Category ►►► Socialism 101

October 21, 2011

Lost Goys

Socialism 101
Hatched by Dafydd

The question naturally arises: Given that 37% of Americans currently support the Occupy Wall Street so-called "movement," is such support driven more by ideology or economic circumstance? That is, we know that lefties, liberals, Progressivists, and Democrats are much more likely to cheer on the Occupiers; but are the poor in America also significantly more likely to cheer than the rich?

When I was confronted by that argument by a friendly Republican acquaintance -- hey, if you were unemployed for months, through no fault of your own, you'd support Occupy Wall Street, too! -- I realized that the real divide isn't between Republicans and Democrats, nor even between Right and Left; the divide that really matters (which is a chasm) is between limited and unlimited government. Is the federal government, or even state governments, restricted in any way? Are they restricted only by the rights and limitations explicitly written into the Constitution and the state constitutions? Or is government limited even more severely by unenumerated rights... and if so, what are they?

My inquisitor himself certainly opposes the Occupier lifestyle; but he seems to believe that this is only because he's doing well. Oddly, I think much more highly of him: I believe that he, like me, rejects and abhors the looters' ethic not through selfishness or narcissism, and that he wouldn't flip-flop even if he became poor.

Mr. Interlocutor suggested that my reaction to the Occupiers would be driven by whether I was "in the unemployment line or riding the gravy train." My first thought was to reject that heuristic out of hand:

I think you'd be wrong [wrote I]. Call me naive, but I really believe that most Americans aren't so self-centered as to support the Occupy [Fill in the blank] "movement" if they're unemployed, but oppose it if they're doing well. I believe that a huge percentage of Americans support our (relatively) free market, even when others do better than they themselves.

I know that even when I was pretty much down and out -- so much so that I actually applied for, and was accepted for, welfare and food stamps -- I disovered that I simply could not take it. They gave me a package of food stamps to tide me over and approved me for welfare; but a couple of days later, I returned to the welfare office (this was in Santa Cruz, California) and withdrew my application for welfare and even returned the booklet of food stamps... completely unused.

I do not believe I have uniquely strong character; I believe that most Americans simply cannot bring themselves to take handouts.

The "Have" and "Have Not" nomenclature was picked up and used by Saul Alinsky in his book Rules for Radicals; I believe he specifically disavowed any moral claim on the money of the Haves in favor of raw power. His slogan was something along the lines of, "We want it, they have it, let's go get it!" To me, that crosses over the line of criminality by a country mile.

Neither can I accept it even when the big, bad government offers it. I know where it comes from.

I describe myself as a "cynical optimist;" but I just cannot bring myself to the level of cynicism of thinking people's support for liberty is contingent on being one of the Haves.

That was yesterday; today, via the poll linked above, I appear to have some support. Let's first consider ideology as a factor in whether one supports the Occupiers:

Of the Americans who support the Wall Street protests, 64 percent in the poll are Democrats, while 22 percent are independents and just 14 percent are Republicans. The protest backers are more likely to approve of President Barack Obama and more likely to disapprove of Congress than are people who don't support the demonstrations....

The poll found that most protest supporters do not blame Obama for the economic crisis. Sixty-eight percent say former President George W. Bush deserves "almost all" or "a lot but not all" of the blame. Just 15 percent say Obama deserves that much blame. Nearly six in 10 protest supporters blame Republicans in Congress for the nation's economic problems, and 21 percent blame congressional Democrats.

Six in 10 protest supporters trust Democrats more than Republicans to create jobs.

Yup; unsurprisingly, if you're on the Left, you're tremendously more likely to support the Occupiers. That may well be because right now, the Left is far more enamored of Big Goverment than is the Right. But that hasn't always been the case, of course; we need peer over our shoulders only a scant few years to see an out-of-control Republican Senate and House, burning cash like it was a potlatch (except they were spending other people's money, not their own). So ideology is a good indicator of support for or rejection of Occupism.

But what about the poverty aspect? Does that likewise drive support for, not merely socialism, but the most radical and childish free-money demands since the 1960s?

Evidently not:

Most people who support the protests -- like most people who don't -- actually report good financial situations in their own households.

The poll doesn't appear to find any significant difference in family finances between those who support the Occupiers and those who reject them. Reaction to the Occupiers is simply not driven by wealth or poverty.

My worthy correspondent responded to my first, offhand answer by suggesting that if my financial situation was bad enough, if I'd been unemployed for a long time due to circumstances outside my control, I might change my tune. This time, I really mulled his suggestion but still arrived at the same conclusion; this is the more complete answer:

No, and that's my whole point: Even if we were doing badly financially, I would not think the solution is to loot -- or even envy -- somebody else who's doing well. I would instead think, gee I wish we could figure out how to do as good a job of earning money as he does!

I might be sad and depressed, but I wouldn't blame bankers, or Wall Street "speculators," or political consultants who publish cyberzines, or even "the system," unless we lived in a country whose official policies actually stifled economic activity (oh, wait...) Nver in my entire life -- and I'm not as young as you may think; I turn 51 tomorrow -- have I thought that the solution to economic woes, macro or micro, was more redistribution of wealth, more "leveling the playing field," more "fairness," or more government.

Charity has a role to play in a just society; but by definition, it must be voluntary, not compulsory. (I'm not a Randroid, but I note that even Ayn Rand admitted that charity was a virtue -- a "minor virtue," she called it .) I'll go further: It's pragmatic and useful for society to have a putative safety net, to prevent, e.g., people starving in the streets because they have no money (or are too insane or addicted to earn it), or bleeding-out in the gutter outside a hospital because they have no means of paying. But such a safety net is not a right or liberty -- because if I have a right to food, shelter, and medical care, then you have a corresponding legal duty to pay for it; and that's unjust. It's a kindness, and it's insurance against riot and rebellion.

So it's worse than absurd for the Occupiers and their brethren on the Left to demand to be supported by everybody else; it's unseemly. And unAmerican, too; but judging by the musical tastes of the Occupiers, as they sang "F--- the USA!", I suspect they would wear the label "unAmerican" as a badge of pride.

I realize my judgment of the Occupiers sounds harsh, but I really believe they're a bunch of spoiled adult children, lost boys (and lost girls) who never grew up and think their every whim is an urgent demand upon society.

Suppose Sachi and I were in such dire straits that we had to take welfare; I would probably swallow hard and take it -- as author Steve Barnes says, it may be noble to suffer for your ideology, but it's chickens--t to make your family suffer for your ideology. But I would feel guilty about it, and I wouldn't think that the world owed me a living just because I'm sucking air.

By contrast, the Occupiers proudly demand a "living wage" ($20/hour!) paid to them and everybody else for the magnificence of their beingness; and on top of that, they demand everything they want for free -- necessities, luxuries, even their vices should be subsidized! I'm convinced these are the same people who download all their music, videos, and books -- well, maybe not books, since that would require literacy -- from Napster or Kazaa, for free; and of course, they get enraged at artists who have the crazy idea that customers should pay for what they steal.

So again no; even were Sachi and I destitute, we still would not be cheering for the filthy and bloody-minded rioters in Zucchini-Bikini Park. Friedrich Hayek already warned us where that road leads.

I'll stand on this one, and I believe statistics more or less bear me out. Reaction to the Occupy Wall Street (etc) astroturf "movement" is thus analogous to crime; for decades, lefties argued that crime was caused, or at least driven, by poverty. That was the basis on which Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" was sold to the upper and middle income voters: If only we launched a war on poverty (and won), crime would be virtually eliminated!

But the reality is that bad finances do not drive crime -- bad moral and civic character does. And by the same reasoning, poverty doesn't drive support for socialism, Communism, Obamunism, leftism, or statism; bad thinking does.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 21, 2011, at the time of 8:00 PM | Comments (1)

September 14, 2010

The War on Judgment

Socialism 101
Hatched by Dafydd

First Lady Michelle Obama is once again on the warpath; this time, she's bullying the National Restaurant Association, coming as near as makes to difference to ordering them to reduce portion sizes, expunge ingredients that she considers bad (sugar, salt, butter, cream -- "not enough to sacrifice flavor -- we all like flavor -- but just enough to make a meaningful difference in the amount of calories and fat"), and substitute her veggieland choices for traditional side dishes... e.g., "make healthy sides like apple slices or carrots the default choice in a menu and make fries something customers have to request."

I'm all in favor of restaurants deciding (without State coercion) to offer salads and vegetables and fruits on their menus; sometimes I'll buy them -- I love Souplantation, for example, a restaurant that is basically nothing but a huge salad bar. But voluntary cooperation is not what Mrs. Obama has in mind; she makes her intention quite clear:

Right now, many restaurants are making a point to offer fresh produce and healthy choices aimed at kids and adults. Others are serving more low-fat dishes, whole grain breads, fruit on the side. Some are even offering kid-size portions of the meals they serve on the main menu. And chefs across the country are partnering with local schools to help them make healthy choices.

But as positive as these examples are, the reality is it’s just not enough. Together we have to do more. We have to go further. And we need your help to lead this effort.

The time for talk, talk, talk is over. We need action, action, action!

And action the government has taken:

As part of “Let’s Move,” we’re setting a goal of doubling the number of schools that participate in the Healthier US Schools Challenge by next year. And we’re working with schools and food suppliers to offer more fruits and vegetables and to cut down on that fat, sugar and salt.

And, finally, we’re working with mayors and other local officials to make our cities and towns healthier and to highlight restaurants that agree to serve smaller portions and promote more nutritious options.

So I hope that all of you will join with us in these efforts. Together, we can help make sure that every family that walks into a restaurant can make an easy, healthy choice.

We can make a commitment to promote vegetables and fruits and whole grains on every part of every menu. We can make portion sizes smaller and emphasize quality over quantity. And we can help create a culture -- imagine this -- where our kids ask for healthy options instead of resisting them.

It's not an exaggeration to call this nutritional battle plan "Orwellian" because of the mindset that clearly motivates it: Michelle Obama rejects the crazy idea that choosing what and how much to eat is part of freedom of choice, and she dismisses with nary a thought the even more risible notion that we ourselves must be held accountable for the consequences of the choices we make. Rather, the Fist Lady sees the federal government as the nation's health conscience, substituting its judgment of what is best in place of our own, and in place of parents' judgment on behalf of their own children.

The terminus of the arc of this mindset was expressed very clearly in an Italian pronunciamento of the 1920s: “Everything inside the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State” -- and chillingly analyzed by Robert Anton Wilson in his 1977 book Cosmic Trigger: "Everything not compulsory is forbidden.... Everything not forbidden is compulsory."

The mindset -- don't think, don't choose, just sit quietly and wait for instructions -- has likewise been explored in detail in works as varied as classical-liberal Friederich Hayek's the Road to Serfdom, 1944, and modern-liberal Philip K. Howard's the Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America, a full half-century later.

Simply put, the more government decides, the less taste the citizen has for making his own decisions. In very short order, an infantalized people begin to avoid making any decisions at all, waiting all the while for someone to tell them what to do. The end result is a craving for order-taking and the self-immolation of will; we become, in Ayn Rand's term, truly "self-less."

Ironically, Mrs. Obama enunciated a structurally identical argument in her harangue to the National Restaurant Association:

But here’s the catch. See, feeding those cravings [doesn't] just respond to people’s natural desires, it actually helps shape them. The more of these foods people eat, the more they're accustomed to that taste, and after a while, those unhealthy foods become a permanent part of their eating habits.

What we see here has been noted by many that passed before us: Liberals reject moral reasoning; they want total "freedom" (license) to do whatever they want, then preen about it. But they must fill the "rules" gap with something; it's scary not to have any rules at all. So they elevate health concerns to moral imperatives: Thou shalt not eat too large a portion; thou shalt not eat anything made with white flour; and this above all -- thou shalt not eat the deadly poison, salt! (Or breath the deadly pollutant carbon dioxide; but that's a rant for a different post.)

To the war on portions, white bread, and salt, add the wars on fat, peanut butter, sugar, sugar substitutes, mac & cheese, Mexican food, Chinese food, Italian food, fast food, tobacco, war, doctors, playgrounds, sunshine (skin cancer!), and recreation (as in recreational use of any natural resource) -- a war on everything but the lawyers, praise Burger (but not burgers).

(Exceptions granted to the Anointed, of course: They're saving the world, for Gore's sake; they can't be expected to hew to the same laws that govern the rabble.)

All the little wars collide into a giant Ur-war in which every enemy behavior, activity, or comestible is condemned for being "bad for children and other living things." The freak show that composes the Committee for Science in the Public Interest (and how's that for an Orwellian name!) is revolting, and has already seized the presidency, cabinet, and much of the Congress.

Of course, to maintain loyalty in war, governments often resort to wartime censorship; the State must keep a lid on opinion-mongering, especially opinions about the war itself, its necessity and conduct. In the case of the vital Ur-war against unauthorized freedom for the unenlightened, it's already here; Mrs. Obama announces the plan:

Our kids don’t learn about the latest fast-food creations on their own. They hear about them on TV, advertisements, in the Internet, video games, and many other places. And as any parent knows, this marketing is highly effective.

As a mom, I know it is my responsibility, and no one else’s, to raise my kids. But we have to ask ourselves, what does it mean when so many parents are finding their best efforts undermined by an avalanche of advertisements aimed at our kids.

A study last year found that only a small percentage of advertising aimed at kids promoted healthy foods, while most promoted foods with a low nutritional value. And let’s be clear: It’s not enough just to limit ads for foods that aren’t healthy. It’s also going to be critical to increase marketing for foods that are healthy.

And if there’s anyone who can sell healthy food to our kids, it’s all of you, because you know what gets their attention. You know what makes a lasting impression. You certainly know what gets them to drive their poor parents crazy because they just have to have something.

So I'm here today to ask you to use that knowledge and that power to our kids’ advantage. I'm asking you to actively promote healthy foods and healthy habits to our kids.

Everything because of the kids. Nothing apart from the kids. Nothing against the kids.

Today she only "asks," as your teacher might "ask" you to hand in that overdue book report; tomorrow, she -- or her minions at the FCC and FDA -- will command, using the full force of government action, action, action.

The penchant for controlling all speech and communications becomes a compulsion; compare this amusing directive from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the president of America's Health Insurance Plans, which lobbies for private health insurers. Sebelius (I don't think she's in Kansas anymore) was infuriated when AHIP issued a report noting that ObamaCare had already driven a number of insurers to raise their rates, in order to pay for expanded benefits demanded by the new law. The secretary responded:

It has come to my attention that several health insurer carriers are sending letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act. I urge you to inform your members that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases....

Given the importance of the new protections and the facts about their impact on costs, I ask for your help in stopping misinformation and scare tactics about the Affordable Care Act. Moreover, I want AHIP’s members to be put on notice: the Administration, in partnership with states, will not tolerate unjustified rate hikes in the name of consumer protections....

We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014. Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections.

Americans want affordable and reliable health insurance, and it is our job to make it happen. We worked hard to change the system to help consumers. It is my hope we can work together to stop misinformation and misleading marketing from the start.


Kathleen Sebelius

(Since I expect this breathtaking pronunciamento to be rewritten or tossed down the memory hole as soon as the popular front gets wind of it, I post the entire news release in the "Slither on" extended section.)

Recall, when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 was passed, Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) informed us that we would have to pass the bill in order to find out what was in it. Who knows? Perhaps it did give Sebelius authority to regulate private speech about ObamaCare. (The Sedition Act "was good for Woodrow Wilson, and it's good enough for me!")

More generally, the Harpy Brigade of nanny secretaries appears to be well along the path of total control over new media. Now Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano (I don't think she'll ever take off her rainbow shades) appears to covet the power to "police the world wide web" and even "shut down parts of the Internet" if she perceives a cyberthreat.

How long, I wonder, before Napolitano's lidless eye begins seeing blogposts or online newspaper stories critical of the Obama administration as exactly the sort of threat that needs nipping in the bud? The administration has already informed us it has "zero tolerance" for "misinformation."

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." And who controls communications controls the present. Of course any liberal-fascist State, or any other form of socialism or socialism lite, must control and ultimately own all communications to have even a hope of implementing its directives -- which will tend, with every passing season in the natural progression of "five year plans," to become more irrational, unpredictable, and against basic human nature.

The Obamacle and his acolytes in the administration and Congress must realize that the popular front for Capitalism and against government expansion and intrusion depends upon the ability to communicate, particularly over the internet. Ms. Napolitano must be greedily eyeing that medium and longing to get her mits on it, particularly if she harbors any dream of running for President of the United States herself. Certain things are better left unsaid; it's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

But in the end, it will all go for nought; because Team Obama long ago lost the battle for communications when its excesses and failures lost even the normal channels for liberal-fascist policy: the antique media of newspapers and television. Today, one is as apt to read a denunciation of Obamunism in the New York Times (or see in on Jon Stewart's the Daily Show) as in the Wall Street Journal or the National Review.

Today, it's the popular front that controls the present... from which you may draw your own conclusion.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

News Release

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

Sebelius calls on health insurers to stop misinformation and unjustified rate increases

Affordable Care Act will help lower costs and crack down on unjustified rate increases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the national association of health insurers, calling on their members to stop using scare tactics and misinformation to falsely blame premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act. Sebelius noted that the consumer protections and out-of-pocket savings provided for in the Affordable Care Act should result in a minimal impact on premiums for most Americans. Further, she reminded health plans that states have new resources under the Affordable Care Act to crack down on unjustified premium increases.

The text of Sebelius’ letter is below.

Ms. Karen Ignagni
President and Chief Executive Officer
America’s Health Insurance Plans
601 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
South Building, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Ms. Ignagni:

It has come to my attention that several health insurer carriers are sending letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act. I urge you to inform your members that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.

The Affordable Care Act includes a number of provisions to provide Americans with access to health coverage that will be there when they need it. These provisions were fully supported by AHIP and its member companies. Many of the legislation’s key protections take effect for plan or policy years beginning on or after September 23, 2010. All plans must comply with provisions such as no lifetime limits, no rescissions except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of material fact, and coverage of most adult children up to age 26. New plans must comply with additional provisions, such as coverage of preventive services with no cost sharing, access to OB / GYNs without referrals, restrictions on annual limits on coverage, a prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions of children (which applies to all group health plans), access to out-of-network emergency room services, and a strengthened appeals process. And health plans that cover early retirees could qualify for reinsurance to sustain that coverage for businesses, workers, and retirees alike.

According to our analysis and those of some industry and academic experts, any potential premium impact from the new consumer protections and increased quality provisions under the Affordable Care Act will be minimal. We estimate that that the effect will be no more than one to two percent. This is consistent with estimates from the Urban Institute (1 to 2 percent) and Mercer consultants (2.3 percent) as well as some insurers’ estimates. Pennsylvania’s Highmark, for example, estimates the effect of the legislation on premiums from 1.14 to 2 percent. Moreover, the trends in health costs, independent of the legislation, have slowed. Employers’ premiums for family coverage increased by only 3 percent in 2010 – a significant drop from previous years.

Any premium increases will be moderated by out-of-pocket savings resulting from the law. These savings include a reduction in the “hidden tax” on insured Americans that subsidizes care for the uninsured. By making sure insurance covers people who are most at risk, there will be less uncompensated care, and, as a result, the amount of cost shifting to those who have coverage today will be reduced by up to $1 billion in 2013. By making sure that high-risk individuals have insurance and emphasizing health care that prevents illnesses from becoming serious, long-term health problems, the law will also reduce the cost of avoidable hospitalizations. Prioritizing prevention without cost sharing could also result in significant savings: from lowering people’s out-of-pocket spending to lowering costs due to conditions like obesity, and to increasing worker productivity – today, increased sickness and lack of coverage security reduce economic output by $260 billion per year.

Given the importance of the new protections and the facts about their impact on costs, I ask for your help in stopping misinformation and scare tactics about the Affordable Care Act. Moreover, I want AHIP’s members to be put on notice: the Administration, in partnership with states, will not tolerate unjustified rate hikes in the name of consumer protections.

Already, my Department has provided 46 states with resources to strengthen the review and transparency of proposed premiums. Later this fall, we will issue a regulation that will require state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases filed by health insurers, with the justification for increases posted publicly for consumers and employers. We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014. Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections.

Americans want affordable and reliable health insurance, and it is our job to make it happen. We worked hard to change the system to help consumers. It is my hope we can work together to stop misinformation and misleading marketing from the start.


Kathleen Sebelius


Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at

Last revised: September 12, 2010

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 14, 2010, at the time of 3:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 23, 2009

Could See This Coming!

Beggar's Banking Banquet , Socialism 101
Hatched by Dafydd

In the companion piece to this post, Couldn't See That Coming!, we noted that the United States Department of the Treasury, run by tax evader Timothy Geithner, has decided to institute wage controls at those companies that accepted large amounts of TARP money; TARP is the Troubled Asset Relief Program... that is, the Wall Street (and Motown) bailout.

We ended that post with the by now familiar bleat (which I shamelessly stole from Patterico, though I added the adverb, which Patterico began copying -- God, how incestuous the two of us are!) the pathetic bleat of "What could possibly go wrong?" Now, with a tip of the hat to Rich "Mullings" Galen, we learn exactly what can possibly go wrong:

At Treasury, President Obama's pay czar, Kenneth Feinberg, announced sharp cuts in pay for 175 top executives at seven big banks and automakers that received hundreds of billions of dollars in federal bailout money during the financial crisis. The new structures reduced the cash salary paid to some executives by 90 percent and tied more compensation to long-term stock awards....

At the Federal Reserve, Chairman Ben S. Bernanke proposed a broader but less proscribed plan to restrict pay at banks. The aim is to prevent them from rewarding employees for actions that could endanger the firms' long-term financial health. Unlike Feinberg's more limited plan, the Fed's guidance would cover all banks it regulates -- even those that never received a bailout -- as well as U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies.

But hey, it's not like the federal government is, like, you know, taking over the private sector; they're not actually setting wages for all banks -- they merely get the final say on what those wages will be:

However, the Fed's proposed rules have wiggle room: The guidelines would let banks set their own compensation but give the Fed veto power over pay practices that it determines could threaten the safety and soundness of a bank. They would extend the regulators' reach into pay practices affecting tens of thousands of bank employees, from senior executives to traders of complex securities.

Thank goodness the government of Barack H. Obama dodged the temptation to allow the Party -- sorry, I mean the State -- to own all industries; that would be Marxism (which would presumably thrill Anita Dunce). Instead, the banks and industries will all be privately owned -- but the owners will take orders directly from the Party.

State, whatever.

Such an arrangement is not Marxism; it's fascism, as classically defined. But with the Obamacle, it's liberal fascism, fascism with a smiley face.

Galen takes us by the hand and leads us to the threatened land:

Putting aside defense firms -- which exist on government funds -- there are thousands and thousands of companies which get local, county, state or federal contracts. Does every executive of each of those companies fall under the same rule?

Should the Governor of Missouri decide how much the owner of the company which provides the janitorial services in the State House in Jefferson City can earn because he takes State money? Or, the executives of airlines on which government employees fly?

We have marched down this road before, with the wage and price controls imposed by Richard Nixon in 1971, ostensibly for only 90 days but in reality for nearly three years. The dreadful policy was finally abandoned as a colossal failure in April, 1974, just before Nixon's impeachment hearings began. This brief squib from the Econ Review is a succinct summary of the catastrophic Nixonian policy that Barack Obama seems determined to replay:

August 15, 1971. In a move widely applauded by the public and a fair number of (but by no means all) economists, President Nixon imposed wage and price controls. The 90 day freeze was unprecedented in peacetime, but such drastic measures were thought necessary. Inflation had been raging, exceeding 6% briefly in 1970 and persisting above 4% in 1971. By the prevailing historical standards, such inflation rates were thought to be completely intolerable.

The 90 day freeze turned into nearly 1,000 days of measures known as Phases One, Two, Three, and Four. The initial attempt to dampen inflation by calming inflationary expectations was a monumental failure....

While there were skeptics in August, 1971, there were a great many who thought "temporary" wage and price controls could cure inflation. By 1974, this notion was thoroughly discredited, and attention gradually turned toward a monetary approach to inflation.

Funnily enough, ObamaCare is also a reenactment of Nixon's own attempt to take over health care. For these two policies and many others (such as his "enemies list" and frequent attempts to control the press), I insist that Richard Nixon -- like Lyndon Johnson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson -- was also a liberal fascist. Barack Obama clings to the coattails of a well-established (albeit perverse and unAmerican) tradition.

Obama has a different, meaner purpose for wage controls than trying to beat down inflation; at least Nixon thought (wrongly) that his plan would benefit the country. By contrast, Obama wants to dictate the compensation packages of bank officers far above his pay grade for two equally discreditable reasons:

  • He simply believes in his own omniscience and generally wants to command every aspect of the American economy and culture;
  • He is a vindictive SOB and wants to punish those who made so much more money than he, even though he is the one with "the Vision of the anointed." How dare they!

Nixon's motive for liberal fascism was public; Obama's is deeply and disturbingly personal.

But the effect will be the same: the collapse of those companies "blessed" by the invisible foot of government, swiftly followed by the collapse of confidence in the ability of the federal government to do anything right.

To quote that infamous right winger, Pete Seeger*, who turned 90 this year:

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?


* For the irony impaired, Seeger is a Communist folk singer, pardon the redundancy. The quoted line is the chorus from what is likely Seeger's best-known pacifist song, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 23, 2009, at the time of 2:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 21, 2009

Couldn't See That Coming!

Socialism 101
Hatched by Dafydd

In a previous post -- long previous -- I warned that if the federal government began trading ownership of companies for TARP funds, it would open the door to full-blow wage and price controls.

Well guess what the Treasury Department announced today:

Under the plan, which will be announced in the next few days by the Treasury Department, the seven companies that received the most assistance will have to cut the cash payouts to their 25 best-paid executives by an average of about 90 percent from last year. For many of the executives, the cash they would have received will be replaced by stock that they will be restricted from selling immediately.

And for the 25 best-paid executives, the total compensation, which includes bonuses, will drop, on average, by about 50 percent.

Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Cruise tonight.

Say... I wonder what will be the response of the top executives at "Citigroup, Bank of America, the American International Group, General Motors, Chrysler and the financing arms of the two automakers" to getting a 90% pay cut and a 50% compensation cut. Any possibility they might simply resign -- and take an equivalent job at Ford, IBM, Coca-Cola, Lockheed Martin -- or Toyota, Samsung, or PDVSA (Venezuela's state-owned oil company)?

Any executive seeking more than $25,000 in special perks -- like country club memberships, private planes, limousines or company issued cars -- will have to apply to the government for permission.

This sort of "progressive" jackassery is the signature mode of "thought" found among ex-Yippie wannabe-revolutionaries -- those who cite Chairman Mao as one of their two favorite philosophers: It's facile, simplistic, superficial, symbolic, and pumped to the gills with unintended, unanticipated consequences. Then when the Left gets its wish -- and everything goes to hell in high water so quickly, Democrats are still in office and vulnerable to the vote -- they blink and stare, lose their majorities, and whine that bad things always happen to them. (It's all Bush's fault -- and Fox News.)

To quote the one good line from an otherwise wretched television show, "Son... bad things happen to you because you're a dumbass."

The pay restrictions illustrate the humbling downfall of the once-proud giants, now wards of the state whose leaders’ compensation is being set by a Washington paymaster. They also show how Washington in the last year has become increasingly powerful in setting corporate policies as more companies turned to the government for money to survive.

The compensation schedules set by Kenneth R. Feinberg, the special master at Treasury handling compensation issues, comes as many other banks that received smaller but significant taxpayer assistance in the last year have been reporting huge year-end bonuses, setting off a new round of recrimination in Washington about the bailout of Wall Street.

Hm. What if -- now I know this is a wild and crazy thought -- what if some of these companies hired new people to fix the mess created by the earlier team? What if those "huge year-end bonsuses" were paid to the new guys, after they turned around the companies and led them back to profitiability?

I guess it doesn't matter: No matter what the new guys were promised for giving up safe jobs elsewhere to come to the rescue of a shaky company, I reckon the government will nevertheless slash those bonuses or eliminate them entirely, chop the salary down to far less than those turn-around heroes made at the jobs they left... and in general, scare away any other genius who might save some tottering financial giant in the future.

It seems the administration of Barack H. Obama passionately believes in that age-old adage: No good deed goes unpunished.

What could possibly go wrong?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 21, 2009, at the time of 4:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 24, 2009

Meet Manuel Zeloonie-Toons

Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Now that erstwhile Honduran President José Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales appears to have mentally collapsed into paranoid ravings and hysterical delusion, and his brain has turned to lime Jell-O, how long before he gets to see the undercarriage of the Obamabus?

According to the Miami Herald:

It's been 89 days since Manuel Zelaya was booted from power. He's sleeping on chairs, and he claims his throat is sore from toxic gases and "Israeli mercenaries'' are torturing him with high-frequency radiation.

"We are being threatened with death,'' he said in an interview with The Miami Herald, adding that mercenaries were likely to storm the embassy where he has been holed up since Monday and assassinate him.

Darn Jews... they're everywhere!

Our previous spelunking expeditions into the Twilight Zone of the Obamic Honduran policy are legion:

Zelaya was ousted in what it pleases the One (and his Number Two, Hillary Clinton) to call a "coup d'état"... by which they mean having been properly and legally arrested and removed from office for the crime of treason, which in Honduras includes plotting to alter the national constitution to allow the president to serve indefinitely (President for Life Mel Zelaya, like President for Life Fidel Castro and President for Life Oogo Chavez):

[De facto President Roberto] Micheletti took Zelaya's place after the military, executing a Supreme Court arrest warrant, burst into Zelaya's house and forced him into exile. The country's military, congress, Supreme Court and economic leaders have backed the ouster, arguing that Zelaya was bent on conducting an illegal plebiscite that they feared would ultimately lead to his reelection.

Presidential elections are scheduled for November, and Micheletti -- who is a civilian and of the same political party as the ousted Zelaya -- is not even running (I remember the good old days, when a "coup d'état" meant the coup leaders actually, you know, took over). The United Nations, friends of democracy everywhere, is right on the job:

On Wednesday, the U.N. cut off all technical aid that would have supported and given credibility to that presidential race. Conditions do not exist for credible elections, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

Lizardian translation: There is virtually no possibility now that Zelaya, Chavez's "little buddy," will be able to pull off his unfriendly takeover of Honduras and "socialize" it to be more in line with other countries in the region, such as Venezuela (Chavez), Bolivia (Evo Morales), Costa Rica (Oscar Arias), Nicaragua (Sandinista Daniel Ortega), and of course, Cuba (los bros Castro). So what's the point of holding elections, legitimizing some free, democratic, capitalist regime? "That's not the Latin America I know," U.N. Secretary General Nanki-Poo is saying.

So how long will President Barack H. Obama continue to tie his Latin American policy to a guy who thinks Israelis mercenaries are beaming radiation and hallucinagenic gas into his room at the Brazillian embassy in Honduras? On the plus side, as I wrote last time:

The radical Left's bottom line is clear: Zelaya must be returned to full dictatorial control; no matter how he was trying to subvert the Honduran constitution (which constitutes treason in that country), no matter how in bed he was with Venezuelan fascist dictator Oogo Chavez, and no matter that Zelaya personally led a violent mob to attack the customs building to retrieve the illegal ballots that he got his pal Chavez to print in Venezuela; the ballots -- intended by Zelaya to give him cover for rejecting the clause in the Honduran constitution limiting presidents to a single term -- were confiscated by Customs officials when Zelaya tried to smuggle them into Honduras.

On the minus side, this raving, delusional lunatic may not be the Mel Zelaya that Obama knew.

I think I hear that Greyhound bus a rumblin'...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 24, 2009, at the time of 12:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 22, 2009

That Big Ol' NEA Scandal... Just Déjà Vu-Du

Commies , Moscow Mockeries , Movie Madness and Fractured Flickers , Obama Nation , Socialism 101
Hatched by Dafydd

Today saw new posts by Power Line and Patterico's Pontifications on the newest Obamic scandal; in this one, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was nabbed red-handed leaning on "artists" -- rather, those who are so unsuccessful that they must suckle at big government's teat -- to promote the partisan agenda of President Barack H. Obama... presumably with the threat of a cut-off of NEA grants as the "stick," and new, juicy buckets o' bucks as the "carrot."

The prime mover in this case is once again Andrew Breitbart, whose site Big Hollywood is breaking the NEA story -- just as Breitbart's Big Government by and large broke the ACORN story by hosting the first videos of James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles earlier this month.

I think there is no question that Breitbart has the goods on the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, its director Valerie Jarrett (a longtime Obamanista), her deputy director Buffy Wicks, and another federal agency, United We Serve. There is no doubt that the Obamacle is misusing and abusing the public trust, peddling propaganda, and using the threat of government power to coerce (and entice) artists into supporting his partisan agenda

And there is every likelihood that members of the Obama administration -- and perhaps the president himself -- have engaged in criminal behavior that, in a more rational and law-abiding era, might even lead to impeachment.

But such an era would surely not have been the 1930s and 1940s; and therein lies the reason why this particular scandal fills me with ennui: For an earlier president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, pioneered this exact tactic: using literary writers, playwrights, screenwriters, movie directors, producers, actors, radio dramatists, painters and sculptors, songwriters, composers, singers and entire orchestras -- and all the trade unions, professional societies, and literary and artistic guilds associated with the arts -- to advance his own leftist agenda for America.

And critics were not only called "unpatriotic," they were subject to arrest... if the mobs fomented by Roosevelt's New Deal cult didn't tear them limb from limb first. Let's see Barack Obama and his puny New Black Panther Party and SEIU unionistas top that.

Throughout the FDR 30s, Hollywood was pressured into making numerous propaganda promos for the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the primary vehicle of New Deal socialism and vicious anti-Capitalism; these promos starred the biggest names in Hollywood and villified the profit motive, competition, individualism, and liberty in practice (while extolling liberty in name only). But there were also a great many major, A-release features that self-consciously pushed Rooseveltianism slyly, as storyline in mere dramas and comedies.

The Communist (read: Stalinist) Left had so taken over Tinseltown that there was a "redlist" long before there was a blacklist. Anti-Communist actors, such as Adolph Menjou, saw their careers severely damaged. By contrast, lefty producers, directors, and screenwriters benefitted tremendously from their Party affiliation.

And not just Hollywood; painters and sculptors were likewise pressed into service to sell the American people on one of the most radical leftist programs ever foisted upon this country. The very reason those Obama posters from last year's election look so familiar is that the heroic-worker style is copied wholesale from the 1930s New Deal posters.

Songwriters were pressured to sell the NRA and rural electrification and Social Security and all of it. Good Lord, Barack Obama is a pathetic, little wannabe huckster compared to the Master of Evil, he with his mile-wide grin and mile-long cigarette holder.

But the corruption sank even deeper, for it wasn't just American leftism that the president was pushing, using the arts and farces as his populist bulldozer: Roosevelt himself personally ordered Jack Warner (an anti-Communist studio head) to produce a sickening, fawning, bootlicking paeon to Josef "Uncle Joe" Stalin torn from the pages of the journal kept by Roosevelt's hand-picked ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph Davies.

The movie was titled Mission to Moscow (1943)... and I rib you not, you cannot possibly believe what I say about it until you actually see it. We learn that peace-loving Uncle Joe has always been a great friend to America; he tried as hard as he could to bring about peace between the allies and the axis. Russia is full of nothing but happy, contented people -- well fed, free and independent, able to speak their minds on any subject with no threat from the government. (This is in stark contrast to Germany, where everybody suffers under the bootheel of oppression by the Nazis.)

Factories are run by the workers, who labor solely for the good of all. Eventually, we get to the infamous show trials... wherein we discover that all those Trotskyites were really just -- Nazi spies!

The Hitler-Stalin pact goes unremarked in the movie, though it had been signed, sealing the alliance between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and finally abrogated two years before the movie was released; nor does the movie (or book) dwell on the dismemberment of Poland by Germany and -- who was that again? -- and the Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik.

But the most jaw-hinging aspect of Mission to Moscow is its provenance: It was made from the allegedly nonfiction book written in 1941 by Ambassador Davies when he returned from his posting to the Soviet Union; and Davies, an attorney who chaired the FTC under Woodrow Wilson, was personally selected by FDR for that "mission." Ye gods, imagine what peril the nation was in, when a man like that could be sent to one of the most delicate, sensitive diplomatic posts in the known universe.

When I decry Roosevelt defiling the arts by drafting them into his leftist political agenda, I'm not talking about movies made simply to help the war effort; that's mere patriotism. But even deep into the 1940s, FDR pushed Hollywood to release movies that went far beyond "demonizing" the Nazis (if such a thing is possible) and the Imperial Japanese or even praising our ally, the Soviet Union... movies like:

  • Keeper of the Flame (1942 -- written by Communist Donald Ogden Stewart in consultation with the Bureau of Motion Pictures in the U.S. Office of War Information): Katherine Hepburn discovers her husband, in concert with a number of veterans, plans a fascist coup d'état. Damn Republicans... they're everywhere!
  • Tender Comrade (1943 -- written by Dalton Trumbo and directed by Edward Dmytryk, both later members of the "Hollywood Ten"): Ginger Rogers and other wives of servicemen discover the joys of living in communal farms -- just like in the Soviet Union! -- while their husbands are off fighting the Nazis. Incidentally, in case anyone is interested, Dalton Trumbo joined the Party during the Hitler-Stalin pact... such much for him merely being a "premature anti-fascist."
  • Song of Russia (1944): An orchestra conductor travels to the USSR shortly before the Nazi invasion -- which means during the pact, of course -- and sees, as Wikipedia so perfectly puts it, "happy, healthy, smiling, free Soviet citizens, blissfully living the Communist dream."

Each of these movies, along with others (e.g., the North Star, 1943) sang the praises not of Russia but of Communism, and worse, of Stalinism. And each of these films was made by studios that were in near constant contact with the U.S. Office of War Information. This was Roosevelt's baby, his conduit to wartime posters, wartime movies, wartime radio, and so on.

It was not used merely to promote patriotism and support for the war; as seen above, it was a powerful federal agency that pushed the graphic arts (fine and pop), literature, movies, drama, and music to support FDR's political agenda and encourage the hysterical Roosevelt-worship that characterized his entire reign. The OWI was established by executive order in 1942 and lasted through the war -- though in 1944, Congress was so disturbed by some of its domestic projects that it defunded, among other elements, the Bureau of Motion Pictures.

But even death did not release the arts community -- not the Bureau's death, nor even FDR's. After Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945, his skeletal hands reached and clutched at we the living; the project continued, and we got movies like It's a Wonderful Life (1946) -- in which we discover that the banks should simply forgive all their loans and redistribute the wealth -- and High Noon (1952) -- all the more corrupt and vile for the sheer artistry of its propaganda, and its duping of dim bulb Gary Cooper: Marshal Will Kane must stand alone against Sen. Joseph McCarthy -- er, I mean outlaw Frank Miller -- and the ravening hordes of HUAC... I mean, his two thugs.

The story of High Noon is set in or about 1900, but it makes not the slightest lick of historical sense; if the town was that worried about Miller, they would simply have formed a committee of vigilance, surrounded the train depot, and either ordered Miller to hop back aboard and ride the iron rail to the end of the line... or just blown him to glory with their own rifles and scatterguns. No need to interrupt the marshal's honeymoon.

When I gaze upon the awe-inspiring majesty of the New Deal's corruption of art for political propaganda, not to promote good citizenship and patriotism but specifically to promote the partisan political projects of Franklin Roosevelt, and the joyous brazenness of FDR's blasphemy and heresy within the chapel of freedom and liberty he inherited -- and then I turn my eye to the insignificant insect bites of Obamunism's own arts project... honest to mercy, I just find that my give-a-damn's busted.

Sorry, no red meat on this one. I'll stick with the much more significant and systematic dismantling of ACORN.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 22, 2009, at the time of 12:14 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 14, 2009

Nukes for Kooks

Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure , Weapons of Mass Disputation
Hatched by Dafydd

Venezuelan fascist dictator Oogo Chavez has just announced a joint venture with the Soviet Union Russia to develop "peaceful" nuclear power. At last, his poor, energy-starved country can stop shivering and provide power for its citizenry:

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said the South American country plans to develop a nuclear energy program with Russia and doesn’t want to build an atomic bomb....

“We’re not going to make an atomic bomb, so don’t bother us like with Iran,” he said on state television. “We’re going to develop nuclear energy with peaceful purposes.” [Hey, if you can't trust a lying socialist dictator, who can you trust?]

So a Latin American country...

  • In our own backyard --
  • Controlled by a strongman who has made himself "president for life" by winning fantasy elections --
  • Who hates America above all things on this planet --
  • Who has a close working relationship with Iran, a country working feverishly to develop a nuclear weapon --
  • Who has announced his intention to ship gasoline to Iran, so that we cannot use the Herman Option to stop Iran from getting its nukes (though I don't understand why, if we decided to blockade Iran -- which admittedly the current American president would never do -- we couldn't keep Venezuelan oil tankers out as well) --
  • Who has invited Hezbollah, the world's largest and most aggressive Islamist terrorist group, into Venezuela to "counter" American power in the western hemisphere --
  • Who brutally oppresses his own people with fascist policies (nationalizing industries -- both domestic and foreign owned) while spouting pseudo-Marxist rhetoric --
  • Who has exported putative "Bolivarian" revolution to a dozen other Latin American countries --
  • And whose country is swimming in oil and natural gas (which is the only reason it's still in existence, despite its abysmal economy) --

...Now wants nuclear power as well. But it assures us that it's "not going to make an atomic bomb;" and orders our hapless, cringing President Barack H. Obama -- who has just agreed to enter into extortion negotiations with one member of the axis of evil trying to develop nuclear weapons (North Korea), and appears to have utterly capitulated on nuclear weapons for the other remaining member of the axis (Iran) -- not to interfere ("so don’t bother us like with Iran").

I'm quite certain that the Obamacle, furthering his standard policy of friendly negotiations with all of our bitterest enemies (while snubbing and working against the interests of our closest allies), will immediately announce a diplomatic initiative to Oogo... run by the WMD Czar, Gary Samore, and a newly appointed Venezuela Czar, Jalapeño Spice, rather than by the Secretary of State (whoever he is).

The negotiating team (Samantha Power, Van Jones, Sen. Al Franken, and Keith Olbermann) will insist that Venezuela and Russia issue ironclad assurances, written in bold black ink on creamy white paper, that they never, ever, ever will help Oogo Chavez obtain nuclear weapons.

Oogo will be brought to the White House thirty-eight times over the next two years, where he will be feted and wined and dined. Then Obama will bow at the waist, kiss Oogo's Bolivarian hand, and call him "your highness."

In the end, the One will get his agreement, signed at the Western White House (Al Capone's old headquarters in Chicago). He -- Obama, not Capone -- will hold the piece of paper up for CNN to video, and his teleprompter will announce that Obama has achieved "peace in our time." We will then launch a massive foreign-aid money drop into Venezuela, to ensure they have enough aluminum tubing and nuclear-blast analysis software for the venture to succeed.



What could possibly go wrong?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 14, 2009, at the time of 10:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 27, 2009

Meanwhile, Back in the Murmuring Pines and the Hemlocks...

Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Occulted by the momentous national slugfest about TeddyCare, the explosion of Medicare spending (or draconian rationing), the imminent collapse of Social Security, the mind-numbing deficits, the looming tax attax, the energy-production cripple-and-tax bill, the slow American retreat in Afghanistan, and the rapid Obama-decreed rout in Iraq... tucked in away among all this political misdirection, the gnomes of Foggy Bottom still pick-and-shovel away at the foundations of Honduras, trying to engineer the forced reinstallation of fled President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales (a.k.a. "Mel" Zelaya) -- little buddy of Oogo Chavez, tireless crusader for Marxist revolution in Latin America, and putative President-for-Life of that democratic country of Honduras:

U.S. State Department staff have recommended that the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya be declared a "military coup," a U.S. official said on Thursday, a step that could cut off as much as $150 million in U.S. funding to the impoverished Central American nation.

The official, who spoke on condition he not be named, said State Department staff had made such a recommendation to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has yet to make a decision on the matter although one was likely soon.

Washington has already suspended about $18 million aid to Honduras following the June 28 coup and this would be formally cut if the determination is made because of a U.S. law barring aid "to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree."

Note that the gnomes want to oust the current Honduran government for doing to Zelaya pretty much just what the Democrats did to Richard Nixon in 1974: Push him to resign by threatening to prosecute him for his many criminal activities.

Our previous excursions into the dead zone of the Obamacle's (and Hillary's) Honduran policy are legion:

The radical Left's bottom line is clear: Zelaya must be returned to full dictatorial control; no matter how he was trying to subvert the Honduran constitution (which constitutes treason in that country), no matter how in bed he was with Venezuelan fascist dictator Oogo Chavez, and no matter that Zelaya personally led a violent mob to attack the customs building to retrieve the illegal ballots that he got his pal Chavez to print in Venezuela; the ballots -- intended by Zelaya to give him cover for rejecting the clause in the Honduran constitution limiting presidents to a single term -- were confiscated by Customs officials when Zelaya tried to smuggle them into Honduras. As D.C. Circuit nominee Miguel Estrada (denied a confirmation vote by Democrats) recounts the precipitating incident in the Los Angeles Times:

Zelaya had the ballots printed in Venezuela, but these were impounded by customs when they were brought back to Honduras. On June 25 -- three days before he was ousted -- Zelaya personally gathered a group of "supporters" and led it to seize the ballots, restating his intent to conduct the "survey" on June 28. That was the breaking point for the attorney general, who immediately sought a warrant from the Supreme Court for Zelaya's arrest on charges of treason, abuse of authority and other crimes. In response, the court ordered Zelaya's arrest by the country's army, which under Article 272 must enforce compliance with the Constitution, particularly with respect to presidential succession. The military executed the court's order on the morning of the proposed survey.

Yet despite the clear and undeniable fact that Zelaya was removed according to the rule of law in Honduras, and the equally clear fact that it is Zelaya, not his acting successor of the same party (Roberto Micheletti), who is the coup plotter, the Obama/Hillary Statism Department has redoubled its efforts to overthrow the legitimate, democratic, pro-American government of Honduras -- to install in its place an il-legitimate, un-democratic, il-legal, Marxist, anti-American government, instead. The stupidity of this policy can only be explained, though not excused, by leftist ideology run amok, as ably documented by Victor Davis Hansen in the August (and august) webpages of National Review Online.

Attacking the economy of the impoverished nation appears to be a fait accompli:

Diplomats said that the United States had held off making the formal determination to give diplomacy a chance to yield a negotiated compromise that might allow for Zelaya's return to power....

"The recommendation of the building is for her to sign it," said the first U.S. official said of the 'military coup" determination, saying this was a response to the de facto government's refusal to accept a compromise that would allow Zelaya to return to power ahead of November elections.

Attacking, but not necessarily defeating; let us hope that the Hondurans are made of stern enough will and self-determination that they will reject the diktats of Hillary Clinton's politburo and the machinations of the "progressive" nomenklatura that infests virtually every federal and state bureaucracy in the United States. Perhaps the democrats down south will dig in their heels and accept that they must scratch for their own seed if they want to remain sovereign... I hope they do, "pour encourager les autres."

There is hardly anything in foreign policy that would please me more than a bunch of American "client states" telling us to take that foreign aid and shove it, they ain't kow-towing to us no more.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 27, 2009, at the time of 7:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 22, 2009

HeistWatch - Day 1

Media Madness , Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Day 1 after the Washington Times reported that the chief of staff to impeached Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, Enrique Flores Lanza, may have stolen millions of dollars in cash from the Central Bank of Honduras, three days before Zelaya himself was arrested for treason...

So far, I have found only one newspaper that has even so much as mentioned the charges: the Miami Herald -- which, for obvious reasons, has a greater interest than most in reporting stories connected to Red Cuba and Baja America. But even the Herald only gives it a single, cursory sentence:

In addition, Zelaya's chief of staff, Enrique Flores Lanza, is accused of abuse of power and misuse of public funds for withdrawing about $2.2 million [sic] in cash from the Central Bank on June 24.

(The "sic" above denotes that the Washington Times in fact reported that Lanza withdrew a total of $2.75 million -- not $2.2 million.)

One might expect a newspaper to wonder: If the chief of staff of the current president -- a president attempting to do an end-run around a constitutional prohibition on a referendum to extend his rule -- "is accused of... withdrawing about $2.2 million in cash from the Central Bank" it possible that chief of staff might have done so under orders from his boss? Perhaps to pay for the referendum -- or to buy votes. Isn't the question at least worth investigating?

So far, the answer is "Yes, it isn't even worth investigating;" not even by a newspaper that does not stand in lockstep with Fidel and Raul Castro, Oogo Chavez, and Daniel Ortega. I find that sad, very sad.

Once and future Zelaya posts on Big Lizards and Hot Air's rogues' gallery:

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 22, 2009, at the time of 4:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Did Zelaya Pull a Bank Heist Before Skedaddling?

Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

The Washington Times reports that Honduran prosecutors have witnesses and a surveillance video indicating that then-President Manuel Zelaya or Chief of Staff Enrique Flores Lanza may have done exactly that.

More precisely, prosecutors claim that on June 24th, somebody went to the Central Bank of Honduras and "withdrew" $2.2 million equivalent in Honduran lempiras; the money was driven to Lanza's office, allege the witnesses. A second withdrawal of $550,000 equivalent was ordered by Lanza some hours later, according to government documents the Times says it obtained.

Supposedly, the cash was to be used during the "referendum," which the Honduran supreme court declared illegal; but I don't know for what. One would expect that ordinary government expenses for plebescites would be handled by means other than ferrying bags of currency around Tegucigalpa. The obvious implication (if the accusation is true) is that Zelaya was trying to "buy" his own illegal vote.

But this is more a tease than an accusation; I am not yet convinced by the Times' reporting that this really happened, or that if it did, Zelaya himself had anything to do with it. But I believe there is enough evidence at least to warrant posting a heads-up; it will be interesting to see whether the antique media ever catches up with this story -- and catches on to the pathetic astroturfing they've engaged in nonstop since he fled the country, trying to make it appear that a "grassroots" groundswell of support was erupting from the bowels of massed humanity, crying out for Zelaya to return in triumph.

Will they investigate the charge? Will they even bother reporting it? I think it's worth the risk of getting burned by a bum lead, if this turns out to be nothing, in order to test the mettle of the media: Will we see one word of this in the Washington Post, the New York Times, or CNN?

Keep watching the skies...

Earlier posts on Big Lizards and Hot Air's rogues' gallery:

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 22, 2009, at the time of 5:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 21, 2009

Coup on You!

Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

In mounting desperation, Barack H. Obama and his band of merry men now demand the restoration of Manuel "Mel" Zelaya as dictator of Honduras on the same time schedule as the typical "revolutionary" (radical leftist, that is) Obamic legislation -- e.g., government-run health care, crippling energy production, and shooting trillions of dollars of Monopoly money at every problem, hoping something sticks: The administration demands the legitimate impeachment of Zelaya be overturned and the dictator reinstated right now, this very minute -- and to hell with the Honduran constitution, Honduran law, and the Honduran supreme court:

The United States and Europe stepped up pressure on Honduras' de facto government on Tuesday as deposed President Manuel Zelaya and his supporters called on Washington to pave the way for his return....

The U.S. government threw its weight behind Arias' proposal that Zelaya, who was toppled in a June 28 coup, be reinstated to set up a coalition government.

"We're in constant contact with a number of countries in the hemisphere regarding the situation in Honduras, and we believe the Arias mediation is the right way to go, and the time is now to ... resolve this issue," State Department deputy spokesman Robert A. Wood told reporters.

"We think that this is the best (way) ... to restore the constitutional order in the country, and we want to see that happen now," he said.

Do not argue with us, do not question us; you'll do what you're told to do -- and be quick about it!

Submitted for your approval, our previous profferings:

Why the hysterical haste and high-pressure tactics? Because, just like the radical legislation, the One knows that Mr. Time is not his friend: The more time passes, the more opposition grows among Republicans and even moderate Democrats.

Republicans are finally fighting back hard against the unprecedented kow-towing to America's enemies in Central and South America. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%) has exercised his authority under Senate rules to put the kibosh on two confirmation hearings, at least for a week or so. And he and other Republicans are demanding the administration explain why we're siding with Venezuela's Oogo Chavez, Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, and los bros Castro (two Stalinists and a fascist)... and why we're lining up against the rule of law in Honduras:

Conservative Senator Jim DeMint, who has expressed concern over Washington's call for ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to be reinstated, invoked his right to ask the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to postpone voting to confirm Arturo Valenzuela, currently a professor at Georgetown University, to be assistant secretary of state.

DeMint also asked for a delay in confirming Thomas Shannon as U.S. ambassador to Brazil. Shannon currently holds the assistant secretary's post.

(The definitive analysis so far of the legality of the Honduran supreme court's removal of Zelaya is by Miguel Estrada, in an opinion piece published in the Los Angeles Times, of all places.)

But back to the first story. Reuters completely accepts Zelaya's own narrative of what happened, of course; that's to be expected. Then they roll out a new supporter of Zelaya, besides those leftist regimes already outed (Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica): Now Brazil joins the chorus of yapping Yorkies who insist that Zelaya be reinstated, so he'll have a legitimate shot at perverting the constitution with an illegal "referendum," stage-managed by Venezuela, making Zelaya in effect President for Life... just like his pals Oogo, Raul, and Fidel.

On a complete unrelated note, Brazil's President Lula da Silva, a former union organizer, is a founding member of the Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT), whose main objectives are workers' rights and land redistribution. According to da Silva's Wikipedia entry, the Workers' Party "was formed as a loose confederacy of trade unionists, grassroots activists, left Catholics, left-center social democrats and small Trotskyist groupings." Da Silva still maintains a close friendship with Oogo Chavez.

See? International support for Zelaya has expanded far beyond just a couple of socialist-headed, U.S.-hating, Latin American countries -- Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua -- plus the socialist-headed, U.S.-hating Organization of American States and the socialist-headed, U.S.-hating United Nations General Assembly; it now includes two more socialist-headed, U.S.-hating, Latin American countries: Costa Rica and Brazil.

It should be clear why the Obamacle chose up sides so rapidly; it was a no-brainer!

Here's the punchline... a perfect demonstration of how, no matter how tightly a lie is nailed across the doors and windows, truth will nevertheless find a crack and leak out:

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim called U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week to complain that talks were dragging on too long and that Zelaya should be reinstated without conditions, a Brazilian diplomat said.

"The negotiations must not reward a coup, which could in turn encourage other coups," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Hear, hear!

Come to think of it, using the tendentious redefinition of "coup d'état" that Zelaya, Castro & Castro, Chavez, Ortega, and Barack H. Obama use -- i.e., "legally removing a leftist president from office for attempting to seize dictatorial powers" -- perhaps the fear of "other coups" is precisely what so very much worries our own "Zelaya," currently sitting in la Casa Blanca and openly speculating about repealing the 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 21, 2009, at the time of 7:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2009

Reuters Still Stuck on "Coup"-pid

Media Madness , Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure , Untied Nations
Hatched by Dafydd

I reckon the antique media still thinks they're living back in the days of "Uncle Walter."

Reading this Reuters story about "talks" between negotiators for deposed leftist wannabe-dictator and the legitimate government of Honduras is a little like reading Pravda: It all seems perfectly sane, perfectly rational -- but originating from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away:

Prospects for a breakthrough in Honduras' political crisis looked dim on Sunday, with negotiators for deposed President Manuel Zelaya and coup leaders divided over his proposed reinstatement....

Envoys sent by Zelaya, a leftist ousted in a June 28 military coup, and interim leader Roberto Micheletti said the main stumbling block was [Oscar] Arias' proposal that Zelaya return to power and form a government that shared power with his rivals.

Our previous offerings on this subject are:

Perhaps Reuters thinks that if it just keeps saying "coup" often enough, eventually everybody will start to believe it! It's a magical spell. In all, the story uses the word "coup" to describe the arrest and impeachment of Manuel Zelaya three times; one time it uses the phrase "the army toppled Zelaya;" they refer to the impeachment as "Central America's worst crisis since the end of the Cold War;" and they inform us that "Zelaya has wide international support for his desire to return to power" -- by which they mean:

  • The Castros in Cuba;
  • Oogo Chavez in Venezuela;
  • Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua;
  • The Left-dominated and controlled Organization of American States (see "Piddling Away Greatness," linked above);
  • And the U.N. General Assembly... currently run by President Rev. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, a liberation-theology Catholic priest (almost defrocked) and a former Sandinista leader (foreign minister under Ortega).

(Just five years ago, shortly before Ronald Reagan's death, Brockmann referred to him as "the butcher of my people." Rev. Brockmann has never apologized for, or even explained the rationale of, the Sandinistas' butchering of tens of thousands of Nicaraguans, as they struggled to maintain their stranglehold on that country.)

We do learn a couple of actual facts, so the story is not a total waste of phosphor:

  • Zelaya is no longer in Costa Rica; he is now ensconced out in Nicaragua... probably lunching in one of the palatial estates that his pal, President Daniel Ortega, leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and raper of his 11 year old stepdaughter, "liberated" just after being voted out of office.

(Was that coup by the Sandinistas -- an actual coup d'état, by the way -- also a "crisis?" I don't recall the "unbiased" news media thinking so at the time.)

  • The United States is in constant contact with Zelaya -- the enthusiastic chum of Ortgega, Oogo Chavez, and los Bros Castro -- and feverishly working to restore him to power in Honduras.

On that last point, if this doesn't make you wince, you haven't been paying attention:

"We are indeed concerned about (Zelaya) going back," the second official said [anonymously -- of course], adding that Assistant Secretary of State Tom Shannon "is in practically daily contact with him, urging him to allow (the) Arias process to play out."

The "Arias" referred to is Oscar Arias -- Nobel Peace Prize winner, also winner of the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, and recipient of "over fifty honorary degrees, including doctorates from Harvard University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Oberlin College, Wake Forest University, Ithaca College and Washington University in St. Louis," according to his Wikipedia entry.

He is a member of Economists for Peace and Security, as well as the International Criminal Court's Trust Fund for Victims. He is a member of Costa Rica's National Liberation Party. Hey, kids -- see if you can guess Arias' political ideology...!

Incidentally, speaking of creeping socialist Newspeak revisionism, here is Wikipedia's description of the 1980s and 90s in Central America, the crisis that Oscar Arias resolved in order to win his Nobel Fleece Prize:

Arias received the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his work towards the signing of the Esquipulas II Accords. This was a plan intended to promote democracy and peace on the Central American isthmus during a time of great turmoil: popular indigenous movements and guerrillas were struggling against repressive governments in El Salvador and Guatemala, which were backed by the United States under the auspices of the Cold War; the reactionary Contras, supported by the United States in the now-infamous Iran-Contra affair, were fighting an insurgency against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua; Honduras, only recently wresting political power from its military, was caught in the middle as a base for U.S. military forces; and on Costa Rica's other border, Panama faced the oppression of Manuel Noriega's military dictatorship. With the support of Arias, the various armed conflicts ended within the decade (Guatemala's civil war finally ended in 1996).

Either Oscar Arias rewrote his own Wikipedia entry -- or else maybe Lt. John F. Kerry did. Either way, yeah, that's how I remember that "time of great turmoil"...!

Arias is, of course, the most perfect envoy to mediate between the two sides in Honduras -- the dictator, Zelaya, and the legitimate president, Roberto Micheletti; he certainly has no conflicts of interest.

True, Arias, too, was frustrated by a Costa Rican constitution that strictly banned presidents seeking a second term. True, Arias, too, tried to get the Costa Rican Supreme Court to overturn that clause, but he was completely rebuffed by the Court.

But in Arias' case, rather than turn to Venezuela to print illegal "ballots," so that the Dear Leader's followers could hold a sham "referendum" to allow him to run for as many terms as he wanted, Arias took a different path: He packed the court with hand-picked cronies, who then overturned the previous decision.

See? Arias' personal experience at illegally circumventing term-limits is totally different from Zelaya's. No conflict of interest there!

Ye gods. Do reporters actually live in a literal cone of silence? Or do they just consciously and with ignorance aforethought ensure that they never, ever, ever come into contact with anybody whose worldview differs from theirs in the least degree? Heavens, their ideological purity might be tainted by the serial heresies of neocons.

I picture an entire newsroom full of journalists who still, to this day, boycott grapes; who jump up and do "the wave" whenever they see Oogo Chavez on the tube; who tie the knot at Che Guevara-themed wedding ceremonies; who casually write that Cuba has the greatest health-care system in the whole world... and insert that lecture into a breaking-news story about Paula Abdul no longer being a judge on American Idol.

They're the lost media generation, and they're irredeemable. We shall have to wait until today's middle-school kids grow up to see a return to adult supervision of the nation's newswriting... our "first draft of history."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 19, 2009, at the time of 7:43 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 7, 2009

Piddling Away Greatness

Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , Socialism 101 , Southern Exposure
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- presumably speaking for her boss -- doubled down on supporting erstwhile Honduran president and would-be dictator José Manuel Zelaya Rosales (a.k.a. Mel Zelaya) instead of rule of law in Honduras:

A day after failing to land in Honduras to confront the interim government that ousted him in a coup, Zelaya boarded a plane bound for Washington, where U.S. officials said he would meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Zelaya told a news conference Monday night that he hopes to ensure U.S. support for diplomatic efforts to see him restored to power.

"Tomorrow we hope to get support for these pronouncements," Zelaya said before heading to the airport in Managua.

Clinton and President Barack H. Obama superficially seem to be oblivious to the sequence of events that led to Zelaya's arrest, removal from office, and voluntary exile... but are they really just misinformed? (The full timeline of events in Honduras make clear what really happened, which is the polar opposite of what our antique media tell us.)

I believe at first mere ignorance was exactly the problem: The first time the ongoing, fluid situation in Honduras was explained to Obama, I suspect that all he heard was, "Wugga-wugga liberal wigga wagga union supporter woggle boggle ousted by the military roggle doggle coup d'état." He chose to stitch this muddle together into a narrative that reads, "The liberal, democratically elected President of Honduras was overthrown by a military junta."

Alas, Obama is probably the most impulsive man ever to sit in the big chair in la Casa Blanca; he appears allergic to debate, discussion, deliberation, contemplation, thinking things through, weighing consequences, examining the pros and cons, hearing from all sides before making a decision -- and of course retrospection.

By now, of course, he knows full well what really happened; but it seems he simply cannot bring himself to admit that he misunderstood so egregiously in the first five minutes -- which, coincidentally, was when he committed himself to supporting Zelaya, come what may; see our earlier Big Lizards post "Old Shoes and Barackends."

The military has a term they use for the decision-making process; they call it the OODA loop, for "Observe, Orient, Decide and Act." But the Obamacle appears to have found a different route to decision making.

He Partially listens to a random aide, acts on his first Impulse, angrily and bitterly Defends whatever snap-judgment action he took, Doubles-down on that first impulse, Laughs off any subsequent, game-changing information... then furiously Echos the pronunciamentos of any allies he might have gathered on the issue, no matter who they are -- or whether their own interests align with or are diametrically opposed to America's.

We can call this the Obamic PIDDLE loop, which generally morphs quite rapidly into an infinite regress. Let's see it play out in the Honduras case:

  1. Partially listen: Somehow, President Obama got the idea stuck in his brain that there was an actual military coup in Honduras, where the entire elected government was overthrown and some generalissimo or military junta took command.
  2. Impulsively decide: Stung by constant accusations of fence-sitting and waffling, Obama often "demonstrates his leadership" by making a snap decision based on his instincts. Alas, those "instincts" are formed on the basis of bullet (1) above: Outraged that such a fine, decent man as Mel Zelaya was ousted by a military junta (sic), Obama immediately ordered Honduras to reinstate the socialist apparatchik, and he aligned his interests (thought not the nation's) with Zelaya cronies in Nicaragua, Chile, Venezuela, and Cuba.
  3. Defend his decision: Once he'd made the decision to strongarm Zelaya back into power, President Obama was stunned by the democratic pushback even here in the United States. Instead of rethinking his position, he backed and filled, trying retroactively to justify the unjustifiable decision he made based upon an ill-formed conclusion. (Obama always defends, never discusses.)
  4. Double-down: It frequently happens, in the course of human events, that a snap decision made on the basis of erroneous information doesn't pan out (now there's a revelation!) A smart feller backs off and thinks it all through a second time -- for example, George W. Bush picking a new general (David Petraeus) with a new strategy (counterinsurgency) to turn around the Iraq war.

    Alas, Barack Obama's response to failure is not to rethink, rework, rewrite... it's to retrench, rinse, and repeat, ad infinitum. Thus, the doubling down we see in today's Hillary story: The Obamacle cannot back away, because that would be to admit that he goofed it up in the first place; so he goes "all in" on a bad bluff, hoping for a miracle -- or a chance to accidentally kick over the table, forcing a misdeal.

  5. Laugh off subsequent facts: As more and more facts have become available -- e.g., Zelaya's pre-arrest antics, the Honduran constitution, the participation of the Honduran Supreme Court, the fact that Zelaya's replacement, Roberto Micheletti, is next in succession to the presidency and from Zelaya's own Liberal party anyway -- a greater number of ordinary American voters will begin to realize that the White House is on the wrong side of this crucial issue. The only two responses available to Obama are (a) to do a one-eighty and start supporting the rule of law, democracy, and the Honduran people... or (b) to mock, hoot, scoff, and laugh away the inconvenient truth, lest it take root. Pish tosh. Nonsense. Who you gonna believe, me or your own lyin' eyes?
  6. Echo his allies du jour: In the end, like every poor debater, Barack H. Obama must turn to the only argument left to try to salvage his reputation: the appeal to authority. In this case, he can but turn to his only allies in this disgraceful betrayal of Western and American values... a murderer's row of dictators, Communists, and fascists -- and the American press, which continues to haul water for the president on this one -- as if a lie becomes truth when sung in chorus.

    As Michael Ramirez so wonderfully lampooned (see the Power Line link up top), the President of the United States has relegated himself and his administration to "parroting" the denunciations and diktats of the vilest demagogues in the Western hemisphere: President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua -- premier of the Stalinist "Sandinista National Liberation Front;" Oogo Chavez -- "il Duce" of Venezuela; the Rev. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann -- President of the UN General Assembly, liberation theologist, and former foreign minister to Ortega's Sandinista government; José Miguel Insulza -- the Secretary General of the Organization of American States and also a Socialist, the man who declared last year that Venezuela had "no connection" with any terrorist groups; and of course los bros Castro, Fidel and Raul.

In practice, step 6 occurs within 24 hours of the beginning of the PIDDLE loop... and it dominates the latter stages, as President Obama relies more and more on his friends and allies in whatever action he has decided to take. Eventually, he simply takes on their characteristics as protective coloration, like a chameleon takes on the colors of its surrounding environment, and for the same reason: to hide from predators.

In effect, Obama's temporary allies become his tribe, and he turns to them over and again for advice, comfort, and friendship. As a consequence, he turns away from those critics whose unwanted facts and uncomfortable observations make him feel bad -- the worst sin in the liberal pantheon.

Far from bridging the ideological gap in Washington, Obama's de facto tribalism segregates administration officials and lawmakers more than at any time since the Second World War. And his PIDDLE loop decision making apparatus guarantees even more presidential isolation from dissenting opinion, both here and abroad.

He is not only piddling away any greatness his administration might have exhibited -- having been gifted with extraordinary times -- he is also piddling away America's greatness; that should never be tolerated... not even by other liberals who are not quite so radical, if there is any such rara avis left.

Cross-posted in Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 7, 2009, at the time of 10:56 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

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