Thursday, November 27, 2008
Her boss and his wife, and the Foundation’s president and his wife went to the conference, going first to Mumbai for some sightseeing. They are staying in the Taj Hotel. They managed to call out and report that they were in a “safe room,” which we heard about 1 pm CST on Wednesday. There have been no reports from them since, at least that have filtered to us. Her boss holds a Canadian passport, but the president is American.
So like many, we wait and hope and pray.
This was a cleverly-designed attack. It targets westerners for terror, and only the west has stood against the jihadist values, based on their Qur’an, of slavery, subjugation of women and non-Muslims, and establishment of a worldwide Caliphate under the tyranny of Shar’ia law. And it targets the economy of the world’s largest democracy, an American ally, an enemy of Pakistan, at a time of great economic trouble.
And what will be the reaction of political leaders in the Western political parties to the action of the murdering Jihadist scum? (Pardon my redundancies.) Doubtless, they will accelerate the slow suicide of appeasement. We must make concessions to Muslims, so they won’t become radical and kill us. Then they kill us again, prompting more concessions.
Say, I know. Maybe if we give them the Sudetenland, we will have Peace in Our Time!
Update: 3:00 pm CST. Bonnie had sent an e-mail to her boss. She has received a response. He, his wife, and the Foundation president and his wife are safe. They were having dinner by the pool, when they heard explosions. They were told it was fireworks at a wedding, though there was nothing in the sky. Then there were gun shots and they “bolted.” The hotel got them into the basement, then into a safe room. Later they were taken out in groups of ten. There was firing behind them, they understand from terrorists who were in the next room, undetected. They bolted again, scattered into the street and were taken to safe locations. All their belongings, including his Blackberry & phone, are in the hotel. They are at a safe location. He said the hotel staff was great. They expect to begin applying for papers to leave tomorrow.
So one of the lesser causalities of the Jihadists’ twisted faith was the cancellation of a conference that was designed to work to alleviate human suffering. Not that alleviating human suffering seems to be one of the tenants of millions of fanatics who are believers in what apologists call a “Religion of Peace.”
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Robert A. Hall
For many, this is a tough Thanksgiving, with a tough Christmas to follow. But most of us have much more to be thankful for, than to regret.
I’m thankful to have been born in the United States, during the days of the American Republic, when economic freedom gave me the opportunity to make a comfortable living, and political freedom the chance to enjoy it, unmolested by the heavy hand of government. History teaches us the American Republic won’t last forever, that freedom isn’t eternal, but she was wonderful while she was here, and gave tens of millions a great life.
I’m thankful to live in a country that just had a revolution, replacing one party with another, and the streets aren’t full of tanks, the jails aren’t full of the losers, and them morgues aren’t full of the innocent caught in the crossfire.
I thank God I live in a country where we can worship, or not, as we choose, and I pray to preserve her from those who believe an evil deity commands them to bring all humanity under their religion, by the sword if necessary.
I’m thankful to have been born into a family that taught me both the value of work and to love my country. That didn’t take with everyone, but those lessons still guide my life.
I’m thankful that my wife and I have jobs in this troubled economy, and that we work for some of the best, most giving professionals you could find anywhere, orthopaedic surgeons. I’m thankful that, at 62, I’ve been constantly employed since I was 18, except for one six-month period between jobs, and one semester in college.
I’m thankful for the associations that employed me as their executive over the past 26 years. By luck or skill, all were stronger when I left than when I arrived, and I learned much at every one.
I’m thankful that I learned to live within my means, and am not in debt at a time when the credit crunch from over-extended people and feckless businesses is bring great trouble to our country.
I’m thankful that the people of the Third Worcester District, albeit by a slim 9-vote margin, gave me the privilege at age 26 to serve as their state senator. That was a great ten years, and a priceless education.
I’m thankful I had the opportunity to get a decent education, little as I valued it before I got to college.
I’m thankful that I learned to love reading and to love history and poetry. I think my biggest regret at death will be all the unread history books. (Gimmie another shot doc, I’ve only got two chapters to go!)
I’m thankful I’ve had the chance to travel, to see other countries I loved, like Scotland, and those as well where the people didn’t enjoy the blessings of economic and political Freedom, so I’d know how good we have it.
I’m thankful for a wonderful family, the usual spats aside, for my beautiful, loving wife, Bonnie, and for the most special granddaughter, Britnye, a guy could have. I married late in life, but I married well.
And every day I give thanks that, at age 18, the United States Marine Corps gave me the opportunity to earn the title Marine, to wear the uniform of this great Republic, to serve with the finest men of my generation in Vietnam, to try every day to live up to the Corps’ core values of honor, courage and commitment. I’m grateful my DIs, Sergeants Harris, Martin and Owens, didn’t give up on this un-athletic, un-coordinated wiseass. If the Corps every goes down, it will surely signal the end of the American experiment in liberty.
I’m very thankful that I can still claim the title Marine with honor. I wouldn’t trade that for the largest lotto prize in the world.
Former Aide to take Biden Seat
Now in The Chicago Way, Illinois Senate President & Obama Mentor Emil Jones resigned after the primary. Then the local Democrat committee appointed his son to fill the vacancy, to run unopposed in the November election. That way, he wills his seat to his son without the pesky voters getting to vote on the choice.
Too bad Obama’s girls aren’t old enough to get his seat in the US Senate. After all, he’s held it for 2/3rds of a full term, and possession is nine tenths of the law, right. Maybe Michelle needs something to do while the kids are in their expensive private school.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Freedom from want is built on liberty,
When folk can sell their labor or their goods
As they will chose, a free economy
Creates all wealth, though that’s misunderstood,
By bureaucrats, who think that they know best
How you should live and work and buy and trade.
Central control has always failed the test—
Of those who seek such power, be afraid.
They do not care who lives in poverty,
If they control your markets and your votes.
They do not care about the misery
The heavy hand of government promotes.
Power corrupts, and blinds them to the flaw,
For tyrants hide in economic law.
-- © Robert A. Hall
Monday, November 24, 2008
Can we send our kids to better schools? "Yes we can."
Will we get the choice? Not under Barack the Unready.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Kosovo Holds Two over ‘Organ Transplants’
Serb prisoners 'were stripped of their organs in Kosovo war'
Saturday, November 22, 2008
by Robert A. Hall
A few years ago, Milt "Pappy" Gore dragooned me into a VFW rifle squad for the annual Memorial Day service in Westmont, NJ. Pappy is a retired Marine tanker who served on Peleliu and Okinawa in World War II, and in Korea. I had my doubts, but he's a hard guy to turn down.
It was a typical Remembrance Day. While the majority of residents were enjoying a long weekend at the shore, perhaps a hundred gathered to listen to speeches by local politicians and watch aging veterans honor fallen comrades. The master-of-ceremonies was "Sarge" Ulsh, a "Chosin-few" Marine Korean vet, who also serves as the VFW's caustic-tongued bartender.
The squad sweltered in the sun while the speeches dragged on and wreaths were laid. There were six of us: Pappy and two other World War II vets in khaki, two present day soldiers in Army green who happened to be husband and wife, and myself in dark trousers, white shirt and an old Marine utility cap. All we needed was Norman Rockwell to paint the scene.
The squad commander was an Army vet, who crisply snapped out orders. Of course, World War II was awhile ago, so he was winging it on some commands (ordering "Turn-ABOUT" instead of "About-FACE"), which hurt our parade-ground precision a bit. As such small-town ceremonies often go, it managed to be both comic and touching.
I'm a sharp critic of rifle squads, but our three volleys weren't bad, considering we had never practiced. While kids scrambled to pick up the empty shells, we turned in the old M-1 Garands and thought about getting a cold beer at the post before heading home for the obligatory barbecue.
Drinking my beer, I found the funny-sad ceremony had put a lump in my throat. It brought back sharp memories of the last time I served on a rifle squad honoring our dead, over 40 years and 40 pounds ago.
I was a young Marine PFC, full of "hot sand and ginger" in Kipling's phrase, working my way through a year-long electronics school at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. This was the Spring of 1965, and Vietnam was heating up. My best buddy, Ron "Count" Pittenger and I had already gone to our commander and volunteered for the infantry in Vietnam.
We didn't know we were volunteering for a war the politicians would have neither the will to win nor the will to end. Television pictures the sixties generation as flower-power, long-haired hippies, smoking pot and protesting a terrible war. Rarely do you hear that tens of thousands of kids from that generation believed in America, believed communism was a great evil and volunteered to fight in that war.
Lucky for us, in those days the Marine Corps sent you where it wanted to, and it thought we should be studying electronics rather than carrying a rifle through a rice paddy. The skipper thanked us and sent us back to our duties. Vietnam would wait. I think we were equal parts disappointed and relieved.
A few weeks later, we had another chance to volunteer. We were between schools, and while waiting for classes to form, were assigned various unpleasant duties. One morning the company Gunnery Sergeant asked for volunteers for burial duty. I grabbed Count's arm and dragged him forward. We reported an hour later to the sergeant in charge.
I'd like to tell you we were motivated by a deep desire to honor the dead. The truth is, I was desperate to avoid another round of long hours walloping pots in the chow hall, where my most memorable accomplishment was cracking 120 dozen eggs for the cooks one morning. And I'd heard that burial detail was "skating" duty.
That's how the Count and I participated in over a hundred funerals in the next month. It was easy duty, especially for the rifle squad. The big guys were assigned to be body bearers, carrying heavy coffins. All we had to do was stand straight, look sharp, and fire three tight volleys from our seven rifles.
We worked at the national cemetery at Point Loma, CA, sharing the chore with a Navy squad. The Navy preferred to sleep late, so we'd take the early funerals, and get early liberty. For some reason there were no Friday funerals, usually giving us a three-day weekend.
Most of the funerals were for old veterans, guys who had served in the first or second world wars. Often there was no one to see them off but the funeral director, the minister and us, rendering last honors on behalf of the nation.
When you're in ten or fifteen funerals a day, it quickly becomes routine. We took it seriously-we were Marines-giving every vet our sharpest effort. But we quickly stopped feeling sad. You can't grieve endlessly for strangers.
Then we buried the cub scout's dad.
We were told to look sharp, because the next funeral was for a Marine who'd been killed in Vietnam. With the family was a Marine staff sergeant, perhaps a buddy, assigned to help. The large crowd of mourners included the young widow and the son of the dead Marine, a cub scout in full uniform. He was perhaps eight years old.
When we fired our volleys, the seven rifles making a single crack, people in the crowd began to weep. The rifle fire always seemed to signal how final death was. Then we stood at present arms while our bugler played taps.
He was a lance corporal permanently assigned to Point Loma, and had blown taps at several hundred funerals. No one has ever made it sound sadder.
While the bugle notes rolled down the hillside and the family wept, the staff sergeant and the cub scout stood at the foot of the casket at rigid attention, saluting the tautly-stretched flag. The contrast between the tall Marine in dress greens and the small boy in blue giving his dad the cub salute tore at our hearts.
And then the boy turned his head slightly, looked up at the Marine, and changed from the cub scout salute to the open-handed Marine salute, honoring his dead father as best he could. And if there is a God, somewhere his dad saw him.
We held our position, but I wasn't the only Marine weeping openly. Finally taps ended, the notes dying out over the sobbing of relatives. The body bearers folded the flag into the traditional triangle and passed it to the staff sergeant.
He presented it to the cub scout and saluted. The cub accepted the American flag from his dad's grave, and sharply returned the salute-Marine style.
Slowly the family and friends drifted away, and we marched off. Another funeral was waiting.
But I've carried that moment burned in my heart for over thirty years.
Former Marine Staff Sergeant Robert A. Hall is a Vietnam veteran who later served five terms in the Massachusetts State Senate. Currently he manages associations. This column was published in the Camdon County NJ Courier Post and in Chicken Soup for the Veterans Soul. (c) Robert A. Hall.
http://info.detnews.com/video/index.cfm?id=1189 < http://info.detnews.com/video/index.cfm?id=1189 >
Friday, November 21, 2008
Update: Verizon employees who violated Obama's privacy were fired:
But this violation of Joe's privacy drew a one month suspension:
Things like this feed the racists, because the the black person who violated the white person's privacy still has her job, but the people who violated the black candidate's privacy lost theirs. It makes some people think there is different treatment based on race!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
In 1940 federal spending was 9.8 percent of GDP, federal taxes were 6.8 percent and we borrowed the 3% difference.
In 2009, it is estimated that the federal government will spend 20.7 percent of GDP while taking in 18 percent of GDP in taxes, and we’ll borrow the 2.7 percent difference.
Wonder what % it will be in four years? Or in 50?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Robert A. Hall
Have you noticed that even though they have put Barack the Unready in the White House, and the League of Leftwing Lawyers in firm control of the Congress, a lot of liberals are still very angry? They can’t stop kicking Sarah Palin. They are still seething at Bush. And don’t you dare tell a mild joke about The One.
I sent my family leftie a version of the joke about not tipping waiters to “spread the wealth around” by giving the tip to the poor. He snarled about what a “sore loser” I was. I responded that I would be as gracious and cooperative with President Obama as he had been with President Bush. Maybe even a tad more.
Sure, there are lighthearted liberals. But many respond to any conservative joke or comment the way rioting Muslims responded to a few cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him—and Especially upon his Followers). Why fury and outrage instead of laughter, debate and discussion?
We often hear how the “Religious Right” has joined politics and religion at the hip, to force us to accept the tenets of their faith as, well, gospel. The Westboro Baptist Church being an extreme and disgusting example. As a conservative centrist with a libertarian bent, who doesn’t believe in proselytizing my faith, I understand the concern. I have the same concern about black churches and ministers like Rev. Jessie Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jeremiah Wright, or about Catholic Bishops, who tell people how God wants them to vote.
Religion should be about faith; politics about opinion, facts, debate, discussion and outcomes. When politics becomes about faith, political apostates get stoned.
While some on the right have entwined religion and politics to the detriment of both, the Angry Left has replaced religion with politics. Thus, political questions are no longer open to discussion, to a review of what the policies results actually are for real people. I notice that the angriest liberals are the most secular. Political cant has replaced liturgy in their lives.
That’s why they become angry at mild jokes, the way millions of fanatical Muslims responded to the Danish cartoons. The Liberal Faith cannot be mocked!
If you point out that liberal policies have bad outcomes for the people they are supposed to help, you are a heretic.
The Liberal Faith was that the Vietnam War was evil. Mention that twice as many people were reportedly murdered by the Communists in SE Asia in the first two years after the war, as died in the eight years we were involved, and they become enraged.
The Liberal Faith was that the Shah was evil and we had to stop supporting him. Mention that replacing the Shah with the current theocrats in Iran resulted in a war that killed millions, or that Iran is hanging Gays, stoning women, and developing an atomic bomb to exterminate Israel, and they become enraged.
The Liberal Faith was that white rule in Zimbabwe was evil and everything must be done to bring about black rule. Mention that black life expectancy under black rule has dropped from 63 to 36, that millions have died, and millions more now starve in a country that used to export food, and they become enraged.
No one pretends that South Vietnam, Iran under the Shah or Rhodesia were slices of democratic heaven. But did tens of millions have to die so liberals could feel good about instituting the Liberal Faith?
The Liberal Faith was that DDT had to be banned to save the birds and prevent a “Silent Spring.” Mention that this resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of black, brown and yellow children from Malaria, and they become enraged.
The Liberal Faith is that black illegitimacy and thus poverty is a result of slavery and discrimination. Mention that a generation after the Civil War, blacks had slightly higher rates of marriage than whites, that the trend of black fathers abandoning their children exploded after the cultural change of the 1960s and the expansion of welfare, and they become enraged.
The Liberal Faith is only responsible for good intentions; they take no responsibility for bad outcomes.
Mention any fact that might conflict with the Liberal Faith’s fervent belief in anthropomorphic global warming, and they become enraged. Facts, free debate and open discussion are the stuff of science, not religion. The Faith cannot be questioned.
I was an early supporter of Gay rights in my senate career (when a lot of liberals ran for cover), though I was single and representing a 4-1 Democrat district in 1973. That libertarian departure from conservative orthodoxy buys me nothing with liberals. With religion, you must avow the entire catechism, or you are an evil sinner, outside the circle of love and respect.
For the Angry Left like MoveOn, as opposed to pragmatic left-center politicians like the Clintons, policy is not politics, but piety. It can’t be that you simply have a different worldview, and thus believe that different policies have preferred outcomes for the polity and the public. They are the wise and faithful. If you do not believe all they believe, you must be stupid, evil or both. And your impiety makes them angry.
Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts state senate.
James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and Al Gore’s favorite scientist, claimed that October, 2008, was the “hottest October ever.” Turns out the highly-regarded scientific institute was using bogus numbers carried over from September.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th warmest October in 114 years.
But remember, the “debate is over.” Anyone who questions anthropomorphic global warming is “on the take from the oil companies.” (I’m still waiting. Make mine small, unmarked bills, please.)
In science, questions are debated. In religion, heretics are stoned.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Solution: Create an international navel force, under US, not UN command. Establish convoys protected by frigates and destroyers, with air cover from a carrier on call. Create armed merchantmen. Use Q-ships. Shoot to kill on suspicion. Launch surgical air strikes on pirate nests (sorry about the collateral damage). Captured pirates should be tried by navel court, at sea, executed immediately, and buried at sea. Any ship taken by pirates should be sunk, killing the pirates (sorry about the crew, but more crewmen would be saved, long term, by stopping the pirates now). End of problem, six months, tops. If the pirates knew they were going to die, instead of get large ransoms, they would stop being pirates. Probably run for Congress or something.
Alternatively, for those who believe “violence solves nothing,” President-elect Obama could meet with pirate leaders, in Somalia, one on one, without pre-conditions, to build consensus, respect and understanding. This would make the UN, Europe and, especially, Joe Biden VERY happy.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Will anything be done about it? Not with the League of Leftwing Lawyers firmly in charge of the Government. (Barack & Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi & Steny Hoyer running the house, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin and Harry Byrd running the senate. And there are a lot of Democrat Lawyers throughout the Congress & the new administration--bet on it.) Tort reform is dead, so the rest of us will pay & pay.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Robert A. Hall
I’ve always thought I wouldn’t be spoiled by big money. Finally, I’m going to find out. And I’m not going to do those rich-people things. I don’t plan to buy a huge mansion, run for the US Senate, or get a super model for a trophy wife.
I’m not even going to quit my job. I like the people I work with and it’s important work. My wife and I will travel more, get that sailboat, and maybe a Jeep for me.
I’ll help out family members, support our church and contribute to some charities.
You’re probably thinking I’ve won the lottery. Not so. I buy the occasional ticket, but that woman who pulls the numbers has been a sore disappointment to me.
Nope, my wealth is coming from my new friend Mr. Boniface Obaseki, Chief Auditor of the African Development Bank in South Africa. See, Mr. Obaseki has a little problem. He’s discovered an inactive account at the bank with $126 million dollars in it. And if he doesn’t “remit this money out urgently it will be forfeited for nothing.” That would be a shame.
According to my e-mail from Boniface (partners should be on a first-name basis) the account belonged to a Mr. Smith B. Andreas, a minor/geologist at the Kruger Gold Company, who “died since 1990.” If I’d known geologists did that well, I’ve have changed my major in college.
But never mind. Boniface needs my help, because the money has to be remitted to a foreign bank. And his secretary, who operates the computer and “believes in God” that I’ll “never let him down,” found me, “a reliable and honest person.” He wants to transfer this amount to my local bank, which may be a tad surprised at the influx of cash.
Good thing he picked me. I mean, a dishonest person might have kept the whole bundle, rather then the 35% I get for helping him, plus expenses. Since my share comes to $44 million and change, I’m his man.
Oh, I was suspicious, but Boniface assured me we would sign a binding agreement, as this was “real and genuine” business. He asked me to keep this strictly confidential, because I’m the only person he’s told about the money, so don’t you tell anyone.
Since there’s so much money floating around Africa that doesn’t seem to have an owner, why shouldn’t I get a chunk? In the past, I’ve received several letters from Nigeria, from various important folks needing my bank account number and contact information to get big money out of the country. About ten years ago, they started to come by e-mail.
All are urgent. All involve several million dollars. All come from someone highly placed. Lately, various relatives and attorneys of the late head of state, General Sani Abacha, are desperately trying to get many millions out of Nigeria, offering me from 15% to 25% if I’ll help.
I’m glad I held out, though. Getting 35% of $126 million is the best offer yet. Maybe it’s because this money is in South Africa—most of the offers come from Nigeria. Some are now coming from Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippians.
These are known as Nigerian scams or “419” scams, after a seldom-enforced section of the Nigerian Penal Code.
Their plan is not to get your account number, (you could open a new account), but to get you hooked on the idea of great, though shady, wealth. Then it turns out—so sorry—that an up front payment is needed for a bribe, or advance fee for the lawyer, or export fees, or whatever.
Once you are on the hook, you will be sent demands for more payments, official looking documents and even invited to visit Nigeria or another area country. Then the scam may become kidnapping. There are reports of people missing and murdered.
Think people aren’t that dumb? As of 1995, an estimated $5 billion had been duped from the feckless and greedy. Some claim this is Nigeria’s third largest industry.
If you get a scam letter, fax or e-mail, you can fax it to the US Secret Service at 202/406-6930. Mark it “no financial loss—for database.”
You can learn more about these scams at the 419 coalition website: home.rica.net/alphae/419coal. This and other scams are also detailed at http://www.crimes-of-persuasion.com/.
Con artists say, “You can’t cheat an honest person.” If you’ve got doubts, the rule is, if it sounds too good to be true, it ain’t true.
But I still feel bad for old Boniface. He put his faith in me, and I let him down. So did everyone else in my office—we all received his “exclusive” e-mail.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Interesting and scary article about the economy from the Washington Post. All Bush’s fault, of course. His failure to regulate European and Asian banks, which were more over-leveraged than even ours, really did us in! Seriously, everyone is to blame, Democrats & Republicans, Wall Street and banks worldwide, GM for not building cars people want, unions for making GM much less competitive, and consumers, especially those who financed debt for homes, cars, etc. that were more than five or ten times their annual income. Those of us who didn’t pile up debt now have to bail them out, so they can—sob—“stay in their homes,” even if the home cost $1M. Wonder if the new administration will repeal the Community Reinvestment Act, so banks won’t continue to be forced to give loans to people who can’t pay?
To understand why politicians of both parties do things short term that feel good, but screw the economy long term, I again recommend the excellent books Basic Economics and Economic Facts and Fallacies by Dr. Thomas Sowell. Many of the short term solutions to relieve the pain will make things worse long term, but both parties have their eye on the 2010 midterm elections, not the long term.
Robert A. Hall
If President Obama really wants to do something about black poverty, he needs to do something about the ghetto culture poor blacks adopted from poor whites in the south, which liberals think is sacrosanct as “authentic” black culture. (See Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Dr. Thomas Sowell.) He needs to have blacks understand that education is not “acting white,” but the road to a better standard of living. He needs to do something about casual black on black violence, which, among other pernicious things, drives job-creating businesses out of black areas. And something about black men abandoning children, a legacy of the Sixties and the welfare state, not of slavery. (A generation after the Civil War, blacks had slightly higher marriage rates than whites.)
If he wants to do something to help Hispanics, stop the multi-cultural nonsense and encourage them to learn English. Hispanics who speak English have significantly higher income levels than those who don’t.
But liberal “Poverty Pimps” prefer poor minorities dependent on liberal-sponsored government handouts, thus locked into voting for liberal candidates. Big government Democrats are the new Masters of the Plantation.
Blacks do worse educationally than whites who test at the same ability level. Is that culture or discrimination? Well, whites do worse educationally than Asians who test at the same intelligence level. And Jews do better than Christians who test at the same level. So does that prove Asians are discriminating against Whites, and Jews are discriminating against Christians? Or does it prove that Asians and Jews have cultures that are focused on education and success for their children? Black kids who were raised in an Asian or Jewish culture would outstrip whites in educational achievement. It’s neither discrimination nor lack of ability holding minorities back, it's culture. What will President Obama do to change that?
White politicians can’t speak to the real issues keeping minorities impoverished, because the media will join with liberals in trashing them as racists. One of the hopes for the Obama presidency is that, being half black, he will be able to speak to the real issues, thus really bringing positive change for minorities. If Jessie Jackson doesn’t do surgery on him for trying. If Obama has the courage. I wish blacks and Hispanic Americans every success. Can President Obama beat down his own party and the media to really help them? I hope so, but I’m not betting on it.
Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts state senate
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
They’re dying out, you know.
They’re fewer every year.
We watch them homeward go,
And shed an errant tear.
They are the old, true breed
Who wore the uniform.
They served at every need,
For that was once the norm.
Their passing goes un-mourned,
They simply fade away,
But Freedom once was borne
By them through every day.
They suffered, toiled and died,
They sweated, bled and fought,
Through honor and through pride
Your liberty they bought.
So you may heroes jeer,
And you may comfort seek,
Oh, let the feckless sneer,
The cowards and the weak!
The day is coming near
When you will beg for men,
And they, no longer here,
Will not return again.
--Former SSgt Robert A. Hall, USMC
Check out this great video clip about Veterans' Day
Sunday, November 9, 2008
The reason is simple, I believe.
America didn't want a hero.
America wanted a handout.
Robert A. Hall
The movement of some jobs overseas elicits loud complaints in election years. There are calls to rescind NAFTA, even though after it passed the number of jobs in both the US and Mexico increased. Economics is not a zero-sum game, as politicians would have you believe. The trick is to develop pro-growth policies, such as free trade, which increase the general wealth, even though some people get hurt, as jobs flow to where they can be most economically done.
But, who is really responsible for anti-growth policies that create the economics to make jobs move? George Bush? Guilty. Bill Clinton? Guilty. The Democrats in Congress? Guilty. The Republicans in Congress? Also guilty. Every president back to FDR? All Guilty. Me? Guilty.
Hey, hold on, pal! How can I be guilty? I don’t own a business, never moved a single job. I’ll explain my guilt, but first a simple lesson in economics. Every economically-rational business seeks to maximize revenue and minimize expenses. Even government agencies and non-profits, like the one I manage, try to increase revenue and reduce costs, though they are more subject to non-economic considerations. Businesses that don’t follow this iron law don’t ship jobs overseas. They simply go out of business, as consumers choose the products and services of businesses that act in accord with economic laws. Then the jobs don’t move, they disappear, meaning both the employees and the investors lose. And increasingly the investors who lose are not just rich folks, but you and I with our 401k plans. I seldom hear of unions demanding that their pension funds be invested in USA-only companies, regardless of income results.
Economically-rational consumers seek to obtain products and services of acceptable quality at the least cost. Which is why I have a Korean car and shirts from every third world country except Iraq.
Moving a company is expensive. But if costs have increased to the point where other companies are able to offer products at lower prices, a company has to choose between moving and closing. Bankruptcies seldom benefit workers or consumers.
These facts of economic life have always been true. Sen. John Edwards has lamented the pain caused by the closing of textile and furniture factories in North Caroline, to seek more favorable working conditions overseas. But no one in North Caroline cried for workers in Massachusetts when these same factories relocated in past decades from Lowell and Gardner in search of a more favorable economic environment in North Carolina.
What increases costs enough to cause a company to have to relocate? Wages and the cost of living are one factor, of course, though we can often compete with countries with lower wages, because we have higher productivity. Higher hourly wages can still mean lower labor costs per unit produced.
But, increasingly, well-intentioned government regulations also drive up costs—and drive out jobs. That’s where I’m guilty too.
As a Republican member of the Massachusetts state senate, I was known as a pro-business guy. But I also supported the state equal-rights amendment, and efforts to prohibit discrimination against gays in employment and housing. I’m proud of these stands. But I also recognize that their successful passage made the cost of doing business in Massachusetts a little bit higher.
Look at the wonderful things the government has done in the past few decades. The ADA was passed to help people with disabilities. The EPA was established to protect the environment. OSHA protects workers. The FMLA helps pregnant women and families. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and gender. ADEA protects older works from discrimination. The Equal Pay Act protects women. USERRA protects veterans. And we could name a lot more at both the federal and state level.
These are all good things, intended to protect and help people. I’m not suggesting that we repeal any of them. They were passed with the best of intentions, and supported by presidents and legislators of both parties. None of these things alone drove jobs overseas. But each increased the cost of doing business and made a move overseas just that more necessary for some American companies. As Stanislaw Lem reportedly said, “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”
Protectionism doesn’t work in a global economy, as President Bush found out when he tried to pander to steel workers with import barriers on steel, and was forced to backtrack because of the economic damage it would have done. President Obama will discover the same thing when he tries to reward union contributions with higher trade barriers. The anti-globalization Luddites are having fun trashing cities and protesting trade, but in the end they will be as successful of those who fought the introduction of power machinery in 1811, because it destroyed jobs.
It would help, of course, if Americans were as interested in economic reality as in reality TV. Until then, we may expect candidates to continue to pander to their ignorance. And it would help if each time we asked government to do something good, which increased the cost of doing business, we realized we might be the snowflake that sent our job overseas.
In the meantime, I recommend everyone read "Basic Economics" by Dr. Thomas Sowell. You’ll know when politicians are pandering to you.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Robert A. Hall
Robert Frost wrote, “Then leaf subsides to leaf/So Eden sank to grief/So dawn goes down to day/Nothing gold can stay.” As Eden sank to grief, so goeth all nations.
It’s never expected, of course. Christian citizens of the Byzantine Empire at the heights of its glory could not foresee the day in 1453 when Emperor Constantine XI, in a heroic last stand would die fighting the Muslim conquest of once-Christian Turkey. Yet today, it’s unthinkable that the city, now called Istanbul, could be anything but Muslim ruled.
And no citizen of Rome at its height expected the Pax Romana to bow to barbarians.
Americans may believe the United States will last forever. But history shows superpower status does not confer immortality on a nation. Someday, the guardians will fail.
Citizens are naturally suspicious of their guardians. After all, armed protectors, police or military, can be dangerous. It has been likened to the relationship of sheep to sheepdogs. The sheep do not particularly like the dogs. After all, dogs can bite, and the capacity for violence inherent in their job makes the sheep nervous. But without them, the wolves will soon be among the flock, rending and tearing. George Orwell said, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” That does not make the rough men popular with those they guard.
That John Adams, defeated by Jefferson, packed and went home was perhaps the true American Revolution. That Richard Nixon could be forced from office without one tank in the streets was incomprehensible to much of the world. America’s guardians, with few aberrations, have been protectors of the people, because they have been of the people.
That is rapidly becoming not the case. In WWII, President Franklin Roosevelt’s son, Maj. Jimmy Roosevelt, served as a Marine in combat. It wasn’t thought remarkable, because our citizen military once drew its leaders from America’s elites. The Ivy League was then well represented in the officers’ corps. The guardians were of the people.
Who today expects to see Chelsea Clinton or the Bush twins in uniform? It would create a sensation if they served here, never mind in Iraq. Even if I had not had other reasons, I would have voted for McCain and Palin for allowing their kids to go to Iraq, as, respectively, a Marine and an Army infantryman. (And yes, Biden’s son is going too—as a military lawyer.) Today, few members of Congress or the administration have served. Fewer still of their children are serving. The more prestigious the university, the more likely it is to have driven ROTC and military recruiters off campus. Increasingly, those who for low pay are expected to put their lives at risk for us come from families of those who have served the country, or from immigrants. And those who benefit the most from America—the educated elites, the wealthy Hollywood stars and sports figures—feel the least call to serve.
Worse, perhaps out of hidden shame, they denigrate those who do serve. For every one of us who admired Pat Tillman for giving up a multimillion-dollar NFL career to serve our country, at the cost of his life, I’m sure there were three who secretly thought he was a jerk. As the war on terror drags on, the “we support the troops” mantra is wearing threadbare from poorly-hidden contempt.
Our guardians are growing increasingly disconnected from the society they protect. Leona Helmsley famously said, “Taxes are for the little people.” Increasingly, our elites believe that service to the Republic is for the little people, the contemptible poor who can’t get another job. When the 7,000 defenders of Constantinople fell to perhaps 85,000 besieging Muslims, about 2,000 of the defenders were mercenaries. Next time you rail against illegal immigrants from Mexico, note the number of Hispanic names on the casualty lists from Iraq. They are our mercenaries, Jose and Maria on guard, so Jason and Tiffany can take from the country without risk.
Once protecting the society is held in contempt, once the elites are no longer willing to lead the guardians, the signs of failure are manifest. The world will not appreciate what it will lose until the day America’s guardians fail. We who loved her will hope, like Constantine, to go down in the last melee. And the children of privilege will wonder, “How could this evil happen?” as their daughters don their burkas.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Robert A. Hall
Everyone has an opinion about the current nasty world situation, including Hollywood celebs who couldn’t place Wisconsin on a map, never mind Iran or the UAE. But are the opinions based on knowledge?
Below is a list of books I’ve read recently to try to educate myself on the subject, which I highly recommend. I doubt they will change your Weltanschauung, but think how entertaining you’ll be at cocktail parties, armed with a wealth of new facts to club your opponents!
The Sword of the Prophet by Serge Trifkovic. Subtitled, Islam: History, Theology, Impact on the World, this critical volume by British journalist Trifkovic explores the theology of Islam, including the Shia-Sunni split, who Mohammed was, how Islam came to power in many lands, and the foundations of the terrorists’ beliefs in the Koran and the traditions of the faith. It will not encourage feminists to look forward to the imposition of shari’a law.
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades by Robert Spencer, who maintains the website www.jihadwatch.org and provides a free e-newsletter with info on world news on the topic. The book is not flattering about Islam, of course, but makes its points by quoting extensively from the Koran, the Islamic traditions that are also considered holy works and the writings of ancient and modern Islamic scholars. (Sometimes hard to tell the difference.) It also provides a pretty interesting reading list of other works, listed in each chapter as "Books you're not supposed to read." Islam may, as we are told, be a "Religion of Peace" but not according to Spencer, or what he quotes from a large body of Islamic writing. Islam Unveiled by the same author is also excellent.
The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion by Robert Spenser. As you might expect from the keeper of JihadWatch.org, and someone who has to live in a secret location for safety, this is not a flattering biography. It is, however, backed by solid research, and uses the Quran and the Hadith (the Muslim traditions of Muhammad and his followers, which Muslim scholars use to interpret the Quran) as his sources. Since Muhammad is considered by Muslims, as Allah’s Messenger, the perfect example of how a man should live, and his revelations in the Quran not subject to modification, what he did and thought is of great importance today. Using only Muslim sources, Spencer documents things like Muhammad’s marriage to a girl of six, which was consummated when she was nine. While child marriages were common at that time, this is still the rule today; Iran, for example, has a marriage age of nine for girls. The Islamic law requirements that a woman must have four Muslim witnesses to prove rape, that a woman’s testimony counts for only half of a man’s, that Jews and Christians are second class citizens in Islamic lands and can only live if they pay the Jizya (the special tax on unbelievers which funded Muslim conquests), and that slavery is proper and a man may have sexual relations as he pleases with slave girls all come from Muhammad’s revelations and example. From Muhammad comes the ruling that anyone who eaves Islam must be killed. So too, does the ideal that Jihad against the unbelievers—Muhammad was constantly at war in his conquest of the Arabian peninsula—and the use of beheading and torture against enemies. The idea that Muslims must fight the non-believers until Sharia—Islamic law—rules all nations is not the concept of a “small group of radicals who have hijacked a religion of peace.” It is solidly founded in Allah’s revelations to Muhammad which constitute the Quran.
Apologists who persist in seeing Islam as no different from Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism or Hinduism will be offended by this book, because it uses the Quran and Hadith to prove them terribly misguided.
A Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden. Were the crusades the brutal attempt by Europeans to subject the Muslims to Christian rule, or the first war on terror, a European defensive reaction against a hostile religious power bent on the invasion and conquest of Europe. You get the facts and decide.
A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East 1914 – 1922 by David Fromkin. Following the close of the “Great War” in 1918, one of the generals remarked that if it was really “The War to End All Wars,” then surely the peace accords developed by the victorious allied powers were creating “A Peace to End All Peace.” From this prescient remark, Fromkin draws the title for his excellent book on how the hotch potch of nation states that make up the ever-roiled Middle East came about.
Most of the countries in the Middle East we know today (Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon) were not nation states prior to WWI, but territories in the Ottoman Empire, governed from modern Turkey, and were created after the war. Turkey’s decision to support Germany in the war led the allied nations—France, Russia and Britain—to look on her empire as potential colonies, useful buffers against rivals, or necessary spheres of influence. The clash of these forces with each other and with local movements such as Zionism, the ambitions of the House of Saud, the Hashemite movement and the Wahhabis sect produced results that we are still paying for today.
Sowing the Wind: The Seeds of Conflict in the Middle East by John Keay, this is a broader look at the area than A Peace to End All Peace. Published in 2003, probably too late for policymakers to read, this is an excellent one-volume history of the Middle East, from the 1890 through the Suez crisis in 1956, with an epilog to bring us up to date. The catalog of crime and invasion, contention, execution and insurrection, siege and betrayal of Hashemite vs. Wahhabi, Sunni vs. Shia vs. Kurd vs. Turk, Allies vs. Ottomans, Britain vs. France, Zionists vs. Muslims, and other groups great and small would give a tourist pause, never mind a diplomat or soldier. Sowing the Wind is as entertaining as it is educational, fascinating as it is frightening. Packed with characters from Saddam to the Hoffman twins, from Lawrence to Ibn Saud, this should be required reading for every policymaker and politician.
Lighting Out of Lebanon: Hezbollah Terrorists on American Soil by Tom Diaz and Barbara Newman. Diaz was the lead Congressional Democratic counsel on Anti-terrorism, and a consultant to the Justice Department on technology & terrorism. Newman is a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The book provides a very interesting history of the development of Hezbollah, which the authors consider more dangerous that al Qaeda. It goes into interesting details about the FBI’s busting of the Charlotte, NC Hezbollah ring, how they use criminal activity here (credit card fraud, cigarette smuggling, etc.) to fund Hezbollah and terrorism. It details the connection to the Arab community in Dearborn, MI, which LE folks call “Hezbollah Central,” and the operation smuggling Hezbollah members over our southern border. It also explains why it was so hard to fight in the 90s, due to the “Chinese Wall” that grew up at Justice, due to weird ruling, which prevented the sharing of information between the intelligence section and the criminal section of federal agencies, which prevented the 9/11 hijackers from being stopped in advance. (Thank you, Janet Reno, for protecting their civil rights!) And it details other American cities where it is believed Hezbollah cells operate. Not guaranteed to help you sleep at night.
Infidel by Ayann Hirsa Ali. Ali’s autobiography describes her rise from a nomadic Muslim family in Somalia, her and her sister’s genital mutilation at ages 5 & 4, her escape to Holland from a forced marriage, her election as a member of the Dutch parliament, her campaign against the domestic violence and circumcision of little girls on kitchen tables that is widespread among Muslim immigrants in Holland, the murder of Theo van Gogh (grandson of the painter) after they made a film about violence against women, and her move to the United States after having to go into hiding to save her life. If there was ever a feminist book by a feminist who sought change at the risk of her life, this is it. I highly recommend reading Infidel.
War by Other Means by John Yoo. Anyone who really wants to understand how the legal decisions in the War on Terror were made, rather than depend on the red state-blue state polemical attacks, should read John Yoo’s book. He is a University of California at Berkeley law professor who served in the Office of Legal Counsel at Justice, and was involved in many of the legal decisions about military tribunals, the Patriot Act, wiretapping and coercive interrogation. Regardless of your views on these issues, doubtless formed by red state-blue state polemical attacks, your understanding of the arguments will benefit from Yoo’s clear presentation of the issues and the reasoning behind the decisions.
The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power by Max Boot. The popular view is that the “American Way of War” is to bring massive power to totally defeat our enemies, with WWII being the poster-war for such thinking. But most of American conflicts have been low-intensity, insurgency type operations, using limited power, for limited political goals and, often, with results that were much less satisfying than VE or VJ day. Journalist Boot set out to draw the history of these conflicts together, and try to create some guideposts for the future. If all you know about America’s military history is WWI & II, or you want to know what the War on Terror will look like ten years from now (You don’t think it’s going to end that soon do you? Surely we won’t surrender that fast!) you need to read this book.
No True Glory by Bing West. West’s book details the first and second battles of Fallujah, and the period of anguish in between. A Marine veteran himself, West clearly likes Marines, a bias which feels just right to me. This is a fine account of the courage and sacrifice of young Americans at war. (I know, you don’t support the war, but you support the troops. You just don’t want to know anything about them.) More importantly, West details how the multiple factions in Iraq, Kurds, Shias, Sunnis, tribes, sheiks, and Imans, interact with the multiple factions trying to manage the war, the American civilian authority and the US military leadership in Iraq, the Pentagon, the White House and the Congress, to create such a mess it’s a wonder anything has gone right.
One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer by Nathaniel C. Fick. This is a fine combat memoir, but it’s also a wonderful guide to leadership. Equally important, One Bullet Away should be required reading for those responsibility for policy, who wish to understand what went right and what went wrong in Iraq. Fick quotes a sergeant telling him exactly how and why the present insurgency would start. I had flashbacks to Vietnam, where Marine corporals were openly contemptuous of the Johnson administration’s plans to build a wall across the DMZ, asking if the leadership had ever heard of the Maginot Line. So there’s another lesson here as well—leaders need to listen to the folks on the bottom, doing the dirty work. They often have insights you don’t. As a Marine veteran, I regret Fick’s decision to leave the Corps. We are going to badly need officers like him in the coming years.
An End to Evil by David Frum and Richard Perle. Yes, this is the Neo-conservative view of how the War on Terror should be conducted, including what Clinton did wrong (described harshly) and what Bush is doing wrong (described gently). Think how badly you’ll be able to trash the neocons when you actually know what they believe! Then you should read the opposition’s book laying out their strategy for victory. (So far, only chapter one, “Impeach Bush,” has been written. But more will come once they agree.)
There you have it, a good week’s reading, which will make you the most informed war protester around. Let me know when you finish and I’ll recommend a few more. Unless, of course, you want to go on getting all your political opinions from Barbra Stresisand and the Dixie Chicks.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Robert A. Hall
Robert Fulghum’s inspirational essay, “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten,” is one of the most read and reprinted articles of our time. Though I admire Fulghum’s insights, I must have been a late bloomer. Everything I’ve needed to know, I learned at Parris Island, from three leather-tough Marine drill instructors.
The lessons taught by Sergeants William Harris, Michael Martin and Ezekiel Owens, while training Platoon 273 in the summer of 1964, have carried me through the rough times, and led to what success I can claim in life. In college, in my earlier political career and in my current job as an association manager, my DIs were always with me, guiding me, helping me, urging me on—and kicking my tail when I need it. I may not think about them daily, but for over 35 years their training and spirit has been an inseparable part of my life. Schools, colleges and even the other services educate the brain. Marine training burns deep in the heart and the bone.
In light of the trying times facing our country, I’d like to share the lessons they gave me:
• Challenge yourself—you can always do more than you think you can.
• Make your bed every morning.
• Real friends will do the push-ups, even though you were the guy who screwed up. They know you’ll do it for them.
• It’s easier to stay organized, than to get organized later on.
• Balance physical and mental activity. You need both to succeed.
• Individual effort is important, but teamwork wins battles.
• It’s not a person’s size, looks, background, color or gender that counts. When the fight is fierce, and the situation desperate, it’s what’s inside that makes the difference.
• Study your notes.
• Courage isn’t the absence of fear—courage is being afraid and still doing what needs to be done.
• Stand up straight—your bearing reflects your confidence.
• Every situation, every day, is a learning experience.
• A light touch brings the best shine.
• Find friends you can count on, and stand by them.
• Carry the load for slower teammates—it’s vital the team get there together.
• Neatness does count.
• A vigorous attack is usually more effective—and safer—than a plodding approach.
• Repetition teaches.
• It’s what you do when you just can’t do anymore that determines the outcome.
• Keep your equipment clean—a dirty rifle is just a bad club.
• Look out for the welfare of your subordinates first.
• Learn to laugh at discomfort and trouble—it makes misfortune lighter, and annoys your enemies.
• Write home often.
• The great creations of the human race aren’t buildings or machines, but the concepts of duty, honor, loyalty, teamwork, and freedom.
• Never, never give up.
• Close counts with hand grenades, too.
• Everybody’s scared of something, everybody’s scared sometimes.
• It takes two shelter halves to make a tent—work together or get wet.
• It’s surprising what you’ll eat if you’re really hungry.
• Better to have a small group you can count on, than an army of wafflers.
• Conserve your water and your ammunition.
• You don’t have to like people to respect them.
• Change your socks every chance you get.
• Generals don’t know everything—listen to the troops at the bottom too.
• The people around you are entitled to your best. So are you.
• Properly motivated, even the weakest will make a contribution.
• Get in step.
• Sure, you have to salute officers—but they have to salute back.
• Help the people on your team whenever you can—you’re going to need their help real soon.
• Always give more than you expect to get.
• Without pride, you don’t have anything.
• If you’re going down, go down fighting. It sets a good example, and your memory will be honored.
• A clean, neat appearance improves confidence and performance—but you can get the job done while covered with mud.
• Respect has to be earned.
• Honor those who went before and set a standard for you.
• If advancing and retreating look equally risky—advance!
• Sometimes it’s better not to stand out.
• Make your mom proud.
• Shoot straight and tell the truth.
• Real discipline comes from within.
• Concealment hides you, cover protects you—cover is better.
• Aim carefully—hits count, not shots.
• Leadership requires the leader to set the example. Lead from the front.
• Getting shot at focuses your attention.
• Too much beer can lead to unsightly tattoos—or worse.
• When in doubt, do something. Inaction is almost always wrong.
• It’s better to out-smart ’em, than to out-slug ’em.
• You’re never so tired or so safe that digging-in to protect yourself isn’t necessary.
• When you let the team down, you let yourself down.
• There are wolves in the world. It’s your job to face them.
• And when you go out in the world, it’s good to have Marines at your side.
Semper Fi, Marines. Thanks for a great life. I’m proud to be one of you.
Former Staff Sergeant Robert A. Hall served as a Marine from 1964 to 1968, and was a radio relay team chief in Vietnam. He later served five terms in the Massachusetts State Senate. While a senator, he re-joined the Marine reserves, serving from 1977 to 1983. Currently he manages associations and is a part-time freelance writer. He lives with his wife, Bonnie, in Des Plaines, IL.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
1. Gov. Sarah Palin will not be the Republican nominee for president in 2012, despite her popularity with conservatives—or maybe because of it. Losing Veep candidates seldom move on to the big prize. Besides, with the sexism and general nastiness that descended on her family, why would she—or any woman—want to go through a national campaign any time soon?
Sarah has two ways forward:
A. Go for the bucks. She could transition first into being an author and, after her term is up, a TV host as Gov. Huckabee has done. She’s attractive, articulate and has a devoted following. And she makes the left spit tacks, always a good credential for being in the conservative media. Being the female Bill O’Reilly will give her influence with a lot less grief than having lefties Photoshop your head onto nude bodies, attack your children and circulate forged documents about you on the net. And the financial rewards would be great.
B. Go for the clout. Assuming Ted Stevens is expelled, she would be the front runner for the senate in a special election. Mrs. Palin goes to Washington. But she can’t run for president in 2012. With only four years in the senate, the media would kill her on lack of experience and moving too fast—they won’t give her the pass that President-elect Obama got, with the same amount of experience. She should work hard as a senator, keep a low profile at first, help Republican candidates around the country, build donor contacts and build a reputation for knowledge in some useful areas. In 2016, she’ll only be 52, if she really wants the big prize. If not, well, being a senator is nice--you get to work indoors and there’s no heavy lifting.
Of course, she could just say to hell with it and go home to raise kids, fish and hunt caribou.
2. President-elect Obama will have little time to enjoy his victory. Neither the economy nor the jihadists will give him much slack. On the economy, many of the things he’s promised aren’t doable without great pain. Increased trade barriers, increased capital gains taxes and even increasing the death tax, as he’s promised, are anti-growth. I can’t wait to hear what the "President of Canada," who Obama promised to call to modify NAFTA, has to say.
He either breaks those promises, as he did on campaign financing, ticking off the unions and the left, or keeps them and worsens the economy, not a good route to high poll numbers. His toughest promise was for a tax cut/welfare check for 95% of the people, but can he borrow the money to redeem his pledge? The people in the top 5%, those making over $153k, already pay 60% of the taxes. There’s not enough blood in the turnip to quench the thirst for it that he’s created.
Presidents in our age are basically nailed anyway. They have to appeal to the far left/far right to get the votes, money and volunteers to win their party’s nomination, then move to the center where elections are won, as Obama deftly did. But then they have to govern.
If President Obama governs from the left, the majority of people who are in the center will soon be disgusted with his policies. If he governs from the center, the left and the media will be disillusioned and baying for blood. Jessie Jackson won’t be the only one wanting to do surgery on the Obama Treasurers. This will be fun to watch.
3. Hillary Clinton will never be president. By 2016, she’ll be so yesterday. If Obama crashes and burns, she could challenge him in 2012, but serious internal party challenges usually hand the White House to the other party. She may decide being an influential senator is enough. See above about heavy lifting.
Watch Bill, though. Will he be satisfied to be an aging roué, bringing in bucks on the speaking circuit, with ever-dwindling relevance? Or will he start putting the knife in Obama, just because he can? See above, about being fun to watch.
4. Public financing of campaigns is dead, murdered by President-elect Obama. From now on, winners will have heavy hitting fund raising machines in place. If a candidate takes public bucks, write him off.
5. Obama’s promise to send a "tax refund" check to the 40% of the public who don’t pay taxes was brilliant. If he can borrow enough money to do it, and the people who sold their votes for a check are happy, look for Democrat primaries for the next few elections to become bidding wars, as Democrat candidates out bid each other on taking money from the most productive to buy votes from the least productive. You might as well hold them on eBay. Republicans will want to do the same thing, of course, but can’t afford to tick off the fiscal conservative base more than it already is. Obama has changed the Democrats’ paradigm.
6. Watch for corruption scandals. Democrats will have more opportunity now, the Charlie Rangels and William Jeffersons of the Democratic Party will be unleashed, and Obama is a child of the Daley machine in Chicago. This will help Republicans. Think of it as change we can believe in. And a disillusioned press corps will remember their function and turn on him. See above about being fun to watch.
7. Republicans, having fallen this far, will get serious. Watch for Congressional Republicans to start this spring recruiting attractive, fresh candidates for the House and Senate, and building a funding and PR apparatus. There should be enough disillusionment with Obama to make 2010 a Republican year, if they can recruit and fund the right candidates. Right now, Congress’s approval rating is below Bush’s, but I bet 35% of the voters think the Republicans still run it. After January, there will be few Republicans to blame, though they’ll blame Bush for a year or two.
You’ll know the Republicans are serious if they create a new "Contract with America," that includes zero tolerance for corruption within the Republican caucus, and a commitment to zero earmarks by Republicans. The latter will be tough. But they need to be more than just Country Club Democrats to win.
8. Newt Gingrich in 2012. You read it here first.
TV & Pregnancy
Shocking news. Teen who watch programs with high sexual content are more likely to get pregnant or cause a pregnancy!
Young, unwed mothers are the most common factor in extreme poverty. I’ve read that 3% of female college graduates have babies out of wedlock. That goes up to 10% of high school graduates, and a whopping 15% of high school drop-outs. The rate is higher among minorities, but any attempt to focus on cultural change is met with charges of “racism.” You’d almost think that some politicians want black kids trapped in poverty, so they will go on being reliable voters for politicians offering things like “tax rebates” to people who didn’t pay taxes.
When I was in high school, I was about equally determined to have sex as soon as I could, and not to become a father. But the sixties removed the stigma to having children outside marriage, and welfare made it possible to get by, though not well. And the kids become trapped in poverty. It was “change we could believe in.”
I write this before the election, holding the post until afterwards, but it looks like the poverty pimps will be in firm control of the government. God help poor folks, black, white or brown.
The other thing the poverty pimps say is that so many black kids born into single parent homes are a legacy of racism, when the black family was destroyed by slavery. That’s a comforting theory for those who help create black poverty through their liberal policies. But the brilliant economist, Dr. Thomas Sowell points out in his books that a generation after the Civil War, blacks had a slightly higher marriage rate than whites, and that the vast majority of black kids then grew up in homes with two parents, though most were desperately poor.
The explosion of single-parent black families is a modern trend, created by modern policies, starting with the Great Society.
Sowell also points out that before minimum wage laws, blacks had a slightly higher employment rate than whites. It may have been at a dirt poor level, but it created pride, and they were able to learn some skills, and develop a work ethic and work history that gave them a shot at moving up the economic ladder, despite discrimination. Today, a third-generation welfare family, white or black, has almost no route to economic mobility.
Sowell should know. He was born into a poor black family in NC, where they didn’t have electricity, an indoor privy or hot water. He was on his own in NYC at 17, worked his way through Harvard before affirmative action, and earned a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago.
I again urge everyone to read his books on economics, intellectual history and race.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Well, the people have spoken. It’s now time to put aside the animosities and excess of the campaign and come together. All Americans—Republicans, Democrats and Independents, rich and poor, black, white, yellow and brown, young and old, male and female—must now unite. There is work to be done.
We must join together and vow to fight the League of Leftie Lawyers (LLL: Reid and Durbin, Pelosi and Hoyer, Biden and Obama and their minions who now control the government) every inch of the way, to block their every effort to destroy American security, American political freedom, American economic freedom and American prosperity based on property rights and the rule of law. We will fight them in the courts. We will fight them in the media. We will fight them on the Internet and in the Blogs. We will fight them in the polls. We will fight them in every election. We will fight them in the bureaucracy. We will fight them in the military. If they again resort to thuggery by ACORN, union bosses and gang-bangers, we will fight them in the streets. We will preserve the American values of independence, hard work, individualism, limited government, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and all amendments in the Bill of Rights for future, wiser generations. We will contest every piece of ground. We will never surrender. So help us God!
Robert A. Hall
I’m posting this before the returns start coming in, so I hope, of course, that I will have egg all over my face in a few hours.
I supported McCain, as I did in 2000, because I thought he was the only Republican with a shot this year. (He’d have crushed Gore if the Republicans had nominated him that year—and the world would be very different.) My reasons for that support are laid out in earlier posts.
But I’ve thought ever since Obama won the Democrat nomination that he was going to be president. Doesn’t mean I liked the idea. There was a moment when McCain got a bounce from the conventions, and Obama didn’t, when I had a fleeting hope. Then the economy imploded, and I knew it was over.
I still sent contributions to McCain, voted for him, and wrote short articles in support which I circulated on the web (and posted on this blog when I started it). We have to fight these things out, just for our own peace of mind. One wants to be able to say, “I did all I could.”
Consider what McCain had against him:
--Bush. Though McCain has been a bitter opponent of Bush within the party, they both have an “R” next to their name. Those who hate Bush would therefore have voted for Ted Bundy if he had a “D” beside his name. (I bet if you did a survey, because Bush the Republican is in the White House, at least 30% of the voters would say the Republicans control that damn Congress we hate, I gotta vote Democrat to change that.
--History. Only once since WWII have the voters selected the same party to hold the White House three terms in a row, when George H. W. Bush succeeded Reagan. Not a great year for a Republican to buck that trend.
--Money. Obama pledged to the public he would take public financing for his campaign. Only those who are not familiar with the Chicago political world were shocked to find out his word was worthless, once he discovered he could raise considerably more money than McCain would have from public financing. And he had three times as many donations at or above $25,000 than McCain, according to the Washington Post. So much for the fat cats being Republicans. When you can spend three times as much as your opponent, you usually win. (By the way, reformers, public financing is now dead, killed by Obama.)
--The economy. In McCain had known it would implode, he’d probably have taken Romney, for his experience in that area, over Palin for VP. But if he’d realized it would be this bad back in 2005, when he sponsored S-190 to better regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he’d have gone on a national tour then, condemning the Democrats for killing increased regulation. That Democrats created and protected them, then benefited from the Fannie and Freddie meltdown is the most painful irony of the election.
--Vote buying. When you promise the 40% of the people who didn’t pay taxes that you are going to send them a “tax rebate” check of $500 or $1,000 if elected, that’s hard to beat. Sure, politicians often win over interest groups by promising more spending in their area of interest, but this was a breath-taking ploy. I think it changes elections forever. From now on, they’ll just be a bidding war.
--Vote Fraud. See my post, below, on Milwaukee shutting down the police task force on vote fraud, because they found it in 2004! There was probably enough fraud then to swing Wisconsin to Kerry. If they couldn’t buy enough votes this year, they had Obama’s old buddies at ACORN registering lots of phony voters.
Sure, there were some things I thought at the time the McCain campaign should have done differently:
I told my wife at the first debate, McCain should have led off with, “We have our differences, but I want to start by thanking and congratulating Senator Obama. When I suspended my campaign to go back to Washington to push for the economic rescue package, I know he didn’t want to stop campaigning and thought it wasn’t in his interest to do so. But he put that aside, returned to Washington, and he also worked to try to get a bill through. He deserves credit for putting the country first. I’m still hopeful that, together, Republicans and Democrats will pass a bill to stabilize the economy and restore confidence.” I thought it would have made him look presidential, and he would have boxed Obama as having followed McCain’s lead.
I thought Palin should have led off her debate with, “I want to start by asking everyone, regardless of party or position, to pray for and support all our troops, including Senator Biden’s son, who is going to Iraq as a military lawyer, and my son, who is going (or is there) as an Army infantryman.” It would have reminded folks that virtually everyone on the other side is a lawyer, right down to their military people.
Most of all, I thought McCain should have tried one more Hail Mary on the Tuesday before the election, by announcing some of his cabinet appointments. “An administration is more than the President and the Vice President. While I’m still in discussions over some potential appointments, I have selected several of the people who will serve in my administration, if I am elected. I think the voters have a right to know before they vote who these people are, and I call on Senator Obama to release the names of those he’s already promised cabinet level jobs to.” Rudy Giuliani as Attorney General, with a charge to ferret out the corruption that caused the economic collapse, and bring them to justice, regardless of party. Mitt Romney at the Treasury, with a charge to work to stabilize and rebuild the economy. Romney then immediately goes to Michigan, where he’s popular, to campaign, putting it potentially back in play. Tom Ridge at something, to help in PA. Joe Lieberman at, say, education or HUD. There could have been other helpful names, and the news would have shaken up the campaign, and brought attention to McCain. I waited in vain, as Tuesday, drifted into Thursday and it became too late.
But I don’t think this would have changed the outcome, just made it more exciting. I think this one was bought, paid for, signed and sealed last June. It will be delivered tonight.
Proud thief and university media prof A St. Olaf visiting professor bragged about stealing John McCain signs from his GOP neighbors and described it as a thrilling act of political defiance for a highly-trafficked liberal blog.“Yanking out the signs and running like a scared rabbit back to my idling car was one of the single-most exhilarating and empowering political acts that I have ever done,” wrote Phil Busse in an essay titled “Confessions of a Lawn Sign Stealer” for the Huffington Post....
Read it all. Probably spends the rest of his time telling his classes how Bush has trashed Freedom of Speech. And if that was the most empowering thing he's done, he's had a sad and shallow life.
Last week, Mike Sandvick, head of the Milwaukee Police Department's five-man Special Investigative Unit, was told by superiors not to send anyone to polling places on Election Day. He was also told his unit -- which wrote the book on how fraud could subvert the vote in his hometown -- would be disbanded.
In February, Sandvick's unit released a 67-page report on what it called an "illegal organized attempt to influence the outcome of (the 2004) election in the state of Wisconsin" -- a swing state whose last two presidential races were decided by less than 12,000 votes. The report found:
Between 4,600 and 5,300 more votes were counted in Milwaukee than the number of voters recorded as having cast ballots.
Absentee ballots were cast by people living elsewhere; ineligible felons not only voted but worked at the polls; transient college students cast improper votes; and homeless voters possibly voted more than once.
Much of the problem resulted from Wisconsin's same-day voter law, which allows anyone to show up at the polls, register and then cast a ballot. ID requirements are minimal. If someone lacks any ID, he can vote so long as someone who lives in the same city vouches for him. The report found that in 2004 a total of 1,305 "same day" voters gave information that was declared "un-enterable" or invalid by election officials.
According to the report, this loophole was abused by many out-of-state workers for the John Kerry campaign. They had "other staff members who were registered voters vouch for them by corroborating their residency."
Sandvick says the problems his unit found in 2004 are "only the tip of the iceberg" of what could happen today. His unit has found out-of-state groups registering their temporary workers, a college dorm with 60 voters who aren't students, and what his unit believes are seven illegal absentee ballots.
Sandvick's report concluded "the one thing that could eliminate a large percentage of the fraud" it found would be elimination of same-day voter registration (which is also used in seven other states). It also suggested that voters present a photo ID at the polls, a requirement the U.S. Supreme Court declared constitutional this spring.
Source: John Fund, "Milwaukee Puts a Vote-Fraud Cop Out of Business; Local Democrats don't take the issue seriously," Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2008; and "Report of the Investigation into the November 2, 2004 General Election in the City of Milwaukee," Special Investigative Unit, Milwaukee Police Department, February 2008.
For more on Government Issues:
On the plus side, the market usually gets a bounce no matter who is elected, because it reduces uncertainty. Though investors are scared of the Obama anti-growth policies (higher capital gains taxes, new trade barriers), let’s hope there is a strong “Obama Bounce.” Our IRAs/401Ks need it. And if the market settles down, there is a lot of money on the sidelines waiting to come in—at least until the anti-growth policies look like they are going to be enacted.
With any luck, Obama means those promises like he meant his promise to take public campaign financing.
Scott Adams predicted yesterday that if McCain pulls it out, there will be riots, martial law and the end of the Republic. (www.dilbert.com/blog). Another example of how those darn Republicans are always scaring voters to elect their candidates!
Monday, November 3, 2008
Change is Coming
Robert A. Hall
It appears that tomorrow, Americans are going to choose:
--An Administration and Congress that will put lawyers completely in charge of all the top levels of our government, and beholden to the trial lawyers, supporting the explosion of lawsuits.
--An Administration and Congress that have promised to punish and discourage those who create jobs, and reward those who don’t.
--An Administration and Congress committed to appeasing the violent jihad from abroad, and the creeping stealth jihad at home, thus feeding the beast.
--An Administration and Congress committed to economic policies such as higher trade barriers and taxing investments in jobs, which have produced terrible economic results in the past.
--An Administration tied tightly to the corrupt Daley machine in Chicago, with jobs for the favored “outfit” insiders.
--An Administration led by a president with under four years of national legislative experience and no executive experience, but lots of experience associating with people I wouldn’t trust to feed my cat.
--An Administration that supports policies that will make a majority of Americans recipients of government money, with a minority paying the bills. Once the majority learns they can demand ever-larger transfers of money from the most productive to the least productive, via the ballot box, economic catastrophe is only a matter of time.
--An Administration that has promised it will take money from those who earned it, and send checks to those who did not, if they will only vote the right way and elected these people. That used to be called bribery.
--An Administration and Congress that have promised union bosses they will take away the right of working men and women to a secret ballot on union elections, so workers can be intimidated and threatened to vote as the bosses want.
--An Administration that has promised to appoint judges based on their empathy for favored groups of political supporters, rather than their knowledge of the law, their intellect and certainly not for their impartiality.
--An Administration committed to eviscerating the military, to provide funds to reward supporters.
--An Administration that has endlessly promised change. The voters, polls show, want change, and don’t seem to care what kind of change they get, as long as they get change.
They are going to get change. Good and hard.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
November 1, 2008
Amnesty International: "Woman" stoned to death in Somalia was 13-year-old rape victim
The jihadists insisted in earlier coverage that she had "submitted herself to be punished," in spite of the fact that she was carried, screaming and struggling, to her death. Perhaps she unwittingly "submitted" merely by alleging rape without the support of four witnesses, thus sealing her fate under sharia. "Amnesty: Rape girl, 13, killed for adultery," from the Associated Press, November 1:
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- A 13-year-old girl who said she had been raped was stoned to death in Somalia after being accused of adultery by Islamic militants, a human rights group said.
Dozens of men stoned Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow to death Oct. 27 in a stadium packed with 1,000 spectators in the southern port city of Kismayo, Amnesty International and Somali media reported, citing witnesses. The Islamic militia in charge of Kismayo had accused her of adultery after she reported that three men had raped her, the rights group said.
Initial local media reports said Duhulow was 23, but her father told Amnesty International she was 13. Some of the Somali journalists who first reported the killing later told Amnesty International that they had reported she was 23 based upon her physical appearance.
Calls to Somali government officials and the local administration in Kismayo rang unanswered Saturday.
"This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups who currently control Kismayo," David Copeman, Amnesty International's Somalia campaigner, said in a statement Friday.
Somalia is among the world's most violent and impoverished countries. The nation of some 8 million people has not had a functioning government since warlords overthrew a dictator in 1991 then turned on each other.
A quarter of Somali children die before age 5; nearly every public institution has collapsed. Fighting is a daily occurrence, with violent deaths reported nearly every day....
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Robert A. Hall
In the Dilbert strip today, talking about business, Dilbert tells the pointy-haired boss that “most start-ups fail.”
Someone has a business idea. He/she borrows money, going into debt, perhaps putting the house at risk, hires some people, works 80 hours a week—and most start-ups fail.
But start-ups are what create the new jobs and innovations in our economy. Without start-ups, the current economic problems will be permanent.
Dilbert gets it.
Obama does not. His view is that you take the risk to start a business, you borrow the money, you work the long hours, and if you fail and lose everything, well, that’s what you get for being a greedy capitalist. No one from government will care or be there to help. (Unless you are, like Fannie Mae and AIG, “too big to fail.” Then the taxpayers will redeem your bad decisions.)
But if you have a great product or service idea, you hire the right people, you market right, a competitor with a better idea/product/strategy doesn’t kill you off, you survive both the current heavy taxation, and the expensive cost of government regulations on personnel, safety, the environment and a host of other areas, and are lucky, your business may survive. It might even become successful, though the odds of it becoming one if the great companies (that were once start-ups), and you as rich as Bill Gates, are longer than winning the lottery. Which is less work. And most start-up fail.
But if you are a success, and for your long years of long hours, stress, and risk, you now make more than $250,000 a year, President Obama and the Democratic Congress are going to take a larger chunk of the money your earn, and “spread the wealth around,” sending checks to people who didn’t pay any taxes, if you will only vote for them.
He economy runs on incentives. We go to work, we get an education, we start or expand businesses, we seek out better paying jobs, because there are economic rewards for doing so. But that will change. Now you will be punished for taking the risk of starting a business and creating jobs. You will be rewarded for not working hard enough to get in the top 60% who pay taxes (and for voting Democrat). So we will provide a negative incentive for job creation, and people at the lower end will sell their chance of a better job in the future, for a $500 government check now.
Pretty sad when a cartoon character has more economic understanding than a majority of the voters. One thing for sure. ACORN may have registered Mickey Mouse to vote, but they won’t be signing up Dilbert. He gets it.
Update: After I posted this, my friend George wrote in response that he had always thought there were three kind of people: those who created jobs, those who took jobs and those who didn't want jobs. The first category, requiring risk and vision, is the smallest. (He and I are in the second.)
My worry is that the Obama administration is committed to punishing the first group through higher taxes, thus discouraging them from taking the job-creating risks, in order to reward their voters in the second and third groupswith cash payments. Once a majority is getting money from the government, they can continue to vote to increase their benefits by taxing the ever-smaller group of payers by ever-larger amounts. We may reach that tipping point in 2009.