Utopic dreams lead to brutal regimes

Originally posted by me elsewhere on 07/12/201

Quoting from author and Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa:

Utopia, which has produced the most extraordinary masterworks in art, in literature and philosophy, in social terms has always been the most dangerous incentive, or goal, because each time in history that a society has tried to materialize a kind of utopic vision of a perfect world has produced the most brutal… and criminal of regimes.

Varga Llosa was once a socialist, but as he watched how individuals lost their liberties in socialist regimes, he abandoned his left-leaning ways. In 2002 he founded a Spanish think tanks, the Fundación Internacional para la Libertad (FIL), that’s dedicated to promoting liberty and combating the totalitarianism that is an outgrowth of socialism.

In 2009 FIL held an international conference in Caracas, Venezuela. As the Guardian recounts, Hugo Chávez launched a marathon, propaganda show on TV in which he personally appeared for eight-hour episodes attacking the FIL conference (feeling threatened much?). Amidst his blustering, he even challenged members of the FIL to a debate. Vargas Llosa accepted Chávez’s challenge, but only on the condition that it be a one-on-one debate. Chávez said he would be willing to moderate such a debate, but he refused to personally debate Vargas Llosa, muttering something about Vargas Llosa not being in Chávez’s league. During the episode in which he declined the debate, Chávez promised to return to TV the next day for another eight-hour session of Hugo-flavored propaganda, but surprisingly when viewers tuned in the next day, they learned that the show had been canceled for “technical reasons.”

In the following video, you can listen to the man who strikes fear into the heart of Hugo Chávez.

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=obWo2LLxMyU%5D

Interestingly William F. Buckley popularized the phrase, “Don’t Immanentize the Eschaton,” which roughly means “don’t try to create a heaven on earth.” Leftists, enamored by their utopic ideals, do try to create a perfect society on earth, and as Vargas Llosa noted above, such idealism has had an impressive track record of ending in tyranny. At any rate this phrase has become a fun, but “hard-core conservative insider-thing” as Jonah Goldberg explains.

Advertisements

George Will wonders if federal government can force obese people join Weight Watchers

Originally posted by me elsewhere on 7/04/2011

In a panel situation George Will asks whether the federal government can force obese people join Weight Watchers. The liberal members of the panel refused to answer the question. They danced around it saying that it is up to the Supreme Court to decide what’s constitutional. An admission on their part that the federal government does not have the authority to mandate participation in Weight Watchers would have left them having to explain why such a mandate was unconstitutional. The Obama administration has claimed that those who lack healthcare insurance drive up healthcare costs and indirectly impact commerce; for this reason they say that the federal government has the authority to order individuals to buy healthcare insurance. But obesity also drives up healthcare costs; following the Obama administration’s reasoning, you are forced to conclude that obesity impacts interstate commerce. Thus the federal government would apparently have the authority to order people to enroll in programs whose goal is to help them to reduce their weight. However, were the liberal members of the panel to agree that the federal government had such authority, people would be outraged because such a level of involvement in people’s lives would widely be regarded as intrusive or even tyrannical.

You can see a video of Will and the other members of the panel here.

By the way, there are members of Congress who claim that they don’t have to consider whether a bill is constitutional, since they say it is the job of the Supreme Court to make that determination. In contrast the Obama administration is on record making their own determinations as to what is constitutional. Recently we’ve seen Holder announce that he will not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act because he deems this legislation to be unconstitutional.

FAIL: MSNBC interviewer attempts to smack down Republican Congressman

Originally posted by me elsewhere on 7/20/2011

MSNBC interviewer asserts that the U.S. had been going into a depression. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) takes issues with her statement.

[youtube:http://youtu.be/5mtQyEd-zS4%5D

But I thought the Department of Homeland Security was trying to protect us from terrorism….

For some strange reason, I thought that the mission of the Department of Homeland Security was to protect the homeland from terrorist attacks. It could be that the source of this mistaken belief is the DHS’s own mission statement (published in their Security Strategic Plan for 2008 to 2013):

We will lead the unified national effort to secure America. We will prevent and deter terrorist attacks and protect against and respond to threats and hazards to the Nation. We will secure our national borders while welcoming lawful immigrants, visitors, and trade.

Although I take issue with the DHS’s view that returning war veterans are a domestic terrorist threat, at least that still falls under their stated mission of combating terrorism. So imagine my surprise to learn the DHS was recently behind a bungled sting to protect Canadian children from American pedophiles.

Now don’t get me wrong. I want to protect children from pedophiles, but I would have thought that the FBI has both the expertise and jurisdiction to conduct such an investigation. In this particular sting, the DHS sought to lure in pedophiles by setting up a web site that supposedly was fronting for a sex tourism operation. The imaginary package tour would depart from Cleveland, Ohio to destinations in Canada where children there would be victimized by the “tourist.” I am assuming the reason this kind of sting came under the purview of a federal agency was the fact that a border would be crossed. However, if you stop to think about it, the homeland being protected was actually Canada’s.

Why did the DHS sting fail? Because an American computer programmer stumbled across the site and notified the web hosting service of its illegal nature. Not surprisingly the hosting service took it down. After the programmer learned that she had actually thwarted a federal sting, she wondered why the DHS hadn’t hosted the site on a server in its own possession while disguising that fact.

Looking beyond the sting’s failure, to me the worrisome aspect of this case is the mission creep of the DHS. Congress allocates this department a set amount of money each year to protect the homeland against terrorism and natural disasters. Why are they taking this money and duplicating the efforts of other federal agencies? Or why are their agents going after copyright violators? Obviously our federal laws should be enforced, but should the DHS be assuming the lead in cases that actually have nothing to do with the safety of our homeland? Just as the Congress now claims jurisdiction over huge swaths of human activity in the name of the interstate commerce, apparently the DHS seems to be claiming jurisdiction over any illegal activity that endangers anyone’s safety or property. But that’s not where their resources are needed.

I recently addressed another incident in which the federal government seems confused about which agencies should be doing what kind of law enforcement. The post was entitled, Who knew that the Department of Education has a S.W.A.T. team?!?!

Who knew that the Department of Education has a S.W.A.T. team?!?!

Originally posted by me elsewhere on 06/09/2011

In Stockton, California 15 law enforcement officers broke down the door of a private individual at 6 A.M. When the resident, Kenneth Wright, appeared in his boxing shorts to see what the disturbance was, he was drug out of the house by the neck, handcuffed, and locked in a patrol car. His children, aged 3, 7, and 11, were placed in the car with him where they waited six hours in the heat.

It turns out the S.W.A.T. team were really agents of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a semi-independent branch of the Department of Education. They had a search warrant related to his estranged wife’s student aid loan, and it is alleged that fraud was involved.

Just the other day I was telling a friend that I would be in favor of shutting down the federal Department of Education… and that was before I knew it had a S.W.A.T. team.

Related articles

Israeli/Palestinian 1967 borders were armistice borders

The video below does a nice job of re-visiting the popular narrative about the West Bank being “occupied territory.” Among the points made are these:

  • The 1967 borders were armistice borders recognized as having no political significance at the time. There were merely where the opposing camps were when the cease fire went into effect.
  • The last Muslims to exercise sovereignty over the West Banks weren’t Arabs at all. They were Turks. Turkey ceded control of the West Bank to Britain after being defeated by the allied forces in WWI.
  • The people now called the “Palestinians” were never a sovereign people. Prior to 1947 they were Jordanians. They immigrated into the area around this time in a move by Arabs to destroy the young state of Israel.

The video goes into more detail; check it out.

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=XGYxLWUKwWo%5D

Has Obama discovered his inner Rambo?

I was proud of the way that our military and intelligence agencies came together to provide Osama bin Laden with the send off that he deserved. And I so wanted to be proud of President Obama for the first time in my life (hat tip to Michelle). But to be honest I am continuing to have trouble imagining Obama leading the way in an extrajudicial, unilateral, execution of a foreign national residing within the sovereign borders of a putative ally. I mean… that just sounds so un-Obama. As a candidate, Obama voiced his wish to bring bin Laden to justice:

What would be important would be for us to do it in a way that allows the entire world to understand the murderous acts that he’s engaged in and not to make him into a martyr, and to assure that the United States government is abiding by basic conventions that would strengthen our hand in the broader battle against terrorism

Continue reading “Has Obama discovered his inner Rambo?”

Obama’s Budgetary Smoke and Mirrors

Originally posted elsewhere on 4/5/2011

As in magic, it’s all about misdirection. Here are two big ones that Obama tried out during his surprise appearance today at the Whitehouse’s daily press briefings.

  • The president expressed his exasperation that over the past one, two or three months Congress has not been able to come to an agreement about the budget. He is purposely trying to make it look as though Republican intransigence is preventing a 2011 bugdet from being passed. However, his party was in complete control of the Congress when the president proposed his budget in February 2010 until the 2011 fiscal year began on October first of last year. But in an act of cowardice, the Democratic leadership didn’t want their members to be on record for their vote prior to the last election. Following the Democratic “shellacking,” Democrats continued to control Congress until the new Republican House members were inaugurated in January.
  • $73 billion proposed cuts by the Democrats are not real cuts. They are based on the president’s proposed budget in which Obama sought to increase spending over current levels. It’s like a store raising the price on an item, then knocking it back to the suggested list price and trying to pass off the list price as a “sale” price. In order to be a real cut, it must be a cut of existing spending levels.

Are those storm clouds on the U.S. economic horizon?

Originally posted elsewhere on 4/18/2011

sc-8ball-all-signs.jpg

  • S&P rates outlook on U.S. debt as negative. An analyst at National Review, explains what happens if U.S. treasury bonds are actually downgraded:

    The journey to insolvency can be quick, or it can be slow, but most analysts agree that the first signpost along the way will be the withdrawal of the U.S.’s coveted AAA bond rating. And when that happens, woe be unto him that owns government bonds.

    Throughout modern history, the U.S. has had a relatively low cost of funds because Moody’s and the other ratings agencies have given it the highest rating possible. If Uncle Sam loses that rating, then borrowing costs will increase. These higher costs will make the U.S. fiscal situation more untenable, inviting subsequent downgrades and an ultimate death spiral that can be stopped only by massive policy intervention.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, an S&P analyst:

    puts the chance of the U.S. losing its coveted AAA rating within two years at one in three.

Continue reading “Are those storm clouds on the U.S. economic horizon?”

There just aren’t enough rich people to get us out of this hole

Originally posted elsewhere on 4/5/2011

Check out this Bill Whittle video. Bill tries to explore some ways that the federal government could pay for the Obama administration’s proposed 2011 budget. Restricting this exercise to 2011 spending alone, it soon becomes apparent that it’s impossible to raise the money the administration intends to spend this year by making the rich “pay their fair share” as progressives like to put it. The video is based on an analysis of the budget that Iowahawk worked out.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=661pi6K-8WQ%5D