as a party of religious values first. Economic liberty, which they would both say they support (Limbaugh especially, as Hewitt views free market "extremism" as an electoral loser), is a secondary consideration.

It was a depressing experience. Here we are, nearing election day, and the Republican propagandists are getting serious. Time to motivate the troops! And so, both Hewitt and Limbaugh end up talking about how Obama wants to "kill children in the womb." Yes, we should never vote for Democrats because they want to kill children.

As a farcical ending to a disgusting day, I listened to as much of Michael Savage as I could take. The man is a conspiracy theorist. When you step back and analyze what Michael Savage says, he sounds remarkably stupid. He brought up the militia movement of the '90s, which he thinks was a good thing, and told his listeners in ominous tones that the movement was destroyed by the government. He thinks the bailout came because of a secret agreement between the politicians and their friends on Wall Street to give them hundreds of billions of dollars stolen from Main Street.

Savage also is hot on the foolish story about Obama's birth certificate. Because the certificate is not the original, but a copy, Savage thinks it is fake and that Obama was actually born in Kenya and is thus not eligible to be President of the USA.

So what if Obama's birth certificate is a copy? That's all I have. I had to pay money to the county in Kansas where I was born to get the copy. It's good enough to get me a drivers license, passport and social security card.

So here are three of the most influential propagandists of the right, with two of them telling their listeners Obama is "against life" and the lunatic third one screaming that Obama was born in Africa. Is it any wonder this country is going down the drain?

I intend to respect Rush Limbaugh's desire and leave the Republican Party. I will reregister as an Independent. It's not the party I joined 20 years ago. As Reagan once said about the Democrats, I didn't leave the party, the party left me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Message to Young People

If you're not like totally into politics? I mean, if you can't like name both the Vice-Presidential candidates, or if you can't name even the Presidential candidates, or if you're uncertain as to what I'm talking about here, don't worry about it. It's totally cool. Only geeks keep track of that stuff anyway. But here's the really cool part: you should not worry about it. Forget about it, man. Play video games and watch TV. And when the voting day comes -- I won't bother you with the date, because it's better you remain vague about it -- just stay in bed. Don't worry about voting. It's cool. You can leave that to other people. Who cares?

Don't listen to those self-righteous poseurs who tell you that you have a responsibility to vote. You don't have to vote if you don't want to. It's called freedom. And forget that stuff about how you won't have the right to speak out for the next two years if you don't vote today. You can say whatever you want, but mostly you have better things to talk about anyway, so blow off those idiots.

Don't let any of those clowns make you feel guilty for not voting. The opposite of what they say is true: if you don't vote, you are serving your country. You are helping America if you don't vote, because only informed citizens should vote. You don't want all that hassle of learning about the candidates and the issues. There's nothing wrong with that. Really. Just stay home, put on some tunes and fire up the bong. Fuck voting.

This has been a public service announcement.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another Blow to My Male Ego

I went to the doctor yesterday. I have to get a hearing aid. It will cost me $2,300. Insurance does not cover it because they figure you can live without a hearing aid. And indeed, you can -- if you want to spend the rest of your life saying, "What? Could you repeat that? Once more, and enunciate, please."

How will I ever attract another woman with a piece of plastic in my ear? My life is over...

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Myrhaf Endorsement: Abstain

Interventionism (or the mixed economy or the welfare state), with bipartisan support, has America in bad shape right now. The government just voted a $1 trillion bailout of Wall Street, money to be handed out per Treasury Secretary Paulson's discretion, making him in effect America's economic dictator. Social Security is heading toward a crisis.

Look for the government to inflate the hell out of the dollar in an attempt to manage this crisis without cutting spending or raising taxes. Inflation is a hidden tax, the politicians' favorite tax. Due to widespread ignorance of economics, Americans don't understand that inflation is created by the government printing more dollars. People feel the pinch of rising prices in their wallets and they blame those greedy capitalists who keep raising prices because they are unpatriotic and just in business for their own good. This popular anger at capitalists is music to the socialists' ears.

We are very much in the position of the Weimar Republic right now. Government intervention is causing crises, yet Democrats such as Barney Frank are saying, "The private sector got us into this mess. The government has to get us out of it." The crises will expand and intensify as the government pours gasoline on the fire. America is setting itself up for that which followed the Weimar Republic: a fascist dictatorship.

Since America is the richest and most powerful nation in the world, it would likely drag the rest of the world into dark times with it. If you think depression would devastate America, a nation in which poor children's number one health problem is obesity, imagine how hard times would hit poor countries. We could be on the edge of worldwide starvation, war and the other horsemen of the apocalypse. Parts of Africa could go medieval.

This is the context as we Americans ponder how we should vote. Here is my explanation of how I will vote.

Recently, John Lewis sent an email to the Obloggers group containing this information:

In July the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which details their plan to force Americans to reduce emissions of CO2 and other so-called “greenhouse gases.” This follows on an Executive Order signed by President Bush, which was made possible by a U.S. Supreme Court decisions ruling that CO2 is a “pollutant.” (!)

This plan will strip the American people of their freedom, and place them under the control of a single, all-powerful, federal agency. Industrial permits, furnace regulations, auto emissions testing, building permits, transportation, and food production—all will fall under the boot of the EPA. Environmentalists will use lawsuits to pressure the EPA to tighten an ever-shrinking noose around the neck of every American.

This is the first and only time I have heard about this Executive Order signed by the Republican Bush. The statutory framework now exists for the EPA to dictate to every American how much CO2 he can emit. Such a broad Executive Order gives the EPA the power to control virtually every aspect of our lives, from how much we produce to how much we travel to our heating and air conditioning to our very exhalations of breath. The limits on the EPA's power will be determined by what they think they can get away with before people revolt. Using the time-tested frog-cooking method, they will start modestly and ratchet up the controls a notch at a time.

I submit that if Bush were a Democrat president, we would have heard about this totalitarian Executive Order from right-wing radio talk shows, right-wing bloggers and Fox News. The Republicans would be screaming that leftists want to destroy our freedom -- and they would be right. But Bush is a Republican, so we hear nothing. The Democrats have no reason to publicize this Executive Order because they support it; government control of every aspect of every citizen's life is The Way Things Ought To Be. Republicans have no interest in attacking Bush because it weakens their party. Talkers such as Limbaugh and Hewitt focus like a laser beam on the Democrats and, with occasional exceptions designed to counter criticism like this, they ignore Republican folly.

Gus Van Horn has detailed Bush's Statist Legacy. The first two items alone would be enough to vilify him among Republicans, were Bush a Democrat:

  • Sixty-eight per cent. That is how much total federal spending rose under Bush. That is more than double the growth in federal spending over the eight years of Bill Clinton's presidency.
  • Bush was aided and abetted by a Congress dominated by Republicans until 2006. Juicy spending bills were passed on everything from farm subsidies to health (up 44 per cent) and education (up 47 per cent). After all, Bush had run as a "compassionate conservative"; he introduced the largest new entitlement since the Great Society programs of the 1960s: a prescription drug benefit for seniors that will add a US$1.2-trillion liability over 10 years.

And don't forget that Bush, a Republican, outlawed the incandescent light bulb, a dictatorial law that is richly symbolic. I like to think that 100 years from now Bush will be remembered as the man who outlawed the light bulb.

The Ayn Rand Institute calls the recent bailout of Wall Street The Road to Fascism:

The government has announced that it plans to use $250 billion to buy ownership stakes in various U.S. financial institutions. According to the New York Times, nine major U.S. banks have already been forced into the program....

According to Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, “In herding banking executives into a room and making them an offer they couldn’t refuse, the Paulson regime took its latest and most disturbing step yet on the path to state control of the economy.

“If fascism means coercive state control over nominally private property, then there is no more chilling sign of creeping fascism in America than government’s encroachment on the lifeblood of the U.S. economy—its financial institutions. While the government assures us it will be a ‘passive investor,’ merely funneling cash into the banking system rather than dictating how banks function, this is a lie. Not only does the money come with strings attached--such as restrictions on executive compensation, dividend payments, and the types of investments banks can make—but politicians are already promising a web of further controls. As John McCain recently noted, ‘We will not merely inject billions of dollars into companies and walk away hoping for the best. We will require that those companies be reformed and restructured until they are sound assets again, and can be sold at no loss—or perhaps even a profit—to the taxpayers of America.’

Note that Paulson, Bush and McCain are all Republicans. Republicans, not Democrats, are driving this fascist power grab of America's financial institutions.

This is the most important reason we should not vote for a Republican for president: When Republicans expand state intervention in the economy, no one cares. Poor, hapless Democrats! When they try to get away with a fraction of what Republicans can get away with, those same Republicans scream bloody murder. Yes, the Republicans are laughable hypocrites -- but their hypocrisy is the only thing that stops Democrats from erecting a socialist tyranny. That's the way partisan politics works in America.

Republican presidents do more damage than Democrat presidents. Among the last four presidents, the only one that did not expand government spending was the Democrat, Bill Clinton. The Republicans all spent money like drunken sailors in a Texan whore house.

This year the Republican candidate is John McCain. He gives us even more reasons not to vote Republican. Craig Biddle writes,

On the domestic front, McCain promises to “take on” the drug companies, as if those who produce and market the medicines that improve and save human lives must be fought; he promises to ration energy by means of a cap-and-trade scheme, as if the government has a moral or constitutional right to dictate how much energy a company may purchase or use; he promises to “battle” big oil, as if those who produce and deliver the lifeblood of civilization need to be defeated; he promises to “reform” Wall Street, as if those who finance the businesses that produce the goods and services on which our lives depend are thereby degenerate; he seeks to uphold the ban on drilling in ANWR, as if the government has a moral or constitutional right to prevent Americans from reshaping nature to suit their needs; and so on.

And on foreign policy,

McCain promises to “respect the collective will of our democratic allies,” as if America has no moral right to defend her citizens according to her own best judgment; and he promises to finish the “mission” of making Iraq “a functioning democracy” even if it takes “one hundred years,” as if the U.S. government has a moral or constitutional right to sacrifice American soldiers to spread democracy abroad.

Ryan Calhoun at The Dirty Kuffar reminds us that McCain is willing to reinstate the draft.

McCain has stated time and again that the only time he would support a draft would be "if World War III broke out".

As bad as Republicans are these days, McCain is even worse. He is an ideological nationalist and collectivist. He disdains the free market. He sneers at the pursuit of profit. He believes the essence of morality lies in the individual sacrificing for something greater than himself.

Another reason it would be preferable to have a Democrat president is clarity. When Republicans like Bush expand government, we do not get clarity. Instead, Democrats blame the free market rhetoric of the Republicans for the latest crisis. Thus we get talk about Reagan's "trickle down econonmics" as the cause of the meltdown in September. Under a Democrat president, the destructive policies of government intervention become clear.

By the logic of my argument I should be endorsing Obama here because Democrats are not as effective at destroying liberty in America as Republicans. I can't do it. I've never voted for a Democrat in my life, and I'll be damned if the first one I vote for is a far left radical who has allied himself with anti-Americans and then lied about it when his alliances became politically inconvenient.

Obama, a social metaphysician who prides himself on being a "blank screen" on which others can project what they want to see, is not a fringe character in the Democrat Party. He is the party. He represents most of the base. The entire party leadership has been as radicalized as Obama. If the "Reagan Democrats" understood how far left the party is (if they did not depend on the MSM for their news), they would run from the party.

It is possible that Obama, like McCain, is worse than the average politician in his party. There is the possibility that Obama is an ideological radical who -- with full, explicit consciousness -- is hiding his true intentions in order to gain power and then use the presidency to advance socialism in America. I don't think he can get far without a mandate, but I can't entirely dismiss this suspicion. But if this is true, it makes Obama only a more exaggerated version of all Democrat candidates, for every one of them since the landslide defeat of McGovern in 1972 has lied about how far left he is.

But even if we go just by what he has promised, which would add another trillion dollars to the federal budget, that alone makes him unworthy of our vote.

In voting for the lesser of two evils, there is only so much evil a voter should be asked to swallow. I will feel better about myself not voting for either Obama or McCain. Whichever one is elected, things will get worse. There are arguments for and against both men; they come out to a wash. Who knows which candidate would end up marginally worse than the other?

More important than the presidential vote is your Senate and House vote. It is important that we get Republicans in the legislature. They're the only ones that would slow down an Obama presidency. Perhaps they would moderate McCain's worst statist excesses.

I realize there is risk in my thinking. It depends on the Republicans maintaining their role as a vigorous opposition party. Fewer Republicans have the stomach for fighting every year. At some point, the party might conclude, "We're all socialists now." If so, we'll get to dictatorship a little faster than otherwise. Right now their opposition to Democrat presidents is our last hope.

Go to the polls on November 4th. Vote Republican in everything but president. Don't vote for president. Perhaps a large bloc of abstaining voters will send a message that our two major parties need to give us better candidates for whom to vote.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that on election day I will be sending $100 to the Ayn Rand Institute. With this I will know I am actually doing something to bring about change instead of just casting a meaningless vote.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Who Is Barack Obama?

We know that young Barack Obama came under the influence of the ideas of Saul Alinsky. Alinsky was a communist who taught, as I understand it, that socialists should become part of the capitalist power structure in order to destroy it from within.

(I have my doubts as to how effective this theory is. Once you become part of the power structure, and your livelihood, your mortgage payments, your future and your children's future all depend on that structure, would you want to destroy it? The system changes radicals before they can change it. Gaining power in our mixed economy would turn communists into fascists. At worst, socialists would work to destroy everything but their power and their 401k's.)

The still unanswered question about Obama is: what does he want? Does he secretly intend to destroy capitalism from within? Or does he want power to further the welfare state like your garden variety Democrat? How radical is he?

We know one disturbing thing about Obama. He is willing to lie in order to gain power. He said Ayers was just a guy in his neighborhood. That was a lie. He said he did not know Jeremiah Wright was an anti-American radical. Larry Elder writes,

In "Dreams from My Father," Obama talks of attending the "Audacity of Hope Sermon" (pages 292-293). There is an audio book in Obama's own voice reading this passage. Obama hears Wright speak of Hiroshima and Sharpeville as examples of acts of injustice....

What is Sharpeville? In 1960, the South African apartheid government shot down unarmed protestors, killing 69 black men, women and children. Most of the dead were shot in the back, and nearly 200 more were wounded.

Obama felt no sense of outrage to hear Hiroshima and Sharpeville mentioned in the same breath. Indeed, he was so inspired by the sermon that he uses the sermon's title -- "Audacity of Hope" -- for his second book, and as the theme of his campaign!

I would have run from Wright. Only an anti-American radical would liken Hiroshima to Sharpeville. Obama forged an alliance with the man, then lied about it when Wright became politically inconvenient.

Rush Limbaugh made an interesting observation of Obama yesterday. Obama is being praised for keeping his cool in the debates. Rush said Obama is not cool, he is cold. This is true. He keeps his emotions so controlled that he comes off passionless and reserved. It makes him hard to read. He seems to have made a conscious decision to create a persona of "presidential temperament," which is a front intended to reassure voters that he is no wild-eyed radical. It makes me more suspicious that he is hiding his true intentions -- which brings us back to my original question. What does he want?

I've linked to this several times, but we would do well to remember it:

His mild-mannered style has thrown off even some angry black radicals, who want him to speak out more forcefully about the legacy of U.S. racism and economic inequality.

One is Princeton professor Cornel West, a militant black and self-described socialist. Reportedly, West was reluctant to join the refined Obama's presidential campaign until Obama took him aside and explained to him that he had to walk a rhetorical tightrope to reassure whites. West is now solidly on board his campaign as an adviser.

Another thing worries me. We have seen in Obama's campaign a brazen new approach to political success that seems to be working (Obama's election as President will be the fruit of this new approach). Here's how it works. Obama will lie and depend on the MSM to let the lie rest uncontested. Then he will accuse his opponents of lying, which is taken up by the MSM and the left side of the blogosphere. Finally, Obama's opponents are smeared as racists or full of hatred if they stand in the Messiah's way.

The lies and smears are part of the totalitarian contempt for reason on the left that has been around a long time, but never before have we seen a candidate so willing to lie (and so good at it) coupled with a media so willing to make his lies the accepted "narrative." The left believes that the truth is irrevelant; politics is the conflict to establish your narrative over your opponent's narrative. The next step will be shutting up conservative talk radio and developing a brown shirt force to use force and intimidation against all those capitalists too blinded by greed to understand that they exist as sheep to be sacrificed to the state.

(The foolish George W. Bush has given statist Presidents a new tool to use in any ginned up "crisis":

On October 17, 2006, President Bush signed into law the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007. The new law allows the President to declare a “public emergency” at his own discretion, and place federal troops anywhere throughout the United States. Under this law, the President also now has the authority to federalize National Guard troops without the consent of Governors, in order to restore “public order.” The President can now deploy federal troops to U.S. cities, which eliminates the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act. In short, Bush can now declare Martial Law anytime he pleases.)

Another troubling trend has been the collapse of the conservatives. As altruists they are intellectually helpless against any expansion of state power framed as helping the needy among us. Every year fewer conservatives bother to oppose big government. The more voters depend on government handouts, the harder it is for politicians to advocate any cut in spending.

The trends on the left and the right indicate that we are entering a new period in America. This new period will see the spread of state power and the death of our freedoms, one by one.

Whether or not Obama consciously wants to destroy freedom in America -- and I think that as a "blank screen" he has become more a mixed economy Democrat than any communist -- the welfare state is doing it anyway, crisis by crisis.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Typical American Voters?

Ben Smith received this email from a Republican consultant who ran a focus group that watched an ad attacking Obama:

Reagan Dems and Independents. Call them blue-collar plus. Slightly more Target than Walmart.

Yes, the spot worked. Yes, they believed the charges against Obama. Yes, they actually think he's too liberal, consorts with bad people and WON'T BE A GOOD PRESIDENT...but they STILL don't give a f***. They said right out, "He won't do anything better than McCain" but they're STILL voting for Obama.

The two most unreal moments of my professional life of watching focus groups:

54 year-old white male, voted Kerry '04, Bush '00, Dole '96, hunter, NASCAR fan...hard for Obama said: "I'm gonna hate him the minute I vote for him. He's gonna be a bad president. But I won't ever vote for another god-damn Republican. I want the government to take over all of Wall Street and bankers and the car companies and Wal-Mart run this county like we used to when Reagan was President."

The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. "Well, I don't know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but I'm sick of paying for health insurance at work and that's why I'm supporting Barack."

I felt like I was taking crazy pills.  I sat on the other side of the glass and realized...this really is the Apocalypse. The Seventh Seal is broken and its time for eight years of pure, delicious crazy....

If these people are at all representative of the thinking among the American electorate at large...

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Scenes from the Decline of Freedom in America

1. In the November 1968 issue of The Objectivist, Joan Blumenthal writes in "Art For Power's Sake" that the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1942:

"It is hardly lack of due process for the Government to regulate that which it subsidizes."

I bring this up to note that the government "investing" $750 billion -- and that's just the starting figure -- will likely bring a disastrous increase of government power over Wall Street. The state regulated through the SEC and laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley before they were invested. Imagine what they will do now that the government is subsidizing Wall Street. For instance, until now they have "jawboned" CEO's about "golden parachutes," huge bonuses, etc. Do you think lawmakers will be content from now on with just complaining?

2. Whichever candidate is elected, we will likely see a vast welfare state program in which young people do "service" to the government in exchange for a college education. This will be the beginning of a program that eventually forces every young person to serve the state for two years, either in the military or some make-work program. It will be spirit crushing drudgery that will be hardest to bear by the best, most independent thinking young minds.

3. Barack Obama is the first presidential nominee to use legal and mob intimidation to shut up his opponents. Obama said,

"I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors," Barack Obama told a crowd in Elko, Nev. "I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face."

Look for a big push for a return to the Fairness Doctrine if he is elected. If his coattails bring along a lot of Democrat Senators and Congressmen, watch out. We could be heading for Canada-like laws against "hate speech" -- that is, politically incorrect speech, or speech that is inegalitarian. Statists the people have the right to say what they want -- as long as they say what the state approves.

Obama's disdain for the right to free speech is troubling because we desperately need to spread a rational philosophy in order to change the culture. It is freedom's last hope.

4. In his latest TIA Daily Robert Tracinski reminds us of a stunning speech by Al Gore in September in which he called for mob violence, though he did not use those words, of course.

"If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration," Gore told the Clinton Global Initiative gathering to loud applause.

Tracinski observes that civil disobedience is supposed to be aimed at government. Against private industries, it is mob violence. He also observes that there are no commercial-level businesses that use "capture and sequestration" because costs would increase by 50%. In other words, Gore is calling for mob action against just about every business with a smoke stack.

Here are two of the most prominent Democrats, the present presidential nominee and a former one, urging people to use force. These calls are the beginning of what will develop into a brown shirt force on the left. Already people know not to put Republican stickers on a car in certain neighborhoods, such as college towns. This climate of fear is what the left wants throughout America, and the nascent brown shirt force implicit in Obama's and Gore's calls for intimidation and mob violence will be the agents of force. People will learn to think twice before they speak out against the left. The left wants people living in fear.

We are heading into the most dangerous and challenging period in American history. Yes, Americans have faced huge challenges before -- wars, depressions and riots, among others -- but never before has America been so philosophically and culturally rotten; never before has state power been so advanced. We are likely to lose a lot of freedom in the time of evil we are entering. How we respond to the next 10-20 years should tell us if the rest of the 21st century will further the decline.

UPDATE: The Dougout has a clip of Obama calling for the creation of a "civilian national security force." This force would serve as an American KGB.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Week of TIA Daily


There will be no TIA Daily post today, as I stubbed my toe over the weekend. The actual pain lasted only a few minutes, but it threw my sense of life out of whack. I never post when my view of the universe is less than benevolent.


There will be no TIA Daily post today in honor of the holiday. Today is National Processed Cheese Day, and I have always considered processed cheese a triumph of American capitalism. Think of me when you eat your grilled cheese sandwich made with Velveeta!


There will be no TIA Daily post today because we're focusing on our next print issue. We would like to increase production of our print issues to, well, at least more than one issue every three years.


There will be no TIA Daily post today or tomorrow because I am traveling to a convention of conservatives. I need to network in order to get a good gig and fame, because I don't know if this TIA Daily thing is going anywhere.


Your subscription is about to expire. Please pay $74 now or you might miss a day of our penetrating commentary that you cannot get anywhere else.

(This post is gentle satire. I respect Robert Tracinski and find his writing of great value. He has a talent for observations that everyone else misses. I expect to resubscribe to TIA Daily when the time comes.)