Friday, February 27, 2009

 

Bill O is not going to like this chart

Of course, we own a Chrysler but it was built during the Daimler era so we hope it has a better chance of making to the 10+ year mark.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

 

Mexico

The Long Arm of the Lawless

This should be getting more attention. From Stratfor:

Last week we discussed the impact that crime, and specifically kidnapping, has been having on Mexican citizens and foreigners visiting or living in Mexico. We pointed out that there is almost no area of Mexico immune from the crime and violence. As if on cue, on the night of Feb. 21 a group of heavily armed men threw two grenades at a police building in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero state, wounding at least five people. Zihuatanejo is a normally quiet beach resort just north of Acapulco; the attack has caused the town’s entire police force to go on strike. (Police strikes, or threats of strikes, are not uncommon in Mexico.)

Mexican police have regularly been targeted by drug cartels, with police officials even having been forced to seek safety in the United States, but such incidents have occurred most frequently in areas of high cartel activity like Veracruz state or Palomas. The Zihuatanejo incident is proof of the pervasiveness of violence in Mexico, and demonstrates the impact that such violence quickly can have on an area generally considered safe.

Significantly, the impact of violent Mexican criminals stretches far beyond Mexico itself. In recent weeks, Mexican criminals have been involved in killings in Argentina, Peru and Guatemala, and Mexican criminals have been arrested as far away as Italy and Spain. Their impact — and the extreme violence they embrace — is therefore not limited to Mexico or even just to Latin America. For some years now, STRATFOR has discussed the threat that Mexican cartel violence could spread to the United States, and we have chronicled the spread of such violence to the U.S.-Mexican border and beyond.

Traditionally, Mexican drug-trafficking organizations had focused largely on the transfer of narcotics through Mexico. Once the South American cartels encountered serious problems bringing narcotics directly into the United States, they began to focus more on transporting the narcotics to Mexico. From that point, the Mexican cartels transported them north and then handed them off to U.S. street gangs and other organizations, which handled much of the narcotics distribution inside the United States. In recent years, however, these Mexican groups have grown in power and have begun to take greater control of the entire narcotics-trafficking supply chain.

With greater control comes greater profitability as the percentages demanded by middlemen are cut out. The Mexican cartels have worked to have a greater presence in Central and South America, and now import from South America into Mexico an increasing percentage of the products they sell. They are also diversifying their routes and have gone global; they now even traffic their wares to Europe. At the same time, Mexican drug-trafficking organizations also have increased their distribution operations inside the United States to expand their profits even further. As these Mexican organizations continue to spread beyond the border areas, their profits and power will extend even further — and they will bring their culture of violence to new areas.

Burned in Phoenix

The spillover of violence from Mexico began some time ago in border towns like Laredo and El Paso in Texas, where merchants and wealthy families face extortion and kidnapping threats from Mexican gangs, and where drug dealers who refuse to pay “taxes” to Mexican cartel bosses are gunned down. But now, the threat posed by Mexican criminals is beginning to spread north from the U.S.-Mexican border. One location that has felt this expanding threat most acutely is Phoenix, some 185 miles north of the border. Some sensational cases have highlighted the increased threat in Phoenix, such as a June 2008 armed assault in which a group of heavily armed cartel gunmen dressed like a Phoenix Police Department tactical team fired more than 100 rounds into a residence during the targeted killing of a Jamaican drug dealer who had double-crossed a Mexican cartel. We have also observed cartel-related violence in places like Dallas and Austin, Texas. But Phoenix has been the hardest hit.

Narcotics smuggling and drug-related assassinations are not the only thing the Mexican criminals have brought to Phoenix. Other criminal gangs have been heavily involved in human smuggling, arms smuggling, money laundering and other crimes. Due to the confluence of these Mexican criminal gangs, Phoenix has now become the kidnapping-for-ransom capital of the United States. According to a Phoenix Police Department source, the department received 368 kidnapping reports last year. As we discussed last week, kidnapping is a highly underreported crime in places such as Mexico, making it very difficult to measure accurately. Based upon experience with kidnapping statistics in other parts of the world — specifically Latin America — it would not be unreasonable to assume that there were at least as many unreported kidnappings in Phoenix as there are reported kidnappings.

At present, the kidnapping environment in the United States is very different from that of Mexico, Guatemala or Colombia. In those countries, kidnapping runs rampant and has become a well-developed industry with a substantial established infrastructure. Police corruption and incompetence ensures that kidnappers are rarely caught or successfully prosecuted.

A variety of motives can lie behind kidnappings. In the United States, crime statistics demonstrate that motives such as sexual exploitation, custody disputes and short-term kidnapping for robbery have far surpassed the number of reported kidnappings conducted for ransom. In places like Mexico, kidnapping for ransom is much more common.

The FBI handles kidnapping investigations in the United States. It has developed highly sophisticated teams of agents and resources to devote to investigating this type of crime. Local police departments are also far more proficient and professional in the United States than in Mexico. Because of the advanced capabilities of law enforcement in the United States, the overwhelming majority of criminals involved in kidnapping-for-ransom cases reported to police — between 95 percent and 98 percent — are caught and convicted. There are also stiff federal penalties for kidnapping. Because of this, kidnapping for ransom has become a relatively rare crime in the United States.

Most kidnapping for ransom that does happen in the United States occurs within immigrant communities. In these cases, the perpetrators and victims belong to the same immigrant group (e.g., Chinese Triad gangs kidnapping the families of Chinese businesspeople, or Haitian criminals kidnapping Haitian immigrants) — which is what is happening in Phoenix. The vast majority of the 368 known kidnapping victims in Phoenix are Mexican and Central American immigrants who are being victimized by Mexican or Mexican-American criminals.

The problem in Phoenix involves two main types of kidnapping. One is the abduction of drug dealers or their children, the other is the abduction of illegal aliens.

Drug-related kidnappings often are not strict kidnappings for ransom per se. Instead, they are intended to force the drug dealer to repay a debt to the drug trafficking organization that ordered the kidnapping.

Nondrug-related kidnappings are very different from traditional kidnappings in Mexico or the United States, in which a high-value target is abducted and held for a large ransom. Instead, some of the gangs operating in Phoenix are basing their business model on volume, and are willing to hold a large number of victims for a much smaller individual pay out. Reports have emerged of kidnapping gangs in Phoenix carjacking entire vans full of illegal immigrants away from the coyote smuggling them into the United States. The kidnappers then transport the illegal immigrants to a safe house, where they are held captive in squalid conditions — and often tortured or sexually assaulted with a family member listening in on the phone — to coerce the victims’ family members in the United States or Mexico to pay the ransom for their release. There are also reports of the gangs picking up vehicles full of victims at day labor sites and then transporting them to the kidnapping safe house rather than to the purported work site.

Drug-related kidnappings are less frequent than the nondrug-related abduction of illegal immigrants, but in both types of abductions, the victims are not likely to seek police assistance due to their immigration status or their involvement in illegal activity. This strongly suggests the kidnapping problem greatly exceeds the number of cases reported to police.

Implications for the United States

The kidnapping gangs in Phoenix that target illegal immigrants have found their chosen crime to be lucrative and relatively risk-free. If the flow of illegal immigrants had continued at high levels, there is very little doubt the kidnappers’ operations would have continued as they have for the past few years. The current economic downturn, however, means the flow of illegal immigrants has begun to slow — and by some accounts has even begun to reverse. (Reports suggest many Mexicans are returning home after being unable to find jobs in the United States.)

This reduction in the pool of targets means that we might be fast approaching a point where these groups, which have become accustomed to kidnapping as a source of easy money — and their primary source of income — might be forced to change their method of operating to make a living. While some might pursue other types of criminal activity, some might well decide to diversify their pool of victims. Watching for this shift in targeting is of critical importance. Were some of these gangs to begin targeting U.S. citizens rather than just criminals or illegal immigrants, a tremendous panic would ensue, along with demands to catch the perpetrators.

Such a shift would bring a huge amount of law enforcement pressure onto the kidnapping gangs, to include the FBI. While the FBI is fairly hard-pressed for resources given its heavy counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence and white-collar crime caseload, it almost certainly would be able to reassign the resources needed to respond to such kidnappings in the face of publicity and a public outcry. Such a law enforcement effort could neutralize these gangs fairly quickly, but probably not quickly enough to prevent any victims from being abducted or harmed.

Since criminal groups are not comprised of fools alone, at least some of these groups will realize that targeting soccer moms will bring an avalanche of law enforcement attention upon them. Therefore, it is very likely that if kidnapping targets become harder to find in Phoenix — or if the law enforcement environment becomes too hostile due to the growing realization of this problem — then the groups may shift geography rather than targeting criteria. In such a scenario, professional kidnapping gangs from Phoenix might migrate to other locations with large communities of Latin American illegal immigrants to victimize. Some of these locations could be relatively close to the Mexican border like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, San Diego or Los Angeles, though they could also include locations farther inland like Chicago, Atlanta, New York, or even the communities around meat and poultry packing plants in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states. Such a migration of ethnic criminals would not be unprecedented: Chinese Triad groups from New York for some time have traveled elsewhere on the East Coast, like Atlanta, to engage in extortion and kidnapping against Chinese businessmen there.

The issue of Mexican drug-traffic organizations kidnapping in the United States merits careful attention, especially since criminal gangs in other areas of the country could start imitating the tactics of the Phoenix gangs.


 

Gun Control

The Chicago Way

I agree with Bob Owens:
There is something truly disturbing about the kind of politician generated in the state of Illinois, and particularly those who call Chicago home. No, I’m not talking about the widespread corruption that sends the elected officials of this state to prison with distressing regularity. I’m talking about the scathing distrust officials have for their citizens — and for the citizens of the rest of the United States.
Perhaps this is because distrust of their fellow citizens is wide spread in Chicago. Gun control is popular among Chigaoans, especially when a low level gang war is raging and students are murdered in broad daylight. As the Democrats have run the city for 80 years, its easier to blame guns rather than examine if any of their policies have contributed in any way to the violent street culture prevalent in certain neighborhoods.

Owens reports that an Illinois state legislator plans to introduce a bill requiring anyone owning a firearm in Illinois carry $1 million in liability insurance. Not to be outdone, Congressman Bobby Rush, the former deputy defense minister for the Black Panthers who spent six months in prison for illegal possession of a firearm, has introduced a gun control bill in Congress:
Rush’s bill would dictate how firearms are stored in a gun owner’s home, essentially making it impossible to defend one’s home by making it illegal to store a gun where it can be readily accessed. It would also allow the federal government to revoke your permit if you move and fail to provide a change of address within 60 days. Perhaps the most ominous aspect of the former Black Panther’s bill is that it would create a federal database of all gun owners and the firearms they own, making it ripe for abuse or confiscation.

There is something deeply sinister about the psychology of elected officials who desire to track every firearm and firearm owner in America, shadowing them from one location to another under the threat of federal law.

There is something truly disturbing about the kind of man who would attempt to trick his constituents and fellow citizens into choosing between standing behind first principles or becoming a felon.

And there is something truly alarming about a president who will risk the lives of police officers and informants and remove the teeth of our Republic in a career-long pursuit to gut a key element of the Constitution — as if it threatens his long-term political agenda.
Well put. And true.

Friday, February 20, 2009

 

Santelli's Chicago Tea Party

The beginning of recognition that someone is going to have to pay for Obama's bills. I think the honeymoon may be over.

Press beclowns itself.

The original story that I linked to which showed students questioning Obama's policies has been whitewashed. Here is a portioned of what is missing.

Senior Syna Daudfar took some notes during the speech and was among the most vocally opposed to Obama's words.

At one point, when he talked about the costs of his stimulus plan, senior Maaike Albach and Daudfar looked at each other and said, "uh-oh."

"Overall I think it's a good idea, but he's not addressing the issues of the economic crisis," said Daudfar, a John McCain supporter who added he leans more toward being a moderate conservative. "The spending bill he just passed is just progressing the Democratic agenda rather than addressing the economic issues in the country."

Daudfar thinks Obama's plan is backward and deals with the "less important stuff" first. "Bailing out businesses" and "providing better regulatory systems for giving out money to businesses" should have been first, he said.

"If businesses can't afford to hire people, then people won't be able to work and pay off their mortgages," he said. "It's kind of like putting money into20a funnel." Albach, who is also a Republican, said Obama's plan sounds good but questioned how Obama can want to rely on "people's responsibility" when that is "what got us in this economic crisis in the first place."

"This puts us more into debt," said Albach, 18. "It's a horrible situation we're in."

Senior Brandon Miller wore a shirt with the words, "Hitler gave great speeches, too" above a picture of Obama.

Miller said he had been an Obama supporter "because of his speeches," but after debating the issues in this class and looking more into Obama's policies, his vote was swayed toward McCain.


Just wow, real Soviet style political whitewashing. The bias is breathtaking.

No wonder that more reporters are experiencing "layoffs."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

 

Frontline: Inside the Meltdown

I haven't watched it yet, way too busy with the new career. I get to learn how to use a cash register tomorrow!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

 

Obamateur hour

I am now quite convinced that Obama will be a one term president. The economic headwinds that he faces are formidable, in fact, impossible. I feel sorry for him because they are not his fault; although his party is not so pristine. What is worse for him is his own indecision. These are tough times which require hard decisions and it is clear that his rhetoric does not match his actions.

The hideous drooling blob of toxic pustules dignified as “stimulus” is something the incoming Obama had months to prepare for, with oodles of bipartisan goodwill and fawning press coverage to waft him along. Instead he chose to outsource it to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank, and the rest of the congressional pork barons. So that too is not an “event” but merely, like his cabinet picks, a matter of judgment and executive competence.


The thing is we know that the stimulus will not work and they know the stimulus will not work, that is why they were trying to gather as many Republican votes as possible, so why bet your Presidency on this colossal waste? Because Democratic dogma will not allow them to do what is necessary to rope enough Republicans into supporting a bill that is even a tiny bit palatable to even the squishiest RINOs.

Ideology is a good thing if you are correct and it is applied to solve a relevant problem. This stimulus bill will not stimulate anything and will have the exact opposite effect. It will waste precious money driving up the cost of borrowing for business (see crowding out effect) at a time when the Fed is doing everything within its power to drive long term interest rates to zero. (BTW, more on this later.)

The prevailing error is confusing increased spending and a rising GDP with increased economic growth. But as any economist ought to know, economic growth is a process of capital accumulation. From this it follows that any program that specifically targets consumption or focuses on what is termed shovel-ready projects will retard if not actually paralyse economic recovery.

There is certainly more than a glimmering of the recognition of this fact in the Congressional Budget Office. (The rumour mill has it that Democrats want to stack this estimable non-partisan bureau with their partisan stooges). It recently reported that Obama's so-called stimulus would have the long-run effect of crowding out private investment and so lower the rate at which GDP will grow.



But the fact that nothing can be done is not Obama's fault. What is his fault is that he has made it worse and he has chosen to not compromise enough to get a small group of RINOs to provide political cover. And that will be a huge mistake come the 2010 elections. Obama and the Democrats will own this budding depression by then. Just like the Democrats bet their future on opposition to the Iraq war in 2004, Republicans have bet their future on the economy staying bad for the next 18 months. However, this bet will pay off.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

 

Happy Valentines Day

Shut Up and Let Me Go

Also, the better known single by The Ting Tings, That's Not My Name.

Friday, February 13, 2009

 

Effective?

Treveon Martin, 10, is afraid of a teacher at his school.

"I've seen him hit five of them in the classroom," Martin said.

Martin says he and others have been hit, grabbed and even struck with a belt.

"He's threatened almost all the kids in his classroom," Martin said.

He says it happened at Robert Emmet Academy in November but a Chicago Public School investigator didn't talk to him until last week - 70 days after the case was reported, and not until after we started asking questions.

"He holded my arms and he picked my body up, and then he just slammed me on the desk," Martin said.


Was he being punished for incorrect use of the past tense? If so, then we might have a candidate for teacher of the year. Martin's picture is of a cherubic boy who looks put upon by a malevolent teacher. I wonder if we will ever get the teacher's side of the story? Will we ever know the effectiveness of a teacher who uses threats and physical punishment? Probably not. Better to let the illusion that kids are little angels live on.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

 

Phoenix, AZ: America's Kidnapping Capital

One abduction per day

Phoenix had 370 kidnappings last year according to ABC News. And the problem is spreading throughout the Southwest.



Via Ed Morrissey, who comments:
I understand about limited resources, but there simply is no excuse for government inaction on this front. First, the border should have been secured years ago to curtail the kind of access that the drug cartels have to American territory. Had we built the border wall, much of this kind of activity would have disappeared. Perhaps Jerry Brown should be asking his Democratic colleagues in Congress why they’ve deprioritized that project, passed in 2005 and still barely even started.

In fact, if Congress wants a stimulus for infrastructure, the border wall would seem like a perfect project. It would employ people, improve national security, and help protect Phoenix from a plague of drug cartels. It will bolster our security infrastructure better than golf carts at the Pentagon, condoms for teenagers, and federal health care boards dictating treatment limits to doctors.

But Brown is right that this kind of activity is a form of terrorism inflicted on an American community by foreign forces. They differ from AQ in that the drug cartels don’t plan to kill Americans on a large scale for political purposes, but the kidnapping, ransom, maiming, and murder of Phoenix residents for profit and/or revenge still qualifies as terrorism, regardless of the motivation behind it. The primary responsibility of the federal government is to protect the nation from outside attack — and if what ABC reports is accurate, it’s failing miserably in Phoenix.
Yes, it is.

 

Health Care For Americans

Socalism is coming

Via Drudge, South Carolina may impose a $25 per month surcharge on obese public employees for health insurance:
The measure sponsored by GOP Sen. Greg Ryberg of Aiken is on the agenda Tuesday in a Senate subcommittee. It would tie the surcharge to employees’ body-mass index, a weight and height measurement. A BMI of 30 is considered obese. According to a spokesperson for Sen. Ryberg, state employees’ health insurance does not cover preventive measures such as gym memberships and nutrition plans.

The proposal follows a vote last August to increase health insurance premiums of public workers who smoke. The smoking surcharge is set to take effect Jan. 1, 2010. It was approved by a five-member board that oversees the state budget.

Smokers called it an unfair increase, since smoking isn’t the only bad habit that increases health care costs.
Indeed, it isn't. Which is why we'll see more of this.

Kevin Flemming summarizes 10 reasons why socialized medicine is inferior to the system we currently have. The most compelling argument:
Politicization and lost liberty. Patient auton­omy is curtailed in favor of the judgment of an elite few, who dictate what health care needs and desires ought to be while imposing social controls over activities deemed undesirable or at odds with an expanding definition of “public health.” Government officials would claim a compelling interest in many areas now consid­ered personal.
Yes, it would. But that's the point, isn't it? South Carolina is, of course, behaving as an employer, not the health care monopsonist the federal government may soon become:
The health provisions in the House stimulus bill would expand dependence on the already-unsound Medicaid entitlement program, distort health care choices for unemployed workers, and set up a federal infrastructure that could be used as a tool for government rationing of medical treatments, procedures, and services.

America is rushing toward the financial tipping point in health care—the point where the federal government controls more health care spending than will the private sector. Today, the government controls 46 percent of all health care spending, and its share is expected to reach 49 percent by 2017. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the sundry health provisions in the stimulus plan will draw an additional 8.2 million Americans dependent into the clutches of government-sponsored health care. In combination with the recent expansion of SCHIP, we likely have passed that tipping point.
Betsy McCaughey notices that Obama's new health rules will affect “every individual in the United States:”
Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”
-----------
What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.

The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.
She concludes:
The health-care industry is the largest employer in the U.S. It produces almost 17 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Yet the bill treats health care the way European governments do: as a cost problem instead of a growth industry. Imagine limiting growth and innovation in the electronics or auto industry during this downturn. This stimulus is dangerous to your health and the economy.
If Obama's plan is enacted, it will make Americans subservient to an unelected bureaucracy controlling 1/6 of the American economy that will exert direct behavioral influence in the lives of every individual American.

 

As I get older this rings true (NSFW)

I love gadgets but the array of features and the increasing difficulty of comprehending them makes a purchase an experiment on my blood pressure. (Language warning.)



Sony Releases New Stupid Piece Of Shit That Doesn't Fucking Work


Diego: I don't have too many gadgets but I wouldn't mind if someone borrowed one or two of them and then showed me how they used them. If you put the time in you are rewarded but I don't always have the time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

 

Westinghouse 47" 1080p

$769

Wow.

Monday, February 09, 2009

 

Conservatives Are Just Not Getting It

And their influence will all but disappear if they don't at some point.

President Obama gets it: President seeks grass-roots support for stimulus

Conservatives, and that doesn't necessarily mean Republicans, are still talking in terms of Socialism vs. Capitalism and still quoting the Constitution. That is a losing battle in today's political climate. All that matters is the Narrative. Liberals get it and they are exploiting it.

You think the Second Amendment gives you the right to own a gun? The Narrative says that guns are bad. You think that Capitalism is freedom and Socialism is not? The Narrative is saying otherwise. If Conservatives don't get in the game they will just be ignored.

Conservatives were not likely the cool kids in high school but if they don't realize the importance of competing in that popularity contest now they wont get many votes. Like it or not, those rules apply to today's electorate.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

 

Freedom

Restricting it is a priority for Progressives

One of them has even admitted it. Mary Katherine Ham quotes from John Kerry's floor speech in favor of Obama's stimulus plan:
I've supported many tax cuts over the years, and there are tax cuts in this proposal. But a tax cut is non-targeted.

If you put a tax cut into the hands of a business or family, there's no guarantee that they're going to invest that or invest it in America.

They're free to go invest anywhere that they want if they choose to invest.
Ham comments:
Indeed, people with their own hard-earned money in their own pockets are free to spend, save, invest, or not wherever they please. Kerry betrays the fear that haunts every good liberal— that the American people won't spend their money on exactly what good liberals would spend it on. Good liberals must, therefore, advocate for forcibly relieving the American people of the better part of a trillion dollars of their own money to fund things like STD education, welfare programs, and water parks.

Senators like Kerry have placed their own ideological desires over the right of the American people to a clean stimulus bill without the long-term spending even Obama himself admits is in it.
They sure have. With the Left in charge the more progress the country makes the less free we will be.

MORE: Wretchard notes that the economic meltdown of 2008 was in part caused by bad government policy. But that is an argument no politician will make. Instead, the Left sees the situation soley as an opportunity:
Ultimately it is an argument over whether the current economic crisis justifies the bureaucratic demand for more power over our money. The debate in Australia mirrors, on a smaller scale, the argument in America about the merits of Hope and Change in general and the stimulus package in particular. But the Costello piece also underscores the non-debate. Nobody wants to talk about which government policies got us into this problem in the first place. The conversation seems to be confined to ways in which government can get us out of it. And that is an incomplete analysis. To the extent that “political risk” — bad policies — got the world into this mess it makes sense that government must get us out of it. But it doesn’t automatically follow that anything government does will necessarily contribute to the solution. One of the ways government can “help” is to reform itself. That means an examination of the ways in which it contributed the “political risk” in the first place so that a good faith effort can be made to fix the problems.

Unfortunately, some politicians see the current crisis as an “opportunity” to push an agenda. They haven’t stopped to consider to what extent that agenda may exacerbate the very problems they are trying to solve. The WSJ captured the philosophy of the present administration in White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel’s remarks that “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. Things that we had postponed for too long, that were long-term, are now immediate and must be dealt with. This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.” Emmanuel subsequently proceeded to enumerate a list of social spending items some of which arguably sound like new versions of the same community housing spending which may have been one of the original “political risks” to start with. When asked whether the stimulus package had turned into a spending spree, President Obama acknowledged it with pride. “That’s the point. Seriously, that’s the point.”

But that’s not the point; not the point at all. And it’s a shame BHO doesn’t realize it and a greater shame if he does. The real question is whether current government solutions to the crisis contribute to political risk or reduce it. That means knowing what’s broke before applying the screwdriver to the screw.
Allahpundit notes the affect Democratic efforts to push the 'stimulus' package are having on the economy:
Instead of trying to calm the nation, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi have transformed themselves into Chicken Littles, abandoning FDR’s “All we have to fear is fear itself” in favor of “We’re all going to DIE!” Why? Their stimulus package keeps losing support, and only fear can propel it to passage, but that same hysteria has employers locking their doors, which creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of economic doom.

The proper salve for a lack of job creation would be an infusion of capital into the markets. The failure of businesses normally creates openings for small start-ups to take their place, or for innovators to find new solutions to new problems and bring them to market. The Obama administration should encourage capital to come to market by lowering the risk cost through cuts in the capital-gains tax rates, or eliminating them entirely, for the next four years.

That will create jobs and expand opportunity, and would balance the layoffs of firms that had shaky business models even before the latest financial crisis. In fact, that’s why the 2000-1 recession managed to absorb the dot-com bubble collapse as well as the 9/11 attack collapse so well. The Bush administration lowered taxes and kept capital working to create jobs. Instead, the Obama administration wants to re-create the WPA, digging ditches just to refill them later, and paying for it by eventually seizing the capital that could have created real, long-term employment.
But to the Democrats, that's progress.

Friday, February 06, 2009

 

Two for One Bonus!

From the Grateful Dead:



Wednesday, February 04, 2009

 

Michael Phelps' wasted life

He could have done so much with his life if he hadn't touched marijuana. But now we know the truth.

In the meantime, I merely note that this broken wreck of a man's failure to win any more than a pathetic fourteen Olympic gold medals (so far) is a terrifying warning of the horrific damage that cannabis can do to someone's health—and a powerful reminder of just how sensible the drug laws really are.

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