Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom | Tags: Culture War, Democrat Demagogues, Politics
A week ago, President Obama told the National Academy of Sciences in Washington about his vision of a new era of research and inquiry in which “discovery” is a national priority.
Obama cited the space race as an example of what can be accomplished with large infusions of money. If we can go to the moon, the theory goes, then we can do anything. But this is a flawed vision of creativity. Apollo was a pretty difficult, but straightforward engineering problem.
Creativity is often portrayed as a lightbulb going off over the head, or a bolt of lightening striking. It isn’t like that. All leaps forward are built on the shoulders of others. Insight consists of bits and pieces of other people’s work that come together with a connective idea in the creative person’s mind. Or not. And there is much more “not” than breakthrough. You can’t just order it up.
A National Priority of Investing 3% of GDP
Obama pledged to push public and private investment in research and development in the United States beyond it’s high point in 1964. It would take $420 billion a year to reach this level.
A paper by Austan Goolsbee, the President’s economic adviser, points out that the majority of R&D spending is actually just salary payments for R&D workers.
[G]overnment R&D spending raises wages significantly, particularly for scientists related to defense such as physicists and aeronautical engineers. Because of the higher wages conventional estimates of the effectiveness of R&D policy may be 30 to 50 percent too high.
Energy Secretary Chu is giving $30 million over five years to two professors at the University of California, Berkeley, for research on cleaning up power plant pollution. Professors Berend Smit and Donald De Paolo will get $2 million and $4 million a year to seek better ways to clean carbon out of the emissions from power plants and natural gas wells and put it underground.
A Naïve Belief In the Power of Government
Liberal faith in the efficacy of government is amazing to behold. They believe for scientific breakthroughs, they have only to supply the money and choose the correct scientist. They believe in bureaucracy and committees, and look with suspicion on the work of a lone individual.
The pharmaceutical industry used to be one of the country’s most innovative and successful, but excessive and erratic government regulation has pushed development costs into the stratosphere, according to the Hoover Institution’s Dr. Henry I. MIller. It has made outcomes uncertain and slowed approvals to a trickle.
The chemical industry is another favorite target of government regulators. The EPA has designated pheromones — natural chemicals which in small amounts, prevent male insects from locating the females, thus reducing the number of offspring — as pesticides, and requires expensive testing in order to use them commercially.
Carol Browner, environmental czar; Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator; Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture and Joshua Sharfstein deputy FDA commissioner are hostile to modern technology and the industries that use it. None of them, according to Dr. Miller, has shown any understanding or appreciation of science.
A Complete Lack of Confidence in the Private Sector
President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner recently announced a need to regulate venture capital firms, on the grounds that they pose a risk to the economy. Huh? Venture capital is focused on new technology in small startup companies. By giving these firms the startup money to develop their ideas they are providing the engine for innovation, job creation and growth. More than any other aspect of our economy, venture capital makes us the envy of the world.
Some have suggested that the Obama administration simply lacks understanding of the free market, that venture capital firms seek economic returns that are not aligned with the political objectives of the administration. Others suggest that venture capital can create huge fortunes outside of taxable income, which would also be unacceptable to the administration.
If the administration attempts to control decision-making in every industry in which it gets involved, we are in deep trouble. There are very few individuals capable of running large business enterprises successfully. It is a rare talent. Businesses simply want to keep government off their backs, so they can provide jobs and products and growth for the economy.
Most of the current crisis was caused by government, by too much regulation, by misguided regulation, by ill-conceived regulation. It will not be improved by more government control.
Filed under: Freedom, Law, National Security, Politics, Terrorism | Tags: Culture War, Democrat Demagogues, Homeland Security, Terrorism
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“The Obama administration is confused.” writes Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard.
The president says harsh interrogation techniques “do not make us safer,” but his top intelligence adviser says the same techniques produced “high-value information” that gave the U.S. government “a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.
Obama White House officials routinely boast that theirs is “the most transparent administration in history,” but then they release Justice Department memos about the interrogations in which the assessments confirming the value of those techniques are blacked out.
Attorney General Eric Holder tells a congressional committee that he is unaware of memos about the information gleaned in harsh interrogations that have been requested by former Vice President Dick Cheney, but his boss, the president, not only knows about those memos but also describes their contents to members of Congress.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the administration could support an independent investigation of interrogation techniques based on the 9/11 Commission. Then he says that Obama decided long ago that such an investigation would be too political.
In the National Journal Stuart Taylor Jr. says “The review should start by taking seriously the views of the people with the most-detailed knowledge. They say that the coercive interrogation program was highly effective.
Michael Hayden, Bush’s last CIA director and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey recently wrote, “As late as 2006, fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations.” Former CIA Director George Tenent has said,”I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots. I know this program is worth more than [what] the FBI, the [CIA], and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.” Former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has said, “We have people walking around in this country that are alive today because this process happened.”
Marc Thiessen notes that: Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques “led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’
to use East Asian East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into a building in Los Angeles.” KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast. The memo explains that “information obtained from KSM also led to the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discovery of the Guraba Cell, a 17-member Jemmah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the ‘Second Wave’.”In other words, without enhanced interrogations, there could be a hole in the ground in Los Angeles to match the one in New York.
“Admiral Dennis Blair, the top intelligence official in the United States” says Stephen Hayes,
believes that the coercive interrogation methods outlawed by his boss produced “high-value information” and gave the U.S. government “a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” He included those assessments in a letter distributed inside the intelligence community last Thursday, the same day Obama declassified and released portions of Justice Department memos setting out guidelines for those interrogations.
That letter from Blair served as the basis for a public statement that his office put out that same day. But the DNI’s conclusions about the results of coercive interrogations — in effect, that they worked — were taken out of Blair’s public statement. …
The letter included this language: “From 2002 through 2006 when the use of these techniques ended, the leadership of the CIA repeatedly reported their activities both to Executive Branch policy makers and to members of Congress and received permission granted by “members of Congress” — permission that came from members of Obama’s own party.
Dick Cheney: “This is the first time that I can recall that we’ve had an administration come in, take power, and then suggest using the power of the government against their predecessors, from a legal standpoint. Criminal prosecution of lawyers in the Justice Department whose opinions they disagreed with on an impor”crimitant issue. Criminal prosecutions. When was the last time that happened?”
Porter J. Goss, former CIA director: “Since leaving my post as CIA director almost three years ago, I have remained largely silent on the public stage. I am speaking out now because I feel our government has crossed the red line between properly protecting our national security and trying to gain partisan political advantage. We can’t have a secret intelligence service if we keep giving away all the secrets.”
It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.
The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.
- We understood what the CIA was doing.
- We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.
- We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.
- On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda.
Should the winner of a presidential election attempt to use the enormous powers of his office to investigate and prosecute his political adversaries? Will this begin a cycle of retribution in which policy disputes are to be criminalized? And will this tear the country apart?
Filed under: National Security, Terrorism | Tags: Culture War, Homeland Security, War on Terror
A new Rasmussen survey suggests that the Democrats have overreached with their obsessive interest in the waterboarding of the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Voters are just unimpressed with the “torture” theme.
58 percent of voters say that the Obama administration’s release of Department of Justice memos “endangers the national security of the United States.” Less than half as many think that it “helps America’s image abroad.”
70 percent say that America’s legal system either does a good job of weighing security needs against individual rights, or that it puts too much emphasis on individual rights at the expense of national security. Only a bare 21 percent say that the legal system is “too concerned about protecting national security.
58 percent said that the Obama administration should not investigate the Bush administration on interrogations, while only 28 percent wanted investigations. Only 22 percent of independents wanted investigations. Even democrats, by a tiny margin felt that the release damaged national security. Independents by an overwhelming majority believe Obama damaged national security — 65 percent to 23 percent.
Americans in every demographic are more inclined to believe that the legal system worries way too much about individual rights rather than national security.
This may suggest that Obama’s apology tour may not have been especially well-received.
Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay is now disapproved of by a 46 to 36 margin, with declining support for Obama’s actions.
From a July 2002 Bush Press Conference, when GWB was asked about the topic of the recklessness and re-regulation of the 1990s:
Q. Sir, you said in your speech tomorrow you’re going to talk about some of the excesses of the 1990s when a lot of money was flying around, people were playing a lot of games…money. You weren’t president then. Bill Clinton was president. Do you think in some way he contributed to that? Set a moral tone in any way?
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear, Progressivism | Tags: Culture War, Democrat Demagogues, Wasteful Spending
About a month ago, I wrote a post called “Obama’s Civilian Mandatory “Volunteer” Brownshirt Corps. ” The title probably indicated pretty clearly that I didn’t think much of the idea. Since Americans lead the world in their altruism, their unpaid volunteer giving of time and money, I thought it was probably not a good idea to try to turn it into another government funded bureaucracy. I was right.
“The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act”, was signed into law on Tuesday by President Obama. I assume that this is the same bill, since it has the same sponsor, and I can find no trace of the original GIVE Act at Thomas, the Library of Congress site. It will triple the number of AmeriCorps members from 75,000 to 250,000. Officially it:
reauthorizes and expands national service programs administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency created in 1993. The Corporation engages four million Americans in result-driven service each year, including 75,000 AmeriCorps members, 492,000 Senior Corps volunteers, 1.1 million Learn and Serve America students, and 2.2 million additional community volunteers mobilized and managed through the agency’s programs.
Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine says: “The law shovels out $5.7 billion of taxpayer dollars over the next five years to “boost volunteerism at AmeriCorps and elsewhere. In an era of trillions of dollars in wasteful spending, that’s a real bargain.” He also notes that they already got an extra $200 million from the stimulus bill.
At the time, with a little cursory research into AmeriCorps, I found it lived up to my skepticism. But now, I have found more — much more — from Nick Gillespie and from James Bovard who is not only a splendid researcher, but has 8 fine books to his credit. They don’t like AmeriCorps either, and pull no punches in explaining why. Jim Bovard’s piece can be found here. Here are the dirty little secrets that the liberals don’t want you to know.
As far as I am able to tell, no program or policy ever introduced by Democrats is a failure. Programs that take welfare recipients off the streets and send them into classrooms as reading tutors have “taught millions of children to read.” Never mind that many of the tutors have only an eighth-grade education. These programs are all a success, and with a little reorganization and a lot more money, will be an even greater success. That’s why it doesn’t matter what the results are.
Democrats appreciate the goals or intent of legislation. They mean well, and they are quite unconcerned about the consequences. It is enough if the law promises the requisite amount of hope and change. Doesn’t matter if the promises are empty. The intent is all.
UPDATE: We had a bad link here. It’s fixed now. Sorry.
Filed under: Humor, Progressivism | Tags: Culture War, Political Correctness/Multiculturalism
In the newspaper advertising pages for my grocery store, there was a feature for “Administrative Professionals’ Day Balloons starting at 3.99—everyday low price.”
I assume that this is what used to be called “Secretary’s Day” which I always thought was nonsense. If a boss is treating his secretary right, she (do I need to say he/she?) will not need a special day. If he is not, she should get another job. If Secretaries need a special day, does it become something different if it is an Administrative Professionals’ Day? Administrative Professionals may feel demeaned by being called “secretaries.” I would feel demeaned if someone gave me a $3.99 floral-printed balloon that says “Thank you for all your hard work.” Yuck!
Most of the administrative professional/secretaries I have known work hard, do a lot of varied things very professionally, and I think they are splendid, capable people.
This whole thing is a nightmare of political correctness. We cannot assume that a boss is a man, we cannot assume that a secretary is a woman. We cannot call a secretary a secretary. Stores no longer have sales clerks, but associates. And we no longer have wars, we have overseas contingency operations. The absurdity just grows and expands.
And there is always, always, somebody that is offended. Somebody needs to say Stop!
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Energy, Freedom, Politics | Tags: Congress, Culture War, Democrat Lies/Dirty Tricks
Guess who is “outsourcing?” It couldn’t be Congress where they are always making speeches about the evils of outsourcing. No more American-made incandescent light bulbs. I wonder how many jobs are being lost at GE and Sylvania? The nasty little fluorescents are all, every single one, made in China.
One dirty little secret is that CFL bulbs cannot be used in an enclosed space. And how many fixtures do you have that are essentially “enclosed spaces?” How many of your lighting fixtures take other kinds of bulbs? Floods, halogen, what about those very expensive chandeliers that take those little tiny light bulbs? Goodbye night lights, at least enclosed ones. And what about our Christmas lights?
Congressman Poe is absolutely correct. Congress has no business sticking their noses in our lighting fixtures. It is the obnoxious tendency of Liberals Progressives to want to decide every detail of how you should live. And their notions about global warming are unfortunately pure hooey.
Sheesh! Have you priced lighting fixtures lately?
Filed under: Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: Culture War, Democrat Demagogues, Junk Science
Plastic Grocery Bags, Love ‘em or hate ‘em?
Is your state or city government trying to ban plastic grocery bags? And did you wonder why? These things are always more complicated than they seem on the surface. My grocery store wants me to buy green (why am I not surprised) cloth bags for $3.00 each,( the prices vary) to carry to the store with me each time I shop. I try to shop less than once a week, and usually shop in fairly large quantity, using somewhere around 20 plastic bags. $60.00? Not if I can help it!
The whole thing began with a misreading of a 1987 Canadian study in Newfoundland, which found that between 1981 and 1984 more than 100,000 marine mammals were killed every year by discarded fishing nets. The Canadian study did not mention plastic bags. In 2002, a report prepared for the Australian Government by Nolan-ITU said that the Newfoundland study attributed the deaths to “plastic bags.” But according to the Australian Government’s Environment Department website, the report was amended in 2006.
Scientists and environmentalists have questioned the case against the use of plastic shopping bags as based on flawed science and misreporting. That hasn’t stopped governments everywhere from trying to phase out the plastic bags. The actual report, later amended, has been widely quoted by environmentalists. It actually attributed the deaths to all plastic debris, including fishing nets and equipment, and undoubtedly the plastic holders for six-packs.
Even a science expert who advises Greenpeace says that plastic bags pose only a minimal threat to most marine species, including seals, whales, dolphins and seabirds. Well, yes. They are used to carry groceries home from the store, and are handy because you can carry a whole bunch at once. Then they get recycled. This is not what people usually take to the beach.
There is, however, more to the story.
Have you noticed more “Nanny-environmentalism” from your city or state government in the last few years?
The Center for Climate Strategies was founded in 2004 by environmental activist groups as a state-based-strategy to avoid open political debate. It depends instead on having the full range of left-wing pressure groups—feminists, abortion rights groups, animal rights activists, labor organizers and other leftist factions to make “climate change” part of their message and mission.
Well funded by left-wing foundations, they approach state governments by claiming to offer governors objective expertise. Though they claim policy neutrality, their mission is to get states to adopt global warming policies reducing greenhouse gas emissions (CO2). In reality, this enables state governors to outsource formulation of state policies to the liberal foundations and interest groups that stand behind CCS. Here is further information about the Center for Climate Strategies.
CCS has a dandy dog-and-pony show in which they offer experts, studies, strong new climate action plans, conferences, recognition, and all at a splendid discount price. The foundations pick up the rest of the cost. This usually means that CCS deals are sealed with no open bidding, and no competition from other policy analysts who might be more objective. Who could turn down such a bargain? In effect the state cedes control to CCS “experts” and CCS assumes full responsibility for the system. It controls the format of meetings, provides the technical analysis, and supplies the wish list of policy options: carbon taxes, cap-and-trade policy, reduced speed limits, Smart Growth -based land use regulations and “climate-friendly” transportation pricing. Environmental heart’s desire without ever having to bother with hearings, debate, voting—all that annoying stuff.
The tale of the cities.
For cities the helpful environmental experts are ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. They offer U.N. plans and local actions. The group is the product of a U.N. conference, united by a belief that cities do not need to wait for national governments before taking action on global climate issues. Ambitious local politicians around the world are using ICLEI as a platform to build their careers and to network with one another on environmental issues. Recycling waste, compulsory carbon emissions standards, emissions reduction schedule, regional air quality, solid waste, preparing for rising sea levels, storm surges and 100-year flood cycles. Good deal for politicians—it shows them how to promote climate change initiatives and does the work for them. Especially “sustainability” and “environmentally sound practices.”
Conferences, attention in the media for your noble sustainable policies, experts to provide the policies and all a mayor has to do is bask in all the career building attention. Seattle’s very own Mayor Greg Nickels is the best example of a city official who has bought into the program. “Seattle Climate Action NOW!” proposes “clean renewable” energy, reduced car usage, improved public transportation, energy efficient homes and offices. Green Fleets for city vehicles, ICLEI emissions calculators, networking services, and a recognition program for companies that adopt a carbon-cutting program. Mayor Nickles proposed a 20 cent “green tax” on paper and plastic shopping bags. This tax would generate nearly $10 million for the city and took effect on January 1, along with a ban on foam containers. The Parks Department is planning to ban beachfires. A campaign encourages utility ratepayers to pay a “green premium” on their electric bill to allow the city to fund solar power pilot projects. Read about ICLEI here.
I like clean air and clean water as much as anyone. In spite of the shrieks that the climate is warming faster than ever from the activists, there has been no significant warming since 1998. The planet has been cooling for the last 5 years. There is and has been no warming that is outside of the normal range of warming and cooling that has gone on for centuries. There is no evidence that human activity has any measurable effect on the climate.
There is no evidence that reducing carbon emissions has the slightest effect on the climate. There is no evidence that either solar energy or wind power can produce enough energy to have a significant effect on our energy needs. These programs are an insidious attempt to co-opt the climate change debate while you are looking the other way. It is not about climate, it is not about energy. It is about using climate fears to accomplish leftist power politics and leftist control over the economy and the country. The Long March in action.
Filed under: Conservatism, Freedom, Literature, Movies, Pop Culture, Television, The Constitution | Tags: Culture War, Democrat Demagogues, liberalism
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Politics | Tags: Culture War, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Liberal lies, Obama, Politics
This audio of a Barack Obama radio interview in 2001 is startling. Or to some, anyway. In speaking of the Warren Court and its interpretation of the Constitution during the Civil Rights movement, Obama said:
It wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution. At least as it’s been interpreted and more important interpreted in the same way that, generally, the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties; says what the states can’t do to you, what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the state government must do on your behalf.
This is false. The federal government must provide for the common defense, a military to provide and ensure National Security. The “essential constraints” that the Founding Fathers wrote into the Constitution was to ensure a limited government. They knew well the dangers of a pervasive and massive federal bureaucracy that provided all things to all people. They were interested in liberty, not government control.
Barack Obama believes that the Warren Supreme Court failed to reinterpret the Constitution to read into it what was never intended to be there: Redistribution of wealth for “political and economic justice in this society.”
Liberals fail to realize the vast movement of people through income classes in our society. I wrote about it here. Economic mobility is one of the most important features of American society. It is what makes our society so dynamic. Studies have shown that if one graduates from high school, doesn’t get married or have children until they have graduated from high school, and avoids drugs, they will do fine in our country. Perhaps that is the problem that needs work.
Taking money from Peter and giving it to Paul may make you popular with Paul, but it won’t really do much good for Paul. It will make him dependent.
People value the work of their own hands far more than they value what is given to them. We would do far better to help people to have work in which they can take pride. Being the recipient of charity or alms is demeaning, and becomes a prison, for the charity is never enough to change one’s life. It’s just enough to make you feel worthless.