Conservative Political Commentary

[Under the Radar?] Anti-socialist, anti-communist, anti-globalist, pro-Constitution, and usually with an attempt at historical and economic context (This blog was given its name before I decided it was going to be a political blog.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Would You Take “Investment Advice” from This Man? Or, Is This Our “Sputnik Moment?”

How do you make over-the-top, multi-trillion-dollar government spending sound good? Well, you can try calling it “investment.” That’s been President Barack Obama’s strategy for trying to sell what should be unsellable. In his State of the Union speech, he tried to appear more “centrist,” and some media figures said he was “Reaganesque,” and I think he just read a book about Ronald Reagan.

In the election of 1960, anti-Nixon forces came up with a popular slogan. “Would you buy a used car from this man?” My question is, “Would you take ‘investment’ advice from Barack Obama?”

“Investment” Advice
Mr. Obama wasn’t channeling his inner Reagan. He was giving us more of the same spend, spend, spend “investment” advice while still trying sound as though he was prepared to clamp down on spending. I suppose he thinks he can have it both ways. But after two years of record-smashing deficits with no end in sight, is he really the one to tell us we should be spending less, while at the same time urging us to spend more? Something here doesn’t quite compute.

When Mr. Obama starts advising us about the economy, we would do well to consider the obvious, as explained by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). The thing that’s been the worst problem for many people, unemployment, is the very thing that the least has been done about in terms of success. Meanwhile, we are quickly becoming a nation in decline as a result of the spending orgy of the Obama era, which makes G.W. Bush look like Mr. Frugal.

I suppose we received a lesson in how to do things like China, a nation much admired by our president. I know there are many fine people and admirable things in China, but the “successes” of their economy depend largely on the fact that there are no human rights in China, thus leaving open the use of child labor, virtual slave labor, and total ignoring of “environmental impact.” Probably to build a nuclear power plant in the U.S. would take decades by the time the required permits and processes were completed, and by then the technology would likely be obsolete. Not so in China. I’m not saying we should be like them. Not at all. But maybe a little less determined to stop this kind of construction before it starts. Similarly for oil refineries, etc.

As Glenn Beck explained on his Fox News Channel show January 26, 2011, The fuels we are now using are going to be the main ones for years to come. Right now, less than one percent of our energy is provided by either wind or solar power. Wood provides two percent. So these new energy sources aren’t going to be our mainstays any time soon.

What’s wrong with letting private industry develop these things when they can be made profitable, rather than throwing good money after bad with government “investment?” Of course it’s questionable whether we have any “good” money to throw at anything – just money hot off the printing press, created out of thin air.

Did I hear him right? Did he actually have some good things to say about America? After bowing to every despotic dictator he meets and apologizing for the U.S. at every opportunity; after wining and dining Mr. “Human Rights” Hu of China? Well, that’s supposed to convince us of his “new tone” and his turn toward the center. Well, not quite.

Our Sputnik Moment?
Here in our “Sputnik Moment,” the president wants us to “invest” (i.e., spend boatloads of government funds) in the following things, among others:

Biomedical research – for what? Cloning?
Information technology – I thought we had Google and Facebook, etc. Oh, I see – so we can give him an effective Internet kill switch….
Clean energy technology – see discussion above.
High-speed rail -- For whom? They can't get enough passengers to ride Amtrak. (As Glenn Beck mentioned, we'd have to lay a whole new track system. I say, not needed and not cost-effective.)
Infrastructure – ah, good old infrastructure, the area where everyone excels us. He may not have noticed, but infrastructure is being worked on all the time. In front of my house, we are getting new curbs and a resurfaced street, All over our city, you can’t go two miles without some major road or bridge construction going on and new buildings going up. Maybe some stimulus funds? And yet our country has 9.4 percent unemployment with the “real” unemployment rate getting worse because people have given up looking for jobs.
Education – he seems to want every American to get a college degree. He’s going to “invest” in education to help people pay for college, but when is he going to ask colleges and universities to make their tuition costs realistic by dipping into some of their multi-billion-dollar endowments? There really is no excuse for these rates being so high.

As others have pointed out, the government did nothing to help Edison or the Wright Brothers. Probably not much to help Facebook. Google, I don’t know. Since Al Gore is a prominent figure in that, maybe they got government welfare. Lots of companies do. But government is not the engine of innovation or invention, or the economy in general. It is almost always the impediment that keeps the economy from improving, due to high taxes and endless regulation.

I suggest that this is not our “Sputnik moment.” Yes, we need to compete in the global market. This will be not be accomplished by government “investing” in and controlling so many things. It will be accomplished by unfettered free markets in which entrepreneurs and large companies can be free from government intervention and allowed to pursue their self interest. And government could save a lot by cutting off the corporate welfare spending.

Obama still wants our students to spend more hours and longer school years in the classroom, and to focus more on math and science. Or else, saith he, we won’t be able to compete with the smart kids from other countries. Of course, in some of these countries, kids are taken away from their parents and given special training if they excel in some particular area. I say, get the federal government out of education, return it to local control, and see what happens. Probably, more vocational education, less spirit-strangling student debt, and generally a better economy.

G.K. Chesterton said that many people think they are members of the last generation simply because they can’t imagine the world getting on without them. I think that sort of thinking affects our government. It’s so involved in every aspect of life that it thinks life would simply fall apart if it pulled back. It wouldn’t, of course. Someday, we’ll get back to being a society willing to try it. Or so I hope.

Recommended Reading: R.J. Moeller, "State of the Union On My Mind," A Voice in the Wilderness.

Photo: Barack Obama official portrait by Pete Souza. Public domain.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The FCC Wants More Control of Broadcast Media

Source: via WikipediaMichael Copps’ speech (PDF here) was on December 2, 2010, but the issue remains open for discussion. Conservatives should target this for fierce debate.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps says that American journalism is in bad way, and that it’s up to the federal government, specifically the Federal Communications Commission, to fix it. Of course, to the current powers that be in the Executive Branch and Democratic leaders in Congress, it’s the federal government’s duty to define and fix everything they imagine to be wrong, and to assign blame to conservatives.

Copps wants to spruce up traditional media by requiring a “public value test” for licensing, and reducing time between renewals from eight years to four years. How he longs for the days when the FCC could closely control or influence content, based on the fact that spectrum was scarce, and as a public resource, could be controlled to a great extent by government.

If that line of argument ever had merit, it has next to none now. There is no lack of “diversity” (which government claims to want but doesn’t want to allow), as there are innumerable sources of information available to anyone who has cable or satellite TV and the Internet. The only diversity the government wants is ethnic diversity and male-female diversity, and not diversity of ideas that may stray from the liberal-socialist-fascist mold.

Copps’ “enhanced disclosure,” especially in regard to political advertising, serves no real purpose except to place onerous restrictions and red tape on broadcasters.

As reported by CNS, concerning Copps’ speech at Columbia:

Copps said the FCC and Congress in the future will need to examine the rules governing the structure of media ownership. And he advocated increasing support for public broadcasting, which he described as “the jewel of our media landscape.” [1]

Apparently, he’d like all broadcasting to be more like NPR and PBS. Ghastly thought!

The problem with all this is that it seriously would violate the First Amendment. But liberals are a lot less interested in the Constitution and Bill of Rights than they are in silencing their opposition. Where is it written that the federal government shall control public discourse? Not in the Constitution. It is a document which prescribes a government that is strong where it needs to be, but strictly limited in its powers.

As Michael Hurd points out in Capitalism,

Obama undoubtedly realizes that his greatest enemy is dissent. The apparatus is in place for impairing if not crushing dissent, and it’s known as the FCC. It's probably true that no prior President could have gotten away with it. This one might, not because he's widely respected or wildly popular (he's neither). But America, especially in the last few years, has been in a downward spiral of what psychology calls, “learned helplessness.” The more the government takes away our freedoms, the more helpless too many of us feel – leaving the government in a position to take away still more powers. It's a vicious cycle that ends with totalitarianism. [2]

According to,

In a Dec. 6 letter to Copps, [Rep. Joe] Barton [R-TX] asked Copps to explain in more detail what he meant by imposing a public-value test on broadcast news every four years as a contingency of license renewal.

“I hope...that you do not mean to suggest that it is the job of the federal government, through the FCC, to determine the content that is available for Americans to consume,” said Barton.

“Although your concern for providing American citizens information they need to ‘make intelligent decisions about the full direction of their country’ may stem from the very best of intentions, increasing the federal government’s role in the composition of the information Americans have at their disposal—in an information marketplace that is bigger and more easily accessible than ever before—is unwise policy and raises serious questions of constitutionality.” [3]

I would urge the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, as they prepare to defund Obamacare, to also defund NPR, PBS, and the FCC. And while they’re at it, the EPA and a several other government agencies.

When we have officials such as Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) calling for restructuring the boundaries of free speech, and Michael Copps advocating such federal control of broadcasting, along with the FCC’s other initiatives to censor the internet, we are in danger of losing constitutional freedoms. It doesn’t have to happen. Conservatives in government now have enough power to stop it. I hope they have the courage to do so.

[1] Susan Jones, “FCC Commissioner Wants to Test the ‘Public Value’ of Every Broadcast Station,” 12/03/2010, CNS

[2] Michael Hurd, “FCC’s ‘Public Value Test’: An Essential Step to Dictatorship,” 12/10/2010, Capitalism

[3] Katy Bachman, “GOPer Pounds Proposed ‘Public Value Test,’” 12/06/2010,

Photo: Portrait of FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. Public Domain.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

As Expected, but Wrongly: Left Blames Right for Tragic Shooting

Seeking to turn a terrible tragedy into political gain, many voices of the left wing of American politics, including the mainstream media, have put forth the idea that the Arizona shooting which took six lives and critically wounded Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and hurt others, was incited by politicians of the right. Specifically, Sarah Palin is being blamed, since she had an electoral map showing targeted congressional seats with a crosshairs graphic.

But the left’s brush is big enough to smear not only Palin, but the entire Tea Party movement, Glenn Beck, and others.

“Progressive Arizona Rep Gabrielle Giffords is shot. In her ads, Sarah Palin had her targeted in a gun site. Inciting to violence.” – Jane Fonda on Twitter [1]

“In addition to issuing the map with cross-hairs on it, Palin told her supporters on Twitter: ‘Don't Retreat, Instead-RELOAD!’” [2]
Additionally, within minutes of the attack, hard left-winger Paul Krugman of the New York Times asserted that the reason Giffords was shot was because her seat was not turned over to Republicans. Despite that no political motive was at all known, Krugman immediately asserted that it was the fault of the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.

As to Andrew Sullivan, on his DailyDish blog for the Atlantic, Sullivan posted an unconfirmed and anonymous claim from “a reader” who claimed to have heard people in a store callously saying that they were glad that a Republican could be appointed to replace the wounded Giffords. This “reader” also claimed that one of them said, “Well, that’s to be expected when you’re so liberal.” [3]

This horrific incident is being exploited for political advantage in a way that is devious and desperate. The left has a new opportunity to falsely blame their opponents for something for which those being blamed have zero responsibility. The media will repeat the lie often and loudly enough that some will believe it.

Let’s consider a few relevant points:

1. Political partisanship has always been part of our culture. It is the main reason that we are not already enslaved by people like Barack Obama. It has never been wrong to use metaphors involving targets, guns, etc. for political purposes. That is taken by only the mentally unstable as being anything other than a metaphor. It is not anyone’s responsibility to make sure that what they’re saying won’t send some insane or mentally unstable person over the edge. Anything might do that for someone. Our Constitution designed our political structure to be an adversarial system on the belief that this would help prevent anyone from gaining too much power. Otherwise, we would have one-party rule and a communist-type government.

2. Extreme rhetoric is not nearly as much a problem as the extreme political positions and actions of radical fascist-socialists in positions of power in the federal government. Right-wing and Tea Party responses to government have necessarily and rightly been loud and strong. Our freedom is at stake. But none of this is responsible for the violence. The shooter is.

3. The Obama Administration has been steadily working to reduce and eventually virtually eliminate freedom of speech, especially political speech that opposes them. They will seize upon this as an excuse to try to force people to make their speech more friendly to the government, and to crack down on guns.

4. The person charged in these shootings cannot be classified as a right winger or Tea Party type. He appears to be a lunatic with political beliefs that are simply weird. He likes the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf , for example, and does not seem to have made any political statement that makes any sense. His alleged crime is on the order of that of John Hinckley, Jr., who shot President Ronald Reagan, or Joseph Stack, who flew his plane into the IRS.

To try to link this crime to Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, or the Tea Party, etc. is a disgusting display, and those who are doing it will not be successful. The American people (mostly) are able to see through this travesty.

Meanwhile, we express our sincere sympathy and offer prayers for all who have been hurt by this senseless and tragic event.

[1] Quoted by Boyce Watkins, Ph. D., “Critics Blame Sarah Palin, Tea Party for Shooting of Congresswoman,” 01/08/2011, BV Black Spin.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Warner Todd Huston, “As Arizona Shooting Story Unfolds, Media Already Blaming Tea Party/Sarah Palin,” 01/08/2011, Big Journalism. (Good analysis, recommended reading)

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

FCC Should Stay Away from Internet Regulation

Seal of the United States Federal Communicatio...Image via WikipediaOn December 21, 2010, the FCC issued regulations for “Network Neutrality” for the Internet. Despite FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s stated intention to regulate with a “light touch,” the regulations (found here) weigh in at 194 pages.

There are several reasons why FCC regulation of the Internet is a bad idea.

Nick Gillespie of describes three of them in a YouTube video that takes less than three minutes:

The rules were issued on a 3-2 party line vote and represent simply another Obama Administration power grab. Al least one commissioner agrees that the FCC lacks the authority to do this kind of regulating.

Robert McDowell, a Republican, dissented from the vote, saying the FCC did not have the legal authority to enact Internet regulations. The real effect, he predicted, would be: “Less investment. Less innovation. Increased business costs. Increased prices for consumers. Disadvantages to smaller ISPs. Jobs lost.” [1]

As Gillespie pointed out, these rules would inevitably lead to content regulation as well. The FCC claims the power to regulate TV content and to impose substantial fines. In the past week, a judge has ruled against the FCC’s attempt to levy a maximum fine for a NYPD Blue episode that contained a seven-second shot of a woman’s bare behind. And of course we remember Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” and how that offended the government watchdogs.

AT&T and Verizon claim, with good reason, the right to provide “premium services” that result in handling some customers’ messages in a better way than others’. There are enough ISP’s that if a user is dissatisfied, he/she may choose another provider. The Internet lends itself to innovation and competition. No government regulation such as the FCC has issued has been necessary up to now, and if and when abuses occur, there are already adequate means to deal with them.

Must we have government regulating every detail of our lives? The FCC has long been wanting to regulate cable and satellite TV. They should stick to their original mission of supervising use of scarce spectrum and such narrow issues where regulation is actually needed.

As Larry Downes sees it,
Caught between a rock and a hard place, and with a skeptical Republican majority set to take over the House in January, today's decision is a Hail Mary pass. It was the chairman's last hope of passing something and moving on to other important, and languishing, matters, including spectrum reform and the forgotten National Broadband Plan. If carriers decide to challenge the order, the FCC will have to relitigate the Comcast decision without the benefit of any new authority from Congress. [2]

I have not addressed the idea that the FCC is no longer needed. For me, that is an article for another time. For now, I simply say, let’s hope the courts won’t allow these regulations to stand, and that Congress won’t give the FCC any more power.

[1] Declan McCullagh, “FCC Net neutrality rules reach mobile apps,” 12/23/2010, CNet News.

[2] Larry Downes, “FCC’s Net neutrality ruling: Misplaced nostalgia,” 12/21/2010, CNet News.

Photo: FCC seal. Public domain.
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