August 30, 2010

Does the GOP Support Privatizing Social Security?

A recent headline at The Huffington Post tells us that "GOP Candidates Endorse Draconian Proposal To Cut Social Security," referring to Congressman Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" which includes plans to privatize America's expensive government pension scheme.

But if we click through to read the article in question, it turns out there's just four Republicans currently running for Congress who've embraced the notion that Social Security, as it is, is unaffordable and that allowing a healthy bit of a free market competition in the area may be the best way out. That's four out of hundreds of Republicans running for political office throughout the country, with not a single high ranking party member having formally endorsed the plan.

It's not too surprising. While many lawmakers on the Republican side are right to stress that the Federal Government's ongoing spending spree is unsustainable and bound to drown future generations in debt, few have dared propose radical measures to cut spending, particularly when it comes to the entitlements many Americans have come to take for granted. No matter the fearmongering on the left, it doesn't seem likely that Republicans will actually go ahead and privatize Social Security if they have the chance. Ryan, so far, has been quite alone in his campaign for limited government.

August 29, 2010

Beck and Palin Could Split the Tea Party

From Politico:

A POLITICO/TargetPoint poll conducted at the massive Tax Day protest on the National Mall in April discovered that tea party activists are divided roughly into two camps along a distinct fault line: one that’s libertarian-minded and largely indifferent to hot-button values issues and another that’s culturally conservative and equally concerned about social and fiscal issues.

Libertarians and conservatives could unite behind their shared frustration with Obama’s economic policies or the growing national debt, but they split over gay marriage and abortion. Specifically, 51 percent of tea party activists polled said “government should not promote any particular set of values,” while 46 percent said “government should promote traditional family values in our society.”

Beck and Palin are two of the most prominent spokespeople for the latter. If they make these issues more salient, they could risk dividing the movement.

Not only risk dividing the movement but risk alienating moderate, centrist voters and undermine a chance to reform the Republican Party along constitutionally conservative lines.

August 27, 2010

Governor Daniels on Obamacare’s Consequences

Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, who is sometimes mentioned as a possible Republican contender for the presidency in 2012, was recently interviewed by the conservative Heritage Foundation about the Democrats' overhaul of American health insurance.

Needless to say, Governor Daniels understands why it's a bad reform plan---and he knows how to do it better.

At Heritage's blog, the governor writes that that "it's a misnomer to even refer to this as 'reform.' It doesn't reform anything," he believes. "Instead, it perpetuates and magnifies all the worst aspects of our current system: fee for service reimbursement, 'free' to the purchaser consumption, and an irrationally expensive medical liability tort system. It's a sure recipe for yet more overconsumption and overspending."

August 25, 2010

Biden: Republicans "Nostalgic" for Failed Bush Policies

Vice President Joe Biden responded to criticism about the administration's economic policies today, alleging that the opposition has nothing new on offer. "We've seen this movie before," he said. "We've seen it before and we know how it ends."

For eight years before we arrived in the West Wing, [House Minority Leader] Boehner and his party ran the economy literally into the ground.

It's true, but with a twist.

Biden's remarks do nothing but perpetuate the Democratic narrative of pretending that economic policy under President George W. Bush was something resembling laissez-faire. This is nonsense. It were President Bush's policies that are to blame for the crisis.

In the name of "compassionate conservatism" it was under President Bush that the Federal Government instructed Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Reserve to keep home mortgages cheap and interest rates low in order to promote homeownership, particularly with racial minorities. It was under President Bush that hundreds of thousands of Americans were able to buy houses they couldn't afford.

When the bubble burst, it was the Bush Administration that rallied up to save banks from insolvency by injecting billions of taxpayers' dollars into the financial system. Fannie and Freddie were saved, as were several large private corporations that had participated in the precrisis mortgage frenzy. And it was under President Bush that the first stimulus efforts were undertaken.

It gets worse, if you look into Bush's economic decisions during his eight years in office in more detail. Read my post about "Bush's Conservative Legacy" to learn more.

What the Obama Administration has done is simply continue Bush era policies. Democrats may like to claim that Republicans favored the free market before the recession hit in order to justify their own, interventionist agenda today, but that is blatantly untrue. At least under President George W. Bush, Republicans were as adverse to capitalism as Democrats are today.

August 22, 2010

Is Reality Real?

You'd think so, but no, says Robert Lanza, M.D. at The Huffington Post. "Is it possible we live and die in a world of illusions?" he wonders. Why, of course! It's no coincidence that this nonsense is posted on a left wing political blog. The best way to face reality after all, is to pretend that it doesn't exist at all.

Lanza quotes a famous experiment of a cat in a box to illustrate his argument: the cat is "both alive and dead," he writes: "both possibilities exist until you open the box and investigate."

Of course, they don't. If the cat is dead, it won't come alive when you open the box. The cat is dead or alive regardless of your perception. Existence is exists, even when you close you eyes. As Ayn Rand put it in Atlas Shrugged (1957):

Existence exists---and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists.

If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something. If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not consciousness.

Whatever the degree of your knowledge, these two---existence and consciousness---are axioms you cannot escape, these two are the irreducible primaries implied in any action you undertake, in any part of your knowledge and in its sum, from the first ray of light you perceive at the start of your life to the widest erudition you might acquire at its end. Whether you know the shape of a pebble or the structure of a solar system, the axioms remain the same: that it exists and that you know it.

To exist is to be something, as distinguished from the nothing of nonexistence, it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes. Centuries ago [Aristotle] stated the formula defining the concept of existence and the rule of all knowledge: A is A. A thing is itself. [...] Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification.

(The rest of Lanza's article is useless mumbo jumbo meant to suggest that we're all helpless victims of a malevolent universe playing tricks on us, which is why I haven't bothered to quote from it more extensively.)

August 21, 2010

Socializing Social Security Even Further

President Barack Obama may wish to preserve Social Security forever, he certainly doesn't intend to preserve it in its current form.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House-created commission studying the future of Social Security is considering:

[...] raising the retirement age, which is now set to reach age 67 in 2027, specific cuts under consideration include lowering benefits for wealthier retires and trimming annual cost-of-living increases, perhaps only for wealthier retirees.

Raising the retirement age is sound policy considering that living expectations have risen sharply since Social Security was originally enacted.

Lowering benefits for "wealthier" retirees is outright unfair though considering that everyone's been paying equally into the fund. But wait, the administration might chance that as well:

On the tax side, the leading idea is to increase the share of earned income that is subject to Social Security taxes, officials said. Under current law, income beyond $106,000 is exempt.

So if you make a little more money, you're hit from both sides when it comes to your retirement: first, you have to pay more into the scheme while you're still working only to receive less when you retire.

These sort of shenanigans are inevitable when dealing with a government entitlement program that's financially unsustainable in the long run. How matter how much more money the government intends to take from the "wealthy", in the end, Social Security will bankrupt itself.

The only rational solution is to phase out the system over the years ahead and eventually abolish it. People should be responsible for their own pension.

August 18, 2010

Beyond Toleration: George Washington's View of Liberty

Via Cato @ Liberty, quoted from a letter of President George Washington's to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, 220 years ago today:

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

As Cato's David Boaz points out, note particularly Washington's dismissal of "toleration" as "the indulgence of one class of people," tolerating another and its practices. The full meaning of freedom is not the mere toleration of what a majority may otherwise frown upon or wish to restrict but the exercise by all of "their inherent natural rights."

Frank: Abolish Fannie and Freddie

From The Huffington Post:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be abolished, Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said Tuesday when asked whether the mortgage giants should play a role in housing market reforms.

So now you do? After pretending, just a few years ago, that nothing was wrong with these "government sponsored" entities (see video); that, in fact, they were doing an outstanding job, giving homes to the poor. Now you say they should be abolished, congressman, after passing the most pervasive financial reform bill in recent history that hardly even mentioned the two mortgage giants which caused the crisis in the first place?!

August 16, 2010

Reagan Knew

Via RedState:

Medicare and Social Security Are Unsustainable

Government is boasting that with the new health care legislation enacted, Medicare's funding is in better shape than ever, able to last a dozen years longer than anticipated.

Nonsense, says Michael F. Cannon of the Cato Institute. At Cato @ Liberty he writes that "the Medicare and Social Security 'trust funds' contain zero funds."

This is not up for dispute. When those programs' revenues exceed outlays, Congress puts the excess in general revenues and spends it. Congress marks the event by leaving an IOU to itself in these "trust funds." Those IOUs are not "funds," any more than an IOU that you write to yourself is money. These so-called "trust funds" therefore have no bearing on the (in)solvency of Medicare and Social Security.

Yet every year, the trustees for these programs claim that they do, making the Medicare and Social Security trustees reports an annual, ritualized lie that the U.S. government broadcasts to the American people.

No matter the president's wish of preserving Social Security forever; no matter the Democrats' wish of turning America into a social democracy where every citizen is properly cared for from birth to death, massive entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are, in the long run, fiscally unsustainable and always, immoral, because they are designed to give money to those in "need" at the expense of responsible citizens who could otherwise perfectly take care of themselves. They should be phased out and eventually, abolished.

GOP Takes No Pity on the Unemployed

Classic. "How can you imagine voting for people who don't share my notion of sympathy for people in need?" Olbermann wonders on his MSNBC show Countdown. No matter rights, no matter justice; the mere need of some is sufficient reason for the likes of Olbermann to deprive others of their property. They should pay for unemployment benefits and free lunches in the name of "humanitarianism" and "pity," after all.

As Olbermann blasts Republicans in this condescending, patronizing rant, unwittingly victimizing "The Unemployed" as though they were a helpless, homogeneous crowd that can exist but at the mercy of the taxpayer, it never quite occurs to him who has to foot the bill, it seems. Or does it?

From Ayn Rand, "The Monument Builders," The Virtue of Selfishness (1964) 88:

Since there is no such entity as "the public," since the public is merely a number of individuals, any claimed or implied conflict of "the public interest" with private interests means that the interests of some men are to be sacrificed to the interests and wishes of others. Since the concept is so conveniently undefinable, its use rests only on any given gang's ability to proclaim that "The public, c'est moi"---and to maintain the claim at the point of a gun.

America Becoming an Entitlement Nation?

Also read about The Unemployment Debate at the Atlantic Sentinel today.

August 15, 2010

Obama, Not So Sure About Ground Zero Mosque Anymore

Just when you thought Obama was making a stand for liberty, defending the construction of a "mosque" near Ground Zero, New York on Saturday, he's back to trying to please everyone today, assuring people: "I was not commenting on and will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there."

August 14, 2010

Obama: Preserve Social Security "Forever"

President Barack Obama used the anniversary of Social Security to accuse the opposition of wanting to destroy it. In his weekly address to the nation, Obama said that he had an "obligation" to keep Franklin D. Roosevelt's monumental pension legislation intact---"today, tomorrow and forever."

According to the president, Republicans are "pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress this fall." In reality, few Republican candidates even dare touch Social Security out of fear of losing senior voters. Even most Tea Partiers, renowned for their newfound libertarianism, typically believe that existing entitlement programs such as Social Security should not be changed.

Privatization, according to the president, is "an ill-conceived idea that would add trillions of dollars to our budget deficit while tying your benefits to the whims of Wall Street traders and the ups and downs of the stock market."

As it is, America spends about as much on Social Security as it does on defense each year, amounting both to approximately 19 percent of the federal budget. Along with Medicare (12 percent) and Medicaid (7 percent), the country spends twice as much on entitlements as it does on defense, and it's doing so on borrowed money. With a budget that's skyrocketing, this administration is leaving America greatly in debt.

Privatizing what is nearly the single largest expenditure of the Federal Government would do anything but add "trillions" to the deficit, no matter what the president believes. To the contrary. By gradually phasing out the program and letting people take care of their own retirement, government could save trillions, cut taxes, and let people spend, and save, their own money. Moreover, they wouldn't need to be subject to the "whims" of Wall Street if the government allowed them to save for their retirement, tax free.

I don't suppose Democrats, the president included, like the sound of that though.

Obama Defends Construction of Ground Zero Mosque

Credit when credit is due: President Barack Obama defended the construction of an Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan, near the site of where once stood the towers of the World Trade Center, saying the country's founding principles demanded no less.

"As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country," the president said at an annual dinner in the White House State Dining Room celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

"That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances," he continued. "This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable."

August 9, 2010

Terrorists Have No Rights

Designating people as "terrorists" is the easiest way to deny them any rights whatsoever. At his blog, Jacob G. Hornberger reports on the latest infringement upon Americans' constitutional rights: the Sixth Amendment right of the accused to "have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence." Unless you've been designated a "terrorist" apparently.

Without any constitutional amendment----indeed, without even a law enacted by Congress---the Treasury Department has issued regulations barring attorneys from representing specially designated terrorists without first securing a license from the Treasury Department. If an attorney represents such a terrorist without the special license, they'll criminally prosecute him---and possibly even deny him the assistance of counsel.

"Why do the feds hate criminal defense attorneys?" Hornberger wonders. Why, because they're obstacles to illegitimate conduct on the part of prosecutors and law enforcement. "They ensure that the government is not only following the law but also that it's not using perjured or manufactured evidence to convict people who the feds are convinced are guilty."

But in the War on Terror, trivial things as "natural rights" seem to be just obstacles, standing in the way.

"Social Justice" To The Extreme

From The Washington Examiner

Some states long ago implemented policies to protect the uninfected part of the prison population while providing exceptional medical treatment and counseling to the infected population.

In South Carolina, it has worked so well since 1998 that there has only been a single transmission of HIV/AIDS to a noninfected prisoner. All that may change, however, thanks to a threat from Eric Holder's Justice Department.

South Carolina received a letter from the now-infamous Civil Rights Division that the policy of keeping infected inmates at a designated facility, instead of scattered across the state in the general prison population, may unfairly stigmatize infected prisoners. To the Obama political appointees in the Civil Rights Division, this constitutes discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The Justice Department objects to separate living facilities and specialized medical treatment for the HIV/AIDS prison population.

So protecting prisoners from rape and infection violates the rights of their rapists and "stigmatizes" perpetrators and victims alike who, in order to keep them and others safe, are locked away in a separate facility? Just what's wrong with that, considering that they're imprisoned anyway? Why, it's discrimination, according to this administration, and that should be challenged, no matter the consequences.

This is "social justice" taken to an extreme, indeed, an absurd new level and it will seem preposterous to anyone except a Justice Department newly obsessed with "protecting" people against discrimination, even if the price is likely to be higher HIV infection rates among inmates.

Pelosi: Still Blaming Bush

From The Foundry:

In January 2009 after it became clear that the leftist majority in Congress would pass President Barack Obama's $862 billion economic stimulus bill without a single vote from a Republican, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) defended her partisan approach, telling Politico: "Yes, we wrote the bill. Yes, we won the election." Last Friday, some 19 months after the stimulus bill became law, the Labor Department issued its monthly jobs report showing the US economy shed 131,000 jobs and unemployment tread water at 9.5% as 181,000 workers left the workforce entirely. [...] Desperate to shift blame away from her economic policies, Speaker Pelosi released a statement Friday blaming President George W. Bush for the economy's anemic recovery: "Today's report shows our teachers, police officers, firefighters, and nurses are still feeling the worst of the Bush recession."

Madam Speaker, it's been seventeen months. (Even more when you factor in that during the last two years of the Bush Administration, the Democrats were already in the majority in Congress.) Perhaps it's time to start taking responsibility?

Yes, President Bush's housing policies caused the financial crisis but it's disingenuous of Democrats to keep blaming him because they supported those efforts. They defended Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and they continue to believe that government has a role not just in providing "affordable" housing, but in regulating the entirety of the economy.

Meanwhile, unemployment continues to hover near 10 percent, businesses are still failing, the Democrats are preparing to raise taxes, and billions in "stimulus" money is still forthcoming while the economy is waiting for the part that's been spent already to yield any significant, long term results. But, hey, this is all Bush's fault, remember?

Constitutional and Rational Questions About Gay Marriage

With California's ban on same sex marriage overruled in Federal Court last week, opponents are rattling up anew to contest the legitimacy of gay marriage. Two points are worth considering in this contest: constitutionality and objective law.

In a post at the conservative blog RedState, one Hogan neatly sums up the conservative position. On constitutionality, he argues that the highest law "should [not] be used by the Judiciary to invalidate the will of the people based on a protection that does not exist in the Constitution."

As for objective law, Hogan believes that it's "rational" to outlaw same sex marriage.

[I]t seems to me that we human beings may well have more than a "rational basis" to recognize marriage as it has been recognized around the world for literally thousands of years---the union of a man and a woman. For reasons of pro-creation and parenthood, to start with, but also for reasons of faith and morality, for some of us, any marriage other than such a union can never be, whatever society says, a "marriage" at all.

Notice first the fallacy of appealing to "thousands of years" of tradition before, correctly, dismissing the "will of society" as a legitimization of any measure. Presumably, the will of the people matters to Hogan only when a majority happens to agree with him.

Majority rule absent objective law equals mob rule however and it's anything but rational, let alone legitimate.

No matter Hogan's appeals to "faith" and "morality" (what morality?), there is no rational reason for denying homosexual couples to marry.

(As for procreation and parenthood---I have yet to see any study underwriting the blatant assumption that gays make for lesser parents. Besides, if it were so that children are best raised by a man and a woman, what to think of all the divorces and single parents out there? Should they be denied the right to have children? And just what has this to do with marriage anyway? What about all the unmarried couples who have children and what about all the gay couples who have no children? Some may like to cry "what about the children?" whenever they see something they don't like but that doesn't make it rational at all.)

Is there a constitutional basis for outlawing gay marriage perhaps? The Constitution, of course, doesn't say anything about marriage explicitly but it does provide that citizens of the United States are equal before the law. As long as government has a place in regulating marriage, which is to say that they are recognized as such by the law, it would seem fairly obvious that no arbitrary restrictions based, for instance, on race, heritage or sexual preference, ought be imposed on it.

Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker, who repealed California's marriage law last Wednesday, recognized this when he ruled that the state's infamous Proposition 8 failed "to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license." What's more, according to Judge Walker, "Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights." And that's about all there's to be said on the legitimacy of same sex marriage.

August 7, 2010

How Anti-Islamic Rhetoric Strengthens Extremists

About that mosque that's supposed to be build near Ground Zero, New York. From Slate:

Several astute writers [...] have explained the idiocy of the anti-mosque campaign. By opposing the mosque, [Newt] Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani, and other Republicans think they're standing up to Bin Laden. But Bin Laden isn't fighting for Islam. He's fighting to transform a war of terrorists against civilization into a war of infidels against Islam. He's fighting to persuade Muslims that they belong on his side, not on ours.

And you're helping him, Newt. You're giving him exactly the fight he wants. Nice going.

Their comparison of Bin Laden and Gingrich quotes is a bit far stretched but the conclusion is sound: by pretending that this is a clash of civilizations, the West only ends up strengthening the crazies.

At the same time, there's no need to be ashamed to proclaim Western values as superior, nor to give way to ideologies that are totalitarian and oppressive. Fundamentalist Islam is despicable and dangerous. The West should offer freedom as its alternative instead of bigotry and fear.

Bailouts as Evidence of "Faith" in American People?

From The New York Times:

Against a backdrop of American-made cars, President Obama cast his Republican critics on Thursday as having lost faith in the American people [...]

"I wish they could see the pride you take in building these great cars, American-made cars. And my message to them is: Don't bet against the American worker; don't lose faith in the American people; don't lose faith in American industry. We are coming back."

That's wonderful but the opposition isn't losing faith in American industry of course, nor in the American people. It is losing faith in government's ability to "help" them both recover from economic hardship.

The president sadly confuses the very premise of government interference in private sector industry. That isn't a sign of "faith" in people's ability to control their own lives. To the contrary, it displays a blatant lack of faith in people's right to make their own choices. After all, if people always made the "right" choices in the eyes of policy makers, surely there'd be no need for bailouts and regulation in the first place?

August 6, 2010

Missouri Voters Say No to ObamaCare

A stunning 71 percent of Missouri voters on Tuesday rejected ObamaCare in their state's primary election.

Proposition C, the Missouri Health Care Freedom Act, amends existing law to deny government the authority to "penalize citizens for refusing to purchase private health insurance or infringe upon the right to offer or accept direct payment for lawful healthcare services."

The health care bill's mandate, which forces citizens to buy insurance, is one of the legislation's most blatant of assaults on individual rights. For a nation whose legal tradition is steeped in the defense of personal liberties, it borders on the absurd that a law need be passed that explicitly denies government the power to punish citizens for not doing something.

Along with Missouri, dozens of states are lining up to fight ObamaCare. Missouri's victory may just be temporary, depending on whether the insurance mandate is deemed to be legitimate under Congress' power to regulate "interstate commerce," but it's clear, in either event, that people contesting the bill throughout the land, if not the very notion of socialized medicine.

The Great Tax Debate

Why the Bush tax cuts should be extended? David Asman breaks it down for you.

August 5, 2010

California's Same Sex Marriage Ban Overruled

A district judge in California has overruled the state's infamous Proposition 8. The proposition was passed in 2008 and amended the state constitution to provide that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

According to Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker, who made his ruling on Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by two gay couples who claimed the voter-approved ban violated their civil rights, the proposition "fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license." What's more, according to the judge, "Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights." Imagine that.

The text of the ruling is available in full at The Huffington Post.

August 4, 2010

The States Are Broke

"The states are broke, and like many consumers, they're borrowing big time to get out of their fiscal binds." reporting.

The amount of debt that states are carrying spiked 10.3% last year to $460 billion, according to Moody's Investors Service. The debt is paid for through taxes and fees, making residents ultimately responsible.

Imagine that. State governments are plunging into the red and the tax payer ends up footing the bill. Who would have guessed?

The article notes that "not every state is ratcheting up its borrowing" though. "Many states have strict laws governing their debt issuance. Some places, such as Nebraska and Wyoming, have virtually no debt." If they manage, why can't the rest?

Obama's Disastrous Energy Plans Delayed

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has decided not to advance the Democrats' energy bill before the August recess. The bill will be reconsidered when the Senate returns about Labor Day.

This may delay Obama's disastrous energy policies but it certainly doesn't mean the end of them.

Predictably, Democrats are using BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to justify expanding government's interference in the energy sector. "It's a sad day," said Reid, "when you can't find a handful of Republicans to support a bill ... that would hold BP accountable for the worst oil spill in history."

Actually the bill wouldn't do that. The core of the legislation entails caps to be put on carbon emissions; something which would undermine supply-and-demand and drive up energy prices because the earth-saving but costly "green" energies, as wind and solar, are wholly unprofitable and inefficient.

Meanwhile, there are vast reserves of oil and natural gas waiting to be exploited underneath the Atlantic coastline, beneath the northern coast of Alaska, and on land, in Colorado and Wyoming. Combined, these regions hold over two hundred billion barrels of oil and two thousand trillion cubic feet of natural gas that are recoverable with today's technology. That's more than most OPEC nations. If fully developed, it would be enough to free America from the import of foreign oil for almost fifty years.

Yet the president believes that "drilling alone cannot come close to meeting our long term energy needs." Instead, his administration is set to subsidize currently unprofitable renewable energies, stifling necessary progress in these sectors at the expense of millions of Americans who will either lose their jobs, see their energy bills go up, or both. No wonder Senator Reid couldn't even find "a handful of Republicans" to go along with that.

The Real Face of ObamaCare -- Frightening

I write about Dr Donald Berwick, Obama's head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and a self-confessed "romantic" about Britain's infamous National Health Service at the Atlantic Sentinel a few months ago. I already knew the quotes from this video but it's startling to hear them spoken by a doctor and an American; an educated man who, by all accounts, should be able to reason that his appeals to "humanity" and "civilization" are not objective standards; are not arguments to justify the collectivization of an entire industry as is happening with health insurance in the United States today.

(Note that I'm not going to retort all the mundane, irrational arguments and claims put forward by Dr Berwick in this short video or during the entirety of his 2008 speech. You can read this post of mine from May which does exactly that.)

Since the general civilization of mankind...

Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations; but, on a candid examination of history, we shall find that turbulence, violence, and abuse of power, by the majority trampling on the rights of the minority, have produced factions and commotions, which, in republics, have, more frequently than any other cause, produced despotism.

James Madison, Speech at the Virginia Convention (1788)

August 3, 2010

Paul Ryan Making Sense, As Usual

Just in case you missed this, it's from March. Probably the smartest congressman alive.

SEC Exempt From Freedom of Information Act

Just why did Congress exempt the Securities and Exchange Commission from the Freedom of Information Act?

Daily Kos' Solution to Social Security

The "problem" of Social Security is easy to fix, writes Jew Lewison at Daily Kos. Just raise taxes!

CBO analysis shows that if all income were subject to the Social Security tax (as opposed to just the first $106,800), Social Security's trust fund would last through 2083. Given the imprecision of 75-year economic forecasts, that should be good enough for now.

Lewison adds that about two thirds of Americans supposedly support lifting the cap. "Problem solved," he notes.

Not really, of course, but it's typical of the statist mind to think that if you manage to delay the inevitable and win popular support for it, you've got yourself a "solution".

August 2, 2010

New at the Atlantic Sentinel

Here's a little update for you on what's been going on at the Atlantic Sentinel lately.

1) We've engaged in a partnership with The Diplomat, quite probably the finest resources on everything Asia-Pacific. Their coverage of the region is superb. Regular readers of the Sentinel will have noticed me referring to some of their articles in recent weeks. Expect more of that in the time ahead! Be sure to add them to your reader, if you haven't already.

2) Dan DePetris had joined our team! Dan is a grad student with the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. He currently blogs at Political Docket and his posts at the Sentinel are likely to focus on terrorism, counterinsurgency and the Middle East. His first contribution is up today, "GOP Resolution on Iran May Just Be Political."

August 1, 2010

Obama Going to Call Republicans' "Bluff"

In an interview that was taped with CBS on Friday and will air on the network's Sunday Morning and The Early Show, President Barack Obama had a warning for Republicans who fret about the deficit but have no proposals to cut it. "I'm going to call them on their bluff," he announced.

The president said the same thing last month after the G20 summit in Toronto, Canada.

Asked at the time how he can boost confidence in his administration's ability to cut the deficit in half within three years, considering that Democrats haven't even managed to introduce a proper budget this year, Obama cited a three year discretionary spending freeze, "a whole host of measures to cut programs that aren't working," and PAYGO, which has existed since 1990 and was modified last year in order to allow multibillion dollar stimulus spending.

Last Friday, Obama again promised "a bunch of ideas" for deficit reduction. Wonderful. Again, though, he didn't volunteer any specifics.

Here's some ideas: repeal ObamaCare and while you're at it, abolish Medicare and Medicaid to privatize health care altogether; abolish the Department of Education and get government out of schools; abolish Social Security for anyone, say, everyone under 50 years old and free them from the unchosen responsibility of caring for the elderly; abolish the Department of Energy and the EPA and all the preposterous red tape and regulation that comes with them. And restore sanity to public spending but putting in place a deficit cap at, why, 3 percent perhaps, and save not only the nation from bankruptcy but future generations from financial hardship.

There's a "bunch of ideas" I doubt this or any future administration for that matter will ever contemplate.