Saturday, April 28, 2012

Good Job, Mr. President, except...

Eleven quarters since the official end of a recession
Under President Barack Obama    Under President Ronald Reagan
2.4%                                                                 6.1%

Over the last year GDP has grown by $600,000,000,000;
The deficit by $1,300,000,000,000

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I applaud you, Mr. President!

I applaud you, Mr. President.  You just conceived and assembled a  fail-safe method of bringing to an abrupt end any and all future genocide.  (Why weren't you around when Adolf Hitler was visiously attacking and arbitrarily killing one single targeted entity -- Jews -- for political and ideological reasons?)  The United States Atrocities Prevention Board.  YES!  As you so aptly and emotionally stated in your speech: "Never again."  Such a brilliant turn of a word.  Interagency it'll be and permanent with members from the Department of the Treasury, State Department, and U. S. Department of Defense, while chaired by Samantha Powers, the National Security Council senior director for multilateral and humanitarian affairs.  (Appropriate name, hers.)

"National sovereignty is never a license to slaughter...And when the Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony continued its atrocities in Central Africa, I ordered a small number of American advisors to help Uganda and its neighbors pursue the LRA.  And when I made that announcement, I directed my National Security Council to review our progress after 150 days.  We have done so, and today I can announce that our advisors will continue their efforts to bring this madman to justice..."  That'll stop him.

Our president demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, the overthrow of his government, and an end to nearly five decades of Ba’ath Party rule.  Well, keep talking Mr. President, while another ten thousand Syrians get killed.  But hey, that's not the Holocaust.

"And our diplomacy continues, because in Darfur, in Abyei, in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile, the killing of innocents must come to an end..."  Sometime; until then, we have the Board.

"That does not mean that we intervene militarily every time there’s an injustice in the world.  We cannot and should not.  It does mean we possess many tools -- diplomatic and political, and economic and financial, and intelligence and law enforcement and our moral suasion.."

Keep talking, President Obama...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

     I am hoping (against hope) that Romney will eschew the Republican fear of not being popular in the New York Times. Mr. Romney: the Times will try to seduce you by playing nice, then attempt to crush your every breath. It has worked for decades and look at where we are: nearing moral and financial bankruptcy. Of the media, only MSNBC is honest: it is the far-left mouthpiece of the Progressives. And for the rest of you America-loving voters: invest in your future, invest in Romney and conservative members of Congress. Yes, keep your nose to the grindstone (the government won’t pay YOU, only left-wing “activists”) but pay and stay in the fight against unions, trial lawyers, George Looney and Barack Obama. They want to own you and crush freedom and free enterprise. Donate and talk to everyone, convince only one person about how dangerous the Progressive agenda is, and we — America — will win.

Does Candidate Romney have an O'Bomb?

It has been almost four years since Mitt Romney watched John McCain take the Republican nomination from him.  Four years!  Has Mr. Romney been sitting around shrewedly investing his well-earned fortune?  Or has he been carefully preparing for the moment when the Republican nomination is his?  Has he been investing in his future by carefully and legally combing every possible record, locating and interviewing (or having interviewed) people with whom Barack Obama had some relationship back in his Hawaiian or Occidental College days?  The so-called popular media has had no interest in the real Barack Obama for fear it might derail their careful narrative of the country's first African American president.  And so far in 2012 there is nothing about President Obama's background unearthed.  It is almost as though he never existed, never had a footprint.  Who financed his college and post graduate education?  What were his grades, extracurricular activities, writings?  No one seems to know.  And the extent they care depends on whether they are liberal Progressives caring only about keeping their pet president in office even though his true accomplishments are scant; or Republican conservatives who seem to want him, his philosophies, policies and personnel out.

Stay tuned for some answers.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Most of us are average

The Far-left indoctrinates kids to "change the world" and that they all are "special". Truth is: most of us are average. A tiny, tiny few will ever change anything but many if not most are made to feel guilty for being simply average and not trying to change the world. The basis of  democracy and, for that matter capitalism, lies in each person living their lives for themselves not others.  The People -- everyone together -- make decisions for themselves, which in the main become best for the most people.  More people are happy simply making themselves happy. Isn't THAT the goal of a life?  For the Founders of country the pursuit of happiness was paramount.  The Progressive mantra of change and equality is a huge lie for them to gain power. Period.  So I say worry about yourself first, if everyone does that, the world will be a better place.  But with that pursuit of happiness must come self-discipline along with written rules of law which are obeyed.  Happiness is not pursuing pleasure with abandon, that also seems to be part of the Progressive mantra.

Here's the article from the Seattle Times today that brought on my post:

If you attend a certain sort of conference, hang out at a certain sort of coffee shop or visit a certain sort of university, you've probably run into some of these wonderful young people who are doing good. Typically, they've spent a year studying abroad. They've traveled in the poorer regions of the world. Now they have devoted themselves to a purpose larger than self.

Often they are bursting with enthusiasm for some social entrepreneurship project: making a cheap water-purification system, starting a company that will empower Rwandan women by selling their crafts in boutiques around the world.

These people are refreshingly un-cynical. Their hip service ethos is setting the moral tone for the age. Idealistic and uplifting, their worldview is spread by enlightened advertising campaigns, from Bennetton years ago to everything Apple has ever done.

It's hard not to feel inspired by all these idealists, but their service religion does have some shortcomings. In the first place, many of these social entrepreneurs think they can evade politics. They have little faith in the political process and believe that real change happens on the ground beneath it.

That's a delusion. You can cram all the nongovernmental organizations you want into a country, but if there is no rule of law and if the ruling class is predatory then your achievements won't add up to much.

Furthermore, important issues always spark disagreement. Unless there is a healthy political process to resolve disputes, the ensuing hatred and conflict will destroy everything the altruists are trying to build.

There's little social progress without political progress. Unfortunately, many of today's young activists are really good at thinking locally and globally, but not as good at thinking nationally and regionally.

Second, the prevailing service religion underestimates the problem of disorder. Many of the activists talk as if the world can be healed if we could only insert more care, compassion and resources into it.

History is not kind to this assumption. Most poverty and suffering — whether in a country, a family or a person — flows from disorganization. A stable social order is an artificial accomplishment, the result of an accumulation of habits, hectoring, moral stricture and physical coercion. Once order is dissolved, it takes hard measures to restore it.

Yet one rarely hears social entrepreneurs talk about professional policing, honest courts or strict standards of behavior; it's more uplifting to talk about microloans and sustainable agriculture.

In short, there's only so much good you can do unless you are willing to confront corruption, venality and disorder head-on. So if I could, presumptuously, recommend a reading list to help these activists fill in the gaps in the prevailing service ethos, I'd start with the novels of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, or at least the movies based on them.

The noir heroes like Sam Spade in "The Maltese Falcon" served as models for a generation of Americans, and they put the focus squarely on venality, corruption and disorder and how you should behave in the face of it.

A noir hero is a moral realist. He assumes that everybody is dappled with virtue and vice, especially himself. He makes no social-class distinction and only provisional moral distinctions between the private eyes like himself and the criminals he pursues. The assumption in a Hammett book is that the good guy has a spotty past, does spotty things and that the private eye and the criminal are two sides to the same personality.

He (or she — the women in these stories follow the same code) adopts a layered personality. He hardens himself on the outside in order to protect whatever is left of the finer self within.

He is reticent, allergic to self-righteousness and appears unfeeling, but he is motivated by a disillusioned sense of honor. The world often rewards the wrong things, but each job comes with obligations and even if everything is decaying you should still take pride in your work. Under the cynical mask, there is still a basic sense of good order, that crime should be punished and bad behavior shouldn't go uncorrected. He knows he's not going to be uplifted by his work; that to tackle the hard jobs he'll have to risk coarsening himself, but he doggedly plows ahead.

This worldview had a huge influence as a generation confronted crime, corruption, fascism and communism. I'm not sure I can see today's social entrepreneurs wearing fedoras and trench coats. But noir's moral realism would be a nice supplement to today's prevailing ethos. It would fold some hardheadedness in with today's service mentality. It would focus attention on the core issues: order and rule of law.

And it would be necessary. Contemporary Washington, not to mention parts of the developing world, may be less seedy than the cities in the noir stories, but they are equally laced with self-deception and self-dealing.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin

Excellent assessment by black author Shelby Steele:  (From The Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2012, page A15.)

OPINION Updated April 4, 2012, 7:17 p.m. ET Shelby Steele: The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin

The absurdity of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton is that they want to make a movement out of an anomaly. Black teenagers today are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites.Article Comments (665) more in Opinion


Two tragedies are apparent in the Trayvon Martin case. The first is obvious: A teenager—unarmed and committing no crime—was shot dead. Dressed in a "hoodie," a costume of menace, he crossed paths with a man on the hunt for precisely such clich├ęs of menace. Added to this—and here is the rub—was the fact of his dark skin.

Maybe it was more the hood than the dark skin, but who could argue that the skin did not enhance the menace of the hood at night and in the eyes of someone watching for crime. (Fifty-five percent of all federal prisoners are black though we are only 12% of the population.) Would Trayvon be alive today had he been walking home—Skittles and ice tea in hand—wearing a polo shirt with an alligator logo? Possibly. And does this make the ugly point that dark skin late at night needs to have its menace softened by some show of Waspy Americana? Possibly.

What is fundamentally tragic here is that these two young males first encountered each other as provocations. Males are males, and threat often evokes a narcissistic anger that skips right past reason and into a will to annihilate: "I will take you out!" There was a terrible fight. Trayvon apparently got the drop on George Zimmerman, but ultimately the man with the gun prevailed. Annihilation was achieved.

If this was all there was to it, the Trayvon/Zimmerman story would be no more than a cautionary tale, yet another admonition against the hair-trigger male ego. But this story brought reaction from the White House: "If I had a son he would look like Trayvon," said the president. The Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, ubiquitous icons of black protest, virtually battled each other to stand at the bereaved family's side—Mr. Jackson, in a moment of inadvertent honesty, saying, "There is power in blood . . . we must turn a moment into a movement." And then there was the spectacle of black Democrats in Congress holding hearings on racial profiling with Trayvon's parents featured as celebrities.

In fact Trayvon's sad fate clearly sent a quiver of perverse happiness all across America's civil rights establishment, and throughout the mainstream media as well. His death was vindication of the "poetic truth" that these establishments live by. Poetic truth is like poetic license where one breaks grammatical rules for effect. Better to break the rule than lose the effect. Poetic truth lies just a little; it bends the actual truth in order to highlight what it believes is a larger and more important truth.

The civil rights community and the liberal media live by the poetic truth that America is still a reflexively racist society, and that this remains the great barrier to black equality. But this "truth" has a lot of lie in it. America has greatly evolved since the 1960s. There are no longer any respectable advocates of racial segregation. And blacks today are nine times more likely to be killed by other blacks than by whites.
If Trayvon Martin was a victim of white racism (hard to conceive since the shooter is apparently Hispanic), his murder would be an anomaly, not a commonplace. It would be a bizarre exception to the way so many young black males are murdered today. If there must be a generalization in all this—a call "to turn the moment into a movement"—it would have to be a movement against blacks who kill other blacks. The absurdity of Messrs. Jackson and Sharpton is that they want to make a movement out of an anomaly. Black teenagers today are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites.

So the idea that Trayvon Martin is today's Emmett Till, as the Rev. Jackson has said, suggests nothing less than a stubborn nostalgia for America's racist past. In that bygone era civil rights leaders and white liberals stood on the highest moral ground. They literally knew themselves—given their genuine longing to see racism overcome—as historically transformative people. If the world resisted them, as it surely did, it only made them larger than life.

It was a time when standing on the side of the good required true selflessness and so it ennobled people. And this chance to ennoble oneself through a courageous moral stand is what so many blacks and white liberals miss today—now that white racism is such a defeated idea. There is a nostalgia for that time when posture alone ennobled. So today even the hint of old-fashioned raw racism excites with its potential for ennoblement.

For the Revs. Jackson and Sharpton, for the increasingly redundant civil rights establishment, for liberal blacks and the broader American left, the poetic truth that white racism is somehow the real culprit in this tragedy is redemption itself. The reason Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have become such disreputable figures on our cultural landscape is that they are such quick purveyors of poetic truth rather than literal truth.

The great trick of poetic truth is to pass itself off as the deep and essential truth so that hard facts that refute it must be dismissed in the name of truth. O.J. Simpson was innocent by the poetic truth that the justice system is stacked against blacks. Trayvon was a victim of racist stereotyping—though the shooter never mentioned his race until asked to do so.

There is now a long litany of racial dust-ups—from Tawana Brawley to the Duke University lacrosse players to the white Cambridge police officer who arrested Harvard professor Skip Gates a summer ago—in which the poetic truth of white racism and black victimization is invoked so that the actual truth becomes dismissible as yet more racism.

When the Cambridge cop or the Duke lacrosse players or the men accused of raping Tawana Brawley tried to defend themselves, they were already so stained by poetic truth as to never be entirely redeemed. No matter the facts—whether Trayvon Martin was his victim or his assailant—George Zimmerman will also never be entirely redeemed.

And this points to the second tragedy that Trayvon's sad demise highlights. Before the 1960s the black American identity (though no one ever used the word) was based on our common humanity, on the idea that race was always an artificial and exploitive division between people. After the '60s—in a society guilty for its long abuse of us—we took our historical victimization as the central theme of our group identity. We could not have made a worse mistake.

It has given us a generation of ambulance-chasing leaders, and the illusion that our greatest power lies in the manipulation of white guilt. The tragedy surrounding Trayvon's death is not in the possibility that it might have something to do with white racism; the tragedy is in the lustfulness with which so many black leaders, in conjunction with the media, have leapt to exploit his demise for their own power.

Mr. Steele is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Among his books is "White Guilt" (Harper/Collins, 2007).

A version of this article appeared April 5, 2012, on page A15 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mr. President, Free Enterprise Works

Mr. President: Free Markets Work.

As doubtlessly you read this morning (March 27, 2012) in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. President, the article “Steel Finds Shale Sweet Spot.” It illustrates that free enterprise is alive and well in America and assisting in your agenda. Innovative technical advances from the private sector in oil and gas drilling, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) coupled with horizontal drilling, allows access to huge deposits of oil and natural gas nearing two miles below the earth’s surface. Usual vertical drilling reaches only a few hundred feet down. Some government projections indicate a hundred year supply of natural gas and twenty-four billion barrels of oil within these shale lands in the contiguous 48 United States.

In ways central control of an industry can never predict, as the Journal article described, the cascading consequences of this technology come from a newly-accessible large supply of natural gas which pushes prices down – more than 35% from a year ago. Lower energy prices benefit the national economic turnabout. More gas creates lower prices which triggers increased useage (demand). The unchanged price of the major gas competitor, coal, causes its demand (and useage) to drop. This forces companies to shutter the unneeded coal plants expanding your agenda, Mr. President, of exchanging dirtier coal-burning plants for cheaper and cleaner-burning natural gas. Lower energy costs increase the profits of energy-dependent companies, where natural gas can be substituted for oil. For the steel industry more sophisticated drilling creates more demand for tubular steel products, such as the needed pipes, tubes and joints. More demand from lower prices creates a need for more production employees and those needed for support of higher sales of these steel products. The increased profits in the steel industry spreads out to suppliers of everything from transportation to accounting computers to toilet paper. The expected higher profits have increased the price of steel companies, with X – U. S. Steel’s New York Stock Exchange symbol – increasing from a 52-week low of $18.85 to yesterday’s close of $29.54, a change of over $14 billion accruing on paper to retirees, pension and mutual funds and other investors.

You see, Mr. President, the free markets work and work to enable your agenda. You might relax and let them just happen.