Winooski, bacon and the dismantling of America's values
32 minutes ago
The world seems to be emerging from a moral and intellectual coma, perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently. It is discovering that other ideas have other consequences, as well, ideas that promote life, promote prosperity, promote ambition and personal success, and that they are possible only in political freedom, and that this freedom has been violated, abridged, and nullified by the first set of ideas. True, politics is the last thing to be affected by a philosophical revolution. But one cannot help but be pleased with how startled the collectivists and altruists are now by the knowledge that they have not successfully pulled a fast one on Americans. These Americans have come knocking on the doors of elitists or leaning over the café railings or invading their legislated smoke-free bars and restaurants to ask: What in hell do you think you are doing?Failure to perceive reality as it truly is, as how human beings truly behave, is a guiding principle of the Left - be they democrats, liberals, progressives, socialists, fascists, Nazis or communists. That failure of perception covers the entire Left spectrum.
The Americans who recently protested the spendthrift policies of the Obama administration and Congress with “tea parties,” and who plan to protest them on an even larger scale in the near future, one can wager are not regular readers of The New York Times. They cannot have much in common with its columnists and editors, nor with the news media.
So the collectivist and altruist elite become very touchy when the people for whom they are “doing good” for their own sake, even to the point of enacting coercive and felonious legislation, exhibit signs of intelligence, resistance and anger. How dare these yokels!
And nothing raises their hackles higher than any mention of Ayn Rand.
This is because they thought she and her philosophy had been buried by that arch-conservative, Whittaker Chambers, wielding a shovel on one side of the grave, while that fellow-traveler and critic Granville Hicks wielded another on the other side, in a true demonstration of bipartisanship half a century ago. And hadn’t all the academics and pundits and book writers since then refuted her and her philosophy over time and ensured that she would not return to haunt them?
Despite all this, though, I still worry. Could Obama have a flaw? Could he be, in fact, too awesome?(yes, he's joking - read it all if you need a good smile.)
Before you grab the pitchforks and label me an apostate, hear me out. Now I am an enlightened individual who fully understands and appreciates President Obama (pbuh), but can we expect the same from other countries with non-Obama leaders? Those people have never produced a person like Obama, not to mention elected him, so it is natural for them to be scared and intimidated by someone so beyond their understanding. To them, meeting Obama must be like encountering Jesus riding a dinosaur — both reassuring and intimidating at the same time. It’s natural they’ll be confused.
Tropical cyclone (TC) activity worldwide has completely and utterly collapsed during the past 2 to 3 years with TC energy levels sinking to levels not seen since the late 1970s. This should not be a surprise to scientists since the natural variability in climate dominates any detectable or perceived global warming impact when it comes to measuring yearly integrated tropical cyclone activity.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance.
If the Obama administration wanted to come up with the most politically offensive policy it could imagine, within the bounds of reason and reality, what elements would it have to include? Insulting veterans and looking like cheapskates in a time when massive government outlays to private industry would certainly help it along. Comes now Hero of the Anti-War Left, retired General Eric Shinseki, who wants to save a few bucks at the Veterans Administration by making men and women injured in the service of our country pay for their care:Actually, Sen. Murray (no relation) put it even better...
But the proposal would be "dead on arrival" if it's sent to Congress, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said.This is a stupid, vile, ugly, and foul suggestion on the part of Obama and he should be ashamed.
52 days, 52 mistakes
Let me count them up, in no particular order. Some are big. Some are small.
We all make mistakes. Here’s his:
1. A do-over on the oath of office.
2. Tim Geithner.
3. Bill Richardson.
4. Tom Daschle.
5. Eric “Nation of Cowards” Holder.
6. Leon Panetta.
7. Arne “Cappuccino” Duncan.
8. Hilda Solis (OK, her husband has the tax liens).
9. Nancy Killefer.
10. Charles Freeman Jr.
11. Ron Kirk.
12. Adolfo Carrion.
13. Banning offshore oil again.
14. Letting Nancy Pelosi write the $787 billion “stimulus’ plan.
15. Relying on Tim Geithner to explain it.
16. It is a $13-a-week stimulus, or as his wife said of Bush’s plan: “You’re getting $600. What can you do with that? Not to be ungrateful or anything. But maybe it pays down a bill, but it doesn’t pay down every bill every month.”
17. Going to a press conference without a TelePrompTer. I… Uhh… Umm… Could you repeat the question?
18. Using a TelePrompTer at a press conference. Big boys don’t need training wheels.
19. “Good evening, everybody. Please be seated. Before I take your questions tonight, I’d like to speak briefly.” 1,228 words later he took his first question.
20. Going after Rush Limbaugh.
21. Going after Rick Santelli.
22. Going after Jim Cramer.
23. “Never waste a good crisis.”
24. Obama supporter Warren Buffett: “I don’t think anybody on December 7th would have said a ‘war is a terrible thing to waste, and therefore we’re going to try and ram through a whole bunch of things and — but we expect to — expect the other party to unite behind us on the — on the big problem.’ It’s just a mistake, I think.”
25. Writing a love letter to Vlad and Dmitry.
26. Putting Poland under the bus.
27. Putting Tibet under the bus.
28. Putting Israel under the bus.
29. Taking Cuba out from under the bus.
30. Having his tax cheat go after the tax cheats in Switzerland. Cognitive dissonance.
31. “Karzai has a bunker mentality.”
32. Iran has plans to Marine One helicopters.
33. “I won.”
34. BlackBerry singing in the middle of the night/ Take these golden secrets and learn to fly…
35. Obama: “If Congress passes our plan, this company will be able to rehire some of the folks who were just laid off.” CEO: No. There will be more layoffs.
36. DVDs to Gordon Brown.
37. “You can’t take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime.” Vegas convention bookings nosedive.
39. Reset/overcharge button given to Russia.
40. Taking a 4-day holiday weekend before signing “emergency” legislation.
41. “I did think it might be useful to point out that it wasn’t under me that we started buying a bunch of shares of banks. It wasn’t on my watch. And it wasn’t on my watch that we passed a massive new entitlement — the prescription drug plan — without a source of funding. And so I think it’s important just to note when you start hearing folks throw these words around that we’ve actually been operating in a way that has been entirely consistent with free-market principles and that some of the same folks who are throwing the word ’socialist’ around can’t say the same.”
42. Stiffing Chicago for nearly $2 million for that Election Night par-tay.
43. Caroline Kennedy.
44. Bombing Pakistan.
45. Sending the bust of Sir Winston Churchill back to the British.
46. Saying: “President Obama has accomplished more in 30 days than any president in modern history.”
47. A window is not a door.
48. Doctors must perform abortions.
49. Signing earmarks while denouncing them.
50. Adding signing statements while denouncing them.
51. Quadrupling the deficits, while denouncing them.
52. Missing the Gridiron Club dinner.
But be of good cheer. He has 1,409 days left to make up for his stumbles out of the starting gate.
But instead of getting Gregg's counsel within the administration, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner found himself today of the receiving end of Gregg's fiscal conservative wrath.
In a hearing before the Senate Budget Committee Gregg dressed down Geithner with facts, figures, and charts. While always keeping his cool, the exchange was somewhere between a mother's scolding, a drill sergeant's questioning and an attorney's cross examination.
In his opening statement, Gregg politely called the administration's budget forecast a lie.
"The argument that it cuts the debt in half in four years is, ahh, is truly spurious," he told Geithner.
President Obama himself gives Gregg's comments a sense of stinging credibility. When the president introduced Gregg as his nominee for Commerce Secretary last month, he said Gregg is known for is fiscal discipline.
Such opposition to GM is particularly counterproductive now. In 2008, malnutrition in mothers and their young children claimed 3.5 million lives. Global food stocks reached historic lows last year, and food riots erupted in West Africa and South Asia. Consumers in transitional economies like China and India are demanding more than subsistence diets, and drought has hindered Australian crop production. Progress is distressingly slow on the United Nations’ goal of halving the proportion of hungry people by 2015.
Of course, before we adopt genetically modified foods, we should always test them rigorously for their potential impact on the environment and on people’s health. But it would be criminal to disregard the hope that biotechnology offers to the world’s most malnourished people. “Some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists,” Borlaug once memorably said, referring to critics squeamish about the tools that he used during the Green Revolution. “They’ve never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things
This recession already has passed the 15-month threshold, the historical average for downturns. Most presidents helped ease us out of those tough spots by easing the burden on Americans. Obama has engaged in the opposite. That's his gamble.
And most polls show the president's approval rating at about 60 percent, which is similar to other modern presidents' ratings at this point in their presidencies. But now that Obama has used his political capital to further ideology rather than economic growth, one thing is clear: He owns this mess.
At 2:30 p.m., President Obama called The New York Times, saying he wanted to clarify a point from the interview. Here is a transcript of that brief call:
President Obama: Just one thing I was thinking about as I was getting on the copter. It was hard for me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist question. I did think it might be useful to point out that it wasn’t under me that we started buying a bunch of shares of banks. It wasn’t on my watch. And it wasn’t on my watch that we passed a massive new entitlement – the prescription drug plan without a source of funding. And so I think it’s important just to note when you start hearing folks through these words around that we’ve actually been operating in a way that has been entirely consistent with free-market principles and that some of the same folks who are throwing the word socialist around can’t say the same.
Q. So who’s watch are we talking about here?
A. Well, I just think it’s clear by the time we got here, there already had been an enormous infusion of taxpayer money into the financial system. And the thing I constantly try to emphasize to people if that coming in, the market was doing fine, nobody would be happier than me to stay out of it. I have more than enough to do without having to worry the financial system. The fact that we’ve had to take these extraordinary measures and intervene is not an indication of my ideological preference, but an indication of the degree to which lax regulation and extravagant risk taking has precipitated a crisis.
I think that covers it
Nothing Special About Britain? Britain!?
Re: the anonymous Obama administration dufus who said: "There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment."
As an unapologetic, full-throated Anglophile I find those comments idiotic, offensive, ahistorical, and in a certain sense anti-American.* I'm of course appalled.
But it's worth focusing on one aspect of this sentiment: It's idiocy. According to the liberal-realist school, some countries matter more than other countries because they are powerful and have the ability to adversely affect our national interest. According to the liberal-internationalist school, allies matter more than non-allies because grand international coalitions are the best way to do the wonderful things want to do on the world stage. So, China matters because it's a rising hegemon. Burkino Faso matters . . . eh, not so much. "Europe" matters because they are allies on security, global warming, human rights, etc. Well, Britain just happens to be our most important, reliable, and powerful ally.
So even if you take the pragmatist's razor to our shared history, culture, and all other romantic attachments to Great Britain, the bulldog still matters — a lot. In other words, to say that Britain isn't any more special than the other 190 countries in the world, you actually have to dislike Britain to the point where you're willing to suspend what are supposed to be your guiding principles and objectives about foreign policy.
* Just to be clear, what I mean by anti-American isn't a knee-jerk attack on anyone's patriotism. Rather, I simply mean that if you think the country that gave us our system of laws, our democratic tradition, our dominant culture, much of our greatest literature, and even our language is no more special than any backwater country which immiserates or brutalizes its people, then you must not think very much of America's culture, traditions, etc. either.
But considering how much attention would have been lavished on a comparable run of hot weather or on a warming trend that was plainly accelerating, shouldn't the recent cold phenomena and the absence of any global warming during the past 10 years be getting a little more notice? Isn't it possible that the most apocalyptic voices of global-warming alarmism might not be the only ones worth listening to?
There is no shame in conceding that science still has a long way to go before it fully understands the immense complexity of the Earth's ever-changing climate(s). It would be shameful not to concede it. The climate models on which so much global-warming doomsaying rests "do not begin to describe the real world that we live in," says Freeman Dyson, the eminent physicist and futurist. "The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand."
But for many people, the science of climate change is not nearly as compelling as the religion of climate change. When Al Gore insisted yet again at a conference last Thursday that there can be no debate about global warming, he was speaking not with the authority of a man of science, but with the closed-minded dogmatism of a religious zealot. Dogma and zealotry have their virtues, no doubt. But if we want to understand where global warming has gone, those aren't the tools we're going to need.
Yet he’s also the only man around who stands up for everyone’s right to be judged individually on the basis of their character and actions, their right not to be a means to someone else’s higher end—no matter what one might think of that end. He knows what it means to be human—that’s why he has to condemn those he kills as having betrayed the essence of man qua man, relegating them to the status of dogs to be put down.
But always, Rorschach judges as an individual mind, and judges individual minds. Rorschach is no handsome Rand hero as she imagined them; but he’s still probably the most vivid and well-thought-out Objectivist hero that Rand didn’t create.