The New Clarion

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The New “Intellectuals”

By Chuck · April 2nd, 2010 11:51 am · 4 Comments

In a recent interview Obama mused on the label of Socialist that many apply to him. 

“I do think that everybody has a responsibility, Democrats or Republicans, to tone down some of this rhetoric. And the truth is some of these comments when you actually ask, well, this is based on what? This notion that ‘Obama’s a Socialist,’ for example. Nobody can really (he chuckled) give you a good answer — much less when they, you know, make…”

“They would say mandating that people have to buy (health) insurance or something like that,” Smith pointed out.

“Yeah,” Mr. Obama said, “the — the sort of plan proposed by current — Republican nominee Mitt Romney, yeah. So it – it — it doesn’t make too much sense.

So, instead of defining Socialism and explaining how his political philosophy is different from it, he simply resorts to the answer an 8 year old would give: He does it too!

This is the brilliant intellectual idolized by the Left.

It Wasn’t Our Fault!

By Chuck · February 1st, 2010 9:00 pm · 5 Comments

“And did we tell you the name of the game, boy? 
We call it Riding the Gravy Train.”
 (Pink Floyd)

From the Guardian comes a story titled “The west owes Haiti a bailout. And it would be a hand-back, not a handout.”  Yes, it’s all our fault.  Our fault that they were poor, poorly governed, unprepared for natural disasters.  Certainly, it wasn’t the fault of the Haitians themselves.  Who could have foreseen the lack of economic progress in a nation that was more collectivist than capitalist?  If the Haitian people were content to live under the bad government they had, rather than instituting a better one at any cost or risk, or emigrating to a better one, can we blame them?  Inertia isn’t easy to overcome. 

But the West, now, there is as selfish a collection of uncaring nations as can well be imagined.  Billions upon billions of dollars for bailing out bankrupt financial institutions, but precious little for those that need it most—the Haitians:

The scale, urgency and determination with which western governments moved to salvage a broken [financial] system stands in stark contrast to their laggardly, inadequate and negligent approach when it comes to rescuing a broken society. I refer here not to the emergency aid operations in Haiti, which, given the logistical obstacles of operating in a crushed nation, have been impressive. Nor to the charitable donations from all over the world that prove that people are far more generous than the governments they elect. But to the resources and long-term systemic solutions that Haiti needs and the west could summon – if it so desired.

Haiti has needs.  The West has means.  One side of the equation neatly balances out the other. 

And if simple need isn’t enough justification, there are also the sins of our fathers to account for:

 Haiti gained its independence from France in 1804 through a slave rebellion – the first postcolonial, independent black-led nation in the world. For this audacity they would pay for generations . . .

The US refused to recognise the new country for more than half a century, and would then go on to occupy it for 20 years between the wars. The French burdened it with a punitive debt the country shouldered for over a century.

Both the US and France backed the Duvaliers’ brutal dictatorships and when democratic government did arrive it was hogtied by terms imposed by the IMF and the World Bank. Among other things, rigged trade agreements transformed Haiti from a self-sufficient rice producer to importing the bulk of its rice from subsidised growers in the US. When Haiti fined American rice merchants $1.4m in 2000 for allegedly evading customs duties, the US responded by freezing $30m in aid. With friends like these, Haiti does not need enemies.

So Haiti’s bailout would not be an act of charity, but reimbursement and reparation. This is not a hand out but a hand back. In terms of Haiti’s needs, it would be the beginning not the end. The country needs investment in its social and civic infrastructure so that it can shape its own future.

Is there a country on earth that couldn’t point to similar mistreatment from some other nation at some point in its past?  Should we hold the British of today responsible for the expenses of the Revolutionary War?  Or all the money our forefathers lost due to the anti-capitalist trade restrictions the British imposed upon us in the colonial era?   These trade agreements with the IMF and the World Bank—they were agreements, right?  Both sides agreed to the terms?   These things cannot be imposed on any country by a bank.  Only an occupying army can impose anything. I’m not aware of the IMF or the World Bank having a military wing. If Haiti now doesn’t like the terms of these agreements, is that too our fault, here in the West?

The actions of the IMF and the World Bank are not likely to be capitalist, in that their funds are presumably derived from taxation. The solution to that is the abolition of these institutions, not more collectivism.  Does Haiti want investment in its infrastructure?  On what terms: collectivist, or capitalist?  If it wants them on capitalist terms, the way to get there is by instituting a capitalist government, not demanding tax money from foreign governments, that is, the citizens of foreign governments.  If it wants it on collectivist terms, it wants what can never be justified.  It wants the enslavement of others to themselves.

James Dobbins, a special envoy to Haiti under President Clinton and director of the International Security and Defence Policy Centre at the Rand Corporation, saw other possibilities. “This disaster is an opportunity to accelerate oft-delayed reforms,” he argued. The reforms included “breaking up or at least reorganising the government-controlled telephone monopoly”, and restructuring the ports. In other words, privatising what little is left of the country’s state enterprises.

Clearly, to the writer of the Guardian article, capitalism is the problem, not the solution.

Another Year Over

By Chuck · December 30th, 2009 8:42 pm · Comments Off

And we are worse off than we were a year ago.  Obama is exactly the disaster we expected him to be.  Perhaps more shameless than expected, given the Chairman Mao ornament on the White House Christmas tree.  But one man’s mass murdering totalitarian dictator is another man’s hero, right?

 The endless war against the barbarians continues, as we sit like prisoners on our airplanes, unwilling to defeat those who continue to attack us.  Perfectly able to defeat them, of course, but completely unwilling to assert our right to self-defense.  So we cast suspicious glances at airline passengers, instead, and hope for the best.

In Iran, a revolution may be brewing.  But suppose the mullahs are overthrown, and a new, presumably non-theocratic, regime takes power.  Can we trust Obama to do the right thing?  After all, Ahmedinejad was elected.  Won’t Obama call for his reinstatement, as he did with the Chavez-imitator down in Honduras?  After all, revolutions are not legal.

“We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the democratically elected president there,” Obama said.

Just insert the name Ahmedinejad, and you have a good idea what Obama might say. 

On the environmentalist front, the global warming gravy-train continues chugging along, distributing government largesse at every stop.  Not just for scientists on the government dole, now, but for every country that can think of a reason to make the West feel guilty for being the beacon of civilization for the last 500 years or so.  That is an unforgivable sin, when one’s goal is an Earth rid of the disease, Man.

The spectacle of Senators selling their votes for cash would embarrass men of integrity.  Since there aren’t any such men in the Senate, the Senators are merely puzzled at the reaction to their venality.  It’s a time honored tradition there.  So what if it involves the incipient nationalization of the health care industry?  What makes them special?  Truly, nothing makes them special.  If car makers can be taken over by the government, so can medical practitioners.  Some of us don’t think it’s right for car makers to be taken over by the government either, if individual rights have any meaning.  Obviously, to our current governors, they do not.

On the positive side of the ledger, Obama’s popularity with the public is plummeting.  On the negative side, that means we might get a Republican in office again.  Heads they win, tails we lose.

We all know there is only one long term solution to our problems: a rational philosophy.  With a rational philosophy comes a rational morality, egoism.  To that end, the best news this year is the continued high sales of Atlas Shrugged, and especially the continued success of the books for teachers program of the Ayn Rand Institute.  If we can reach enough of them before their spirit is killed by the comprachicos, we might still right the ship before it sinks.

True Colors

By Chuck · November 5th, 2009 12:51 pm · 5 Comments

Having seen a story about multiple shootings at Fort Hood, and not finding much information about it, I decided to check Little Green Footballs to see if they had any updated information.  I had stopped going to the site months ago, because of its backsliding into leftism, which Charles Johnson calls being a moderate.

So, he did have the breaking news about the Fort Hood incident, but nothing more than I had already seen.  I then looked at the previous few entries, to see what he’s been blogging about.  It’s pretty sad.  He is busy demonizing the opponents of the enslavement of the medical profession.  He has become pathetically leftist in his commentary, and yet he still considers himself a moderate.  It turns my stomach.

The Audacity of Crooks

By Chuck · October 28th, 2009 6:49 pm · Comments Off

You may have seen the quote from a recent speech by the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Rocco Landesman:

 . . . Barack Obama is the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar.

Coming from someone whose own position of influence and power is dependent on Obama, it is hardly surprising that he is licking the boots of the President.  He justifies the statement by noting that the US is the most powerful country on the planet, and Obama is a writer; ergo, he’s the most powerful writer.  He followed that statement with the cashing in:

 That has to be good for American artists.

In other words, with the proper amount of adoration and flattery directed his way, President Obama is likely to steal more money from the American public and transfer it to shameless artists than any previous President. 

The motto or theme of the new Chairman of the NEA is “art works.”  Landesman explained that the theme has three meanings. First, artists produce works of art, or “art works.”  Second:

 . . . art works on and within people to change – that word again – and inspire them, it addresses the need we all have to create, to imagine, to aspire to something more, to become, if only for a few moments, more than we’ve been. It is the most hopeful of human activities. And one of the most essential.

And finally:

art works because arts jobs are real jobs. The 5.7 million people who have full-time arts-related jobs in this country are a part of the real economy. They pay taxes and spend money. Obviously. But we’re going to be making a point beyond that. Any discussion of policy for coming out of this recession, any plan that addresses economic growth and urban and neighborhood revitalization has to include the arts.

The first meaning of “art works” is a straightforward fact.  It does not, however, have any bearing on forced public funding of the arts.  Every profession produces something.  Most of them are not shameless enough to beg for public assistance, however.

The second meaning of “art works” is also true.  As Objectivists, we know the inspirational value of great art.  But again, what has that to do with forced public assistance?  If an artist produces an art work individuals value, they will pay for it voluntarily.  Otherwise not.  His statement that art is “the most hopeful of human activities” is at best unfortunate, and at worst, simply wrong.  Hope connotes a passive desire for something, rather than an active pursuit of it.  Hope never accomplishes anything. Hope is the stock in trade of characters like Dickens’ Mr. Micawber, who:

 . . . is famous for frequently asserting his faith that “something will turn up.” His name has become synonymous with someone who lives in hopeful expectation.

That President Obama titled one of his books The Audacity of Hope is characteristic of the Liberal mind.  Rather than encouraging people to go out and earn their own keep, pursue their own goals, be dependent on no one, expect no unearned favors, that title encourages the belief that others will give you what you want, all you have to do is hope.  To anyone who takes responsibility for his own life and goals, hope is not a value.  It’s an excuse to rely on others. 

The third meaning of “art works” is the heart of the appeal.  Landesman wants us to believe that this particular redistribution of wealth will help the economy.  This is what one would expect from any socialist.  He wants us to tax and spend our way out of the recession.  And he expects us to be impressed that these subsidized artists will pay taxes on their stolen money.  I’m only impressed at the audacity of these crooks.

Proving his inability to learn from experience, Landesman has this to say:                    

I know firsthand that great art can come from the unlikeliest of places. A few years ago, I visited Eric, Oklahoma, where a museum was being dedicated to one of my idols, the great country music songwriter and singer, Roger Miller. He wrote the music for my first show, “Big River.” While driving the 140 miles from Oklahoma city to Eric, you pass the hometowns of Sheb Wooley, one of the creators of rock and roll, the songwriter Jimmy Webb, and Garth Brooks. What is in the water there? There are certainly no music conservatories, probably precious few music teachers, no colleges, no arts centers, nothing. Just an inexplicable concentration of genius.

 Somehow, these artists sprang up and made a living for themselves without public money!  Therefore, we need public money for artists? 

What was in the water there, Mr. Landesman?  Individualism.

Tomorrow Never Comes

By Chuck · October 26th, 2009 7:50 pm · 2 Comments

Are we not men?  Or are we herbivorous sheep?  Do we have rights, or don’t we?  Are we sovereign, independent souls with our own goals and pleasures, or are we slaves of the state?  The British Climate Chief – yes, such a bureacratic position exists – feels that we should all give up meat, and he’s willing to force us to see things his way, too. 

In an interview with The Times, Lord Stern of Brentford said: “Meat is a wasteful use of water [whose water?] and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources [the “world” has no say in the matter. Resources are property, only the property owner has the right to decide what to do with his resources.] . A vegetarian diet is better [Better for whom, and by what standard?].”

Lord Stern does think people’s attitude toward meat-eating will change when they realize it is contributing to the impending possibility of “runaway climate change.”  But, just in case they don’t change, he has another plan:

Lord Stern, the author of the influential 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, said that a successful deal at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December would lead to soaring costs for meat and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases. [Emphasis added.]

Why is it that environmentalist “solutions” are always totalitarian in practice?    Why can they not “live and let live”?  Clearly, environmentalism does not acknowledge the existence of rights, property or otherwise.  They paint themselves as defenders of the planet, or of man’s future (by preserving the planet for his future use), and people altruistically acquiese.  To save the planet, man must sacrifice his property rights.  And his right to the pursuit of happiness, if that includes eating meat, or driving an SUV, or logging, or whaling, or any of the other environmentalist sacred cows.  And his right to liberty, if he violates any of their commandments. 

As for their claim to be preserving the Earth for future people’s enjoyment or use, it is patently false.  Tomorrow never comes.  Future generations will have to sacrifice their property rights to still more distant generations, ad infinitum.

To Each According to His Need

By Chuck · September 17th, 2009 7:26 pm · 2 Comments

As if providing health care for all Americans weren’t enough of a violation of our rights, we are also providing flu shots for 20 million foreigners.  The government shouldn’t be in the business of providing flu shots for us, let alone foreigners.  According to the article, the U.S. ordered 195 million doses of the vaccine, and will donate 10% of those to other countries “that do not have the resources to procure it on their own.”  If that isn’t clear enough, this makes it more transparent:

Worldwide production of the vaccine is projected to be more than 2 billion doses, but experts had feared that most of those doses would go to the rich countries, which could afford to pay for them.

The U. S. has upwards of 300 million citizens.  So, in addition to violating our rights by stealing the money to buy these vaccine doses, the government is also planning to reduce an already insufficient supply for our population, and give it to others.  For an action is more altruistic, the less we benefit from it, and the more we suffer. 

Actually, it is not clear to me whether the 195 million doses the U.S. government ordered is the entire U.S. supply.  Are there private supplies in the U.S. also?  Or is that as much as the manufacturers can make with full-out production?  And of course, another problem the government is creating is a shrinking supply of drug makers, by over regulating (there should be none), and demonizing them at every opportunity.

The Shallowness of a Demagogue: A Fishy Analysis

By Chuck · August 8th, 2009 11:30 am · 9 Comments

In his weekly radio address today, President Obama assailed the critics of the current efforts at health care reform:

And let me start by dispelling the outlandish rumors that reform will promote euthanasia, cut Medicaid or bring about a government takeover of health care. That’s simply not true.

Ok, the reader of the transcript or listener to the speech thinks to himself.  He’s going to show how the proposed legislation will not lead to all the evil things that the critics are claiming it will.  Unfortunately, they will read on or listen in vain.  No evidence is given.  President Obama evidently believes it is enough to have said: “That simply isn’t true.”  Because he said so. 

The next five minutes of the six minute address are mostly given over to demonizing the insurance companies, and explaining all the unfunded mandates he hopes to foist upon them, and all the things he will force them to do, or not do:

We’ll require insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care . . .

We’ll stop insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history . . .

With reform, insurance companies will also have to limit how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses.  And we will stop insurance companies from placing arbitrary caps on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year, or a lifetime . . .

But government isn’t taking over health care.  The President ended with statements about those who are trying to politicize the health care debate:

There are those who are focused on the so-called politics of health care; who are trying to exploit differences or concerns for political gain.  And that’s to be expected.  That’s Washington.  But let’s never forget that this isn’t about politics.  This is about people’s lives.  This is about people’s businesses.  This is about America’s future.  That’s what’s at stake.

Indeed!  America’s future is at stake.  And the President wants that future to be socialist, with individual rights tossed overboard.  This isn’t about politics, Mr. President?  Think again.  As long as health care is left to individuals in a free market, it is not about politics.  But it is you, Mr. President, who are politicizing health care, by forcing the health care industry to become an arm of the government, in all but name.  Who do you think you’re kidding?

The Damage Done

By Chuck · August 5th, 2009 7:30 pm · 4 Comments

Two American women, imprisoned by North Korea for alleged crimes, are today free and back in America.  Former President Clinton is basking in the glow of his successful rescue mission. When Dennis Kneale had Yaron Brook on CNBC last night, Kneale called Clinton a hero for getting the two American women released.  The Obama Administration presumably looks upon this as the first fruits of its foreign policy of being willing to talk with America’s enemies.  All of that is what is seen.  Now let’s look at what is not seen.

These two women were nothing but bargaining chips to Kim Jong Il.  He used them because he wanted to get something from us.  Perhaps he wanted more than he got.  But he got two very substantial things: one, he got America to negotiate with him in an obvious blackmail situation; two, he got no less than a former President of the United States to come and sanction him as someone worthy of such an honor.  The enslaved people of North Korea will be seeing images of the two talking together cordially, seemingly the best of friends.  Those heroic souls in North Korea who still dream of help from America in deposing the despot, instead see us come, hat in hand, begging the Dear Leader to release two American women from prison.  Not a word about any North Korean political prisoners, let alone any forthright demand for the total dismantlement of the criminal regime. 

The result is that Kim Jong Il is strengthened in his position, and his heirs after him.  Further, he is encouraged to use this successful tactic—taking hostages and then making demands—by our rewarding him with what he wanted.  As in all capitulations to hostage takers, in saving one or two people, we have increased the chances that many others will be kidnapped in the future.  

That is what is not seen, either by the Administration or its fawning cheerleaders in the media. While Obama and Clinton pat themselves on the back over this so-called success, Kim Jong Il and other criminal regimes are plotting their next move, secure in the knowledge that blackmail works against America.

Time Enough at Last

By Chuck · July 29th, 2009 5:46 pm · 9 Comments

Mark Steyn identifies as a problem the unmanageable size of proposed bills, such as the current health care reform bill:

Thousand-page bills, unread and indeed unwritten at the time of passage, are the death of representative government. They also provide a clue as to why, in a country this large, national government should be minimal and constrained. Even if you doubled or trebled the size of the legislature, the Conyers conundrum would still hold: No individual can read these bills and understand what he’s voting on.

Then he jumps to the wrong solution to the problem:  

That’s why the bulk of these responsibilities should be left to states and subsidiary jurisdictions, which can legislate on such matters at readable length and in comprehensible language.

One thousand page bills are certainly a problem.  The answer, however, is not the Balkanization of the US.    Is socialized medicine at the state level any better than socialized medicine at the Federal level?  One is just as wrong as the other, regardless of the relative length of the corresponding bills. It is inherent in any centrally planned economy, wherein the government attempts to plan the details of the lives of hundreds of millions of people, down to the type of food they can eat, that there will be enormous, and enormously detailed, legislation. 

The solution to this problem is individual rights and capitalism.  The sole purpose of a proper government is the protection of individual rights. In such a capitalist society there wouldn’t even be a health care bill.  That’s all one thousand pages of collectivist central planning that would never have been written, let alone read.  Or not read.  If a capitalist society felt the need for a health care bill, it  would consist of one sentence:

“Resolved: there shall be a free market in health care, as in all other fields.”

Then even the likes of John Conyers would have time enough at last to read a bill before he voted on it.

The Mind of a Statist

By Chuck · July 27th, 2009 7:21 pm · 3 Comments

I was watching CNBC tonight and they were discussing the case of a Citi trader who was due to receive a $100 million bonus.  Then they showed a Wall Street Journal headline that read: “US Pay Czar to Renegotiate Contracts He Deems Too Lucrative.”  This Citi trader’s bonus contract is presumably Exhibit One for the Pay Czar.  So the panelists, moderated by Dennis Kneale, were arguing back and forth about the merits of the case.  Finally one of the panelists asked another panelist if he understood they were speaking about a contract.  Then another panelist, Leslie Marshall, interjected this comment: “A contract is only worth the paper it’s written on.”  Now who does that sound like?  Who else viewed solemn agreements as mere “scraps of paper”?  

Here is a link to the video clip on the CNBC website. The clip is labelled Demystifying Goldman Sachs. The Citi trader discussion begins at about the 5:50 mark , and Leslie Marshall’s infamous comments come at about the 8:00 mark.

Our Science Czar

By Chuck · July 10th, 2009 6:13 pm · 1 Comment

The blogger named Zombie has a shocking expose, first reported on FrontPage Magazine, about the totalitarian views of John Holdren, Obama’s Science Czar.  Here are the first couple of paragraphs:

Forced abortions. Mass sterilization. A “Planetary Regime” with the power of life and death over American citizens.

The tyrannical fantasies of a madman? Or merely the opinions of the person now in control of science policy in the United States? Or both?

These ideas (among many other equally horrifying recommendations) were put forth by John Holdren, whom Barack Obama has recently appointed Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology — informally known as the United States’ Science Czar.

This is required reading for anyone concerned about American freedom.

The Up-Side of Brain Drains

By Chuck · July 4th, 2009 8:45 pm · 3 Comments

A couple of people on the Harry Binswanger List linked to an article about the Bolivarian Brain Drain.  It details the exodus of the best and the brightest under way in Venezuela and those Latin American nations that are modelling themselves on Hugo Chavez’ “21st century socialism.”   To rational and freedom loving people, such a brain drain would be looked upon as an awful event.  But to a dictator, or would-be dictator, it is an unalloyed blessing.  Chavez isn’t after happiness, or progress, or a higher standard of living.  He is only after power, and the fewer brains in the country, the easier it is to maintain his power.  So there is a definite up-side to brain drains—for dictators.

But there is a fly in the ointment.  It used to be that such a talent emigration would head directly for America, the land of freedom and opportunity.  That land exists no more.  Where can freedom loving people go now?  They are left to shuffle about from one semi-free state to another, looking desperately for the last, fading beacon lights of freedom in a darkening world.

 Objectivism can relight the world.  The question is when.

Rationing Health Care: A Case of Equivocation

By Chuck · June 17th, 2009 10:48 pm · 6 Comments

The New York Times had an article today about the claim that socialized medicine* will lead to health care rationing.  According to the writer, rationing is “an inescapable part of economic life.” 

It is the process of allocating scarce resources. Even in the United States, the richest society in human history, we are constantly rationing. We ration spots in good public high schools. We ration lakefront homes. We ration the best cuts of steak and wild-caught salmon.

Missing from this explanation of rationing is any acknowledgement, let alone definition, of the difference between a free market and a centrally planned economy.  Rationing of spots in public high schools, done by government force, is equated with the free market’s rationing of lakefront homes and the best cuts of steak.  The writer began the article by saying that:

Access to medical care is a fundamental right.

Certainly, man has the right to the pursuit of medical care.  But there is no right to be given medical care by anyone.   Just as the government shouldn’t be involved in rationing property, so it shouldn’t be involved in rationing medical care.  To do so implies ownership of the property, in the first case, and of the doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals, in the second. 

Health care, I realize, seems as if it should be different. But it isn’t. Already, we cannot afford every form of medical care that we might like. So we ration.

We spend billions of dollars on operations, tests and drugs that haven’t been proved to make people healthier. Yet we have not spent the money to install computerized medical records — and we suffer more medical errors than many other countries.

Here the writer describes individuals deciding for themselves how to spend their money on health care.  This, he points out, is rationing.  It’s already being done.  So what’s the big deal?  For him, the only difference between this rationing, and the rationing of socialized medicine, is that the government bureaucrats will do a better job of rationing than individuals will do for themselves. 

The difference, of course, is that one is done under the system of freedom, in which a man’s rights are inalienable,  and the other under the compulsion of the state, in which man’s rights are abrogated.  That’s the difference between day and night, and yet the writer sees, or pretends to see, no political or ethical difference at all.  He simply believes one system is more efficient than the other:

 Milton Friedman’s beloved line is a good way to frame the issue: There is no such thing as a free lunch. The choice isn’t between rationing and not rationing. It’s between rationing well and rationing badly. Given that the United States devotes far more of its economy to health care than other rich countries, and gets worse results by many measures, it’s hard to argue that we are now rationing very rationally.

Finally, the writer suggests opposition to socialized medicine is a “utopian stand”:

But flat-out opposition to comparative effectiveness is, in the end, opposition to making good choices. And all the noise about rationing is not really a courageous stand against less medical care. It’s a utopian stand against better medical care.

It’s hard to say what he means by “utopian.”  Perhaps this is his oblique way of referring to that old fashioned concept, individual rights.  But there is nothing utopian about individual rights.  They are the sole basis of a just society.  Name calling and equivocations will never stop rational men from making a stand in defense of their inalienable rights.

* The article never identifies its position as socialized medicine, of course.  They don’t like that word.  It sounds too much like what it is.

The Dead End of Appeasement

By Chuck · May 31st, 2009 5:14 pm · 4 Comments

What Can the US Do to Ease Tensions With North Korea?

That was the headline I saw on Fox News today, while they were discussing the subject with some guest.  Of course, the question translates directly into this, more honest one: What can the US do to appease North Korea now, since all previous appeasements have failed?  It reminded me of a scene I had recently watched in a Korean historical drama, called Jumong.    The episode examined, and dramatized, the idea of appeasement.

The scene involves the deposed King of Puyo (a Korean kingdom), named Kumwa, lecturing his son, Taeso, who had forcibly taken over from him. Taeso has refrained from killing the King, evidently, because the people would revolt if he committed regicide. So he is ruling under the fiction that the King is incapacitated from a wound received in a recent war against the Han (China), in which Kumwa was attempting to recover lands taken from Korea by the Han in an earlier conflict.

Kumwa: I heard the Han demanded a hostage. Is that true?

Taeso: Yes.

Kumwa: You might be my representative, but shouldn’t you have told me earlier?

Taeso: I was going to, after giving it enough thought.

Kumwa: So, are you done thinking?

Taeso: Yes.

Kumwa: What will you do?

Taeso: I’m going to send a hostage.

Kumwa: Don’t you have any pride?

Taeso: Why wouldn’t I have any?

Kumwa: Yet you’re going to send a hostage and accept that we’re a tributary state?

Taeso: We can’t afford to talk about pride. The Han is just waiting for a chance to make us pay for the war. I had to marry a woman I don’t love just to put an end to it. If one hostage will save thousands of lives, why not? Your Majesty, pride won’t stop a war. I’ll reap the benefits of not starting one.

Kumwa: Give up one thing to avoid a war and the Han will demand something else. You’ll use Puyo’s peace as an excuse to back out again and again until you’re at a dead end. What will you give them then? Will you let them conquer us if they want to? Will you die for them if they ask you to? Can’t you see the reality hidden behind the so-called benefits?

 

 

 

This is indeed the fruits of appeasement. Bush did it too often, and for Obama, it is the only option he considers. How long before we reach the dead end?

Prometheus Pinioned

By Chuck · May 29th, 2009 5:11 pm · 7 Comments

According to this article, progress is being made in the development of fusion as a source of usable energy. 

Dignitaries and top scientists gathered near San Francisco Friday for the formal opening of a massive new facility that they hope will accomplish what was once thought impossible — nuclear fusion, the Holy Grail of energy sources.The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will focus 192 laser beams on a hydrogen pellet the size of a bead, heating it to incredible temperatures in an attempt to recreate the power of the sun.

Upon learning this news, perhaps equivalent to Prometheus bringing fire to mankind, modern environmentalists had this reaction:

 

Nuclear fusion has never been achieved on Earth, and critics argue the facility’s $3.5 billion price tag is a waste of taxpayer money.

“We don’t need this machine to solve our energy problems,” says Dr. Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environment Research in Takoma Park, Md. “The main thing the National Ignition Facility has accomplished so far is to burn a hole in the taxpayers’ pocketbook.”

We don’t need it.  No fire-bringers need apply.  One can imagine people such as these refusing the gift of  Prometheus and betraying him to the gods for eternal punishment.  “Be gone with you!  We prefer living in our caves.” 

All their efforts, so far, have failed to kill off nuclear fission power plants.  But those plants were born in a better day, before environmentalists had any political power.  Will the enviros, politically powerful as they are today, succeed in killing off nuclear fusion aborning?  Is our civilization that far gone?  If they don’t, it won’t be for lack of trying.

How the West Was Lost

By Chuck · May 21st, 2009 7:31 pm · 3 Comments

If you were looking for the reason why we, with the most powerful military in the history of the planet, are struggling to defeat a ragtag collection of dirt poor guerilla fighters, this article from Time lays it out quite plainly, if unintentionally.  Time looked at the victory of Sri Lanka over the Tamil Tigers, and concluded they did everything wrong, and their successful methods were exactly what we should not do.  Never have I seen an analysis so utterly and spectacularly wrong as Time’s.  But Time’s insane method for “defeating” an insurgency is exactly the way the West is fighting, and looks like it will continue to fight, the Islamist assault on the West.

But now that the Tigers have been defeated, governments and security forces around the world may try to learn from the success of the Sri Lanka government. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his army have turned the conventional wisdom on fighting insurgencies on its head, adopting strategies and tactics long discredited, both in the battlefield and in the military classroom. Since they appear to have worked against the Tigers, other countries wracked by insurgencies — from Pakistan to Sudan to Algeria — may be tempted to follow suit. But Rajapaksa’s triumph has come at a high cost in civilian lives and a sharp decline in democratic values — and he is no closer to resolving the ethnic resentments that underpinned the insurgency for decades. Perhaps Sri Lanka’s success should come with a warning label for political leaders and military commanders elsewhere: Do not try this at home.

Obviously, the US war with the Islamists is not the same as the insurgencies mentioned here.  But it is in fact comparable, simply on a global scale.  The Islamist insurgents want the whole world to bow to Islam, and since we are the top dog on the planet, as far as non-Muslim nations go, we are their most tempting target.  If we fall, the rest of the dominoes will quickly follow.  And the “discredited” tactics, as you will see, are certainly meant to apply to the US military as well. 

What horrible tactics were used by Sri Lanka?

Brute Force Works
Modern military wisdom says sheer force doesn’t quell insurgencies, and that in the long run political and economic power-sharing along with social reconciliation are the only ways to end the fighting. But the Sri Lankan army eventually broke down the Tigers in an unrelenting military campaign, the final phase of which lasted more than two years. That sort of sustained offensive hasn’t been tried anywhere, in decades.

I’ve never before read such a perfect statement of how the West will be lost as that one.  The way to fight a terrorist insurgency, according to Time, is not to kill the insurgents who are killing you, but a strategy of compromise and appeasement, i.e., total capitulation.  This will assuage their grievances, and voila! the insurgency will be over.  It’s so simple when you’re willing to give up without a fight, isn’t it?  This is the strategy that has led to a Hamas government in the Palestinian territory, and soon, no doubt, a Hezbollah government in Lebanon. 

Negotiations Don’t
After numerous attempts at mediation — most notably by Norway — led to nothing, Rajapaksa basically abandoned the pursuit of a negotiated solution. Once the military had the upper hand, there was little effort to treaty with the Tigers.

Negotiations assume their is something worth negotiating.  There was no mention in the article of what the Tamil Tigers wanted.  If they are anything like al Qaeda, obviously, there is nothing to negotiate with them.  We either surrender, or kill them. 

Collateral Damage Is Acceptable
In the final months of fighting, the Sri Lankan military offensive hardly differentiated between civilian and Tiger targets. Refugees fleeing the fighting said thousands of innocents were being killed in the army’s bombardments. Modern militaries typically halt hostilities when large numbers of civilians are killed. The Sri Lankan army barely paused. Reva Bhalla, director of analysis at Stratfor, a global intelligence firm, says Rajapaksa’s “disregard for civilian casualties” was a key to the success of the military operation.

In other words, we must allow our enemies to attack, and then hide behind civilian shields.  WWII would have went very well under those rules, wouldn’t it?   In fact, any civilian casualties are the responsiblity of the insurgents who initiated the warfare.  End of story.

The last point Time makes is that Sri Lanka restricted press freedom during the conflict, and kept reporters away from the fighting.  Some restrictins on the press are proper during a war.  You cannot allow reporters to give away the time and location of the D-Day invasion, for example. 

In any case, I’m not defending the Sri Lankan government as such.  They may be as bad as the Tamil Tigers, for all I know.  But the tactics they used to defeat the Tigers were exactly the right tactics, and their success should be an encouragement to anyone in the US government who wants to win this war.  Old fashioned, rational tactics still work just as well as they ever did.  We could easily defeat al Qaeda, not to mention the Somalian pirates, with a fraction of our military might, in a fraction of the time we have already spent appeasing and limiting ourselves to rules of engagement that only strengthen our enemies.  

The Sri Lankan defeat of the Tamil Tigers is, however, a lesson lost on the powers that be in this country, as the Time article so glaringly makes clear.

The Happiness of Slaves

By Chuck · May 16th, 2009 5:13 pm · 18 Comments

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! 

Patrick Henry

An article on MarketWatch, called The Happiest Taxes on Earth, quotes a study which claims people in Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands have the highest “life satisfaction” in the world.  The writer equates “life satisfaction” with happiness, and then notes that these nations have some of the highest taxes in the world.  Finally, he makes the assertion that high taxes are one of the causes of their happiness:

There are myriad reasons, of course, for happiness: health, welfare, prosperity, leisure time, strong family, social connections and so on. But there is another common denominator among this group of happy people: taxes.

Northern Europeans pay some of the highest taxes in the world. Danes pay about two-thirds of their income in taxes. Why be so happy about that? It all comes down to what you get in return.

He proceeds to list many of the welfare programs these nations have.  Then he contrasts this with the situation in America, where we do not have as many, or as comprehensive, welfare programs, and he concludes:

 Healthcare and other such social services aren’t built into our system. That means we have to worry more about paying for things ourselves. Worrying doesn’t equate to happiness.

So happiness, according to this line of reasoning, is a result of being taken care of by the government.  Happiness is not having to worry about being responsible for yourself.  Happiness is about giving two thirds of your income to the government, and letting them worry about taking care of you till the day you die.  If this is true, then of course it means one thing:  

Maybe it’s time that we [in America] looked at taxes differently. We have to pay them anyway. So they might as well make us happy. If Northern Europe is any benchmark, the more we’d pay the happier we just may be.

Now two thirds of a given individual’s income might not be enough to pay for his health care or retirement needs, of course.  No matter.  His wealthier brothers will pay it for him—whether they want to, or not.  And therein lies the flaw in all welfare programs, in all welfare states.  Welfare is theft.

But leaving aside the matter of justice, which already invalidates all welfare programs, what does it say about someone to be “happy” to live in a Nanny State?  What kind of “happiness” is this?  It is the happiness of slaves.  Anyone who is content to have the government take care of them, has the morality of a voluntary slave.  Such people want to be slaves, because they believe it is safer than freedom, and removes all worries from their existence.  Whether it really is safer or not, whether it really removes worries from their lives or not, they at least believe that it does. 

To anyone with a shred of pride, to anyone who actually wants to live a human existence, a life of such slavish contentment is not worth living.  This does not mean a person trapped in such a state would or should commit suicide, of course.  It means they should either escape to a freer country, or fight to establish a system of government in their own country that is worthy of man.   The Nanny State is worthy only of sheep.

LGF: A Brief Analysis

By Chuck · May 7th, 2009 5:23 pm · 8 Comments

Charles Johnson does a lot of good things at Little Green Footballs.  His anti-jihadist stance since 9/11 has been consistently good.  His criticism of creationism/Intelligent Design has been excellent.  And his criticism of making alliances with racist/fascist parties in the war against the jihadists has also been good.

But there are also serious flaws in his philosophy.  Seeing that Republicans have become too dominated by religion, his solution is for Republicans to become  “moderates.”   He uses other anti-concepts like “extremist” with reckless abandon.   And when Republicans begin to show interest in rational economic ideas, such as sound money and abolishing the Fed, Johnson chastises them for their interest in such “weird economic ideas.”   In other words, Johnson is an anti-capitalist.  He described himself as “center/left” before 9/11, so his anti-capitalist views are no surprise. 

I’m not suggesting LGF isn’t worth visiting, because it is.  I go there every day.  Just keep in mind his philosophical views when reading his more political posts.

PJTV Video

By Chuck · May 3rd, 2009 6:25 pm · 7 Comments

This is just a note to direct your attention to PJTV, where Bill Whittle has a really excellent video piece about the use of atomic weapons on Japan during WWII, after comedian Jon Stewart opined that our use of them constituted a war crime.  (Hat Tip, LGF.)