Sunday, November 06, 2011


I don't really get what Tumblr is good for. I have opened a site here with a few random bits so guess I could use it if I knew why I should. Is it a sort of super-twitter? Help and suggestions welcome.


Leftists love destruction

The nearer they get to revolution, the happier they are

Occupy Oakland called for a general strike — the city grinding to a halt, banks unattended, and schools closed. What they got was a few thousand protesters vandalizing banks and briefly closing a unionized port, but more important, a mayor happy to facilitate it all. Wednesday night would have been no more disturbing than a vigorous though destructive demonstration by the lefties of the Occupy movement — except that it occurred with the endorsement of Oakland’s mayor, Jean Quan.

The problems began last week when Oakland police cleared the illegal tent city in Frank Ogawa Plaza, responding to claims of sexual assault, vandalism, and other crimes. Clashes broke out between protesters and police, in which one man was accidentally seriously injured. The next day, much to the justified confusion and anger of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association, the protesters were allowed to return and continue their blatantly unpermitted occupation of the park — where Mayor Quan promised they could stay until they wanted to meet with her (they haven’t).

As if to make up for having offended her fellow activists-cum-politicians, Quan began to express her support for the movement’s “general strike” this Wednesday. She informed city employees, with the exception of the police, that they would be allowed to take the day off in order to participate in the strike, but few did — 360 workers from the 2,000-strong Oakland Unified School District, for instance. Even with all the abetting the city government could afford, only 18 percent of one of the strongest progressive groups in America, unionized teachers, joined the strike.

Despite her words, Quan attempted to maintain some sense of propriety and responsibility by requiring that all police officers show up to work and ordering extra police into the streets. It appears, however, that she significantly hindered their ability to protect citizens and private property. At 11:55 p.m. Wednesday night, police reported that “the protesters began hurling rocks, explosives, bottles, and flaming objects at responding officers.” The mayor responded with an almost unbelievable tweet at 1:00 a.m.: “OPD has not taken action. Smoke is from burning barricade. I’ll say it again, protestors need to call now” (having provided her office phone number earlier in the evening).

Although the exact events of the evening remain murky (my requests for explanation from the mayor’s office were not answered), this much is clear: While protesters were committing widespread acts of arson and violence, she felt the need to offer free consultation to the perpetrators and clarify that the police were doing nothing to stop them.

Tom Del Beccaro, chairman of the California Republican party, noted to National Review Online that he is hardly surprised; Quan was “really always more of an activist than a mayor.” There are obvious parallels to our current president, who has also expressed some support for the Occupy movement. The comparison stops there, however: Quan’s position demands a practical and serious response to a movement that endangers her citizens, and she has offered inane yet maleficent ideological encouragement instead.

This is not Quan’s first dereliction of her first duty, protecting the citizens of Oakland: Police chief Anthony Batts resigned two weeks ago, citing the impossibility of reform and effective law enforcement in a suffocating city bureaucracy. Del Beccaro explained that it was widely perceived that the mayor had “pushed him out because he got tough on crime.” In doing so, she showed shades of the liberal orthodoxy that has made her so ineffective in confronting this week’s events: ideological solidarity overruling practical concerns.

Del Beccaro, a resident of the Bay Area, finds himself bewildered by Quan’s attempts to “fan the flames” of unrest in Oakland. He characterizes the state of Oakland as “just sad,” afflicted with 15 percent unemployment, dysfunctional and corrupt government, and appalling rates of crime. That’s why the mayor’s office has attempted to portray Wednesday night’s events as successful work by her office.

Following the night’s chaos, Mayor Quan has refused to confront an angry and frightened Oakland public, but her office did release a summary of the events, beginning triumphantly: “Yesterday, the City of Oakland facilitated a long day of primarily peaceful protests with some isolated incidents of violence and vandalism” (note that she refuses specific credit to the police, the city workers tasked with controlling the mess she had instigated).

The isolated violence extended all the way to a gathering of thousands to close the Port of Oakland, and isolated vandalism afflicted banks and businesses all across the city. Even Whole Foods, the favored grocer of the American Left, had its stores vandalized by protesters because they had refused to allow their employees to strike; they relented later in the day, after the protesters smashed store windows and harassed customers and employees.

Mayor Quan’s obvious affections for the far-left Occupy movement have endangered her city. Politicians elsewhere may admit that the Occupy movement has legitimate grievances, but only go so far as to allow them a reasonable, legal forum for airing them. On the farthest edge of America’s left coast, Jean Quan’s sympathy makes her loath to restrain the protests when they begin to descend into violence — suggesting that, to paraphrase Evelyn Waugh, protesters have the right to bear arms in any battle anywhere against the upper classes.

Conservatives have joked that President Obama is our “community-organizer-in-chief.” Oakland certainly has one for a mayor, whose political inclinations make her comfortable and even pleased promoting and facilitating civil unrest. Her refusal to acknowledge this has left her community very disorganized indeed.



Medallion madness

by Jeff Jacoby

HERE'S ONE for the Guinness World Records people: Two New York City taxi medallions were sold last month for $1 million apiece. That's the highest price ever paid for the right to operate a car as a taxicab in The City That Never Sleeps. It's also an expensive lesson in the harm caused to consumers and would-be entrepreneurs by overregulation and the strangling of competition.

By law, every cab in New York has to have an official medallion -- the numbered metal plate nailed to the hood -- but the number of medallions is fixed at 13,237. When the city first issued taxi medallions in the 1930s, they cost $10 each. But before long the demand for taxi ownership had outstripped the limited supply of medallions. Since City Hall wasn't issuing new ones, the only way to get a medallion was to buy one from an existing owner. Over time the value of those metal tags went through the stratosphere.

In the years after World War II, a New York City taxi medallion could be had for $2,500. By the mid-1970s the going price was $50,000. In 1985, when a medallion changed hands for $100,000, it made the front page of The New York Times. That sale was arranged by a "taxi financing specialist" named Nat Goldbetter, a one-time cabdriver who discovered he could make a better living arranging medallion sales on the secondary market. By coincidence, it was Goldbetter who arranged the sale of the million-dollar medallions last month, landing him again on Page 1. "Nobody ever thought the medallion would get to this point," he marveled.

In a rational market, Goldbetter's industry wouldn't even exist. A taxi medallion, after all, has no intrinsic value -- it is merely the government's permission to use a car to transport passengers for a fee. Acquiring a medallion isn't like acquiring a dental practice or some other going concern: It doesn't come with a built-in customer base or first dibs on popular routes. It doesn't include the price of gas or insurance, let alone a car. A medallion represents nothing but official approval to be in the cab business. No one has to invest a fortune to get the government's OK to sell tacos or put out a newspaper or practice podiatry. Why should anyone have to invest a fortune -- or hire a "taxi financing specialist" -- to get the government's OK to own a cab?

The medallion system is a classic illustration of what economists call "rent-seeking" -- manipulating the political system to gain economic benefits without providing any additional value to society in exchange. Imposing caps on the number of taxis enriches existing owners with windfall profits. But by making the cost of cab ownership obscenely high, it prevents countless would-be cabbies from going into business for themselves. And by stifling competition, it drives fares through the roof while lowering the quality and availability of service.

New York isn't alone in blighting its taxi market like this. In Boston, which also adopted a medallion system in the 1930s, the little metal plates now sell for $400,000 and cab fares for most rides are the highest of any big city in North America. The number of cabs is limited to 1,825, which is why trying to get a taxi in the city's outlying neighborhoods can be so tough. Cabbies -- most of whom can't afford a medallion of their own and instead must pay stiff fees to lease somebody else's -- naturally gravitate to the most lucrative routes.

Even more obnoxious is the government-protected monopoly in Milwaukee, which in 1991 imposed a citywide cap of just 321 taxis, yielding a ratio of 1 taxi for every 1,850 residents. (By comparison, the ratio in Boston is about 1 to 340; in Washington, DC, where the number of cabs is not artificially limited, it's 1 to 90.) The cost of a taxi permit has soared from $85 to $150,000, which is well above the price of an average Milwaukee house.

"In the classic story of entrepreneurship, someone starts a taxi business in order to save up enough money to buy a house," says attorney Anthony Sanders. "In Milwaukee, you need to save up enough money to buy a house just to start a taxi business." Sanders works for the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm that litigates around the country in defense of the right of individuals to earn an honest living. The institute, which successfully defended reforms that ended a taxi cartel in Minneapolis, recently filed a lawsuit challenging Milwaukee's cap on taxi permits as unjust and unconstitutional.

Can you imagine City Hall trying to fix the number of shoe stores or web designers or CPAs allowed to operate in town? Arbitrary limits on the number of taxicabs should be considered just as ridiculous. The government has no right playing favorites, or crushing competition. The Institute for Justice describes itself as advocating for fairness and economic liberty; what it really seeks to protect is the American Dream. In Milwaukee today. In New York and Boston, perhaps, tomorrow.



Herman Cain's media Lynching

No one who followed politics 20 years ago will forget the night when Clarence Thomas sent an electric charge through a Senate hearing room. As liberal Democrats pushed the unproven sexual harassment charges of Anita Hill, in an attempt to destroy Thomas's chance to serve on the Supreme Court, Thomas called them out for conducting a national disgrace. "This is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves."

This line packed a wallop because Hill's charges were about as proven as the old charges of perverted indecency against white women that were concocted by racists. Whether her claims were true or not was utterly irrelevant to liberals. All that mattered was that Thomas be ruined and that black conservatives be denied a role model so prominent and so accomplished.

Twenty years later, it sounds like an echo. Once again, the liberal media have provided an unproven charge (of unknown severity) of sexual harassment, filed by two anonymous women who allegedly settled complaints with the National Restaurant Association in 1999. The newspaper Politico offered an incredibly vague story that somehow required four reporters to compile.

This is how vague the claims were, which Politico rushed to publish. They assert there were "conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature," and also, "descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual" but made women uncomfortable. What does all this mean? At least in Hill's case, she was making wacky but specific charges about Long Dong Silver. But who cares? All that matters is that Cain's presidential campaign is ruined, just as it reached its height. Black conservatives must be denied a role model this prominent and successful.

Within two days, NBC's Ann Curry was leading off the "Today" show with this thermonuclear question about Cain: "Will the controversy and his reaction to it derail his presidential campaign?"

Is this a high-tech lynching because Cain is a conservative black? Just examine how white liberals are treated. Not only do liberal media outlets fail to break these stories, they refuse even to demand the questions be answered.

Cain is only one contender in the 2012 Republican field. Bill Clinton was president of the United States when he was charged with three separate sexual allegations. But from Monday morning through Thursday morning, ABC, CBS and NBC ran 50 stories on the allegations against Cain. Now, let's compare.

In 1994, when Paula Jones publicly, at a national press conference for God's sakes, accused President Clinton of exposing himself while demanding oral sex -- something no one accuses Cain of doing -- CBS and NBC completely ignored her press conference. ABC gave it just 16 seconds.

When Kathleen Willey accused Bill Clinton in 1997 of sexually groping her in the Oval Office when he was president -- another woman coming forward publicly with a charge far more serious than anything even suggested about Cain -- the networks ran a grand total of three stories, the longest of which was just 1 minute.

And in the first five days after the publication of the 1999 Wall Street Journal column in which Juanita Broaddrick reluctantly came forward and charged the President with a bloody rape, the number of news stories totaled to three.

So it's maddening when someone like Tom Brokaw goes on MSNBC and insists that Herman Cain should be laying everything out on the table: "I would think that he would be eager to get the details out as quickly as possible, if he's as innocent as he has described himself in all of this."

That's not how Brokaw felt about Paula Jones's sexual harassment charges against Bill Clinton. On CNBC in 1994, he dismissed that story. "It didn't seem to most people, entirely relevant to what was going on at the time. These are the kind of charges raised about the President before. They had been played out in the Gennifer Flowers episode." Brokaw surely knew the difference between the consensual sex with Flowers and the sexual harassment of Jones.

Brokaw didn't demand that Clinton "should be eager to get the details out as quickly as possible" about Jones ... or about Willey ... or even about the rape charges of Broaddrick. Clinton wouldn't even deny the rape charge. He only said he would refer "all future questions to be answered by my attorneys." But Tom Brokaw deliberately never filed a single story on Broaddick's charges on his "NBC Nightly News" program -- even though the break-through interview was broadcast on "Dateline NBC"!

So these windbags should spare us the lectures about how Cain really needs to submit to more media interrogations while they have protected white liberals from charges that are much more egregious. Their only interest in this matter is not in creating news, but in destroying Herman Cain.



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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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