Shocker — AARP Had A Financial Incentive To Push ObamaCare

Professor Jacobson needs a bigger megaphone to spread the message that AARP is an insurance company that is all about profiting from seniors, not an independent advocate for them.  Adding my voice to his is like a fart in a windstorm, but it can’t hurt to spread the word as much as possible. 

Follow the money, they media used to say.  Now, they merely follow their political predispositions.

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Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 12:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tax Increases Result In More Spending, Not Deficit Reduction

At NRO’s The Corner, Veronique de Rugy recounts her experience before the House Ways and Means Commission on debt and deficits and job creation.  One comment, in particular, caught my eye:

[AEI resident scholar Andrew] Biggs’s testimony was particularly interesting. He presented the conclusions of a recent paper he wrote with his colleagues Kevin Hassett and Matthew Jensen. In the article, the economists reviewed the extensive existing literature on fiscal consolidations. They also conducted their own data analysis to study that question. They used a large data set covering over 20 OECD countries and spanning nearly four decades to isolate over 100 instances in which countries took steps to address their budget gaps. Some of these fiscal consolidations were principally spending-based while others relied more on taxes. Here is what they find:

Our findings are striking: countries that addressed their budget shortfalls through reduced spending were far more likely to reduce their debt than countries whose budget-balancing strategies depended upon higher taxes.

The typical unsuccessful fiscal consolidation consisted of 53 percent tax increases and 47 percent spending cuts. By contrast, the typical successful fiscal consolidation consisted of 85 percent spending cuts. These results are consistent with a large body of peer-reviewed research.

I love it when empirical research confirms something intuitive. 

I have written several times before that the key to reducing the size of the debt and deficit is spending reduction, and that tax increases can’t do it.  Why?  Because politicians will simply spend that shiny new tax money as fast as or faster than in comes in.  Sadly, past experience shows that they can’t be trusted to do anything else. 

As a result, tax increases exacerbate the problem instead of alleviating it.  We have too much debt.  So politicians pass tax increases.  Then they spend the money on new projects and benefits.  That leaves us with the same — or more likely, vastly more — debt.  Yet the private economy has less money to grow the real economy. 

Then the cycle begins anew, with new programs siphoning off more money, and a higher tax and deficit baseline.

This is common sense, not rocket science.

Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Obama Doctrine: “Just Enough To Make A Point, But Not Enough To Make A Difference.”

As pundits who are as obsessed with creating presidential “doctrines” as they are with appending -gate to every scandal struggle identify the “Obama Doctrine,” Patrick Ishmael comes pretty dang close to describing the fairly indescribable. 

Obama has made clear that he will only intervene where (i) a humanitarian crisis looms, (ii) the risks and costs are believed to be relatively low, (ii) the offending tyrant has few friends, and (iv) both the U.N. and local players (here, the Arab League) give the green light.  There are many problems with this approach. 

First, it means we are likely to intervene or not intervene based on poorly defined factors.  How many dead bodies must there be?  Is it on a sliding scale along with the expected risks and costs of intervention?  How much risk or expense is too much?   How many allies do we need, and what contribution must they make to the effort?  We don’t know. 

Second, once fighting beaks out, all bets are off.  We cannot control the risk or the expense of intervention.  What do we do if Qaddafi continues to repel the rebels and airstrikes are not enough to stop him?  What if he retakes the rebel territory and starts slaughtering the opposition?   We can only limit our risk by withdrawing when and if things get difficult and don’t go according to plan — doing just enough to make a point, but not enough to make a difference.

But retreat doesn’t solve the problem.  Once we decide to intervene, U.S. power and prestige are on the line, and those things matter.  If we are seen to be strong and resolute, we intimidate our enemies and embolden our friends.  If we are seen to be weak and ineffectual, we make ourselves and our friends vulnerable.

Third, some of the worst and most dangerous tyrants — I’m looking at you Syria and Iran — have a fair number of friends who can be counted on to thwart any effort that requires significant local support or a U.N. stamp of approval.  Oil money and opposition to Israel still buy plenty of influence in the hallowed halls of the U.N.  Yet because of that, along with their large population, armies, brutal hold on power, and huge territories, intervening there is decidedly off the table for the Obama Administration.

Fourth, the policy requires building a house of cards on a sand foundation.  Everyone thinks Qaddafi is nuts, yet Obama’s cobbled-coalition is perilously fractured.  Such a coalition demands extreme caution and restraint, even under circumstances where such restraint means we intervene without making a real difference.

Finally, the Obama Doctrine violates the single most important rule of war from time immemorial: “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”  Bloodied but still breathing kings are dangerous things.

Published in: on March 30, 2011 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Dear Lord, Please Make President Obama Lucky.”

So says Thomas Friedman about our adventure in Libya.  It’s better to be lucky than good, some say, but I fear that our hapless President is neither. 

No one seems to know what our goals or, or what means we are willing to use to achieve them.  We don’t seem to know who is going to be in charge and for how long.  We also don’t seem to know who it is we are helping — the rebels might be freedom fighters, or they might be tribal thugs or al Qaeda types, or they might be some mix of all of the above.  Whoever the rebels are, they are now heading the wrong direction.

I fervently join Friedman’s plea for luck, since we don’t seem to have the skill or resolve at the top of the command chain to rely on anything else.

Published in: on March 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mother Of The Year

“A domestic dispute [over a $5 bag of weed] that boiled over at a business led to a woman being arrested for disorderly conduct after she used her son as a shield against being Tasered.”  Her 5-year-old son.

What’s wrong with people?

Published in: on March 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Economic Illiteracy And Colorado’s Beer Wars

Denver Post columnist Bill Johnson writes a reliably forgettable column, but this week’s is an exception.  It is remarkable for its deep lack of understanding of economic forces, corporations, and the proper role of government.

The context is Colorado’s beer wars.  To recap, for the past several years, convenience and grocery stores have been lobbying for legislation that would allow them to sell full-strength beer.  Currently, convenience and grocery stores can sell only 3.2 beer, or beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% or less.  Liquor stores are barred from selling low-strength beer and can only sell “normal” strength beer, which usually has an alcohol content of between 3.2% and 9%.  Due to this restriction, in Colorado there is almost always a separate liquor store within a stone’s throw of a grocery store, since one-stop shopping is not permitted.

House Bill 11-1284 would eliminate the licensing distinction between 3.2 beer and regular brews, effectively allowing everyone to sell weak or strong beer as they see fit. Liquor stores have been lobbying against the bill, since many of their business models are dependent on the regulatory ban on competition over beer sales between liquor and grocery stores. 

Johnson is against the legislation:

The legislature this year seems determined to wreck as many small businesses as it can identify. The only possible beneficiary of this measure is the corporate bottom lines of the big grocery chains and 7-Eleven and Circle K-type markets.

* * *

I get how convenient it would be to be able to pick up a six-pack while walking the aisles of the supermarket or stopping for a tank of gas.

It would make life considerably easier, I suppose. But at what cost?

* * *

There is a considerable value and uniqueness small businesses bring to every community. Even when it is difficult and, maybe, doesn’t even make sense, we have a duty to give them our support as a way to enrich the places where we live.

In other words, Johnson thinks it is the responsibility of the legislature to inconvenience the public to ensure that a regulatory-created business model is sustained in perpetuity.  Sorry, that is not the proper role of government.  Quite the opposite. 

Government should not be in the business of forcing people to patronize certain businesses to the detriment of others.  Government has no business favoring mom and pop shops or “big grocery chains and 7-Eleven and Circle K-type markets.” 

Indeed small, independent liquor stores are owned by one or a handful of people, who are the primary beneficiaries of any profits.  Circle-K, on the other hand, is a publicly traded company owned by lots of shareholders, such as people with 401K retirement plans.  Why should private liquor store owners be favored over everyone who owns Circle-K stock?

Complicating matters further, 7-Eleven “operates, franchises and licenses close to 7,200 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Of the 6,100 stores the company operates and franchises in the United States, more than 5,000 are franchised.”  In other words, most 7-Elevens in the U.S. are locally owned small businesses, just like most liquor stores.  Why should government favor one set of small businesses over another?

Look, I understand that Johnson likes the idea of small local businesses.  So do I.  Like Johnson, I am concerned that the bill would cause some liquor stores to close.  But displacement by market forces is a necessary though unpleasant fact of allowing markets to flourish. 

And I predict that grocery stores will never carry the selection of craft beers that I like to have, increasing convenience at times while decreasing variety.  But that is no reason for the legislature to prohibit me and every other consumer from “pick[ing] up a six-pack while walking the aisles of the supermarket or stopping for a tank of gas.” 

People who just want a six-pack of Budweiser or Fat Tire can choose the convenience of grocery stores.  People who want a bomber of Arrogant Bastard can choose the variety available at a liquor store.  The government has no business restricting those choices.

Via PPC  by way of Complete Colorado.

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Trouble In Obama-Land — Public Divided On Libya Before Things Inevitably Go Wrong

The problem for Team Obama is, that’s an even split now

That’s an even split before things start to go wrong, as they inevitably will.  It’s war, you don’t get to plan for everything.  The guys you’re shooting at have other ideas and plenty of incentive to try to make them happen.  They don’t have time to plan their March Madness brackets, hit the beaches of Rio, or play golf, because they literally have their own skin in the game.  So the best-laid plans have serious adjusting to do once the shooting starts. 

That’s the problem with half-assing a war.  Instead of shock and awe, we are doing duck and dodge.  But the other side is all in and has every incentive to hang in as long as possible and try to ride out the attacks from Obama’s small, fractured, time-limited French-led alliance.

The One is nothing if not a political animal, and it has not escaped his attention that there’s an election looming in 2012.  So what’s his Plan B?  Throw NATO under the bus?  Take our planes and go home muttering about the unfairness of others fighting back? 

Terrifyingly, this appears to be an instance where Obama’s naiveté and inexperience have trumped his vast self-preservation instincts.  No one, including the President, is sure why we’re there.  But we are.  So now what?

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 10:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Weather Ain’t Climate

But we will hear from the warminists about every single episode of “record heat” that will inevitably happen this summer.  So here’s an early inoculation:

More than 120 vessels have become stranded in ice in the Gulf of Finland, with their number growing by 20 ships every day, the St. Petersburg seaport administration said on Monday.

The Gulf of Finland has been iced over for more than a month, with dozens of ships waiting for assistance because they are unable to ply their way through the heavy one-meter-thick ice floes. The situation in the gulf deteriorated last week after a cyclone from the Norwegian Sea hit the region.

Weather is not climate.  Remember that.

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  

The Boy King’s Heart Just Isn’t In It

Meaning we are going to half-ass it in Libya, according to recent history and tonight’s speech.  VDH sums it up:

Somehow, I don’t think Qaddafi will be impressed enough to step down; the European allies will be somewhat confused over the degree of future American support; the rebels will wonder whether they should take Tripoli or should settle for a zone of sanctuary; critics won’t know whether Obama will ever consult the Congress; we still don’t know why Qaddafi was worse than an Assad or Ahmadinejad — or who or what the rebels are and what the U.S. role will be to ensure something better than Qaddafi.

And that means it isn’t likely to end well.

Qaddafi is a high-functioning psychopath with a highly developed lizard’s instinct for survival who cares nothing about the people he has to kill to stay in power, or at least alive and rich.  And we have him in a corner of sorts without having secured the most obvious exit of slaughtering his opponents.  His family cannot leave the country, his foreign assets are frozen, and the likelihood of International Criminal Court prosecution is high.

At this point, we have to kill him.  Period.  Anything less will leave him emboldened and more dangerous through unconventional means — terrorism — if he survives the current weirdly noncommittal military engagement (disengagement?).   And anything other than killing him is defeat.

But President Present does not understand that.  Once again, we have a lefty who doesn’t seem to understand that his criticisms of those on the right apply far more to himself than his former targets.  Exit plan?  We’d settle for any plan.  Multilateralism?  What happened to 4X as many allies, 17 U.N. resolutions, and overwhelming congressional support.  Rush to war?  How is a week better than over a year.

And worst of all, who are our on-the-ground “allies”?  Does anyone know?  If the rebels win, do we know who they are, and do we have any reason to believe they will not slaughter their historical enemies on tribal lines.  No, we clearly don’t.  

And if they do, what then?

UPDATE: Instapundit answers the key question:

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Obama’s dilemma: Is Libya mission a success if Qaddafi stays?

No. Next question?

When you are dealing with the Middle East, perceived weakness is actual weakness.

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 11:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Exercise Won’t Make You Thin?

Bullshit.  According to the article:

“In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless,” says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher. Many recent studies have found that exercise isn’t as important in helping people lose weight as you hear so regularly in gym advertisements or on shows like The Biggest Loser — or, for that matter, from magazines like this one.

The basic problem is that while it’s true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

Sure, exercise makes you hungry.  So does dieting.  So does being awake.  So does sleeping.  Everything makes you hungry. 

But good exercise makes you hungry in a qualitatively different way.  It’s a good hungry, like the good soreness you get from working out hard.  Sure, the resulting stimulation of hunger makes you eat, but you were going to eat anyway.  The only thing you have to do is either (1) control portions and not eat crap after exercising, or (2) exercise really hard for an extended time if you want to eat lots of crap.

I know this from experience.  I like beer and burgers and other bad things.  I also like endurance exercise, like difficult hikes, road and mountain biking, and, lately, long’ish distance running.  If I do one of these things on a regular basis, I can eat whatever the hell I want.  If I don’t, I can’t.

But that doesn’t mean exercise is counterproductive.  It just means I can’t gorge myself after a lazy half hour on the eliptical.  When I fall into that habit, I gain weight.  When I don’t, I shed the pounds pretty steadily.

The point is, weight is math: calories in < calories burned = not fat; calories in > calories burned = fat.  We need to stop pretending there aren’t tradeoffs. 

If you phone in your workout (or don’t work out at all, natch) then head out for a 1,000 calorie coffee drink and a 500 calorie muffin, you’re screwed.  But if you work out fairly hard and fairly regularly, then eat some fruit to cut the hunger rather than a bagel loaded with cream cheese and keep an eye on portions, then you can eat well and still drop weight.  So I have little patience for people who wander the gym for a 1/2 hour then head to McD’s and chase down a Big Mac value meal with a Diet Coke.

Now back to your regularly scheduled political rants.

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 7:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Defending Obama’s “Moral Case For War” In Libya

Writing at the Daily Beast, Peter Beinart tackles the formidable challenge of trying to impose some logic on President Obama’s case for initiating a war kinetic military action in Libya:

There are plenty of smart objections to America’s Libya intervention. But when President Obama addresses the nation on Monday night, he should rebut the stupidest one: that America shouldn’t wage humanitarian war in Libya because we’re not doing so in Congo, Zimbabwe and every other nasty dictatorship on earth.

* * *

There will always be horrors that outside powers cannot or will not prevent. But the fact that they cannot be stopped everywhere is no reason not to try to stop them somewhere. And showing that they can be stopped somewhere—first in Bosnia and Kosovo, hopefully now in Libya—may make dictators pause to reflect that they could be next. That’s moral progress, which in the ugly, real world is a pretty impressive thing.

In between the bookend quotes above, Beinart essentially argues that the Libyan “operation can be done more cheaply, at less risk to American and European lives, and with a greater chance of success, than in Zimbabwe or Congo,” so it makes sense to intervene there.

The most striking thing about Beinart’s defense of the Obama Administration’s rationale is that he seems to be the only one talking about Zimbabwe or Congo.  I may have missed a few things over the weekend, but it seems that critics of the Administration are asking for a coherent answer to the question of why Obama chose to intervene in Libya instead of Syria and Iran, not Zimbabwe or Congo.

Unlike Zimbabwe or Congo or Libya, Syria and Iran are active state supporters of Islamic terrorists in Lebanon (Hezbollah), the Palestinian territories (Hamas), and Iraq (where Iranian-financed, -trained, and -armed insurgents are killing American soldiers).  Each is known to have nuclear ambitions, and Iran has openly threatened to nuke Israel.  Each also has its own domestic discontents who, in recent months, have been slaughtered by the government for their efforts at reform. 

Yet the Administration made clear months ago that it would not even raise its voice in favor or for the protection of Iranian dissidents, and it is now making clear that Syrian demonstrators — who are being gunned down in the streets by the dozen — will have to get by without any help from the U.S.  The question is, if intervention in Libya was so important, why not Syria and Iran as well?

There may be a really good explanation.  I think the President blew it by not even bothering to speak in favor of Iranian protesters when they were out in the streets, but would be hesitant to support major military intervention there (although I would likely support destabilization efforts and targeting Iran’s nuclear facilities).  And the risk of backing insurgent groups you have no control over and may not turn out to be pro-western secularists is obvious.

But, what is the “moral case” for intervening in Libya, which does not impact our vital interests, while refraining even from aggressive language toward Iran and Syria, which are sworn enemies fighting a proxy war against our friends in Israel and our troops in Iraq?  The moral case for war is strongest where humanitarian concerns coincide with national security interests.  That is not Libya.

Finally, it is ironic that Beinart closes with the comment that “showing [dictators] that they can be stopped somewhere—first in Bosnia and Kosovo, hopefully now in Libya—may make dictators pause to reflect that they could be next,” and declares that to be impressive moral progress.  Missing from Beinart’s list is our intervention in Iraq, which, back in the day, was what caused Libyan dictator Qaddafi to abandon his effort to develop weapons of mass destruction and seek an invitation to rejoin what passes for polite society among nations.

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hey Gunners — F*** You

There is a very funny video based on the Cee Lo Green song “F*** You,” or cleaned up, “Forget You,” making the legal rounds.  Just about anyone who went to law school and wasn’t the guy they are spoofing is likely to have had the same thoughts throughout their first year.

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jamie Gorelick Disproves The “Peter Principle”

According to Wikipedia, The Peter Principle was formulated in the 1969 book of the same name by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull.  The Principle holds that “in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently.  Sooner or later they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their ‘level of incompetence’), and there they remain, being unable to earn further promotions.”  It must not apply in government.

As proof, I give you former Clinton advisor Jamie Gorelick.  Ms. Gorelick, designated the “Mistress of Disaster” at Ace’s place, has a long history of public service.  By “public service,” I mean royally screwing things up while getting rich.  She has repeatedly risen to new heights of incompetence.

In 1995, while in the Clinton Justice department, Gorelick wrote a memo outlining “Instructions on Separation of Certain Foreign Counterintelligence and Criminal Investigations” for the investigation of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing by criminal investigators and intelligence officers.  Gorelick wrote that this memo established “procedures, which go beyond what is legally required, [t]o prevent any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance that FISA is being used to avoid procedural safeguards which would apply in a criminal investigation.” (Emphasis added.)  After the 9/11 attacks, Attorney General John Ashcroft testified that Gorelick’s “wall” was a “structural cause” of the government’s inability to connect the dots that, if connected, possibly would have allowed us to prevent the 9/11 attacks.

In 1997, Ms. Gorelick left the Justice Department to serve as vice chairman of Fannie Mae, where she was paid over $26 Million over five years.  While at Fannie Mae, Gorelick announced that it would be buying subprime loans and bundling them as securities:

“Fannie Mae will buy [Community Reinvestment Act] CRA loans from lenders’ portfolios; we’ll package them into securities; we’ll purchase CRA mortgages at the point of origination; and we’ll create customized CRA-targeted securities,” she said in 2001. “This expanded approach has improved liquidity in the secondary market for CRA product, and has helped our lenders leverage even more CRA lending. Lenders now have the flexibility to use their own, customized loan products.”

Specifically, Gorelick emphasized that Fannie Mae would be buying high risk loans to encourage lenders to make sub-prime loans to low-income applicants:

“We will take CRA loans off your hands–we will buy them from your portfolios, or package them into securities–so you have fresh cash to make more CRA loans,” she said. “Some people have assumed we don’t buy tough loans. Let me correct that misimpression right now. We want your CRA loans because they help us meet our housing goals.”

(Emphasis added.) 

Securitized sub-prime loans are the Mad Dog 20/20 that fueled the housing bender that led to the crippling hangover of the current housing slump and overall economic malaise.  Fannie Mae’s lost weekend alone cost taxpayers $100 billion in liquidity hair of the dog, with an unknown amount of future liability.

Now, Ms. Gorelick is reportedly on the Obama Administration’s short list to be the next director of the FBI when current Director Robert Mueller’s 10-year term expires.

What could possibly go wrong?

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey smells a rat:

Barack Obama has certainly shown plenty of executive incompetence in his two-plus years as President and nominated some unqualified and extreme people to important positions — but no one is this stupid. . . .  This isn’t even a trial balloon.  It’s a brick that nonetheless serves one purpose — to make all of the other candidates look good by comparison.

Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 10:59 am  Leave a Comment  

NPR’s Steve Inskeep — We Can’t Be Biased, Because We Have Conservative Listeners

Not true, Steve.  I know something about the issue, because I am a conservative NPR listener.  NPR is unquestionably biased in favor of the left.  So why do I listen?  Because it is high-quality news radio, albeit high quality biased news radio.

For example, Inskeep’s own Morning Edition is running an informal series focusing on concerns about the purported impacts of federal budget cuts on various programs.  You’ve all seen this kind of anecdote-based story before — they find a few sympathetic people of modest means and a troubled background to say how this or that program is the only thing keeping them from mugging listeners at gunpoint or having 14 kids out of wedlock while on welfare.

Missing from NPR’s coverage, however, is any discussion of whether running such programs is the proper role of the federal government, whether the programs being profiled actually achieve their goals in any demonstrable fashion (see Head Start), and whether they are cost-effective (see Department of Education).  Missing also is any discussion of the negative impacts that out of control spending will have on the economy, society as a whole, or the persons being profiled.  Missing also is any discussion of how the profiled persons ended up in their situation (unless it can be blamed on mean Republicans), such as through poor choices or unfortunate cultural issues that government cannot (and should not try to) control. 

The effect of these stories, whether intentional or not, is to undermine efforts at budgetary reform by trying to put a face on the people who claim to be (and might actually be) negatively impacted without providing the context to fully evaluate the issue.  While not every story can provide a complete picture, NPR’s pictures are generally incomplete in a way that reliably favors the left side of the debate. 

Assuming good faith on their part (which is likely far more than they do for the gang at FoxNews), it is because everyone producing and editing NPR’s stories comes from the same ideological background, and that ideology believes that government programs and spending are more often the solution to our ills than contributors to them.  NPR’s reporters and editors all wear the same blinders, so they have no idea they are wearing them.  This is reflected in their reporting.

But anyway, focusing on the bias issue begs the question of whether NPR and its brethren should be funded with (borrowed) taxpayer dollars.  Maybe, as Inskeep claims, the bias issue is overblown and NPR really is a neutral purveyor of facts and analysis (notwithstanding the fact that its entire board consists of Democratic supporters, and all of its anchors and analysts are left-leaning).  Or maybe, as I claim, NPR’s coverage is biased toward the ideology favored by its board and staff.  That doesn’t really matter.

The pertinent question is whether U.S. taxpayers should fund any news organization.  Inskeep and other NPR apologists should simply ask themselves whether they would support federal funding of a news organization that they felt was biased toward the right (whether such criticism were fair or not).  We know the answer.

UPDATE: At NRO’s The Corner, Veronique de Rugy makes a related point: If, as Inskeep says, “NPR attracts a politically diverse audience of 33.7 million weekly listeners to its member stations on-air,” then “this success means that the product NPR is selling is in demand” and a taxpayer subsidy is not needed.

That triggers a few more thoughts on my part.  If NPR can survive without the subsidy, what is the rationale for requiring taxpayers who have no desire to listen to NPR pay for it?  There is no reason.

Moreover, de Rugy links a story on The Hill noting that the Republican majority in the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of de-funding NPR, while every single Democrat — all 185 of them — opposed the bill.  If NPR is as reliably non-partisan, balanced, and conservative-favored as Inskeep contends, why would Republicans oppose its funding while all of the Democrats support it?  Again, we know the answer. 

The Democrats understand that NPR is a reliably liberal news outlet whose reporting favors liberal causes and Democrat politicians.  In standard liberal fashion, they therefore believe that everyone’s tax dollars should pay for it.

Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 9:50 am  Leave a Comment  

True Heros

We overuse the word hero.  We often use it to describe people who find themselves in an impossible situation and react well.  Or we use it in relation to people who are unfortunate enough to contract a terrible disease and face it with courage.  Fair enough.  In ordinary circumstances, describing such folks as heroes may stretch the word a bit, but no worries.

But with overuse, a word that deserves to be reserved for selfless and extraordinary courage and sacrifice in the service of others loses some of its power.  That’s unfortunate.  It is important to recall that the word “hero” means, or should mean, something more than that. 

I am not saying that someone who faces cancer or disfigurement or grave disability with courage and good humor doesn’t deserve accolades.  I am not saying that an impoverished single mother who sacrifices to help her children succeed is not worthy of respect.  I don’t mean to devalue their contribution to all of us.  But I am saying that there should be a word reserved for those, like Medal of Honor recipients, whose selflessness is truly extraordinary. 

Today, we have the first pictures of the heros of Fukushima, the nuclear power plant in Japan that was disabled by a 9.0 earthquake followed by a massive tsunami.  Beyond the plant, the risks of leaking radioactivity seems to be overblown, but within it the risk is real, severe, and immediate.  Yet these heroes are braving the dark, dangerous confines of the plant, the risk of further explosions, and potentially dangerous radiation levels to get that thing back under control.

These heroes are not stricken with an unavoidable disease and dealing with it admirably, or raising a child they chose to bring into the world.  Instead, they have a choice.  They survived the catastrophic disaster, and are now putting their lives in peril for their country and countrymen. 

True heroism is a rare and beautiful and terrible thing, and it should be acknowledged.

Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 11:50 pm  Leave a Comment