Monday, October 13, 2008

Who's John Galt?

Ayn Rand wrote a novel, Atlas Shrugged, that I read when the Soviet empire was imploding. It made perfect sense at the time as the events in the novel, depicted in the US, were mirrored in events in the Soviet Union.

What I didn't realize at the time was that the "strike" against the "looters" described in the Atlas Shrugged had already occurred in the United States. And that strike was only broken by the rise of Nazi Germany and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Consider the crash of 1929. It was a major correction as a market bubble popped. It also caused reverberations from Wall Street to Main Street. My grandparents were impoverished and my parents lived with the concern about another depression. My father's friend would invariably ask, "Do you think we'll have hard times, Don?" A generation of Baby Boomers learned to roll their eyes in response to exhortations to economize from their Depression-baby parents. Today, a lot of economists claim that the hard times were prolonged by our politicians response to the crisis.

Here's the problem. Economic corrections are painful and politicians are compassionate people. Yes, they're corrupt and self-serving in too many cases, but you'll never meet a politician who really doesn't feel your pain. And they want to relieve your pain if they can. They'll get reelected if they relieve your pain. Governments relieve economic pain by putting money into the hands of those who hurt most. This takes a number of forms: unemployment benefits, bailouts of critical industries, welfare, entitlements and college tuition grants. But some of these analgesics can be habit forming, like morphine they cause dependence. The greater the pain of an economic correction, the greater the likelihood that the government will be pressured to apply pain-killers. If pain-killers become addictions the electorate will demand more of them.

Governments can pass various laws, but they cannot repeal the law of gravity. They can set up rules for coordinating economic activities in an orderly fashion. But governments can't create wealth out of nothing. Governments can print money, borrow money, and raise taxes. This wealth can be given to those who are hurt by an economic correction. But this wealth is taken from someone. There's a book out there called "The Forgotten Man" about the Depression. I've not yet read it, but I suspect this book's "forgotten man" is not unlike John Galt of "Atlas Shrugged."

Someone has to create wealth and that's done by working. Tonight I watched the movie, "My Man Godfrey," wherein several pointed remarks are made about prosperity being right around the corner and "The only difference between a derelict and a man is a job." In a capitalist country, rich people need things done and they give jobs to people willing to do those things. Or you take what you have, and create a job out of it. In rich countries, those who work harder make more money and they spread the wealth around by buying stuff or hiring others. This is just common sense. It is deprecated by those wiser minds who call it "trickle down" and they hope to change this.

In this country we tax income but not wealth. This enables many wealthy people to live off their trust funds, and this frees up their time to do things like become Senators. This system is very good for maintaining the status quo. It makes it harder for new money to displace old money. This is what I realized when I was hanging out with Democrat community organizers who liked money and tax breaks as much as Republicans. If you're Ted Kennedy, you can stay rich and make everyone else pay for the goodies you buy votes with.

Certain Republicans who are wiser than I am (just ask them) say that the Reagan Revolution is dead. They think the Republican party should move to the center. They now think the McCain campaign that was crafted according to their design along these lines should be rebooted. These same Republicans claim that neo-Reaganism is a cancer to the Republican party. There's an old saying that seems apt, "It's not the mountains ahead of you that grind you down; it's the sand in your shoes." Mr. Brooks and those like him have been the sand in the Republican campaign this year.

The Republican party certainly has a branding problem. And it may not be the political party that is needed to oppose those who would grow an already bloated government and lead us further down "The Road To Serfdom."

I've never been consumed with blind ambition. Depending upon how the election turns out, ambition will only earn you a higher tax bracket. Should I go out on strike? Ask John Galt?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Can An Anchor Have Coattails?

Only one of two things are true: Either Barak Obama is a crypto-socialist, neo-stalinist goon due to his alliances with people like Mr. William Ayres, Mr. Jeremiah Wright & ACORN or "he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States." I do not see how both assertions can be true simultaneously.

In recent days, Mr. McCain has been running ads linking Mr. Obama to America-hating radicals. One is not guilty of anything for associating with such people. But alliances with such people form a reasonable basis for drawing inferences about a candidate's unstated policy aims and fitness for high office. However, these ads mean absolutely nothing if the candidate in question is "a decent person."

Given this contradiction, how do I know Mr. McCain won't similarly nullify any other part of the narrative he has crafted about his opponent's unfitness for office.

This is the central contradiction of the McCain campaign. Andy McCarthy at National Review said it here: "Someone is either a terrorist sympathizer or he isn't; someone is either disqualified as a terrorist sympathizer or he's qualified for public office."

It's Democracy, Stupid

I think organized criminal vote fraud is traitorous. It is an attack upon DEMOCRACY. We may disagree about taxes or abortion, but DEMOCRACY should transcend our partisan interests. If someone does not, then we really can't expect him to abide by elections he doesn't like. We have to ask every candidate for public office whether he believes in DEMOCRACY and whether that belief has anything to say about ACORN.

Every election year just before the election we get stories or larger and more widespread cases of vote fraud. These frauds aren't coming from First Baptist Church or the NRA, but from ACORN. I don't understand why this kind of organized crime isn't pursued by RICO charges? I don't understand why the government uses my tax dollars to support ACORN. I don't understand why the Congress tried to add pork from the $700B bailout package to ACORN.

Obviously, someone in Washington does not believe in Democracy

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


In the movie, "The Princess Bride," Inigo Montoya says, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." I think the national conversation about Mrs. Sarah Palin and feminism is another instance of a word being used whose meaning is in doubt.

Feminism has an appeal because it touches upon fairness and equality. People are differently abled, but nobody is better or worse just because they're a man or woman, black or white, Jew or Greek. I've always thought feminism was about this sort of equality.

Rush Limbaugh coined the term feminazi some years ago to describe "liberal, pro-abortion fanatics." It should be noted that he intends by this usage not a synonym for "feminist," but he describes a specific set of political policy aims. Can you assert equality of the sexes without asserting liberal, pro-abortion policies?

Recently, Camile Paglia has written that Mrs. Palin is "reshaping the persona of female authority." Ms. Paglia is a feminist and an intellectual who enjoys straying from the establishment group-think about what constitutes feminism.

Perhaps we need to distinguish between "feminist" and "establishment feminist" to avoid Rush's feminazi term. Certainly, Mrs. Hillary Clinton is an establishment feminist, but she is no fanatic. But Mrs. Palin is not an establishment feminist.

What prompts this outburst is an essay that I read by someone named Katie Granju who does not like Mrs. Palin. More accurately, after acknowledging Mrs. Palin's accomplishments she thinks it wrong that Mrs. Palin act "like all of these opportunities and open doors just fell into her lap because of her own good luck and hard work." Ms. Granju seems to think that Mrs. Palin owes ideological fealty to establishment feminists. (This sense of "you owe me" is a great way to live a miserable life and become a miserable person.) Presumably brave Norma Rae was out there toiling in some factory, or brave Erin Brockovich was toiling in some legal aid office, or a dozen other brave movie scripts were written so that forever after, all ambitious women would kneel and kiss the ring of establishment feminists.

Feminism's legitimacy comes from equality. However, establishment feminists seem to think that they are more equal than other women. It is fair to include or exclude people from the abortion movement based upon their pro-choice vs pro-life positions. But equality is not abortion. And equality must also be between women, too.

Establishment feminism is a postmodern phenomenon, as such it is preoccupied with power. Equality and power are often conflated in this case. Thus establishment feminism encounters an existential threat when an empowered woman does not share their policy aims. Her very existence suggests that a woman needs an establishment feminist like a fish needs a bicycle. I think this explains Palin Derangement Syndrome.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Follow The Money

As anyone in America knows, $700 billion dollars are going to bail out the toxic loans of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Since this is campaign season, each party is trying to lay the blame for this mess on the other party.

You can spend hours listening to the various news outlets blather about who did what and when and why it happened.

Or you can follow the money.

Just. Follow. The. Money.

Persons unknown to the public screwed the pooch at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Since these are government sponsored entities, Congress is charged with their oversight. Happily, for certain congressmen (but not for taxpayers), Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae contributed campaign donations. Large donations.

Here's what I propose. Any politician who has accepted one dime from either Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae should be voted against. Period. If both candidates for an office have accepted bribes campaign contributions from them, the candidate receiving more should be voted against. The following table should prove helpful:

1. Dodd, Christopher J $133,900

2. Kerry, John $111,000

3. Obama, Barack $105,849

4. Clinton, Hillary $75,550

5. Kanjorski, Paul E $65,500

6. Bennett, Robert F $61,499

7. Johnson, Tim $61,000

8. Conrad, Kent $58,991

9. Davis, Tom $55,499

10. Bond, Christopher S 'Kit' $55,400

11. Bachus, Spencer $55,300

12. Shelby, Richard C $55,000

13. Emanuel, Rahm $51,750

14. Reed, Jack $50,750

15. Carper, Tom $44,389

16. Frank, Barney $40,100

17. Maloney, Carolyn B $38,750

18. Bean, Melissa $37,249

19. Blunt, Roy $36,500

20. Pryce, Deborah $34,750

21. Miller, Gary $33,000

22. Pelosi, Nancy $32,750

23. Reynolds, Tom $32,700

24. Hoyer, Steny H $30,500

25. Hooley, Darlene $28,750

Don't take my word for this, I got this here. If, sometime between now and election day, anyone tries to lay blame on anybody, I suggest you simply follow the money. If you plan on voting for anyone listed above, just hand them $700G and cut out the middleman.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Dangerous Lightweight?

Sometime last week the narrative reached the right wing commentator, Kathleen Parker that Sarah Palin was just Caribou Barbie: she ought not be running for Vice President and who was dragging down the McCain campaign and ought to pull an Eagleton.

Now, like Peggy Noonan before her, Ms. Parker has eaten some crow. In particular, Ms. Parker states of Mrs. Palin, "to Democrats, she’s still a dangerous lightweight..." which raises the question? If Mrs. Palin is a lightweight, how can she be dangerous?

I had a conversation with my neighbor when I put a McCain-Palin sign in my front yard. (I had foregone putting any Republican signs in my yard until I could get one with Mrs. Palin's name on it.) He announced with glee that Mr. McCain had pulled out of Michigan and thought that significant. He is probably correct at that point. But when I mentioned my support for Mrs. Palin, he said, "She knows nothing."

Very well, if she knows nothing, she should pose no threat to anyone with "D" next to their name, correct?

But my neighbor was not finished with Mrs. Palin. He said, "You know she's a Pentacostal. She supports Israel. She wants Armageddon to force the Second Coming." Now, I doubt that my neighbor recognized the naked religious bigotry in his assertion. I suppose that if Mrs. Palin's middle name were "Hussein" it might be different. But I gave him a pass, going after the sheer ignorance and falseness of this representation of premillenial eschatology. I am a premillenialist Christian and I find this canard of the left utterly ridiculous. If you think this way, you don't know what you're talking about. Christians who speak of the imminent return of Jesus Christ do so to warn that one must always be ready to meet one's maker and give account of one's life. The point is that God is in the driver's seat, not the other way around. But I digress.

I dislike this line of rhetoric: seeking not only the political defeat of someone whose opinions you contradict, but their personal destruction. I've come close to this myself, comparing Mr. Obama with Steve Urkel and contrasting him with John Shaft. I plan to vote against Mr. Obama because he advances policies I dislike and I plan to vote for Mrs. Palin because she advances policies I support.

By moving away from the policies of the candidates to their personal attributes, we set for ourselves a trap. When we speak of policies, we can more easily remain civil in our conversations. On the other hand, when we say the other guy is an empty suit, the other guy will speak of lipstick on a pig, and the conversation goes downhill very quickly. In conversation with my neighbor, most of my replies were, "Oh really?" and "Is that so?" while believing none of it. I don't think my neighbor realizes how close his assertions came to 1930s style antisemitism, or sexism and ageism of more recent vintage. But they got past his civility filter because he'd gone past policy into the ad hominem.

This isn't new. Mrs. Palin is getting the full Ronald Reagan treatment. And the left is tacking very close to the wind while doing this. If she's a lightweight, she can't be dangerous. But if she's worthy of the vitriol we've seen since her nomination for Vice President, someone must regard her as very dangerous. She has proved articulate and she manages to say things I haven't heard from a Republican candidate since Mr. Reagan left public life.

I'm not altogether convinced that Mrs. Palin's enemies are limited to those with "D"s next to their name. This year is not completely unlike 1976 and someone who so channels Ronald Reagan will find few friends in the Nelson Rockefeller wing of the party. One wonders what would have happened had Gerald Ford made Ronald Reagan his running mate. My hopes are that Mrs. Palin is more dangerous than lightweight.