Monday, February 11, 2013

The Freezeniks are in power now

President Obama’s senior thesis at Columbia University has been embargoed. It is said to be an endorsement of the Nuclear Freeze Movement that was so much the cause célèbre of the left here and throughout Western Europe in the Reagan years. We may have to wait for his presidential library to open to find out.

And we may have to wait until then, too, to learn whether young Barack Obama attended the massive, one million plus Nuclear Freeze rally in Central Park in June, 1982. It’s hard to imagine that the young student who, he tells us in his book Dreams from My Father, consciously sought out the Marxist professors on campus would have missed this huge anti-nuclear demonstration unfolding on his doorstep. It’s odd, too, that he seems never to have been asked about this during two campaigns for the White House or during any press conference.

Why is this important now? Because now is when President Obama’s promise to be “flexible” with Russia’s Vladimir Putin is being redeemed. Mr. Obama has just tapped as his Sec. of State John Kerry, the man who rode into the Senate as the most outspoken proponent of the Nuclear Freeze. Kerry was never held accountable for that full-throated embrace of the Soviet Union’s Number One foreign policy objective for almost the full decade of the 1980s.

Even when Kerry ran for president in 2004, opponents focused on his 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a youthful, long-haired anti-Vietnam War protester, and not on the fact that he helped to further the KGB’s goals as a U.S. Senator.

Of course, President Obama’s choice of former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to be the next Sec. of Defense seems incomprehensible to many in Washington. He’s so obviously unfit. Even his defenders—like former Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh—concede that “[Hagel] didn’t bring his ‘A-game’ to his confirmation hearings.” Imagine that: a Sec. of Defense-designate whom even his backers say was unprepared.

The Hagel choice only makes sense if you realize that Obama and Kerry would not want a civilian leader in the Pentagon making waves as they seek to disarm and disable the United States of America. Hagel will be a loyal member of the “go along to get along gang,” if confirmed.

We now know that the Soviet KGB, the deadly secret police, was a leading pusher of the Nuclear Freeze and they had thousands of willing accomplices on the left. They wanted to be able to put Soviet missiles in Eastern Europe and have the West respond with a “Freeze” on their own deployment of Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles—Cruise and Pershing rockets.

The best way to think of that policy goal is to think of the rabbit and the boa constrictor. The boa moves menacingly toward the rabbit and the rabbit freezes, hoping the boa won’t notice him. But to the boa, the rabbit is lunch.

Left-wing advocates of the Freeze, like Bill Hyland, argued publicly that our freezing would create a world outcry for the Soviets to withdraw their own IRBM’s from Eastern Europe.

Harvard’s Polish-born biographer of Stalin, the great Adam Ulam, punctured Hyland’s pretty bubble when he asked him in his heavily-accented English: “An’ wot will you doo iff they dun’t?”

President Reagan wisely and courageously resisted calls for the Nuclear Freeze. He believed the United States’ strength should always be “second to none.” He advocated instead a Zero Option under which both sides would massively reduce their nuclear and conventional weapons. He was careful always to say: Trust but verify. Which was his polite way of saying: We aren’t going to trust you without proof.

Today, America’s foreign and defense policies are being crafted at the top by those who so obviously failed in the great Cold War struggle of the 1980s. The Freezeniks are in power now.

And their negotiating partner, Vladimir Putin, knows what he can get from them in the way of flexibility. No other world leader is a former KGB agent. It may well be that Putin rose through the ranks of that dreaded outfit by crafting the very policies that credulous Western “peace” politicians fell for.

We don’t know if young Barack Obama was on board for the Freeze, but Vladimir Putin knows. Russia’s spy network has never been dismantled. In 2010 the FBI caught ten Russian spies just before the famed “Hamburger Summit” between President Obama and Putin’s seat-warmer, Dmitri Medvedev, the spies were allowed to leave the U.S. without extensive questioning, without so much as a TSA pat-down.

When Russia briefly tasted freedom in the 1990s, happy throngs tore down the Moscow statue of Felix Dzerzhinksi, the founder of the Soviet secret police. “Iron Felix’s” bust was quietly returned to Russia’s police headquarters by Vladimir Putin, shortly after he resumed power in 2000. It is to this man, this successor to creators of the Gulag where millions died, that President Obama gave his promise to be “flexible” after the election. Frozen in fear; flexible to our foes. That’s the best summary of U.S. foreign policy now.



Leftist reliance on foolish prophecies

 Thomas Sowell

People on both sides of tax issues often speak of such things as a "$300 billion tax increase" or a "$500 billion tax decrease." That is fine if they are looking back at something that has already happened. But it can be sheer nonsense if they are talking about a proposed increase or decrease in the tax rate.

The government can only raise or lower the tax rate. Whether the actual tax revenues that the government will collect as a result will go up or down is a matter of prophecy. And these prophecies have been far too wrong far too often to base national policies on them.

When Congress was considering raising the capital gains tax rate from 20 percent to 28 percent in 1986, the Congressional Budget Office advised Congress that this would increase the revenue received from that tax. But the Congressional Budget Office was wrong, not simply about the amount of the tax revenue increase, but about the fact that the capital gains tax revenue actually fell.

There was nothing unique about this example of tax rates and tax revenues moving in opposite directions from each other -- and also in opposite directions from the predictions of the Congressional Budget Office. Reductions of the capital gains tax rates in 1978, 1997 and 2003 all led to increased revenues from that tax.

The Congressional Budget Office is by no means the only government agency whose prophecies have been grossly unreliable. Anyone who looks at the history of the Federal Reserve System will find many painful examples of wrong prophecies that led to policies with bad consequences for the whole economy.

In a worldwide context, during the 20th century economic central planning by governments -- prophecy at the grandest level -- led to so many bad consequences, in countries around the world, that even most socialist and communist governments abandoned central planning by the end of that century.

The failures of governmental prophecies in so many different contexts cannot be blamed on stupidity. Most of the people who made these prophecies were far more educated than the average person, had far more information at their fingertips and probably had higher IQs as well.

Their intellectual superiority to others may well have given them the confidence to venture into areas where no human being has what it takes to make prophecies that lead to policies overriding the plans and actions of millions of other human beings.

As John Stuart Mill said, back in the 19th century, "even if a government were superior in intelligence and knowledge to any single individual in the nation, it must be inferior to all the individuals of the nation taken together."

People competing with each other, and being forced to make mutual accommodations with each other in the marketplace, are operating in a trial and error process.

Human beings are going to make errors in any kind of economic or political system. The question is: Which kind of system punishes errors more quickly, and more effectively, in terms of forcing errors to be corrected?

A market economy with many competitors has incentives and constraints that are the opposite of those in a government monopoly.

Anyone familiar with the economic history of businesses knows that their mistakes have been common and large. But red ink on the bottom line lets them know that they are going to have to shape up or shut down.

Government agencies face no such constraint. The Federal Reserve can keep making the same mistakes in the next hundred years that it made in its first hundred years. Or it can make new and bigger mistakes.

Nor is the Federal Reserve unique. The same thing applies to the Congressional Budget Office and to government agencies on down to the local DMV.

Elected politicians not only can keep making the same mistakes. They have every incentive to deny that they made a mistake in the first place, since such an admission can end their careers.

That is why these prophets can lead to our losses.



A Miserable New York State Of Mind

The spin on the women's health issue could give you whiplash. Nationally and in my home state of New York, there's a whole lot of manipulation going on.

The White House continues its unnecessary, perplexing attack on religious liberty in the United States. The administration's latest stance regarding the abortion-drug/contraception health-insurance mandate continues to violate the rights of religious employers who object to contributing to such things. That's why you see not only Catholics but also Protestants, among others, suing the federal government. Contrary to much of the media spin, this debate is not about access but freedom.

During his State of the State address last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his abortion-expansion agenda with wild cries of "Choice!" His supposed gift to women has non-physicians performing abortions as he moves the industry toward less regulation, including on late-term abortions.

Cheryl Calire, director of pro-life activities for the Catholic Archdiocese of Buffalo and a founder of the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center there, where she works as a peer counselor, disagrees with the governor.

"We have so many other issues in the state that need attention, that one wonders why so much time and effort is being spent on an issue that would not pass as a stand-alone bill," she tells me.

And Cuomo's agenda is not actually promoting what he claims it is: choice. "In the many conversations I have had with post-abortive women," Calire shares, "they actually felt they had 'no choice,' especially because the man made them feel that since it was legal, it was the course of action that should be followed. The same often is the case for the teen who may not 'choose' to have an abortion, but parents don't want to face the perceived embarrassment that they may face, so make the 'choice' for her."

Choice is so much more than a slogan and so much more liberating than what the governor offers in its name.

In her work at the Gianna center, Calire listens, supports and connects pregnant mothers with support for material, medical and educational needs. This is the hard work of real choice. "Our goal is to empower these women and equip them with the necessary resources available to help them become a good parent and active member of our society," Calire shares. "We have women who stay in touch, finish school, start a new career and come and volunteer," she adds. Calire wants every pregnant woman to know: "There are people who care about you, your unborn child, and are willing to put that into action."

Calire's commitment to pro-life work was stepped up by an unplanned pregnancy close to home. Her 15-year-old son fathered a child with his girlfriend. He wanted to take responsibility for the child he had helped conceive, but his girlfriend's parents had already scheduled an abortion. It was a difficult road, but her grandson is now 6 years old, living with his dad, with visits from his mom. "He is the light in our life," his loving grandmother proclaims.

If Cuomo really wants to give women a choice, he'd support initiatives such as tax credits for couples who adopt and measures similar to the Signs of Hope Act in Louisiana, which ensures women know their options before ending the life of their unborn child. New York City has been described as the abortion capital of the United States, with some 41 percent of pregnancies there ending in abortion. How can there be a need for more?

We are far from the days of safe, legal and rare. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently reflected, "abortion seems to be not the law of the land but the preference of the land." Why else would anyone support Gov. Cuomo's tactics? Let's work on actually helping women, instead of this miserable excuse for a conversation about choice and health.



George Orwell Surely Would Be Amused by the Statolatry in the United Kingdom

Daniel J. Mitchell

I just finished up a trip to London.

In previous posts, I’ve expressed pessimism about the future of the United Kingdom, largely because all political parties have a statist mentality.  I criticized Gordon Brown, the former Labor Party Prime Minister, for being a compulsive redistributionist, big spender, and taxaholic.

But nothing’s really changed under Tory leadership. David Cameron is a vacuous statist, undermining the Conservative Party in the same way that George W. Bush eroded the brand name capital of the Republican Party.

This sign was on a train I rode today. It is sponsored by the UK version of the IRS,  and it pretty much symbolizes how the United Kingdom has turned into a predatory state.

The United Kingdom is in terrible fiscal shape. Government spending has reached record levels, and now consumes a larger share of economic output than the public sectors in failed welfare states such as Spain.

And what are taxpayers getting for their money, other than Orwellian signs?

Not much. They get an increasingly dysfunctional society filled with scroungers such as Natalija, Gina and Danny.

They also get a healthcare system that seemingly prides itself on maltreatment, and a tax system that is more designed to be punitive rather than to generate revenue.

Though the UK government does provide taxpayer-financed sex tours to Amsterdam, so at least a few people are getting screwed as a result of government rather than by the government.

But let’s close by contemplating the mindset of a government that would post such a sign. We already know that Prime Minister Cameron and some of his senior deputies think it’s wrong to engage in legal tax avoidance.

And this is a government that is brainwashing kids into becoming servile snitches, and is even considering a system that would have employers send paychecks to the state and then the government would decide how much to send to taxpayers.

Such a shame since so much of what is good in the Western World came from England.

P.S. This is also a country where they send innocent people to jail for shooting burglars.

SOURCE  (See the original for links)



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