Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Comparison

'Tis once again the season when we gaze back on the previous annum and ponder the changes for good or ill that have overtaken both the republic and ourselves. Your humble blogster confesses to never having been a huge fan of the previous occupant of the White House but simply considering him to be the less objectionable of both of the likely alternatives offered by the Democratic party. However, a survey of the occurances of 2009 forces me to admit to a degree of nostalgia for the comparatively "not so bad" old days of GWB. The following is a short list of contrasts of a year ago courtesy of Blackiswhite, Imperial Consigliere:
A year ago, the government wasn’t the owner of two previously privately held auto companies, the largest insurer in the nation, or a large mortgage bank.
A year ago, our President wasn’t buddy-buddy with Chavez or Castro.
A year ago, we didn’t have a tax-cheat as Treasury Secretary.
A year ago, we didn’t have an Executive Order authorizing the immigration and placement of thousands of Palestinians in the U.S.
A year ago, U.S. taxpayers weren’t funding and facilitating abortions in other countries.
A year ago, five percent fewer federal employees made over $100,000.00 a year.  It must be nice to get a raise in the worst recession in my memory…especially when you already have the job security of a federal employee.
A year ago, we had a President who wasn’t on record as thinking that the Constitution is “fundamentally flawed”.
A year ago, we had a President who did not bow deeply to the Saudi King and the Japanese Emperor.
A year ago, we had a President who did not avoid the Senate’s advise and consent role by appointing czars in places where they had never been before.
A year ago, we had a President who did not go out of his way to insult average Americans by casting aspersions on their values and the values of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.
A year ago, we did not have a Supreme Court Justice who completely and utterly disqualified themselves before appointment with repeated statements calling their integrity and impartiality into question.
A year ago, we did not have government officials threatening private investors who were trying to protect their legal rights in bankruptcy.
A year ago, we did not have a presidentially appointed self-admitted Communist in government.
A year ago, a government official would not have dreamt of quoting Mao in public as a favorite philosopher.
A year ago, our elected representatives would not have dared to ask constituents for ID before answering their questions, or used union goons and police to silence and remove constituents from public meetings.
A year ago, the conventional wisdom would have laughed at the notion that we need hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus spending that stimulates nothing in order to turn the rising tide of unemployment.
A year ago, the government did not deign to set compensation levels for employees of privately held companies.
A year ago, the idea of government health care for all was the punchline of a Hillary Clinton joke.
A year ago, we didn’t have a President who has informed a whole sector of the energy industry that he wants to put them out of business.
A year ago, the EPA was not threatening to regulate carbon dioxide emissions if Congress doesn’t.
A year ago, INTERPOL could not operate on American soil without regard to the American Constitution and American due process.
A year ago, we didn’t have an attorney general who believed it was appropriate or necessary to try foreign terrorists in Article III courts.
A year ago, we had a President and administration that recognized that we were already in a war on terrorism, because the terrorists had already declared war on us.
A year ago, a statement to the nation about a terrorist act committed against Americans by the President was a duty, and not an annoyance.
A year ago, carbon dioxide was good because it helps plants grow, and not a pollutant requiring taxes by Congress that will be paid by energy consumers.
A year ago, in was understood that the government cannot force me to buy a government-approved health care plan with the threat of exorbitant fines and/or jail time.
A year ago, it wasn’t the priority of one political party to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to a group of community activists that have engaged in voter fraud and other criminal enterprises…time and again.
A year ago, the government didn’t fire watchdogs who caught influential friends of the government with their sticky fingers in the government till.
A year ago, we had a President and Leader of the Free World who didn’t sit on his hands and “bear witness” to the brutal repression and murder of people resisting a totalitarian regime that is determined to destabilize the region it is in.
A year ago, we had a President who did not support a leader attempting a coup by vilifying the people who lawfully prevented it.
A year ago, we did not face a government that grows fat and belligerent on our tax dollar, while constantly threatening to take more of our money and freedom from us.
A year ago, we [did not have] a President that accused our soldiers of perpetrating war crimes for political gain, or declared police guilty of acting stupidly while admitting in the same breath that he didn’t have all the facts.
A year ago, dissent was the highest form of patriotism; now it’s racist!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The End Times for Liberty?

Those readers who have been following the scribblings of this fearless blogster (both of you know who you are) have noted a somewhat tapering off of his screeds recently. He is tempted to attribute the lack of cogent production to "burnout" but that would be less than candid of him. The truth of the matter is more mundane. He is much less "fearless" than heretofore.

Included among the blessings of youth is the assumption that one is invincible, immortal; bulletproof as it were. This and forced conscription I believe, are two of the contributing factors toward the ability of rulers to mobilize cannon fodder in order to achieve this or that political objective.

As youth fades and the sum of worldly experience increases, the reverse of the coin of life begins to manifest itself to wit, the observance of long term trends. The most depressing trend that Leonidas has witnessed over yea these threescore and thirteen years is the inexorable advance of collectivism to the detriment of individual liberty.

Intervening between the current progress toward collectivism and the re emergence of the value of individual liberty appears to be a descent into what many would characterize as a "dark age" similar to the conditions obtaining subsequent to the collapse of the western Roman Empire in the sixth century AD.

Indeed, as western/Roman civilization disintegrated due to corruption of the political/economic system your humble blogster sees similar forces at work today.
This past week yields on [Greece's] 10-year bonds surged in the wake of downgrades by the bond rating agencies, which finally recognized that Greece does not have the financial resources needed to repay its debts, which now stand near junk levels.  Not far behind are Latvia, Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom and almost every other country in Europe, even though they may still flog paper rated as “investment grade.”  The reality is that the rating agencies just have not yet come to grips with the breadth and depth of widespread government insolvency, or have willingly turned a blind-eye to it.  And don’t forget Iceland which of course has already collapsed.
How did we sink to this state of affairs?  Nobel Laureate Friedrich von Hayek provides the answer in his brilliantly insightful and prescient book, The Road to Serfdom, penned during the waning years of the Second World War.
Hayek’s central theme is that wars expand the power of the modern state because the national planning to fight the war continues even during times of peace.  This perennial government planning then expands the social-welfare state over time, with harmful results.  Most importantly, economic activity is impeded by the growing state as people and resources become less productive.  In other words, because the government does not create consumable goods and services, it is an economic burden to the productive sector of the economy.

The insolvency of socialist governments invariably results in rioting and chaos in the streets as the proletariat demands the fulfilling of promises made by collectivist politicians who have assured them that there is in fact a "free lunch".

"More people depend on the state than those who provide it with the money the state needs to meet its promises.  Most of Europe long ago passed the 50% threshold with more people depending on government than the private sector, but even in the United States – long reigning as the bastion of capitalism, free-markets and limited government – 58% of the population derives their income from government at some level. "

The precise details of how the train wreck is to be played out remain to be seen. This old Spartan is not sanguine as to the medium term outcome and is carefully husbanding his last cartridge.


cross posted at: Eternity Road

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's A Religion; Stupid

If there were ever ever any doubts that the AGW movement is a religion, the below video dispels them. Is it only a matter of time before the imams of the religion of "peace™" commission their own "scientific" hacks (as the warmistas have) to create computer models proving that the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the Dome of the Rock aboard a huge white horse?

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Joys of Government "Health" Care

The below video was shot at Havana's Hijas de Galicia maternity hospital in June of 2009. It seems to have escaped the final cut of Michael Moore's production of "Sicko". Guess he just couldn't work it in.

ht: The Real Cuba

Monday, December 07, 2009

Follow the Money

In the words of "Deep Throat" during the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s, in order to determine the depth and breadth of corruption and locate its sources one is well advised to "follow the money". It is not always the case that the ultimate motives of the real corruptors are pecuniary but lucre is the most convenient tool for achieving the true objective which is power.

The revelations of the recent "climategate" scandal teach us that virtually any human endeavor dependent on the species homo sapiens can be directed toward the achievement of power by the prudent application of cash. Evidence of the practice of the government commissioning scientific studies with a pre determined outcome surfaced in the fallout from a 1992 report by Dr. Edward C. Krug.

Krug had been been commissioned as part of the National Acid Rain Precipitation Assessment Project (NAPAP) to determine the causes of acidic lakes and watercourses in the Northeastern US. The findings did not support the assertions of the environmental movement and (redundancy alert) the EPA, assigning the cause of these conditions to pollution by power generation facilities' use of high sulfur fuel. Instead, the real cause of these conditions was found to be runoff from acidic soil in the applicable watersheds.
During the late 1980s, acid rain was a hot topic. Environmentalists said that it was an ecological catastrophe. George Bush made an acid-rain policy an important part of his "kinder, gentler agenda". Together, the president and environmentalists helped push through Congress the Clean Air Act of 1990, the most sweeping regulatory law in history. Some important people had their reputations staked on this legislation, and they didn't need Ed Krug telling taxpayers acid rain is no big deal.
As a result, Dr. Krug ceased to be able to find employment in his field.

The recently published "purloined" emails reveal the continued machinations of scientists corrupted by the application of copious amounts of government directed taxpayer cash toward the end of massive accretions of political power. The long term effects of this massive program by political players assisted by the mass media have resulted in the emergence of what amounts to a religious movement which this writer choses to designate "the warmistas". To summarize the resources directed toward the goal of total political control of the planet's economic engine:
• The US government has provided over $79 billion since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, foreign aid, and tax breaks.
• Despite the billions: “audits” of the science are left to unpaid volunteers. A dedicated but largely uncoordinated grassroots movement of scientists has sprung up around the globe to test the integrity of the theory and compete with a well funded highly organized climate monopoly. They have exposed major errors.
• Carbon trading worldwide reached $126 billion in 2008. Banks are calling for more carbon-trading. And experts are predicting the carbon market will reach $2 – $10 trillion making carbon the largest single commodity traded.
• Meanwhile in a distracting sideshow, Exxon-Mobil Corp is repeatedly attacked for paying a grand total of $23 million to skeptics—less than a thousandth of what the US government has put in, and less than one five-thousandth of the value of carbon trading in just the single year of 2008.
• The large expenditure in search of a connection between carbon and climate creates enormous momentum and a powerful set of vested interests. By pouring so much money into one theory, have we inadvertently created a self-fulfilling prophesy instead of an unbiased investigation?

To ask the question, is to answer it and the above figures of course do not include the funding of other Western governments.

Today the Obama Administration's EPA Director Lisa Jackson announced the administration's final determination that greenhouse gases are a hazard to human health – a widely expected move whose less-than-expected timing came on the first day of climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is an end run around the legislative function of the Congress. The politicos have chosen to direct their warmista jihad against carbon dioxide for strategic reasons of taxing/regulation. What will happen when these tyrants decide to address the real greenhouse gas H2O? Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Not Michael Moore's Cuba!

Hospital Patient at Marina Azcuy, Cuba

Lost in the debate on "Health Care Reform" here in the US is one of the most important reasons to reject government collectivized  delivery of medical care. Yoani Sánchez, the Cuban blogger who lives in Havana eloquently describes the circumstances obtaining in a society where health care is collectivized:
It delights us to cure ourselves of that stage of life we call adolescence and, in particular, to become independent. Finding an answer to that question we have asked ourselves so often: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Able to leave home without explaining ourselves, being responsible for our own destiny, and, above all, not having to listen to any parental admonition: “As long as I am supporting you, you must do what I tell you.”

Nations that develop under the guidance of a paternalistic state run the risk of leaving their people in a kind of stagnated adolescence. The case of Cuba is one of the paradigmatic examples. We live under the national authority of a government characterized by the continuity of the people in power, who have tried to subsidize a portion of our basic necessities. With great pride, the official media touts that medical care and all levels of education are free, as well as the existence of rationing which supposedly guarantees a basic market basket.

It is understood that public funds defray this maintenance, funds generated by workers who produce what they themselves cannot touch and who are not compensated for doing so. Obviously work is not stimulating and what is earned barely stretches to cover what is subsidized. Papa State does not allow the expression of divergent opinions, much less that people organize themselves around these ideas or reach economic independence; what is worse is that he demands infinite gratitude. Fortunately, as the familiar paternalistic model has taught us, everything tends to change with the passage of time. The children grow, turn into adults, and nothing can stop what the youngest will do with the keys to the house.
As Yoani points out so cogently, when the government controls the system by which health care is delivered it can will control every facet of its subject's lives.  We here in the US have already experienced the camel's nose under the edge of the tent. You must wear a seatbelt while traveling in a motor vehicle and wear a helmet while riding on a motorcycle even though the person likely to be harmed by omitting these practices is only yourself. The rationale for these ukases is that the public at large is likely to bear the expense of the treatment for your injuries. In some communities this philosophy has extended to the ingestion of food substances which are believed to place the consumer at risk of obesity or circulatory diseases.

Yoani lives in a society in which every facet of one's life is controlled by the reigning political regime and the lifestyle of members of the ruling class occupy a strata far above ordinary citizens. This control extends to even access to the internet which we take for granted. The government prohibits home internet connections for all except its ruling elite and resident foreigners. In order to post on her blog Generación Y  Yoani must buy computer time at a tourist hotel. The hourly fee for such service is equal to one third of a month's salary for the average Cuban worker. Only in the last two years has the regime even allowed access to tourist hotels by citizens not employed in them.

This humble blogster has heard interviews and reports by visitors to Cuba who have returned to sing the praises of the "worker's paradise" in the Caribbean. For the most part these "visitors", be they celebrities or members of the Congressional "Black Caucus" are known as "useful idiots" by ordinary Cubans as well as those of us blessed by  having viewed the "Real Cuba" as described here , herehere and especially here.

I urge all readers to visit Yoani's blog and especially to click on the tab in the tool bar entitled "how to help".

cross posted at: Eternity Road

Thursday, December 03, 2009

New Green Al Gore Cultivator

Don't Laugh (cry?). These plough pullers have been bred to refrain from farting.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

They Never Sleep!!

Your humble blogster was once upon a time elected to the board of directors of an international association of sailors who live aboard and cruise their own sailing vessels. The gig was a non paying one (not even expenses) and the term was of two years. Understandably, the members of this association were generally a staid, conservative and self sufficient lot with a potential membership worldwide numbering in low 5 digits. There were however literally many more thousands of "wannabes" who fantasized in participating in such a "sailing off into the sunset" lifestyle.

The monthly publication of a newsletter by the organization included valuable information containing "local knowledge" and gradually pressure began building to sell the newsletters in the form of "associate" (non voting) memberships. As you, dear reader can imagine the potential for serious political metamorphosis of such an organization was enormous.

Selling subscriptions/memberships, merchandise in the form of flags, clothing, coffee cups etc resulted in the generation of cash flow sufficient to not only edit and distribute the newsletter but to hire staff, pay rent and generally evolve into another "yacht club".

At about this juncture, along comes "Commodore Charisma" who has marine insurance buddies and gets himself elected to the presidency. With the aid of an ally he embarks on a campaign to "reform" the organization along the lines of a yacht club/insurance agency, a 180 degree departure from the intent of the original founders. Sound familiar?

The ensuing struggle caused your embattled author to remark to his first officer: "These a**holes never sleep!" Although the above described skirmish was won by the "conservators", (a phyrric victory by the way) your humble blogster moved on to other shoreside pursuits leaving the struggle to others.

The moral of the above tale? They never sleep. For example, we have for many (7) years used a Berkey water filter, Originally to remove contaminants (including lead) from the spring water at our ranch, ΣΠΑΡΤΑ in Kalifornia:
California, has adopted AB 1953 / SB 1334 & 1395 / HSC Section 116875. This revised “no lead law” as it’s commonly known, goes into effect January 1, 2010. The law stipulates that any “end-use device intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption through drinking or cooking,” as well as each of their individual components, materials and “pipe, pipe or plumbing fittings, or fixtures,” or flux, must be “lead free” as defined by California law. Under SB 1334, certification MUST be performed by an “independent ANSI-approved third party testing organization.” It appears that even if a product and each component of that product has no metal alloys and if a purification system actually reduces lead, under Section 116875, it must be be certified.

This idiotic regulation effectively bans the sale of Berkey products in the state.We continue to use the Berkey today (it works!) here at ΛΑΚΕΔΑΕΜΟΝ and intend to continue doing so until the enviro nazi driven government forces the company out of business. Additionally, those of you who may have the misfortune to reside in the People's Republic of Kalifornia had better acquire your HD flat screen TV before Jan 1, 2011. The ban on sales of those items becomes effective on that date.
Last week, the California Energy Commission approved a groundbreaking series of efficiency standards for televisions, the first time government at any level in the United States has meddled in the details of how our boob tubes are made. The new rules set maximum power-consumption standards for TVs of up to 58 inches, starting in 2011 and becoming considerably tighter in 2013, and prohibit California retailers from selling sets that break the rules. Only a quarter of all televisions currently on the market would comply with the new regulations.

If your humble blogster were 20 years younger he would upgrade his defensive (Kalifornia illegal?) fire power and apply to the local Constitutional Militia for enlistment.


ht: Ol' Remus

cross posted at: Eternity Road