I will update the blog on my return.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I will update the blog on my return.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Please find below my suggestion for fixing America 's economy.
Instead of giving billions of dollars to companies that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan. You can call it the "Patriotic Retirement Plan":
There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force.
Pay them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:
1) They MUST retire. Forty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.
2) They MUST buy a new American CAR. Forty million cars ordered – Auto Industry fixed.
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage – Housing Crisis fixed.
It can't get any easier than that!!
P.S. If more money is needed, have all members in Congress pay their taxes...Mr. President, while you're at it, make Congress retire on Social Security and Medicare.
I'll bet both programs would be fixed pronto!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
How would the Reid bill affect the middle class? KeithHennessey.com
Here is a summary:
Here’s the quantitative summary for the Reid bill. All figures are for the year 2019, and in each case these are net results of premium changes, tax subsidies, and tax increases.
17.8 million individuals, families, and single parents with incomes under $200K will be net financial winners (11% of all tax returns under $200K):
[Of] that 17.8 million total, 13.2 million of them will benefit from the government subsidy for health insurance, net of any premium increases.
The other 4.6 million of them will also benefit, netting out their premium reduction with the higher taxes they will pay. These people in general will not get a health insurance subsidy.
68.4 million individuals, families, and single parents with incomes under $200K will be net financial losers (41% of all tax returns under $200K):
In general these people are not eligible for premium subsidies, so the effects of he Reid bill on them are direct premium effects and/or tax increases.
Within this group, here are some representative averages, taking into account premium changes, tax subsidies for premium purchase, and tax increases:
Within this population of 68.4 million net losers, an average individual working for a small business who gets health insurance through the small group market will be worse off, even if his income is below $10K per year:
Income of 0 – $10K: He pays $31 more (per year).
Income of $10K – $20K: He pays $99 more.
Income of $20K – $30K: He pays $202 more.
Income of $30K – $40K: He pays $325 more.
Income of $40K – $50K: He pays $377 more.
Income of $50K – $75K: He pays $576 more.
Income of $75K – $100K: He pays $681 more.
Income of $100K – $200K: He pays $726 more.
If this individual works for a large employer buying insurance in the large group market, the bill helps him if his income is <$20K, and hurts him if his income is >$20K:
Income of 0 – $10K: He pays $135 less.
Income of $10K – $20K: He pays $67 less.
Income of $20K – $30K: He pays $36 more.
Income of $30K – $40K: He pays $159 more.
Income of $40K – $50K: He pays $211 more.
Income of $50K – $75K: He pays $410 more.
Income of $75K – $100K: He pays $515 more.
Income of $100K – $200K: He pays $561 more.
For an average family among the 68.4 million losers getting insurance through the small group market (including most small business employees), they are on average better off if their family income is <$20K, and worse off if their income is >$20K. If they get insurance through a large employer, the breakpoint is $30K.
For an average single parent among the 68.4 million losers, he or she will be better off if income is <$20K, and worse off if income is >$20K, whether he or she gets insurance in the small group or large group markets.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
But the ideology of the left blinds them to the obvious.
"Make no mistake about it, this generation is a generation of thieves and the people who stole their parents and their children’s money to make their own lives cushier are at it again. This time the target is their grandchildren." -- Evan Sayet
Throughout American history, generations of our countrymen took pride in leaving the country better than the one they grew up in. Their attitude about sacrifice was summed up by this classic quotation from Tom Paine:
"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace."
That is no longer the spirit that animates our leaders or much of our country. Today, it's, "If there must be trouble, let our children and grandchildren handle it, so that I am not inconvenienced."
History is full of great nations that have fallen from their lofty perches back into the ranks and the United States is likely to be among them unless we change our attitude about the following issues:
income tax." Today, "roughly 120 million Americans – 40 percent of the U.S. population – are outside of the federal income tax system."
Meanwhile, the top 50% of income earners pay 97% percent of the income taxes. "In 1945, 41.9 workers supported each (Social Security recipient), while today only 3.3 workers support each retiree." That number will continue to shrink.
In other words, we're developing into a two-tiered society. Some people like to think of it as the "haves" and "have nots." However, it would be more apt to describe it as the people who pay the bills and the people who live off of the fruits of their labor.
This is an extraordinarily dangerous development for our country. It makes us overly dependent on workers and entrepreneurs who may flee the country or simply stop working as the burden on them grows. It also leads to class warfare, with the producers becoming increasingly resentful of an ever more demanding class of sows dining at the government troth. Of course, it's easy to be demanding when you don't have to pay the full value of the services you receive. It's also easy to be resentful when you don't get your money's worth in government services and are treated as selfish for wanting to keep more of the money you earned for yourself. This is not a recipe either for societal stability or for long-term prosperity.
2) A degenerating society: America's success has been because of our people, not because of our government. It is almost impossible to overestimate the value our country has gotten out of having a hard working, honest, charitable, patriotic, culturally homogenous population.
Yet, the cultural elements that have made this a great nation are under attack on every level.
The stigma for taking government assistance is fading, government is taking over the role of charity, many liberals mock the idea of patriotism, divorce rates have grown perilously high, support for gay marriage has increased, the percentage of the population that's Christian is dropping, and multi-culturalism and even dislike of America is replacing the idea of the Melting Pot.
The culture of a nation often tends to be more resilient than people realize, but that doesn't mean it can be taken for granted. If the bonds that hold us together disintegrate or the fundamental decency of the American people is no longer a given, our nation will no longer be great. As Samuel Adams said back in 1779:
"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader."
3) Mounting debt: There's no peril greater to this country's future than our rapidly increasing debt. We have no idea how to pay for our Social Security and Medicare obligations, we seem to be running larger and larger deficits every year, and neither political party has the guts to make significant cuts in spending. Meanwhile, the politicians in DC are so irresponsible that they're obsessed with adding yet another cripplingly expensive entitlement program on top of the others we already have now, despite the objections of the American people.
Could this lead to hyperinflation that dramatically lessens the worth of a dollar? Could it, over the long haul, give nations like China so much economic leverage over us that it would be difficult to refuse them? Could the amount of money we have to pay in interest on the debt become so odious that it could dramatically reduce economic growth? Sadly, all of these scenarios are becoming more plausible by the day.
4) Nuclear proliferation: If we don't have the will to stop a "death to America" chanting terrorist regime run by religious fanatics from getting nuclear weapons, then we don't have the will to stop any nation. That's how it will be read across the Middle-East and across the world as well if Iran gets nukes. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and company wouldn't be alone either.
1) Takers Vs. Producers: "In 1985, just 16.5% of filers paid noIf they get nukes, we should expect at a minimum Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia to also build nuclear weapons. Once that genie is out the bottle, it'll never be put back in and the United States will suffer horribly as a result.
That's not just because of the much greater potential for nuclear war and nuclear blackmail, but because the strongest of all nations will always have a target on its back. Imagine terrorists smuggling nuclear bombs into Los Angeles, DC, Chicago, and Houston and then, after the explosion, not even being able to determine which rogue nation produced the weapons that killed millions of Americans. That's the future we're headed towards unless Iran is stopped and the consequences will be more devastating than most Americans can imagine.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The link between classical liberalism and present-day Socialism — often still misnamed liberalism — is undoubtedly the belief that the consummation of individual freedom requires relief from the most pressing economic cares. If this seems attainable only at the price of restricting freedom in economic activity, then that price must be paid; and it may be conceded that most of those who want to restrict private initiative in economic life do so in the hope of creating more freedom in spheres which they value higher.
So successfully has the socialist ideal of freedom — social, economic and political been preached that the old cry of the opponents that socialism means slavery has been completely silenced. Probably the great majority of the socialist intellectuals regard themselves as the true upholders of the great tradition of intellectual and cultural liberty against that threatening monster — the authoritarian Leviathan.
Yet here and there, in the writings of some of the more independent minds of our time who have generally welcomed the universal trend toward collectivism, a note of disquiet can be discerned. The question has forced itself upon them whether some of the shocking developments of the past decades may not be the necessary outcome of the tendencies which they had themselves favored.
There are some elements in the present situation which strongly suggest that this may be so, such as the intellectual past of the authoritarian leaders, and the fact that many of the more advanced socialists openly admit that the attainment of their ends is not possible without a thorough curtailment of individual liberty.
We see that the similarity between many of the most characteristic features of the "fascist" and the "communist" regimes becomes steadily more obvious. Nor is it an accident that in the fascist states a socialist is often regarded as a potential recruit, while the liberal of the old school is recognized as the arch-enemy.
And, above all, the effects of the gradual advance toward collectivism in the countries which still cherish the tradition of liberty in social and political institutions provide ample food for thought. Anyone who has had an opportunity to watch at close range the intellectual evolution of the peoples who eventually succumbed to authoritarianism cannot fail to observe a very similar chain of cause and effect in a much less advanced state proceeding in the countries which are yet free.
Can we be certain that we know exactly where the danger to liberty lies? Was the rise of the fascist regimes really simply an intellectual reaction fomented by those whose privileges were abolished by social progress? Of course the direction of affairs in those countries has been taken out of the hands of the working classes and has been placed in those of a more efficient oligarchy. But have the new rulers not taken over the fundamental ideas and methods and simply turned them to their own ends:
It is astounding that these fateful possibilities which suggest themselves have not yet received more attention. If the suspicion of such a connection should prove correct, it would mean that we are witnessing one of the great tragedies in human history: more and more people being driven by their indignation about the suppression of political and intellectual freedom in some countries to join the forces which make its ultimate suppression inevitable. It would mean that many of the most active and sincere advocates of intellectual freedom are in effect its worst enemies and far more dangerous than its avowed opponents, because they enlist the support of those who would recoil in horror if they understood the ultimate consequences.
An attempt will be made here to show why this connection, which experience suggests, must be regarded as of a necessary character — as dictated by the inherent logic of things.
The main point is very simple. It is that the central economic planning which is regarded as necessary to organize economic activity on more rational and efficient lines, presupposes a much more complete agreement on the relative importance of the different ends than actually exists. Therefore, in order to be able to plan the planning authority must impose upon the people that detailed code of values which is lacking.
And imposing here means more than merely reading such a detailed code of values into the vague general formulae on which alone the people are able to agree The people must be made to believe in this particular code of values, since the success or failure of the planning authority will in two different ways depend on whether it succeeds in creating that belief. On the one hand, it will only secure the necessary enthusiastic support if the people believe in the ends which the plan serves; and on the other hand, the outcome will only be regarded as successful if the ends served are generally regarded as the right ones.
A fuller exposition must begin with the problems which arise when a democracy begins to plan.
Planning must be understood here in the wide sense of any deliberate attempt at central direction of economic activity which goes beyond mere general rules that apply equally to all persons, and which tells different people individually what to do and what not to do. The demand for such planning arises because people are promised a greater measure of welfare if industry is consciously organized on rational lines and because it seems obvious that those particular ends which each individual most desires can be achieved by means of planning. But the agreement about the ends of planning is, in the first instance, necessarily confined to some blanket formula like the general welfare, greater equality or justice, etc.
Agreement on such a general formula is, however, not sufficient to determine a concrete plan, even if we take all the technical means as given. Planning always involves a sacrifice of some ends in favor of others, a balancing of costs and results, and this presupposes a complete ranging of the different ends in the order of their importance. To agree on a particular plan requires much more than agreement on some general ethical rule; it requires much more than general adherence to any of the ethical codes which have ever existed; it requires that sort of complete quantitative scale of values which manifests itself in the actual decisions of every individual but on which, in an individualist society, agreement is neither necessary nor present.
This fact — that a measure of agreement which does not exist is required in order to translate the apparent agreement on the desirability to plan into concrete action — has two important consequences.
In the first instance it is responsible for the conspicuous inability of democratic assemblies to carry out what is apparently the expressed will of the people, because it is only when it comes to translate the vague instructions into action that the lack of real agreement manifests itself. Hence the growing dissatisfaction with the "talking shops" which fail to carry out what to the man in the street seems a clear mandate.
The second effect of the same cause, which appears wherever a democracy attempts to plan, is the general recognition that if efficient planning is to be done in a particular field, the direction of affairs must be "taken out of politics" and placed in the hands of independent, autonomous bodies. This is usually justified by the technical character of the decisions to be made, for which the members of a democratic assembly are not qualified.
But this excuse does not go to the root of the matter. Alterations in the structure of the civil law are no less technical and no more difficult to appreciate in all their implications; yet nobody would seriously suggest that legislation should here be delegated to a body of experts. The fact is that such legislation will be carried no further than is permitted by true agreement between a majority.
But in the direction of economic activity, say of transport, or industrial planning, the interests to be reconciled are so divergent that no true agreement on a single plan could be reached in a democratic assembly. Hence, in order to be able to extend action beyond
the questions on which agreement exists, the decisions are reserved to a few representatives of the most powerful "interests."
But this expedient is not effective enough to placate the dissatisfaction which the impotence of the democracy must create among all friends of extensive planning. The delegation of special decisions to many independent bodies presents in itself a new obstacle to proper coordination of state action in different fields.
The legislature is naturally reluctant to delegate decisions on really vital questions. And the agreement that planning is necessary, together with the inability to agree on a particular plan, must tend to strengthen the demand that the government, or some single person, should be given power to act on their own responsibility. It becomes more and more the accepted belief that if one wants to get things done, the responsible director of affairs must be freed from the fetters of democratic procedure.
Democratic government has fallen into discredit because it has been burdened with tasks for which it is not suited. Here is a fact of the greatest importance which has not yet received adequate recognition. Yet the fundamental position is simply that the probability of agreement of a substantial portion of the population upon a particular course of action decreases as the scope of state activity expands.
There are certain functions of the state on the exercise of which there will be practical unanimity. There will be others on which there will be agreement among a substantial majority. And so on until we come to fields where, although every individual might wish the government to intervene in some direction, there will be almost as many views about how the government should act as there are different persons.
Democratic government worked successfully so long as, by a widely accepted creed, the functions of the state were limited to fields where real agreement among a majority could be achieved. The price we have to pay for a democratic system is the restriction of state action to those fields where agreement can be obtained; and it is the great merit of a liberal society that it reduces the necessity of agreement to a minimum compatible with the diversity of individual opinions which will exist in a free society.
It is often said that democracy will not tolerate capitalism. But if here "capitalism" means a competitive society based on free disposal over private property, the much more important fact is that only capitalism makes democracy possible. And if a democratic people comes under the sway of an anti-capitalistic creed, this means that democracy will inevitably destroy itself.
But if democracy had to abdicate only from the control of economic life, this might still be regarded as a minor evil compared with the advantages expected from planning. Indeed, many of the advocates of planning fully realize — and have resigned themselves to the fact — that if planning is to be effective, democracy in the economic sphere has to go by the board.
But it is a fatal delusion to believe that authoritarian government can be confined to economic matters. The tragic fact is that dictatorial direction cannot remain confined to economic matters but is bound to expand and to become "totalitarian" in the strict sense of the word. The economic dictator will soon find himself forced, even against his wishes, to assume dictatorship over the whole of the political and cultural life of the people.
We have already seen that the planner must not only impose a concrete and detailed scale of values upon the vague and general instructions given by popular clamor, but must also, if he wants to act at all, make the people believe that this imposed code of values is the right one. He is forced to create that unity of purpose which — apart from national crises like war — is absent in a free society. Even more, if he is to be allowed to carry out the plan which he thinks to be the right one, he must retain the popular support, that is, he must at all costs appear successful.
The decision on the relative importance of conflicting aims is necessarily a decision about the relative merits of different groups and individuals. Planning becomes necessarily a planning in favor of some and against others. The problem here is, of course, not that the different people concerned have not the most decided opinions on the relative merits of their respective wishes; it is rather that these opinions are irreconcilable. But the ground on which the more or less arbitrary decision of the authority rests must be made to appear just, to be based on some ultimate ideal in which everybody is supposed to believe.
The inevitable distinction between persons must be made a distinction of rank, most conveniently and naturally based on the degree to which people share and loyally support the creed of the ruler. And it further clarifies the position if to the aristocracy of creed at one end of the scale there corresponds a class of outcasts at the other, whose interests can in all cases be sacrificed to those of the privileged class.
But conformity to the ruling ideas cannot be regarded as a special merit, although those who excel by their devotion to the creed will be rewarded. It must be exacted from everybody. Every doubt in the rightness of the ends aimed at or the methods adopted is apt to diminish loyalty and enthusiasm and must therefore be treated as sabotage.
The creation and enforcement of the common creed and of the belief in the supreme wisdom of the ruler becomes an indispensable instrument for the success of the planned system. The ruthless use of all potential instruments of propaganda and the suppression of every expression of dissent is not an accidental accompaniment of a centrally directed system — it is an essential part of it.
Nor can moral coercion be confined to the acceptance of the ethical code underlying the whole plan. It is in the nature of things that many parts of this code, many parts of the scale of values underlying the plan, can never be explicitly stated. They exist only implicitly in the plan. But this means that every part of the plan, in fact, every action of the government or its agencies, becomes sacrosanct and exempt from criticism.
It is, however, only the expression of criticism that can be forcibly suppressed. But doubts that are never uttered and hesitation that is never voiced have equally insidious effects, even if they dwell only in the minds of the people. Everything which might induce discontent must therefore be kept from them. The basis for comparison with conditions elsewhere, the knowledge of possible alternatives to the course taken, information which might suggest failure on the part of the government to live up to its promises or to take advantage of opportunities to improve the lot of the people — all these must be suppressed.
Indeed, there is no subject that has not some possible bearing on the estimation in which the government will be held. There is consequently no field where the systematic control of information will not be practiced.
That the government which claims to plan economic life soon asserts its totalitarian character is no accident — it can do nothing less if it wants to remain true to the intention of planning. Economic life is not a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the administration of the means for all our different ends. Whoever takes charge of these means must determine which ends shall be served; which values are to be rated higher and which lower — in short, what men should believe and strive for. And man himself becomes little more than a means for the realization of the ideals which may guide the dictator.
It is to be feared that to a great many of our contemporaries this picture, even should they recognize it as true, has lost most of the terror which it would have inspired in our fathers. There were, of course, always many to whom intellectual coercion was only objectionable if it was exercised by others, and who regarded it as beneficial if it was exercised for ends of which they approved.
How many of the exiled intellectuals from the authoritarian countries would be only too ready to apply the intellectual coercion which they condemn in their opponents in order to make the people believe in their own ideals — incidentally another illustration for the close kinship of the fundamental principles of fascism and communism.
But although the liberal age was probably freer from intellectual coercion than any other, the desire to force upon people a creed which is regarded as salutary for them is not a new phenomenon. What is new is the attempt to justify it on the part of the socialist intellectuals of our time.
There is no real freedom of thought in a capitalist society, so it is said, because the opinions and tastes of the masses are inevitably shaped by propaganda, by advertising, by the example of the upper classes and by other environmental factors which relentlessly force the thinking of the people into well-worn grooves. But if, the argument proceeds, the ideals and tastes of the great majority are formed by environmental factors which are under human control, we might as well use this power to turn their thoughts in what we think a desirable direction. That is, from the fact that the great majority have not learned to think independently but accept the ideas which they find ready-made, the conclusion is drawn that a particular group of people — of course, those who advocate this — are justified in assuming to themselves the exclusive power to determine what the people should believe.
It is not my intention to deny that for the great majority of individuals the existence or nonexistence of intellectual freedom makes little difference to their personal happiness; nor to deny that they will be equally happy if born or coaxed into one set of beliefs rather than another, and whether they have grown accustomed to one kind of amusement or another.
That in any society it will be only the comparatively few for whom freedom of thought is of any significance or exists in any real sense is probably only too true. But to deprecate the value of intellectual freedom because it will never give everybody the same opportunity of independent thought is completely to miss the reasons which give intellectual freedom its value. What is essential to make it serve its function as the prime mover of intellectual progress is not that everybody may think or write everything, but that any cause or any idea may be argued by somebody.
So long as dissent is not actually prevented, there will always be some who will query the ideas ruling their contemporaries and put new ideas to the test of argument and propaganda. The social process which we call human reason and which consists of the interaction of individuals possessing different information and different views, sometimes consistent and sometimes conflicting, goes on.
Once given the possibility of dissent there will be dissenters, however small the proportion of people who are capable of independent thought. Only the imposition of an official doctrine which must be accepted and which nobody dare question can stop intellectual progress.
How completely the imposition of a comprehensive authoritarian creed stifles all spirit of independent inquiry; how it destroys the sense for any other meaning of truth than that of conformity with the official doctrine; how differences of opinion in every branch of knowledge become political issues — these must be seen in one of the totalitarian countries to be appreciated.
We must hope that those in the Western world who seem to be ready to sacrifice intellectual freedom because it does not mean the same economic opportunity for all will yet realize what is at stake.
The great danger comes from the fact that we take so much of the inheritance of the liberal age for granted — have come to regard it as the inalienable property of our civilization — that we cannot fully conceive what it would mean if we lost it. Yet freedom and democracy are not free gifts which will remain with us if we only wish.
The time seems to have come when it is once again necessary to become fully conscious of the conditions which make them possible, and to defend these conditions even if they seem to block the path to the achievement of other ideals.
Monday, January 25, 2010
If the first year of President Barack Obama's foreign policy were a law firm in Charles Dickens's London, it would have a name like Bumble, Stumble and Skid.
It began with apologies to the Muslim world that went nowhere, a doomed attempt to beat Israel into line, utopian pleas to abolish nuclear weapons, unreciprocated concessions to Russia, and a curt note to the British to take back the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office. It continued with principled offers of serious negotiation to an Iranian regime too busy torturing, raping and killing demonstrators, and building new underground nuclear facilities, to take them up. Subsequently Beijing smothered domestic coverage of a presidential visit but did give the world the spectacle of the American commander in chief getting a talking-to about fiscal responsibility from a Communist chieftain.
The lovely town of Copenhagen staged not one, but two humiliations: the first when the Olympic Committee delivered the bad news that the president's effort to play hometown booster had failed utterly, before he even landed back in the U.S.; the second when the Chinese once again poked the U.S. in the eye by sending minor officials to meet with Mr. Obama, as they, the Indians and Brazilians tried to shoulder him out of cozy meetings aimed at sabotaging his environmental policy. Even smitten foreign admirers—in the case of the Nobel Prize, some addled Norwegian notables—managed to make him look bad.
It was nonetheless a year of international displays of presidential ego, sometimes disguised as cosmic modesty ("I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war"), but mainly of one slip after another. The decision to reinforce our military in Afghanistan came after an excruciating dither that undermined the confidence of our allies. Mr. Obama's loose talk of withdrawal beginning in 18 months then undid much of the good in his decision to send troops.
Some of these follies stemmed from the inevitable glitches of a new administration settling in—the foreign-policy equivalent of the White House social secretary failing to keep party crashers out. Some of them resulted from sheer naivete, much from the puerile vendetta Mr. Obama waged against the previous administration's record, a bad rhetorical habit that fogged the brains of people who should know better. One hopes that his advisers, and the president himself, recognize the weight of the query reportedly posed last April by the most formidable contemporary leader of a free country, Nicolas Sarkozy: "Est-il faible?" (Is he weak?). If a year from now world leaders think the answer is "yes," the U.S. will be in deep trouble.
In at least one way, Mr. Obama resembles his predecessor: He has enormous self-confidence. But where George W. Bush's certainty stemmed from moral conviction, Mr. Obama's arises from a sense of intellectual superiority. Given the centrality of his intelligence to his own self-perception, how might he use it to redeem a record of, at the moment, fairly unrelieved failure?
Much of foreign policy consists of a rough and ready game of adaptation to unforeseen, occasionally awful events. Indeed, Mr. Obama has been fortunate that his first year in office did not witness a real foreign-policy crisis. We have yet to see how he will meet that test. But there are large questions that require some high intellectual effort that he might consider tackling.
The first is explaining to the American people, and indeed to the world, what kind of war we are waging against Islamist movements. Neither Mr. Obama nor the predecessor he still complains of have been able to get beyond the trope of "extremists who have perverted a great religion." J. K. Rowling has given her readers a more thorough understanding of Lord Voldemort than the West's leaders have given their populations of whom we fight, what really animates them, and what the challenges that lie ahead will be. In particular, Mr. Obama has not articulated an effective policy of dealing with enemies who are neither criminals nor soldiers. Instead, he has tried to walk down both sides of a street at once, trying some in courts and keeping others in Guantanamo (or, in the future, a Gitmo North in Illinois) for handling by military tribunals.
The second problem is Iraq, the war that the president opposed, but the success of which is a matter of cardinal importance. The U.S. must have a broad policy for the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Such a policy should—must—work Iraq into a broader pattern of relationships. The emergence of a free Iraq offers great opportunities. A relatively stable, representative and secular Iraq would help counterbalance Iran, support moderate regimes such as Jordan, and fuel a world economy that, however climate conscious, will need oil. Simply to talk about "responsibly leaving Iraq to its people" is, in fact, irresponsible. Iraq will need care and attention to stay on its current fragile trajectory to success, but it is also an opportunity not to be neglected.
Part of un-Bushism as foreign policy has been a self-inflicted muteness by this most articulate of politicians on the topic of democracy, freedom and human rights. American foreign policy has always been a long and difficult dialogue between realpolitik and our values, our pursuit of our own interests, and our deliberate efforts to spread freedom abroad. Saying that the U.S. will "bear witness" to abuses and brutality around the world is, in effect, to say that we will send flowers to funerals. Mr. Obama needs to say something considerably more serious. In the case of Iran, for example, he could make it altogether unambiguous that we stand with those risking their lives to confront and, if fortune favors them, overthrow a dangerous, indeed evil regime.
Finally, all the globalist talk of this past year has obscured the importance of our alliances, which are evolving, but above all, need tending. New and rising allies—as different as the United Arab Emirates and Colombia—need to be identified and described as such. But more importantly, they, as well as old allies, need to hear from the U.S. president the importance we attribute to them and a conceptual description of how they fit into our policy.
It's a large agenda, but then, Mr. Obama likes to give speeches. And it still leaves plenty—articulating the need for and meaning of American primacy, for example—for 2011.
Friday, January 22, 2010
As the CEO of this organization, I have resigned myself to the fact that Barrack Obama is our President and that our taxes and government fees will increase in a BIG way.
To compensate for these increases, our prices would have to increase by about 10%. But since we cannot increase our prices right now due to the dismal state of the economy, we will have to lay off sixty of our employees instead.
This has really been bothering me since I believe we are family here and I didn't know how to choose who would have to go.
So, this is what I did, I walked through our parking lots and found sixty 'Obama' bumper stickers on our employees' cars and have decided these folks will be the ones to let go. I can't think of a more fair way to approach this problem.
They voted for change...... I gave it to them.
I will see the rest of you at the annual company picnic.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
· Rapid transportation of critically ill patients to medical care (to hospitals, to the airport for further transport, etc.).
· Transportation of medical supplies to points of need.
· Transportation of personnel to and from key points of need (hospitals, rescue scenes, etc.).
· Transportation of food, water and equipment (water purification equipment, etc.).
We are still working on logistics but already have thousands of doses of antibiotics, lots of other drugs, surgical supplies and other equipment ready to go. We are also working with Doctors without Borders to get these down to Haiti and go with them to provide medical services. If all goes well, we may be leaving this weekend.
From the political side of things, a friend sent these two links which are very enlightening regarding the Haiti issue.
Wealth, Poverty, and Natural Disasters The Freeman Ideas On Liberty
Real Economic Reform for a Hurting Haiti - Richard M. Ebeling - Mises Institute
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
The divine intervention certainly has its irony. The Democrats changed the rules after Kennedy’s death in order to get a Democrat in the seat and avoid a special election immediately. If they would have followed the rules, the Republicans would have had no chance of taking the seat.
But God had other plans and now a Republican has taken the seat held by Kennedy for so many years and Scott Brown will be instrumental in stopping this healthcare bill that Kennedy wanted so much.
I think I can you hear Kennedy rolling over in his grave!!!
Monday, January 18, 2010
We have the ability to give some balance to the filibuster proof Senate and maybe stop the radical takeover of our healthcare system.
But the Democrats are using every dirty trick in their arsenal to prevent this from happening.
Massachusetts: Coakley ad 'patently false,' Brown threatens legal action Washington Examiner
The philosophical differences in the race cannot be overstated and Coakley has shown her radical viewpoints and her lack of understanding in her own words.
She is not representing the American people and is not in touch with constituent’s wishes as a representative republic should be.
The following interview in her own words shows how out of touch and ignorant she is.
Martha Coakley: Devout Catholics 'Probably shouldn't work in the emergency room' - Water Cooler - Washington Times
Please send money and volunteer your time for her opponent Brown. He represents the American values far more closely than Coakley.
Elect Scott Brown to the United States Senate Official Scott Brown for United States Senate Site
Friday, January 15, 2010
While there, they spy a red phone and ask what the phone is for.
The devil tells them it is for calling back to Earth.
Putin asks to call Russia and talks for 5 minutes. When he was finished the devil informs him that the cost is a million dollars, so Putin writes him a check.
Next Queen Elizabeth calls England and talks for 30 minutes. When she was finished the devil informs her that cost is 6 million dollars, so Queen Elizabeth writes him a check.
Finally George Bush gets his turn and talks for 4 hours. When he was finished the devil informed him that there would be no charge for the call and feel free to call the USA anytime.
When Putin hears this he goes ballistic and asks the devil why Bush got to call the USA free.
The devil replied, "Since Obama became president of the USA, the country has gone to hell, so naturally it's a local call."
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The Pretense of Knowledge
The ultimate constraint that we all face is knowledge -- what we know and don't know. The knowledge problem is pervasive and by no means trivial as hinted at by just a few examples. You've purchased a house. Was it the best deal you could have gotten? Was there some other house you could have purchased that 10 years later would not have needed extensive repairs or was in a community with more likeable neighbors and a better environment for your children? What about the person you married? Was there another person who would have made for a more pleasing spouse? Though these are important questions, the most intelligent answer you can give to all of them is: "I don't know."
Since you don't know the answers, who do you think, here on Earth, is likely to know and whom would you like to make these decisions for you -- Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, George Bush, a czar appointed by Obama or a committee of Washington bureaucrats? I bet that if these people were to forcibly make housing or marital decisions for us, most would deem it tyranny.
You say, "Williams, Congress is not making such monumental decisions that affect my life." Try this. You are a 22-year-old healthy person. Instead of spending $3,000 or $4,000 a year for health insurance, you'd prefer investing that money in equipment to start a landscaping business. Which is the best use of that $3,000 or $4,000 a year -- purchasing health insurance or starting up a landscaping business -- and who should decide that question: Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, George Bush, a czar appointed by Obama or a committee of Washington bureaucrats? How can they possibly know what's the best use of your earnings, particularly in light of the fact that they have no idea of who you are?
Neither you nor the U.S. Congress has the complete knowledge to know exactly what's best for you. The difference is that when individuals make their own trade-offs, say between purchasing health insurance or investing in a business, they make wiser decisions because it is they who personally bear the costs and benefits of those decisions. You say, "Hold it, Williams, we've got you now! What if that person gets really sick and doesn't have health insurance. Society suffers the burden of taking care of him." To the extent that is a problem, it is not a problem of liberty; it's a problem of congressionally mandated socialism. Let's look at it.
It is not society that bears the burden; it is some flesh and blood American worker who finds his earnings taken by Congress to finance the health needs of another person. There is absolutely no moral case, much less constitutional case, for Congress forcibly using one American to serve the purposes of another American, a practice that differs only in degree from slavery, which we all should find morally offensive.
Whether it is health care, education, employment or most other areas of our lives, I ask you: Who has the capacity to master all the complexity to make choices on behalf of others? Each of us possesses only a tiny percentage of the knowledge that would be necessary to make totally informed decisions in our own lives, much less the lives of others. There is only one reason for the forcible transference of decision-making authority over important areas of our private lives to elite decision-makers in Congress and government bureaucracies. Doing so confers control, power, wealth and revenue to society's elite. What's in the best interests of individual members of society, such as a person who'd rather launch a landscaping business than purchase a health insurance policy, ranks low on the elite's list of priorities.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at http://www.blogger.com/www.creators.com.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
His ability to articulate so much in just a few paragraphs is a gift.
A Society that Venerates Lawyers More than DoctorsDennis PragerTuesday, November 03, 2009
Those of us who are not true believers in expanded government are certain of the following: If the 1,990-page House Health Care Bill becomes law, the average American will receive worse health care, American physicians will decline in status and income, American medical innovation will dramatically slow down and pharmaceutical discoveries will decline in number and quality. And, of course, the economy of the United States will deteriorate, perhaps permanently.
However, we are also certain that there is one American group that will thrive -- trial lawyers. The very existence of a 1,990-page law guarantees years of, if not more or less permanent, lawsuits. And the law actually specifies that states that do not limit attorneys' fees in cases of medical malpractice shall be financially rewarded. What we are seeing here, therefore, is something unprecedented in our history: Many trial lawyers will earn as much as most physicians, and fewer and fewer physicians will earn as much as successful trial lawyers.
Nothing better illustrates the reorientation -- indeed, the transformation -- of values that will take place if the Democrats' health care legislation is passed. Thanks to trial lawyer/Democratic influence, for decades, we have been moving in the direction of litigation-based society. But with a Democratic health care bill, the movement will accelerate exponentially.
Much of our money, our innovation, our creativity and our ingenuity will gravitate from medicine to law.
Young people who wish to make a good living -- and even talk themselves into believing that they are also doing good for society -- will opt for trial law over medicine. As far back as memory goes for living Americans, a young person who wished to do well, as well as do good in life, would likely choose medicine as a profession if he were bright enough and willing to put in the great number of hours necessary.
In the last generation, many of the brightest chose finance -- as it turned out, another often unproductive and often destructive arena -- to make a lot of money while believing that they, too, were doing a lot of good for society.
With the financial professions in trouble and in some disrepute, and medicine being financially and socially devalued -- doctors are increasingly called "health care providers" (along with nurses, physician's assistants, lab technicians, etc.; they're all the same) -- law, especially trial law, will be seen as offering the most opportunities for making a great deal of money.
No rational person argues that society doesn't need law or lawyers, or that all lawyers, even trial lawyers, do no good. That is certainly not what is being argued here.
But it does say something about a society when those who sue physicians and hospitals make as much or more money than those who heal disease. It says something about a society when it glorifies and rewards those who litigate while it demonizes and punishes those who produce the drugs and devices that keep its citizens alive and well.
This is part of the upside-down world the left is bequeathing to us and our children in the name of health care "reform."
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The radical left-wing ideologies are guiding this legislation. It really has nothing to do with true healthcare reform. Anyone who believes these changes will save money, bring down costs and improve access and quality is naive or ignorant.
Individual Mandate: There were not a lot of actual policy fights in the 2008 Democratic Presidential primary, but one of the few major policy disagreements between then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) was over the individual mandate. Clinton was for it and Obama was against it. On January 31, 2008, Obama made the case against mandates in a Los Angeles, CA, debate: “Now, under any mandate, you are going to have problems with people who don’t end up having health coverage. I think we can anticipate that there would also be people potentially who are not covered and are actually hurt if they have a mandate imposed on them.” Both the House and Senate bills now contain an individual mandate. According to the President’s own Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, under the Senate plan, 19 million Americans would pay $29 billion in taxes/fines and still receive no health care in return.
You Will Not Lose Your Doctor: On June 15, 2009, President Obama promised the American people: “No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.” Again, the President’s own Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirms that the current Senate health bill breaks this promise. Seventeen million Americans will be forced out of their existing health insurance. Worse, the CMS explains that continued Medicare cuts will encourage more doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients entirely, and the 18 million people added to Medicaid will also make it next to impossible for those already on Medicaid to find a doctor who will treat them.
No Tax Hikes for People Making Less than $250,000: On February 24, 2009, President Barack Obama promised the American people: “if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime.” Speaker Pelosi believes the Senate bill’s excise tax on insurance plans breaks this promise, and she is right. But it is not the only way that Obamacare shatters the President’s no-middle-class-tax-hike pledge. There are a slew of new taxes in the Senate bill, many of which will hit the middle class, including taxes on medical devices, tanning beds, insurance user fees, and brand name drugs (not to mention the individual mandate which is enforced by a tax or the employer mandate which kills jobs and punishes the poor).
Your Health Premiums Will Be $2,500 Lower: On October 15, 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) promised the American people: “The only thing we’re going to try to do is lower costs so that those cost savings are passed onto you. And we estimate we can cut the average family’s premium by about $2,500 per year.” According to the Congressional Budget Office, Americans in large-group employer-sponsored plans would, on average, see their premiums remain flat, while individuals who purchase insurance in the non-group market would see much higher premiums in 2016 under Obamacare than they would under current law. And many believe those estimates are optimistic. According to the Lewin Group, once fully implemented, health care spending per worker will increase for all employers who do not currently offer coverage — $316 per worker under the Senate bill and $800 increase per worker under the House bill.
Health Reform Reduces the Deficit: On September 10, 2009, President Barack Obama promised the American people: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. Period.” Even the President’s most ardent supporters are now admitting the Senate bill is full of budget gimmicks to make it appear Obamacare will reduce the deficit. When the true cost of Obamacare is considered, the final tab comes to $2.5 trillion with an honest accounting of Medicare reimbursement rates netting a $765 billion deficit all by itself.
Tax Payer Funded Abortion: On September 10, 2009, President Barack Obama promised the American people: “No federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.” While the House bill’s Stupak amendment language fulfills this promise, the Senate’s Nelson compromise does not. If the Senate language were to become law, it would overturn the precedent set by the Hyde Amendment, the FEHBP (Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan), Military insurance through TRICARE, and the Indian Health Service. Your taxdollars most definitely would be paying for elective abortions.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Remember all those campaign promises that Obama made? In the town hall meeting on August 21, 2008, in Chester, Virginia, Barack Obama promised the American people: “I’m going to have all the negotiations around a big table. We’ll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies … what we will do is, we’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents … And so, that approach, I think is what is going to allow people to stay involved in this process.” The participants around Obama’s fictional big table may have changed depending on where he was speaking, but throughout his campaign the essential promise was always there: “negotiations televised on C-SPAN.”
This promise has already been broken as has nearly all of his others. But this healthcare bill is of primary importance as it affects nearly 1/6 of our economy. The transparency of this president is worse than any in the past
The reports coming out now are that instead of proceeding with the usual public and open conference committee process, the White House is going to take a very active role in secret behind-closed-door meetings between the House and Senate.
The Sunlight Foundation explains the implications for the American people: “Both House and Senate rules require that all conference committee meetings be open to the public unless a majority of conferees votes in open session to close the meetings. Senate rules require all conference committee reports be publicly available for at least 48 hours prior to a final vote. Without conference, there is no mechanism to provide for openness in the final discussions regarding the health care bill.”
And there is plenty of reason the American people should demand transparency in the final stages of the legislative process. We previously identified Six Key Differences between the House and Senate bills, all of which deserve their own public debate. But one issue in particular is in desperate need of the disinfectant powers of sunlight: Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) deal exempting Nebraska from the costs of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
Last week, after a group of 13 state attorneys general promised to file suit against Obamacare should the Nelson deal become law, Nelson called South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster to “call off the dogs.” According to McMaster’s office, Nelson said the deal was not his idea, was simply a “marker” placed in the bill, and that the issue would be fixed by extending the same Medicaid exemption to all states. Will the budget-busting Medicaid problem get “fixed” for all states? If so, how? The American people deserve to know.
There is more than one reason the American people have turned solidly against President Obama’s health plan. Americans believe Obama’s plan will increase their health care costs, decrease the quality of their health care, raise their taxes, and increase the deficit. And as former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has admitted, Obamacare is not real health care reform.
Friday, January 8, 2010
BISHOP SCRATCHESPASTOR'S ASS.
NUN ANNOUNCES HER ASS IS WILD AND FREE.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Be Cautious About Giving Info to Census Workers. With the U.S. Census process beginning, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises people to be cooperative, but cautious, so as not to become a victim of fraud or identity theft.
The first phase of20the 2010 U.S. Census is under way as workers have begun verifying the addresses of households across the country. Eventually, more than 140,000 U.S. Census workers will count every person in the United States and will gather information about every person living at each address including name, age, gender, race, and other relevant data.
How do you tell the difference between a U.S. Census worker and a Con Artist? The Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers the following advice:
** If a U.S. Census worker knocks on your door, they will have the following:
1. A badge,
2. a hand held device,
3. A Census Bureau canvas bag, and
4. A confidentiality notice.
Ask to see their identification and their badge before answering their questions.
However, you should never invite anyone you don't know into your home.
** Census workers are currently only knocking on doors to verify address information.
Do not give your Social Security number, credit card or banking information to anyone, even if they claim they need it for the U.S. Census.
While the Census Bureau might ask for basic financial information, such as a salary range, it will not ask for Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers nor will employees solicit donations.
Eventually, Census workers may contact you by telephone, mail, or in person at home.
However, they will NOT contact you by Email, so be on the lookout for Email scams impersonating the Census.
Never click on a link or open any attachments in an Email that are supposedly from the U.S. Census Bureau.
TO RECAP - HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF - FOLLOW THESE RULES!!!!
Census workers will carry a badge, a hand held device, a Census Bureau canvas bag, and a confidentiality notice.
MAKE SURE TO ASK THEM FOR THEIR BADGE AND IDENTIFICATION BEFORE TALKING TO THEM!
Census workers will NOT ask for Social Security numbers, Bank Account Numbers, Credit Card Numbers, or any specific account information!
Census workers will NOT solicit for donations - do not give anyone any money!
Census Workers will NOT contact you by email - do not respond to anyone claiming to be with the US Census by email!
Don't invite them into your homes!! Labels: census
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
This morning, I'm announcing big changes that will take effect on January 1, 2010, concerning the documentation necessary to obtain a driver's license or state-issued identification card. The program, called "SecureID," allows Indiana to comply with recommendations from the 9/11 Commission Report and will improve the BMV's ability to protect your identity from theft and fraud.
Beginning January 1, 2010, every person renewing, replacing or applying for a new driver's license or identification card will be required to present documentation proving his or her: Identity. An original or certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate or a U.S. passport will meet this requirement. If you are a foreign national, a U.S. immigration document, such as foreign passport with a Visa and an I-94 form issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is acceptable.
Social Security number. A Social Security card, a W-2, tax form, an SSA-1099 form, or a pay stub showing the name and Social Security number on it will meet the requirement. Lawful status. Again, an original or certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate or a U.S. passport satisfies this requirement. If you are a foreign national, a U.S. immigration document, such as foreign passport with a Visa and an I-94 form issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is acceptable.
Residency. Two recent statements from a utility company, bank, credit card company, doctor or hospital showing name and residence address. Computer-generated bills are acceptable. If you do not have a copy of your birth certificate, contact the health department in the state where you were born and request an official copy. Indiana county health departments can be found here . A change in the name listed on your birth certificate requires additional items to be brought in - such as a marriage license. Those who have been through multiple name changes because of marriage, divorce or adoption must show proof of each name change.
After you present all documents, you will receive an interim license at the BMV branch. You will receive your permanent license or identification card within 10 business days. It will be mailed from a secure, government-run facility to your mailing address. This added step is to provide yet another layer of protection of your identity.
If your driver's license expires in 2011 or later, it is valid until the normal expiration date. You do not need to come into the license branch any earlier. If you are updating your name or address before the expiration date, you will have to bring all of the required documentation to the license branch.
To learn more about SecureID, please visit myBMV.IN.gov. Also, if you do not have a myBMV account, please sign-up for one here. A myBMV account allows you to conduct many regular transactions online at your convenience. The service is free and your information is confidential and will not be shared with third parties.
Andy Miller, Commissioner Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Michael Medved : The Biggest Lesson of '09, and the Biggest Opportunity of 2010 - Townhall.com
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The biggest political lesson of 2009 connects directly to the best political news about 2010, and both factors should help inspire conservatives to sweeping and historic victories in the year ahead.
The most significant message from all the confusion and controversy of the year now concluding is that elections matterand they matter a lot. During 2008, some arrogant cynics haughtily spurned the political process, insisting that it made no difference which party or candidate took control of the White House and Capitol Hill. According to this logic, both Republicans and Democrats served the same corrupt corporate masters, and represented the same bankrupt ideologies, so that choosing between them amounted to a waste of time.
If nothing else, the first year of Obamanism (or Obamunism as my friend David Boze aptly describes it) has succeeded in exploding these dunder-headed delusions. John McCain might well have disappointed conservative and libertarian true-believers, but he wouldnt have pushed through a mammoth health-care takeover, or spent $800 billion on a pork-laden stimulus package, or tripled the deficit from its worst level under Bush, or apologized repeatedly to our adversaries and allies around the world. In fact, Senator McCain has played a leading and often ferocious role in opposing all the most dangerous power-grabs of the Obama administration, including stimulus spending, health insurance fiasco, the emasculation of our anti-terrorism efforts, and even the Democratic version of cap-and-trade. Those who claimed that Barack the Beneficent was actually a moderate, a centrist, a cautious, pragmatic and level-headed reformer no worse (and maybe even better and brighter) than George W. Bush should open their eyes to the alarming realities. No Drama Obama has actually lurched dramatically to the left, proving himself every bit as radical as Sarah Palin, John McCain and Joe the Plumber claimed he would be.
Its not only presidential elections that matter for the nations future: Senate and House races can also play a huge role in steering the country on a new course. After endless recounts and legal challenges and the partisan inclusion of questionable ballots, the uncompromising leftist Al Franken prevailed by the narrowest of margins over mainstream Republican Norm Coleman. A change of less than 500 votes in Minnesota (a state of more than 5,000,000) would have returned Coleman to the Senate, denying Democrats that all-important 60th vote needed to end a filibuster and ram through Obama care. Coleman would have certainly opposed it as did every single one of the other GOP Senators (yes, including the two infamous moderates from the state of Maine). The irony is that Minnesotans squandered more than 15% of their votes on various third party egomaniacs whose meaningless campaigns achieved precisely nothing. If only a third of those purists who cast votes for the candidates of the Constitution or Libertarian parties (quick, can anyone even remember their names?) had cast their ballots instead for Coleman, he would have been re-elected comfortably and Obamas health care takeover could have been blocked.
The record of the last twelve months, with all the fierce fights in both Senate and House, underlines the importance of every election and every vote. Those who say they dont care about political outcomes are saying in effect they dont care about government policy an inane position when an activist federal authority threatens so many of our core liberties.
Fortunately, this big lesson from 2009 relates directly to the best aspect of 2010: finally, after many months of frustration and bitterness and fear, the American people will actually get a chance to vote on the Obama agenda. Its true that Tea Parties and demonstrations and petitions and TV ads and talk radio harangues can help keep conservative hopes alive, but they cant really change policy not when Democrats maintain big majorities in both houses of Congress to go along with their domination of the executive branch. Activism and community organizing can be important and admirable, but only electoral victories can actually shift the direction of the country.
Less than eleven months from today, at the end of next year, voters in every state will get the chance to express their opinion of the menacing agenda pursued so recklessly by Obama, Pelosi and Reid. Their verdict will determine whether Washington proceeds to further expand the power and cost of government, or begins to shift to a more sane and practical approach. After all the appropriate complaints and warnings and shrieks of agony in 2009, conservatives will finally get a chance in 2010 to register their protests where it counts: at the ballot box. To paraphrase Lincoln, our efforts in the year ahead will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.
Monday, January 4, 2010
2009: The Year of Living FecklesslyCharles KrauthammerFriday, December 25, 2009
WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not just reject President Obama's latest feckless floating nuclear deadline. He spat on it, declaring that Iran "will continue resisting" until the U.S. has gotten rid of its 8,000 nuclear warheads.
So ends 2009, the year of "engagement," of the extended hand, of the gratuitous apology -- and of spinning centrifuges, two-stage rockets and a secret enrichment facility that brought Iran materially closer to becoming a nuclear power.
We lost a year. But it was not just any year. It was a year of spectacularly squandered opportunity. In Iran, it was a year of revolution, beginning with a contested election and culminating this week in huge demonstrations mourning the death of the dissident Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri -- and demanding no longer a recount of the stolen election but the overthrow of the clerical dictatorship.
Obama responded by distancing himself from this new birth of freedom. First, scandalous silence. Then, a few grudging words. Then relentless engagement with the murderous regime. With offer after offer, gesture after gesture -- to not Iran, but the "Islamic Republic of Iran," as Obama ever so respectfully called these clerical fascists -- the U.S. conferred legitimacy on a regime desperate to regain it.
Why is this so important? Because revolutions succeed at that singular moment, that imperceptible historical inflection, when the people, and particularly those in power, realize that the regime has lost the mandate of heaven. With this weakening dictatorship desperate for affirmation, why is the U.S. repeatedly offering just such affirmation?
Apart from ostracizing and delegitimizing these gangsters, we should be encouraging and reinforcing the demonstrators. This is no trivial matter. When pursued, beaten, arrested and imprisoned, dissidents can easily succumb to feelings of despair and isolation. Natan Sharansky testifies to the electric effect Ronald Reagan's Evil Empire speech had on lifting spirits in the Gulag. The news was spread cell to cell in code tapped on the walls. They knew they weren't alone, that America was committed to their cause.
Yet so aloof has Obama been that on Hate America Day (Nov. 4, the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran), pro-American counter-demonstrators chanted "Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them," i.e., their oppressors.
Such cool indifference is more than a betrayal of our values. It's a strategic blunder of the first order.
Forget about human rights. Assume you care only about the nuclear issue. How to defuse it? Negotiations are going nowhere, and whatever U.N. sanctions we might get will be weak, partial, grudging and late. The only real hope is regime change. The revered and widely supported Montazeri had actually issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons.
And even if a successor government were to act otherwise, the nuclear threat would be highly attenuated because it's not the weapon but the regime that creates the danger. (Think India or Britain, for example.) Any proliferation is troubling, but a nonaggressive pro-Western Tehran would completely change the strategic equation and make the threat minimal and manageable.
What should we do? Pressure from without -- cutting off gasoline supplies, for example -- to complement and reinforce pressure from within. The pressure should be aimed not at changing the current regime's nuclear policy -- that will never happen -- but at helping change the regime itself.
Give the kind of covert support to assist dissident communication and circumvent censorship that, for example, we gave Solidarity in Poland during the 1980s. (In those days that meant broadcasting equipment and copying machines.) But of equal importance is robust rhetorical and diplomatic support from the very highest level: full-throated denunciation of the regime's savagery and persecution. In detail -- highlighting cases, the way Western leaders adopted the causes of Sharansky and Andrei Sakharov during the rise of the dissident movement that helped bring down the Soviet empire.
Will this revolution succeed? The odds are long but the reward immense. Its ripple effects would extend from Afghanistan to Iraq (in both conflicts, Iran actively supports insurgents who have long been killing Americans and their allies) to Lebanon and Gaza where Iran's proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, are arming for war.
One way or the other, Iran will dominate 2010. Either there will be an Israeli attack or Iran will arrive at -- or cross -- the nuclear threshold. Unless revolution intervenes. Which is why to fail to do everything in our power to support this popular revolt is unforgivable.