Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Do, or do not. There is no 'try'. - Yoda

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Long Arm Of The Law

This could lead to something:

One of America’s NATO allies—which supported the Bush Administration’s war on terror by committing its troops to the struggle–has now opened formal criminal inquiries looking into the Bush team’s legacy of torture. The action parallels a criminal probe into allegations of torture involving the American CIA that was opened this week in the United Kingdom.

Spain’s national newspapers, El País and Público reported that the Spanish national security court has opened a criminal probe focusing on Bush Administration lawyers who pioneered the descent into torture at the prison in Guantánamo. The criminal complaint can be examined here. Público identifies the targets as University of California law professor John Yoo, former Department of Defense general counsel William J. Haynes II (now a lawyer working for Chevron), former vice presidential chief-of-staff David Addington, former attorney general and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, now a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and former Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith.

The case was opened in the Spanish national security court, the Audencia Nacional. In July 2006, the Spanish Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a former Spanish citizen who had been held in Guantánamo, labeling the regime established in Guantánamo a “legal black hole.” The court forbade Spanish cooperation with U.S. authorities in connection with the Guantánamo facility. The current criminal case evolved out of an investigation into allegations, sustained by Spain’s Supreme Court, that the Spanish citizen had been tortured in Guantánamo.

The Spanish criminal court now may seek the arrest of any of the targets if they travel to Spain or any of the 24 nations that participate in the European extraditions convention (it would have to follow a more formal extradition process in other countries beyond the 24). The Bush lawyers will therefore run a serious risk of being apprehended if they travel outside of the United States.

Yes, Spain has a leftist government. But there’s a reason this could go beyond the usual call for war-crimes trials:

Judge Baltasar Garzón is involved in the investigation, according to the El País report. Garzón is Europe’s best known counterterrorism magistrate, responsible for hundreds of cases targeting the activities of ETA and related Basque terrorist organizations. He also spearheaded the successful investigation of Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organizations operating in the Maghreb region, including Spanish enclaves in Morocco. But Garzón is best known for his prosecution of a criminal investigation against Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet that resulted in the issuance of an arrest warrant for Pinochet while he was visiting England.

So this guy is no slouch, and he’s serious when it comes to going after terrorists the right way. If only our own government had been, some of them wouldn’t be getting released today. I’m still generally leery when it comes to going after Bush and Cheney themselves-but it would be nice if some of the people involved in the Gitmo debacle were held accountable.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/28/09 at 04:09 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Rocket Man

As Mini-Me overcompensates for his lack of manhood once again, the Japanese aren’t taking any chances.

Japan’s move Friday to deploy missile interceptors is the boldest challenge North Korea faces so far to its plan to launch a rocket in the next few days.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said he ordered the deployment of missile interceptors to Japan’s northern coast to prepare to shoot down the rocket and any debris that could fall on Japanese territory. It was the first such order Japan had issued, a ministry spokesman said.

North Korea said it will launch a rocket carrying a satellite between April 4 and April 8, and warned that fragments could fall into the Sea of Japan between the two countries as well as southeast of Japan in the Pacific Ocean.

Japan and its allies suspect the rocket is a new long-range missile, and have demanded that Pyongyang cancel the plan. A launch would violate United Nations Security Council sanctions imposed in 2006 after North Korea tested a long-range missile.
....

Analysts say that by warning that it will intercept a rocket or debris, Japan is walking a fine diplomatic line between cautious preparation at home and tough talk to put North Korea on notice—without antagonizing the country. Japanese defense officials say that while they don’t expect debris or a rocket to fall on the nation, they will do everything possible beforehand to protect the nation by preparing for such an event.

Before the 2006 tests, North Korea didn’t emphasize, as it has this time, that it will be launching a space rocket.

I don’t think anybody-including Obama-is being fooled by the purported purpose for Lil’ Kim’s toy rocket launch. What worries me is that, with all the hype surrounding the test, this could go beyond the usual saber-rattling that often comes with testing a new President’s resolve. Mini-Me says that shooting at his rocket will be an act of war, so how will he react if bits and pieces of it are knocked out of the sky by the Japanese? I suppose we’ll find out in a week’s time, or maybe even less.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/28/09 at 08:00 AM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tasty

Gee-whiz, I haven’t bashed PETA for at least a week, have I?  Well, here you go.  Ingrid Newkirk’s will.  I hesitate to quote it.  She basically suggests that her body be used like animal bodies—think about what we do with cows.

I have a better idea for what we can do with this particular cow.  Medical study.  We figure out how someone could be so batshit insane.

Incidentally—one of the signatories on the will is Mary Beth Sweetland.  Sweetland was highlighted in Penn and Teller’s excellent show on PETA for using animal-based insulin to control her diabetes while she campaigns against medical research on animals.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/28/09 at 07:47 AM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

A Legacy Of Freedom

Just in case you have any doubt of where we’re headed…

In fairness, Obama is acknowledging that you can’t just bulldoze our healthcare system and replace it, much as he’d like to.  But that’s part of the problem:

If we get national healthcare, we will not get anything like the neat little systems proposed by academics who can assume away many of the political problems.  I am aware that proponents would rejoinder, that yes, they know it won’t be perfect, but . . . But I’m not making the perfect the enemy of the good.  A national healthcare system in the United States will not merely be something sadly less than ideal--it will be nothing like most of the internally coherent proposals.  It will be something jury rigged out of Medicare, S-Chip and insurance mandates, ugly and very expensive.

No, we won’t be like France.  In this narrow instance, it might be better if we were. Instead, we’ll be like America, where public institutions are costly, inefficient and generally not very well respected. 

I’d almost prefer a socialized system to whatever monstrosity is likely to emerge in the next hundred days.  In fact, that cynical reptilian part of my brain wonders if that’s precisely the point—to create a private-public healthcare behemoth that’s so ugly that the American people just throw their hands up and accept socialism.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/28/09 at 07:05 AM in Health Care  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, March 27, 2009

About Afghanistan

I don’t go in for the “Obama’s War” talk when it comes to Afghanistan, mostly because it’s the same war he inherited from Bush (and it wasn’t “Bush’s War” then on the right, was it?) and because the troops he’s sending to Afghanistan are in fact necessary. But it can’t go on forever:

Today President Obama made it clear: yes, the war is in Pakistan, with an inextricable Afghanistan component.  The goal is “to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future,” he said. That’s the right emphasis, given the safe havens for al-Qaeda are in Pakistan, and it’s significant that the first substantive portion of Obama’s speech spelling out the new strategy was devoted to Pakistan, not Afghanistan. But the dilemma is that the United States. can only devote so many resources — economic, political and especially military — into Pakistan.

Pakistan is the key issue here-what do we do if it collapses? But if we avoid a worse-case scenario, there may be some cause for optimism:

If I’m not getting alarmed, it’s because the way he chose to implement it leaves me reasonably convinced that he’s more committed to an exit strategy than to a prolonged quagmire. Which means that even if all we get out of this is token gestures, the next Afghanistan strategy review is more likely than not going to be a withdrawal timetable.

So, no, I don’t necessarily see this as Bush II. But no foreign power has ever been able to stay in Afghanistan forever, and ultimately we’re no different.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/27/09 at 04:42 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Bad Touch

Is anybody else as tired of this crap as I am?

A Connecticut middle school principal has laid down the law: You put your hands on someone—anyone—in any way, you’re going to pay.

A violent incident that put one student in the hospital has officials at the Milford school implementing a “no touching” policy, according to a letter written by the school’s principal.

East Shore Middle School parents said the change came after a student was sent to the hospital after being struck in the groin.

Principal Catherine Williams sent out a letter earlier in the week telling parents recent behavior has seriously impacted the safety and learning at the school.

“Observed behaviors of concern recently exhibited include kicking others in the groin area, grabbing and touching of others in personal areas, hugging and horseplay. Physical contact is prohibited to keep all students safe in the learning environment,” Williams wrote.

Students and parents are outraged. They said the new policy means no high-fives and hugs, as well as horseplay of any kind. The consequences could be dire, Williams warned in the letter.

“Potential consequences and disciplinary action may include parent conferences, detention, suspension and/or a request for expulsion from school,” Williams wrote.

What do you want to bet this creates an underground subculture of touching as this trend continues? “Dude...wanna...touch?” “Oh, dude...fingers!”

But it all goes back to the culture of fear that we’ve generated in the name of protecting our kids. Is the school afraid of creating a new generation of molesters and rapists if they allow touching?

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/27/09 at 04:30 PM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The First Suggestion

Behold, your wonderful United Nations:

The U.N.’s top human-rights body approved a proposal by Muslims nations Thursday urging passage of laws around the world to protect religion from criticism.

The proposal put forward by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic countries — with the backing of Belarus and Venezuela — had drawn strong criticism from free-speech campaigners and liberal democracies.

Hmmm.  Supported by Hugo the Horrible and Russia’s sock puppet.  Why am I not surprised?

The resolution urges states to provide “protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general.”

“Defamation of religions is the cause that leads to incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence toward their followers,” Pakistan’s ambassador Zamir Akram said.

“It is important to deal with the cause, rather than with the effects alone,” he said.

Hold the phone, Zamir.  It is not the defamation that causes violence, it’s the extreme version of the religion you guys are peddling.  You don’t see Christians rioting when someone says Jesus didn’t exist.  Well, not anymore.  You don’t see Jews killing people when someone mocks kosher laws.  The Mormons are the butt of a million jokes but don’t crap their pants over it.  Hell, even Scientologists just resort to suing the daylight out of everyone.

It seems to me that someone secure in their religious beliefs would be immune from criticism, would let it just wash off them and respond with steady, unwavering faith.  It is the fundamentalist—of any faith—who explodes in violence at any perceived heresy.

You can’t deal with the “cause” and not the “effect” of violence because the fundamentalism is the cause.  The fundamentalists will always find something to completely lose their minds over.  Today it’s criticism, tomorrow it’s the teaching of evolution, the next day it’s the existence of faiths besides their own.  Blaming religious critics for the ensuing violence would be like blaming the victim for ... oh, yeah, they already do blame the victim for rape.

Never mind.

Is there anyone out there who can, in the wake of this, still want to give the UN authority—such at the authority they are currently seeking over energy policy?

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/27/09 at 01:38 PM in The Religion of Peace™  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Truth About Bailouts

As I always suspected ....

Actually, compared to how things work in Washington these days, South Park’s method would be reasonable, systematic and wise.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/27/09 at 08:19 AM in Fun and Humor  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Pot Makes Me Giggle

Like Sullivan and Balko, I was irritated by Obama’s brushoff of the pot question in his town hall meeting.  The joke didn’t bother me—the casual dismissal of the issue did.  Balko, responding to Poulous responding to Sullivan responding to Obama (ain’t the blogosphere grand?), notes that the pot issue is indeed a deadly serious one.

There have been 7,000 homicides in Mexico over the last two years, the vast majority directly related to black market drug trade. Seventy percent of Mexico’s black market drug rade is marijuana.

If Poulous wants to stick closer to home, one of his commenters notes that had Cheye Calvo exercised his Second Amendment rights when Prince George’s County police wrongly raided his home last summer on the mistaken assumption he was dealing marijuana, he’d almost certainly be dead. Instead, he was merely terrorized, and his dogs were slaughtered. A couple of weeks ago, unarmed Grand Valley State student Derek Kopp was shot in the chest during a marijuana raid. He’s lucky to be alive.

But we don’t need to single out “almost” cases. Det. Jarrod Shivers is dead and Ryan Frederick’s life is ruined over the prohibition of pot. Officer Ron Jones is dead, and Cory Maye, once sentenced to be executed, now faces a life sentence because of marijuana prohibition. Cheryl Lynn Noel is dead because of pot prohibition. So are Jose Colon, Tony Martinez, 13-year-old Alberto Sepulveda, Willie Heard, Christie Green, Pedro Navarro, Barry Hodge, Salvador Hernandez, Donald Scott, Kenneth Baulch, Dep. John Bananola, Officer Tony Patterson, Vincent Hodgkiss, Anthony Diotaiuto, Clayton Helriggle, Jeffery Robinson, Troy Davis, Alexander “Rusty” Windle, John Hirko, Scott Bryant, Robert Lee Peters, Manuel Ramirez, and Bruce Lavoie. Deputies James Moulson and Phillip Anderson and suspect George Timothy Williams were all killed in a single marijuana raid in Idaho in 2001. Officer Arthur Parga and Manuel Ramirez (a different one) killed one another in another marijuana raid after a family friend suspected of dealing marijuana had incorrectly given police Ramirez’s address as his own.

These are just some of the deaths associated with marijuana raids (all summarized, with sources, here).  Then there is the domestic black market violence that comes with marijuana prohibition. And the unnecessary deaths of sick people (like Peter McWilliams) who might have lived if they’d had access to medical marijuana.

So yeah. I think “deadly serious” is about right, actually.

There’s also the fact that black men who smoke pot are far far more likely to be arrested and have their future prospects damaged than white men.  When a drug is used by the majority of the American people (including all three of our recent Presidents), enforcement of that law becomes selective and almost always falls on those with less money or political clout.  You would think that Obama would appreciate that.  Or at least, as I would have, defer the question to the states.

In other news, the DEA raided another pot dispensary despite Holder’s promise this would stop.  I guess Holder thinks that all those people supporting pot legalization—even ones like me who’ve never puffed a single joint—are too stoned to notice when they lie to us.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/27/09 at 07:34 AM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New World Currency

By now you’re probably familiar with supposed proposals for a one world currency. This appears to be the latest one, and it’s gotten opposition from uber wingnut Michelle Bachman. Scott Horton sheds some light on the newest conspiracy meme:

Where did this come from? It seems that those who originated and adopted this idea do not understand what a “reserve currency” is. Since shortly after the end of World War II, the world has had a currency that is de facto dominant and has been held by central banks around the world as a reserve (much in the way the world held gold reserves before World War II). That currency is the United States dollar. The fact that a global consensus is emerging against this practice is a powerful statement indicating a lack of confidence in the U.S. economy. But it has nothing to do with the creation of a “global currency.” Nonetheless, this incident is extremely useful: it allows us to pinpoint economic illiterates. Which leaves an important question: how do illiterates get such swift access to the airwaves?

Well, they get elected. And get hyped by Drudge in large headlines. This is being promoted by the same nutbars who gave us the North American Union with its “Ameros” and football field-sized highway. It’s the delusion of the moment and should be treated as such.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/26/09 at 04:29 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Party Of No Plan

There’s a reason the Republicans are seen as the party that can’t shoot straight:

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) raised objections to an abbreviated alternative budget “blueprint” released today—but were told by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) they needed to back the plan, according to several Republican sources.

The argument, coming a week before the full House and Senate are scheduled to vote on the budget, underscores the minority party’s woes in a mounting unified opposition to President Obama’s $3.6 trillion FY2010 budget proposal.

Ryan, the ranking Republican on the budget committee, plans to introduce a detailed substitute amendment for the Democrats’ spending plan next Wednesday—and still intends to do so.

But he and Cantor were reportedly told by Boehner and Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) they needed to move more quickly to counter Democrats’ charge they were becoming the “Party of No,” according to House GOP staffers.

The 19-page document, prepared by Pence’s office, was distributed two days after President Obama criticized Republicans for trashing his detail-crammed 142-page budget outline without producing a credible alternative.

“In his egocentric rush to get on camera, Mike Pence threw the rest of the Conference under the bus, specifically Paul Ryan, whose staff has been working night and day for weeks to develop a substantive budget plan,” said a GOP aide heavily involved in budget strategy.

“I hope his camera time was gratifying enough to justify erasing the weeks of hard work by dozens of Republicans to put forth serious ideas,” the person added.

“It’s categorically untrue,” said Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd. “Cantor as well as Ryan and the rest of the leadership have been part of this process for weeks. They not only signed off on it, but their staffs helped edit it.”

Ryan told POLITICO that he didn’t feel thrown under any buses and downplayed the disagreement.

“The problem is that somewhere along the line, someone got the mistaken impression that we were going to roll out a budget alternative today,” he said. “What we all signed off on was a preview—the real [alternative] is coming next week.”

Still, when he was asked what purpose today’s preview served, Ryan directed me to Pence’s office:  “You’ve got to ask the conference this question, I can’t answer that question.”

The leadership appeared united a press conference this afternoon, with Pence and Boehner holding copies of blue-jacketed budget outline as photographers clicked away.

So, was it all just theater? Mike Pence seems to think details don’t matter:

But it’s got...wait for it...lower taxes! And of course it provides more fodder for the Democrats:

“After 27 days, the best House Republicans could come up with is a 19-page pamphlet that does not include a single real budget proposal or estimate. There are more numbers in my last sentence than there are in the entire House GOP budget.”

Loyal opposition? With guys like Cantor and Pence as its spokesmen they’re not even a meaningful opposition.

Update: John Cole has more. With charts!

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/26/09 at 04:11 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

California Steaming

What the hell?

If California regulators get their way, auto makers may soon be forced to rewrite a cliché from the Ford Model T era and start telling customers they can have any color they want as long as it isn’t black.

Some darker hues will be available in place of black, but right now they are indentified internally at paint suppliers with names such as “mud-puddle brown” and are truly ugly substitutes for today’s rich ebony hues.

So buy a black car now, because soon they won’t be available or will look so putrid you won’t want one. And that’s too bad, because paint suppliers say black is the second- or third-most popular vehicle color around the world.

The problem stems from a new “cool paints” initiative from the California Air Resources Board. CARB wants to mandate the phase-in of heat-reflecting paints on vehicle exteriors beginning with the ’12 model year, with all colors meeting a 20% reflectivity requirement by the ’16 model year.

Because about 17 other states tend to follow California’s regulatory lead, as many as 40% of the vehicles sold in the U.S. could be impacted by the proposed directive, suppliers say.

The measure is aimed at reducing carbon-dioxide emissions and improving fuel economy by keeping vehicles cooler on sunny days and decreasing the amount of time drivers use their air conditioners.

There’s been some evidence showing that repainting buildings can cut energy use.  But people don’t spend their entire days inside cars.  Moreover, it’s not clear that these new paints will themselves be environmentally safe.  Or that they even exist.

You know, I’m becoming more and more convinced that our government works by people sitting around, smoking some pot and legislating whatever damn fool idea comes into their head.  “Dude!  I just realized that like, my car gets hot.  Maybe we can do something about that.” “Hey man, do you realize people could put like chemicals in water bottles and do stuff on planes.  We should ban water bottle in airports.” “This is freaking me out, my lamb is from New Zealand.  Think of all the food miles.”

It’s not scientific.  It not even sciency.  It’s one step remove from reducing global warming by sacrificing animals to the Carbon Gods.

On a slightly less foolish if much more economically damaging note, California is also considering banning big TVs:

The California Energy Commission is considering a proposal that would ban California retailers from selling all but the most energy-efficient televisions. Critics say the news standards could take 25 percent of televisions off the market — most of them 40 inches or larger.

“The larger the television, the more at risk it is of being banned unnecessarily in California,” said Douglas Johnson, senior director of technology police for the Consumer Electronics Association.

Association officials say the standards are not only unnecessary – because the federal government already regulates energy efficiency through the voluntary Energy Star program — but also ill-timed. The last thing our economy needs now is products taken off the market, they say.

They expect the ban would save a consumer about $18-30 per year on his electric bill.  That translates to a power savings of about 2.5 billion kWh, assuming there are ten million big TVs in California.  A single nuclear power plant would produce several times that amount of energy without any carbon whatsoever.

Of course, building a new nuclear power plant doesn’t stick it to those rich assholes with their big TVs.  So it’s really a non-starter, I guess.

Update: In other California news, Diane Feinstein wants to block wind and solar power from being in deserts.  I predicted this would happen—that the enviros would tie themselves in knots over whether alternative energy or pristine deserts were more important.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/26/09 at 06:45 AM in Cullyforneah  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

If You Build It, They Will Get Scammed

Some people deserve to be victims of Bernie Madoff.

Arakawa and Madeline Gins’s quest to make human beings immortal is at risk of dying.

That’s because the couple lost their life savings with Bernard Madoff, the mastermind of a multibillion-dollar fraud.

Of all the dreams that were crushed by Mr. Madoff’s crime, perhaps none was more unusual than this duo’s of achieving everlasting life through architecture. Mr. Arakawa (he uses only his last name) and Ms. Gins design structures they say can enable inhabitants to “counteract the usual human destiny of having to die.”

The income from their investments with Mr. Madoff helped fund their research and experimental work. Now, Mr. Arakawa, 72 years old, and Ms. Gins, 67, are strapped for cash. They closed their Manhattan office and laid off five employees.

The pair’s work, based loosely on a movement known as “transhumanism,” is premised on the idea that people degenerate and die in part because they live in spaces that are too comfortable. The artists’ solution: construct abodes that leave people disoriented, challenged and feeling anything but comfortable.

They build buildings with no doors inside. They place rooms far apart. They put windows near the ceiling or near the floor. Between rooms are sloping, bumpy moonscape-like floors designed to throw occupants off balance. These features, they argue, stimulate the body and mind, thus prolonging life. “You become like a baby,” says Mr. Arakawa.
....

A typical apartment has three or four rooms in the shapes of either a cylinder, a cube, or a sphere. Rooms surround a kitchen-living room combination with bumpy, undulating floors and floor-to-ceiling ladders and poles. Dozens of colors, from school-bus yellow to sky blue, cover the walls, ceilings and other surfaces.

At least one tenant says he feels a little younger already. Nobutaka Yamaoka, who moved in with his wife and two children about two years ago, says he has lost more than 20 pounds and no longer suffers from hay fever, though he isn’t sure whether it was cured by the loft.

There is no closet, and Mr. Yamaoka can’t buy furniture for the living room or kitchen because the floor is too uneven, but he relishes the lifestyle. “I feel a completely different kind of comfort here,” says the 43-year-old video director. His wife, however, complains that the apartment is too cold. Also, the window to the balcony is near the floor, and she keeps bumping her head against the frame when she crawls out to hang up laundry, he says. ("That’s one of the exercises,” says Ms. Gins.)

Last year, Mr. Arakawa and Ms. Gins’s first U.S. home, which resembles the Tokyo lofts, was completed in East Hampton, N.Y. It took $2 million and eight years to construct, and has a listing price of $5.5 million.

Many scientists see the couple’s work as part of a futile, age-old human aspiration to live forever. “Longevity salesman is the second-oldest profession,” says S. Jay Olshansky, a researcher on aging at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “This would be the worst possible house you could build for an older person,” he says. To prolong life, he recommends building spaces that “lower the probability of falls,” plus a healthy diet and exercise.

One of the things I really hope the recession will help make unfashionable are these overpriced, overly pretentious pieces of crap art disguised as houses. Madoff may have actually done the world a favor by putting these two out of business.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/25/09 at 09:32 PM in Life & Culture  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Devaluation

I’ve got to hand it to our transatlantic cousins.  This speech is better than anything you’ll hear from Congress this year:

You realize, of course, why this has exploded into American conservative circles.  What he’s saying could be thrown at Bush and Obama (the MP himself says it’s too early to judge Obama.  I would agree except that I’m nervous about judging someone when it’s too late).

What particularly resonated with me was the metaphor he made about how other countries were patching their ships during the good times to weather the inevitable economic storm while Britain’s ship sank further into debt.  This is precisely why George Bush so infuriated me.  It’s one thing to run up deficits in a recession, it’s another to do it during a boom time.  Eventually, boom times end, our highly leveraged tax system crashes and you’ve got trillion dollar deficits.

Jim Manzi makes this point very well:

The U.S economy is enormous and resilient, but it is not limitless. We managed to have a national debt that exceed 100% of GDP at the end of WWII, and still did pretty well thereafter. But of course, the entire globe was either bombed to rubble, in a primitive economic state or under the boot of communism, which we now know stifled real economic competition for us. Does that sound like the world we live in today? Nobody knows what curveballs history will throw at us over the next decade, and we are making ourselves a lot more vulnerable to whatever these turn out to be. I’ve always been skeptical of people who claim that they can draw straight lines between politicians’ backgrounds and behavior, but it seems to me that Obama’s lack of practical experience is showing here: he is insufficiently aware of the need for a huge margin of error in any plan to account for inevitable contingencies.

A couple of weeks ago I noted studies that showed that the bankruptcies supposedly caused by healthcare problems were actually more attributable to economic behavior.  People who live paycheck to paycheck—either through lack of earning power or irresponsible behavior—are vulnerable to bankruptcy due to any crisis—job loss, divorce, health issue, plague of locusts, whatever.

We as a nation—under Bush and apparently under Obama—are living paycheck to paycheck.  Actually we’re not even doing that—we’re taking out loans against future paychecks.  This worked fine when the economy was booming.  But what happened when a recession hit?  What will happen if a major terrorist attack occurs?  What will happen if some awful massive natural disaster hits?

We have no leeway right now.  Even Obama’s rosy budget projections show us dancing on the blade of fiscal solvency.  We can’t keep doing this.  It’s biting us in the ass now.  In future, it could swallow us whole.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/25/09 at 08:37 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Stemulus

During his press conference, Obama responded this way to a question about stem cells:

Look, I believe that it is very important for us to have strong moral guidelines, ethical guidelines, when it comes to stem-cell research or anything that touches on, you know, the issues of possible cloning or issues related to, you know, the human life sciences.

I think those issues are all critical, and I’ve said so before. I wrestle with it on stem cell; I wrestle with it on issues like abortion.

I think that the guidelines that we provided meet that ethical test. What we have said is that for embryos that are typically about to be discarded, for us to be able to use those in order to find cures for Parkinson’s or for Alzheimer’s or for, you know, all sorts of other debilitating diseases, juvenile diabetes, that—that it is the right thing to do. And that’s not just my opinion. That is the opinion of a number of people who are also against abortion.

Now, I am glad to see progress is being made in adult stem cells. And if the science determines that we can completely avoid a set of ethical questions or political disputes, then that’s great. I have—I have no investment in causing controversy. I’m happy to avoid it if that’s where the science leads us.

But what I don’t want to do is predetermine this based on a very rigid ideological approach. And that’s what I think is reflected in the executive order that I signed.

This is an area where I think most conservatives should be on Obama’s side-taking a pragmatic rather than an ideological approach to stem-cell research. One question I’ve never gotten a reasonable response to is what the idealogues would have us do with the frozen petri dish products that won’t be used otherwise. Maybe when they get their act together, the Republicans and the “Movement” conservatives can come up with a reply.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/25/09 at 06:35 PM in Science and Technology  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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