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Showing posts from September, 2009

Abraham Lincoln, Joe Hooker, Barack Obama, America's military

There is bizarre talk these days from the Far Fringes of the Far Right that America's military might find itself tempted to stage a coup against President Obama. This is not unprecedented in American history, and other presidents have found their own ways to deal with military officers [and those who egg them on] who see themselves as the white knight on horseback ready to save the republic from the dangers of democracy. Perhaps the most elegant response ever penned to such a potential situation was writer by President Abraham Lincoln to Major General "Fighting Joe" Hooker on January 26, 1863 : GENERAL: I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appears to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skilful soldier, which of course I like. I also believe that you do not mix politics with

The simplified case against this version of health insurance reform

From Angus at Kids Prefer Cheese : I actually think we are going to get a reform that is both worse than the status quo and worse than a pure single payer system. Kudos to our Congress! As I understand it, insurance companies will not be able to refuse to cover some one, nor will they be able to charge high risk people a premium that reflects their risk. The price won't be uniform, but the maximum variation will be well below what it would take to correctly price the variation in risks. As I noted before, this will make premiums for healthy people extra high. And as the WSJ pointed out yesterday, at least on the margin, it will make healthy people want to hold off from getting any insurance until they are actually sick. Problem solved, you say? Ahh, but now it appears that the third leg of the trinity will be rule that it will be illegal to not have insurance! So young healthy people will be forced to buy way overpriced (relative to their risk) insurance. Plus if said youn

Exporting democracy to Afghanistan: the Obama administration says "No" to a run-off election

OK, I officially never want to hear about the 2000 US Presidential election again from anybody who does not question this decision : The White House has ended weeks of hesitation over how to respond to the Afghan election by accepting President Karzai as the winner despite evidence that up to 20 per cent of ballots cast may have been fraudulent. Abandoning its previous policy of not prejudging investigations of vote rigging, the Obama Administration has conceded that Mr Karzai will be President for another five years on the basis that even if he were forced into a second round of voting he would almost certainly win it. The decision will increase pressure on President Obama to justify further US troop deployments to Afghanistan to prop up a regime now regarded as systemically corrupt. The acceptance was conveyed by Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, in a meeting with her Afghan counterpart hours before Mr Obama received a formal request from General Stanley McChrystal, the

Michael Moore's own love story with capitalism

From The Future of Capitalism : The funniest moments of all in the movie, though, may just be in the opening and closing credits. We see that the movie is presented by "Paramount Vantage" in association with the Weinstein Company. Bob and Harvey Weinstein are listed as executive producers. If Mr. Moore appreciates any of the irony here he sure doesn't share it with viewers, but for those members of the audience who are in on the secret it's all kind of amusing. Paramount Vantage, after all, is controlled by Viacom, on whose board sit none other than Sumner Redstone and former Bear Stearns executive Ace Greenberg, who aren't exactly socialists. The Weinstein Company announced it was funded with a $490 million private placement in which Goldman Sachs advised. The press release announcing the deal quoted a Goldman spokesman saying, "We are very pleased to be a part of this exciting new venture and look forward to an ongoing relationship with The Weinstein Compa

President Obama and the definition of taxation

President Obama insists that mandatory health insurance is not a tax, and compares it to automobile insurance. But now we also know that, under at least the Baucus bill, if you don't purchase health insurance you may be fined $25,000 and sent to prison for a year. The necessity for this non-taxation is driven by the President's assertion that we all need to become one big health insurance risk pool : He noted that consumers currently pay higher health insurance premiums due to the costs run up by hospitals and other facilities providing care to uninsured people. Those unable to afford health insurance should get government help, Obama said, but others who can afford coverage but choose not to get it should face coverage requirements similar to those for auto insurance. "What it's saying is ... that we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you any more than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insur

Pepper spray and high fashion in Pittsburgh: the G-20 protests that only Libertarians put into perspective for you

This is the guy who got everything started with the firearms outside the venue in which President Obama was speaking in New Hampshire. You recall: the evidence that political violence and intimidation was being initiated by those who openly and peacefully carried handguns legally to demonstrations. This, on the other hand, is the mass demonstration Thursday in Pittsburgh prepartory to the G-20 Summit, wherein legions of police marched in with smoke and pepper spray to disperse the crowd: Here's how the Associate Press reported the news : PITTSBURGH — Police fired canisters of pepper spray and smoke at marchers protesting the Group of 20 summit Thursday after anarchists responded to calls to disperse by rolling trash bins and throwing rocks. The march turned chaotic at just about the time that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived for a meeting with leaders of the world's major economies. The clashes began after hundreds of protesters, many advo

Soda tax debate reveals fundamental progressive assertions about your lack of individual rights and the "responsiblities" of the State

I thought it would be at least amusing to use the Delawareliberal comments as sub-headings regarding each category of what is wrong with the proposed tax on sodas and juice drinks. But there are so many different little strands of each comment that it would be impossible to pull them all out. So, instead, I'm going to let you read them in more or less the order they appeared, and note the assumptions. pandora: I’m perfectly okay with taxing sodas and juice drinks. Mainly because they’re total crap, and one of the main reasons our country’s children are overweight. They are also dirt cheap. Assumptions here: (1) Because "I" am perfectly okay with a new tax it should be imposed on everybody; (2) it is the government's responsibility to keep children from being obese; (3) the cheapness of the product to be taxed justifies charging people more for it. John Manifold: Soda fattens your kids [and you and your husband], shortens their lives, costs more than wate

Throw us a bone--or just thirty pieces of silver will do

From Jumping in Pools : Eric Dondero, is the founder & editor of the "Libertarian Republican", a blog which features a Libertarian view, but is strong on national defense and on other issues which Conservatives can agree on, Mr.Dondero had the time to answer some questions for the twentieth interview in the Jumping in Pools series. Tim K - Mr.Dondero, you are a self proclaimed Libertarian Republican, while I am a self avowed Conservative Republican, how can we work together to build a stronger Republican party? Eric Dondero - We need to start by recognizing that we are ideological cousins and have far more in common than we have that separates us. That said, Conservatives have to give a little. We we Libertarians mostly ask, is throw us some bones on some civil liberties issues. And no, I'm not talking tough issues like Abortion or Gay Marriage (actually we Libertarians ourselves are divided on these two issues.) I'm talking easy civil liberties issues that

Corporations and the Constitution: A rare disagreement with Coyote

Coyote Blog is one of my favorites: driven by critical thinking and hard data. Nonetheless, I disagree with the Coyote on this one: Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech. Doesn’t say by whom or for what. There are no modifiers. Doesn’t say “except when individuals organize themselves into a corporation.” My disagreement comes from the fact that free of speech does not mean freedom from consequences for speech. Freedom of speech, as it was intended by the Framers, meant freedom from prior restraint. I cannot be stopped from speaking about you, but if I threaten you, libel you, slander you, or engage in fighting words, then you have recourse against me. If a normal business partnership does that, I have recourse against the business and the individuals who organized that speech. But the individuals who have organized themselves into a corporation have done so, at least in part, for the purpose of avoiding personal liability for their actions. That me

Teacher! Frank Rich stole my answer...

... and didn't you hate that? I've been trying (in my usual long-winded way) from time to time to explain why GOP bashing is not quite the Democratic answer to tea-baggers and other protesters out there these days. Frank Rich gets it in one sentence [although I had to suffer through an article about Glenn Beck to find it]: Many of those Americans may hate Obama, but they don’t love the Republican establishment either. As a political observer [and not as a shill for libertarianism] I think the mood of the public is increasingly populist , while the leadership of Democrats is increasingly progressive , and what's left of the leadership of the GOP is increasingly reactionary . Despite the fact that populists and progressives both generally share a sense of the necessity for government activism, very little else actually unites them in terms of policy prescriptions, and some of the antipathy toward Barack Obama is as much anti-intellectual as it is racist.

Steve's five rules for successful negotiations

Some readers know that I am also a union president. Right now I am involved in contract negotiations, which is stressful at the best of times. Even though I am president, I am not chief negotiator, because I have an officer who is better at that, with loads more experience. I generally sit in the second chair, and it is often my role to be "bad cop." Nonetheless, in participating in these kinds of negotiations now for the better part of a decade, I have learned some rules of thumg that serve me well, particularly when you know that you have to work with the people on the other side of the table before, during, and after the negotiations process. Rule One: Know what you need, what you want, and what you'd just like to have --and understand that it will often be necessary to give away things you like or want to get what you need. Novice negotiators decide on their priorities during negotiations; experienced and successful pros sit down with their teams and rank order

Debunking the Cash 4 Clunkers success myth

From AOL Auto , a thorough debunking of the myth of Cash for Clunkers (C4C) success finally begins to hit selected parts of the MSM: Myth One: C4C was environmentally friendly Quicker than you can say, “Holy statistics, Mr. Wizard,” the numbers nerds ascertained that the new vehicles sold under C4C will use more—not less—fuel than the beaters that were turned in and destroyed. How can that be? Think of it on a personal level. Suppose you had a 10-year-old particulate belcher that, as the euphemism goes, needed work. Even if you lived in an Orlando suburb, you’d still be less than excited at the idea of piling the kids into it and lighting out for Disney World. But that new Malibu that gets a hell of a lot better mileage is a different kettle of green. You trust it; it’s economical; you drive it more. A lot more, according to another piece of research. CNW surveyed drivers involved in the purchase of the first 239,000 C4C vehicles. The average intended annual mileage was 10,894,

With Bubba, nothing is ever simple, so you always have to ask...

... is this what he really thinks, or is this the first step in either setting up Hillary for a primary challenge in 2010 or insulating himself from the new interview tapes? Whichever it happens to be, former President Bill Clinton draws a distinctive line between himself and Jimmy Carter on CNN : (CNN) – Former President Bill Clinton told CNN Monday that he thinks some of the criticism directed at President Obama is racially motivated, but added that not all of Obama’s detractors are racist and urged his fellow Democrats to remain focused on trying to enact health care reform. “I believe that some of the right-wing extremists which oppose President Obama are also racially prejudiced and would prefer not to have an African-American president,” Clinton told CNN’s Larry King in an interview to air Monday evening. “But I don’t believe that all the people who oppose him on health care – and all the conservatives – are racists. And I believe if he were white, every single person who opp

Truth in advertising: not everybody who tried to sting ACORN ended up with what they thought....

... and this story is actually about ACORN Delaware . Nancy Armstrong is a disabled USN vet and a blogger out of Wichita KS, who is interested in investigating ACORN's funding sources. She is far less sensational than most, and--a pleasant rarity in the world today--actually reports factual information that would run counter to her original thesis. Armstrong recently published an investigative post about where ACORN is finding the money to do foreclosure counseling , and she lays out the organization's profit or potential profit from a number of lawsuits, including actions acainst HSBC and Sherwin Williams. That's interesting, but not germane to my point today. Armstrong apparentely attempted her own sting operation in June 2009 to discover what kind of response people who turn to ACORN for mortgage foreclosure help get. What drew me to this post is that her target was ACORN Delaware. [Who knows why a woman in Kansas calls ACORN Delaware?] Here's what she write

We have already failed in Afghanistan....

... which is something we need to admit before too many more young Americans, Brits, Canadians, Germans, and Italians die to prove it to our military and political leadership. Yes, with the 40-45,000 additional troops that General McChrystal wants , we could win a short-term victory against the Taliban, at the cost of several thousand casualties over the next three years. But what then? Exactly how long is the United States willing to leave a garrison force of 50-100,000 in Afghanistan to enforce the so-called peace? Five years? Twenty? Nor can we depend on the Afghan security forces, whose budget will be nearly four times the GDP of the entire country. The Canadians, it seems, are being much more honest about this than the Americans, as The Independent reports : It is instructive to turn at this moment to the Canadian army, which has in Afghanistan fewer troops than the Brits but who have suffered just as ferociously; their 130th soldier was killed near Kandahar this week. Eve

Why some days I really hate the internet

This excerpt from Max Blumenthal's new book Republican Gomorrah has gone damn-near viral on the web : At the Charter School for Excellence, a school in South Florida inspired by Gothard's draconian principles that receives $800,000 in state funds each year, children are indoctrinated into a culture of absolute submission to authority almost as soon as they learn to speak. A song that the school's first-graders are required to recite goes as follows: Obedience is listening attentively, Obedience will take instructions joyfully, Obedience heeds wishes of authorities, Obedience will follow orders instantly. For when I am busy at my work or play, And someone calls my name, I'll answer right away! I'll be ready with a smile to go the extra mile As soon as I can say "Yes, sir!" "Yes ma am!" Hup, two, three! The larger excerpt is actually about the impact of Christian right self-help guru Bill Gothard, and don't get me wrong, Gothard and his de

OK, this headline is just too good to pass up

Via Alphecca from other places: Insane killer escapes on field trip to county fair A criminally insane killer from eastern Washington is on the run after escaping during a field trip to the county fair that his mental hospital organized. Pretty much leaves no room for additional comment, does it?

And by the way, Hube, I think you're right

Solitary blogging leaves one vulnerable to lapses in inspiration, getting caught in ruts, and unconsciously bringing here the frame of mind you get into when things aren't going all that well in the rest of your life. I've taken a look back over the past few weeks and you've got a point. Working on it. [This will only make sense to anybody else if you are a truly devoted follower and read every single comment.]

The new talking point: you're a hypocrite if you use the services your taxes paid for

Some of my (Delaware)Liberal friends think that the Kos-generated Teabagger Pledge is sort of the ultimate Gotcha for those who fervently believe in limited government. I'm not a Teabagger, but Libertarians are often attacked with the smug If you don't believe in government services, don't use them (asshole) [implied--unless donviti wrote it, in which case he is man enough to say what he's really thinking]. So cassandra, for example, appears to believe the following list is something like the final word [I have cut in my comments in bold : I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following: Note that this pledge says nothing of being able to avoid paying the taxes for those services I pledge not to use. So cassandra now wants to take my money AND argue that because I disagree with my money being taken I should deny myself acc

ACORN affair gives the lie to Glenn Beck's ridiculous claim to being a Libertarian

First I read this at Kids Prefer Cheese , and it started me thinking: "Beck is 45, tireless, funny, self-deprecating, a recovering alcoholic, a convert to Mormonism, a libertarian and living with ADHD. He is a gifted storyteller with a knack for stitching seemingly unrelated data points into possible conspiracies - IF he believed in conspiracies, which he doesn't, necessarily; he's just asking questions. He's just sayin'." [TIME] I assume that Mr. Beck is not really a Mormon, either. Both Libertarians and Mormons expect people to have a consistent set of beliefs. Exactly how does Glenn Beck the Libertarian get all upset at ACORN representatives for (1) helping a prostitute find some way to launder her money so she can buy a house; or (2) helping said prostitute rip off the IRS? Think about it: Libertarians generally hold that women own their own bodies, and that charging people for sex [as long as neither party is coerced] is their business and not the

UPDATED and corrected: The Usual Suspects: ACORN and the Delaware blogosphere

The ACORN scandal has appeared pretty much everywhere but here in the Delaware blogosphere, so I thought it might be interesting to do a round-up. From the Right: Cato, at Delmarva Dealings , seems to be channeling Glenn Beck: While Barack Obama’s former employer is using YOUR tax dollars to assist child prostitution rings, YOUR representatives in Congress are doing all that they can to make sure that these criminals stay on the Federal Gravy Train. Uh, not so much actually. The fact that some ACORN employees pronounced themselves willing to assist the child prostitution ring [singular; note to Cato: watches those pesky plurals], is not quite the same thing as using YOUR tax dollars to assist child prostitution rings , since no such ring ever existed and no money was ever spent supporting it. David, at Delaware Politics , is a little more circumspect in that he says this of ACORN: I am not contesting that ACORN has done some good work. I am questioning whether or not the gov