Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Progressives’ Ultimate Fetish

Progressives can’t help themselves. When a normal person hears of a tragedy, they feel the natural range of emotions – fear, anger, sympathy, etc. But progressives are not normal humans. When they hear news of a tragedy their first thought is “How can this help the cause?” There’s something oddly perverse about this mental defect that somehow overrides decency in tragedy’s aftermath, but it’s as widespread amongst the political left as freckles are on redheads.

Harsh? Perhaps. But sometimes the truth hurts.

In the hours after the Boston Marathon bombing, the usual suspects of progressive grave-dancers succumbed to the music of suffering and started to dance their agenda jig. Michael Moore put down his bacon-wrapped bacon and tweeted, “Tax Day. Patriots Day.” The implication being it had to be a conservative because we oppose high taxes and call ourselves patriots.

Once it became clear the terrorists were not rednecks named Billy Bob, the effects of Moore’s psychological Viagra wore off and he tweeted, “Younger brother Jahar was captain of the wrestling team and a volunteer with "Best Buddies," helping kids with Downs Syndrome.” Not even a beat missed in the shift from accusing his fellow Americans to sympathizing with a terrorist. Who says a fat man can’t dance?

But Moore was not alone in his arousal over the prospect the Boston terrorists somehow could be connected to the political right. There wasn’t a mainstream news organization that didn’t have left-wing fetishists applying virtual nipple clamps on themselves while all but pointing the finger at those who simply wish to have a government that pays a little more deference to the document politicians swear to preserve, protect and defend.

National Public Radio’s Dina Temple-Raston – the network’s “counter-terrorism correspondent” – posited the month of April is big for “right-wing” and “anti-government” people because it’s the month in which Columbine happened and it’s the month of Hitler’s birthday. Yes, you read that right – Hitler’s birthday. I had no idea when Hitler’s birthday was, never heard it mentioned before in my life.

I was ignorant of this because Hitler was a) a monster and who gives a damn when he was born; and b) a leftist socialist and those, like monsters, are not people I choose to waste brain cells trying to remember their birthdays.

Somehow, magically, every leftist on the planet was endowed with the knowledge of date of Hitler’s birth. It was rather sick.

But even NPR spending our tax dollars to stimulate its perverted fetish wasn’t the worst offender in the progressives “guilt by association” orgy. MSNBC would not be outdone. The crown-prince of premature projection-ation is Chris Matthews, who said, “Normally, domestic terrorists people tend to be on the far right. Well, that’s not a good category. Just extremists. Let’s call them that.”

From the far right?  Think about that for a second. The political right is about individual liberty and limited government; the political left is about collective action and a strong government. Take the left to the extreme and you find totalitarianism. Along the way you pass socialism, fascism and communism. Take the right to the extreme and you find, essentially, anarchy. Yet when people think of anarchists they think of leftists because what anarchists truly favor is not empowering individuals but for the anarchists themselves to have the power. Anarchists remain at the margins, so it doesn’t matter much. But it’s something to think about the next time you run across a leftist trying to tell you otherwise.

Anytime you talk about progressives the issue of race inevitably comes into play. That’s because dividing and subdividing Americans is what holds their coalition together. That and convincing everyone they’re victims, they shouldn’t bother trying because the system is stacked against them and, more importantly, the only way their lives will improve is through government. Government will protect them from the faceless boogeyman of racism, homophobia, sexism or the big evil corporation that is responsible for their failures. Never can the notion sometimes life happens, sometimes someone is better or more qualified for a job than you, be allowed to seep into the mind. A victim they must forever be.

Because a victim, or someone convinced they are, can be “empowered” by external forces, such as an election. And even when the savior who promises a better life in exchange for a vote does not deliver, the savior is not condemned. He is said to “need more time” because the forces against him are just that powerful. It’s the promise of a glorious future Christmas that never comes. But I digress.

Race came into play in the Boston attack in a way it rarely does – through the front door. Progressives love to play the race card, and many of them, white and black, make their living telling minorities they can’t get ahead so just trust in others. One white guy who does is David Sirota, a pasty Coloradan who specializes in finding new ways to use the term “white privilege” in situations no non-race-obsessed profiteer could fathom, wrote a piece for Salon.com entitled, “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American.” Not, “Let’s hope they’re caught,” but let’s hope their pigment is one I can make money from.

In that piece, Sirota claims society will react differently based on the race of the terrorists. He quotes fellow race profiteer and writer Tim Wise, who wrote, “White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for your group to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening or threatened with deportation.” Remember to mention that at your next TSA colonoscopy.

When the terrorists did turn out to be white, but not quite white enough for his desired climax, and Muslims to boot, Sirota was a ball of confusion and disappointment, much like I imagine he and his prom date were in high school…

Progressive’s hatred for America is not limited to race. It’s universal against the culture because the culture still insists on embracing liberty and responsibility. As such, it must be attacked.

Enter Marc Ambinder.

Ambinder, writing in The Week about U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., wondering how people raised in America could be radicalized into terrorism, wanted to point the finger of blame at America, not the terrorists themselves. He suggests we consider “the possibility that something about America is radicalizing people of all sorts.”

Actually, there seems to be only one sort of people being radicalized regularly in America – progressives. Sure, it’s to varying degrees of radical dementia. Some plant bombs. Some become scholars on “privilege.” And a few from both groups, by the end or “refractory period” of their careers, will end up becoming tenured professors or journalists.

Of course, I kid….. a lot more than a few of them will become tenured professors or journalists. And that power to infect the minds of future generations with their perverted ideas through academia and media may well be the ultimate progressive fetish of them all.



When the U.S. government deliberately massacred innocent men, women and children

No.  Not American Indians  -- Bible-loving White Protestant Christians.  Somewhat to his credit, President Clinton opposed the action but eventually gave his subordinates their head

Fifty-one days earlier, federal Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents had attacked this sprawling home occupied by scores of women, children, and men – members of an offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventists. Seventy-six ATF agents arrived on cattle trailers, shot the Davidians’ dogs, and then commenced trying to blast and smash their way into the house. The ATF supposedly had an arrest warrant for Davidian leader David Koresh but forgot to bring it along that morning. ATF named its operation Showtime, and made sure that multiple crews from local television stations were nearby to film their triumph.

Things went awry, and the resulting firefight left seven Davidians and four federal agents dead. ATF top brass immediately wailed to the media that their agents had been “ambushed” that morning. That characterization was difficult to reconcile with the facts that the feds launched a surprise assault and were far more heavily armed than the Davidians. Perhaps the feds considered it an “ambush” because the victims shot back.

The ATF targeted Koresh because they suspected he had illegally converted semi-automatic firearms to shoot more than one bullet with each trigger pull. Prior to attacking, the feds had scorned numerous opportunities to easily arrest Koresh. Nine days before the attack, undercover ATF agents (whom Koresh recognized as such) had even gone target shooting with Koresh.

After the ATF raid fiasco, the FBI took over and continually ratcheted up the pressure on the besieged Davidians, bombarding them around the clock with high volume soundtracks of rabbits being slaughtered and Nancy Sinatra singing (choose your poison).

On that April 19th morning, the FBI tank pumped the Davidians’ home full of CS gas, a potentially lethal, flammable compound. Around noon, fires broke out that quickly burnt the compound to the ground; 80 bodies were found in the rubble. FBI spokesmen raced to blame the Davidians for the fire and swore they had proof that the cult members committed mass suicide. (No such evidence was provided.) The spokesmen neglected to mention that the FBI had stopped fire trucks racing to the scene.

FBI operations commander Larry Potts explained the rationale for the final onslaught: “Those people thumbed their nose at law enforcement.” Snap polls just after the Waco fire showed that the American people overwhelmingly supported the FBI’s action. A few days later, the opening of a congressional hearing had to be delayed so senators could pose for pictures with Attorney General Janet Reno, who became a national hero after admitting she authorized the final attack on the Davidians….



Amtrak and the progressive sleight of hand

Progressives have always assumed that if something is good, it must be provided through coercive force by a central government. This is illustrated in progressive support for continuing large Amtrak subsidies. Various liberal policy outfits including the Brookings Institution and the Center for American Progress have been recently celebrating the mild uptick in the government-subsidized passenger railroad’s ridership levels. The train served a record 32.1 million passengers in 2012, a 55-percent increase since 1997. In earlier times, liberal advocates would have congratulated themselves on the success of a government program’s drive to self-sufficiency and move to let it fend for itself in the private sector, in the same way federally controlled Conrail was privatized and later sold off to CSX and Norfolk Southern. But this doesn’t cut it for today’s progressives, who appear to believe Amtrak’s recent uptick in ridership is reason for increasing federal subsidies. This is because they are well aware that Amtrak’s supposed success is largely a mirage.

The rise in ridership appears impressive, until one realizes that 1997 was a severe low-point for train travel. If measuring Amtrak’s total passenger miles starting in 1991, its increase over the past 22 years is a pathetic 8 percent. Its condition looks even worse when considering that population growth has increased over this period by 25 percent, pushing Amtrak’s share of intercity passenger travel down from 0.45 to 0.36 percent. Passenger rail is alone in the dismal state of its ridership. Despite the airline industry’s financial instability, not to mention the costs incurred due to the September 11 attacks and the TSA, airline ridership increased by 68 percent. Even intercity buses carry three times more passenger miles than Amtrak does, while the vast majority of intercity travel is made by private automobile.

Supporters of Amtrak disregard the railroad’s low ridership rates by emphasizing the pittance the federal government annually pays to it as evidence of its fiscal sustainability. While the Department of Transportation’s 2012 budget appropriated $70 billion for the Highway Trust Fund and $18.7 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration, DOT spent a mere $1.5 billion on Amtrak. Under closer scrutiny, however, Amtrak’s low cost is illusory. Highways and airports absorb greater federal subsidies because their networks are vastly greater than Amtrak’s and carry far more passengers (not to mention highway and air freight service). It would be misleading to compare Amtrak’s absolute direct subsidies of 6.5 billion passenger miles annually with other modes—highways, which account for 4.1 trillion passenger miles, and the airline industry, which accounts for 500 billion passenger miles. A more accurate comparison of federal subsidies would be to break down the value of these subsidies for each passenger mile travelled. Amtrak’s subsidies including state grants average 25 cents per passenger mile.  Per passenger mile subsidies for airlines are only 2.8 cents and the highway subsidy is an even smaller 1.1 cents.

Despite these lavish subsidies, the government-funded railroad’s operational inefficiencies require it to raise the fares it has charged passengers again and again. Under decades of sclerotic management, Amtrak average fares have risen from 17 cents to 32 cents per passenger mile. During the same period, efficiency gains have lowered the average fare per passenger mile for bus and air travel to 13 cents.

The deficit in what Amtrak collects in revenue and what it spends every year cannot even be taken at face value. Unlike most firms, Amtrak does not count maintenance as an operating cost and instead considers it a capital cost. This allows it to treat routine maintenance like long-term investments in new rail and carrier capacity, pushing these costs off its balance sheet. In addition to ticket sales, the government railroad also counts state grants and subsidies that total $225 million as revenue. If all these costs are correctly take into account, even Amtrak’s often praised Northeast Corridor runs an annual loss if, as Cato’s Randal O’Toole notes, the true costs were properly apportioned across routes.

Healthy public debate is essential if America is to ultimately tackle its dire and growing transportation challenges. You may not be in favor of privatizing passenger rail service, but pretending that Amtrak is a model of efficiency is simply intellectually dishonest.



The deadly labyrinth of ObamaCare

The best way to understand the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is to realize that it confers large benefits on some people and imposes large costs on others.

If you are one of the ones who will qualify for expanded Medicaid, you will get something for nothing. Although there are quality issues and access problems, including rationing by waiting, Medicaid will probably spend $8,000 on an average family of four over the course of a year. Enrollment is like an $8,000 gift from the government.

If your income is a tad too high for Medicaid, you will get something even better. In a newly created health insurance exchange you will be able to obtain, say, a $15,000 family plan for no more than about a $600 premium. This is almost something for nothing.

Things will be very different if you have a job, however.

Consider a typical hotel. Almost everyone you see is earning about $15 to $20 an hour — the maids, the waitresses, the waiters, the busboys, the doormen, the porters, the custodians, the groundskeepers, etc. The cost of family coverage is equal to between one-third and one-half of these workers' annual earnings. The goal of ObamaCare is to force them to obtain this insurance with no extra help from government. And this is true even if the maids are already enrolled in Medicaid!

The economic literature on this type of mandate is clear. Although government can offer people something for nothing, the labor market does not. Employee benefits are not gifts from employers.

They are substitutes for money wages and other benefits. The cost of the employer mandate will surely be borne by the employees themselves. Mandated health insurance in Massachusetts, for example, was offset dollar for dollar by lower cash wages.

We can be fairly certain that low-wage workers and their employers will be searching for ways to avoid the mandate. Why? If the employees were willing to spend half their income on health insurance they would have done so already. That they have not indicates they would rather spend the money on something else.

Much more HERE

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


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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