Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Rookie President

by Thomas Sowell

Someone once said that, for every rookie you have on your starting team in the National Football League, you will lose a game. Somewhere, at some time during the season, a rookie will make a mistake that will cost you a game.

We now have a rookie President of the United States and, in the dangerous world we live in, with terrorist nations going nuclear, just one rookie mistake can bring disaster down on this generation and generations yet to come.

Barack Obama is a rookie in a sense that few other Presidents in American history have ever been. It is not just that he has never been President before. He has never had any position of major executive responsibility in any kind of organization where he was personally responsible for the outcome.

Other first-term Presidents have been governors, generals, cabinet members or others in positions of personal responsibility. A few have been senators, like Barack Obama, but usually for longer than Obama, and had not spent half their few years in the senate running for President.

What is even worse than making mistakes is having sycophants telling you that you are doing fine when you are not. In addition to all the usual hangers-on and supplicants for government favors that every President has, Barack Obama has a media that will see no evil, hear no evil and certainly speak no evil.

They will cheer him on, no matter what he does, short of first-degree murder-- and they would make excuses for that. Even former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan has gushed over President Obama and even crusty Bill O'Reilly has been impressed by Obama's demeanor.
There is no sign that President Obama has impressed the Russians, the Iranians or the North Koreans, except by his rookie mistakes-- and that is a dangerous way to impress dangerous people.

Read it all here:

For a list of Dr. Sowell's excellent books on economics, culture, race and politics, and archives of his columns, go to:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Milton Friedman vs. Phil Donohue

If you don't recall him, Phil Donohue was one of the TV blowhards from the past.

Here the great economist Milton Friedman explains why free markets and free trade produce the good life for the most people. This clip should be required watching for all the Congresscritters. Not that it would change their self-interested habit of passing economically-destructive legislation because it appeals to the economically-ignorant. But we can hope.

Watch this and pass it on.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tea, anyone?

Ah, bitter Americans, clinging to God, Guns and...Tea?

Most of us struggling to keep things going hardly have time to gulp down a cup of tea, let alone go to protests.

If you are into mailing yours, I recommend you send your tea bags, or perhaps better just the tag and string, to your Congresscritter's district office. Mail at the capital in DC is screened for terrorism, and I think tea bags will just be discarded.

I suppose airport screeners will be checking DC-bound passangers for tea bags next.

Be kind and remember that the elites who know how your money should be spent better than you do prefer fancy, flavored herb teas. It's so much more refinded to drink while they are listening to their favority programs on NPR--paid for, of course, by you "little people."

Here's a link to a video about the growing number of "tea party" protests.


And there's a report that the producer of the "Thomas Paine" YouTube videos, which urge Americans to send in tea bags, has been summoned to the White House, to discuss the "disturbing content" of the videos. Imagine the cries of horror if Bush had "summoned" a critic to the White House.


If you are involved in a tea party protest, please post a comment on it, below.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Helping the less fortunate

What’s Your Favorite Charity?

Several of the folks who criticized my essay, “I’m Tired” suggested that I’m a typical Republican, well-to-do, and with no compassion for the less fortunate. They said that rather than “just complaining,” I should do something to help others.

Of course, the stereotype of Uncaring Conservatives so beloved by the left has been well debunked by researchers, most recently and thoroughly by professor Arthur C. Brooks:

“In Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism (Basic Books), Arthur C. Brooks finds that religious conservatives are far more charitable than secular liberals, and that those who support the idea that government should redistribute income are among the least likely to dig into their own wallets to help others.

“Some of his findings have been touched on elsewhere by other scholars, but Mr. Brooks, a professor of public administration at Syracuse University, breaks new ground in amassing information from 15 sets of data in a slim 184-page book (not including the appendix) that he proudly describes as "a polemic."

“‘If liberals persist in their antipathy to religion,’ Mr. Brooks writes, ‘the Democrats will become not only the party of secularism, but also the party of uncharity.’”

Here’s the full article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

It turns out that Conservatives help the less fortunate from their own pockets, while Liberals prefer the Robin Hood approach, taking money from others to help the causes they like. (Liberals say they prefer “science” and “data” until presented with data like this, or data about tax cuts, free trade and the economy. Then they prefer to go with what their gut tells them.)

My wife and I, of course, have the lavish wealthy-conservative lifestyle that liberals love to criticize. Not only does our 1,000 square foot apartment have two bedrooms, but it has a half bath as well as a full bath. To add to the luxury, there’s a coin laundry right in the building, just down one flight of stairs. Sure, we’d like to have a garage for the Chicago winters, to keep our 4-Cyl 2002 Toyota covered. It has over 100k miles on it, and we both depend on it for our commute. But we are content to live the simple life, much like Al Gore, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, the Clintons, the Kerrys, Michael Moore and George Soros.

Our current major charity, unfortunately, is that we are fully supporting two households, hoping that our daughter will finish college and be able to support our granddaughter, now 8, before we can no longer work.

And friends biking-for-this or running-for-that or walking-for-something-else know we are good for a touch, for a good cause.

Despite the costs of both households, and giving to the church when we can get there (we are out of town weekends a lot on business or visiting the granddaughter), we try support some other charities, with modest contributions, as we can. They are pretty personal, and conservative readers will have their own, but I list them in case some of my liberal readers are looking for something good to support by spreading their own wealth around.

Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund
Helping Marines wounded and disabled in the wars. We also give to individual vets when we can.

Marine Toys for Tots Foundation
Provides Christmas for thousands of disadvantaged kids.

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation
For the kids of fallen Marines and Corpsman.

The Vietnam Healing Foundation
Helps disabled ARVN soldiers who were our allies, who get no help from the communist government, as well as Vietnamese kids.

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

American Diabetes Association

Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation

I invite readers to post their favorite charities in the comment section below. We rich conservatives must give what we can, with what we have left after the liberals take their chunk in taxes to give to their causes, such as public art that they like but won’t pay for, and public TV & Radio carrying programs liberals prefer, but don’t want to pay for themselves.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Another interesting blurb from the National Center for Policy Analysis. You can sign up for their free e-mail summarizing economic and health articles at http://www.ncpa.org/.


Medical care in the United States is derided as miserable compared to health care systems in the rest of the developed world. Economists, government officials, insurers and academics alike are beating the drum for a far larger government role in health care. Much of the public assumes their arguments are sound because the calls for change are so ubiquitous and the topic so complex. However, before turning to government as the solution, some unheralded facts about America's health care system should be considered, says Scott W. Atlas, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor at the Stanford University Medical Center.

Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers:

Breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States, and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom.

Prostate cancer mortality is 604 percent higher in the United Kingdom and 457 percent higher in Norway.

The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among British men and women is about 40 percent higher.

Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries:

Some 56 percent of Americans who could benefit are taking statins, which reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease.

By comparison, of those patients who could benefit from these drugs, only 36 percent of the Dutch, 29 percent of the Swiss, 26 percent of Germans, 23 percent of Britons and 17 percent of Italians receive them.

Lower income Americans are in better health than comparable Canadians:

Twice as many American seniors with below-median incomes self-report "excellent" health compared to Canadian seniors (11.7 percent versus 5.8 percent).

Conversely, white Canadian young adults with below-median incomes are 20 percent more likely than lower income Americans to describe their health as "fair or poor."

Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the United Kingdom:

Canadian and British patients wait about twice as long -- sometimes more than a year -- to see a specialist, to have elective surgery like hip replacements or to get radiation treatment for cancer.
All told, 827,429 people are waiting for some type of procedure in Canada.

In England, nearly 1.8 million people are waiting for a hospital admission or outpatient treatment.

Source: Scott W. Atlas, "10 Surprising Facts About American Health Care," National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis No. 649, March 24, 2009.

For text:

For more on Health Issues:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New name needed for the War on Terror

The terms “Global War on Terror” and “The Long War” are out. They imply that we might actually fight back against people who want to kill and enslave us, justified by a widely-held 7th century interpretation of their faith.

See this story: 'Global War on Terror' is Given New Name

“President Wonderful” is casting about for a term that will make us seem less resolute, more accommodating, more European if you will. They are currently using Overseas Contingency Operations, but that hardly has the panache one would expect from an administration known for rhetoric more than anything else.

(I wasn’t being sarcastic calling BO “President Wonderful.” That’s the term being used now by a Washington Post columnist. Really. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/24/AR2009032403933.html?wpisrc=newsletter)

But imagine adoring sons asking, “What did you do in the Overseas Contingency Operations, daddy?” Or grizzled vets complaining, “Kids have it easy today. When I was their age, I was in an Overseas Contingency Operation.”

Perhaps we’ll have motivational posters urging patriotic Americans to Buy Overseas Contingency Operations Bonds!

No, clearly President Wonderful needs some help on this one. So, in the same spirit of the bi-partisanship that the left extended to President Bush, I want to help.

How about “International Tea Party”? No, probably reminds President BO too much of the tax revolt.

“We know we deserve it for being Americans, but please stop kicking us”? No, too long for the Teleprompter.

“World Wide Bailout”? No, bailouts are getting a bad name.

“Peace in our Time”? No, been done.

“Can we buy you off?” No, too transparent.

“The Unfortunate Misunderstanding”? Better, but too reminiscent of the claim that people like me—and apparently millions of Muslims—misunderstand Islam, which is a Religion of Peace. Hummmm.

“Our Friendly Effort to Remind Muslims That When They Engage in Murder, Violence and Hate, they Misunderstand Islam”? “The War Against the Tiny Minority of Extremists Who Have Hijacked Islam, the Religion of Peace”? This is harder than I thought. No wonder President Wonderful hasn’t come up with a catchy slogan.

Can you do better? Please post your suggestion for the new name for the Global War on Terror in the comments section below. No profanity please.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The comments are fun

I get e-mail’s referring to government “Ponzi Schemes.” Let’s stop calling them “Ponzi Schemes” and call them “Madoff Schemes.” Compared to Bernie, Ponzi was a Piker.

Many critics took—or pretended to take—my piece “I’m Tired” to mean I was worn out, or giving up. But in common usage, “I’m tired of” has a different meaning than “I’m tired.” People can say, “I’m tired of beans,” without implying they are physically weary, just as saying “I’m sick of beans” doesn’t mean they are physically ill. The different usages in English are so common and well understood that, if I was feeling uncharitable, I might think they were deliberately misinterpreting me in order to criticize. So, to be charitable, I’ll put it down to poor reading skills.

“I’m Tired” is here, if you missed it:


A few folks complained that I was just complaining—apparently it’s so wrong for me to complain about the problems I see in our country, they have to complain about me doing so. One guy (you know who you are, Jack) wrote a long piece griping about “I’m tired,” then ended with, “Please remember that while griping may make you feel better, it doesn't accomplish much.” Writing that probably made him feel better.

Another thing I’m suddenly tired of: Critics claiming I said something I didn’t, then criticizing the thing they made up. That’s for professional journalists, kids, don’t try it at home. I have never said that all the members of any group, white, black, brown, yellow, red, green, gay, straight, male, female, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Republicans or Democrats were evil. Not even Lawyers or Congress. Or that all members of any of these groups were virtuous. Quite the contrary. Learn to read. Makes me want to smack them in the snotlocker—not that I’m a violent person. Marines are gentle like flowers in the spring.

The fellow who translated “I’m Tired” into Portuguese has a great post on his blog called “Brazil for Beginners.” Very educational reading about this important southern neighbor.


Probably my favorite blog response was the person who told me I had made a “misstake” (sic) on Gays in “This I Believe” because I obviously was not “edgucated (sic) in this area.”

But this e-mail was an honour:

Dear Mr. Robert Hall,

Your article about your being tired was forwarded to me here in London by my friend Si F. in Los Angeles.


Please permit me to make a few comments:--

I am glad that London is still the capital of England and is not yet called Londonabad and that England is not yet called Anglistan, and I doubt that I shall live to see that happen. But there is a serious danger that it may come about !

Because you see I am 92, a veteran of World War 2. But unless more of us speak
out as you have done, it will surely come about, as our British politicians, no less
than yours in the USA, are still living in the spirit of Neville Chamberlain, (who turned a blind eye to the obviously approaching danger of a "gentleman" called Herr Adolf Hitler),
instead of that of Winston Churchill ("We shall NEVER surrender").

Our financiers and politicians are just as corrupt as yours.

Our so-called "leaders" fall over themselves to be "fair minded" to the Islamist terrorists, and protect their "human rights", releasing murderers in a spirit of "Justice" while completely ignoring the human rights (no quotation marks this time) of their quite innocent victims, such as those who were slaughtered in New York on 9/11

It is now midnight (GMT) and I, too, am now tired and shall very soon be in bed, but we must all exert ourselves to try to prevent another catastrophic world war.

So I will conclude, in, I hope, English, instead of the stupid habit of teenagers to use their texting slang and say that I admire you, but we must all pull together to make a serious effort to save the world from disaster, (and in what is probably considered "old fashioned" style),

You may certainly post my comments on your site (not "sight", with your permission I correct you), and as you have no fear of your name and full address being quoted, I shall have the same lack of fear.

Best wishes

Yours very sincerely,

Michael Sherbourne (d.o.b. 22nd Feb.,1917)

32, Cissbury Ring South, Woodside Park,
N.Finchley, LONDON, N.12 7BE
England, UK e-mail maiklsher@googlemail.com

Note he caught a typo in my e-mail to him. Michael is a guy you'd want at your back in a rough house!

They were the Greatest Generation in Britain, too. Who will save our world now, as they did then? Imagine Churchill and Roosevelt trying to lock up all those Nazi POWs (enemy combatants) today, without giving them lawyers and their constitutional rights? Makes you tired to think about it.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What can I do?

Many of the comments on my blog, or off-line e-mails ask, “What can I do.” Others suggest that I should “do something” instead of just complaining. One correspondent said that I now had a following, so I had a responsibility to make things better. (300 blog followers vs. the 63,000,000 votes the President received. I don’t think he’s fretting over me running for president, despite the well wishes of many who wrote.)

It’s both hard to know what you can do, and frustrating. When you are one person among 300 million, what difference can you make? When you know that 40% of the people don’t pay taxes (perhaps soon to be a majority), how do you fight the handout mentality? When you know that polls show that Congress had an approval rating of 12% at the last election, but also that 67% of the public couldn’t say which party controlled Congress, and they voted to strengthen the leadership of the Congress they disapproved of, you are tempted to despair.

And very few of the folks lobbying Congress and the state legislatures in any concerted way are lobbying for long-term political reform. Most are trying to protect their turf, get more dollars for their cause, or prevent more dollars from being extracted from them. That’s true of teachers, businesspeople, veterans, healthcare workers, unions, environmentalists, lawyers, CPAs, engineers, and on and on. The fact is, all of us belong to some “interest group,” usually many. And we’re afraid if we take the long view, some other group will eat our lunch today.

So what to do? Unfortunately, I have no magic bullet to fix things.

One view is to give up. Say to hell with it. Try to have as happy a life as you and your family can. Ignore them, and ignore politics as best you can. (Many folks find they are happier doing this with their retirement funds right now!). I know a very bright guy in Mensa who likes to talk about politics, but has given up voting. He maintains an amused detachment. His considered opinion is that the Republic is beyond salvation, that the bureaucracy is too powerful, the unfunded debt and promises of the welfare state too enormous, and that we can’t fix it. He thinks the country is going to collapse. He’s retired, so thinks he may get away clean before that happens, but that there is no longer any use getting upset or putting effort into it, which you could spend on things that make you happy. He may be right.

But I keep remembering what the Greeks said:

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. –Plato

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you. –Pericles

I’ve read that the word “Idiot” comes from the Greek description of one not involved in public affairs.

And, I’m a Marine. As General Alexander A. Vandergrift said to the Senate Naval Affairs Committee in May of 1946, “The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps.”

So my intention is to fight on, to go into battle with a light heart and an iron determination. While my health, my finances and a family to support wouldn’t permit me to run for town council, never mind national office, there are still things I can do. There are things each of us can do. Here are a few (you may think of more):

1. Vote. As Robert Heinlein’s character Lazarus Long says in his great novel Time Enough for Love, “If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for...but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.”

And if you vote for or against a candidate just because of party, gender, race, age, ethnicity or sexual preference, than you are an idiot. Contrary to what many readers off my blog apparently think, I don’t vote for or support everyone who puts an “R” in from of his or her name. If President Obama changes his party to Republican tomorrow, it doesn’t guarantee he’ll get my vote. Choose your candidates on the basis on their character, their experience, their ability and their positions on key issues (and know that you won’t agree with anyone 100% of the time.)

2. Work on Campaigns. Find good candidates, regardless of party. (Even minor party candidates can help articulate issues. The Socialist Normal Thomas never won an election, but his ideas are sure popular today!) Contribute money if you can. Contribute time. Put on a bumper sticker. Put up a lawn sign. Stuff envelopes. Distribute literature. Go door to door. A few volunteers really can make a difference. (I won my senate seat by 9 votes out of over 60,000 cast.)

3. Write. Write letters to your state and federal legislators. Keep them short, and focused on one or two issues (they get filed by issue). Due to terrorism concerns, letters get through faster when sent to the district offices of Federal legislators.

And if you are going to join the “Tea Bag” protest, you should probably send just the tag from the bag. The full bag will probably be discarded by the screeners, on the theory it might contain anthrax. Or nuclear waste. Or common sense.

Write to people on your e-mailing list. Write your thoughts and post them on blogs. Write to the newspaper.

4. Speak. Talk to your friends, family and neighbors. Get them interested and involved in the issues. Go to meetings and speak out. Bring people together to discuss the issues. Support each other.

5. Educate yourself. Read all you can. There are a lot of uninformed ideas floating around, and they aren’t all on the left, friends. Understand economics by reading Dr. Thomas Sowell’s terrific book, Basic Economic. (He has other great ones as well.) Understand what the demographics tell us about the future of both the West and the welfare state by reading America Alone by Mark Steyn. Read other books on politicals, economics and international relations.

6. Avoid profanity, name-calling and racism. Leave that to the left. You may think that an e-mail referring to the President as a “Lawn Jockey” is funny, but it plays into his hands, as he can go on portraying himself as a victim of racism, despite holding the highest office in the land. We do not oppose the President because of his racial heritage. We oppose him because we believe that a massive government and a centrally controlled economy destroy freedom, and lead to economic disaster and collapse. We do not oppose what has happened in Zimbabwe and is happening in South Africa because we support “White Rule” while liberals support “Black Rule.” We support “Competent Rule.” The left supporting incompetent rule because it was by blacks has killed millions of black people. That is evil.

7. Teach. Teach your children and others who look to you that hard work matters. That individual responsibility matters. That integrity matters. That involvement in community affairs matters. That education matters. That helping the less fortunate through charity and private organizations matters. That service in our armed forces matters. That they shouldn’t be embarrassed to love their country openly. And remember that example is the best teaching tool.

8. Laugh a lot. Be cheerful. Keep a positive attitude. I may be a pessimist by policy but I’m an optimist by temperament. Work hard. Love your family. Participate at your place of worship and in community groups. Try to focus on the good things in your life. This country has faced down great challenges before. We may again, if we who love her work together, support each other, and fight hard.

We must win. If America goes down, there’s no place to run to.

Reproductions of a poster have been going around, which was printed in Britain in the dark days at the start of WWII. It says: “Keep Calm and Carry On.” It’s still good advice.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Video of a Happy Muslim

If I've given the impression that all Muslims are raving, angry fanatics, I apologize. It's certainly not true.

Here's a happy, smiling, quiet-spoken Arab who's encouraging other Muslims to visit the US, and shower us with "confetti."

Worth seeing.


And, to lighten your mood afterwards, this funny riff on Gitmo:


Interesting view of the global economic challenge

Perverse Cosmic Myopia
Op-Ed Columnist NYT

You’d think if some tiger were lunging at your neck, your attention would be riveted on the tiger. But that’s apparently not how it works in the age of global A.D.D. As a tiger sinks its teeth into the world’s neck, we focus on the dust bunnies under the bed and the floorboards that need replacing on the deck. We live in the world of Perverse Cosmic Myopia, an inability to focus attention on the most perilous matter at hand.

The tiger, of course, is the collapsing world financial system. Americans actually have a falsely mild view of this crisis because the economy is worse abroad. The U.N.’s International Labor Organization projects between 30 million and 50 million job losses worldwide. Central European countries are teetering; Japan’s economy is horrifying; and the Chinese job creation machine is losing the race against its demographic pressures.

There have been riots in Greece and China as well as huge protest rallies in Dublin, Paris, London and beyond. So far, the protesters express anger without an agenda, but if the global economy continues to slide through 2010, they’ll discover one. A predictable result is a series of beggar-thy-neighbor exchange-rate policies, followed by rising trade barriers and the degradation of the entire global system.

In times like these, you’d expect prudent leaders to prepare for the worst. After all, the pessimists have recently been vindicated by events. But that’s apparently too painful to think about. In normal times, leaders like to focus on the short term at the expense of the long term. But now the short term is really confusing, so leaders take refuge in projects that are years or decades away.

Read it all here:


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Democracy vs. Republic

Below is a link to an interesting video, sent to me by a blog reader, which attempts to explain the differences between a Republic and a Democracy.

My take is that it leaves out the fact that the representatives who make the laws in our Republic (vs. a Communist People’s Republic) are elected by the people, in a hopefully democratic fashion. Or are supposed to be. One of my concerns is that much of the “law” is now being made by the courts and bureaucracies. Contrary to the dichotomy presented, we used to be a Democratic Republic, but are becoming a Bureaucratic Republic, with laws made by those who do not answer to the people. Instead of an unelected oligarchy ruling the country, more focused oligarchies rule selected pieces of our lives: housing, education, farming, the environment, welfare, homeland security, health care, and so on. In the name of doing the “Good Work” (as they see it), our freedoms are restricted a bit more each year, in dozens of areas by dozens of bureaucracies.

Each of those bureaucracies develops constituencies, so the “democratically” elected representatives are fearful of disturbing them, as these constituencies care a great deal, and the rest of us have little time or interest in paying attention.


Obama makes joke about Special Olympics

President Obama compared his poor bowling to being in the "Special Olympics."


After which, a Special Olympics bowler who has bowled three perfect games challenged the President to a bowling match:


It certainly won't hurt him with his supporters among the "Palin is a bad mother for not aborting her Downs Syndrome baby" crowd.

Okay, it was an off-the-cuff joke, and I think we should give the President a pass. I mean, if Bush had demeaned the Special Olympics in a joke, we'd have never heard of it again, from Democrats or the Media, right? Like we never heard that Dan Quayle misspelled "Potato" reading from a card the school gave him that used the sometimes-given second spelling "potatoe"!

So we should be as charitable to President Obama as the left and the media always were to President Bush and other Republicans. Maybe even a tad more.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama's Dilemma

This short piece is from the National center for Policy Analysis. Their free e-newsletter summarizes 5-6 interesting economic and health care articles daily. It's a great way to keep up, and a quick read. They are a free-market think tank. http://www.ncpa.org/.


President Obama faces a dilemma: to pay for his plans and get the deficit down to manageable levels, he would return top tax rates to where they were before the Bush tax cuts, extract more from the rich by capping their deductions, increase taxes on corporations and auction carbon-emission permits. At the same time, he promises permanent tax cuts for 95 percent of workers. President Obama's plan begins to fall apart under economic analysis, says the Economist.

President Obama's budget forecasts that the economy will shrink 1.2 percent this year then grow by an average of 4 percent over the following four years. These predictions may be exaggerated, explains the Economist:

The unprecedented damage to household balance sheets during the economic recession could well result in anemic economic growth for years, significantly undermining the president's revenue projections.

President Obama may either have to renege on his promise to slash the deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013 from more than 12 percent now, or rein in his spending promises or raise taxes more.

President Obama's scattershot tax increases are a poor substitute for the wholesale reform America's Byzantine tax code needs, says the Economist:

Limiting high earners' deductions for mortgage interest, local-government taxes and other things is certainly more efficient than raising their marginal tax rates even more, but it would be better to replace such deductions for everyone with targeted credits, abolish the alternative minimum tax, and implement a broad sales tax.

President Obama could simultaneously raise more revenue and make the tax code simpler and more conducive to growth; he is only asking the richest 2 percent of Americans to pay more taxes, building his change on shaky foundation.

Bush's tax cuts raised the proportion of American families that pay no federal income tax (or are net recipients of tax credits) from 33 percent to 38 percent; President Obama's will raise it to 44 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center, a research group.

Although many of these people pay payroll taxes, President Obama is also intent on reducing the link between payroll taxes and the pension and health-care benefits they were supposedly designed to pay for. It certainly makes sense to keep poor people off the income-tax rolls, but removing a sizeable chunk of the middle class weakens the political bond between taxpayer and government, and will lead to pressure for more such spending, says the Economist.

Source: Editorial, "Wishful and Dangerous Thinking," The Economist, March 7th, 2009.

For text:


For more on Taxes:


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Two interesting economic articles

Administration escalates the trade wars. Let’s help the economy by killing American exports.


Each generation does better under a Free Market economy. But will the next generation have the benefits of a free economy, or the drudgery of one controlled from Moscow, er, Washington?


The Indispensable Employee

Fifteen Tips for Being the Indispensable Employee
Robert A. Hall, CAE

Some employees are more valuable than others. And in this time of economic dislocation, the more valuable you are as an employee, the more likely you are to be retained.

Sorry if I’ve hurt your self-esteem and bruised your feelings. It hurts my feelings that the New England Patriots pay Tom Brady millions and won’t even give me a try-out. Okay, so I’m a LOT older than Brady, in lousy shape compared to him, and lettered in chess in college. Every human being is unique and equally valuable, right?

No. Tom Brady fills the stands and puts millions of fans in front of the TV on Sunday, providing an excellent return on investment for his large salary. The only entertainment value I’d provide would be for the lynch mob of fans hunting me after my first appearance on the field.

However valuable you may be to your family and friends, that doesn’t make you valuable to an employer.

All employers need employees who provide value. Those who provide the most value are the least likely to be cut in a downsizing, and the most likely to receive raises and promotions, because the powers-that-be want to keep them around.

That’s obvious, right? Then how come so many employees act like their job is a right, and that they must be catered to?

The really successful and valuable employees are always trying to make themselves indispensable. Here are fifteen tips on becoming the indispensable employee.

1. Commit yourself to constant improvement. Perfection doesn’t exist, but every organization and every individual can be better tomorrow then they are today. Look at your job every Friday and ask yourself, “How can I do a better job next week?” Then do it.

2. Commit yourself to life-long learning. Takes courses and read books and journals that will help you do better in your area of specialty. But, equally important, expand your horizon. Read widely in other areas as well. Study the field that your employer operates in, so you understand the customers/clients and their problems. Study the jobs of your colleagues, so you understand—and perhaps can help with—their problems. And study trends outside your industry that may impact the organization and the customers. Yes, you can’t read or know everything. But you can always read and know more.

3. Banish, “That’s not my job” from your vocabulary. Everything that helps advance the mission is your job. The more you contribute in other areas, the move valuable you will be.

4. Banish, “We’ve always done it that way” from your vocabulary. Nothing is more constant than change. I was ten years into my professional career before I had a computer, fifteen for a fax, over twenty for e-mail and the Internet. If I was still doing things the way I’d done them then, I’d be unemployable.

5. Avoid gossip, drama and back-biting with your colleagues. It seems like every office has a Drama Queen or King, who is constantly involved in small feuds, has problems with colleagues, and is generally high maintenance. “You know who” has to be tiptoed around. And the boss is dreaming about how nice life would be if only that person could be moved on. Don’t let it be you.

6. Pitch in. Look for areas where you can help your colleagues with their challenges. Do more than your share, especially of the unpleasant tasks, the “dirty jobs,” that are present in every employment situation. Don’t work in a silo.

7. Banish Busy Work. Look for ways to be more efficient, so that time-consuming, repetitive work can be eliminated from your schedule. Can data-entry be computerized directly from the Web, or out-sourced overseas? Having lots of busy work to do doesn’t make you valuable; it makes your job fungible. There is always more valuable work available to fulfill the organization’s mission. Getting rid of busy work will allow the boss to assign you more valuable work.

8. Make the boss’s life easier. What skills can you apply, what can you learn, what can you take on that will solve a problem for your supervisor? Solving a couple of the boss’s problems every year will make you seem pretty indispensable.

9. Be the “Go To” employee. If there’s a problem, and they think first of getting you to work on it, they won’t think first of you if staff census needs to be cut.

10. Keep a cheerful attitude. Sure, we all have problems. But people don’t like to work with those whose hobby seems to be whining and complaining. Your boss doesn’t either.

11. Go the extra mile for the customers. Don’t have to be pushed to do what needs to be done to keep the customer happy. When you provide out-standing customer service, the customers will mention it to your boss, who will appreciate you all the more.

12. Share the credit. When your supervisor says you did a great job on a project, saying, “Well, I couldn’t have done it without Mary’s research” reflects well on you, and makes you a star for Mary. Sincere compliments cost you nothing and mean a lot to your colleagues.

13. Don’t try to outshine your colleagues. Say you have a great idea as to how the sales department could increase return sales. At a staff meeting, in front of everyone, you could pipe up and say, “Well, I think sales could have increased return sales by….” Or you can go to the Director of Sales privately and say, “I have an idea I was wondering if you’d thought about, that might help our return sales rate….” Which will serve you better in the long run?

14. It’s your organization too. Yes, we are fond of saying, “it’s the owner’s business.” But it’s also your business. And not just your little piece. Take ownership. If your area is doing well, but your company is floundering…your area is NOT doing well. It’s like folks on the Titanic saying, “Well, the BOW may have hit an iceberg, but we’re nice and dry here in the STERN!”

15. Be the most dependable person around. Under-promise and over-perform. If you say you will do something, your supervisor should be comfortable forgetting about it, because she knows it will be done well, on time.

If you noticed, there is nothing on this list that you and I cannot do as well as Tom Brady. And following these rules will make you an indispensable association employee.

Robert A. Hall, MEd, CAE, has been a non-profit executive since 1982. Prior to entering the profession, he served five terms in the Massachusetts state senate.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

False Solutions and Real Problems

By Thomas Sowell
Someone once said that Senator Hubert Humphrey, liberal icon of an earlier generation, had more solutions than there were problems.

Senator Humphrey was not unique in that respect. In fact, our present economic crisis has developed out of politicians providing solutions to problems that did not exist-- and, as a result, producing a problem whose existence is all too real and all too painful.

What was the problem that didn't exist? It was a national problem of unaffordable housing. The political crusade for affordable housing got into high gear in the 1990s and led to all kinds of changes in mortgage lending practices, which in turn led to a housing boom and bust that has left us in the mess we are now trying to dig out of.

Usually housing affordability is measured in terms of how much of the average person's income it takes to cover either apartment rent or a monthly mortgage payment.

There were certainly places here and there where it took half a family's income just to put a roof over their heads. Many such places were in coastal California but there were a few others, here and there, on the east coast and elsewhere.

But, vast areas of the country in between-- "flyover country" to the east coast and west coast elites-- had housing prices that took no larger share of the average American's income than in the decade before the affordable housing crusade got under way.

Why then a national crusade by Washington politicians over local problems? Probably as good an answer as any is that "It seemed like a good idea at the time." How are we to be kept aware of how compassionate and how important our elected officials are unless they are busy solving some problem for us?
Read it all here:

Channeling Lyndon Johnson

This will create hundreds of new targets for the Taliban, requiring hundreds of details of troops to guard them, in fixed positions, instead of going after the enemy. Sounds familiar to an Old Jarhead. Obama isn’t Roosevelt—he’s Lyndon Johnson.

News Alert3:23 p.m. ET Wednesday, March 18, 2009

U.S. Plan Would Send Hundreds More Civilians to Afghanistan

Hundreds of additional U.S. diplomats and civilian officials would be deployed to Afghanistan as part of the new civil-military regional strategy that President Obama’s top national security advisers plan have prepared for his signature next week, according to administration officials.
For more information, visit washingtonpost.com

Monday, March 16, 2009

An Essay--This I Believe

I believe in limited government. Government is at best a necessary evil, which tends to drift toward tyranny if not checked, as Thomas Jefferson, founder of the Democratic Party, noted. Every power that the government has is at the expense of liberty. Government is necessary to defend the nation, to provide infrastructure, and to protect us from each other. But as the repository of most force, it is also always a threat to freedom.

I believe in the separation of powers, between the branches of the federal government, and between the federal government, the states and the people. They were created by the founding fathers because they knew that no person or party could be trusted with unlimited power. The concentration of power in the hands of the federal government, especially the bureaucracy, is a great threat to freedom. I believe most people won't realize this until it is too late.

I quaintly believe that all powers not granted to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people, as the constitution says. That this is no longer the case is eroding freedom.

I believe that government cannot give you anything, unless it takes it from someone else. And government takes things by the threat of force—police, courts, jail.

I believe that government does not create wealth. Printing money, as President Mugabe has done in Zimbabwe, only produces inflation, where it costs a $100M to buy a loaf of bread. Private citizens, seeking to advance their own private interests, create all wealth and advancement, which give all of us good lives—and the wealth for government to do both the necessary, and the unnecessary.

I believe it is bad for America when government is totally controlled by one party, Republicans or Democrats.

I believe that the blame for the current economic situation goes beyond any one party, one country, or one class of persons. There is plenty of blame to share around. And I believe the President of the United States should have better things to do right now than get into a feud with a radio talk show entertainer.

But conceding both those points, I believe my retirement fund, and the economy in general, looked a lot better in 2006, when Republicans controlled the congress, than they have looked since, with Democrats in charge of the Congress since January of 2007. And they look a lot worse a month after President Obama and the much-stronger Democratic Congress have taken office.

I believe Congress is broken, the courts are broken and the election process is broken. I believe I could come up with solutions to fix those things, but that both parties are so wrapped up in their own short term self interests, that one or the other will defeat or emasculate any reforms in service to tomorrow's agenda or next year's election. I believe most "reforms" proposed by either party are changes they believe will help them in the next election.

I believe nothing can be fixed as long as so few citizens are paying attention, and even fewer have a grasp of basic economics. Polls before the last election gave Congress a 12% approval rating—so the public voted to strengthen the leadership of that Congress. Probably because polls also showed that 67% of the public couldn't say which party controlled Congress.

I believe in individual responsibility. The idea that someone else is responsible for all your troubles, and to take care of all your problems, is the source of much of our misery.

I believe there is no difference between a thug with a gun at the local 7-11 taking the money I earned for his own use, and a bunch of people who want to take that money getting together to elect officials who will send police and tax collectors to take the money I earned and give it to them, under the slogan of "Spreading the Wealth Around."

I believe in fiscal responsibility (and have lived it—at 63, I'm debt free). I believe that politicians are buying our votes in the next election by spending our money on programs that various voting blocks want, with dollars they will take from us or our children in the future. I believe that we already have "public financing of campaigns," because politicians get reelected by spending the public's money on projects that interest groups want.

I believe that, no matter how "socially conservative" they may be, Republican legislators lining up at the earmarks feeding pen to get money to buy votes back home are the real RINOs (Republicans In Name Only), not those Republicans who are moderate on social issues, but are for fiscal responsibility and limited government.

I believe that political decisions should be made by people the public can replace if we don't like the decisions—legislators and executives—and not by those who are isolated from feedback because they can't be removed from their jobs, like judges and bureaucrats.

I believe that the bureaucracy and the courts have carried many laws, such as affirmative action and the Americans with Disabilities Act, far beyond what the Congress intended or the people would support if asked to vote in our "democracy." Once the bureaucrats put it in place, of course, it develops a vocal constituency, so legislators are afraid to enforce the original intent of the law.

I believe in Freedom of Speech, and believe it is under threat from both Islamists and liberals who want to outlaw anything they find offensive as "hate speech." Freedom of Speech is already gone on most collage campuses, where you now have the freedom to speak the prevailing orthodoxy or shut up. It is the left who shouts down speakers they don't agree with, or threatens them with violence. It is Islamists who want to criminalize any unfavorable mention of Islam, including quoting from the Qur'an and the Hadith, as "Islamophobic" or "hate speech."

I believe in Freedom of Religion, and will tolerate anyone's faith and defend their right to worship as they please, as long as they don't want to use the government or violence to force others to adopt the tenants of their faith. But I also believe that a religion that preaches it should be the government of the world, and the only faith, and makes it a religious duty to force others to convert, must be fought. That's not a religion—it's a fascist political party.

I believe there are tens of millions of Muslims who want to live in peace with each other and with people of other faiths, but I also believe, based on news reports, that one can hardly ever know who is a moderate, peaceful Muslim, and who may suddenly kill you for Allah, because violence is preached in so many of their places of worship. I believe that it is the hate and domination preached by many standard schools of Islam that is responsible for violence and terrorism, not poverty and grievances. Bin Laden and some of his lieutenants were far wealthier than you and I. In Britain, it was doctors who carried out some attacks—hardly the underprivileged.

I believe that not to speak out against thousand of honor killings of young women (many in western democracies), the genital mutilation of young girls, and the brutal subjugation of women in Islamic societies out of a concern for "multiculturalism" or fear of being labeled "Islamophobic," is cowardice.

I believe in tolerance and respect for people who are black, white, red, brown, yellow, old, young, male, female, gays, straights, Democrats, Republicans, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans and Global Warming Devotes, and don't think they should be discriminated against, either by Jim Crow laws or Affirmative Action laws. I believe the law should judge us, and we should judge each other, as individuals.

I believe that gay people don’t choose to be gay, anymore than short people choose to be short. Never was I mad enough at a woman to think, “Well, maybe I should date guys.” You are entitled to believe they are sinful, but not to discriminate against them, in my book. As to gay marriage, I don’t believe in special treatment for gays. I think they should have to marry and suffer like the rest of us. (That was a JOKE, dear!) Seriously, if your marriage is so weak that a gay couple down the block being married is going to hurt it, you have a problem and need help. And I believe that gay couples often provide better homes for kids than a lot of the single moms are able to do, where the dad has abandoned the children, which is now the common practice in some sub-cultures. And certainly they are better parents than straight couples where domestic violence is a factor. (Fire up the computer for the hate mail!)

On the other hand, I believe we can not only discriminate against, but must fight, those who would impose their values and views on us by force, including Nazis, Communists, Islamists, and Bill Ayer's Weather Underground.

I believe that America is far from perfect, but that to equate her flaws with the grinding tyranny of other regimes, past or present, is the worst kind of sophistry and moral blindness. With all her faults, we need to guard our borders not to keep people in, but to prevent the tens of millions around the world who would like to come here from swamping our institutions, destroying the culture that made us great, and further ruining our economy.

I believe that free markets and decentralized decision making have given people in the western world the best standard of living, the most leisure and the more freedom than any place or time in human history. I believe that centralized control of the economy is so inefficient that it destroys prosperity and freedom, and creates poverty. I believe that is being demonstrated now, and is going to get worse.

I believe that business leaders who talk about free markets, but run to the government for taxpayer bailouts when their decisions prove bad, are hypocrites. They are CINOs—Capitalists In Name Only. And while I understand contracts, and the need to attract good talent, I am sickened by huge bonuses for the executives of failing businesses that receive government bailouts. Running a company or bank into failure is “good talent?”

I believe that millions of people have died so that liberals could feel good about themselves. Liberals fought to force America out of the Vietnam War, and cut off military support to South Vietnam, so that when the North broke the peace treaty and invaded the South, it had no chance. The Cambodian Communists murdered a quarter of their population. In South Vietnam, tens of thousands died in “re-education camps.” Millions fled the country, with many thousands of “boat people” drowning, or being raped and murdered. No matter, they still congratulate themselves for supporting the Communist victory.

Liberals fought to end evil white rule in then-Rhodesia until in 1978 a black-majority government, headed by Robert Mugabe, was installed. Farms were taken from the evil white farmers and given to black supporters of Mugabe—unfortunately, farming skills were not included in the transfer. Today, Zimbabwe, which once exported food, is starving. Life expectancy has declined from 60 to 37 for males, and to 34 for females. Infant mortality has gone from 53 to 81 deaths per 1,000. South Africa is on the same path. Liberals fought apartheid until black rule was establish there as well. Since then soaring crime has driven out those who can afford to flee. According to the South African Institute of Race Relations, 800,000 whites out of four million have emigrated since apartheid ended. Skilled blacks who have the financial resources are bolting as well. They take with them the knowledge to run an economy and government. But the disintegration of South Africa isn’t a suitable topic for the Brie and white wine set in wealthy liberal neighborhoods like Chicago’s Hyde Park.

Liberals helped bring down the evil, pro-American Shah of Iran. Since then, Iran under the Mullahs has hanged Gays, stoned women for adultery, engaged in a war with Iraq that slaughtered millions, and started work on an Atomic Bomb to create a new holocaust in Israel. No matter to liberals as long as they can feel self-satisfied about opposing the Shah.

Liberals all read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and fought to ban DDT, to save the birds. That banning DDT resulted in the deaths of millions of third world children from Malaria doesn’t intrude on their self-congratulations. Tough for the kids, but what's a dead black baby in Africa compared to liberal ego satisfaction?

I believe that liberals want Hispanic and black Americans to remain in poverty, so they must continue to vote for liberals who will provide them government programs. Liberals oppose requiring Hispanic citizens to learn English, even though those who speak English have higher incomes and standards of living. And don't mention that black ghetto culture is keeping so many blacks in poverty and killing thousands of other blacks ever year through gang violence. Don't mention that single parenthood is the leading cause of poverty, and that the vast majority of black children are born to single mothers. Let's keep it that way so blacks have no choice but to vote Democrat to get their handouts. If they suffer and die because of it, so what?

I believe our universities have become Madrassas of left-wing propaganda. Conservatives and Republicans don't get promoted or tenure, if they get hired in the first place. So our students are exposed only to what the left wants them to believe. I believe the purpose of education is to teach kids how to think, not what to think.

I believe that having the government run entirely by lawyers puts the entire system at the service of the self-interests of the legal profession. Currently Lawyers are in complete charge at the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and of course, the Courts. I believe that the endless delays and appeals created in our legal system by the legal profession have been good only for lawyers, but have made a mockery of justice, due process and any deterrence for crime. I believe that this costs all of us a large percentage of our incomes, and many of us our lives. And I believe the Democrat lawyers running the government will make it worse, to increase lawyers' fees.

I believe that any American who denigrates America should have to spend a year in a third world country, preferably one under Shari'a law, living as the natives live. The survivors would be allowed back in to kiss the earth they used to spit on.

I believe that anyone born in America—or who becomes a citizen—has won the lottery, because they thus have a standard of living and freedoms unknown to 99% of the humans who have ever lived.

I believe that if you define someone as “poor” who owns a car, color TV and air conditioning, you don’t have a clue as to what poor means. I lived in the village of Khe Sanh for a few weeks. Poor is a one-room thatched hut, children with only a cast-off tee shirt for clothing, and rice—when they were lucky.

I believe that law-abiding citizens have the right to own firearms to defend themselves and their families. Thanks to lawyers who have clogged the courts, citizens get very little protection from the legal system.

I believe that if you don’t care about something more than yourself (e.g., your country, your place of worship, your community, your family, a great cause, the organization you give your work time to, art, poetry, literature, nature) you will never be happy. The more of these things that subsume you, the happier you will be.

I believe the person who has nothing for which he or she would die has no reason to live.

I believe the person without faith is without a future.

I believe that “class” isn’t what clothes you wear, what wine you drink or what house you live in. Class is how you treat people. There are waitresses and plumbers with more class in their little finger than wealthy elites who hold them in contempt.

I believe acquiring wealth should be only a bi-product of doing what you love. Otherwise, you’ve wasted your life.

I believe the person who loves things more than people is always unhappy.

I believe if you can’t trust the people who work for you to manage their own time and work, with only a little direction, you should replace them. (I know that’s hard if they are government employees or in unions designed to protect the jobs of the least productive.) If you can trust them, do so. You and they will be happier and more productive.

I believe that when you want the government to take over something you think is important, imagine it being run by the Post Office, the Pentagon or the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

I believe that hard work may not get you ahead, but thinking the world owes you a living makes you an unhappy slave to those giving the handouts. I believe people voluntarily dependant on the handouts of others are slaves. There are exceptions for children, the elderly, and the disabled, but not for capable adults. People addicted to drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, food, or anything else are also slaves.

I believe that if you work hard and are a success, those who don’t will call it luck.

I believe you can know only a very small fraction of all there is to know about your own field, never mind other folk’s area of specialty. There is no person you cannot learn something valuable from. And if you think you know everything, you probably don’t know that you are a boring jerk.

I believe school is always in session. Learning is life—learn every day. If I knew that I was to die tomorrow, I’d still want to read a book, or talk to an expert, and learn something new today. It’s as vital as breathing.

I believe the person with a strong vocabulary has an advantage. The person who loves reading has a huge advantage. Being a good writer is an even larger advantage, but to be a good writer, you must both write a lot and read a lot.

I believe that moral courage is as important as physical courage—just very rare.

I believe that hope is not a strategy. A goal without a plan is just a dream. “Then a miracle happens” is not a plan. I believe that “change” is a process, not a goal.

I believe that humor, like water, is essential to life, but can be equally destructive.

I believe that our culture, our political freedom and our economic freedom are inseparably entwined, and that we are on the road to losing them for future generations.

I believe in God, and ask Her every day to protect my granddaughter and my wife, but I don’t believe in telling other people what or how to believe. I believe certitude about the Almighty is the ultimate arrogance of the ego. I believe if everyone would worship as he or she wished—or not—and shut up about it, the world would be a better place.

I believe that there are four key elements of leadership: Leaders set the example. Leaders look out for the welfare of their subordinates and followers. Leaders take responsibility for their actions and decisions. Leaders have integrity and moral courage. And I believe true leadership is in damned short supply in today’s world.

I believe that every American owes service to our country in some way. I believe those who are willing to risk their lives in that service—our police, firefighters, EMTs, soldiers, sailors, airmen, coastguardsmen, and Marines, are owed honor and respect by their fellow citizens.

I believe the failure of our wealthy elites to serve as leaders in our military today, as they did in WWII and before, heralds the downfall of our republic. Then they will ask, “Why didn’t someone do something?” I believe the "me first" generation will get what it deserves. Unfortunately, so will those who don't deserve it.

I believe that all the success I have had in life is due to the discipline and values instilled in my by my Marine Drill Instructors, Sgt. William Harris, Sgt. Michael Martin and Sgt. Ezekiel Owens. Wherever they are, I salute and thank them.

I believe that if the necessity arises where you must send men and women into battle to defend our freedoms—and it will—then the toughest possible training is what will help them survive and triumph. Therefore, I believe, contrary to the bedwetters in the media, that Marine Boot Camp is the most humane military training in the world, because it facilitates survival in combat. I believe if you’ve never been under fire, your opinion is uninformed—and probably ignorant.

I believe that most critics of our military in the media, Hollywood and politics would curl up in a quivering ball of tears if they were asked to endure for a week what our military men and women endure in peacetime, never mind when deployed to a war zone. I believe most of those critics are moral and physical cowards, and they know it—it eats their souls and makes them venomous.

I believe that if the chips are on the table, and lives are at stake, you’d be better to have one half-dead old Marine at your side, than all the politicians and Hollywood entertainers you could cram into hell.

I believe that it was the highest privilege of my life to wear the uniform of the United States Marine Corps. I don’t believe the country owes me anything for doing so, but that my serving was partial payment on what I owe our country—a debt that can be never fully paid, but with my life.

Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts state senate. He blogs at www.tartanmarine.blogspot.com

It's not your money to spend


Scroll down to #12, click and listen.

World Wide Reach

My blog piece “I’m Tired” translated into Portuguese by a really nice guy in Brazil.

Lumières: I'm Tired
By Fernando Sampaio

Robert A. Hall é um veterano do Vietnam que por 5 vezes foi eleito para o Senado Estadual de Massachusetts. Em seu blog, escreveu um desabafo intitulado I'm tired sobre a conjuntura política em seu país. ...Lumières - http://deslumieres.blogspot.com/

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Response to a post attacking me over Islam

I allow most comments to post, even those attacking me, so I posted the one, below. I thought it worth publishing here, and commenting on it, afterwards. Note the gentlemen, who knows everything about America except how to spell it, doesn’t sign his name, and has to resort to profanity to make his points. ~Bob


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "I'm Tired": I'm not sure what the name is of the person who wrote this article, because I simply found it sitting in my inbox and clicked on the link to the blog so I could leave a comment. So whoever you are, this is for you. You are a shit.Your article has somehow managed to encapsulate everything that is wrong with your odious, hate-infested, failed state of Amerika. The only success you have achieved is to have proven to people like me that the Ugly Amerikan isn't just a harsh stereotype, but all too disturbingly true. It just shocks me that people like you have the nerve to feign pride in a country that, since its birth, has risen on the subjugation of weaker people and left a curse wherever it has cast its greedy, bloodthirsty attention. Let's skip past your first paragraph, which was basically just you congratulating yourself. Let's also dismiss your childish comparisons with other countries; there is no nation in the world, throughout history, that has relied so much on a combination of ethnic cleansing and treachery to build its foundations as the United States of Amerika. Your country was 'founded' when a small group of slave-holding aristocrats decided that they wanted to reap all the economic advantages of their plantations for themselves, without paying any fees to their British overlords. The only statesman who opposed this was Thomas Paine, which was why he was shut out from the corridors of power and consigned to oblivion. With him died the only true spirit of 'free' Amerika that ever existed. Hmm, now there's a history to be proud of. When a US President goes on national TV and apologises for the very way in which the country was born, then you can start to cast your ignorant judgement upon other, more honest nations. Of course, no Amerikan rant can be complete without some ugly hate speech aimed at Muslims, and true to the cliche, here you are to display your sheltered stupidity. Tell me, where in the Qur'an does it actually speak of honour killings? Presumably, having made such claims in your little speech, you must have researched the matter first, right? Of course you did. So where does the Qur'an instruct Muslims to kill their girls for going to school, and all the other Hollywood-sponsored drivel that you have conjured up? Can you provide the chapter and the verse? No...you can't can you, you moron. Those cases that you cite are cases of sheer ignorance, which have no basis in Islamic doctrine. Unlike, of course, the US policy of torturing civilians, which is very much a part of Amerikan military doctrine. But surprisingly, you didn't touch on that. Who knows, maybe your military career came off the back of applying the same noble techniques upon the 'gooks' in Vietnam, hence your reluctance to criticise it.All your vitriol about Democrats and other internal political issues means nothing to me; you Amerikans are so cute, pretending that the outside world gives a shit about Palin, or Obama, or any of the other scumbags that walk around in Washington, pretending that their country has something good to offer to the world. It doesn't.Perhaps the most galling aspect of your repulsive, hypocritical tirade is what you had to say in an attempt to defend the bestial behaviour of your soldiers across the world. Let me explain something to you, dickhead. If there is a big bag in a room, bursting at the seams with something, and a couple of cockroaches eventually crawl out of it, then it is a pretty safe bet that the bag is full of cockroaches. The few, sporadic reports that came out of Iraq and Afghanistan, documenting the human rights violations carried out by US 'soldiers', were not isolated incidents; they were simply the only ones that somehow made it to press. For all we know, as I'm typing, there is another 15 year old girl out there being gang raped and set on fire by the same US 'soldiers' who murdered her family minutes earlier; or maybe at this exact moment there is another convoy of US 'soldiers' who, in reaction to hearing the firing of bullets, are currently shooting at everything in sight and murdering any unarmed civilians they see. Both of these have happened in reality, and I do not doubt that they will happen again. In fact, why even look at the horror that you monsters inflict on others? There have been cases of female Amerikan soldiers dying of dehydration out in Iraq...want to know why? Because they avoid drinking water in fear that if they have to go to the toilet at night, they will be caught and raped by their comrades. I read that report over a year ago, and it made me physically sick. So when I read accounts of Amerikan soldiers handing out sweets from their tanks to Iraqi kids so that those starving children will act as human shields in the event of an insurgent attack, I don't feel too much surprise nowadays. The only thing that surprises me are idiots like you, who pretend that there is an iota of dignity or honour in the armed forces of your filthy, depraved country. In the immediate wake of the World Trade Centre attacks, I watched with many across the world and felt a genuine pang of upset for the US...now, as I read daily reports about the kind of atrocities that your subhuman comrades inflict on innocent, God-fearing people, I feel only joy when I hear about random high-school shootings that remove just a few more Amerikan lives from this planet. That is what people like you have done to me, and most probably done to many others in the world. I know that one day I will be cured of this bloodlust that exists within me, but for you and your kind, I can only hope that you will find the pain you have inflicted on others visited back upon you, if not in this life then at least the next.And 'hoo-rah' to that.

I have indeed read quite a bit about Islam, the Qur’an and the Hadiths (the traditions of the Prophet—Peace be upon Him) which are considered holy works without which one cannot understand the Qur’an. And I have not found anything about honor killing or genital mutilation of young girls in those works. (Though there is support for child marriage in Islam under Shari’a law, as the hadiths say Muhammad married his youngest wife at 6, consummated the marriage when she was 9.) But there is mush of hate, conquest, and the subjugation of women that leads to these outrages. Google “honor killing” and see how many Presbyterians are murdering their female family members over the family’s “honor.”

That there are hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims who want to live in peace is certainly true, just as there were millions of peaceful Germans and Japanese in 1938 who wanted to live in peace. Given that they do not have to power or authority of the haters, that is irrelevant, just as it was in 1938. I feel bad for them, living under the governments and Shari’a law they do. If any place needs separation of church (mosque) and state, it is the Islamic countries. Unfortunately, Islam is both a religion and a political system—they are inseparable—and it’s every Muslim’s duty to impose Islam & Shari’a on the rest of us, by force if necessary.

And, yes there are violent parts of the old testament--but Christians and Jews are not acting on them every day.

Among the books on Islam I’ve read and recommend:

No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam by Reza Aslan. A pro-Islam book. Aslan is a scholar from Iran, so bends a little to the Shi’a side of Islam’s internal Jihad.

Sowing the Wind: The Seeds of Conflict in the Middle East by John Keay

The Sword of the Prophet by Serge Trifkovic

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades by Robert Spencer

A Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden

The below quotes are from the Qur’an. Note that the number of the Surah will vary with the translation. And the translation itself may vary. There are modern, politically-correct translations that moderate the comments, for example changing beat your wives to chastise them.

Qur’an Quotes

"Slay them wherever you find them...Idolatry is worse than carnage...Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme." (Surah 2:190-)

"Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it." (Surah 2:216)

"Men are tempted [in this life] by the lure of women...far better is the return of God. Say: 'Shall I tell you of better things than these, with which the righteous shall be rewarded by their Lord? Theirs shall be gardens watered by running streams, where they shall dwell for ever: wives of perfect chastity..." (Surah 3:14, 15)

"The only true faith in God's sight is Islam." (Surah 3:19)

"Believers, do not make friends with any but your own people...They desire nothing but your ruin....You believe in the entire Book...When they meet you they say: 'We, too, are believers.' But when alone, they bite their finger-tips with rage." (Surah 3:118, 119)

"If you should die or be slain in the cause of God, His forgiveness and His mercy would surely be better than all the riches..." (Surah 3:156-)

"To those that declare: 'God has commanded us to believe no apostle unless he brings down fire to consume an offering,' say: 'Other apostles before me [Muhammad] have come to you with veritable signs and worked the miracle you asked for...If they reject you [Muhammad], other apostles have been rejected before you..." (Surah 3:183-)

"If you wish to replace a wife with another, do not take from her the dowry you have given her..." (Surah 4:20)

"The Jews and Christians say: 'We are the children of God and His loved ones.' Say: 'Why then does He punish you for your sins?" (Surah 5:18)

"Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends." (Surah 5:51)

"The God will say: 'Jesus, son of Mary, did you ever say to mankind 'Worship me and my mother as gods besides God?' 'Glory to You, 'he will answer, 'how could I ever say that to which I have no right?" (Surah 5:114-)

"Believers, when you encounter the infidels on the march, do not turn your backs to them in flight. If anyone on that day turns his back to them, except it be for tactical reasons...he shall incur the wrath of God and Hell shall be his home..." (Surah 8:12-)

"Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme." (Surah 8:36-)

"If you fear treachery from any of your allies, you may fairly retaliate by breaking off your treaty with them." (Surah 8:51-)

"...make war on the leaders of unbelief...Make war on them: God will chastise them at your hands and humble them. He will grant you victory over them..." (Surah 9:12-)

"It ill becomes the idolaters [non-Muslims] to visit the mosques of God..." (Surah 9:17)

"Fight against such as those to whom the Scriptures were given [Jews and Christians]...until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued." (Surah 9:27-)

"It is He who has sent forth His apostle with guidance and the true Faith [Islam] to make it triumphant over all religions, however much the idolaters [non-Muslims] may dislike it." (Surah 9:31-)

"If you do not fight, He will punish you sternly, and replace you by other men." (Surah 9:37-)

"Prophet make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home." (Surah 9:73)

"Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them." (Surah 9:121-)

"Say: 'Praise be to God who has never begotten a son; who has no partner in His Kingdom..." (Surah 17:111)

"Fight for the cause of God with the devotion due to Him...He has given you the name of Muslims..." (Surah 22:78-)

“Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly." -- Qur'an Surah 8:60

Recycling old posts

For those who have recently joined my blog thanks to the circulation of “I’m Tired” on the net, below are a few of my earlier posts that you might be interested in. By recycling, I figure I can fight Global Warming by saving millions of electrons.

Thanks to the hundreds of folks who commented on various posts. I wish I had more time to respond to you. As of Friday evening, I had 165 hours in at work over the past three weeks, and have been getting about 200 e-mails a day at home. I'm hoping it will settle down on both fronts.

I do read all your comments, and find the wide varies of opinions and people interesting. I’m surprised and gratified at the number of supportive comments from around the world. And I’ve appreciated some intelligent dialog with those who disagree, including a guy named Tim who does beautiful woodwork for custom kitchens.

I also note that those who oppose my views are the ones most likely to need to resort to name-calling and profanity, and supporters are most likely to sign their names. There’s nothing to be afraid of by signing your name. Yes, I live in Chicago, but all the Outfit leg-breakers here work for the Mayor’s Democrat Machine—those who aren’t guests of the government. A poor Republican like me couldn’t afford a free-lance thug to bother you. So stand behind your opinions!

Is Honor Dead?

Angry Liberals

Sending Jobs Overseas

When the Guardians Fail

Reading List for the War on Terror

Everything I need to know, I learned in Boot Camp

If the links don't work, you can click back through my old posts a couple of months and find these.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Aborting girl babies

Feminists are being hit with the Law of Unintended Consequences, as readily available abortions, the ability to determine the sex of the unborn child, and the tradition of preferring boy babies in third world countries provide a nexus that’s killing off females.

“China's gaping sex ratio at birth (is) among the highest in the world at 120 boys for every 100 girls,” says Science Magazine. “In 1980, China, concerned about a population explosion, adopted a one-child policy -- and enforced it through compulsory sterilizations and abortions. The policy clashed with the country's patrilineal tradition so much so that many families went to great lengths to ensure that their sole child was a boy. As a result, mortality rates among girls ages 1-4 spiked.” (Great Lengths being a polite term for infanticide.)

Meanwhile, CNN reports, “Researchers in India and Canada for the Lancet journal said prenatal selection and selective abortion was causing the loss of 500,000 girls a year.”

I wonder if partial birth abortion could be used in those countries, for pregnant women who can’t get an ultrasound? The baby comes out feet first. The doc takes a gander at the genital area, and if the baby has a flower instead of a stem, in goes the suction tube to slurp out the brain. The woman gets to go home either with a prized boy baby or a chance to try again.

I’m not aware of any studies in the US as to the gender of aborted babies. Such a study would be very politically-incorrect. But maybe the Obama administration, with its professed reverence for science, will support getting the data. Wanna bet?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Who pays taxes?

This short article is from the National Center for Policy Analysis, a free-market think tank that studies economic, tax & healthcare issues. They do a daily e-mail (free!) that condenses 5-6 articles. It's a good way to keep informed. You can subscribe at http://www.ncpa.org/.

And before the left-wing haters pile on, no, I'm not close to that top 1% tax bracket. My new two-pronged strategy for dealing with my declining IRA (which, strangly, has gone way down since January 20): retire later, die earlier.


Many critics have erroneously claimed that the Reagan and Bush tax cuts only benefited the wealthy. The truth is that ever since Reagan, the rich have borne an ever-increasing share of the tax burden while the poor have been removed entirely from the tax rolls, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

According to a study by the National Center for Policy Analysis:

From 1986 to 2004, the total share of the income tax burden paid by the top 1 percent of income earners grew by nearly half, from 25.8 percent to 36.9 percent.

Over that same time, the burden of the bottom 50 percent of earners was almost halved from 6.5 percent to 3.3 percent.

The Tax Foundation has noted that in 2000, a year before the first tax cuts under Bush, roughly 30 million tax returns had no income tax liability. Every dollar those earners made they kept.
By 2004, a year after the second round of cuts was passed, 43 million returns had no tax. It estimates that, in all, more than 25 million Americans have been wiped off the federal tax rolls just by President Bush.

Source: Editorial, "Rush Vs. The Party Of Soros," Investor's Business Daily, March 10, 2009.

For text:

For NCPA study:

For more on Taxes:

Paying for other folks' mortgages

Can you afford a $750k mortgage? You can now--you'll be paying for it for someone else though, who will be grateful--to the politicians! ~Bob

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Subsidizing Bad Decisions
by Thomas Sowell

Now that the federal government has decided to bail out homeowners in trouble, with mortgage loans up to $729,000, that raises some questions that ought to be asked, but are seldom being asked.

Since the average American never took out a mortgage loan as big as seven hundred grand-- for the very good reason that he could not afford it-- why should he be forced as a taxpayer to subsidize someone else who apparently couldn't afford it either, but who got in over his head anyway?

Why should taxpayers who live in apartments, perhaps because they did not feel that they could afford to buy a house, be forced to subsidize other people who could not afford to buy a house, but who went ahead and bought one anyway?

We hear a lot of talk in some quarters about how any one of us could be in the same financial trouble that many homeowners are in if we lost our job or had some other misfortune. The pat phrase is that we are all just a few paydays away from being in the same predicament.
Another way of saying the same thing is that some people live high enough on the hog that any of the common misfortunes of life can ruin them.

Who hasn't been out of work at some time or other, or had an illness or accident that created unexpected expenses? The old and trite notion of "saving for a rainy day" is old and trite precisely because this has been a common experience for a very long time.

What is new is the current notion of indulging people who refused to save for a rainy day or to live within their means. In politics, it is called "compassion"-- which comes in both the standard liberal version and "compassionate conservatism."

The one person toward whom there is no compassion is the taxpayer.

Read it all here:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Interesting article on health care

Sweden's Government Health Care
by Walter E. Williams

Government health care advocates used to sing the praises of Britain's National Health Service (NHS). That's until its poor delivery of health care services became known. A recent study by David Green and Laura Casper, "Delay, Denial and Dilution," written for the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs, concludes that the NHS health care services are just about the worst in the developed world. The head of the World Health Organization calculated that Britain has as many as 25,000 unnecessary cancer deaths a year because of under-provision of care. Twelve percent of specialists surveyed admitted refusing kidney dialysis to patients suffering from kidney failure because of limits on cash. Waiting lists for medical treatment have become so long that there are now "waiting lists" for the waiting list.

Read it all here:


Resume Rewrites

With the current economy, this article I wrote recently may be of help to you or someone you know. Please send them the link if you think so. ~Bob

Resume Rewrites
Robert A. Hall, MEd, CAE, FSA Scot, FSR

In my 36-year professional career, I’ve always been the hiring authority, both in my first post-college job as a state senator, and for the last 26 years as a non-profit executive. In that time, I’ve seen a lot of resumes. And, since I’ve been with several organizations, I’ve also sent out more than a few. I’ve developed some strong opinions about resumes, but if you know me, you know I’ve developed strong opinions about damn near everything.

I think it’s safe to say now has to be the toughest time for job seekers since I applied to and was accepted by the United States Marines in 1964. If I’d had a resume then it might have said, “Cocky, bright, good work ethic, will go to any hell hole you say and get my hands dirty to get the job done.” It probably still should.

If you’re applying for jobs in today’s economy, especially if you are “between situations” (as I was for half of 2007), you want your resume to be perfect.

Bad news: there is no such thing as perfect. Resumes not only come in many styles and formats, but they are a lot like websites—very subjective. You can spend a barrel of money having an expert design either one, and the next five “experts” who look at it will say it’s terrible, and needs a makeover. (Usually by them for even more money.)

So my first tip is to get the resume you are comfortable with. Don’t let a resume writer fill it with puffed-up clichés, which have little meaning, and don’t sound like you. I’ve interviewed people who I could tell had someone else write their resumes, once I talked to them. I never found out if they’d have been good employees.

While you should remember that free advice is worth the price, here are some other thoughts that might help you make your resume a keeper:

Review colleagues’ resumes: Read every resume you can from colleagues in your field, especially from those who have landed jobs. Skip the guy who’s been looking since the Harding Administration. There are often things you can borrow, phrases you can use, and ways of presenting things that are new.

Objective: I don’t believe in putting an “objective” on a resume. Your objective goes in your well-crafted, one-page cover letter. It is to secure this particular position, for which you are the perfect fit, because of the following highlights from your resume. A resume “objective” is either so broad as to be meaningless, has obviously been tailored to the particular opening, or is limiting. I’ve often received resumes where the objective had nothing to do with the position I was trying to fill. Like finding typos, that made it easy to pop them in the “no” pile.

Profile/Summary of Qualifications/Skills: I’ve never used one. I can see the value to catch the attention of a reviewer who has a large pile of resumes on the desk. But so many of those I’ve read are heavy on the clichés. Aren’t you turned off when a salesperson oversells you? If you do start your resume this way, I think under-stated and straight-forward will make a better impression, e.g., “Manager with successful record in customer development, fiscal management, employee relations and…..”

Clichés and jargon: “Seasoned Professional.” (Garlic? Hot peppers?) “Change Agent.” (So were Hitler and Stalin.) “High Impact.” (When dropped from a plane.) “Hit the Ground Running.” (He’ll never get any better than day one.). I find resumes as full of words that sound good and mean little as a Chicago Politician. And if one more candidate tells me she/he “is a people person,” he/she will make a “High Impact.” You are turned off by clichés; don’t you think the hiring authority is as well?

Jargon is also likely to turn off the reader. I often help transitioning Marines with their resumes. Usually their first draft is terrific—if they were applying to be a senior Marine leader. I help them speak civilian.

Don’t get fancy: Resumes with graphics look childish to me. Resumes with pictures make me wonder why they think that matters. Fancy paper suggests to me it is needed to titivate the content—I’ve done just fine on white copy paper, thank you. (Chances are the headhunter—excuse me, Search Consultant—will put it on copy paper to distribute to the organization anyway.) Skip the color rainbow. And two fonts are the maximum: a nice, common sans serif like Ariel for heads and a serif like Times New Roman for body text. You may be tempted by gimmicks in this economy, but they make you look desperate and unprofessional.

Action Verbs: “Responsible for the budget” is weak. I always want to ask, “Yeah, but did you do any of the things you were responsible for?” Words like managed, implemented, supervised, planned, presented, increased and developed are action verbs. They say that you did something.
Be specific: “Responsible for membership development” versus “Increased membership by 42.3% over three-year period.” Which candidate would you interview? And remember the accountant’s rule for expense reports: $15 for lunch looks made up, while $16.43 looks exact, so don’t round off numbers.

Take appropriate credit: If during your tenure sales, income and production all increased, claim it. They will know it was a team effort, but it was your responsibility on your watch. You’d get the blame if they went the other way! On the other hand, if you were the Director of Sales, taking credit for production increases might be a stretch. The “Incredible Hulk” has a career, the “Incredible Employee” doesn’t.

Length: I like the old rule. One page for under ten years experience, two for 10 to 20, and three pages for longer careers. But unless you’re an academic, thus expected to list every conference and publication, never longer than three. This depends on your circumstances, of course, but a three-page resume for a twenty-year-old looks pretty puffed. I do believe in including additional information with my resume and cover letter, usually a list of references (I like to list several), and a list of my published management articles, sometimes with an appropriate writing sample. (But not the poetry, fiction or opinion columns I’ve also published.)

Affiliations and credentials: Again, list what is relevant to the position. I list professional associations, but not the many veterans, Scottish and other organizations I belong to. I put CAE behind my name, but not FSA Scot. (Extra credit if you figure that one out!) Claiming credentials (or experience) you don’t have, or from degree mills, is, of course, unethical and stupid. But I understand it’s widely done. If that’s your style, I can credential you as a fellow FSR* for only fifty bucks.

Personal information: Generally skip revealing that your hobby is knitting or that you love to garden (unless, of course, you are applying to a gardening or knitting organization!). I do include personal information I think is relevant. Last time I was job hunting, I reported “No missed days for illness in five years,” but I’m at an age where age discrimination is a possibility and wanted them to know I show up for work. I’d also list things like “free to travel” and/or “willing to relocate” if true and you think they may be relevant to the employer.

Leaving out information: Always a tough call. I leave out one job, because I was there only long enough to find A. I’d been lied to, B. The reserves didn’t exist, C. The leadership wasn’t committed enough to change and D. A new job. I figure all I learned there was to do better due diligence, it was a while back, and it doesn’t leave an obvious gap. But I reveal it if asked. Once you lie, you’re sunk.

Order: The rule used to be that your education was listed first. I think my experience is more relevant, so I list it ahead of my education. But if neither is impressive, then you have my permission to use graphics, colors, clichés, ten fonts and fancy paper. Who knows—it might work.

Good luck. Remember that persistence counts. Write if you get work.

*Full Service Rogue