Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Who Created the Tea Party?

February 28, 2011

Sorry folks! My daytime life has kept me from blogging for a little while. So to quote an infamous Jack Nicholson character, “I’ve been away, but now I’m back!” Now on with the show!  

The liberal news media—CNN in particular—have been talking quite a bit lately about the supposed second anniversary of the Tea Party.  Which I find very amusing.  It’s as if in their minds the Tea Party movement came into being one dark day by some formal pronouncement or decree. 

So who did create the Tea Party?

TO BE CONTINUED …

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Decision Time

November 2, 2010

Today is the day.  Election day.  Finally.  If you have not already voted early, today is the day for you to do so.  To vote.  It is a rare and wonderful right that we possess as citizens of a magnificent and exceptional country.  But in this election it is especially so.  Certainly each individual candidate has his or her own distinctive strengths and weaknesses, his or her own policies they seek to support or oppose.  And while those considerations should be given their due weight, try to put those aside for a moment and think about something much larger.  No matter the personal peculiarities of the contestants, and their specific policy views, the decisions we make about those whom we choose to send to Washington will have far-reaching consequences for the greater future of this country, and for your own future as well.   For this is a time to decide what kind of nation we want America to be. 

The Democrats, and their leader President Obama, have made the choice a very clear one from the start.  They believe that a large and expanding central government offers the best solutions to the problems we face as a nation.  Obama, himself, has repeatedly said that government—and only government—can adequately address the challenges we have before us.  On the other hand most Republicans—at least those who are truly conservative—see things the other way.  That individuals, living and acting for themselves and interacting with one another through free exchange, are best able to make their own decisions about their own lives.  Indeed, government, they argue, has proven itself capable of only getting in the way; and the larger and more intrusive government becomes, the more it gets in the way, or worse.  It is an age-old struggle: the freedom of the individual against the ever-encroaching power of the government. 

The “Progressive” ideology advanced by Obama, and his followers in Congress, maintains that America must always be moving forward—changing, transforming, progressing ever-closer toward becoming something, and that the power and machinery of government are to be fully utilized in that endeavor.   But becoming what?  Becoming what they see as their idea of the ultimate society.  It is a grand vision they have.  One in which the individual, and the choices allowed to the individual about his employment, his compensation, his finances, his health, where he lives, how he moves about, what he eats, what he drinks, the air he breathes, and even the very speech he utters, are all in one way or another, monitored, measured, influenced, controlled or compelled by government.  It is a vision of a nation and society where everyone pulls together in a common purpose and towards a common goal, a goal that is predetermined by government, or specifically by a small elite within government. 

And this goes to the prime difference between the ideology of Liberal-Progressivism, as embraced by the Democrats, and the conservative philosophy of Republicans and the Tea Party groups that are having such an influential role within the Republican Party and in this election.  And that difference is this: Progressives start with a vision—their vision—of what society should be and they seek, through government, to compel individuals to comply with that which is needed to bring about that utopian vision.  Conservatives, on the other hand, start with an understanding of individual human nature—its strengths and its weaknesses, its aspirations and its limitations—and upon that foundational understanding, they craft the rules upon which to build a successful government and society.

The Progressive belief in a common, top-driven, overriding principle of society has been tried before, in many nations and at many times throughout human history.  It has come forward in many guises, under many banners, called many different names, but it is always the same and it has always failed.  Indeed, it has done much worse than fail, it has destroyed; destroyed economies, destroyed societies, destroyed cultures, destroyed families and destroyed lives. 

History has shown us that great civilizations will rise and they will fall.  But to the extent that they have succeeded, it has always been because they have stayed true to their founding principles.  If they have failed, it is because they have strayed from them.  If our founding fathers were alive today, being the men they were, as champions of a limited, judicious and ethical government, knowledgeable as they were about human nature and the tragedies of human history, how do you think they would vote in this election?  How would they decide the question: what kind of nation do we want to be?

Related Posts:

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/10/30/a-republic-if-you-can-keep-it/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/to-be-american/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/coming-undone/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/why-you-don%e2%80%99t-have-a-right-to-healthcare/

 

Riddle: How Many CNN Reporters Does It Take to Write a One-Page Article On Morality? Answer: Two.

September 17, 2010

Yesterday, two children who go by the strange and possibly made up names of Yaron Brook and Onkar Ghate spent their whole summer vacation coming up with a one-page article entitled: “Our Moral Code is Out of Date.”  They submitted it to their fourth grade teacher who immediately emailed it to CNN and it was of course summarily published on the CNN website.  By the way, for any of you public high school teachers who would like to use this CNN primer as a short-cut to actually doing your job, you may find the article here:

 //edition.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/09/16/brook.moral.code.outdated/index.html

(Just do me a favor and don’t tell anyone I sent ya.)

Anyway, I, for one, was very interested and excited to learn just how our morality–being around for two thousand years or so–had suddenly gotten out of date and was in need of an extreme makeover.  I mean, since CNN has been a premier (tee-hee) news agency for about two or three decades, you would have thought they might have jumped on this story earlier.

Anyway, if I understand what these two kids are saying, our morality is out of date because Christianity (there ya go, blame those damn Christians again!) screwed up.  By failing to predict the advent of the industrial revolution and the benevolent greed of the robber barons and their modern-day P.C. equivalent (e.g. Bill Gates), the Bible and other similar undisclosed texts have basically become obsolete, and hence let us down. Until, in the words of the authors, “science, freedom and the pursuit of personal profit” are embraced, our morals cannot truly be caught up with the morality of September, 2010. Now, what the shifting standards of moral relativism will be like in October, 2010 is anyone’s guess, so I suppose we’ll just have to wait for CNN to find two more smart fourth graders to explain it to us.

Oh, by the way, there is just one little thing in the article written by these kids that should be pointed out: They assume that “giving money away to strangers” is not a morally significant act inasmuch as morality is only about pursuing one’s own happiness.  Assuming, for the moment, that their definition of individual morality  is the correct one, since when does the personal decision to give one’s own money away fail to meet the definition of the pursuit of happiness?

CNN’s “New Normal”

August 27, 2010

If ever there was a cliché that I really hate—and I detest all clichés—it is the banal phrase: “new normal.”  Just this past week CNN, which fancies itself as a news organization, came out with its own list of “new normals” on the economy. 1   I won’t bother you with the details of their “analysis” but they are as follows:

New Normal #1: Long-term, high unemployment.

New Normal #2: Renting an apartment instead of owning a home.

New Normal #3: Saving over spending, or in other words, not buying anything.

New Normal #4: Not taking vacations and instead staying at home.

New Normal #5: Higher taxes for the “rich.”

So according to CNN, better get used to never owning your own home, not going on vacations, not buying things, paying higher taxes and being unemployed during long stretches of your life.  Oh, wait you forgot one CNN, “We’re All Socialists Now.”  No wait a minute, Newsweek’s got that new normal covered. 

And because these are now the new normals, we’ll all just have to accept things as they are:  that this is our miserable lot in life.   Yes, we’ll all just have to accept and start getting used to the “new normal” of high taxes, high unemployment, and living in a shitty, second-rate country.   In other words, you will just have to accept that the American dream is dead. 

Of course none of CNN’s analysis has anything to do with how a once free and great nation has been destroyed by liberal policies designed to expand government and burden individuals with the costs of living in a sinking entitlement society.  No, that has nothing to do with it at all so “don’t even go there.”  (Another brilliant cliché.)   You see if someone can get you to accept that this is only just the way things are—the new normal—then you won’t bother to ask the question: why is this the way things are.  And the last thing the liberal media wants you or anyone to do, including themselves (being the investigative “Journos” that they are), is ask the question why.

Well, I’ve got a new normal for you CNN: your ratings will continue to plummet until you vanish from the airwaves.  Now that’s a new normal I can live with.

————————

Notes:

Fn. 1:

http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/20/news/economy/

New_normal_economy.fortune/index.htm

Coming Undone?

June 11, 2010

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.

The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars

Did wander darkling in the eternal space,

Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth

Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;

Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,

And men forgot their passions in the dread

Of this their desolation; and all hearts

Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light:

And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,

The palaces of crowned kings—the huts,

The habitations of all things which dwell,

Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum’d,

And men were gather’d round their blazing homes

To look once more into each other’s face…

                           —Lord Byron, from Darkness

 

I.  Introduction

Thomas Hobbes

Long ago, an English philosopher once characterized the natural state of the human condition as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”1  Perhaps Thomas Hobbes had it right.  But considering the everyday lives of most modern Americans and Europeans, you wouldn’t know it.  Until recently, that is.  Over the course of our daily lives, most of us probably never give a second thought to how fortunate we Westerners — particularly Americans — truly are.  How pampered and privileged we’ve grown accustomed to being treated.  Most of us live and work in relative comfort.  We cruise around in our SUVs, or other similarly extravagant vehicles, while listening to the latest songs on our I-pod playlist.  We go to shopping malls (real or virtual) that cater to our every whim and fetish for things gaudy and gadgety.  We chat (or text) away on our cell phones or clatter away on our laptops while sipping gourmet coffee.  We see luxuries as mere conveniences and conveniences as absolute necessities. And we demand all sorts of expensive “rights” from our government leaders who seem more than happy to dole them out to us provided we keep electing them to office.  We’ve become so used to this coddled — albeit humdrum — way of life that we feel cheated if it is ever somehow denied to us.  We see it as no less than our birthright, our inheritance, our legacy.  We feel we are entitled to it.

And yet, most of us don’t seem to have a very clear understanding as to how we even got here; or have even the vaguest idea how entirely new and fragile all this is.  And for those of us that do, it is a trifling thought that signifies very little as we go about our daily routine.  We don’t stop to think that what we call life today in modern Western civilization, never even existed only four or five generations ago.  And we have nary a thought that one day it might all just go away.  Instead, we go on living in our own world enveloped by a kind of bubble of affluence and entitlement which deludes us into believing that Hobbes’s stark observation of man’s true state of existence is just not so.  Or if it is so, then it has little relation to today.  In our comfortable time and place, the realities of that other, much bleaker human condition are kept neatly at bay, tucked far away in other times, in other places.  In short, we take everything we have for granted.

But only five generations ago, everything was completely different.  At the very beginning of the twentieth century, there were of course no I-pods or I-pads or laptop computers.  There were no cell phones (the telephone itself was still a new invention.)  There was no Internet.  There were no televisions, no radios, no air conditioners, no refrigerators, no microwaves, no coffeemakers, not even a pop-up toaster.  In fact, the widespread use of applied electricity, as made available to consumers, was in its infancy.  The newly invented gas-powered automobile would have been a quirky indulgence.  And even basic needs like central heating and running water would have been considered a comfort that only a relative few could afford.  Indeed, a world with all of these amazing things in it would have seemed, to the seventeenth century mind of Thomas Hobbes, entirely fantastical.  And yet still alive today, there are those few very old folks who can actually recall, from childhood, the harder but much simpler times before any of these incredible advancements in the human condition had come into being.  Before the world was utterly transformed.

II.  A Brief History of American Capitalism

But what was responsible for this astonishing transformation of the world?  What was the overall driving force behind the affluence and technological advancements?  Was it government?  No, absolutely not.  And it definitely was not a large, centralized government.  In fact at that time government programs, to the extent they existed at all, were nothing like the costly entitlements of today.  Indeed, outside of waging war, the government’s role at the beginning of the twentieth century was, by today’s standards, a very limited one. 2

So what was responsible?  In a word, it was capitalism. American capitalism. As the nineteenth century drew to an historic close, the premonitory beginnings of the new twentieth century foretold the advent of an even more momentous age.  The decrepit despots and ruling classes of old Europe were on their last legs.  Soon, the First World War would snuff them out completely.  And in the New World, the age of American liberty and American capitalism — of individual freedoms and free enterprise — was well underway.  America had made it through a bitter civil war and survived.  And a nation, “conceived in liberty,” had in fact not perished from the earth. 3  Indeed, it was flourishing.  America as an idea — an idea of freedom — had taken hold.  Liberty, individual liberty, and self-reliance were at work in all spheres, and had become the fulcrum and foundation of the American economy.  And they became embedded in American culture and society.  The young American nation’s industrial revolution was in full swing.  Virtually over night, America went from an agrarian economy to an industrial powerhouse.  And the nations of old Europe looked our way with envy and a desire to emulate.  And emulate they did, but they only got so far.  Caught up in class struggles and internecine conflicts, and tied down by the vestiges of their own feudal past, capitalism in the American sense never quite took root in Europe.  The façade of capitalism was erected but deference to the central authority of the state remained.  It would take yet another World War and then a Cold War for European nations to finally try to put misguided ideologies behind them.  Yet even today much of Europe still seems poised to slip back into the false calm of despotism.

Nevertheless, as the new American century moved forward, the power of American capitalism, and the wealth it created, was spreading worldwide anyway it could.  And as the reach of America’s brand of capitalism extended elsewhere, it began to utterly and fundamentally alter the lives and living standards of Americans and Europeans.  Indeed many Europeans, not willing to wait for prosperity to come to them were now emigrating to America’s shores in droves.  Capitalism was lifting off the shade of night and raising America and the world into a bright new realm of limitless possibilities.  Unfettered freedom in the markets, freedom in the exchange of thoughts and ideas, created and still today creates the nurturing environment — the incubator — for individual initiative and innovation and invention to take place.  It was the “pursuit of happiness,” that our founders had so eloquently bequeathed to us, made actual and real.  Individuals, not governments, reliant on no one, other than themselves, armed with freedom and a desire to succeed: that was the simple but beautiful idea — a dream almost — upon which the young American nation was founded and that Americans were actually living.

And, at least until recent times, it was an idea that was lived by Americans without undue interference or “assistance” by government.  Quite the contrary, it was a formula that worked precisely because government was removed from it.  As little government as possible; only that government which is absolutely necessary — these were the things our country’s founders warned us about over and over again.  But somewhere during the past one-hundred years or so, between New Deals and Fair Deals, between Progressive Reforms and Great Societies, between Social Justice and the Nanny State, between Hope and Change, we allowed government to gum up the works.  Big time.  We are now a full-fledged entitlement economy, society, and culture which is something the founders of this country never wanted us to be.  Individual self-reliance and initiative have gone by the wayside.  They have been supplanted by a group mentality of entitlement.  We look to government now, rather than ourselves, for “rights” and other “free” stuff, and we are embittered and angry if ever we are denied our due.  Moreover, we are made to feel justified in these feelings.  Indeed, over the years we have been encouraged and conditioned by weak leaders within governments and by a misguided media culture to see these things — this grand benefits package — as our heritage.

But as we choose to remain an entitlement society, we shall go the way of all entitlement societies: sooner or later, the bubble bursts.  And when it does, that other, cruel Hobbesian world comes rushing in. 

III.  Greece: The Collapse of an Entitlement Society

In Greece, that bubble has burst.  The momentous events in Greece over these past several weeks and months have been a rude awakening for the Western world.  Greece, the epitome of a modern entitlement society, has finally come crashing down.  For decades, Greek citizens have relied on government entitlements and subsidies: unaffordable state jobs, excessive state pensions, government healthcare and other high-priced government programs and, consequently, the country has amassed unsustainable debt.  They’ve simply run out of money.  Now, the government’s long overdue attempts to rein in spending through a variety of austerity measures — a requirement of their multi-billion dollar bailout by the European Union and the largely United States funded IMF — have forced the Greeks to give up the entitled way of life that they had grown accustomed to and accept another, harsher reality.  As a consequence, Greece has erupted.  The Greeks have resorted to looting and rioting and lawlessness, resulting in anarchy and death.

At present, the only thing keeping the Greek economy alive today is the massive infusion of loans from the IMF and the European Union.  The Greek economy and society have simply come undone.  And it is dark days indeed for the Greek people: nasty, brutish and short.  They must now try to start over.  To search for the pieces of their past lives through the dark of starless nights and the sulfurous pall of extinguished days.  To rethink the future and to relearn, perhaps, what they had never really taught themselves in the first place.

Now, comparable calamities are foreseen in the other entitlement nations of Europe: particularly Spain, Italy, Portugal, Great Britain and Ireland.  If one or more of these nations experience similar death throes then the dominos will surely begin to fall.  Some experts suggest that any number of obscure triggers may set things off and send fundamentally profound tremors undulating through all of the industrialized world’s economies. 4

Obviously, this all has potentially dire implications for the United States.  But the Greek example illustrates a larger point: the inevitable predicament that all entitlement societies, including the United States, eventually find themselves in.  As the debt grows, it eventually swallows up the nation’s capacity for production.  Like in Greece, ultimately the nation’s economy is devoured entirely by national debt and becomes no more. Essentially, entitlement economies feed upon and finally consume themselves until there is simply no economy left.  So is present day Greece a glimpse into the future of America?  Are we coming undone too?

IV.  Are We Coming Undone?

Well to start with, we are a nation and government that bears little resemblance to the one that existed just four or five generations ago (to say nothing of the one that the founders envisioned).  We were then a land of immigrants — mostly European immigrants— who fled our respective home countries to come live the promised dream of America.  But the sad irony is that now we have more in common with Europe and European systems than ever before.  A recent study by the Heritage Foundation finds that one in five American households now depend on the government for assistance with basic necessities (e.g., food, housing, etc.) And one in eight households now rely on the government for food-stamps.  This is to say nothing of unemployment subsidies, education subsidies and the advent of subsidized healthcare.  All this, the study finds, while the number of Americans who actually pay the taxes to ostensibly support this government largesse is shrinking.  5

And, all the while, the government continues to grow.  Recent federal government stimulus programs, government bailouts of industries, and now government-run healthcare have been heaped onto an already growing mountain of national debt.  The government has become an enormous and myriad conglomeration— a colossus — of bureaucratic programs, agencies, divisions and departments that siphon billions off the nation’s wealth just to pay for the interest on the debt alone.  While Greece’s debt to GDP ratio is at an unsustainable 110% the United States is now not far behind, with a recent CBO report estimating U.S. debt will rise to a staggering 90% or more of GDP by next year!  6   Continuing down this path, “we can expect a default on government promises (Medicare, Social Security, Healthcare), higher interest rates on U.S. government bonds or even a flight by foreign investors like China to alternative investments, and a drop in the value of the dollar, raising energy and consumer costs and spreading inflation throughout the economy.” 7   All of this resulting in a dramatic decline in American living standards for generations to come.  Eventually, the colossus topples and falls.

The Colossus of Rhodes

So these are all very disturbing statistics.  Numbers shocking enough to provoke any reasonable government official to take action and change course.  Or at least one would think that.  And yet today we have leaders in government who seem not the slightest bit concerned by any of this – on the contrary they are willing to go even further in this direction.  Indeed, our President actually comes right out and says, and seems to truly believe, that government and more government is the only solution for America.  And he is aided and abetted in this view by a complicit mainstream news media that borders on a ministry of propaganda. 

But what’s more is that we, as a people, seem perfectly willing to accept this madness; and that is the real tragedy.  Apart from a few vocal dissenters, today we, the people, look to government for solutions rather than ourselves.  With our dependable entitlements and our reassuring affluence, with our mania for creature comforts, and in our sheer arrogance and complacency, we have moved well beyond mere apathy and into the mindset of dependency.  We have lost our way and drifted far, far away from what we were one hundred years ago, and before, into something that we were never meant to be.  We have allowed ourselves to be cajoled, nudged, and deceived by those in government who would have us depend on government rather than ourselves; so much so that we now feel entitled to our dependency.  But dependency and liberty can never go together.  So we’ve traded in one for the other.  Now we’re left with platitudes from politicians, slogans of hope and change, images on the television, and our own vanities.  We are left with the mere trappings of liberty.  But not liberty itself. 

So how long can America remain on this tragic, catastrophic course?  How much longer can the unsustainable be sustained?  How long before we realize that we have become Greece?  Before we realize the inevitable, tragic collapse?

In a way, Greece is lucky that they are the first.  They are lucky that there are still  solvent institutions like the IMF and EU to come and bail them out.  But what happens next?  What happens to Spain, to Italy, to Portugal, to Great Britain, to Ireland?  Who comes to bail them out?  What happens to California? To New York?  To Michigan? To Louisiana? To Florida? To Pennsylvania?  To the whole of the United States?  What happens when the economy completely shuts down?  When currency becomes worthless paper?  When investments, retirement accounts, savings accounts are completely wiped out?  When there is no longer a monthly check from the government?  When there is no food on the shelves?  No electricity?  No heat?  No running water?  When people have nothing left to lose; when we have finally come undone?  Because sooner or later in an entitlement economy, society and culture, it all comes undone.  And, frighteningly, these sorts of things always seem to happen sooner than anyone expects. 

Darkness falls.  And the night comes swiftly.  

V.  Conclusion:   “We Are Americans”

It was a simple formula that the Founding Fathers gave us.  Individual liberty combined with self-reliance in the pursuit of one’s own happiness.  A simple and beautiful and common-sense formula; not some pricey entitlement and benefits package.  We were given an elegant thing by very courageous, brilliant and generous men, and we threw it away; or rather so abused and neglected it that it is as good as thrown away.

However…   However, individual liberty, self-reliance, free-enterprise, the free exchange of ideas and freedom of speech and expression — these essential ingredients that make up the rare alloy of capitalism — come from America and nowhere else.  They come from our shores.  They may have taken root elsewhere in the world, and thank Heaven for that, but they are American “inventions” if you will and they are what make us unique.  America is the birthplace of these things and they are our true legacy, our real inheritance.  Capitalism, the free-market way, is the unique American way.  It is as American as apple pie or a Norman Rockwell painting.  It is in our blood, so to speak. It is our culture.  And for that reason, so long as we remain Americans, we can always naturally return to it.

And we will return to it.  With the passing of this year’s Memorial Day into night and into day again, and with this week’s remembrance of D-Day and the consequential days that followed it, I am reminded that this country has seen dark days and darker nights before.  This nation has faced formidable — seemingly insurmountable challenges — and has overcome them.  And so I am reminded of this nation’s greatness, its uniqueness.  I am reminded of its tenacity and inner strength.  I am reminded of its love of freedom and individualism.  And I am reminded of its people — our people.  Our people are not the Greeks. We are not the Italians.  Nor are we Spaniards or Portuguese.  We are not English, nor Irish nor Scottish. We are not Germans nor are we French.  We are not Russians. We are not Asians, neither are we Arabs.  We are not Africans, we are not Australians, and we are not South Americans. We are neither Mexicans nor are we Canadians. We are, rather, all of these, and something much more.

We are Americans.  E Pluribus Unum, is the Latin phrase.  Out of many, one.  And as Americans, we shall triumph over the undreamt of troubles that for us Fate has set in store.  We shall change our course and right our faithful ship, as we have done so many times before.  We shall come through this dour darkness to look yet once more into each other’s face, in the bright early light of a newly dawning day.  8

————————-

Notes:

1: The full Thomas Hobbes quote: 

“Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  –Leviathan, Ch. 13.

2:  Around the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States national debt as a percentage of GDP was only around 10%.  United States currency was tied to the gold standard.  There was no Federal Reserve Bank.  And there was no Federal income tax — that would have to wait until 1913 with adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution.  For a great website on the history of U.S. Government, taxation, spending and debt, click here:    http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/index.php

3: The full Gettysburg Address:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.  But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate…we can not consecrate…we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” –Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863.

4: Washington Post article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/23/AR2010052304170.html

5: http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=36648

6: Washington Times article:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/mar/26/cbos-2020-vision-debt-will-rise-to-90-of-gdp/

7: Heritage Foundation article:

http://blog.heritage.org/2010/05/10/europe-2010-a-glimpse-of-america%e2%80%99s-economic-future/#more-33298

8: The poem: 

We Are Americans

We are Americans.

E Pluribus Unum,

Is the Latin phrase.

Out of many, one. 

And as Americans,

We shall triumph

Over the undreamt of

Troubles that for us

Fate has set in store.

We shall change our course

And right our faithful ship,

As we have done

So many times before.

We shall come through

This dour darkness

To look yet once more

Into each other’s face,

In the bright early light

Of a newly dawning day.

              – by Elbert Soler

 —————————–

For related posts on this topic, link to:

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/america-r-i-p/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/why-you-don%e2%80%99t-have-a-right-to-healthcare/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/the-arrogance-of-hope-change-%e2%80%a6-or-else/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/glenn-beck%e2%80%99s-cpac-speech-tiger-woods-and-toilet-bowls-a-blackboard-and-brilliance/

Gem of the Week: Woody the Fascist

May 20, 2010

 

“It is a fool’s prerogative to utter truths that no one else will speak.” 1

In a recent interview published by a Spanish language newspaper, film director and comedian Woody Allen had this to say about Barack Obama: “I am pleased with Obama. I think he’s brilliant. The Republican Party should get out of his way and stop trying to hurt him… It would be good…if he could be a dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly.” 2

Dictator? Really?  Sounds ridiculous, right?  And coming from a nutty—albeit highly accomplished and creative—guy like Woody Allen, it’s to be easily dismissed. Or is it?  Perhaps Woody himself is unaware of just how germane his comment really is. 

First, need we remind ourselves that Obama and his party control the White House and both houses of Congress.  As Commander in Chief, he of course has full control over the military.  And in less than two years, the Obama government:

  • controls at least one-sixth of the American economy through the new healthcare law;
  • controls a large part of the automotive industry with the bailout and takeover of General Motors;
  • controls or exercises daunting power over the insurance and financial industries with the bailout of the banks and AIG;
  • controls 96% of the housing market through quasi-government housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
  • will have unprecedented control over a large part of the energy sector with the passage of “Cap and Trade” legislation;
  • will have unprecedented control over news and other media outlets that it doesn’t already have de facto control over (i.e., NBC and MSNBC) with the passage of the “fairness doctrine” or its equivalent.
  • will have unprecedented control over the Internet with the passage of so-called “net neutrality” or its equivalent.
  • is attempting to infiltrate and exercise control over the nation’s churches through a new faith-based initiative program that merges churches with the EPA.
  • is attempting, through the Justice Department, to usurp control over a state’s right to duly enact laws to deal with immigration problems within the state (Arizona);
  • is publicly contemplating, through the Justice Department, a modification to the Miranda laws with respect to certain U.S. citizens.

It would seem all President Obama needs now is some kind of national catastrophe or emergency (real or contrived) as justification for enacting his own form of “enabling” law to sweep away any remaining dissent and fully suspend all freedom of speech and civil rights.  So I’d say Woody is just one Reichstag Fire away from getting his wish. 3  But Woody may want to be careful what he wishes for.  His people don’t have a really good history with dictators, don’t cha know. 

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Footnotes:

Fn. 1: Attributed to Neil Gaiman, in Dream Country

Fn. 2: For Woody Allen quote:

http://entertainment.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/05/17/woody-allen-president-obama-dictator/

Fn. 3: For more information on the German Reichstag fire click here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichstag_fire

Pelosi to Young Americans: Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out; We Got Your Back

May 19, 2010

This week, that great thinker and illustrious leader of ours, Nancy Pelosi, had this to say about one of the many benefits of her new healthcare legislation:

“We see it as an entrepreneurial bill.  A bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care.” 1

So in other words, for all you kids out there (and by that we mean adults in your twenties), no need to be productive, just tune in, turn on, drop out and the government’s got your back.  It’s easy to see how Nancy can relate to this, being an old hippie chick herself.  You know, Haight-Ashbury and all that.  For the hippies of the 1960s, and for those who are still living that dream (most of whom are still in San Francisco), that was the way to go.  It was the cool thing to drop out, smoke weed, get high and take up the bongos or guitar; then go hang out at Woodstock or somewhere and protest the war or whatever was the latest thing going around on campus (besides herpes.)

But of course back then things were a little different.  Back then you had those good old capitalist pigs Mom and Dad to take care of things for you.  You see, in the 1960s your parents still made their money the old fashioned way: they earned it.  But today, the hippies are Mom and Dad.  And with Big Nanny Nancy in charge, they’re also running the country.  And guess what, they make their money the old fashioned way too: by taxing the American citizens (or at least those who still work for a living.)  That’s how the new healthcare law works!  Ain’t socialism just grand!

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Fn. 1: For the Pelosi quote:

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/65950

News Media Reports: Times Square Bomber’s Motive “Shrouded in Mystery”

May 9, 2010

CBS News reports that Faisal Shahzad (you know, he’s that guy who tried to blow up Times Square about a week ago) is somewhat of a mystery man.  An enigma of sorts, one might say.  His motive is “shrouded in mystery,” report those hard-hitting news folks over at CBS. 1

Now I’m thinking, well, if the smart-as-a-whip guys and gals over at CBS News can’t figure him out, then how the heck am I, your typical Joe Six-Pack, going to be able to do it?  Well, I guess I’ll just have to give it the old college try.  So here are some of my theories:

Theory Number One: Shahzad is a Tea Partier.

I think NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg hit the nail right on the head when, before they had even arrested anybody, he speculated to Katie Couric of CBS News (there’s that CBS news again!) that it was probably somebody “home-grown, maybe a mentally deranged person or somebody with a political agenda that doesn’t like the healthcare bill or something.” 2  Katie’s journalism instincts immediately kicked into high gear, and she responded with a knowing look.  So Bloomy nailed it: it’s those damn government-hating Tea Partiers!  I think that makes a lot of sense.  Double-plus good, Mike!  I mean, anyone who’s crazy and racist enough not to want free healthcare must be so mentally deranged they’d want to blow up Times Square and kill innocent people right?  Also, if Shahzad was willing to blow himself up too, then he obviously wouldn’t have had any need for healthcare because he’d be dead!  But he didn’t blow himself up.  Okay, maybe this theory isn’t so great after all.  That’s too bad.  I was really hoping I could blame this on those damn tea baggers! 

Theory Number Two:  Shahzad Suffers From Post-Home-Foreclosure-Derangement-Syndrome.

So some really creative psychologists have come up with this new disease for the new economy we’re in: post-home-foreclosure-derangement-syndrome.  Or at least I think that’s what it’s called.  Anyway, the idea is that people who are about to lose their homes go out and do wacky stuff like blow people up in Times Square.  Well, it just so happens that the mortgage on Shahzad’s Connecticut home was in foreclosure.  Or about to be foreclosed or something like that.  Hey, times are tough!  You know, it’s that lousy Bush economy we’re still mired in.  I know, I know, it’s been almost two years since Bush has been out of office, but according to the media, Bush put us in such a hole that… Oh, wait, that’s right, now we’re supposed to be in a recovery.  Isn’t that what Obama said?  The “jobless recovery.”  So is it Bush’s recovery or Obama’s recovery?  Maybe the jobless part is Bush’s and the recovery part is Obama’s?  I’m so confused!  All right, let’s move on to another theory, shall we?

Theory Number Three:  Shahzad is a Right-wing Republican and Talk-Radio Listener.

Okay, try to stay with me on this one.  There are reports (probably also from CBS News) that the radio in Shahzad’s SUV was tuned to an AM station!  Now, follow this logic.  Who is on AM radio?  Rush Limbaugh!  That right-wing extremist and rabble rouser.  See what I’m sayin here?  Shahzad is a right-wing Republican and AM radio listener.  As for why that would make him want to blow up Times Square, I uh… well I refer you back to Theory Number One.

Theory Number Four: Shahzad is Anti-Disney or Anti-Lion King, or Maybe Just Anti-Lion.

Did you know that Shahzad’s SUV was supposedly parked right near the theater that shows the Broadway musical “The Lion King?”  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.  You know, it is Disney’s The Lion King.  So maybe Shahzad was anti-Disney. Or maybe he just saw a performance of The Lion King and really (I mean really) hated it.  Or maybe he just hates lions!  Hey, we need to cover all the possibilities here.  After all, Big Sis Janet Napolitano—our beloved Homeland Security apparatchik—reassured us all that Shahzad probably acted as just a “one-off.”  So maybe his “one-off” thing is that he’s anti-lion!  It’s possible!  Okay, maybe this one is a little thin.  Next!

Theory Number Five: Shahzad is a Violent Islamic Extremist and Terrorist

Now, I realize I’m going way out on a limb here, but maybe, just maybe, Shahzad is an Islamic terrorist.  I know, it’s that tired old canard again, and I can find hardly anyone in the news media to back it up, but I guess it should kind of be considered, no?  Ok, I’ll back off.  Sorry for sounding so politically incorrect and racist and all that.  I mean I really am so in agreement with MSNBC’s news anchor Contessa Brewer on this one.  Speaking on the liberal Stephanie Miller’s radio show, Contessa offered up this trenchant analysis:

“I get frustrated… There was part of me that was hoping this was not going to be anybody with ties to any kind of Islamic country… There are a lot of people who want to use terrorist intent to justify writing off people who believe in a certain way or come from certain countries or whose skin color is a certain way. I mean they use it as justification for really outdated bigotry.”  (Emphasis added.) 3

Contessa is just so right.  I much prefer her form of trendy, up-to-date bigotry instead.

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 Footnotes:

 Fn. 1: See the full CBS News article on Times Square Bomber’s Motive here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/05/05/national/main6462351.shtml

Fn. 2:  Excerpt of Bloomberg interview with Couric:

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brent-baker/2010/05/03/cbs-features-ny-mayor-bloomberg-speculating-bomber-was-mad-about-obamac

Fn. 3: For the Contessa Brewer quote:

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/scott-whitlock/2010/05/04/msnbcs-contessa-brewer-frustrated-times-square-bomber-muslim-0

Gem of the Week: The Right to Disneyworld!

April 23, 2010

Tourism is now a human right in Europe!  Yep!  Not simply the right to move freely or travel about, but the right, if you are a European, to demand of your government a taxpayer-subsidized vacation to somewhere like, say, Disneyworld!  Euro-Disney, that is.  Wow, Europe must be such a wonderful place!  But where-oh-where do they get all that free money from?  I mean it must grow on trees over there!  Or maybe the Europeans who work at all the amusement parks, hotels, resorts and other vacation spots just work for free.  Not to mention all the folks working on the planes, trains, buses, etc. that are needed to transport everyone who chooses to exercise their new free tourism right.  Oh well, I’m sure they’ve got it all figured out.  Besides, who cares when it’s a free vacation!

With the big debate over here being about whether there is even a right to healthcare, those fancy European Union folks must think we’re just a bunch of heathens.  You can almost hear them in Brussels saying, “Healthcare a right? Oh, mon dieu! Of course that is a right!  We’ve wrapped that one up and given it to our peoples long ago, Messieurs.  Even Hitler and Stalin knew that! What is it with you provincial Americans and your so-called Natural Laws anyway?  No wonder we kicked you out.  Ignorant philistines!”

The Griswolds in Europe

Ah, yes.  It would indeed appear that the wise men and women of Europe have “progressed” to bigger and better things.  The Times Online reports that the European Union has formally declared that tourism is now a human right and that “pensioners, youths and those too poor to afford it should have their travel subsidized by the taxpayer.”  According to EU Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, Antonio Tajani, “Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life.”  According to Tajani’s spokesman: “Why should someone from the Mediterranean not be able to travel to Edinburgh in summer for a breath of cool, fresh air; why should someone from Edinburgh not be able to travel to Greece in winter?”  1

And why not indeed?  Well, I guess they always have been a few steps ahead of us over there.  I for one will not be completely happy (as is my right) until everyone has a right to a mansion and a yacht and a Maserati Quattroporte and, oh yes, a free lap-dance from that Taiwanese stripper I met the other night.  Now that’s what I call exercising a natural right!

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Fn. 1:  To view the full Times Online article, click here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article7100943.ece

For a related post on this topic, link to:

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/why-you-don%e2%80%99t-have-a-right-to-healthcare/

It’s Tax Day! So, We’re All Paying the IRS Double This Year, Right?

April 15, 2010

I mean, that is basically what Joe Biden said isn’t it?  It’s the “patriotic” thing to do, remember?  He said that about paying taxes back in 2008 when he and Mr. Obama were running to fundamentally transform America. 1   So to be good patriots, I’m assuming we’re all not only paying our fair share but we’re all going the extra mile this year and paying double what we owe to the federal government.  Right?

Well, I don’t expect everyone to be patriotic.  I certainly don’t expect those Tea Partiers or Republicans or anybody else who didn’t see the wisdom in voting for the Obama-Biden ticket to pay double, or even to pay just a little bit more.  Besides, those people are all just racists anyway.  I mean, they call Obama bad names like “socialist” so they must be racist, right? 

But I am confident that all patriotic Democrats can stand up and proudly say that this year they will be paying… What?  What’s that you say?  You’re a Democrat and you don’t want to pay double either?  But what about what Joe Biden said?  I mean, you do agree with your own Vice-President, don’t you?  You know, that it’s the patriotic thing to do?  Ok, well, how about just 30% more? No? 25% more? 10% more?  All right, well forget you guys then.

Ok, Liberal Democrats! Here we go!  All right, all you Liberal Democrats out there!  You guys are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.  The party faithful!  Surely, you’d be willing to pony up at least… What?  Not even you guys?  I mean, c’mon, you guys are liberals!  Don’t you practice what you preach?  What about government being able to solve all our problems?  Help the needy and all that good stuff.  C’mon, they’re here to help us and they need your money.  The government needs your money!  I mean c’mon guys, you’re supposed to be liberals!  C’mon!  All right, forget you too! 

"We're from the government and we're here to help."

Ok, ok.   Progressive Democrats!  Surely, I can count on you guys! I mean, it is called the Progressive income tax!  I mean, this is your baby!  Now, I just know that you guys will … What? Not even you?  Obama’s your guy!  He’s a Progressive!  You know, spread the wealth and all that!  I just can’t believe…

Wait a minute…

Wait, a news bulletin: The news is reporting on who pays taxes in America.  What?  Over 50% of all Americans don’t even pay federal income tax! What? That can’t be!  Well, those definitely wouldn’t be Obama supporters, I know that!  Because that would be like saying they don’t support what he’s doing with all his big government programs and such.  That wouldn’t be patriotic!  And that would be hypocrisy.  No, I can’t believe that.  I won’t believe that, even if it’s true.  Ok, but let’s say it is true that over half of all Americans don’t even pay federal income tax.  Let’s think about this for a minute.  So you’re saying we now have a majority of Americans who can vote for policies that they don’t have to pay for, but that a minority of Americans do have to pay for?  Let’s see, is that a good thing for a democracy?  Huh. I’m gonna have to think about that one a little more and get back to you. 

Ok, what about just Democratic members of Congress?  Surely, you guys must pay more than your fair share.  I mean you vote for this stuff, so you definitely…  I mean just to set an example… wait a minute, who am I kidding?  Ok, ok, just Joe Biden then. Joe, you’re the one who said paying taxes makes you a patriot, so you must pay way more than…  What? Not even you, Joe?  But Joe, these were your own words!  Joe! Joe!  Say it ain’t so, Joe! 

Wow!  Oh well.  And here I thought we were a nation of patriots.  I guess not.  I guess we’re all just a bunch of unpatriotic, racist, extremist, tea-bagging traitors.  And if you disagree with me, then you must be one too.

  

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Footnotes:

Fn. 1: For Biden’s statement:

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/09/18/biden-on-tax-increase-for-wealthier-citizens-time-to-be-patriotic/tab/article/