Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Barack Obama echoes anti-Americanism of Europe in calling voters stupid

Obama and his fellow Democrats are mocking Republicans and the Tea Party as stupid. But they could be the ones who look foolish on election day

So what is the closing argument of Barack Obama's Democrats before next Tuesday's midterm elections? The President is no longer the self-proclaimed "hope-monger" of 2008, who vaingloriously declared that his vanquishing Hillary Clinton marked "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal".

He has stopped patting voters on the back for choosing, by voting for him, to listen not to their doubts or fears but to their "greatest hopes and highest aspirations". Instead, he is berating Americans (most of whom now do not believe he deserves a second term) for not being able to "think clearly" because they're "scared".

Having failed to change Washington or, as he promised that night in St Paul, Minnesota in June 2008, to provide "good jobs to the jobless" (unemployment was 7.7 per cent when he took office and is 9.6 per cent now), Obama is changing tack. Boiled down, the new Obama message to Americans is: you're too stupid to overcome your fears.

To be fair, it's not entirely new. During the 2008 campaign, Obama was caught on tape at a San Francisco fund-raiser saying it was not surprising that voters facing economic hardship "get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them".

At a fund-raiser in Massachusetts this month, Obama spoke of Democrats having "facts and science and argument" on their side. As opposed, presumably, to the lies, superstition and prejudice that Republicans rely on.

This year, Democrats have embraced with gusto the notion that Republicans, and by extension anyone thinking of voting for them, are dimwits. Their mirth over the likes of Tea Party figures like Christine O'Donnell, the former anti-masturbation activist who once she had "dabbled" in witchcraft and is now a no-hoper Senate candidate in Delaware, seems to know no bounds.

The most chortling of all about the populist Tea Party and its anti-tax, anti-government uprising against the Republican establishment can be found on the shows of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, the edgy liberal satirists on Comedy Central. Mocking Republican candidates last week, Stewart declared the midterm elections as "the best chance ever for a bowl of fresh fruit" to be elected.

Three days before the elections, Stewart will hold a "Rally to Restore Sanity" in Washington on the same day as Colbert, who adopts the character of a Right-wing talk show host, leads a "March to Keep Fear Alive". The thinly-disguised message: Republicans are crazies who trade on fear.

In choosing California and Massachusetts, two of the most liberal states in the union, to demean ordinary Americans during election campaigns, Obama did not display a whole lot of his much-vaunted intelligence. But Obama's decision to plug Stewart's rally approvingly and appear on his show three days beforehand is even more foolish.

In the 1990s, Democrats managed to get away from their image as "eggheads" in the 1950s or "pointy-headed liberals" in the 1970s. Bill Clinton spoke like a Good Ol' Boy from the Deep South, ate junk food and enjoyed trashy women. He was clever, but he did not look down on people.

Obama, by contrast, has become a parody of the Ivy League liberal smugly content with his own intellectual superiority and pitying the poor idiots who disagree with him. It is an approach that shares much with the default anti-Americanism of British and European elites, who love to mock the United States as a country full of gun-toting, bible-clutching morons.

David Cameron [Centrist British PM] has made nods to this sniffy condescension, speaking of the Sarah Palin phenomenon as being "hard for us to understand" (how about giving it a go, Dave?) and describing American conservatism, inaccurately, as moving in a "very culture war direction". This might be part of the reason why he seems to have hit it off with Obama.

The problem for Obama and the Democrats is that belittling the Tea Party movement, which is taking hold of much of Middle America, merely fuels the popular sense that the party in power is out of touch. It also highlights the reluctance of Obama and the Democrats to discuss the Wall Street bail-out, economic stimulus and health care bills because they know they are not vote winners.

Joining the Europeans in mocking ordinary Americans for their supposed idiocy may play well at big-dollar fund-raisers. In adopting this as a political strategy, however, the Democrats could be the ones who end up looking stupid.



A problem with socialism

by Roderick T. Beaman

Like many others, I flirted for a while with socialism when I was in high school. I think many have. It seemed sensible on paper but then I saw how the world really worked.

William Buckley once responded to a high school student who had written that he thought Buckley was horribly wrong and that John Kenneth Galbraith was correct about economics. Buckley responded that the high school student was at the perfect age to appreciate John Kenneth Galbraith; another perfect putdown by the Enfant Terrible.

During the 1960s, there were many variants of this saying; if you’re not part of the solution, at least don’t be part of the problem. As I grew up, I saw more and more that government was the problem.

The 1964 election had promised to be one of the most interesting in history until the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Barry Goldwater was considered the favorite of rank and file Republicans to be nominated to face Kennedy in his reelection bid.

Kennedy’s assassination elevated the loathsome Lyndon B. Johnson to the presidency and he immediately embarked upon the imposition of his Great Society that was so broad and so deep that we are still absorbing its effects, 41 years after he left office. The election instead became a referendum on the sentiments for a dead man’s agenda. Johnson swamped Goldwater, taking 44 states with Goldwater winning six.

Enter the Monday morning quarterbacking. The New York Times, which had been endorsing Democrats for years, began telling Republicans what they did wrong. It anointed Cong. John V. Lindsay for Mayor the following year. He was the Moses who would lead the GOP out of the Goldwater wilderness.

Lindsay was Yale educated, handsome and from New York City’s fabled Silk Stocking District of Manhattan’s East Side. He was also as reliably liberal as any liberal Democrat, voting for just about every New Frontier and Great Society program. Lindsay had never seen a taxpayer’s dollar that he didn’t want to spend.

Lindsay was elected beating Buckley, the Conservative Party nominee, the only time he ever ran for office, and Democrat Abraham Beame. The spending began.

Lindsay was greeted in 1966 with a 12-day subway strike under the Transit Worker’s Union leader Mike Quill, who’d had a deep and long association with the Communist Party of the USA. (In an interesting sidelight, Quill’s communist roots were never mentioned by the various media during the strike. I never knew about it until years after. Why am I not surprised by that?) He’d broken with them in 1948 but there could be no doubt that his orientation was socialist. He extracted a generous contract from the Lindsay Administration and died three days later. The contract, and concessions to others, left the city teetering.

Lindsay responded with (drum roll, please), you guessed it, a tax increase in the form of the City’s first income tax. It went into effect in September 1966.

At that time, I was working as an electrician’s helper in Local Union #3 in the city. We were contracted to a 6-hour workday but almost everyone was working seven hours a day. For paid holidays, we received the contract pay for just six hours, not the usual seven we worked.

One day we were asked to work overtime one hour and most of us jumped at the opportunity for some extra pay. That pay week though, encompassed the Labor Day weekend and the one hour of overtime just balanced the 6-hour holiday pay and brought us up to our usual 35 hours pay week. That week, the city’s income tax also went into effect so we netted less than what we had been.

One fellow worker said that if he had known that, he wouldn’t have grabbed the extra hour of overtime and just accepted the smaller paycheck. The take home lesson is that this is an example of how people react within a system. It is all so very predictable and our governmentalist politicians, (fascist, progressive, liberal and socialist) rarely take into account how people will react within a system.

Rhode Island has, as many states have had, a long tradition of vanity license plates. The car owner pays some extra fees and has some special combination of letters to spell something or his initials, etc. It raises some extra revenue for the state treasury and is a harmless venture for the driver.

When Bruce Sundlun, a Democrat, became governor in 1991, the state was facing a revenue shortfall. Together with the solidly Democratic legislature (in Rhode Island, that’s redundant), they decided to double the fees for vanity plates. They assumed that the revenue would increase markedly, possibly double. Instead, people who had held particular plates for years, even decades, simply decided they weren’t worth it and turned them in for regular plates. My wife and I did it for each of our plates and four or five other people and couples we knew did the same. While I don’t know the exact figures, I am sure that the actual revenue realized was far less than what had been predicted just from the experience and I am sure the many people at the State House never even considered the possibility that a lot of people would simply turn in their plates.

I am also befuddled by politicians, of all stripes, who rail against ‘price gouging’ during emergencies. Of course, any serious student of economics knows that there is no such thing as price gouging. Either the marketplace sustains a price or it doesn’t. As many far wiser minds than mine have noted, the price mechanism represents an opportunity for signals of needs or excesses to be passed through the market to others for problems to be corrected.

During the recent spate of hurricanes to hit Florida, Attorney General Bill McCollum has been out there in front of the cameras (for any politician that’s almost redundant) was out there, thundering, about various businesses price gouging. It certainly appeals to voters (is anything a politician does, not geared to voters?) but it doesn’t stand up to examination.

In storms, floods and other natural disasters, one of the first things to be needed is water. Oh yes, it may impress as unseemly for a merchant to jack up his price for water after a storm but it does provide an important signal for the need for more. If someone has a truck with few other resources to otherwise drive to, say Tennessee, to bring back a truckload, would not the possibility of earning some money to do it, afford him the wherewithal? I think this is an intelligent question but few politicians can answer intelligent questions.

The merchant or businessman has several choices in such a matter. He can simply close his shop or refuse to sell the item in question or he can sell them at the regular price and soon be exhausted of them. In any case, he is left with no resources to correct it and in the first two cases, no need whatsoever is met.

The ultimate example of governmental stupidity (I apologize here for any redundancy) is the rent control situation in New York City. It was first enacted nationally in 1943 by (are you really surprised by this?) Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was considered an emergency at the time (what government action isn’t?) and has been in effect ever since.

The force of logic shows that price controls on anything leads to shortages or distortions in the market. Rent control has been shown to lead to a two-tiered system of rents. The simplest thing would be to terminate the program but political pressures from people who have stayed in their sub-market priced residences for decades will lead a march on City Hall to protest any such attempts. The controls are part of many systemic reasons why there is a huge dearth of medium priced apartments The Big Apple. There is a great need but socialism or governmentalism gets in the way of a solution.

So there we see government getting in the way or its ventures not living up to expectations. It’s the limit of politics and government as Buckley said in his campaign. People will react in ways that are simply not anticipated but nevertheless are very predictable. They will always move in the direction of their own perceived self-interest. The problem is they may not move in what the state’s perceived self-interest. They may decide not to work or to turn in their license plates rather than pay the extra price, they may simply withdraw from participation.

And what is the state’s ultimate weapon against the people when they act in their own self-interest rather than the state’s? Why penalties. Imprisonment. And ultimately, execution.




The mystery of FDR unraveled: "For seventy-plus years, the case of Franklin Delano Roosevelt has vexed people of a libertarian bent. His policies, extending war socialism based on Mussolini’s economic structure, expanded the American State to an unthinkable extent, and prolonged the Great Depression through the horrific World War II. Normalcy did not return until after his wartime controls were repealed and the budget was cut. Lasting economic recovery began in 1948. And the guy that made all that happen is a hero? His picture is on the (depreciated) dime.”

The real reason for FDR’s popularity: "All presidents worry about their popularity. They try to bolster it through impassioned rhetoric, free stuff for influential voting blocs, new programs that cost billions, dramatic photo ops, and of course wars to unite the country behind their valiant leadership. In most all cases, they choose means of gaining popularity that come at the expense of liberty.”

ME: City considers letting non-citizens vote: "Like his neighbors, Claude Rwaganje pays taxes on his income and taxes on his cars. His children have gone to Portland’s public schools. He’s interested in the workings of Maine’s largest city, which he has called home for 13 years. There’s one vital difference, though: Rwaganje isn’t a U.S. citizen and isn’t allowed to vote on those taxes or on school issues. That may soon change. Portland, Maine, residents will vote Nov. 2 on a proposal to give legal residents who are not U.S. citizens the right to vote in local elections, joining places like San Francisco and Chicago that have already loosened the rules or are considering it. Non-citizens hold down jobs, pay taxes, own businesses, volunteer in the community and serve in the military, and it’s only fair they be allowed to vote, Rwaganje said.”

Mountain roads, take me home: "A natural camaraderie exists among people who work for a living and don’t have much. I didn’t exactly work, but I had grown up around people who did, and knew how to fit in. It wasn’t surprising that they offered to share their vodka with a stranger. Talk to anyone who has hitchhiked extensively. He will tell you that the likelihood that a car will stop is inversely proportional to the price of the car. People who have needed help are inclined to provide help.”

A better way than the VA?: "If you listen to Democratic campaign ads in Colorado, Nevada, or Delaware, among other places, you will discover yet another perfidious plot by evil Republicans — they want to ‘privatize the VA.’ Which makes one respond, ‘This is a horrible thing because … why?’”

How much air superiority does a man need?: "The chatter is skittering on the sheen of the Obama and Israel-approved Saudi purchase of 84 old and technically degraded F-15s. As this sale promotes the MIC and is agreeable to AIPAC, Congressional approval of this proposed sale is moot. In terms of military capability shifts, as Jeff Huber at Antiwar.com explains, is it much ado about not much. The sale simply enhances Saudi Arabia’s capability to do what we ourselves do with our F-15s, primarily argue amongst ourselves about which old man is going to take a joy ride. Expensive fun counts for plenty, if you are a servant of the state.”

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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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)


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