Archive from January, 2011
12 Jan
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Charles Krauthammer’s response to liberal politicization of Rep. Giffords’s shooting

This is an excellent article written by Charles Krauthammer on this issue. Of note, the writer is also a medical doctor.

12 Jan
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January Meeting

Title: January Meeting
Location: WNRC: 3 West 51st Street b/w 5th and 6th Avenue
Link out: Click here
Description: Please Join Us For Our First Meeting of 2011

Guest speaker:
Capt. Glenn Sulmasy will be speaking on Guantanamo and Khalid Sheik Mohammad–The Way Ahead. He is an expert on national security issues and recently published The National Security Court System – A Natural Evolution of Justice in an Age of Terror, which will be available after the meeting.

Free Event, Members and Non-Members Welcome
First event or coming alone? Let us know and we’ll introduce you around!
Refreshments served.
Join us in the Pub afterward for drinks, food, and discussion.

Please note: Business attire required. No jeans, sneakers, hats, sweatshirts, etc.

Start Time: 19:00
Date: 2011-01-20
End Time: 20:30

11 Jan
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A Personal Letter to Paul Krugman

You’re smart. I get it. New York gets it. Apparently, the New York Times also gets it since they let you publish, pretty much without reserve, anything you deem relevant. You did win a Nobel Memorial Prize in economics, and you did receive undergraduate and doctorate degrees from the nation’s most prestigious universities. You’ve also published boat-loads of books, articles, and theories. But wasn’t/isn’t your specialty trade theory and international finance? I’m curious how trade and finance, which I absolutely know has a political base to it, empowers you to advocate liberal policies and their byzantine governmental purity over us conservative troglodytes and our antiquated notions of a limited, constitutionally-backed republic. I guess I want that same gumption; I practice law, but have always wanted to diagnose Adult-onset Diabetes.

Anyway, in light of the Tucson tragedy and your superior economic pedigree, could you just for once shut your mouth? Just shut it. Maybe no one at the Times has the cajones to say it, but you’ve derailed magnificently. There is nary an article written by you that makes rational, coherent sense (objectively speaking; I’m sure you’re convinced. After all, as the great George Constanza once said: it’s not a lie if you really believe it). Stick to numbers. Finance. Anything. I don’t care. Do more cameo work on buddy-comedies like you did in Get Him to the Greek. Jonah Hill’s dad liked “your sh*t.” I’m sure more fictional characters will because, frankly – that is, hopefully, – very few, actual people do. I think I speak on behalf of all of America, with the exception of the Upper West Side, when I say you’re the smartest dumb person we know.

Let’s take, for example, your Op-Ed of January 9th entitled “Climate of Hate.” Following Jared Lee Loughner’s shooting of Rep. Giffords at a townhall-event in Tucson, AZ, you decided to draft a piece, a little over a day later, all but blaming right-wing conservatism for the assassination attempt and murdered corollaries. As if the person behind the shooting was a mere instrumentality in a greater, darker plot engineered by rhetoric, “vitriol” and “extremism.” Think of what a claim that is when considered in light of the facts as known: the shooter was deranged; he was young (22); his classmates described him as a “pothead,” a “liberal,” and “left-wing.” Yet you’re suggesting he took his marching orders from Fox; from Palin; from pretty-much anyone critical of leftist government. This is the equivalent of saying whales are better equipped for long-term hiking than meteors. Makes no sense. None whatsoever. You also seemed to have overlooked the most notable fact: that Loughner’s grudge against Giffords seemed to have been personal arising from an event in 2007. I’m not an economist or finance-guru, but I think 2007 comes before 2008 (which was the year Palin gained prominence). I’m open to counterarguments.

The truth is, and in spite of it all, it wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t so damn lacking in self-awareness. Day in and day out you pontificate this liberal hogwash, call it sugar, and get fumed when we don’t buy it all the while demanding civility whilst being uncivil. Then you name-call and label people like me homegrown extremists. God, at least be funny about it. I can be labeled a possible threat to the United States by Janet Napolitano; she makes me laugh with her Pete Rose-haircut. But you… there’s nothing funny about what or who you are.

And that’s the problem: you’re serious in your misrepresentations. I truly hope you believe them per Constanza. If not, you’re as irresponsible as they come. I guess I just wanted to say I don’t appreciate, as a conservative republican, being called an accessory to the murder of a federal judge, a child, the elderly, and to an attempted murderer of a politician.



10 Jan
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Murder by Rhetoric

It’s a terrible tragedy that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in cowardly fashion by a one Jared Lee Loughner (how quickly that middle name comes when you assassinate – or attempt to assassinate – public officials). There’s no doubt the Nation suffers when our political representatives are targeted for wanton and willful malfeasance. Yet no sooner than Rep. Giffords made it to the hospital, pundits and commentators alike were condemning the Tea Party, Right Wingers, and, particularly, Sarah Palin (she being the politician to “target” Giffords district in the last election cycle for a possible Republican upset). Apparently heated rhetoric can be the proximate impetus for murder. Goodbye, Brandenburg-standard. You had a good run, but apparently the bar for imminent lawless action just got a lot lower.

Here are the facts thus far (“thus far” used quite loosely since it’s been all of two days): a 22-year old kid (Loughner) – a loner with a deranged obsession with grammar, literacy, and making incomprehensive ramblings on YouTube) – showed up to Rep. Giffords’ event and starting opening fire on her and the crowd. A few people died; including a nine year old girl and federal judge. More were injured. Loughner’s now in custody and that’s… it. That’s all we know at this point.

So how does Sarah Palin and this Right Wing Conspiracy fit in? Apparently by superimposing a .jpg-“target” over Giffords’ district, mind you months ago, Sarah Palin indirectly (or, to some hopefuls, directly) caused Loughner to go on a killing spree. Combine this with the Glenn Beck(s), the Rush Limbaugh(s), the Tea Party rallying cries, the Second Amendment, and frustration over ObamaCare, and this kid’s psyche was obviously usurped and taken hostage by ganglion; red-hued tumors seeping of governmental mistrust fueled by hateful rhetoric.

As a member of said Tea Party, I take umbrage to the idea that I may have indirectly caused some whack-job to go on a killing spree. But here are some additional tidbits that I’d like to mention: his old classmates describe him as a “left wing radical.” I read in the Daily News he was a “left wing liberal.” I can’t put much stock in that, obviously, since the extent of his ramblings make it seem like he’s less inclined to have a black-and-white ideological baseline. But if he even has an inkling of a left wing-proclivity as his peers suggest he does, then this would be the first time in the history of political crime a liberal was incited to violence by right wing rhetoric… towards a fellow liberal!. It evokes Nancy Pelosi saying the Rebuke of 2010’s midterm elections was actually a referendum on [the] President… Bush. Makes no sense, but people are inclined to believe Big Lies as Hitler once suggested.

The good news is Loughner is still alive (the better news: so is Giffords). Right now, he’s “uncooperative.” I have a feeling that will change in the weeks and months to come. However, the portrait we now have is one of derangement – plain and simple. Let the Nation mourn a tragedy; to rush to [misplaced] blame is a fool’s errand that may arise to a level of slander and/or libel. I’m looking at you, Olbermann.

Lastly: do you think if Loughner were a Muslim man, the media response would essentially center on “let’s not rush to any conclusions – big or small?” In light of this and the Ft. Hood Shooting, it’s a fair question.

9 Jan
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Political Points Has No Part In Tragedy

It is extremely reprehensible and irresponsible for the mainstream media to try to pin the shooting of Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords (D-Arizona) and the killing of 6 others by deranged madman Jared Lee Loughner on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.  They are saying the map of targets placed over 20 vulnerable Democrats in the House for the 2010 Election that was posted on her Facebook page last June is related to the actions taken by Loughner yesterday afternoon.  Though the map produced by Sarah Palin showed extremely poor judgment and has no place in our politics, it is not related to Mr. Loughner and his actions at all.  You can even say that the former Governor posting such an item on her Facebook page could  have consequences on her future political career, but you can’t possibly connect it with the actions of a deranged shooter at this time.

I agree that vitriol and hate being spewed out by both sides of the aisle needs to be addressed, the mainstream media wants to ignore the fact that leftist websites like the Daily Kos and Democratic Underground have been producing hate-filled rantings more many years.  Also, they’d like to forget the way that the left tried to tied the foreign policy of George W. Bush to Adolph Hitler throughout his presidency.  Similar rhetoric has been seen on the right when referring to President Obama as a socialist.  This shooting should put both  political parties on notice that the rhetoric needs to change and become more civilized.  Terms of violence should be taken out of political rhetoric as they nothing more than inflame our differences as Americans, rather than unite us.  President Obama must take the lead at this fragile moment in our republic and lead for all Americans.  He must call out any extreme language in our politics on both sides and focus our attention on solving the many problems that face our nation.

Now for Mr. Loughner.  If f look into his background it is clear that the shooter is a mentally unstable 22 year old who doesn’t have any distinct political ideology.  From reading the postings that the Laughner made on YouTube and MySpace, it appears that he is an anti-government anarchist.  He does not believe in God, believes that Gold/Silver is the only true currency, and believes that the government has mind control capacities over its citizens with grammar.  The ramblings are quite incoherent and seem to indicate a deranged loner, rather than a political ideologue as the left and mainstream media has tried to tie him to.  Also, people who know Loughner said that he was loner who kept to himself and according to one source had “extreme left wing” views.  His favorite books include Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto, which we can assume wouldn’t be found on any bookshelves of members of the Tea Party.  Also, he is shown burning an American flag in a YouTube video and denouncing the Constitution as “treasonous laws”, which is hardly “conservative” rhetoric.  Clearly, Jared Loughner is an anarchist with views that don’t fit on the left/right political spectrum.

According to a Department of Homeland Security memo, Loughner may have had ties to a group called American Renaissance, who is anti-semitic and may have some anti-immigration views.  This is perhaps why he made Congresswoman Giffords the target of his attack, but his motive cannot be confirmed at this time.  It also wouldn’t explain why he decided to shoot the rest of the crowd that assembled to meet the Congresswoman, including a nine-year old girl who was one 6 fatalities.  To kill 6 people and look to reload you gun after the first magazine went empty, shows the signs of a mentally unstable and perhaps insane person, not a person drive by a distinct political philosophy.

At this time, our country must pray from Congresswoman Giffords recovery. Violence against political leaders only serves to weaken our democracy.  This should be a time that either side doesn’t look to score political points.  We must acknowledge this a tragedy and look at ways to limit event in the future. One of the consequences of living in a free society is that there is always the chance for lone wolf to create violence.  We need to do a better job of identifying potentially unstable individuals and get them help before they can cause harm to others.

7 Jan
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Sophism and “Wonks”

The great Victor Davis Hanson writes today on NRO on the modern day know-it-all [worth quoting at length]:

In classical Athens, public life became dominated by clever and smart-sounding sophists. These mellifluous “really wise guys” made money and gained influence by their rhetorical boasts of having “proved” the most amazing “thinkery” that belied common sense.

We are living in a new age of sophism — but without a modern Socrates to remind the public just how silly our highly credentialed and privileged new rhetoricians can be….

In February 2009, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize–winning physicist, pontificated without evidence that California farms would dry up and blow away, because 90 percent of the annual Sierra snowpack would disappear. Yet long-term studies of the central Sierra snowpack show average snow levels unchanged over the last 90 years. Many California farms are drying up — but from government’s, not nature’s, irrigation cutoffs…

In 2009, brilliant economists in the Obama administration — Peter Orszag, Larry Summers, and Christina Romer — assured us that record trillion-plus budget defects were critical to prevent stalled growth and 10 percent unemployment. For nearly two years we have experienced both, but now with an additional $3 trillion in national debt. All three have quietly returned to either academia or Wall Street.

There is also a new generation of young sophistic bloggers who offer their wisdom from the New York–Washington corridor. They usually have degrees from one or more of America’s elite colleges and navigate an upscale urban landscape. One, the Washington Post’s 26-year-old Ezra Klein, recently scoffed on MSNBC that a bothersome U.S. Constitution was “written more than 100 years ago” and has “no binding power on anything.”

One constant here is equating wisdom with a certificate of graduation from a prestigious school. If, in the fashion of the sophist Protagoras, someone writes that record cold proves record heat, or that record borrowing and printing of money will create jobs and sustained economic growth, or that a 223-year-old Constitution is 100 years old and largely irrelevant, then credibility can be claimed only in the title or the credentials — but not the logic — of the writer.

As conservatives we believe in government limited to the scope of its proper functions.  Outlining the scope of these functions is why we have written constitutions on the state and federal level.  All the other activities of society are left to a free people to determine.  There is no charted course, only the aspirations and desires of individuals who work together to achieve definite aims in a peaceful society.  That’s how we view things, at least.

To save us from our nondescript, constantly changing ambitions (that is, living our lives to the best of our abilities, trying to find a certain happiness with what we’re given as talents and in opportunity), come the Wonks, the know-it-alls.  How do they know it all?  Well, they have degrees and credentials from Harvard and Yale, Columbia and Wellesley.  And that doesn’t get the point across,  and they tell us they know it all.

If you dare disagree with a Wonk on the basis of common sense (like Thomas Sowell does twice a week in his excellent columns), they’ll bombard you with statistics and studies that purport to prove their point.  If you attempt to elucidate your position through an analogous historical lesson, you will soon learn that all times are different, and that history teaches us nothing.  If you attempt to corner them with classical economic logic as presented by Adam Smith, David Ricardo, or David Hume, empirical evidence will be thrown in your face, to dizzy and confuse you and trip you.  If you’re still lucid (a big if), and reconstruct the story told by their empirical data into something coherent and logical, so as to validate the truth of your points in real life, well… then you will be disparaged, or ignored.

Prof. Hanson writes, “[The Tea Party was] instantly derided by our experts and technocrats as ill-informed or worse.”  From the perspective of the Wonk, why shouldn’t they be?  They’re only grandparents who have raised families, worked at and run businesses, veterans who have served their country abroad, small business owners and blue collar union workers.  I bet not 1 in 100 have degrees from our Ivy League.  How many write for the Post, the Times, or Newsweek?  How many could define “epistemic closure” and wax philosophic their “medieval beliefs” of their intellectual opponents?  Most tellingly, who among them would have the perspicacity to look outside the brown parchment of the Constitution for “creative” policy ideas?

Ask a Wonk what to do – in healthcare, financial reform, energy, anything – and they’ll tell you, in great specificity. You will learn, for example, that our Federal government, whose own Post Office is perpetually bankrupt and whose entitlement programs are bankrupting the nation, would be a far more efficient handler of health insurance than private companies; that printing money and handing it to banks makes everybody richer and that shoveling over resources to undeniably corrupt politicians (preferably Liberal Democrats, but occasionally Liberal Republicans) is the proper means of investment; and that, in order to save a warming planet, covered in ice and snow, a new tax must be levied on carbon dioxide.  Along the way you’ll have to accept some newer truths, such as “black is white,”  “2+2=5,” and “WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”

Much has been made about the decline of the the traditional media, and that’s a good thing.  The growing, so-called “conservative” media exist to tell people what they already know – to tell them they’re not crazy, and that the people in Washington D.C. do not have an alternate logical scheme, superior and unbounded by ours.  This function used to be performed by a free and inquiring, mainstream press.  But it appears now that the majority of media interests only promote the view of slick, over-schooled apologists, who make a buck advocating state power over individual lives.

5 Jan
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America’s Institutions, Personified

Imagine, for a moment, if our unscrupulous, overspending Federal [Behemoth of a] Government suddenly lost its abstract nature, and some of its institutions became flesh.  They walked and talked like you and me.  While we’re on this fantasy trip, imagine furthermore they were honest (or close to honest).

How would the Congress, the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve speak, and what would they say?  These three institutions are the Spender, the Piggy Bank, and the Counterfeiter respectively, though just like people they are complex and have conflicting interests.

Congress is:
1) the Spender. Says “We passed this law. We need to fund its implementation. $400,000,000 is necessary.”
2) the Fund Raiser (aka the Tax Levier). Says “We need money to spend. There ain’t no such thing as free lunch. For every transaction on cigarettes, charge $3. On every imported car, charge $3,000. On every hour worked, charge 2.5% of earned wages.”

The U.S. Treasury is:
1) the Piggy Bank. Says “Congress, you can leave your money, raised by taxes and debt issuance here. And when you need it to implement your legislative agenda, from us you shall draw your funds.”
2) the Bondsman. Says, “You need more money to cover short term liabilities? Need to build a dam, or fix some roads, conduct a war? We’ll sell some paper. But like every other bond, you must pay it back at 3%, at 4%, at 5% interest. You’ll get your $4 billion now, but it’ll cost you $4.5 billion over 10 years.”
3) the Creative Accountant. Says, “GAAP rules are for suckers. And besides, government is different. It is less volatile than a private company because it depends on taxes levied on good service, not good service itself. There is no chance for a government default, so what’s it really matter what our books look like to banks and credit agencies? Push those long term liabilities into another set of books that aren’t talked about too much. And could we, just in case, have them hidden from the auditors? If the auditors do find them, and make a stink about it, tell them we have a plan. Here, hand them this 250 page Commission report. It was written by very smart people, you know. Trust me, Congress. One way or another, you’ll get your money.”

The Federal Reserve System is:
1) the Counterfeiter. Says “Psst, Treasury. I hear private banks are getting better returns in the private market than they’re getting from you. Even with risk figured in, it’s getting tough to keep rates so low. Let’s get some of that government debt off their books. I’ll buy it from them at market price. And not a word of worry from you: You see, I have all the money in the world, and then some. (Thanks Congress!) With this new cash banks will make more loans at even lower rates, which includes Treasury bonds. And Boy, do I have a surprise for you! All that interest you pay on your debt that I’ll soon hold… that money goes right back into you pocket! Law of the land; I swear it. You wrote the rules yourself.”
2) the Rate Fixer. Says to the public, “Who likes an expensive loan? All you entrepreneurs, how much easier would it be to turn a profit if you could borrow at 3% and not 7%? Homeowners: Do I hear complains about lower monthly payments? Anybody? These are all man made rates, anyway. And the best financial innovation in the last 100 years has been Central Banking with a ‘Flexible currency.’ Yup – it’s flexible, which means we can stretch and mold it to suit our needs. Certainly convenient – not like that barbaric Gold Standard… geesh, what a bunch of stiffs. No more arbitrary limits on debt. Just fire up the printing presses, err the highly complex and sophisticated computer algorithms, and and watch prosperity abound!”  Says, to Congress, “By the way guys – if we keep lowering rates, this means you can borrow more and more until we hit 0%. Borrowed $100 billion at 5%? So what?! Just borrow $100 billion at 3% and use THAT money to pay it back. We’re at 5%/4%/3%/2.5%, now, which means we’ve got some breathing room… for now.”
3 ) the Deal Maker (aka the Cartelist). Says to his banker friends, “You guys sure do have a tough job. I wouldn’t want to be a speculator for a living. I’d almost certainly lose my pants (remember the 70s?). Wouldn’t it be nice if you were all protected on the downside? Do I have some good news for you! That whole class of taxpayers – they’re all suckers. They must take my debt, whether they like it or not. Enviable position, right? I’ll make your lives real easy, but I need some cover. See, it would be too obvious if I bought Treasury bonds right from the Treasury. Even the suckers aren’t that stupid. So instead, YOU buy the Treasury bonds and I’ll buy them from you later on for cash. Oh yeah, and if you ever run out of money with all this crazy “fractional reserve banking,” have no fear. I’ll be your lender of last resort. I protect my friends – of that you can be certain.”
4) the Bubble Blower. Says, to the chattering economists, “What do you mean all that phony capital went into bad loans? What do you mean $2 trillion of wealth just “disappeared” over night? I printed that money myself! This is unacceptable. Absolutely and totally unacceptable. So unacceptable that I’m going to put it RIGHT back where it ought to be. Excuse me? You think this is mere Enron style papering over of bad debt, do you? Well, Mr. Economist, you’re wrong. We are the government, not some criminal enterprise.” Says, to the public, “The weakness in housing market activity and the slower appreciation of house prices do not seem to have spilled over to any significant extent to other sectors of the economy.” [Bernanke, 2/15/07]

5 Jan
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ADP Job Numbers UP 297,000 in December

From MarketWatch:

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Private-sector employment jumped a record 297,000 in December, according to Automatic Data Processing Inc.’s employment report released Wednesday, in what could be a signal that the recovery is finally adding jobs at a meaningful clip.

There is no doubt that we should celebrate this news, for the families and individuals who recently found work and who can support themselves without the assistance of welfare programs.

A few remarks: December is Christmastime.  Retailers hire for the holiday sales rush.  GDP, a not great indicator of economic health, is basically a summation of receipts.  A flurry of sales one month does not mean at all that spending will continue next month.

The true measure of economic health is always production and employment.  In economic terms, it means you are at the full possible utilization of all resources, to the extent that is practically possible (given frictional unemployment, technological disruptions, resource discovery and exhaustion, etc.).  There is little government can do to help realize this state of affairs, aside from keeping the peace and improving information gathering and broadcasting, which make for more informed and (therefore, we assume) better decision making.

Fundamentally, there is nothing that should excite a competent economist.  Our Federal government has taken all efforts to create a 2nd Great Depression and has largely succeeded through an unprecedented intervention that has left us with outstanding questions and yet-to-be felt unintended consequences.

3 Jan
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In a New York State of Snow

Hailing from Buffalo, I am accustomed to snow. Plain and simple. When City Slickers cry over inches, Upstate New Yorkers growl over feet. Then we shovel. And shovel. A plow would eventually come, and all would be right in the world. So when twenty inches were set to fall – now known as the fifth biggest snowfall New York City has ever seen – I didn’t give it two thoughts. I think my childhood in Buffalo solidified this [now mistaken] belief that sanitation crews do, you know, their jobs.

Oh, how I was wrong. New York City was a *snow*-show for a whole week. I was out the night the blizzard hit. It wasn’t until 230AM that Monday morning – when the storm was at its peak – that I discovered the horror. For starters, I made the mistake of driving my car to Greenwich Village. Little did I know that my car would be buried up to the windows with plow-compacted snow. By “plow-compacted,” I’m referring to snow that is so tightly packed it’s practically impossible to shovel off.

No gloves. No scarf. Nary a cloth to protect me but a hat, I endeavored to dig my car out and make it back to my apartment in Queens. I think I assumed that if I could release my car from the White Terror, and get on the road, that the BQE would be clear and somehow, someway, I would be able to park my car safely on a street in Astoria.

Taking about an hour – which, during the time, plows kept coming and I had to make a stand, Tiananmen Square-style, to divert the plows around my car – I had time to watch the City’s [read: government’s] response to a blizzard everyone knew was coming. For starters, plows were getting stuck on their own accord. Fire trucks were barely moving. One plowman, noticing I was digging out my car, stopped and asked if I needed to leave. “Yes,” obviously. He said he’d be right back to help. Guess Reagan was right with his nine words of caution… except that guy never came back.

By the time I was on the road, and cars were in gridlock from SoHo to the LES (and, presumably, everywhere else), I started noticing just how terrible the response was. I mean – terrible. It was like the Wild West. No one knew what was going on; cars were going everywhere (yours truly, included), and all the while the *help* became the helpless. I am not exaggerating when I say I saw more plows and fire trucks stuck than pedestrian cars. I even came across a car fully engulfed in flames. No idea how it happened, but I half-expected Kurt Russell to run-by me with an eye patch on, getting his Escape on.

I finally made it home by 530AM. I abandoned my car in TriBeCa and caught the last train out. Looking back, I don’t think I had it as bad as some (seven hours on an A-train?!). But then, I also didn’t plan on waiting for a plow/fire truck/Bloomberg to save me either. Which brings me to my point-

This storm revealed two major cultural and political truths that have been as self-evident since the dawn of social contracts and the term “self-evident.” First, governments are great about planning but terrible about implementing. They hold hearings. They call meetings. They use their bully pulpits and power to make all sorts of points and policy proposals. But throw them in a crisis – a Katrina; a BP-spill; a Blizzard – and you see firsthand that all bets are off. It was a private citizen that stopped the Underwear Bomber… that downed United 93… that alerted the authorities to the Times Square Bomber… that dug out most people/themselves following the latest snowfall. And yet, in times of crises many insist “regulation” is the answer. Which, when dissected, just means more red tape and more bureaucracy. So they plan, and plan, and plan… and plan. And then issue rules and regulations. Which would be great, honestly, if these rules and regs were strictly derived from the core functions of the governmental agency in question. Say, for example, plowing a street as a core function of the Department of Sanitation so, as a rule, cars should not be parked on main streets the night a storm occurs. Instead, we get citywide bike lanes for the six bicyclists that live in the five boroughs.

And number two: people will literally die waiting for the government. I saw people sitting in their cars waiting for plows to clear the streets. People complained at the Mayor’s Office that the plows didn’t even broach their neighborhoods (which they weren’t (and it’s shameful, if true, that many union plows were directed to avoid neighborhoods to send a message to the Mayor)). I personally shoveled my way out of my predicament. Many on my street did as well. Hell, James Gandolfini helped out cars in the West Village for crying out loud. On subways, people waited hours for trains that never came. Many got stuck on trains that never moved. Except my friend Manuel, that is. Manuel left work at midnight, and waited two and a half hours for a 1-train. It never came. He walked from 4th street in the Village to 149th street. In the blizzard. It took him two and a half hours, but he did it.

He didn’t wait for someone to help him – least of all, the New York City government.

3 Jan
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Jealous, Self-Righteous Friedersdorf Attacks Conservatives

OF all the snots that pollute the conservative movement, Conor Friedersdorf hardly stands out.  His incessant pleas for civility in political discourse are as petulant as they are naive, accompanied as these things are by a certain willingness to swiftly pass intellectual judgment on fellow conservatives.  Talk radio hosts, whose very medium allows for intimate, conversational, and regular communication with audiences, attract special disdain and condescension from the would-be sage of blogging.  Fridersdorf confuses panache for ignorance, entertaining rhetoric for simple-mindedness, and high ratings for unsound arguments.  Fridersdorf expends nearly half his words paradoxically condemning those on the right who dare present a modicum of principle.  Rounding out the triumvirate of Republican “moderates,” along with David Frum and David Brooks, Friedersdorf is as unknown as he is disliked by the majority of those who should constitute his audience – conservatives.

Writing as a guest on the blog of the formerly relevant  Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic, who only one short year ago abandoned the Right, Fridersdorf regularly indulges his nasty habit of attacking those conservatives who are smarter, more experienced and accomplished, as well as more popular and adored.  The favorite target of Friederdorf is undoubtedly the talk radio host and Constitutional lawyer, best selling author, and tea party advocate Mark Levin, who was recently part of the legal team instrumental in overturning the legality of Obama’s individual mandate.  Mr. Levin does not require a defense of his curriculum vitae, especially against an unknown blogger, and thus I will focus on Friedersdorf’s shallow spectacle of snobby populism that passes for criticism in The Atlantic.

Friedersdorf cites in his defense the recent testimony of occasional bomb thrower Jonah Goldberg, Editor-at-Large of National Review Online. Goldberg is probably most famous for his 2008 book Liberal Fascism, which worked up the professional left to such a degree with its revisionist history and provocative title and cover that the generally well-liked and affable Goldberg found himself in the same class of unwashed conservatives as Rush Limbaugh, Levin, etc.  Said Goldberg recently in an internet radio interview,

[I]t’s not the best analogy, but if you’ve got to tear down a house and replace it with another one, you need some guys with sledgehammers and earth movers, those are the people like Levin and Glenn Beck, some of those guys. But you also need people who do the fine carpentry and detail work. The way Bill Buckley or George Will or Charles Krauthammer might, or the guys at the Claremont Review of Books. It’s like a symphony. You need the string instruments and you need the percussion.

I agree.  Democracy requires powerful rhetoric on both sides of an argument, and honest debate requires frank condemnation of the points one disagrees with.  This is true everyday in the streets of a vibrant republic that still pays attention to important political questions, and during election time.  Blunt, even insulting, language will be a part of democracy as long as human nature remains fixed.  To understand the deep truth of this proposition, all one must do is study ancient Athens, the American colonial experience and history of the early Republic,  or visit an American high school in April or May, and realize that cordiality has never been a hallmark of popularity contests.

I also agree that as parliaments are majority-driven institutions, detailed compromise and nuance must enter the equation at the proper time.  It is the long-term strategy of the party, perhaps moreso than even the temporal electoral victories, that determine the direction of nation’s politics, and to a certain extent, culture.

Yet I very much disagree with the notion that somebody like Levin is merely a crude wrecking ball, tearing down sensible arguments and compromise with needlessly incendiary attacks on the opposition party.  And herein lies the fundamental failure to communicate between movement conservatives and the self-appointed arbiters of conservatism.  More on that in a bit.

We must now tackle the baseless contention that talk radio hosts perpetually lie and mislead their audiences.  Write Friedersdorf,

Daily factual errors, pathologically outsized egos, and poorly reasoned arguments are not compatible with doing these things well… Even if you believe that politics requires angry shouting against ideological adversaires, consider that it is possible to shout without lying – to forcefully rail against the excesses and errors of your opponents without resorting to bad facts or fallacy-filled arguments.

Here no examples are cited.  That’s odd.  Levin, who reads verbatim from various news sources, always cites his sources and posts them to his website.  Why is it that Fridersdorf, in his attack on somebody who broadcasts 3 hours/day, makes available freely the audio from each show, and posts all his references daily, could not deign his readers a single example of lying?  Apparently the hypercritical and carefully distinguishing readers of The Atlantic are content taking Fridersdorf at his word:  “Every single day, the people I’ve mentioned broadcast shows that are rife with factual inaccuracies and poorly reasoned if emotionally resonant arguments.”  Such as?

Continue Fridersdorf,

The effect is what you’d expect when people of any kind are constantly fed bad information: they become less adept at advancing the valuable insights that they retain, and even worse at identifying and improving the flaws in their belief system.

This paragraph sums up nicely what has become the new trope of the age – that is, conservatives are close minded; they suffer from “epistemic closure.” A close corollary is that anybody who opposes that vast majority of what Obama, Pelosi, and Reid propose are conservatives, and therefore close minded.

This trope is supported by a myth.

In a single generation, the conservative movement has gone from counting William F. Buckley and Milton Friedman as its most effective, popular advocates, to throwing in with Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity. It’s time to stand athwart history yelling stop.

In the fantasy world of Friederdorf, Buckley and Friedman were coy and pliant, yet still “effective” advocates of conservatism.  I’ve read Buckley and I’ve read Friedman.  These men were not given to understatement or mincing of words.  They were not grand equivocators, writing in obscurantist language designed to please both Liberals and Conservatives.   They spoke and wrote boldly, carefully but forcefully making their own arguments for the preservation of human freedom in all spheres of life.  Both were close allies to Reagan, who declared proudly at his inauguration, “Government is the problem.”

More to the point, Buckley and Friedman would have recognized Obama’s agenda for what it was – a massive government expansion and legal overreach by all historical standards, right on par with the New Deal, or worse.  The author of Capitalism and Freedom would declare that further government intervention in healthcare would only raise costs, not lower them.  The same man who employed as writers Hayek and Mises for his magazine would not have taken to the pen and begun issuing condemnations of those who questioned the constitutionality of the Federal Reserve funneling $3.3 trillion to foreign companies.

No, Buckley and Friedman, we should be very confident in assuming, would have turned their fire to the professional left, the Democrat Party, who has taken a citizenry spooked by depression and told them that only their Federal government offered refuge from the economic scourge.

Mr. Fridersdorf, the conservative movement does not need your help.  You are misleading the dupes to a confused and untenable posture of a conservatism that has no guiding principles.  Your unenlightening screeds, snide and childish, appeal only to those conservatives who think they are smarter than the average bear, i.e. those among us who would be content to rule on a petty and didactic level, and differ only in detail with the minions of liberals who would rule our lives through endless bureaucracies.  You are of course free to do so, but I would ask that you do not do so in the name of Reagan, Buckley, and Friedman, who spent careers defeating your squishy element of the Republican Party.