Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Post-Partisan and Post-Racial?

So, Obama's presidency was supposedly going to be post-partisan and post-racial.

Here's the magical Obama post-partisanship in action.

The brand new whitehouse.gov website for the Obama administration had this to say about Bush and Katrina:

President Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur.

President Obama swiftly responded to Hurricane Katrina. Citing the Bush Administration’s “unconscionable ineptitude” in responding to Hurricane Katrina, then-Senator Obama introduced legislation requiring disaster planners to take into account the specific needs of low-income hurricane victims.


Just for fun, below is a flashback of ABC interviewing displaced Katrina victims, who, to ABC's surprise, didn't blame Bush.

They blamed Mayor Ray Nagin.

And go figure, they were actually GRATEFUL for the care shown by the Feds and Texas.

You can just cut the surprise of the ABC Newsman with knife. He doesn't know what to think. Doesn't fit his narrative.

And remind me again, didn't we have another hurricane this past summer, one that (to the joy of Democrats caught on video) shut down the first day of the Republican National Convention?

Notice how people were evacuated in an orderly manner, and there were no repeats of the Superdome debacle?

Amazing how nobody gives credit to the Bush administration, nor, say, Republican governors like Bobby Jindal.

Kinda like how everything that went wrong with Katrina was ALL Bush's fault, not the then Democrat Louisiana Governor, nor "chocolate town" Mayor Ray Nagin.

I'll admit, I'm surprised Obama swiped at Bush. Silly me, I actually expected him to try to make the "post-partisan" thing stick, for at least a week or two.

(Although, as Jim Treacher noted in September, I probably shouldn't be. This kind of side swiping isn't at all out of character for him.)

And with regards to the "post-racial" thing?

I guess what they REALLY meant is that we need to remind the white people to "embrace what is right".....during the inauguration.


Yep. Way to not bring race into it here.

But hey, we know the rules for the Right here.

After eight years of letting Bush have it in every way possible, NOW it's time for us to be united as a country.

So sayeth our moral betters on the Left who couldn't resist jeering at Bush as he left the White House.

As Red Eye's Andy Levy puts it, in his "to don't" list for the Right:

"DON’T say or do everything in your power to drive this country apart and then claim you want unity when it’s your guy in power. This is like the convicted felon who conveniently finds God when he’s up for parole."

Gotta hand it to the Obama legion.

They can make standards that they instantly fail to uphold like nobody's business.

Welcome to the new post-racial and post-partisan age.

Oh, and if you're white, make sure to embrace what is right. (But only if you're white.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Universal healthcare and the waistline police

I'll take my right to be a fat slob over my "right" to health care, thank you very much.


By Paul Hsieh

Sedalia, Colo. - Imagine a country where the government regularly checks the waistlines of citizens over age 40. Anyone deemed too fat would be required to undergo diet counseling. Those who fail to lose sufficient weight could face further "reeducation" and their communities subject to stiff fines.

Is this some nightmarish dystopia?

No, this is contemporary Japan.

The Japanese government argues that it must regulate citizens' lifestyles because it is paying their health costs. This highlights one of the greatly underappreciated dangers of "universal healthcare." Any government that attempts to guarantee healthcare must also control its costs. The inevitable next step will be to seek to control citizens' health and their behavior. Hence, Americans should beware that if we adopt universal healthcare, we also risk creating a "nanny state on steroids" antithetical to core American principles.

Other countries with universal healthcare are already restricting individual freedoms in the name of controlling health costs. For example, the British government has banned some television ads for eggs on the grounds that they were promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. This is a blatant infringement of egg sellers' rights to advertise their products.

In 2007, New Zealand banned Richie Trezise, a Welsh submarine cable specialist, from entering the country on the grounds that his obesity would "impose significant costs ... on New Zealand's health or special education services." Richie later lost weight and was allowed to immigrate, but his wife had trouble slimming and was kept home. Germany has mounted an aggressive anti-obesity campaign in workplaces and schools to promote dieting and exercise. Citizens who fail to cooperate are branded as "antisocial" for costing the government billions of euros in medical expenses.

Of course healthy diet and exercise are good. But these are issues of personal – not government – responsibility. So long as they don't harm others, adults should have the right to eat and drink what they wish – and the corresponding responsibility to enjoy (or suffer) the consequences of their choices. Anyone who makes poor lifestyle choices should pay the price himself or rely on voluntary charity, not demand that the government pay for his choices.

Government attempts to regulate individual lifestyles are based on the claim that they must limit medical costs that would otherwise be a burden on "society." But this issue can arise only in "universal healthcare" systems where taxpayers must pay for everyone's medical expenses.

Although American healthcare is only under partial government control in the form of programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, American nanny state regulations have exploded in recent years.

Many American cities ban restaurants from selling foods with trans fats. Los Angeles has imposed a moratorium on new fast food restaurants in South L.A. Other California cities ban smoking in some private residences. California has outlawed after-school bake sales as part of a "zero tolerance" ban on selling sugar products on campus. New York Gov. David Paterson has proposed an 18 percent tax on sugary sodas and juice drinks, and state officials have not ruled out additional taxes on cheeseburgers and other foods deemed unhealthy.

These ominous trends will only accelerate if the US adopts universal healthcare.

Just as universal healthcare will further fuel the nanny state, the nanny state mind-set helps fuel the drive toward universal healthcare. Individuals aren't regarded as competent to decide how to manage their lives and their health. So the government provides "cradle to grave" coverage of their healthcare.

Nanny state regulations and universal healthcare thus feed a vicious cycle of increasing government control over individuals. Both undermine individual responsibility and habituate citizens to ever-worsening erosions of their individual rights. Both promote dependence on government. Both undermine the virtues of independence and rationality. Both jeopardize the very foundations of a free society.

The American Founding Fathers who fought and died for our freedoms would be appalled to know their descendants were allowing the government to dictate what they could eat and drink. The Founders correctly understood that the proper role of government is to protect individual rights and otherwise leave men free to live – not tell us how many eggs we should eat.

If we still value our freedoms, we must reject both the nanny state and universal healthcare. Otherwise, it won't be long before the "Waistline Police" come knocking on our doors.

• Paul Hsieh practices medicine in the south Denver metro area and is a cofounder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM).

Friday, January 16, 2009

A really, really, really long post about gay marriage....

The following is a brilliant post on this subject (and several others), in my humble opinion.

The "no big deal, just a small change" argument has been used before to enact "progressive" changes in society (changes which were supposed to be minor ones).

This is an excellent summation of the actual results of these "minor" changes.



April 02, 2005

From the desk of Jane Galt:

A really, really, really long post about gay marriage that does not, in the end, support one side or the other

Unlike most libertarians, I don't have an opinion on gay marriage, and I'm not going to have an opinion no matter how much you bait me. However, I had an interesting discussion last night with another libertarian about it, which devolved into an argument about a certain kind of liberal/libertarian argument about gay marriage that I find really unconvincing.

Social conservatives of a more moderate stripe are essentially saying that marriage is an ancient institution, which has been carefully selected for throughout human history. It is a bedrock of our society; if it is destroyed, we will all be much worse off. (See what happened to the inner cities between 1960 and 1990 if you do not believe this.) For some reason, marriage always and everywhere, in every culture we know about, is between a man and a woman; this seems to be an important feature of the institution. We should not go mucking around and changing this extremely important institution, because if we make a bad change, the institution will fall apart.

A very common response to this is essentially to mock this as ridiculous. "Why on earth would it make any difference to me whether gay people are getting married? Why would that change my behavior as a heterosexual"

To which social conservatives reply that institutions have a number of complex ways in which they fulfill their roles, and one of the very important ways in which the institution of marriage perpetuates itself is by creating a romantic vision of oneself in marriage that is intrinsically tied into expressing one's masculinity or femininity in relation to a person of the opposite sex; stepping into an explicitly gendered role. This may not be true of every single marriage, and indeed undoubtedly it is untrue in some cases. But it is true of the culture-wide institution. By changing the explicitly gendered nature of marriage we might be accidentally cutting away something that turns out to be a crucial underpinning.

To which, again, the other side replies "That's ridiculous! I would never change my willingness to get married based on whether or not gay people were getting married!"

Now, economists hear this sort of argument all the time. "That's ridiculous! I would never start working fewer hours because my taxes went up!" This ignores the fact that you may not be the marginal case. The marginal case may be some consultant who just can't justify sacrificing valuable leisure for a new project when he's only making 60 cents on the dollar. The result will nonetheless be the same: less economic activity. Similarly, you--highly educated, firmly socialised, upper middle class you--may not be the marginal marriage candidate; it may be some high school dropout in Tuscaloosa. That doesn't mean that the institution of marriage won't be weakened in America just the same.

This should not be taken as an endorsement of the idea that gay marriage will weaken the current institution. I can tell a plausible story where it does; I can tell a plausible story where it doesn't. I have no idea which one is true. That is why I have no opinion on gay marriage, and am not planning to develop one. Marriage is a big institution; too big for me to feel I have a successful handle on it.

However, I am bothered by this specific argument, which I have heard over and over from the people I know who favor gay marriage laws. I mean, literally over and over; when they get into arguments, they just repeat it, again and again. "I will get married even if marriage is expanded to include gay people; I cannot imagine anyone up and deciding not to get married because gay people are getting married; therefore, the whole idea is ridiculous and bigoted."

They may well be right. Nonetheless, libertarians should know better. The limits of your imagination are not the limits of reality. Every government programme that libertarians have argued against has been defended at its inception with exactly this argument.
Let me take three major legal innovations, one of them general, two specific to marriage.

The first, the general one, is well known to most hard-core libertarians, but let me reprise it anyway. When the income tax was initially being debated, there was a suggestion to put in a mandatory cap; I believe the level was 10 percent.

Don't be ridiculous, the Senator's colleagues told him. Americans would never allow an income tax rate as high as ten percent. They would revolt! It is an outrage to even suggest it!

Many actually fought the cap on the grounds that it would encourage taxes to grow too high, towards the cap. The American people, they asserted, could be well counted on to keep income taxes in the range of a few percentage points.


Now, I'm not a tax-crazy libertarian; I don't expect you to be horrified that we have income taxes higher than ten percent, as I'm not. But the point is that the Senators were completely right--at that time. However, the existance of the income tax allowed for a slow creep that eroded the American resistance to income taxation. External changes--from the Great Depression, to the technical ability to manage withholding rather than lump payments, also facilitated the rise, but they could not have without a cultural sea change in feelings about taxation. That "ridiculous" cap would have done a much, much better job holding down tax rates than the culture these Senators erroneously relied upon. Changing the law can, and does, change the culture of the thing regulated.

Another example is welfare. To sketch a brief history of welfare, it emerged in the nineteenth century as "Widows and orphans pensions", which were paid by the state to destitute families whose breadwinner had passed away. They were often not available to blacks; they were never available to unwed mothers. Though public services expanded in the first half of the twentieth century, that mentality was very much the same: public services were about supporting unfortunate families, not unwed mothers. Unwed mothers could not, in most cases, obtain welfare; they were not allowed in public housing (which was supposed to be--and was--a way station for young, struggling families on the way to homeownership, not a permanent abode); they were otherwise discriminated against by social services. The help you could expect from society was a home for wayward girls, in which you would give birth and then put the baby up for adoption.

The description of public housing in the fifties is shocking to anyone who's spent any time in modern public housing. Big item on the agenda at the tenant's meeting: housewives, don't shake your dustcloths out of the windows--other wives don't want your dirt in their apartment! Men, if you wear heavy work boots, please don't walk on the lawns until you can change into lighter shoes, as it damages the grass! (Descriptions taken from the invaluable book, The Inheritance, about the transition of the white working class from Democrat to Republican.) Needless to say, if those same housing projects could today find a majority of tenants who reliably dusted, or worked, they would be thrilled.

Public housing was, in short, a place full of functioning families.

Now, in the late fifties, a debate began over whether to extend benefits to the unmarried. It was unfair to stigmatise unwed mothers. Why shouldn't they be able to avail themselves of the benefits available to other citizens? The brutal societal prejudice against illegitimacy was old fashioned, bigoted, irrational.

But if you give unmarried mothers money, said the critics, you will get more unmarried mothers.

Ridiculous, said the proponents of the change. Being an unmarried mother is a brutal, thankless task. What kind of idiot would have a baby out of wedlock just because the state was willing to give her paltry welfare benefits?

People do all sorts of idiotic things, said the critics. If you pay for something, you usually get more of it.

C'mon said the activists. That's just silly. I just can't imagine anyone deciding to get pregnant out of wedlock simply because there are welfare benefits available.


Of course, change didn't happen overnight. But the marginal cases did have children out of wedlock, which made it more acceptable for the next marginal case to do so. Meanwhile, women who wanted to get married essentially found themselves in competition for young men with women who were willing to have sex, and bear children, without forcing the men to take any responsibility. This is a pretty attractive proposition for most young men. So despite the fact that the sixties brought us the biggest advance in birth control ever, illegitimacy exploded. In the early 1960s, a black illegitimacy rate of roughly 25 percent caused Daniel Patrick Moynihan to write a tract warning of a crisis in "the negro family" (a tract for which he was eviscerated by many of those selfsame activists.)

By 1990, that rate was over 70 percent. This, despite the fact that the inner city, where the illegitimacy problem was biggest, only accounts for a fraction of the black population.

But in that inner city, marriage had been destroyed. It had literally ceased to exist in any meaningful way. Possibly one of the most moving moments in Jason de Parle's absolutely wonderful book,American Dream, which follows three welfare mothers through welfare reform, is when he reveals that none of these three women, all in their late thirties, had ever been to a wedding.

Marriage Matters. It is better for the kids; it is better for the adults raising those kids; and it is better for the childless people in the communities where those kids and adults live. Marriage reduces poverty, improves kids outcomes in all measurable ways, makes men live longer and both spouses happier. Marriage, it turns out, is an incredibly important institution. It also turns out to be a lot more fragile than we thought back then. It looked, to those extremely smart and well-meaning welfare reformers, practically unshakeable; the idea that it could be undone by something as simple as enabling women to have children without husbands, seemed ludicrous. Its cultural underpinnings were far too firm. Why would a woman choose such a hard road? It seemed self-evident that the only unwed mothers claiming benefits would be the ones pushed there by terrible circumstance.

This argument is compelling and logical. I would never become an unwed welfare mother, even if benefits were a great deal higher than they are now. It seems crazy to even suggest that one would bear a child out of wedlock for $567 a month. Indeed, to this day, I find the reformist side much more persuasive than the conservative side, except for one thing, which is that the conservatives turned out to be right. In fact, they turned out to be even more right than they suspected; they were predicting upticks in illegitimacy that were much more modest than what actually occurred--they expected marriage rates to suffer, not collapse.

How did people go so badly wrong? Well, to start with, they fell into the basic fallacy that economists are so well acquainted with: they thought about themselves instead of the marginal case. For another, they completely failed to realise that each additional illegitimate birth would, in effect, slightly destigmatise the next one. They assigned men very little agency, failing to predict that women willing to forgo marriage would essentially become unwelcome competition for women who weren't, and that as the numbers changed, that competition might push the marriage market towards unwelcome outcomes. They failed to forsee the confounding effect that the birth control pill would have on sexual mores.

But I think the core problems are two. The first is that they looked only at individuals, and took instititutions as a given. That is, they looked at all the cultural pressure to marry, and assumed that that would be a countervailing force powerful enough to overcome the new financial incentives for out-of-wedlock births. They failed to see the institution as dynamic. It wasn't a simple matter of two forces: cultural pressure to marry, financial freedom not to, arrayed against each other; those forces had a complex interplay, and when you changed one, you changed the other.

The second is that they didn't assign any cultural reason for, or value to, the stigma on illegitimacy. They saw it as an outmoded vestige of a repressive Victorial values system, based on an unnatural fear of sexuality. But the stigma attached to unwed motherhood has quite logical, and important, foundations: having a child without a husband is bad for children, and bad for mothers, and thus bad for the rest of us. So our culture made it very costly for the mother to do. Lower the cost, and you raise the incidence. As an economist would say, incentives matter.

(Now, I am not arguing in favor of stigmatising unwed mothers the way the Victorians did. I'm just pointing out that the stigma did not exist merely, as many mid-century reformers seem to have believed, because of some dark Freudian excesses on the part of our ancestors.)

But all the reformers saw was the terrible pain--and it was terrible--inflicted on unwed mothers. They saw the terrible unfairness--and it was terribly unfair--of punishing the mother, and not the father. They saw the inherent injustice--and need I add, it was indeed unjust--of treating American citizens differently because of their marital status.

But as G.K. Chesterton points out, people who don't see the use of a social institution are the last people who should be allowed to reform it:

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.

Now, of course, this can turn into a sort of precautionary principle that prevents reform from ever happening. That would be bad; all sorts of things need changing all the time, because society and our environment change. But as a matter of principle, it is probably a bad idea to let someone go mucking around with social arrangements, such as the way we treat unwed parenthood, if their idea about that institution is that "it just growed". You don't have to be a rock-ribbed conservative to recognise that there is something of an evolutionary process in society: institutional features are not necessarily the best possible arrangement, but they have been selected for a certain amount of fitness.

It might also be, of course, that the feature is what evolutionary biologists call a spandrel. It's a term taken from architecture; spandrels are the pretty little spaces between vaulted arches. They are not designed for; they are a useless, but pretty, side effect of the physical properties of arches. In evolutionary biology, spandrel is some feature which is not selected for, but appears as a byproduct of other traits that are selected for. Belly buttons are a neat place to put piercings, but they're not there because of that; they're a byproduct of mammalian reproduction.

However, and [sic: any] architect will be happy to tell you that if you try to rip out the spandrel, you might easily bring down the building.

The third example I'll give is of changes to the marriage laws, specifically the radical relaxation of divorce statutes during the twentieth century.

Divorce, in the nineteenth century, was unbelievably hard to get. It took years, was expensive, and required proving that your spouse had abandonned you for an extended period with no financial support; was (if male) not merely discreetly dallying but flagrantly carrying on; or was not just belting you one now and again when you got mouthy, but routinely pummeling you within an inch of your life. After you got divorced, you were a pariah in all but the largest cities. If you were a desperately wronged woman you might change your name, taking your maiden name as your first name and continuing to use your husband's last name to indicate that you expected to continue living as if you were married (i.e. chastely) and expect to have some limited intercourse with your neighbours, though of course you would not be invited to events held in a church, or evening affairs. Financially secure women generally (I am not making this up) moved to Europe; Edith Wharton, who moved to Paris when she got divorced, wrote moving stories about the way divorced women were shunned at home. Men, meanwhile (who were usually the respondants) could expect to see more than half their assets and income settled on their spouse and children.

There were, critics observed, a number of unhappy marriages in which people stuck together. Young people, who shouldn't have gotten married; older people, whose spouses were not physically abusive nor absent, nor flagrantly adulterous, but whose spouse was, for reasons of financial irresponsibility, mental viciousness, or some other major flaw, destroying their life. Why not make divorce easier to get? Rather than requiring people to show that there was an unforgiveable, physically visible, cause that the marriage should be dissolved, why not let people who wanted to get divorced agree to do so?

Because if you make divorce easier, said the critics, you will get much more of it, and divorce is bad for society.

That's ridiculous! said the reformers. (Can we sing it all together now?) People stay married because marriage is a bedrock institution of our society, not because of some law! The only people who get divorced will be people who have terrible problems! A few percentage points at most!

Oops. When the law changed, the institution changed. The marginal divorce made the next one easier. Again, the magnitude of the change swamped the dire predictions of the anti-reformist wing; no one could have imagined, in their wildest dreams, a day when half of all marriages ended in divorce.

There were actually two big changes; the first, when divorce laws were amended in most states to make it easier to get a divorce; and the second, when "no fault" divorce allowed one spouse to unilaterally end the marriage. The second change produced another huge surge in the divorce rate, and a nice decline in the incomes of divorced women; it seems advocates had failed to anticipate that removing the leverage of the financially weaker party to hold out for a good settlement would result in men keeping more of their earnings to themselves.

What's more, easy divorce didn't only change the divorce rate; it made drastic changes to the institution of marriage itself. David Brooks makes an argument I find convincing: that the proliferation of the kind of extravagent weddings that used to only be the province of high society (rented venue, extravagent flowers and food, hundreds of guests, a band with dancing, dresses that cost the same as a good used car) is because the event itself doesn't mean nearly as much as it used to, so we have to turn it into a three-ring circus to feel like we're really doing something.

A couple in 1940 (and even more so in 1910) could go to a minister's parlor, or a justice of the peace, and in five minutes totally change their lives. Unless you are a member of certain highly religious subcultures, this is simply no longer true. That is, of course, partly because of the sexual revolution and the emancipation of women; but it is also because you aren't really making a lifetime committment; you're making a lifetime committment unless you find something better to do. There is no way, psychologically, to make the latter as big an event as the former, and when you lost that committment, you lose, on the margin, some willingness to make the marriage work. Again, this doesn't mean I think divorce law should be toughened up; only that changes in law that affect marriage affect the cultural institution, not just the legal practice.

Three laws. Three well-meaning reformers who were genuinely, sincerely incapable of imagining that their changes would wreak such institutional havoc. Three sets of utterly logical and convincing, and wrong arguments about how people would behave after a major change.

So what does this mean? That we shouldn't enact gay marriage because of some sort of social Precautionary Principle[?]

No. I have no such grand advice.

My only request is that people try to be a leeetle more humble about their ability to imagine the subtle results of big policy changes. The argument that gay marriage will not change the institution of marriage because you can't imagine it changing your personal reaction is pretty arrogant. It imagines, first of all, that your behavior is a guide for the behavior of everyone else in society, when in fact, as you may have noticed, all sorts of different people react to all sorts of different things in all sorts of different ways, which is why we have to have elections and stuff. And second, the unwavering belief that the only reason that marriage, always and everywhere, is a male-female institution (I exclude rare ritual behaviors), is just some sort of bizarre historical coincidence, and that you know better, needs examining. If you think you know why marriage is male-female, and why that's either outdated because of all the ways in which reproduction has lately changed, or was a bad reason to start with, then you are in a good place to advocate reform. If you think that marriage is just that way because our ancestors were all a bunch of repressed bastards with dark Freudian complexes that made them homophobic bigots, I'm a little leery of letting you muck around with it.

Is this post going to convince anyone? I doubt it; everyone but me seems to already know all the answers, so why listen to such a hedging, doubting bore? I myself am trying to draw a very fine line between being humble about making big changes to big social institutions, and telling people (which I am not trying to do) that they can't make those changes because other people have been wrong in the past. In the end, our judgement is all we have; everyone will have to rely on their judgement of whether gay marriage is, on net, a good or a bad idea. All I'm asking for is for people to think more deeply than a quick consultation of their imaginations to make that decision. I realise that this probably falls on the side of supporting the anti-gay-marriage forces, and I'm sorry, but I can't help that. This humility is what I want from liberals when approaching market changes; now I'm asking it from my side too, in approaching social ones. I think the approach is consistent, if not exactly popular.

Update A number of libertarians are, as I predicted, making the "Why don't we just privatise marriage?" argument. I don't find that useful in the context of the debate about gay marriage in America, where marriage is simply not going to be privatised in any foreseeable near-term future. I wrote an immediate follow up saying just that, but of course, I got a lot of readers from an Instalanche, which I didn't expect (no one expects an Instalanche!), and they just read the one post. So the second post is here; if you are thinking of making the argument that we should just get the state out of the marriage business, please read it.

Also, a lot of readers are saying that I'm wrong about marriage always being between a man and a woman, citing polygamy. I have been told this is a "basic factual error."

No, it's not. Polygamous societies do not (at least in any society I have ever heard about) have group marriages. Men with more than one wife have multiple marriages with multiple women, not a single marriage with several wives. In fact, they generally take pains to separate the women, preferably in different houses. Whether or not you allow men to contract for more than one marriage (and for all sorts of reasons, this seems to me to be a bad idea unless you're in an era of permanent war), each marriage remains the union of a man and a woman.

Posted by Jane Galt at April 2, 2005 06:24 AM | TrackBack | Technorati inbound links

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Obama's campaign was about me? P.S. Sarah Palin still must be destroyed. And are Obama's pillows fluffed properly?


So, David Frum, while eviscerating Sarah Palin for daring to *gasp* hit back against a media that believes her son Trig isn't really hers (and that she probably caused the Holocaust, global warming, and Hurricane Katrina along with Bush)....

And while joining the rest of the CINOs (Conservatives in Name Only) and libs in reminding Palin that she's still a dumb hick who ought to find a good toilet to shove her head in...

While Frum was at that whole game, he had this to say about Obama's campaign.

"Through the 2008 election, Barack Obama repeatedly said ‘It’s not about me. It’s about you.’ Exactly so."

Really, David?

Obama's campaign was about me?

The man had his own Presidential seal, before he had even won.

The man has his own Presidential seal, before he has even taken office.

The man has his own hand symbol.

The man has two of his own memoirs. At the ripe old age of 47.

The man had his own infomercial, which Major League Baseball graciously agreed to move a World Series game for.

I can’t go to a single solitary store without seeing the man’s face plastered all over memorabilia.

The man has his own “Super Obama” commemorative t-shirt.

The man has his own special edition Spiderman comic.

The man had his own presidential coin, again, before he had won.

The man declared that HIS election would, by itself, cause the ocean levels to recede. (Man can and is destroying the world with global warming, you see. But it'll all magically stop once Obama parts ALL the seas.)

The man encouraged his supporters to be sure to tell their jobs to screw off for an entire day, so that they could bask in his glory.

The man CHARGED REPORTERS for the right to partake in said glory on election night.

And yet, somehow, Obama’s campaign is about me?

And not about him?

To be sure, not all of these items are Obama's direct doing.

Some are those of his cult, who take the "oceans receding" thing literally.

But he's not exactly discouraging them, is he?

I can't even get away from the man on frickin' Facebook.

He's everywhere.

Oh, but it's ok, because it was really all about me.

Not about him.

Oh, and Frummy?

"It's pretty bad when even your supporters call you ignorant."

I'm still waiting to have it explained to me just what the "stupid dumb hick Palin who should go find a toilet to shove her face in" did to deserve said label.

(I mean, aside from being a successful conservative woman who doesn't destroy the parasite growing within her just because it might inconvenience her career. Oh, and to think, the "encumbrance" had the audacity to be born with Down syndrome. Talk to Alan Colmes about preventing that one. He's the expert on pre-natal vitamins, after all.

We all know that liberal women are the only ones who get to have it all, the choice to kill the baby, or have the baby AND the career plus lifetime welfare payments, or even to be considered qualified for the Senate just because your last name is Kennedy.**

Conservative idiots like Palin? Get in the kitchen, you dumb bitch. Oh, and why didn't you murder your babies? You can't be in public office and raise a family too. Only liberal women can do that.)

Is it the "you knows" and the "I'll betchas"?

Cuz, call me crazy, but I hear a lot of pauses, and "uhhs" and crickets and "ohhhs" and "UUMMMMMSSSSS" coming from the Messiah when he isn't on script. (I thought George Bush was the horrendous speaker whose strings were being pulled...)

Is it the "do you agree with the Bush Doctrine" thing?

Because she had the audacity to ask "in what respect", to a concept which was never explicitly defined by George W. himself?

Oh sure, he said "you're either with us or against us."

But HE didn't call ANYTHING "the Bush doctrine." The media came up with that. And by all means, look it up anywhere and find an explicit, four lines or less definition for me. I'll still be here when you get back.

I mean, how DARE Palin ask for clarification. Oh the nerve.


I echo Charles Krauthammer's words.

"The New York Times got it wrong. And Charlie Gibson got it wrong.

There is no single meaning of the Bush doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration — and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today. It is utterly different.")

And hey, how was Obama's answer on that question?

OH WAIT......("Senator Obama, this is the most important question of the day. What's on your Ipod?")

Is it the blanking on the "name two Supreme Court cases you disagree with" question?

A gaffe, to be sure.

How was Obama's answer to that question?

............("Mr. Obama, the American people really really need to know this. Boxers or briefs?")

Is it the "I can see Russia from my house" thing?

Oh, it's not like they edited the airing to take away part of that answer from Palin. OH HEAVENS NO.....

(And as EVERYONE knows, a community organizer, naturally, has foreign policy credentials. Those Chicago neighborhoods really ARE that bad.)

The Obama cultists know a thing or two about blind unreasonable fanatical hero worship, so I suppose I ought to take them seriously when they tell me that I'M the insane one supporting the empty suit.

(Or, in Palin's case, the dumb hick and hey, whaddayaknow, there's a toilet. She's got insults on her from A to Z. "Cunt" t-shirts are just the beginning. Take your pick: From A-Z, the things people say about Sarah Palin. [Kudos to the column's author, Tunku Varadarajan.]

"Airhead", "turncoat bitch", "Caribou Barbie", "disgrace to women", "dangerous", "ditz", "disabled", "dysfunctional", "extremist", "fatal cancer", "[should be] gang-rape[d]", "her greatest hypocrisy is her pretense that she is a woman", "idiot", "ignorant", "Jesus Freak", "kook", "liar", "librarian in a porn film", "man with a vagina", "merciless predator", "McCain's mean girl", "national joke", "opportunist", "pretty little gaffe machine", "[makes one] queasy", "Republican blowup doll", "reactionary", "rube", "sputtering, ramshackle, motorbike repaired in the backyard that is the Sarah Palin candidacy", "scary", "stewardess", "female Sancho Panza", "time bomb", "terrible woman from Alaska", "trailer trash", "Uncle Woman", "VILF", "whore", "xenophobic", "yokel", "zealot."

Truly a remarkable showing from the architects of "compassion" and "tolerance."

We're the "bitter gun clingers."

I've got a catchy phrase for the Left.

"'Compassionate' baby brain scramblers."

P.S. Especially if it's a black baby. We can rationalize ANYTHING. We're the rational ones, you see, not those awful Bible thumpin' righties.

Oh, I know, I know. You're outraged. I'm the outrage.

Murdering babies? Killing black babies at many times the rate of their white counterparts? THAT'S "CHOICE."

The decision to eat trans fats, or what school your kids get to attend.


But "encumbrance" removal is.)

No, I don't think Palin is perfect, and should she try for national office again, I hope to see her learn from the missteps on this campaign. (She's already money ahead by shedding the biggest misstep of them all, John McCain. How nice of his guys to give her the finger on their way out. Yeah, it's her fault you lost. You ran a BRILLIANT campaign, after all. And those excited crowds TOTALLY would have showed up for Romney, Huckabee, Cantor, Guiliani, Thompson, or, WHAT THE HELL, Lieberman.

Since the way to win is apparently to be exactly like Democrats, Liebs would have lead to a landslide for sure.)

I don't think Palin is God, the Messiah, or The One. (That's Barack Obama. DUH.)

But it sure would be nice if we held Barack Obama, the Most Merciful Lord Messiah, to any semblance of the same standard we hold Sarah Palin.

Because, you know, I'm still waiting to know the names of the eight states that recently joined the Union.

Barack visited all 58 states after all, so he outta know.

I'm still waiting for someone to ask Barack why deficit spending to stimulate the economy is now magically a good thing, when Hitler, er, Bush was chastised by the same Democrats for "the highest spending since Gerald Ford."

(Thank you, Madam Speaker.***

Oh, and way to show true class during Dick Cheney's certification of the election results. I'll be sure to tell my kids when they're two years old to bolt out of their chairs to give themselves a hand. It'll be the perfectly mature thing for them to do at that age.)

I'm still waiting for someone to ask Barack Obama why his incoming administration now plans on meeting with Hamas, when he said this in April:

" We must not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel’s destruction. We should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by past agreements.”

“Hamas is not a state. Hamas is a terrorist organization."


Your friendly neighborhood Jihadis who use women and children as human shields and dead propaganda pieces will get RIGHT ON that whole "recognizing Israel's right to exist" thing.

I'm still waiting for someone to ask Obama what he knew, and when did he know it ,about Governor Blagojevich and the Senate seat.

Because, I'm SURE, if Bush, McCain, or Palin's own report cleared THEM, that would TOTALLY BE ENOUGH. (For the record, I doubt Obama had anything to do with it. It'd be pretty damned sloppy if he did. But hey, why bother grilling him about it at all? He didn't know anything about it, OK??? Ask him if his pillows are fluffed properly.)

I'm still waiting for someone to explain to Biden that J-O-B-S has four letters, not three.

Because, you know, Keith Olbermann would NEVER have bothered Palin about that little detail.

I'm still waiting for someone to ask Biden to retell the story of how FDR went on television after the stock market crash in 1929 to reassure the American people. Honestly, Hoover must have been pretty damned annoyed with him. (But OH SO impressed at that magic "not yet invented" gizmo FDR was broadcasting with.)

I'm sure SNL would have let that one slide if the dumb hick from Alaska had showed, (what's that phrase Frummy?) such a lack of a "well-informed worldview."

I'm still waiting for someone to ask Biden to regale the nation with the tale of how we "kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon", as the Vice President Elect intoned during the debate.

I'll defer to the incomparable Jonah Goldberg on this one.

Biden, the Master Gasbag

According to the master senator, the U.S. and France “kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon.” Afterward, according to Biden, “I said and Barack said, ‘Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t ... Hezbollah will control it.’” Perhaps Biden meant to say the U.S. and France kicked Syria out of Lebanon. But even this is woefully glib. Syria never fully abandoned Lebanon. And there was no “vacuum” for Hezbollah to fill. The terrorist group was already firmly in control of southern Lebanon and part of the government. No one remembers Biden and Obama fighting for the stupidly impossible NATO move either.

And hey, while I'm at it, it'd be right "doing their job" for any reporter to have followed up with Biden on these.

Biden insisted it’s “just simply not true” that Obama has said he’d “sit down with (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad,” even though in the primaries Biden criticized Obama for exactly that.

Biden bragged about how he and Obama have focused on Pakistan, insisting that “Pakistan’s weapons can already hit Israel and the Mediterranean.” Um, no. Their missiles couldn’t get halfway there.

Biden suggested he spearheaded the effort to save “tens of thousands of lives in Bosnia.” He was actually more of a bit player.

The constitutional law professor mocked Dick Cheney because the vice president “doesn’t realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president. That’s the executive branch.” Wrong. Article I defines the Legislature, Article II the executive branch. Both define the role of the VP.

He flatly said that McCain voted with Obama on a tax hike. He didn’t. He said McCain’s health-care plan amounted to a tax hike. It doesn’t. Biden said we “must” drill for oil, but that ain’t how he’s voted. He said he’s for clean coal, but just this month he passionately told a voter, “We’re not supporting clean coal,” and vowed “no coal plants here in America.” The scrapper from Scranton boasted about bonding with the common folks at a restaurant that’s been closed for two decades.

But hey, only dumb conservative women from Alaska who need to find a toilet to stick their heads into need receive any tough questions.

Members of Michelle Obama's "smart people" club, like Joe Biden?

Such "master senators" (thank you Associated Press) will be happy to tell you what brand of dog food they prefer.

(By the way AP, do I owe you for those two words?)

Two months after the election, this much is clear to me.

Palin still is a threat to the Left, and like Clarence Thomas, they will stop at nothing to destroy her. (And, apparently, those who think they're on the Right, who believe the Democrat way is the way for Republicans to win. We reach out to the Center by co-opting Democrat ideas and talking points.

Hey, it worked SO WELL for Reagan, right?* GO FOR IT, guys.)

And journalism, which has been on its last legs for some time now, has now slipped into a terminal coma.

And it will die on January 20th, 2009.


Happy Friggin' New Year.

*Yes, for God's sake, that was sarcasm.

**Oh, and before anyone starts the "HOW ABOUT THIS??!!!!!"

I know all about Palin herself saying that Caroline Kennedy is "qualified" for the Senate seat.

See, lefties? While you gleefully celebrate an attempted physical assault on George W. Bush, Palin knows how to practice a little thing called "class." This is, after all, the woman who reached out to Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro in her VP nomination acceptance.

I'd encourage you childish sycophants to learn a thing or two about it, but that would be pointless.

Study Sarah Palin, your stupid hick from Alaska, while you're doing everything in your power to tear her down.

Little tip from me to you?

She's a far better human being than you'll ever be.

*** Oh, and if you're wondering where I heard this, I heard Nancy Pelosi say this herself on the radio. One of the hourly news updates.

It's up to you whether or not to believe me.

But my name's not Joe Biden, so I try to avoid making everything up as I go along.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

One Pissed-Off Dude

Well, with this one, I've got my red meat quota covered for the foreseeable future. :-)

a href="http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/ggraham/2009/01/06/one-pissed-off-dude-5/#more-7417

One Pissed-Off Dude

by Gary Graham

I’m an American. This has always been my favorite label, but of late even that has seemed to mean less and less. Being called an American used to carry with it a certain pride and esprit de corps that now apparently is dated and passe. How else can one explain the rash of America-haters in our midst who only claim pride in America if a Leftist resides in the White House, and can only back a war effort if the decision to go to war was that of a Democrat.

I’m a Conservative. And I am also an actor who lives and works in Hollywood. Many of my friends advise me to keep that on the down-low, advise me to not speak up lest I scuttle any future employment prospects, so predominantly liberal is the entertainment biz. And yet I persist.

You see, I’m one pissed-off dude.

I’m told I’ll hurt my career if I continually spout off about Liberalism — which I see as a growing cancer in our society. Worldwide, I’ve seen Liberalism metastasize into virulent incarnations of Socialism, and, left unchecked, even into its malignant cousin, Communism. Only the arrogant or the somnambulist would think such a thing could never happen here. It’s a matter of increment. Once a group organizes into a coalition, it’s a short step to claiming the right to the property of another group. All that is necessary is for an individual’s right to personal property to become a secondary concern. The ‘needs’ of the group must supercede, dontcha know. It’s a vicious cycle – wants become needs become rights. The fact that the thievery is done at the behest of a ‘civilized’ government does not sanitize the crime.

“At least the highwayman has the decency to wear a mask.” – Author unknown.

So I’m told I should shut up. I make my living in the Hollywood community, and Hollywood is by and large run by Liberals. I’m told I need to stay quiet when the Left has their way over issues that affect my daily life. I’m told I need to learn how to get along with the Left, learn how to compromise. I need to be more open-minded. I need to be more tolerant.

I say F T S. Ask your 9-yr-old if you have trouble deciphering that. (No, wait, don’t.)

I don’t want to get along with the Left. I want to take them down. I want to expose their idiocy for what it is and reveal it as a harmful, dangerous succession of lies and deceptions. My friends say that that effort, aside from being fruitless, will cost me work. It will cost me my career. And I say Wait-a-minute, Bucko. Those folks who founded this country were willing to risk not only their careers, but their property, their families, their very lives…the least I can do in standing up for our precious freedoms is risk a silly television career. Not to compare myself with the brilliant thinkers who declared themselves independent of England and framed our Constitution…but those were some pretty pissed off dudes too. Compared to that, loss of a little TV or movie work seems pretty inconsequential. So in honor of Pissed Off Americans past and present, I rant.

I’m pissed off that everyone seems okay on having to press one for English. We’re supposed to be tolerant and understanding that maybe some folks who now live here (legally or not) might have trouble understanding what I’m saying to them if I speak in my native tongue, regardless of the extra cost to the rest of us. FTS.

I’m pissed that my sweet well-wishing friends and acquaintances now say “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas. Oh, we don’t want to offend the non-Christians, they’ll say. Again – FTS. ‘Happy Holidays’…nice and non-specific, soothingly generic. In keeping with the spirit of the season, I try not to show it – but I roll my eyes. Jeez, could you be any more spineless? Everybody walk on eggshells for the rest of your lives, living in perptual fear someone who holds a different religion, or sexual preference, or nationality is going to suffer some little offense if you actually wish them a lovely Christmas. “Oh we don’t celebrate Christmas.” “Oh, I’m so terribly sorry, I don’t mean to offend you. Please enjoy the Holiday of Winter Solstice and Earth Renewal Day or whatever your heart leads to celebrate, if indeed you are even feeling like celebrating anything.” Shut up! Smile and say thanks. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Ramadan, Soulful Kwanzaa…whatever. Smile and say Thanks.

Can we all stop taking ourselves so damn seriously for half a minute? Hey – life ain’t a popularity contest. So grow a pair. Speak your mind and if someone can’t handle it, request that they take a hike. How the hell did we ever survive life before the all-knowing, all-caring ACLU began to run interference for all our tender sensibilities? It’s a wonder any of us grew up without some crippling psychosis that drove us to chop up our grandmother. I’m old enough to remember when Common Sense ruled the day. (*cue the Cranky Old Man music)

It irks me that Democrats are always looking to raise my taxes. I’m patriotic if I take it up the bum and don’t squeal. What’s worse, they don’t even have the integrity to call them taxes. They call them ‘fees’, or even, ‘contributions’. As I learned the word, a contribution is a volitional act. Left to free choice, I say I choose to not contribute more than I already do. Let all those who say we are overtaxed stand up with me. Those who think different can form a line to the left…and we on the right will leave you completely free to contribute more. Raising taxes takes food off my family’s table. I regard people who advocate doing so in the same vein as I would the burglar I confront in the dead of night – an enemy.

I’m pissed that I study the political issues of the day, educate myself, stay informed daily by a multitude of news sources from all slants…and yet, come election day, my informed vote is cancelled by some numbskull who votes for the nicest smile, who doesn’t know who the current vice-president is, or which party controls Congress, and what’s more, doesn’t care. Am I the only one who thinks a basic intelligence and general knowledge test should be a prerequisite for voting for our leaders? No? Too radical a notion? Well, then, why not just make the winner of American Idol president and save all the drama? Everyone can text in their vote. And Paula, Randy, and Simon… the new cabinet. “Tonight the State of the Union speech will be sung by the President, backed up by Rascal Flatts…and special guest duet with Secretary of State David Archuleta…”

I’m pissed off by how soft many in our nation have become. How whimpy the tone, how spineless the resolve. What happened to that brutally real notion that people should be held responsible for his or her actions? Nowadays, it always seems to be someone else’s fault, whatever it is. Got a life of poverty, it’s rich folks doing it to you.

Alcohol addiction, substance abuse, your mother never said she loves you. Having trouble finding work, it’s the white, black, purple guys keeping you down. Your car company is going under, it’s the unfair business practices abroad and an economic downturn. Hey, nimrods – newsflash. LIFE IS HARD. The End. Get used to it, suck it up, get some spine, invent some if you have none, and GET ON WITH IT!!!! I’d like to offer, in utter compassion, and speaking on behalf of at least several like-minded bretheren out there, a class-action BITCH-SLAP to every mamby-pamby, limp-wristed douche-bag of a complainer who has the audacity to hope that we hard-working, God-fearing, America-loving taxpayers should be forced to give you one penny of our income to enable you further in your responsibility-shirking, self-destructive habits. Get your collective shiite together, friends. I am not, nor are my friends, my brother’s keeper. Though my heart is open enough to come to someone’s need should an honest and sincere calamity befall a brother or sister… when did destitution become a virtue? Did my snooze button malfunction causing me to oversleep a couple decades? When did begging become a noble venture? You see them standing there bravely, “God bless”and something about ‘can’t find work’ scrawled on their cardboard. Victims of society, of Bush/Cheney, of Ronald Reagan, of any heartless Republican administration. And worse – hey, I’ve seen the sign people on the offramps, I’ve seen the green flow as we assuage our prosperity guilt – these guys are cleaning up! Am I in the wrong business? When, dear friends, did panhandling become a lucrative industry? FTS!

(Side note: I’ve personally offered several of these beggars who had written “Will work for food” to buy them lunch if they’ll do some yard work and fence painting for me, and the reaction was always the same. Hell no! They just want cash, right now! Hmmm…and yet the sign said… Forget about the begging, whatever happened to truth in advertising?)

Who can identify virtue, when there is no shame?

And speaking of shame…have you on the Left no shame when it comes to calling evil EVIL? What’s in a name — a terrorist by any other name is a ‘Jihadist’. A freedom fighter. A rebel. But when are we going to admit that there is an evil movement out there dedicated to our destruction. And it ain’t Sarah Palin and George Bush. It’s radical Islam and they want to cut your personal head off simply because you’re not throwing in with them.

You’re not on your knees worshiping their boy Allah, so for this you and everyone like you all over the world must die and die now. But wait, it’s a ‘religion of peace’, we’re told. Wow, not the last time I looked. If Islam is a religion of peace, where are all the peace-loving Muslim leaders decrying the radicals’ murderous actions? The beheadings, the suicide bombings, the IED’s, the blowing up innocents on buses? Where are the peaceful Islamists’ protests against Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Queda, et al? You are a frog in a pot, Lefty – being boiled slowly, apparently too slowly for you to notice. Too much Climate Change on your mind to notice that the barbarians are at the gate. When the Nazis stormed into Jewish homes in 1939 I’m sure there were more than a few head-in-the sand myopic residents screaming about the troopers tracking mud on the carpet. If only they had had the ACLU to save the day… Human rights and clean carpets surely would have abound.

Speaking of climate change, while we’re at it…if the argument is over…and the facts are clear…how is it we can predict the climate twenty years hence, when we can’t even predict with much accuracy if my ass is going to get wet attending my friend’s kid’s Bar Mitzvah next weekend. When did we give the title to anyone with a PhD in front of their name the added moniker of ‘Soothsayer’? I read Paul Erhlich’s book, THE POPULATION BOMB in the early ‘70’s and it scared the begeebers out of me. By his prediction, each human being in 2008 would have less than a square meter of space to live in. (William F. Buckley voice: “Ahh…Mr. Erhlich was unavailable for comment, ahhh… but stressed the importance of keeping his line clear, lest the Nobel Prize committee call.”) And Mr. Gore – I do believe in Climate Change. It’s called summer, spring, winter and fall. Happens each year whether I drive my SUV or not. FTS!

Before I came up with the inspired notion of tossing my life away and becoming an actor…I was fully ensconsed in the science department at the University of California, Irvine. I know the way it works. The professors confided in me. You need a problem to study, better yet a crisis, or you don’t get funding for your research. It’s that simple. One professor of botany told me that these very high-tech ultra-violet cameras we were frolicking through the fields looking at flowers through cost the University $200 thousand dollars. Off my open-mouthed gape, he shrugged, “Gotta spend the money, or next year they cut us back.” So yeah, you’re going to find a ton of scientists who swear we’re killing the planet…and we desperately need another three million dollars to study the problem.

I’m confident I could find two hundred accredited scientists to join me in an exhaustive study to find out why belly button lint is demagnetizing the moon leading to global flooding…if only Bill Gates will step up with some coin. FTS!

Lastly…can we finally be done with all the hatred? George Bush is very soon to be out of a job. Time to let up on him a bit, don’t you think? Erase the hate, Lefties. You can stop proclaiming him to be the anti-christ, evil incarnate, the boogeyman, Darth Vader, or the Heartbreak of Psoriasis. The guy did his best. Like him, don’t like him, he kept us from attack for seven-and-a-half years so let it go. Your guy is in now, so relax. Have fun again. Laugh without derision. Smile without the snide. You remember how? Take off your flak jackets, it’s going to be okay. Our brave warriors did some serious ass-kicking in the Middle East, and though there’s no shortage of crazy Islamo-fascist bad guys yet to come, at least they know who they’re f*cking with.

Somehow along the way, so many of you forgot one simple, undeniable tenet: We’re the good guys. We’re not imperialists, or else we would’ve nuked the oil countries into radioactive dust, then moved in and taken the oil. We don’t ‘torture’ prisoners, or lawyers for the Gitmo ‘detainees’ would have CNN photographing the horrid scars and missing limbs. We don’t bully smaller, less developed nations. On the contrary, we expend our more precious asset: the blood of our brave, bright and courageous young men and women – all in committed effort to free them from despotic, brutal dictators. We are not brash. In 1991 we amassed a coalition of 34 nations before we acted to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, and this after months and months of negotiations and U.N. resolutions. Twelve years later after waiting six months and seeing fourteen U.N. resolutions ignored by Hussein, George W. Bush had accrued a multi-national coalition and a majority vote in Congress before sending troops into Iraq. We are the big dog on the block. And yet we ask no penance from lesser countries. Instead we offer aid in the form of cash, medicine, and humanitarian help. When we go after bad guys in war, we don’t carpet bomb, or blow up civilian-filled buses. We have smart bombs that pinpoint targets to limit collateral civilian casualites. We’re the good guys. Only an entrenched self-loathing hatred of America will prevent you from seeing that. If that’s the case, you have my sympathy. But don’t let the door hit you on the way out. And yes, this is our country, whether a Democrat of a Republican occupies the White House.

Yeah, a lot of things piss me off. But I’m a ridiculously happy guy. I’m blessed with a wonderful family, terrific friends (many, many of them Liberals, oh yes), a strong Faith in God and a sweet certainty that this nation is on the side of good in the world…and that that good will overcome the bad.

I was asked by the founder of this site to write an article… an ‘opening salvo’. Considering who might read it, and who in Hollywood might be incensed, the temptation to parse words and couch my opinions was strong. But the guy in the mirror counsels me the loudest. I was always impressed with John Hancock, when, reminded that signing one’s name to that Declaration in Pennsylvania could very well lead to their deaths…solemnly stepped forward and with grand flourish signed his name in huge, legible script. In that grand spirit…

I hereby declare my independence…from the small-minded, America-hating, race-bating [sic], Christian-bashing, class-warfare-waging, politically-correct, collectivist, Liberal Hollywood establishment.

Anybody got a problem with that, I’ll mapquest you directions to my front door, we’ll settle it like men.



FDR's policies prolonged Depression by 7 years

Published in 2004.

In light of today's economic climate, and the corresponding rhetoric, I am reminded of the old saying of what happens to those who do not study history....



FDR's policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate

By Meg Sullivan

| 8/10/2004 12:23:12 PM

Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.

"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."

In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933.

"President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."

Using data collected in 1929 by the Conference Board and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cole and Ohanian were able to establish average wages and prices across a range of industries just prior to the Depression. By adjusting for annual increases in productivity, they were able to use the 1929 benchmark to figure out what prices and wages would have been during every year of the Depression had Roosevelt's policies not gone into effect. They then compared those figures with actual prices and wages as reflected in the Conference Board data.

In the three years following the implementation of Roosevelt's policies, wages in 11 key industries averaged 25 percent higher than they otherwise would have done, the economists calculate. But unemployment was also 25 percent higher than it should have been, given gains in productivity.

Meanwhile, prices across 19 industries averaged 23 percent above where they should have been, given the state of the economy. With goods and services that much harder for consumers to afford, demand stalled and the gross national product floundered at 27 percent below where it otherwise might have been.

"High wages and high prices in an economic slump run contrary to everything we know about market forces in economic downturns," Ohanian said. "As we've seen in the past several years, salaries and prices fall when unemployment is high. By artificially inflating both, the New Deal policies short-circuited the market's self-correcting forces."

The policies were contained in the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), which exempted industries from antitrust prosecution if they agreed to enter into collective bargaining agreements that significantly raised wages. Because protection from antitrust prosecution all but ensured higher prices for goods and services, a wide range of industries took the bait, Cole and Ohanian found. By 1934 more than 500 industries, which accounted for nearly 80 percent of private, non-agricultural employment, had entered into the collective bargaining agreements called for under NIRA.

Cole and Ohanian calculate that NIRA and its aftermath account for 60 percent of the weak recovery. Without the policies, they contend that the Depression would have ended in 1936 instead of the year when they believe the slump actually ended: 1943.

Roosevelt's role in lifting the nation out of the Great Depression has been so revered that Time magazine readers cited it in 1999 when naming him the 20th century's second-most influential figure.

"This is exciting and valuable research," said Robert E. Lucas Jr., the 1995 Nobel Laureate in economics, and the John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. "The prevention and cure of depressions is a central mission of macroeconomics, and if we can't understand what happened in the 1930s, how can we be sure it won't happen again?"

NIRA's role in prolonging the Depression has not been more closely scrutinized because the Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional within two years of its passage.

"Historians have assumed that the policies didn't have an impact because they were too short-lived, but the proof is in the pudding," Ohanian said. "We show that they really did artificially inflate wages and prices."

Even after being deemed unconstitutional, Roosevelt's anti-competition policies persisted — albeit under a different guise, the scholars found. Ohanian and Cole painstakingly documented the extent to which the Roosevelt administration looked the other way as industries once protected by NIRA continued to engage in price-fixing practices for four more years.

The number of antitrust cases brought by the Department of Justice fell from an average of 12.5 cases per year during the 1920s to an average of 6.5 cases per year from 1935 to 1938, the scholars found. Collusion had become so widespread that one Department of Interior official complained of receiving identical bids from a protected industry (steel) on 257 different occasions between mid-1935 and mid-1936. The bids were not only identical but also 50 percent higher than foreign steel prices. Without competition, wholesale prices remained inflated, averaging 14 percent higher than they would have been without the troublesome practices, the UCLA economists calculate.

NIRA's labor provisions, meanwhile, were strengthened in the National Relations Act, signed into law in 1935. As union membership doubled, so did labor's bargaining power, rising from 14 million strike days in 1936 to about 28 million in 1937. By 1939 wages in protected industries remained 24 percent to 33 percent above where they should have been, based on 1929 figures, Cole and Ohanian calculate. Unemployment persisted. By 1939 the U.S. unemployment rate was 17.2 percent, down somewhat from its 1933 peak of 24.9 percent but still remarkably high. By comparison, in May 2003, the unemployment rate of 6.1 percent was the highest in nine years.

Recovery came only after the Department of Justice dramatically stepped enforcement of antitrust cases nearly four-fold and organized labor suffered a string of setbacks, the economists found.

"The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes," Cole said. "Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened."