Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Liberalism’s Very Bleak Future

They impoverish the country -- and people are going to notice that they are going backwards

Perhaps, the best article on the recent election and the political trends that it represents was written by Chapman University professor, Joel Klotkin, in a Nov. 19 article for the Politico.

While the media trumpets trends that they believe signal the long-run demise of conservatism (e.g., demographics of immigration), Klotkin criticizes analysts for overlooking “the albatross of contemporary liberalism” and its devastating impact on the Democrats one month ago. He notes that liberalism is no longer interested in producing upward economic mobility for the middle class:
Modern-day liberalism, however, is often ambivalent about expanding the economy — preferring a mix of redistribution with redirection along green lines. Its base of political shock troops, public-employee unions, appears only tangentially interested in the health of the overall economy.

In fact, it is probably worse than Klotkin describes it because the environmentalists are completely opposed to any realistic use of carbon-based energy to power our economy. Thus, the Obama Administration’s EPA is instituting amazingly destructive regulations in tandem with its Dep’t of the Interior that does everything it can to prevent fossil fuel extraction in the United States.

Klotkin, who lives in California, also appears to believe that Texas is the new California – as he wrote in a recent Forbes column:
This state of crisis is likely to become the norm for the Golden State. In contrast to other hard-hit states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Nevada, which all opted for pro-business, fiscally responsible candidates, California voters decisively handed virtually total power to a motley coalition of Democratic-machine politicians, public employee unions, green activists and rent-seeking special interests.

California is now liberalism’s Ground Zero with such winners in charge as Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsom, Henry Waxman, George Miller, etc. Oh, I forgot to list Jerry Brown who gave California public employees the right to unionize.

It is almost unimaginalble what has happened to California in twenty years. Yet, there was one enormous difference between California and the Southern states that supported Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984 – the South has always been a right-to-work region. California was not and has harbored pockets of extreme Leftism never present in the South. The rise of the public employee unions along with environmentalists makes it virtually impossible for modern liberalism to present a pro-growth agenda – that is an albatross about which Coleridge could have written mournful verse.



The Fight to Shrink Government

The rarified world of government was recently shaken to its roots by Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey. He cancelled a railroad tunnel that was to be built under the Hudson River to connect New Jersey and New York City. Based on the screams from the left-wing media, you would have thought that life in America had come to an end.

Once Governor Christie made his announcement, the left erupted in its usual, tiresome manner – on the opinion pages of the New York Times – with articles penned by two of its house leftists, Bob Herbert and Dr. Paul Krugman. Mr. Herbert – never a stranger to pointless hyperbole – decried the downfall of America as a great nation. He questioned why a country that built the Erie Canal and the Hoover Dam could not build a rail tunnel like the one that had just broken ground. Funny thing though – not once in his column did he mention anything about cost. Dr. Krugman similarly bemoaned the decline of the country, but at least he mentioned the estimated price tag of the tunnel: $8.7 billion. Of course, he then proceeded to dismiss the impact of this cost on the residents of Governor Christie’s state.

As one would expect in a newspaper written by liberals for liberals, nowhere was there any description of the facts and circumstances that brought Mr. Christie to this decision. The cost of the tunnel, which had been in the works for almost 20 years, had recently risen from $5 billion to $8.7 billion. $3 billion of this was coming from the U.S. government (which certainly can’t afford the money). Another $3 billion was coming from the Port Authority of New York – which they tell us is not the State of New York, but really is – and that state is hopelessly in debt with an out-of-whack budget. The last $2.7 billion was coming from New Jersey. The hitch was that New Jersey was on the hook for any cost overruns after $9.8 billion. Some experts estimate this to be $2 billion right now, with the strong likelihood that the final (overrun) bill will reach $6 billion, all of which would be borne by the 8 million residents of New Jersey. Mr. Christie considered that to be real money.

The elitist left, of course, was apoplectic. It’s not as if the Upper Westside Left really wants to make life easier for the “bridge and tunnel” crowd, who they live to disdain. Perhaps they’re worried that once wealthy New Yorkers realize that New Jersey has a sane Governor, they may start to flee across the Hudson to escape the confiscatory taxes of New York. Or maybe they’ve just never seen a government project that they can’t support, especially one that must be built by their labor union friends.

It’s not as if America works like it did in the mid-20th century. The Pentagon, the largest office building in the world, was built in 410 days. Even more amazing is it took all of four months between conception of the project and the beginning of construction. Now flash forward about seventy years when we have all sorts of improvement in technology. At one of my local parks, three 2-story buildings, a total of about 50,000 sq. ft, are now being built. That is 0.8% of the size of the Pentagon. These buildings were five years in planning and (so far) two years in construction. Egad, our country appears to be regressing.

What are the differences? Certainly not the capabilities of the American people. There are, in fact, three culprits: First, our political leaders have far too little concern for our tax dollars. They think that if the price of a project goes up, they can just throw more money at it. They don’t insist upon realistic cost estimates out of fear that if people knew the real price tag, the project would be rejected. Second, NIMBYs and environmentalists now add enormous time and cost to the development process, an increase magnified by the time value of money. Finally, the requirement that union labor be used on public projects escalates the cost exponentially. It limits competitive bidding and drives costs into the stratosphere.

Governor Christie took a long look at this, and considered the recent history of large public works projects in the Northeast, like The Big Dig in Boston. The cost of that project started at $2.8 billion, ended at $15 billion, and with interest will cost a staggering $22 billion to pay off. He considered the fact that none of the underlying reasons for these cost overruns have ever been seriously addressed. And he realized that if he approved the project now, when they came back asking for another billion and another billion after that, he would have no choice but to approve it. He looked at all these factors and said NO – not on my watch.

Don’t blame the messenger. Blame the people who have caused every project, no matter how small, to be dragged out with study after study. Blame the rules that restrict competitive bidding and require that construction is done by overpriced union labor. Blame the politicians who have allowed this process to descend into this disaster all over our country. Governor Christie was just the first to say no more. For that, he should be declared a hero.



Our Leadership in Washington is the Problem, Not Body Scanners

Star Parker

The common explanation of why we cannot implement Israeli-style airport security here, despite acknowledging that the Israeli approach is the world's best, is logistics.

Israelis don't rely on machines. Their approach is human centered. All passengers get a quick interview by an agent trained to identify revealing behavior. Such an approach, the reasoning goes, is possible in a nation dealing with 10 million passengers annually, but with the 600 million we deal with, the logistics become unmanageable.

But this is not the whole story. It's true that the Israelis use primarily people rather than machines to screen. But the real difference in the Israeli approach and success is reliance on human judgment. Human judgment can never be removed from the equation. We've been sold, and we're buying, the big lie that machines can replace human judgment and responsibility.

All technology starts with people. It is people who define problems and then design machines to deal with those problems. If the problem is incorrectly defined to begin with, then the machine, no matter how technologically sophisticated, is not going to solve it. In other words -- garbage in, garbage out.

The first rule of warfare is to know your enemy. The Israelis know their enemy. They know exactly what to look for and their priority is to identify and stop them. I wish I could say the same here. But I can't. And this is the problem.

How can we possibly use technology to identify and root out terrorists when the leaders of our country cannot, or refuse to identify with clarity who these individuals are and what they are about?

This latest round of humiliation that we citizens have to endure - electronic strip searches or intimate physical groping of our bodies - is the result of the so called "underwear bomber" incident from last Christmas.

Can we possibly forget that our Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the nation after that incident that "the system worked?" Or can we allow ourselves to forget that when Napolitano began her new job she wanted to expunge the word "terrorism" from our vocabulary and call these incidents "man-caused disasters?"

Or can we forget the exchange in congressional hearings between Congressman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Attorney General Eric Holder where Holder refused to acknowledge a link between terrorism and radical Islam? Holder said then, "There are a variety of reasons why people do these things. Some of them potentially religious."

Israelis can identify terrorists because they know exactly who they are and what they're about. If Eric Holder cannot, or refuses to see a connection between Islam and terrorism, what, in his view, does define who these individuals are? And if he cannot do it with more precision than "there are a variety of reasons why people do these things," how can we possibly hope to have an effective strategy for identifying and dealing with terrorists?

Now we've just had the latest product of Holder's impeccable judgment: All murder counts dismissed on al-Qaida operative Ahmed Ghailani because of Holder's insistence that terrorists be tried in civilian courts.

We're spending more and more on technologies designed to deal with the last terrorist incident, which they can readily circumvent by doing things a little differently the next time. Even if logistics make it impossible to do interviews as Israelis do, we could still design technologies to help zero in on likely suspects.

It's hard to sort out whether our current administration is simply confused and naive, or whether they actually sympathize with our enemies. Either way, we citizens are the ones paying the price, in the wasted money we're shelling out and the humiliating invasions into our privacy.

So let's be clear that body scanners are not the problem. They are the symptom. The problem is our leadership in Washington.



Beck derangement syndrome

Glenn Beck has taken over from GWB in driving "progressives" into insanity

One of the most celebrated American movies of all time is being hijacked by host Glenn Beck, according to a writer objecting to the talk-show host's decision to broadcast a show from a small town hit hard by the recession.

"Beck is now trying to steal the great 1946 Frank Capra classic 'It's a Wonderful Life' and turn it into a rallying cry for the conservative anti-government Christian right," said Lauri Lebo, a former newspaper reporter from Harrisburg, Pa., in a commentary posted online.

"Somehow, Beck manages to reinterpret the movie through an unregulated free-market ideological Ayn Rand prism and message of Christian conservatism."

"First of all, it's a Christmas movie with an angel in it and God, so I'm pretty sure that it's already got the religion thing in it," Beck said in response to Lebo.

Lebo had written "there are some terrific themes in that movie. Dare I even say it? Terrific progressive themes."

It was that remark about "terrific progressive themes" that sparked the most spirited reaction from Beck, as he explained: "Who saved the Building & Loan in Bedford Falls? The people did. George did, with his own private funds. The government didn't bail him out, and that's the deal. You remember the bank was bailing everyone out ... along with the government closing down the banks. The banks and the government were in collusion. ...

"The local banks were the ones that didn't have a problem. It's the gigantic banks run by people like [Mr.] Potter that were just trying to get rich and didn't care about people. The local banks are the George Baileys. That's not progressive. Progressive is about going past the Constitution and having people at a government level babysit people because they're all too stupid."




Anti-freedom vixens label Opt Out as “terrorism”: "Apparently not a glimmer of individual freedom and self-responsibility exists within the gray matter of at least three of the big government-worshipping political correctness-idolizing denizens of ABC TV’s morning gabfest fare, ‘The View.’ Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck accused We Won’t Fly founders Jim Babb and George Donnelly — by name — of planning ‘an act of terrorism’ with their peaceful anti-TSA National Opt Out Day and added that their names should be placed on a watch list.”

Kerry Honors Self With Symphony-Hall Bash: "The Drudge headline says it all: Sen. Kerry Rents Out 2,000-seat Boston Symphony Hall to celebrate ...himself. I guess if no one else is going to do it for you...or maybe his yacht was unavailable. The article points out that Kerry has been also asking "battle-weary Bay State Democrats" for cash for his re-election campaign, even though the election is four years away. Thanks, George W., for saving the country from four years of this".

Bomb Kills Iranian Nuclear Scientist: "Unidentified assailants riding motorcycles launched bomb attacks early on Monday against two Iranian nuclear physicists here, killing one of them. Some unofficial Iranian media reports, controlled by hardliners, described Mr. Abbasi as a loyalist supporter of the Iranian regime involved in nuclear research at the Defense Ministry and said both scientists were from the nuclear engineering department of Shahid Beheshti University. The attacks were similar to a bombing last January in which a remote-controlled bomb killed another physics professor, Masoud Ali Mohammadi, outside his home."

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)


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