Posts Tagged ‘Bush’

Follow-Up on the PATRIOT Act.

9. February 2011

Well, you all did it, congratulations! The PATRIOT Act failed to receive the necessary two-thirds of votes necessary to pass it on the suspension calendar, so the three provisions that were set to expire will now do so, it seems. They were eight votes short of the two-thirds majority and the eight votes that were being counted upon by the GOP leadership that did not vote for the Act were all tea party freshmen. To them, I extend my greatest thanks.

I know my Representative voted for the legislation again, but if you don’t know how yours voted, you can go here and see. Democrats are italicized, Republicans are not, North Texan representatives are all in the Yea box.

As this was assumed by all–including me, to be honest–to be a sure thing to vote to extend the sunset provision, I believe that this has been an important step in refocusing our nation’s security practices back into the realm of constitutionality and sanity. When we find that the government’s capacity to “keep its citizens safe” (although that is fully an impossibility, but I will address this fact in a separate post) is not diminished after the hopeful retirement of the PATRIOT Act, I hope that we as a nation will see how silly and counterproductive that legislation was.

What good is living “safely” if you are not free to live securely in your person, without fear of arbitrary and unannounced government intrusion therein?

Come Now, Mr. Krugman. Zombies?

20. December 2010

William Anderson of the Mises Institute brought this to my attention via my RSS feed. Paul Krugman, the persistent pest that he is, writes in his column today of the failure of free-market economics to accurately predict the future. I can find no real event that gives cause to this little rant of Krugman’s, but really, when isn’t a good time to compose a half-cocked column for publication in a nationally-read newspaper to confuse the masses?

Of course, when one ignores pertinent information and incorrectly defines the problem, it seems as if Austrians (and quasi-Austrians in the Reagan tradition of thought) were just plain stupid. Let’s start at the beginning.

How, after runaway banks brought the economy to its knees, did we end up with Ron Paul, who says “I don’t think we need regulators,” about to take over a key House panel overseeing the Fed?

Well, let’s first take this in context. Rep. Paul, who currently finds himself at the forefront of the popular libertarian movement, is in favor of abolishing the Fed. As the newly appointed Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy, he’s going to try to shed some light on what exactly is happening in that veritable lockbox of secrets commonly known as “the Fed.” Now, some of my other younger libertarian friends are Ron Paul enthusiasts; I find and acknowledge many points of his philosophy that seem to contradict other parts, and as such, I cannot fully defend him. But I do think that an increase in the flow of information is a good thing, and would support Rep. Paul in his quest to bring a change about in this vein at the Fed. But this quote from Paul is taken out of context; at the very least, he wants more regulation of the Fed. He wants to restrict the ability of the Fed to act. And then there’s the debate about whether a decrease in regulation is a bad thing, but that’s just an idealogical point that will not be resolved.

For the fact is that the Obama stimulus — which itself was almost 40 percent tax cuts — was far too cautious to turn the economy around. And that’s not 20-20 hindsight: many economists, myself included, warned from the beginning that the plan was grossly inadequate. Put it this way: A policy under which government employment actually fell, under which government spending on goods and services grew more slowly than during the Bush years, hardly constitutes a test of Keynesian economics.

You know, I have to give Krugman something. He did say that the plan was grossly inadequate. I wouldn’t bandy it about that I was calling for more of a plan that wasn’t going to work, but Krugman seems to like to do things like that, and to each his own. However, he’s wrong about government employment falling; you can see here that he’s wrong. It’s grown since 2008, and that’s not even counting the temporary census workers. Krugman contends that “government spending on goods and services” has grown “more slowly than during the Bush years.” That is one of the vaguest contentions I have ever heard. Of course, there are no facts, no data by which I might look deeper into this claim. I’m not even sure exactly what he means by this, actually. Government spending on goods and services? Does this mean subsidization of the private sector? Bailouts? Overall spending? I don’t know, but this is a poorly-written, vaguely-phrased sentence of which I think no one can really make a definitive heads or tails.

For two years we’ve been warned that inflation, even hyperinflation, was just around the corner; instead, disinflation has continued, with core inflation — which excludes volatile food and energy prices — now at a half-century low.

As I stated earlier this year, the banks aren’t lending. All of the money they were given by the Fed is sitting in the Fed’s vaults as excess reserves, accruing interest, not being lent. There are a few reason for this, namely that interest paid by the Fed on excess reserves is effectively greater than the overnight rate, or the Fed Funds Rate. Ben Bernanke (who looks like my dog) has acknowledged this. If the banks had been lending, however, there would be a inestimably high rate of inflation. This is simple economics; when there is an excess supply of funds, the value of said funds is diminished, and when there is a huge excess supply of funds, the value of said funds are hugely diminished. Which leads to inflation. It’s only by the simple fact that the banks are reluctant to lend that we aren’t suffering from crippling inflation.

The free-market fundamentalists have been as wrong about events abroad as they have about events in America — and suffered equally few consequences. “Ireland,” declaredGeorge Osborne in 2006, “stands as a shining example of the art of the possible in long-term economic policymaking.” Whoops. But Mr. Osborne is now Britain’s top economic official.

Well now. This seems to make “free-market fundamentalists” seem rather silly, doesn’t it. However, the Irish made the same mistake our American banks did. They lent money to those who shouldn’t have been lent to. The banks took actions inconsistent with the principle of self-interest and therefore with Austrian economics, or “free market fundamentalism,” as Mr. Krugman stated it. But other things about Irish policy, like their low tax rates, are good and in keeping with Austrian principles. The actions of the banks in lending to those to whom money should not have been lent could actually be construed as Keynesian; any spending is good spending, neh?

And then there’s the grand finale: zombies.

But such failures don’t seem to matter. To borrow the title of a recent book by the Australian economist John Quiggin on doctrines that the crisis should have killed but didn’t, we’re still — perhaps more than ever — ruled by “zombie economics.” Why?

Zombie economics are so called because they keep rising from the dead. Presumably, Krugman means free-market/Austrian policies as zombie-like. I must warn you, at this time, all pretense of being an economic column is dropped and Krugman begins the outright fawning over President Obama.

People tend to forget that Ronald Reagan often gave ground on policy substance — most notably, he ended up enacting multiple tax increases. But he never wavered on ideas, never backed down from the position that his ideology was right and his opponents were wrong.

President Obama, by contrast, has consistently tried to reach across the aisle by lending cover to right-wing myths. He has praised Reagan for restoring American dynamism (when was the last time you heard a Republican praising F.D.R.?), adopted G.O.P. rhetoric about the need for the government to tighten its belt even in the face of recession, offered symbolic freezes on spending and federal wages.

None of this stopped the right from denouncing him as a socialist. But it helped empower bad ideas, in ways that can do quite immediate harm. Right now Mr. Obama is hailing the tax-cut deal as a boost to the economy — but Republicans are already talking about spending cuts that would offset any positive effects from the deal. And how effectively can he oppose these demands, when he himself has embraced the rhetoric of belt-tightening?

Translation: Obama’s a great guy who’s trying to work with these terrible Republicans who adhere to these stupid zombified economic policies, except that they don’t because they support things that aren’t justifiable with a free market outlook. And Obama, this great man, really isn’t all that great because he’s acting more like a free marketeer than the damnable Republicans, but he’s still our great Keynesian savior except that he needs to do more.

Now, I know that Krugman being wrong about things isn’t really groundbreaking, but this was one of his more obscenely wrong posts in a while.

CPAC: Day Two

20. February 2010

Today was my “slow day” at CPAC. There were fewer speakers that I wanted to see today, but the one panel discussion I desperately wanted to catch was about the relationship between liberty and security. The panelists were Rep. Dan Lungren, Robert Ash, Jim Gilmore, Bob Barr and Viet Dinh. The range of opinions represented was quite broad; from a Republican developer of the USA PATRIOT Act to, well, Bob Barr.

As of late, I’ve been having trouble reconciling my foreign policy views with all of my other views. Specifically, though I believe ultimately in freedom and liberty for all, I also tend to be more of a traditional Republican regarding war, national defense and terrorism. I had hoped that someone on this panel would present some strong arguments. Unfortunately, each “side” presented good arguments in support of its conclusion.

My problem is that I find the hands-off, anti-war position adopted by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) unrealistic and rather naïve, though I understand that he’s one to stand in the face of armageddon and stick by his principles. I also find the USA PATRIOT Act, “it’s a matter of national security” secrecy of the pro-war Republicans as seen in the last administration can, in the wrong hands, be tyrannical. It is exactly this that I fear and wish to avoid with a smaller government.

Last night, at his Campaign for Liberty address, Rep. Paul expressed his opinion that Osama bin Laden wants the United States to send more troops because he can use that as a recruiting tool. Whatever the truth value of this claim may be, I find it hard to believe that very many young men would be willing to strap bombs on their backs and try to kill people just because of the presence of American soldiers in their country. I believe that the reasons that would do that have more to do with a misinterpretation (or, perhaps a selective interpretation) of their religious text.

In contrast, though I am not a terrorist, I don’t want the government listening in on my telephone calls without having secured a warrant. In the panel discussion today, Mr. Gilmore said that he believed that subjecting warrantless wiretapping to judicial review was a valid move. I find that I must agree. I would consider that to be an invasion of my privacy, and if abortion is upheld in the court by means of an argument in favor of privacy, surely a phone conversation between two citizens can be also. Regardless, if one is suspected of plotting against this nation and its residents, it should be relatively easy to obtain a warrant.

I suppose that strictly hypothetically, my foreign policy views are just as libertarian as the rest of my views. In a perfect world, no one would want to kill me because I’m an American. They would realize how unproductive that is. However, realistically, I am more conservative than libertarian. Specifically regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, I would like to wipe out Al Qaeda and get the hell out of there. Let’s complete our mission and get the American forces out. Leave NATO peacekeeping forces in there to help ensure stability, but even then only a minimal number should be present. And after that, let’s see if we can stick to a relatively warless future. Let’s simply carry the bigger stick (with an emphasis on defensive weaponry) so that we don’t have to use it.

As Bob Barr said today at the panel discussion, “In order to protect, preserve and defend, we must limit the government.” The USA PATRIOT Act and all other similar pieces of legislation do not limit the government, they expand it and expand its powers. If we simply bring the government into uniformity with the Constitution, we’ll all have a lot less to worry about.

If you want to look at my pictures from the panel discussion and other events at CPAC today, you can go to my Flickr page.

On the Danger of Intraparty Struggles.

23. November 2009

Today, Politico came out with an article on the 2010 Democratic primaries and how ugly the intraparty battles are already becoming. Now, as someone who is for not the Democratic Party nominee, this is a great thing. However, for the Democrats, this conflict is quite potentially ruinous. This quote comes from the Politico article (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29821.html):

Situations like these are best for the voters, though. Each of the candidates vets the other, exposing flaws in ideology, covered-up scandals, and even that one night in college that’s better left in the past. By the time the general election comes around, the voter has the two or three best candidates to choose from.

As a party trying to overcome the political legacies of Bush and McCain, the Republicans need to make sure that they stay away from this sort of thing. Let the vetting be done in private. Party weaknesses should be hidden under a façade of conservative ideals, positive rhetoric and virtual idealogical unity. During a time of fractures and factions present in both parties, and Congress in general, the most valuable asset that a party could have is a sense of stability and unity.

Historically, after major wars and economic troubles, people look to the parties and the government for stability. This can be seen in Great Depression-era America and post-WWII Europe. The party that is seen as the most unified and stable has traditionally been the one to win the elections. In the first case, it was the Democrats, in the second, it was the British Labor Party and its equivalents in the rest of NATO Europe.

The Republicans have a very good situation that they may choose to take advantage of. The Democrats are fighting from with themselves. All the Republicans have to do is play nice and let the Democrats rot from within. Let the Democrats be perceived as the party of negativity and disunity during the primaries. Then, during the general election, win with a promise of stability and security. And follow through. Don’t lie to the voters.

The Effect Of the Media on Public Perception

13. April 2009

President John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States in 1961, was not all that great of a President. But the media revered him. So he was loved by the public and treated like a war hero after he maneuvered his PT boat so that the enemy sunk it in World War II. He escalated the nuclear arms situation with the USSR to the point where we were on the brink of war. Not to mention, on account of Lee Harvey Oswald (or the men on the grassy knoll, depending on your personal views) he became a martyr after his death. Regardless, his father bought him the white house, the media handed him a gold plated presidency and the public loved him for it.

However, our current President Bush has done all he could to keep this country and its inhabitants safe, but the liberal based media has scorned his actions and turned public opinion against him. This is not to say that it wouldn’t have happened anyway, but with the help of our slanted press, Bush’s approval ratings have hovered around a lowly thirty percent for some time now. There are some conservative news stations that give the news a right wing spin, but in a country that’s scrambling madly for fanatical liberalism, those news stations are a breath of fresh air for those of us still clinging to old GOP values.

When President Bush fought for 20,000 more troops to go to Iraq, almost every, if not all, major newspaper or television station carried the story for at least a week. And then his troop surge started working. Did that make it on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric? Of course not. Maybe a story of hope and success would make it on the front page of the New York Times. No, it didn’t. But one must give them credit; they did run the story in the paper, on page 12. Of course, they later faced a reprimand and a spanking from Daddy Dean. Oh, that’s right, they don’t like the use of force in parenting. Well, I suppose it was just a reprimand then.

It is quite obvious to simply a casual observer that the media can, and frequently does, spin the news to the left or the right. But the sheer number of liberal news spouters dwarfs the pathetic number of conservative news stations. What one hears is controlled by what the news wants people to hear. So if something happens about President Bush or his administration that the professional spin-doctors can slant negatively, it’ll be covered much more heavily than in a world without crippling bias. CNN is willing to put a story about the resignation of the Chief of US forces in the Middle East and Central Asia before as story about the Chinese abusing human rights. It’s carried simply because the Admiral is at odds with President Bush about what to do about the situation in Iran.

The primarily liberal media has brainwashed those who had not really had the chance to make up their mind about their personal politics. The younger generation of voters believes that it is “cool” to hate President Bush because that’s the underlying theme in most of the political stories in the liberal news. It’s okay to make personal attacks on him; calling him stupid is perfectly acceptable. Comparing him, in all seriousness, to Adolf Hitler is rational and popular; after all, the people seen on television do it. The press today gives every radical their 15 minutes of fame and 1500 followers.

Spinning news is fine, even expected. It’s been done for ages, reaching peaks with the Yellow Press and the Muckrakers in the early 20th century, and again in our current area. But the spin and slant that the news today receives is unacceptable. If nothing else, it is against journalistic integrity and that’s plain wrong.