Friday, October 30, 2009
By Thomas Sowell
Just one year ago, would you have believed that an unelected government official, not even a Cabinet member confirmed by the Senate but simply one of the many "czars" appointed by the President, could arbitrarily cut the pay of executives in private businesses by 50 percent or 90 percent? Did you think that another "czar" would be talking about restricting talk radio? That there would be plans afloat to subsidize newspapers-- that is, to create a situation where some newspapers' survival would depend on the government liking what they publish? Did you imagine that anyone would even be talking about having a panel of so-called "experts" deciding who could and could not get life-saving medical treatments?
Scary as that is from a medical standpoint, it is also chilling from the standpoint of freedom. If you have a mother who needs a heart operation or a child with some dire medical condition, how free would you feel to speak out against an administration that has the power to make life and death decisions about your loved ones?
Does any of this sound like America? How about a federal agency giving school children material to enlist them on the side of the president? Merely being assigned to sing his praises in class is apparently not enough.
How much of America would be left if the federal government continued on this path? President Obama has already floated the idea of a national police force, something we have done without for more than two centuries. We already have local police forces all across the country and military forces for national defense, as well as the FBI for federal crimes and the National Guard for local emergencies. What would be the role of a national police force created by Barack Obama, with all its leaders appointed by him? It would seem more like the brown shirts of dictators than like anything American.
How far the President will go depends of course on how much resistance he meets. But the direction in which he is trying to go tells us more than all his rhetoric or media spin.
Barack Obama has not only said that he is out to "change the United States of America," the people he has been associated with for years have expressed in words and deeds their hostility to the values, the principles and the people of this country. Jeremiah Wright said it with words: "God damn America!" Bill Ayers said it with bombs that he planted. Community activist goons have said it with their contempt for the rights of other people.
Among the people appointed as czars by President Obama have been people who have praised enemy dictators like Mao, who have seen the public schools as places to promote sexual practices contrary to the values of most Americans, to a captive audience of children.
Those who say that the Obama administration should have investigated those people more thoroughly before appointing them are missing the point completely. Why should we assume that Barack Obama didn't know what such people were like, when he has been associating with precisely these kinds of people for decades before he reached the White House? Nothing is more consistent with his lifelong patterns than putting such people in government-- people who reject American values, resent Americans in general and successful Americans in particular, as well as resenting America's influence in the world.
Any miscalculation on his part would be in not thinking that others would discover what these stealth appointees were like. Had it not been for the Fox News Channel, these stealth appointees might have remained unexposed for what they are. Fox News is now high on the administration's enemies list.
Nothing so epitomizes President Obama's own contempt for American values and traditions like trying to ram two bills through Congress in his first year-- each bill more than a thousand pages long-- too fast for either of them to be read, much less discussed. That he succeeded only the first time says that some people are starting to wake up. Whether enough people will wake up in time to keep America from being dismantled, piece by piece, is another question-- and the biggest question for this generation.
Be thankful for men who risk this to serve their country
Retired Army Sgt. Richard Yarosh has gotten used to the stares. His face is blanketed in knotty scar tissue. His nose tip is missing. His ears are gone, as is part of his right leg. His fingers are permanently bent and rigid. All is the result of an explosion in Iraq that doused him in fuel and fire three years ago.
"I know people are curious," he said. "They'll stop in their tracks and look. I guess I can understand. I probably would have stared, too." Soon, a lot more people will be staring at Yarosh's face but in a very different way: A life-sized oil painting of him will go on display at the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington later this month. The portrait, by Matthew Mitchell, is a finalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, which recognizes modern portraiture at the gallery known for its collection of notable Americans.
The gallery received more than 3,300 entries. Many are less conventional portraits, including video and photos, but others, like that of Yarosh, draw strength from the traditional head-and-shoulders composition, said curator Brandon Fortune.
Mitchell's use of the style - historically reserved for nobility, a high-ranking military officer or a president, not a disfigured soldier in an Army T-shirt - democratizes such paintings, Fortune said. "The portrait is clearly meant to honor him. I think that contributes to the gravity of the presentation," she said....
The day was Sept. 1, 2006, and Yarosh was manning the turret of a Bradley assault vehicle, patrolling a road that he'd been on "a million times." Only this time, the vehicle hit an explosive device. The fuel tank blew, and Yarosh was instantly covered in flames. He took a blind jump from the top of the vehicle, breaking his leg and severing an artery that would eventually force an amputation. He rolled around in the dirt, but with so much fuel, he couldn't get the fire out. He lay there, next to the burning vehicle, and gave up. "I wasn't in pain. I could accept the fact that I was going to go. This was how the Lord would take me," he said.
But for reasons he still can't explain, Yarosh rolled to his right one more time and suddenly fell into a canal, where the flames were extinguished. Fellow soldiers pulled him from the water even as his body armor disintegrated into ash, and he survived....
Yarosh was astonished when he saw the completed portrait. "It was perfect. I couldn't believe that he captured me," he said. "It captures my pride. I'm proud of the way I look. I'm proud of the reason for the way I look."
Another tale of American military heroism here
Halloween: A Teachable Moment About Socialism
I'm not a big fan of Halloween, but I have some advice for those of you who expect to allow your children to take part in the ritual of trick-or-treating: Use the five guidelines listed below and allow the 2009 version of the costume- and candy-intensive holiday to serve as a teachable moment about socialism and about "spreading the wealth around" in the manner touted so often by President Barack Obama:
1. Tell your child he cannot eat any of the candy he collects and will, instead, have to take all of it to the ACORN office nearest your home (wipe tears);
2. Tell your child he will have to turn over their bags full of candy to the government-authorized agents who, in addition to collecting the candy, will need to record his name, Social Security number and contact information for future use (wipe tears);
3. Tell your child he will have to wait 12 weeks for ACORN officials to count all of the candy he collected and repackage it for equal-share redistribution among all children in their community (wipe tears);
4. Tell your child that, within 12 weeks, he should expect to be provided instructions for picking up a his fair and equal share of the treats he collected after ACORN officials finish counting all of the collected candies (wipe tears); and
5. Tell your child that the scenario above offers them a glimpse of what the future in the United States will look like if socialism is allowed to flourish (wipe tears for last time) and that he can keep his children from having to experience such pain by voting for - and by encouraging others to vote for - conservatives whose values line up with those of this country's founders and the framers of the U.S. Constitution.
Mad about free trade: "Interview with Daniel Griswold, author of Mad About Trade. Griswold: “John Mackey is right. Free trade has been wrongly branded as something for the benefit of big business at the expense of average Americans. Most Fortune 500 companies benefit from globalization, and that is fine. They employ a lot of Americans and sell a lot of U.S.-brand products around the world. But trade is also about benefiting tens of millions of low- and middle-income American families by insuring competition for their consumer dollars. Free trade is about creating better, more sustainable jobs for our children, building relationships with people in other countries, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, and sending young girls in developing countries off to school rather than to the field. Our task shouldn’t be that difficult. Evidence and economic logic are on the side of free trade. We just need to tell the story in a way that connects with people in their everyday lives.”
The world of Salamanca: "The subject of the medieval period highlights the vast gulf that separates scholarly opinion from popular opinion. This is a grave frustration for scholars who have been working to change popular opinion for a hundred years. For most people, the medieval period brings to mind populations living by myths and crazy superstitions such as we might see in a Monty Python skit. Scholarly opinion, however, knows otherwise. The age between the 8th and 16th centuries was a time of amazing advance in every area of knowledge, such as architecture, music, biology, mathematics, astronomy, industry, and — yes — economics.”
Neutering the Net: "I have always been an opponent of ‘net neutrality,’ but mostly because the proponents of it I’ve read have taken it to mean unlimited bandwidth for almost no cost, something that would guarantee the death of the net. Bandwidth costs money. Somebody has to pay for it. Those who use it should pay for what they use. Most people view ‘net neutrality’ as an entitlement, something the internet service providers somehow ‘owe’ them. Balderdash! But the recently proposed FCC rules do not do that, if Wired’s excerpt (link below) is representative. They’re more like guaranteeing that your long distance carrier may not disconnect your call because you’re talking about changing carriers.”
NASA launches newest, behemoth rocket: "NASA’s newest rocket successfully completed a brief test flight Wednesday, the first step in a back-to-the-moon program that could yet be shelved by the White House. The 327-foot Ares I-X rocket resembled a giant white pencil as it shot into the sky, delayed a day by poor weather. Nearly twice the height of the spaceship it’s supposed to replace — the shuttle — the skinny experimental rocket carried no passengers or payload, only throwaway ballast and hundreds of sensors. The flight cost $445 million.”
Latest battle in book price wars: "The American Booksellers Association loves people who buy books. It loves them so much that it wants to protect them from wicked retailers who sell popular titles at affordable prices. In fact, it wants to protect them from themselves. Consumers, after all, are likely to rejoice at the chance to pick up a bestseller like Stephen King’s Under the Dome or John Grisham’s Ford County for just $9, well below their list price of $35 and $24 respectively. The ABA, a trade group for independent bookstores, is doing all it can to preserve the republic from such pernicious bargains. In a letter to the US Department of Justice last week, the association called for an investigation into the ‘predatory’ behavior of Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, and Target — behavior it said ‘is damaging to the book industry and harmful to consumers.’”
Maximum confusion over minimum wages: "Given that we have rising unemployment, a reduction in minimum-wage rates might bring relief to some unemployed workers. Demand for labor increases with lower wages. However, advocates of minimum-wage laws often have trouble with economic reasoning. Some see the wealth of large corporations as a sign that they can afford to pay their workers more per hour. Others think that employers exercise monopsony control over wages from the buyers’ side of labor markets.”
“Saving” jobs isn’t always good: "The Obama administration is patting itself on the back for saving the jobs of thousands of educators by doling out stimulus funds earlier in the year. But should we all cheer just because Ms. Frizzle didn’t get the boot? Teachers, like all professionals, have no right to employment. In the private market people who are good at their jobs are in demand and courted with money.”
The 2009 Economics Nobel Prize: "The Nobel prize committee described Ostrom’s findings as showing that privately organized communities often manage resources such as lakes and fish better than do governments. First of all, government bureaucrats have a knowledge problem; they lack sufficient information about what to regulate. Moreover, as economist Friedrich Hayek pointed out, the relevant knowledge is decentralized and ever changing, so even with computers the remote governmental authorities are unable to collect sufficient knowledge to efficiently micro-manage such resources. They may not even know what knowledge they should be gathering.”
Guantanamo laureate: "Candidate Obama often sounded as if he had always assumed that Bush first created Guantanamo as a monument to his Constitution-shredding paranoia, and only later filled it with largely innocent prisoners. At one point Obama offered his Senate office to help lawyers sue on behalf of Guantanamo prisoners. But as President Obama has discovered — just as he has dropped his campaign talk of ending renditions, tribunals, wiretaps, and intercepts, and of rapidly withdrawing from Iraq — Guantanamo is a bad choice among a number of worse ones.”
British defence chiefs blamed for leaky aircraft that crashed: "The Ministry of Defence and Britain’s largest defence company were officially blamed yesterday for the deaths of 14 servicemen who were killed when an RAF Nimrod surveillance aircraft burst into flames over Afghanistan three years ago. In one of the most damning official reports published, the MoD was accused of sacrificing the safety of members of the Armed Forces to cut costs. The ministry was guilty of a “systemic breach of the military covenant” between the nation and the men and women of the Forces, the report said. “Airworthiness was a casualty of the process of cuts, change, dilution and distraction,” Charles Haddon-Cave, QC, concluded after a 20-month review of the background to the disaster on September 2, 2006, which represented the single biggest loss of life of service personnel in one incident since the Falklands conflict in 1982... There had been signs before the disaster that the Nimrod MR2, of which aircraft XV230 was one, had design faults, notably the juxtaposition of fuel pipes with hot-air ducts which presented a “catastrophic fire risk”."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 1:38 AM