Conservative Political Commentary

...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Obama Orders Changes in National Security Vocabulary

It may be yesterday’s news, but some items need a certain amount of reflection and consideration of what their consequences might be, or just how developments might fit into overall trends.

As Noam Amdurski at Matzav.com points out, President Barack Obama has ordered a significant change “in the National Security Strategy, a document that previously outlined the Bush Doctrine of preventative war and currently states: ‘The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century.’” [1]

This conflict, previously considered to be so great, now cannot even be described as what it actually is against, “militant Islamic radicalism.”

This change is supposed to reassure Muslims that America doesn’t view them primarily as terrorist threats. But why is it necessary to change national security documents? To achieve a little positive PR that will not in any way change or ameliorate the actual threat? Well, we don’t want Muslims mad at us, but why would they care about such a document that only factually describes a situation, and should not be seen as offensive to anyone, except maybe actual terrorists.

The President has received criticism about this change. Just one example:

Peter Feaver, a Duke University political scientist and former Bush adviser, is skeptical of Obama’s engagement effort. It “doesn’t appear to have created much in the way of strategic benefit” in the Middle East peace process or in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he said.
Obama runs the political risk of seeming to adopt politically correct rhetoric abroad while appearing tone deaf on national security issues at home, Feaver said.

The White House dismisses such criticism. In June, Obama will travel to Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, and is expected to revisit many of the themes of his Cairo speech. [2]

Of course, the White House dismisses such criticism, as they dismiss most criticism. But the professor’s point is valid, and his opinion is probably shared by most Americans familiar with the situation.

But some people live to be offended, and if they speak up (certain politically-favored ones, particularly), then everything must stop and be changed to appease them.

It may seem laudable that the President is taking steps to avoid offense, but, in fact, he is taking steps to prevent effective communication. In George Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother saw to it that the Newspeak Dictionary was revised at intervals, and always by the removal of words the regime didn’t like. He knew that words are the building blocks of thoughts, so making certain words unavailable (soon to be forgotten, it was hoped), would stop people from having thoughts offensive to the regime.

Apparently, it is offensive to Obama to refer to militant Islamic radicals in those terms, although that is the most accurate way to refer to them.

Obama’s revision of official vocabulary put FBI Director Robert Mueller in the awkward position of communicating the Islamist terrorist threat without using the prohibited words:

In Senate testimony, Robert Meuller does everything he can to suggest that he is talking about Islamic extremists. He cites Nidal Hasan’s mass murder of American soldiers at Fort Hood. He cites Mumbai attacks planner David Headley. [3]

How long before the government tries to mandate that everyone follow Obama’s example, such as schools receiving government aid, other agencies, etc.?

Front Page Magazine online had the following comments:
On October 1, 2009, the Obama administration in conjunction with the Egyptian government, introduced an anti-free speech measure to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council (HRC). It was adopted the next day without a vote….

The draft resolution, misleadingly titled “Freedom of Opinion and Expression” includes two troubling components. First, it calls on nation states to take “effective measures” to address and combat “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”. It expresses concern and condemnation of “negative stereotyping of religions and racial groups”. It further attempts to construe this as an international human rights law and obligation…. [4]

The article reports that the French ambassador, while prefacing his remarks with kind words for the resolution, pointed out that “human rights laws protect individuals in free speech and freedom of religion and does not protect belief systems.” [5]

With all due respect Mr. President: the attainment of freedom and human rights is not tantamount to winning a popularity contest. And capitulation is not leadership. It is a sad state of affairs when France refutes major portions of a United States initiative because the initiative undermines fundamental freedoms. [6]

Fortunately, the United States voted against the 2010 UN resolution on “defamation of religion,” promoted by the 57-nation OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference).
The non-binding resolution did pass 20-17 in the UN Human Rights Commission, with eight nations abstaining.

“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that any effort that could lead to the criminalization of the defamation of religion is ‘a false solution, that exchanges one wrong for another….’” [7] An accurate comment.

Atheists were concerned over the resolution, since they want to be free to criticize religion and don’t want government surveillance and control over religious or anti-religious views. [8] Under the resolution, if implemented, any negative comments about a religion could be regarded as offensive.

What seems to be desired by the proponents of this resolution is something like Canada’s ill-named “Human Rights Commission,” which has resulted in taxpayer-funded prosecutions simply on someone’s complaint of being offended. Defendants are given no legal help, and lack the rights of a criminal defendant, yet are subject to heavy fines, lifetime speech bans, etc., and truth is no defense. More information here.


The proponents want to get this resolution added to international law, so that any criticism of Islam can be criminalized. We should not move any further in that direction, but Obama is a little too inclined to follow the lead of Britain and Canada.

The unstated secret is that going to great lengths to avoid associating terrorism with Islam, and further, also making strong efforts to accommodate Muslim demands, is finally based on fear. Some Muslims have shown that they are willing to react violently when they perceive an insult. Everyone is supposed to understand this and agree that it’s justified. But it isn’t. It’s a culture clash of sorts, but freedoms deserves protection and illegal violence deserves punishment.

I certainly advocate respecting, not insulting religions, but that leaves room for criticism, even strong criticism. I advocate protecting the God-given right to free speech, which includes saying or printing things some might find offensive. If ideas have merit, they don’t need the government to protect them from competition, and if not, they don’t need the government to suppress them.

Punish illegal actions, not opinions and words. When words are suppressed, thought is impaired, as Big Brother knew well. The deterioration of language is a significant aspect of the “dumbing down” phenomenon of recent decades. And without free exchange of ideas, we don’t know who thinks what, or how to truly engage in debate or discussion.


[1] Noam Amdurski, “Obama Bans Terms ‘Islam’ and ‘Jihad’ from U.S. Security Document,” 04/07/10, Matzav.com.


[2] Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press, “‘Islamic Radicalism’ Phrase to Be Removed from Obama’s National Security Documents,” 04/07/2010, at CNS News.


[3 ] Alec Rawls, “FBI Director Tries To Warn About Home Grown Islamic Terrorists, Without Mentioning ‘Islam’ [Reader Post],” 04/17/2010, Flopping Aces, republished (found) at InfidelsAreCool.com, which identifies itself as an anti-jihad site.

[4] Deborah Weiss, “Obama’s Resolution to Stifle Free Speech on Islam – by Deborah Weiss,” 10/16/2009, Front Page Magazine, republished (found) at The International Free Press Society.


[5] AND [6] Ibid.

[7] Editorial, reflecting the views of the United States Government, “Defamation of Religion Resolution,” VOANews.com.


[8] American Atheists, “Atheists Concerned over UN Defamation of Religions Resolution,” Opposing Views.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This Leftist Tactic Has Been Used Before: Classifying Opponents as “Seditious”

“I did a little bit of research just before this show - it's on this little napkin here. I looked up the definition of sedition which is conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of the state. And a lot of these statements, especially the ones coming from people like Glenn Beck and to a certain extent Sarah Palin, rub right up close to being seditious.” – Joe Klein of Time [1] See video here.

This theme has been taken up by some liberal websites, such as alternet.org. Sara Robinson writes,

Openly advocating acts of sedition has become the conservatives' main political stock in trade over the past year… You hear it everywhere from Rush to Glenn to Michelle Malkin to Michelle Bachman. Everybody on the right is now roundly convinced that the fairly-elected President of the United States isn't even a citizen. He's a Muslim, and thus in treasonous league with terrorists. The main goal of his administration is to turn the country over to the One World Government. He's a socialist. He's a fascist. All of these are direct attacks on Obama's fundamental legitimacy and authority to lead the country -- and thus a deliberate incitement to revolt against his administration. [2]
Robinson leads her piece with a paragraph about the Hutaree militia group, [3] but this is not really part of the issue at hand, because this group is not right-wing, and certainly not Christian. They are a lunatic-fringe group accused of a truly seditious murder plot.

Accusing President Obama of not being a citizen and being a Muslim? I don’t think we’re hearing that from the most popular conservative commentators. Although the President has refused to produce a birth certificate, the issue is hardly worth pursuing at this point. Yes, he is a socialist, and yes he is a fascist. If you like socialism and fascism, he’s your guy. He daily demonstrates his disdain for and willingness to severely violate the U.S. Constitution. If there’s any problem with his ability to govern, it’s not because of conservative critics, it’s because of his own lack of knowledge and skill, or else a lack of desire to govern by the Constitution.

This new twist is in addition to the Administration’s constant whining and blaming George W. Bush for everything. If they’re going to be such cry-babies, they shouldn’t be too shocked if people criticize them for it.

Robinson goes on to note that some protesters have carried guns with them to protests, in places where that is legal. [4] They are within their legal rights. If the liberals want to read something into that, it’s their problem. It should be noted, that while we hear of a few fringe incidents of threats against liberals, the actual political violence in America comes mainly from the left, such as the attack on the Jindal aide Allee Bautsch and her boyfriend Joseph Brown. Barack knows something of political violence from his close association with his friend Bill Ayers. He knows a good bit about racism and anti-Semitism from his good friend and mentor Pastor Jeremiah Wright, the white-hating, Jew-hating so-called Christian preacher. It is not surprising that he is distancing himself from our traditional strong ally Israel to curry favor with Muslim leaders.

ALIEN AND SEDITION ACTS
As our title suggests, this tactic of using accusations of sedition against opponents by the party in power is nothing new. The Federalist Party did it in the late 1790’s with the Alien and Sedition Acts. The law virtually prohibited any criticism of the government or the President (Federalist John Adams). Thomas Jefferson’s response was, among other things, to write the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, affirming the states’ ability to nullify federal laws considered unconstitutional. Madison’s Virginia Resolutions did much the same thing.



WILSON AND WORLD WAR I ERA
As Woodrow Wilson got America into World War I, there was another crackdown on “sedition,” which, in the government’s view, was saying, or printing, anything the government might not like. In addition to valid laws against espionage and treason, the new laws made it a crime to criticize the government or the war effort. (How well would that have gone over in the Vietnam War era?)

Harvard Law Professor Zechariah Chafee, Jr. published his Freedom of Speech in 1920 and gave accounts of states’ sedition laws, such as :

These statutes and regulations are, for the most part, different from the normal criminal law in three ways: (1) They label opinions as objectionable and punish them for their own sake because of supposedly bad tendencies without any consideration of the probability of criminal acts; (2) they impose severe penalties for the advocacy of small offenses as much as for serious crimes; (3) they establish a practical censorship of the press ex post facto. [5]

Chafee states that such laws are constitutional insofar as they are used to meet a “clear and present danger,” but in general, the cases in which they were used fell short of that standard, such as criminalizing ipso facto a person’s membership in certain organizations. [6]

Chafee, in an appendix, gives the text of the federal law of 1918, and lists cases involving freedom of speech. Numerous cases, with punishments up to 20 years are listed. Through 1919, there had been cases involving “language intended to defame the flag,” “language urging curtailment of production of war materials,” “language intended to defame form of government,” etc. [7]

After noting that the longest term for sedition in England under George III was four years, the severity of punishment under the law is described by Chafee as follows:

Our judges have condemned at least eleven persons to prison for ten years, six for fifteen years, and twenty-four for twenty years. Judge Van Valkenburgh summed up the facts with appalling correctness in view of the virtual life terms imposed under the Espionage Act, when he said that freedom of speech means the protection of “criticism which is made friendly to the government, friendly to the war, friendly to the policies of the government. [8]

Chafee risked losing his job at Harvard, being criticized for his free-speech views. Answers.com recognizes him as “the father of modern free speech law in the United States.” [9]

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who used Chafee’s work in his Supreme Court opinions regarding free speech, said to him “You did a man’s job. The persecution will make it more productive. By such follies is liberty made to grow; for the love of it is re-awakened.” [10]

WHERE WILL THIS LEAD?
Perhaps the Obama Administration will use Mr. Klein’s and similar statements as a trial balloon for possible legislation to limit free speech in opposing government policies. There have been some voices in favor of a return to the “Fairness Doctrine” in some form, which would limit freedom of speech. The laws struck down in the Citizens United Supreme Court case were unconstitutional restrictions on freedom of speech, and Obama wants legislation to counteract that decision. So restricting freedom of speech is not exactly out of the question in recent government thinking. The current Administration has the least respect for the Constitution of any since Wilson. They prove this day in and day out.

The Democrats’ typical response to effective opposition is: rather than engage on the issues, try to silence the opponent, try to destroy him or her in the court of public opinion, and, if possible, criminalize him or her.

Klein, Matthews, and other hypocrites of their ilk probably think no one remembers the G. W. Bush Administration and the abuse that was heaped upon the President, or the often-violent anti-Vietnam War demonstrations of the 1960’s. The Tea Party rallies have been energetic but not violent, unlike many leftist demonstrations.

Mr. Obama said he was “amused” by the tax day Tea Party rallies. What the left doesn’t seem to care about is that the Tea Party speaks for the majority of Americans, and at least 70 percent of Americans don’t trust the government and in fact are angry about government policies. The problem is not critics, the problem is a government that stubbornly governs against the clearly-expressed will of the people, and is bringing about destructive results both as to freedom and the economy. I hope the Republican Party will be the “Party of Hell, No!” and stop Obama’s socialist-fascist agenda to the greatest extent possible under the rules of Congress. I doubt that Obama will be amused by the election results in 2010 and 2012. Perhaps that’s why he has to push his widely and deeply disliked policies so urgently.


[1] Jeff Poor, “Time’s Klein: Beck, Palin Potentially Committing Sedition against U.S. Government; Heilemann Adds Limbaugh,” 04/18/2010, Newsbusters.org, quoting from
NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” of 04/18/2010. (Emphasis his)


[2] Sara Robinson, “Guilty of Sedition? How the Right Is Undermining Our Government's Authority and Capability to Run the Country,” 04/06/10, Alternet.org


[3] and [4] Ibid.

[5] Zechariah Chafee, Jr., Freedom of Speech, New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1920, p.191. Book scanned by Google, found at books.google.com.


[6] Ibid., p.192.     [7] Ibid., p.896.     [8] Ibid., p. 87.

[9] “U.S. Supreme Court: Zechariah Chafee, Jr.,” at Answers.com.


[10] Quoted by John Anderson, “Louis Brandeis: Free Speech Champion: A Supreme Court Justice Committed to Facts and Fairness,” 03/24/2010, at AmericanAffairs.Suite101.com.


Photo: Portrait of Zechariah Chafee, Jr, 1907 (Brown Archives), wikipedia.org, via Answers.com.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Senate Shows Some Sense about VAT; Will Obama?

“It is the sense of the Senate that the Value Added Tax is a massive tax increase that will cripple families on fixed income and only further push back America's economic recovery and the Senate opposes a Value Added Tax.”
– Non-binding Senate Amendment of 04/15/2010 by John McCain, passed 85-13, with 12 Democrats and one Republican voting against it. [1]


The Value-Added Tax (VAT) taxes almost all items at each stage of production or handling (where “value” is added). Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers will each have to pay some of it, but, of course, it all must end up being paid by the consumer or final user.

Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve Board Chairman and current Obama advisor has mentioned the Value-Added Tax as an idea worth considering. President Obama will likely find this additional tax irresistible. As Charles Krauthammer explains, Obama will want this tax to help pay for Obamacare.

For the politician, it has the virtue of expediency: People are used to sales taxes, and this one produces a river of revenue. Every 1 percent of VAT would yield up to $1 trillion a decade (depending on what you exclude -- if you exempt food, for example, the yield would be more like $900 billion).

It's the ultimate cash cow. Obama will need it. By introducing universal health care, he has pulled off the largest expansion of the welfare state in four decades. And the most expensive. Which is why all of the European Union has the VAT. Huge VATs. Germany: 19 percent. France and Italy: 20 percent. Most of Scandinavia: 25 percent. [2]

And of course, Obama will want it all the more since it’s the fashion in Europe, which is Obama’s example for economic policy. Soon, we’ll be more like Greece, which has a substantial VAT and is still facing bankruptcy, except for a proposed Eurozone bailout.

It is encouraging, even admirable, that the Senate voted so overwhelmingly for the anti-VAT resolution, but when Obama and his minions start applying the pressure, one has to wonder if this resolve can hold up.

Liberals see this as the panacea for the endless and, as everyone admits, “unsustainable” spending, which goes right on, unsustainable or not, with no letup in sight. VAT would look like such a tax blessing, liberals (some, hopefully not all) seem to think that adoption of it would somehow lead to reduced spending. Actually, it would reduce consumer spending, but not government spending.

Here is a sample of some of their thinking. From Alain Sherter at a BNET finance blog:

My colleague (and stalwart editor) Cait Murphy says the U.S. urgently needs to reduce the federal deficit, and she argues in favor of a value-added tax as a good way to rein in spending. Exhibit A in that argument is that the national debt is spiraling out of control; Exhibit B is that rich people and corporations can’t afford to share more of the economic burden…

Here’s why I disagree. First, as the N.Y. Times’s David Leonhardt has noted, the nation’s total nonfinancial debt isn’t growing especially fast by historical standards. And that’s counting the recent growth in federal expenditures. Not that rising budget deficits aren’t a concern — they are. Just not immediately.

Besides, during the recession U.S. households and businesses have slashed spending. If Keynes is right (and recent history emphatically suggests he is), then the only way to fill in the resulting hole in the economy is for government to boost outlays in order to stimulate growth. Of course, there’s precedent for doing the opposite — it’s called the Great Depression. [3]

To me, both sides of this argument are wrong. First, the VAT would not slow spending. If more revenue were coming in, there would be even faster growth of spending. As long as liberals are in charge, there will be constant spending growth, no matter what is said.

Second, Keynes is wrong and has always been wrong. Keynesian spending grows government and little else. Has all the current spending brought the economy back to normal? Also, unprecedented government (Keynesian) spending characterized and prolonged the Depression years. But that is a topic that takes good Austrian School economics to really deal with. (See Mises.org.) Whatever recovery we have will be in spite of liberal policies, not because of them.

What could we expect if we got a VAT? What about Europe? As The Wall Street Journal points out,


One trait of European VATs is that while their rates often start low, they rarely stay that way. Of the 10 major OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] nations with VATs or national sales taxes, only Canada has lowered its rate. Denmark has gone to 25% from 9%, Germany to 19% from 10%, and Italy to 20% from 12%. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation recently calculated that to balance the U.S. federal budget with a VAT would require a rate of at least 18%.

Proponents also argue that a VAT would result in less federal government borrowing. But that, too, has rarely been true in Europe. From the 1980s through 2005, deficits were by and large higher in Europe than in the U.S. By 2005, debt averaged 50% of GDP in Europe, according to OECD data, compared to under 40% in the U.S. [4]

Whatever VAT we might get would be in addition to the income tax and state and local sales taxes that we already pay. Those and other taxes drive our average “Tax Freedom Day” to April 9. [5]

Caroline Baum at Business Week quotes Dan Mitchell, of Cato Institute as follows:

“There is no way to finance all this new spending without an additional broad-based tax,” says Dan Mitchell, senior fellow at the Libertarian Cato Institute in Washington.

Which is exactly why a VAT should be avoided, he says. “It’s akin to giving the keys to the liquor store to a bunch of alcoholics.” [6]

She goes on to point out the regressive nature of the VAT, which hits lower-income people substantially harder than others. [7] (Emphasis added)

On top of the economic slowdown we’ve been experiencing for the past two years or so, the economy would take another hit with a VAT. It would definitely slow things down a lot. Since people would have even less disposable income, economic activity would be significantly diminished. Whatever rate the VAT started at would fairly soon be increased. If anyone thinks that a VAT would reduce either spending or the deficit, they would be mistaken. It would push us even closer to the edge of the cliff.

In other words, we would soon be much more like European countries economically: facing ever-increasing deficits, very high taxes, constantly ballooning spending, permanent double-digit unemployment, and no letup in entitlements until we face financial collapse.

The only way to get the economy back on track is to encourage private sector economic growth: Forget VAT, cut spending, phase out entitlement programs, cut taxes (thereby increasing revenue to the government), and pull back on regulation. This, of course, assumes abandonment of any cap and trade program and repeal of Obamacare and perhaps the remainder of the stimulus.

The path we are on, which VAT would accelerate, leads to socialist decline, inflation caused by the Fed monetizing the debt, and widespread poverty with much of the middle class moving down a few notches to join a perpetual government-dependent underclass. This seems to be what the Administration wants: A more-needy populace looking to ever-growing government for more and more help. Not getting much, but supposedly filled with “hope.” Welcome to the “change.”


[1] “US Senate Registers Strong Opposition to Value-Added Tax,” 04/15/2010, Dow Jones, at NASDAQ.com.


[2] Charles Krauthammer, “The VAT Cometh,” 03/26/2010, Real Clear Politics.


[3] Alain Sherter, “Debt and Taxes: This is No Time to Cut Federal Spending,” 04/12/2010, Industry.BNET.com.


[4] Editorial, “Europe’s VAT Lessons,” 04/15/2010, Wall Street Journal online.

[5] Caroline Baum, “U.S. Consumption Tax Is Tempting VAT of Poison: Caaroline Baum,” 04/15/2010, Business Week online.


[6] and [7] Ibid.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Senator Dodd’s Toxic Financial Regulatory Bill

Let’s start with some assumptions most people could agree with, or at least understand:

1. If people (such as creditors or customers) know that the government or the Federal Reserve is going to bail out any failing large bank (especially, politically-favored ones), they will lend to it with less concern about the risk than would otherwise be the case. In 2008, the government forced the nine largest banks to accept TARP money whether they wanted it or not, and also bailed out others.

2. If big bankers know that government will step in and help them if they make bad decisions that result in big losses, they will be less careful than otherwise in operating their banks. Also, their response to competition will be skewed, because they know other big banks enjoy that same assurance. Thus we have essentially a cartel of large banks, protected by the Fed (whose main purpose is to protect large banks) and the government.

3. When the government creates a multi-billion-dollar special fund, the expense ultimately belongs to the taxpayers.

4. A government program to protect any “too big to fail” bank or private business of any kind is a violation of public trust, and an unjust burden on taxpayers.

In Treasury Secretary Timothy “Bailout” Geithner’s Washington Post op-ed, he says,

Crucially, if a major firm does mismanage itself into failure, the Senate bill gives the government the authority to wind down the firm with no exposure to the taxpayer. No more bailouts. Instead, we will have a bankruptcy-like regime where equityholders will be wiped out and the assets will be sold.

These are important steps, but they are not enough. Ending "too big to fail" also requires building stronger shock absorbers throughout the system so it can better withstand the next financial storm. To do that, the Senate bill closes loopholes and opportunities for arbitrage, and it brings key markets, such as those for derivatives, out of the shadows… [1]

No more bailouts? Read on.

Geithner also says,

All of that [new regulation] means major global financial institutions -- whether they look like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup or AIG -- will be required to operate with less leverage and less risk-taking.

No exposure to taxpayers? As Conn Carroll at The Heritage Foundation reports,

But does the Senate bill’s “bankruptcy-like regime” solve the “too big to fail” problem? No. In fact it makes it worse. What the Dodd bill actually does is create a new $50 billion fund to be used in “emergencies” for restructuring firms deemed too close to bankruptcy. And who gets to decide when there is an emergency and which firms are too close to bankruptcy? You guessed it: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The Dodd bill is thus nothing but a permanent extension of Secretary Geithner’s TARP powers. [3] (Emphasis added)

So, put briefly, the government wants to take unto itself micro-management of financial institutions, telling them what kinds of business and risks they can and cannot deal with, and also the government would acquire the ability to take over any financial institution they please, whenever they please, and force it to quit business and be split up.

If the Administration is actually concerned about “too big to fail,” they would simply say OK, no more bailouts, period. If bankers know they will never be bailed out, they will choose to operate with less risk, and will be more careful in their decisions. If you go under, you go under, and normal procedures (bankruptcy, etc., not a “bankruptcy-like regime”) will be followed. If it messes up the system, so be it, the market is self correcting. With the government’s “bankruptcy-like regime,” the Administration, not a bankruptcy court, will rule, and Geithner (read: Obama) gets to pick board members, etc. Also, he will pick winners and losers since he would have complete authority to decide what institutions need to be dealt with under this bill.

The government seeks to impose new regulations, and some regulations are needed. The needed items could be added simply by updating some SEC rules (such as overseeing derivatives). But this is the wrong approach, and, in effect, just makes TARP permanent and arbitrary enforcement inevitable. What this government “regulates,” beyond existing rules, they will seek to take over. When Congress gives them a blank check, they will use it to redistribute wealth and take more control. Geithner also discusses an “international” system of similar controls which the Administration would like to see. Our entanglement in other countries’ financial troubles is already beyond reasonable limits. We don’t need any more.

As usual, in President Obama’s proposed laws, the “Secretary” gets vast power. Thus Obama gets vast power. His already fascist regime is constantly working on new takeovers and ways to remove individual freedom and decimate the private sector. Even if the Supreme Court eventually rules some of his initiatives unconstitutional, it may be too late to stop the destruction they cause. That happened under the New Deal.

An AP article by Jim Kuhnhenn reports,

Aides said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in the meeting urged Obama not to cut off bipartisan talks. Afterward, McConnell still insisted that the Senate bill “will lead to endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street banks.”

That was the message McConnell delivered earlier Wednesday on the Senate floor — the second such attack on the bill in as many days. He said the White House plans the same approach on financial reforms that it took on health care: “Put together a partisan bill, then jam it through on a strictly partisan basis.”

White House economist Austan Goolsbee dismissed the GOP objections as “totally disingenuous.”

“Bailouts are forbidden,” he said in an interview. “There will only be wipeouts. They (the banks) will clean up the messes. If somebody fails, they're done — they're toast. The management is fired. They're broken up or sold off or liquidated.” [4]

But McConnell is correct. One may hope the Republicans can filibuster this.


[1] Timothy Geithner, “How to prevent America’s next financial crisis,” 04/13/2010, Washington Post.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Conn Carroll, “Wall Street Bailouts Forever,” 04/14/2010, The Foundry blog, Morning Bell, The Heritage Foundation.


[4] Jim Kuhnhenn, “Obama, GOP wrangle over Wall Street regulations,” 04/14/2010, Associated Press via Google News.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Americans Are Greatly Blessed To Have First Amendment Freedoms

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” 
  -- First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

Americans generally believe that, as our Declaration of Independence says, our rights come from God. Not government. Governments “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

It’s always surprising to me to read about how some supposedly “free world” countries are so infested with political correctness that they ban or punish expression via speech, the press, or media that in America would hardly do more than raise an eyebrow, or even if it did, there would be no legal attempt to stop or punish it.

I say no legal attempt, but, in a high-profile instance, possibly there would be calls for someone to apologize, resign, be fired or whatever. America has more than its share of concern with “political correctness.” But up to now, it’s unlikely the offender would be in danger of jail time or fines. In fact, some of the most awful, distasteful, and disgusting, not to mention false, stuff publicly said and published and broadcast raises hardly any protest.


My own respect for the First Amendment is only enhanced when I hear of how a genius like the provost of the University of Ottawa threatened Ann Coulter with possible criminal prosecution in connection with her scheduled speech, before she even got near the school. A raucous demonstration (riot?) led police to cancel the speech. The protesters didn’t want Ann to be spreading “hate speech,” but their own demonstrations constituted “hate speech” if anything does. Or maybe these weren’t students at all, but a convention of loudmouths whose meeting just happened to coincide with Ms. Coulter’s scheduled speech. I like her column that appeared just after the incident.

Dear old Canada also gave some grief to Mark Steyn via their so-called “Human Rights Commission,” which seems to be more of an anti-rights commission. A magazine published an excerpt from Steyn’s excellent book America Alone, which unfortunately was not filled with praise toward Muslims, so some people complained. I think he escaped any serious punishment, but just the idea that he would need to answer such a complaint strikes me as ridiculous.

This is all Orwellian “thought-crime” and is the underlying idea for “hate crimes.” “Hate crimes” are based on the theory that if someone committed a crime motivated by “hate” toward some politically favored group, it’s somehow worse than if it was motivated by something else. Just common sense and constitutional principle would require that offenders be punished for what they did, not what they thought. Using motive to demonstrate guilt of a crime is quite different from punishing someone for having a certain motive. Just more liberal nonsense.

An article at American Renaissance, points out Britain’s recent affinity with thought-crime:

Britain appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state. As a sometime teacher of political science and international law, I do not use the term totalitarian loosely….

The Government is pushing ahead with legislation that will criminalise politically incorrect jokes, with a maximum punishment of up to seven years’ prison. The House of Lords tried to insert a free-speech amendment, but Justice Secretary Jack Straw knocked it out. It was Straw who previously called for a redefinition of Englishness and suggested the “global baggage of empire” was linked to soccer violence by “racist and xenophobic white males”. He claimed the English “propensity for violence” was used to subjugate Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and that the English as a race were “potentially very aggressive”…

Countryside Restoration Trust chairman and columnist Robin Page said at a rally against the Government’s anti-hunting laws in Gloucestershire in 2002: “If you are a black vegetarian Muslim asylum-seeking one-legged lesbian lorry driver, I want the same rights as you.” Page was arrested, and after four months he received a letter saying no charges would be pressed, but that: “If further evidence comes to our attention whereby your involvement is implicated, we will seek to initiate proceedings.” It took him five years to clear his name. [1]

Is Ingsoc coming to England?

From Reuters, quoted by Scarlett Crusader: “Prosecutors asked that the Paris court hand the 73-year-old former sex symbol [Brigitte Bardot] a two-month suspended prison sentence and fine her 15,000 euros ($23,760) for saying the Muslim community was “destroying our country and imposing its acts.” (Emphasis apparently added.) [2] Bardot has been prosecuted and fined several times for remarks that would hardly incite anything, although some extremists might use them as an excuse for something.

And at present the blog-publicized, but (U.S.) media-ignored trial of Geert Wilders of the Netherlands represents another thought-crime trial. To have and express a certain opinion is, in America, constitutionally protected. While Mr. Wilders’ opinions that I’ve read don’t seem extreme, though some view them as unfavorable, no American politician would face charges for saying any such thing in the U.S. Our constitution protects freedom of speech even if other people find it demeaning, insulting, erroneous, or whatever, as long as it stops short of defaming an individual or directly inciting violence. For public figures, there is a much looser standard as to what may be said about them than for others.

I am not anti-Muslim, anti-British, anti-Canadian, anti-French, or anti-Dutch, but I am anti-tyranny. I am saddened to see freedom tossed aside to placate any special interest or political group. All should be equally free to peacefully express their opinions.

I have certainly criticized some things people have said (see my previous article as an example), but I have not questioned their right to say it. About the only exception that I can think of today would be the “Westboro Baptist Church” and their vicious demonstrations at military funerals. Their guilt is not in what they said (although it’s evil, it still would be allowed in a different forum), but in the emotional distress they intentionally inflict on families and others burying their loved ones and mourning their deaths. A Supreme Court case is pending. As a Baptist, I can assure you that what they are doing has nothing whatsoever to do with fulfilling the Christian faith, Baptist or otherwise.

The items mentioned above illustrate not only the ease with which free speech (and freedom in general) can be lost, but also the putrid rot of political correctness. I’m about to come to the conclusion that the United States of America is one of the very few truly free countries left. That is one reason, among many, that Americans dread and detest any suggestion of one-worldism or anything like that. But the U.S. is not without problems: There are more efforts than ever to suppress religious expression, for example, despite its First Amendment protection. More on that in another article.

But it seems the U.S. is one of the few countries that still values individual freedom and opportunity and does not always pigeon-hole people into some convenient group.

I say that cautiously, because our present government is moving ominously in the direction of enforced political correctness. They just haven’t yet figured out an easy way around the First Amendment. Too bad it’s unique to America.



[1] Hal G. P. Colebatchm, The Australian (Surry Hills, New South Wales), “Thought Police Muscle Up in Britain,” 04/21/2009, American Renaissance.


[2] “Brigitte Bardot on trial for Muslim slur,” 04/18/2008.


Photo: Image of U.S. Bill of Rights, 1791, found here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

No Global Warming, But Political Climate Heats Up

President Obama, in an interview with Harry Smith of CBS News, complained about the “vitriol” coming from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, but seems to think there is no justification for their comments. [1] Vitriol? Strong criticism, yes, but concerning actions which can most kindly be described as “socialist,” and most accurately as “fascist.” Even “Marxist” is not far off.

A few have called him a “Nazi,” a false charge in that he cannot in any way be associated with the horrors of Nazism (unless you count his strong pro-abortion position). Anyway, neither Beck nor Limbaugh has done that. But they are quite reasonable in interpreting Obama’s actions as a deliberate attempt to weaken Americans economically so they will become more dependent on government, and to weaken America economically so that our country becomes like a European socialist nation. That seems very obvious to me. If that isn’t the plan, then this is the most economically inept administration since FDR. Of course, that’s possible too, but it can’t really explain the attempted transformation of American political and social structure. Perhaps they really believe collectivism is a better way. That’s the “Progressive” view from early in the twentieth century.

When you have the government taking control of most of the auto manufacturing industry, and now the health care, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries, as well as the student loan business, it looks like fascist corporatism. Using the famous test, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, maybe it’s a duck. There are some additional serious takeovers coming (if enacted), with cap and trade and other things.

As is frequently pointed out, these things are not mainly about health care, climate change, education and so on, they are about vast expansion of government power. Government wants the power to regulate everything about our lives, and just about everything touches our health care and energy use.

Mark Steyn, hosting the Rush Limbaugh Show, pointed out that by taking control of student loans, the government will have the full power to decide what kinds of courses and degree programs they are willing to finance, and what the curriculum will be. Thus statist indoctrination can be even more tightly controlled in higher education, and government can pressure people into the jobs they want them to have. [2]

I think what bothers Obama and liberals (socialists) the most is that the conservatives generally talk about the issues, and there are plenty to talk about. Liberals gave G.W. Bush a constant daily barrage of abuse in the media and elsewhere for his entire presidency, and it consisted mainly of name calling, ridicule, and slogans. He rarely, if ever, replied, and his surrogates weren’t forceful in their responses.

Obama doesn’t hesitate to call out his principal private citizen political critics by name. While saying he has a thick skin, he makes us wonder. Obama himself is more vitriolic than Limbaugh and Beck combined. (Examples: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we'll bring a gun.” “Bitter clingers,” etc.) If the differences were over some normal bill or other, whether this or that many billions is appropriate, the debate would be at a lower volume level. What’s being argued now is the very continuation of our Republic.

Obama and his allies daily rip and stomp the Constitution they are supposedly sworn to protect, preserve, and defend. Congressmen claim they don’t know how the health care bill is allowed under the Constitution, but that they think it is. Obama, supposedly a constitutional scholar, appears to know or care even less. I just hope that the judges remember that we have a constitution when these health care lawsuits get into court. [3]

Is anger confined to talk radio hosts and media pundits? In a CNS News story about a Rasmussen poll of likely voters, it is reported, “Perhaps the most startling finding in the survey is that 70 percent of voters say they are angry with the policies of the federal government, with 48 percent saying they are ‘very angry.’” [4]

That many people are not moved to anger simply by conservative media. They are angry because their representatives refuse to represent them and the president ignores their opposition to major government policies.

To Mr. Obama: If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. There is anger, but it isn’t Rush Limbaugh’s or Glenn Beck’s fault. It’s your fault, along with your advisors and congressional allies.

If it weren’t for strong partisanship, past and present, we’d already be enslaved. Mr. Obama knows that the sooner the level of criticism dies down, the sooner he can proceed unimpeded with his fascist, unconstitutional grand plan. And if he is successful, it will take generations to undo the damage, if indeed it can be undone.


[1] Brett Michael Dykes, “Obama says Beck, Limbaugh fuel 'troublesome' political climate,” 04/02/2010, The Newsroom, a Yahoo! News Blog.


[2] Mark Steyn, audio: “Federalization of College Loans,” 03/30/2010, RushLimbaugh.com.
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[3] For a discussion of the unconstitutionality of the personal mandate to buy health insurance, see Randy Barnett, Nathaniel Stewart and Todd Gaziano, “Why the Personal Mandate to Buy Health Insurance Is Unprecedented and Unconstitutional,” 12/09/2009, The Heritage Foundation.


[4] Joe Schoffstall, “More Voters Than Ever View Obama as a ‘Partisan Democrat’; 70 percent of Voters ‘Angry’ with Government Policies,” 04/01/2010, CNSNews.com.

Photo: Dreamstime.com