Friday, July 23, 2010

Jim Webb in the WSJ

Jim Webb is one of my favorite Democrats. I still haven't read his book on Nam but I hear it is well worth the time. I need to do that.

OPINION JULY 22, 2010 Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege
America still owes a debt to its black citizens, but government programs to help all 'people of color' are unfair. They should end.

I am not sure how the Federal Government can make amends to black people. I think of the law of unintended consequenses and I know it will all go wrong. Webb points out that people from Africa come to this country today and take advantage of our affirmative action programs. I read once that a large proportion of Ivy League blacks are African and not American.

On a side note, Obama admitted that he benefitted from Afirmative Action. His dad was from Kenya and didn't have an American slave legacy. His mom was white. He was raised by his white grandparents and he went to an exclusive prep school in Hawaii, which isn't a "white dominated" state exactly. He then got into Columbia and was even a legacy at Harvard since his dad attended. In many ways Barack is whiter than I am. Webb is arguing that Barack shouldn't have gotten an edge, though he doesn't mention Obama and I doubt it crossed his mind.

Thomas Sowell has made similar arguments in distiction about white people. White people are not all the same. The Highlanders from rural Scottland and the urban dwellers of London have vastly different historical outcomes in income and education, but we lump them all together when they come to the USA. If the Highlanders were a shade apart maybe they could particpate in government programs to and show studies of disparte impact. You just can't legislate equal outcomes.


Update: From Roger Clegg at The Corner

Consider, in any event, those African Americans who were born in, say, 1992 — the birth year of those now getting college-admissions preferences. Those students are not slaves or former slaves, were not alive under Jim Crow and have never been victims of government discrimination, and were born over a quarter-century after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed to protect them from public and private discrimination. Additionally, the African Americans who get these preferences at the more selective universities come overwhelmingly from middle- and upper-class backgrounds, not from impoverished farms or ghettos.

So two cheers for Senator Webb, reserving the third for when he acknowledges that the time has come to end racial preferences for all groups, rather than for all but one.
Sphere: Related Content

Tom Tancredo: Impeach Obama

TANCREDO: The case for impeachment
Obama has violated his oath of office over immigration

Mr. Obama's most egregious and brazen betrayal of our Constitution was his statement to Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, that the administration will not enforce security on our southern border because that would remove Republicans' desire to negotiate a "comprehensive" immigration bill. That is, to put it plainly, a decision that by any reasonable standard constitutes an impeachable offense against the Constitution. For partisan political advantage, he is willfully disregarding his obligation under Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution to protect states from foreign invasion.

There is no higher duty of the federal government and our elected representatives than to protect our nation from invasion. Multiple reports and testimony before Congress by U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials have stated that a porous border with Mexico is "a path" terrorists will use if they can. Some would-be terrorists, including at least one associated with Hezbollah, already have. Recent reports of contacts between Hezbollah and Mexican drug cartels make it all but certain that terrorists intent on destroying us will come across our southwestern border. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for the administration to do everything in its power to keep Americans safe. Our safety is not a bargaining chip for another amnesty - or for any other political objective whatsoever.

What to do with Tom Tancredo? Once he left office he started speaking his mind. I remember when he came out for drug legalization. I remember thinking that I wish he would have said something in office.

His point about Jon Kyl is well taken. But...

Republicans don't have the numbers to impeach, and talking impeachment plays into Democrat hands. It is crazy talk that could rally their base, especially with the black population that goes 90+% for Obama. Blacks may largely sit out this election according to some prognostications. Could rumblings of impeachment change that? I don't know. I saw a recent poll that 90% of black people think Obama is doing well as President. I am not surprised given that he is the first black President. We have had plenty of white dopes in office during our history. I would probably give him the benefit of the doubt too less than two years in if I was black and a Democrat. I honestly don't know. I didn't care for Shirley Sharrod calling Tea Partiers racist either but if the Klan killed my dad I would probably wouldn't be half as charitable as she. That doesn't make me like her marxist views, and I hate that she can call me a racist for being in the tea party but still get sympathy when someone calls her a racist.

I didn't like it when they impeached Clinton. I think Republicans could have spent better use of their time than chasing a President around with a stained blue dress. Osama was plotting his attacks, and we were talking about consensual sex. I don't give Clinton a pass for his behavior, but I don't give Republicans a pass either. Too often they are waving the bloody flag, be it a blue dress or a campaign against gay marriage when other more substantive problems affect our nation. If this country goes bankrupt, nobody will really give a damn about what was on that dress or what those guys down the street do in their own bedroom.

I have to say I am against impeachment, but I am in agreement with Tancredo that using our borders as a political pawn is despicable. I think Tancredo will be written off as a kook. He surely has at least some kook in him (which isn't always bad). He certainly does amuse, and some of his points are valid in my humble opinion.

I don't know how we can argue we even have much of a Constitution when the government can seize the auto and health care industries and force people to buy health insurance. During the lame duck session they will probably seize the energy sector and put through card check as Special K points out.

During the Bush regime all the liberals talked about W trashing the Constitution. Now we have Obama in power conservatives are doing the same thing. I think some of it is justified on both sides (I think Obama is worse). To the disinterested observer though it has to sound a lot like the boy who cried wolf. Most normal people don't pay too much attention to politics, they mind their own business. After all, it pays to mind your own business because that is what you can control. We expect politicians to lie and break promises. When you point out that Obama lied or broke promises it doesn't surprise people, it is more like the boy who cried wolf. The problem is not the crying, it is when the wolf actually shows up and everyone is so disenchanted with politics to get out of bed and see what all the noise is about.

It doesn't help that when Republicans had the Presidency, the House and and Senate that they acted like self serving Democrats. The reason to vote Republican hasn't been because they are so swell, it is because electing Democrats is worse. It is like the choices are dumb and dumber. I am sick of that bs.

I don't know Obama personally. I bet he is a great dad. I bet George Bush really is a fine and decent man. I don't like Obama's spending and love for big government. I didn't like Bush's spending or big government. Government crowds out the private sector in every way. The more government you have the less freedom you have. Albert Nock said that you have social power and you have state power. For the state to gain power it has to come at the expense of social power.

"A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have." - Gerald Ford

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground." - Thomas Jefferson


Update: DaTechGuy supported the Clinton impeachment but doesn't support this. I don't support either, but I think Tancredo's case is stronger. Border safety for American Citizens that live near it is far more consequential than Monica Lewinsky. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Sort Of Tea Party Manifesto

Angelo M. Codevilla

From The American Spectator:

America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution
By Angelo M. Codevilla from the July 2010 - August 2010 issue

It is a long essay. I agree with a lot of what it has to say. Not the first time I have cited Codevilla on the cesspool either. I have to confess I am a big fan at this point.

Hat tip to Left Coast Rebel.

Dan Riehl has more:

The so called conservative pundit class that is actually DC-centric punditry in new media is not our true ally. It functions more as a filter, or governor of our beliefs and desires as regards politics, than our enabler. And that will remain true until more people stop being nice to it, or fawning over it, simply because it has power and is purported to be wise. Its more truly Reaganesque thinking has long been corrupted by money, influence, access and power, just as has the GOP establishment.

It is hard to make sweeping generalizations about America and Americans. Not everyone is going to fit into a little box. But a lot of what Codevilla says hits close to my heart. As I was reading it I thought of it as my very own Tea Party Manifesto.

When I have attended Tea Party events I have taken my wife and children. They are family events. I have never seen any rascim, bad behavior or even anyone littering. Most of the people there are with their families. My family went to one with my brother and his family and another with my in laws. In every one of those cases nobody from our group had ever attended a political rally in their lives until the Tea Party. And you meet people there that will tell you the same thing. Those people have finally gotten to a point where enough is enough. I think of the people that I attended with and the people that I met there and it really gets my goat when people start calling us racist.

I liked so much of Codevilla's article and it is so long I can't quote much to do it justice. Here is one part other bloggers I have checked out haven't quoted yet for a teaser:

To the extent party leaders do not have to worry about voters, they can choose privileged interlocutors, representing those in society whom they find most amenable. In America ever more since the 1930s -- elsewhere in the world this practice is ubiquitous and long-standing -- government has designated certain individuals, companies, and organizations within each of society's sectors as (junior) partners in elaborating laws and administrative rules for those sectors. The government empowers the persons it has chosen over those not chosen, deems them the sector's true representatives, and rewards them. They become part of the ruling class.

Thus in 2009-10 the American Medical Association (AMA) strongly supported the new medical care law, which the administration touted as having the support of "the doctors" even though the vast majority of America's 975,000 physicians opposed it. Those who run the AMA, however, have a government contract as exclusive providers of the codes by which physicians and hospitals bill the government for their services. The millions of dollars that flow thereby to the AMA's officers keep them in line, while the impracticality of doing without the billing codes tamps down rebellion in the doctor ranks. When the administration wanted to bolster its case that the state of Arizona's enforcement of federal immigration laws was offensive to Hispanics, the National Association of Chiefs of Police -- whose officials depend on the administration for their salaries -- issued a statement that the laws would endanger all Americans by raising Hispanics' animosity. This reflected conversations with the administration rather than a vote of the nation's police chiefs.

Similarly, modern labor unions are ever less bunches of workers banding together and ever more bundled under the aegis of an organization chosen jointly by employers and government. Prototypical is the Service Employees International Union, which grew spectacularly by persuading managers of government agencies as well as of publicly funded private entities that placing their employees in the SEIU would relieve them of responsibility. Not by being elected by workers' secret ballots did the SEIU conquer workplace after workplace, but rather by such deals, or by the union presenting what it claims are cards from workers approving of representation. The union gets 2 percent of the workers' pay, which it recycles as contributions to the Democratic Party, which it recycles in greater power over public employees. The union's leadership is part of the ruling class's beating heart.

We have a sea of non-profits and government experts that are like wolves in sheeps clothing. The AMA is more an arm of the government than it is a representation of the doctors. The climate science industry is funded by big government FOR big government. Many non-profits take money from the government and use that money expressly TO LOBBY the very government who just gave them your tax dollars.

Imagine that. It is a great system I guess if you agree with the goals (and good work if you can get it!). But imagine if you oppose the measures. The government takes property from you to give to your opponents, who use that money to lobby the government against you.

Pease read the whole thing.

Update: Rasmussen Reports: 68% Say Political Class Doesn’t Care What Most Americans Think

Those numbers dovetail quite nicely with Angelo M. Codevilla

. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, July 12, 2010

Just The Facts, Mam

How facts backfire
Researchers discover a surprising threat to democracy: our brains
By Joe Keohane, The Boston Globe
July 11, 2010

“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”

The problem is that Bredan Nyhan has apparently conducted a study where the facts don't matter, to prove that facts don't matter:

On its own, this might not be a problem: People ignorant of the facts could simply choose not to vote. But instead, it appears that misinformed people often have some of the strongest political opinions. A striking recent example was a study done in the year 2000, led by James Kuklinski of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He led an influential experiment in which more than 1,000 Illinois residents were asked questions about welfare — the percentage of the federal budget spent on welfare, the number of people enrolled in the program, the percentage of enrollees who are black, and the average payout. More than half indicated that they were confident that their answers were correct — but in fact only 3 percent of the people got more than half of the questions right. Perhaps more disturbingly, the ones who were the most confident they were right were by and large the ones who knew the least about the topic. (Most of these participants expressed views that suggested a strong antiwelfare bias.)

Studies by other researchers have observed similar phenomena when addressing education, health care reform, immigration, affirmative action, gun control, and other issues that tend to attract strong partisan opinion. Kuklinski calls this sort of response the “I know I’m right” syndrome, and considers it a “potentially formidable problem” in a democratic system. “It implies not only that most people will resist correcting their factual beliefs,” he wrote, “but also that the very people who most need to correct them will be least likely to do so.”

What was the "fact" on welfare spending? The article goes on to tell us...

There are also some cases where directness works. Kuklinski’s welfare study suggested that people will actually update their beliefs if you hit them “between the eyes” with bluntly presented, objective facts that contradict their preconceived ideas. He asked one group of participants what percentage of its budget they believed the federal government spent on welfare, and what percentage they believed the government should spend. Another group was given the same questions, but the second group was immediately told the correct percentage the government spends on welfare (1 percent).

The government spends 1% on welfare? That is the correct percentage?

From Kiki Bradley and Robert Rector at The Heritage Institute:

Confronting the Unsustainable Growth of Welfare Entitlements: Principles of Reform and the Next Steps
Published on June 24, 2010
by Kiki Bradley and Robert Rector Backgrounder

Here is the abstract:

Abstract: The growth of welfare spending is unsustainable and will drive the United States into bankruptcy if allowed to continue. President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget request would increase total welfare spending to $953 billion—a 42 percent increase over welfare spending in FY 2008, the last full year of the Bush Administration. To bring welfare spending under control, Congress should reduce welfare spending to pre-recession levels after the recession ends and then limit future growth to the rate of inflation. Congress should also restore work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and apply them to other federal welfare programs.

Is that 1%?


The federal government runs over 70 different means-tested anti-poverty programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and low-income persons. These means-tested programs—including food stamps, public housing, low-income energy assistance, and Medicaid—pay the bills and meet the physical needs of tens of millions of low-income families. However, these programs do not help the recipients move from a position of dependence on the government to being able to provide for themselves.

Over 70 means tested programs? I wonder which ones Brendan Nyhan included when coming up with his figures? I also wonder why Joe Keohane doesn't fact check when writting these articles. Talk about putting politics into science and "facts".


The Need for Reform

When President Lyndon Johnson announced the War on Poverty in 1964, he created large-scale national programs to help the poor and needy. Spending on these programs has grown to alarmingly high levels. In 1964, programs for the poor consumed 1.2 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Today, spending on welfare programs is 13 times greater than it was in 1964 and consumes over 5 percent of GDP. Spending per poor person in 2008 amounted to around $16,800 in programmatic benefits.

The Obama Administration has worked rapidly to expand the welfare state further. President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget would continue this trend, further increasing spending on programs for the poor to 42 percent above levels in FY 2008, President George W. Bush’s last full year in office. By 2011, total welfare spending (including the state portion) would rise to $953 billion.[5] (See Chart 1.)

Isn't it amazing that liberal political scientists think conservatives "Can't handle the truth" about things such as welfare spending and to demonstrate it they have to lie about actual welfare spending? Maybe the researchers are confirming their own study. They seem to come to conclusions without looking at the actual facts about welfare spending. Aren't they also prone to be victims of this very same human behavior that they are talking about?

Should we rely on left leaning media and leftist academics to give us facts? Is it any surprise that left leaning people more readily accept other leftys "facts". Is it any surprise that conservatives don't buy the whole ball of crap wholesale? Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Successful Tyranny

"The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable that other ways are viable, that removes the sense that there is an outside." (Closing of the American Mind, 249)

I often think of the advancement of the welfare state in these terms. Once you get everyone on the dole it seems impossible to think that our nation could function any other way. And if you tried to cut social security, medicare, medicade, pensions, welfare, housing vouchers, foodstamps or any other program people will fight you and believe you are mad.

LBJ's War on Poverty was going to eliminate poverty in a decade. Fourty years later, all we have accomplished is the institutionalization of poverty on the public dole. Even liberals that admit that the War on Poverty failed, or admit that paying women to become single mothers was a horrible idea still won't lift a finger to reverse those policies.

Today some young women can get a college education if they just have a child. Think about that. All that debt you are about to incur going to college, it can all be avoided in some circumstances if you just have a kid. And we will throw in some food stamps and put you at the top of the Section 8 voucher list for a free apartment as well. We pay for poor single mothers, and the old saw applies: You get what you pay for.

I would rather pay women not to have children. I would rather pay children to get straight As and good behavior than to give a social security disability check to the children who don't do well in school. We pay single women to have kids and we pay for kids to become disabled. What a system.

At some point we need to strike down every law and start over at the Constitution. Sphere: Related Content