Monday, November 23, 2009
"The Death of Conservatism": A Premature Burial
It must be difficult to work at The New York Times. Luckily for the rest of us Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the paper’s “Book Review” and “Week in Review” sections, has emerged from that hothouse to write for us, the little people, a small book titled “The Death of Conservatism.” More in sorrow than in anger, Tanenhaus begins by claiming that, in the realm of ideas and argument, “conservatism is most glaringly disconnected from the realities now besetting America.” Oh? “Conservatives remain strangely apart, trapped in the irrelevant causes of another day, deaf to the actual conversations unfolding across the land, in its cities and towns, in red and blue states, in the sanctuaries of the privileged and tented ‘Bushvilles,’” he writes.
Indeed, I drove my 1930 Chrysler Imperial through a “Bushville” just the other day. It was filled with lean hobos heating tins of lima beans over open fires. Very sad. Most of them used to be Chrysler stockholders, apparently, until they lost their fortunes when the Obama administration raced that company through an extra-legal bankruptcy and turned 55 percent ownership of it over to the UAW.
But speaking of tins, Tanenhaus seems to have a tin ear. It’s liberals, after all, who are disconnected from the conversations going on around the country. For example, media elites assure us that the economic worst is behind us. “Some companies came through the recently ended recession with flying colors,” opened a story on Slate magazine on Nov. 7. Break out the bubbly; the recession is over! Except -- it doesn’t feel over. Unemployment is 10.2 percent. Americans aren’t living in “Bushvilles,” but most worry about jobs.
How have liberals in Congress reacted? They’ve passed bills that destroyed valuable assets (cash for clunkers), would implement new taxes in an effort to stop phantom global warming (cap and trade legislation) and would impose expensive new burdens on employers and workers (through mandatory health insurance). Not to worry, though. Once they’ve dealt with health care and saved the planet, they’ll tackle employment. “During the Senate Democrats’ lunch Tuesday (Nov. 17),” The Hill newspaper reported, “Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) announced that an initiative focusing on jobs would soon be a priority.” No hurry, apparently.
Conservatives, of course, have opposed most liberal measures. They voted in lockstep against the 1,900-plus page House health care bill, for example. While this should please ordinary Americans (polls show a majority of us oppose Obamacare), it irks Tanenhaus. “Conservative opponents of Barack Obama have applied the epithet ‘socialism’ to his ambitious plans to exert greater federal control over health care and energy policy, even though the Bush administration, the most conservative in modern history, itself orchestrated a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street,” he writes.
It’s worth noting that Bush, despite accomplishing some conservative goals, was no patron saint for conservatism. His administration rammed through Medicare Part D, the first new entitlement program in a decade, and jacked up federal spending year after year. Still, Tanenhaus isn’t arguing honestly if he says conservatives should support Obama’s big tax-and-spend programs because of Bush’s TARP, since many (if not most) of us opposed TARP, too.
Tanenhaus urges conservatives to bow to “the politics of consensus.” Yet later in his book he explains exactly why we need to try to block bad legislation now: Once a big federal program is in place, it’s almost impossible to repeal it. “Not even the most ardent hater of government was about to scale back a federal civilian workforce that had quadrupled (from 630,000 to 2.5 million) since the GOP had last been in power or slash a budget that had multiplied by twenty-two,” he writes.
He’s explaining why Dwight Eisenhower’s victory in 1952 solidified the policies of the New Deal. But that also serves as a prediction that, if (for example) the government takes over health care this year, it’ll be impossible for a conservative congress to ever roll back the clock, just as Republicans of the 1950s weren’t able to reverse the mistakes of the New Deal.
“The movement conservatives of our time seem the heirs of the French rather than of the American revolution,” Tanenhaus claims. “They routinely demonize government institutions, which they depict as the enemy of the people’s best interests.” Really? How many heads have tea partiers lopped off? In reality, conservatives are the most polite protesters in memory. And as far as revolutions go, the American Revolution was explicitly about escaping an out-of-touch, overbearing government that wanted to tax Americans without listening to them.
Just watch. Far from being dead, conservatism will eventually lead our country back to the ideals laid out by the ultimate conservatives -- our Founding Fathers.
Barack Obama’s Rules for Revolution: The Alinsky Model – by David Horowitz
Since taking office Barack Obama, who promised during his campaign to create a moderate, inclusive administration, has engaged in actions that have created division and fear because they are meant to radically change America, not improve on what has always worked. As a result, David Horowitz writes in Barack Obama’s Rules for Revolution: The Alinsky Model, “Many Americans have gone from hopefulness, through unease, to a state of alarm as the President shows a radical side only party visible during his campaign.”
Barack Obama’s Rules for Revolution: The Alinsky Model provides an understanding of the roots of the current administration’s effort to subject America to a wholesale transformation by looking at the work of one of the President’s heroes—radical Chicago “community organizer” Saul Alinsky. The guru of Sixties radicals, Alinsky urged his followers to be flexible and opportunistic and say anything to get power, which they can then use to destroy the existing society and its economic system. Alinsky died in 1972, but left behind an organization in Chicago dedicated to his malicious ideas. This team hired Barack Obama in 1986 when he was 23 and taught him how to organize for radical transformation.
In this insightful new booklet, Horowitz discusses Alinsky’s work in the 60s—and his advice to radicals to seize any weapon to advance their cause. This became the philosophy of Alinskyite organizations such as ACORN and to Alinsky disciples Van Jones, a self described “communist” who served as President Obama’s “Green Czar” until he was forced to resign when his extremist ideas became public.
After his analysis of Saul Alinsky, Horowitz points out what the grandfather of “social organizing” created “is not salvation but chaos.” Then he asks the crucial question: “And presidential disciples of Alinsky, what will they create?”
Feds still supporting shaky home loans
San Francisco: In January, Mike Rowland was so broke that he had to raid his retirement savings to move here from Boston. A week ago, he and a couple of buddies bought a two-unit apartment building for nearly a million dollars. They had only a little cash to bring to the table but, with the federal government insuring the transaction, a large down payment was not necessary. “It was kind of crazy we could get this big a loan,” said Mr. Rowland, 27. “If a government official came out here, I would slap him a high-five.”
In its efforts to prop up a shattered housing market, the government is greatly extending its traditional support of real estate, including guaranteeing the mortgages of middle-class and even upper-class buyers against default. In 2007, the government did not insure a single mortgage in this city, one of the most expensive in the country. Buyers here, as well as in Manhattan, Santa Monica and every other wealthy area, were presumed to be able to handle the steep prices and correspondingly hefty down payments on their own.
Now the government is guaranteeing an average of six mortgages a week here. Real estate agents say the insurance is such a good deal that there will soon be many more.
Policy changes like the shift in insurance, while often introduced on a temporary basis, are becoming so popular that they could prove difficult to undo. With government finances already under great strain, the policy expansions are creating new risks for American taxpayers.
The Internal Revenue Service is giving tax rebates to first-time buyers, and soon to move-up buyers, in a program beset by accusations of fraud. And the government agency that issues mortgage insurance, the Federal Housing Administration, is underwriting loans at quadruple the rate of three years ago even as its reserves to cover defaults are dwindling. On Thursday, the Mortgage Bankers Association said more than one in six F.H.A. borrowers was behind on payments.
F.H.A. insurance was created for minority and low-income families who could not come up with the traditional down payment of 20 percent required by private lenders. Buyers receive loans from government-approved lenders and are required to document their income and assets. They must pay a substantial insurance premium of 1.75 percent of the loan. But in return, their down payment can be as low as 3.5 percent. For decades, most F.H.A. loans were in low-cost states like Texas and Michigan. Under the agency’s loan limits, houses along the coasts were usually too expensive to qualify. In 2007, fewer than 4,400 F.H.A. loans were made in California, according to the research firm MDA DataQuick, and none were in San Francisco.
The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 helped change that by temporarily doubling the maximum loan the F.H.A. insured, to $729,750. A two-unit property like the one bought by Mr. Rowland and his friends can be insured for up to $934,200.
“F.H.A. financing was a lost language in San Francisco, the real estate equivalent of Aramaic,” said Michael Ackerman, the agent who represented Mr. Rowland and his friends. “Once the limits were raised, smart buyers started calling.” The F.H.A. has insured more than 107,000 loans so far this year in the state, according to DataQuick, about 270 of them in San Francisco.
Condominium buildings approved for F.H.A. financing — a relative handful — trumpet the news on their Web sites. The Soma Grand, a new 246-unit building downtown where one-bedrooms cost in excess of $500,000, received F.H.A. certification early in the summer. A half-dozen buyers since then used F.H.A. insurance.
At Guarantee Mortgage Corporation, which has 150 mortgage brokers in the Bay Area, Seattle and Portland, Ore., F.H.A. loans have grown to about 15 percent of its business, from less than 3 percent a few years ago. “It sure has helped us put a lot of deals together,” said Guarantee’s chief sales officer, Bob Siefert. He predicts that a quarter of Guarantee’s deals will soon be guaranteed by the F.H.A.
Some F.H.A. borrowers here say they have the cash for a full down payment but would rather invest it in the stock market or use it for remodeling. Others, like Mr. Rowland and his friends, simply do not have the money required by private lenders — which would have been nearly $200,000, in their case.
City facilitates sexual predators
The city council of Tampa, Fla., voted unanimously last week to include "gender identity and expression" as a protected class under the city's human rights ordinance, leading some to fear the council has opened the city's public bathroom doors to sexual predators masquerading as protected transsexuals.
A statement from the American Family Association explained, "Tampa Police arrested Robert Johnson in February 2008 for hanging out in the locker room–restroom area at Lifestyle Fitness and watching women in an undressed state. The City of Tampa's 'gender identity' ordinance could provide a legal defense to future cases like this if the accused claims that his gender is female."
The council's decision, which won't be codified as law until a final vote is taken Thursday night, defines gender identity and expression as "gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior of an individual, regardless of the individual's assigned sex at birth."
The city's current ordinance forbids discrimination on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, handicap, familial status or marital status mostly in areas of labor and employment.
But the section that makes it illegal to "segregate any person at a place of public accommodation, or to segregate any person in regards to … facilities" leads some to worry about the consequences of forbidding discrimination "regardless of the individual's sex at birth."
"This ordinance will give lawful protection to cross-dressing males to patronize women's restrooms," the Florida Family Association said in a statement. "And men dressed as women or women who perceive themselves as men can also use men's restrooms."
Armed Pilots and Dead Terrorists
There are many lessons to be learned from the terrible events which happened on September 11, 2001. For the airline industry, a rude awaking into the new age of terrorism and an end to the previous threat of peaceful hijackings that pilots had been taught to deal with. The aviation community must adapt to fight the new threat.
The FFDO (Federal Flight Deck Officer) program was implemented by the Bush Administration working with law enforcement, airline management and pilot unions. Pilots with guns were a way to augment the Federal Air Marshall Service which was already in place and quickly expanded. Recent rumors indicate that the Obama administration will attempt to de-fund the FFDO program. I think it would be a huge loss to security and a big mistake.
With regards to an aircraft accident, there are multiple layers of protection to prevent a crash. Most of the layers formulated from previous incidents, utilizing Air Traffic Control, dispatch, mechanics and redundant aircraft systems along with two highly trained pilots. The same logic in preventing a crash is to be used for arming pilots in flight. We must learn from the current terrorist strategy and implement solutions. A final layer of security is absolutely necessary to prevent another tragedy like 9/11.
The mainstream media continues to use one main reason to not arm the pilots; a rapid decompression in the airplane caused by a bullet exiting the aircraft at altitude. My Mom has mentioned that one after reading the typical misinformation reported as news by the media. I explained to her, in the first place, a decompression is the least of my worries as a pilot with a terrorist trying to take over the cockpit by force and then attempting to fly the plane into a building. Secondly, the exploding plane theory has been debunked, most recently on an episode from the show MythBusters on Discovery Channel in which the crew does a test by shooting a gun inside a pressurized plane in the desert with basically no damage as a result. For additional proof, this summer a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 had a structural problem at altitude when a football sized hole occurred during a flight. The aircraft landed safely and no one was injured.
Of course politics is part of the problem as well. The anti-gun organizations effecting policy decisions of Congress and the President have unlimited access to the White House. These liberal groups just can’t stand the Second Amendment or when good people successfully use guns to defend themselves. Have you ever read an article in the paper or seen a video on TV of a citizen being interviewed who had used his rifle or handgun to stop a crime or save a life? I’m reminded of a story from an NRA magazine: Liberals in a neighborhood were so proud of their progressive thinking that they put up anti-gun signs in their yards. So guess whose houses got burglarized? The signs came down. Why would the anti-gun crowd be against arming pilots when they travel on airplanes too? They think emotionally and not logically so there is no way to present a reasonable answer. It is sad to let politics interfere with decisions regarding safety.
The military uses a strategy of peace through strength with a multiple force deterrence to prevent an attack on the United States. Nuclear and tactical weapons, modern/upgraded ships, vehicles, and jets along with well trained troops. Many of the pilots flying today are ex-military and understand the concept. We have to be pro-active in defending the traveling public while considering the current global threats affecting the world today. Exhibiting a strong deterrence on commercial aircraft by means of Federal Air Marshalls and FFDO’s will be continually required. There is something about the possibility of looking down the barrel of a Heckler and Koch pistol during an unauthorized opening of the cockpit door will keep a terrorist from repeating another 9/11 type event.
At the front of my company’s flight manual it states that safety is the number one priority for the operation of our aircraft. The U.S. and the Obama administration must uphold safety as a priority as well. The final layer of safety and security of commercial airplanes relies on having armed pilots in the cockpit.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
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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