An argument of atheists 3

For a collection of collective nouns:

A Rally of Reasoners

An Argument of Atheists

Our reader and commenter Frank sent us the link to this video. He thinks we did not do justice to the Reason Rally of atheists in Washington, D.C., on March 24, 2012. (See our post Atheists in a Feel-Good Rally, March 30, 2012.)

If any of our readers were at the rally, comment from them on what they thought of it, what in particular they liked, disliked, learnt, and what they hope will come of it, would be welcome.

Posted under Atheism, Videos by Jillian Becker on Saturday, March 31, 2012

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How not to keep the poor 3

The way to keep the poor poor, is to keep them dependent on government.

The compassioneers of the Left need to keep the poor poor, or they’d lose not only their pretext for empowering the state to control our lives, and all those voters whom they make dependent on big government, but more dreadfully for them the cause in the name of which they claim moral superiority.

The name of their ideology of forced dependence is Socialism. It’s imposition on a nation is the tried and tested way to create poverty and keep the poor poor.

Capitalism, or what Adam Smith called “the natural order of liberty”, is the tried and tested way to create prosperity and bring people out of poverty.

Whenever socialist states and other tyrannies relent to free markets, their per capita income rises. This has been happening steadily over the last thirty years or so, despite the fervid efforts of Environmentalists and world government fanatics to establish a global socialist economy. The Third World has measurably benefitted.

This is from Townhall by Steve Chapman:

[According to] a new World Bank report, “the data indicate a decline in both the poverty rate and the number of poor in all six regions of the developing world.”

In 1981, 70 percent of those in the developing world subsisted on the equivalent of less than $2 a day, and 42 percent had to manage with less than $1 a day. Today, 43 percent are below $2 a day and 14 percent below $1.

Poverty reduction of this magnitude is unparalleled in history: Never before have so many people been lifted out of poverty over such a brief period of time,” write Brookings Institution researchers Laurence Chandy and Geoffrey Gertz.

Just as important as the extent of the improvement is the location: everywhere. In the past there has been improvement in a few countries or a continent. Not this time.

China has continued the rapid upward climb it began three decades ago. India, long a laggard, has shaken off its torpor. Latin America has made sharp inroads against poverty. “For the first time since 1981,” says the World Bank, “we have seen less than half the population of sub-Saharan Africa living below $1.25 a day.”

The start of most global trends is hard to pinpoint. This one, however, had its big bang in the early 1970s, in Chile. After a socialist government brought on economic chaos, the military seized power in a bloody coup and soon embarked on a program of drastic reform – privatizing state enterprises, fighting inflation, opening up foreign trade and investment and unshackling markets.

It was the formula offered by economists associated with the University of Chicago, notably Milton Friedman, and it turned Chile into a rare Latin American success. In time, it also facilitated a return to democracy.

Chile was proof that freeing markets and curbing state control could generate broad-based prosperity, which socialist policies could only promise.

If that experiment weren’t sufficient, it got another try on a much bigger scale when China’s Deng Xiaoping abandoned the disastrous policies of Mao Zedong and veered onto the capitalist road. The result was an economic miracle yielding growth rates that averaged 10 percent per year.

The formula was too effective to be ignored. Over the past two decades, poorer nations have dismantled command-and-control methods and given markets greater latitude. Economic growth, not redistribution, has been the surest cure for poverty, and economic freedom has been the key that unlocked the riddle of economic growth.

Over the past 30 years, notes the libertarian Cato Institute in the latest edition of its “Economic Freedom of the World,” the average country’s economic freedom score has risen from 5.53 (on a 10 scale) to 6.64 — a significant improvement that has paid off in higher growth and earnings. The evidence indicates a reliable pattern: the freer the economy the faster the growth. …

The latest cover story in The Economist magazine is: “Cuba hurtles toward capitalism.” Cuba! Even communists eventually have to make peace with reality.

But as they do, the country that has grown to be the richest ever because of its freedom – the USA - is being turned into a socialist welfare state by a leader raised and trained as a communist.

President Obama calls capitalism, the magic formula for prosperity, ”You’re-on-your-own economics”, and insists that it doesn’t work.

This is from Investor’s Business Daily:

“You’re-on-your-own economics” doesn’t work, President Obama asserted Friday, just as the World Bank reported a halving of world poverty due mainly to — you guessed it — you’re-on-your-own economics.

Perhaps he didn’t try free-market economics himself in the past decade, but all six global regions observed by the World Bank did try it — and the stunning result is that global poverty has been slashed in half … It started with the advent of free markets in Chile in 1975, gained speed with the Reagan and Thatcher revolutions, took off with the Asian Tiger states and has been crescendo-ing around the globe ever since. …

Anyone who travels to countries like Peru, Poland, Indonesia, Colombia, Thailand, Hungary, South Africa, Chile, Tanzania and India knows very well that things aren’t what they used to be. Vast middle classes have formed, education is booming, business is up and many of their cities no longer resemble the Third World.

More to the point, people have growing access to jobs, education and a future. Mexico’s rate of illegal immigration has plunged since 2009 as average incomes there approach $7,000 — the threshold that makes staying in Mexico more attractive than living abroad illegally.

Technology has helped; they all have Facebook, cellphones and ATMs to make living more efficient.

The World Bank cites generally stronger political institutions — the kind that enforce one set of laws for all, respect property rights and don’t reward crony capitalists or stacked courts — something Obama might learn from. …

The big Goliath of this revolution is the embrace of free markets. Against the president’s claims that free markets don’t work, note that all six regions of the world are making big progress by embracing markets. …

President Obama’s ambition to keep the poor poor is not limited to turning America into an economically depressed, heavily indebted socialist state; he takes whatever active steps he can to establish a globally centralized control-and-command economy.

He has appointment a new head of the World Bank,  Jim Yong Kim, who will no doubt try to prevent such a report as Steve Chapman sums up ever coming out again: a man in whose dogma such truths need to be suppressed.

This is by Jacob Laksin at Front Page:

Imagine if President Obama appointed radical Noam Chomsky, who has denounced capitalism as a “murderously destructive catastrophe,” to head up a committee on economic growth. That’s less of a stretch than it may seem, considering Obama’s nominee to head the World Bank, current Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim.

Kim’s expertise is in health policy, so little is known about his views on economic development, the World Bank’s primary purpose. What is on the public record, however, is deeply troubling. A case in point is a collection of studies that Kim co-edited in 2000, Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor. The grim title accurately reflects the book’s radical central premise, namely that capitalism and economic growth is bad for the poor across the world. The introduction, which Kim co-authored with several other academics, states the point bluntly: “The studies in this book present evidence that the quest for growth in GDP and corporate profits has in fact worsened the lives of millions of women and men.”

A barefaced lie, as the statistics in the World Bank’s report demonstrate.

In this vein, the authors go on to dismiss “neoliberalism” – the preferred left-wing academic pejorative for free trade and free markets – as a failure, particularly for the world’s poor. “Even where neoliberal policy measures have succeeded in stimulating economic growth, growth’s benefits have not gone to those living in ‘dire poverty,’ one-fourth of the world’s population,” the authors assert.

If economic growth hurts the poor, especially in the Third World, what helps their cause? The book answers that question with a chapter touting what it considers a true success: communist Cuba’s health-care system. As the chapter’s author tells it, Cuba’s health care is supposedly on par with that of the United States, an achievement made “possible because of a govern­mental commitment not only to health in the narrow sense but to social equality and social justice.” Relying on bogus statistics from the Cuban government and distorting the extreme inequities of Cuban health care, where few of Cuba’s poor can either afford or obtain either medicine or doctors’ treatment, the study is revealing mostly of the ideological extremism of its author. Indeed, it might well have been written by Chomsky, which in fact it was: the author is Aviva Chomsky, Noam Chomsky’s eldest daughter. Noam Chomsky himself is quoted in the book’s conclusion, which cites his dismissal of economic growth as “efforts to make people feel helpless.” The book’s authors, including Jim Yong Kim, seem to agree.

They could hardly be more wrong.

(For confirmation of how they could hardly be more wrong, see our post Any old pills?, October 29, 2010.)

In fact, there is overwhelming evidence that economic growth raises income levels, which in turn reduces poverty and improves the lot of the global poor. Much of that evidence has been documented by the World Bank, the very institution that Kim has been tapped to lead. Earlier this month, for instance, the World Bank released a report documenting a decline in the poverty rate of the poor in all the regions of the developing world. The finding is especially striking because it comes amidst a global downturn. Economic growth accounts for much of this astounding progress.

He too quotes statistics:

And that progress is truly impressive. In 1990, 52 percent of the population in the developing world lived below the poverty rate of $1.25 a day. That number was halved by 2008, when 22 percent lived below the poverty rate. Progress has been most dramatic in East Asia, particularly China, which has seen the greatest surge in economic growth. In the 1980s, according to the World Bank report, East Asia had the world’s highest poverty rate, with 77 percent of the population living below the poverty rate as recently as 1981. By 2008, that number had plunged to 14 percent. The report points out that in China alone, 662 million people are no longer living poverty. Not only is no one “dying” due to economic growth, but literally millions of lives have been bettered thanks to economic gains.

China may be the most spectacular example of economic growth’s unmatched capacity to improve the lives of the poor, but it is not an exception. Africa, so long associated with extreme poverty, is also making strides on poverty reduction thanks to economic growth. … As a result of sustained economic growth over the past 15 years …

Africa’s success is especially noteworthy because it has not been limited to countries with natural resources, such as South Africa’s diamonds or Nigerian oil. On the contrary, the authors note that poverty has fallen “for both landlocked and coastal countries, for mineral-rich and mineral-poor countries, for countries with favorable and unfavorable agriculture, for countries with different colonizers, and for countries with varying degrees of exposure to the African slave trade. The benefits of growth were so widely distributed that African inequality actually fell substantially.”

Poverty reduction through economic growth is thus one of the great success stories of recent decades. And that work is not done. …  Achieving sustained reduction in poverty will remain the great cause of the 21st century.

Yet it’s hard to see how the World Bank will help that cause if led by an open critic of economic growth like Jim Yong Kim. … It’s hard to see how its reputation will be redeemed by a World Bank president who seems to believe that the greatest danger to the global poor comes from the only proven strategy to improve the quality of their lives.

What a Muslim man may do to his wife 3

AP reports:

Pakistani acid attack victim Fakhra Younus had endured more than three dozen surgeries over more than a decade to repair her severely damaged face and body when she finally decided life was no longer worth living. … [She] jumped from the sixth floor of a building in Rome, where she had been living and receiving treatment. …

She had been a dancer. Her husband, Bilal Khar, a “law-maker”, poured the acid over her.

It must have been excruciatingly painful, and it hideously disfigured her.

Bilal Khar was brought to trial and acquitted.

“Many believe he used his connections to escape the law’s grip –  a common occurrence in Pakistan.”

His father was Ghulam Mustafa Khar, who had been governor of Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab.

The couple was married for three years, but Younus eventually left him because he …  physically and verbally abused her….

He came to her mother’s house, found her lying asleep and “poured acid all over her”.

He will suffer no punishment. He walks a free man.

More than 8,500 acid attacks, forced marriages and other forms of violence against women were reported in Pakistan in 2011 … The figure is likely an undercount…

Atheists of the left hold a Feel-Good Rally 12

Here is part of a half-good half-bad speech by Richard Dawkins at the recent Left-dominated “Reason Rally“:

What a magnificent, inspiring sight! I was expecting great things even in fine weather. In the rain – look at this: This is the most incredible sight I can remember ever seeing.

What? A few thousand wet lefties the most incredible sight Dawkins can remember ever seeing? A man who has looked deeply into the workings of evolution?

Well, we suppose he meant he had never seen so many atheists gathered together. But was it incredible that they should do so? Lefties are by definition collectivists.

The sharper, critical thinkers among you may have discerned that I don’t come from these parts. I see myself as an emissary from a benighted country that does not have a constitutional separation between church and state. Indeed it doesn’t have a written constitution at all. We have a head of state who’s also the head of the Church of England. The church is deeply entwined in British public life. The American Constitution is a precious treasure, the envy of the world. The First Amendment of the Constitution, which enshrines the separation between church and state, is the model for secular constitutions the world over and deserves to be imitated the world over.

So far, so good.

How sad it would be if in the birthplace of secular constitutions the very principle of secular constitutions were to be betrayed in a theocracy. But it’s come close to that.

If he was referring to the possibility that the fundamentalist Catholic, Rick Santorum, may become president, we agree it is something to dread (though we think even he would be preferable to Obama).

How could anyone rally against reason? How is it necessary to have a rally for reason? Reason means basing your life on evidence and on logic, which is how you deduce the consequences of evidence.

Like the Left doesn’t do, sir!

In a hundred years’ time, it seems to me inconceivable that anybody could want to have a rally for reason. By that time, we will either have blown ourselves up or we’ll have become so civilized that we no longer need it.

When I was in school, we used to sing a hymn. It went, “It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be.” After that the hymn rather went off the rails, but those first two lines have inspired me. It is a thing most wonderful that on this once barren rock orbiting a rather mediocre star on the edge of a rather ordinary galaxy, on this rock a remarkable process called evolution by natural selection has given rise to the magnificent diversity of complexity of life. The elegance, the beauty and the illusion of design which we see all around us has given rise in the last million years or so to a species – our species – with a brain big enough to comprehend that process, to comprehend how we came to be here, how we came to be here from extremely simple beginnings where the laws of physics are played out in very simple ways.  The laws of physics have never been violated, but the laws of physics are filtered through this incredible process called evolution by natural selection  to give rise to a brain that is capable of understanding the process, a brain which is capable of measuring the age of the universe between 13 and 14 billion years, of measuring the age of the Earth between 4 and 5 billion years, of knowing what matter is made of, knowing what we are made of, made of atoms brought together by this mechanical, automatic, unplanned, unconscious process: evolution by natural selection.

We have no quarrel with any of that. We’re ready at all times to sing the praises of the laws of physics and glorify having the consciousness to know them – and to express gratitude to the likes of Darwin and Dawkins for explaining them to us.

But now he slips off the rails of reason.

That’s not just true; it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful because it’s true.

No, no. He’s not reasoning. Truth is not beauty, and beauty is not truth. Truth applies only to statements: so yes, Darwin’s statements are true. Beauty remains in the eye of the beholder, has to do with feelings only, and is superfluous to the laws of physics.

And it’s almost too good to be true. How is it conceivable that the laws of physics should conspire together without guidance, without direction, without any intelligence to bring us into the world? Now we do have intelligence. Intelligence comes into the world, comes into the universe late. It’s come into the world through our brains and maybe other brains in the universe. Now at last – finally – after 4 billion years of evolution we have the opportunity to bring some intelligent design into the world.

That we understand, and we applaud him for saying it.

Then he opposes “Intelligent Design” (a euphemism for God) with the intelligent design that human beings are capable of, and we appreciate that too.

But there are areas where the application of design is not intelligent:

We need intelligent design. We need to intelligently design our morals, our ethics, our politics, our society.

Design society!  There speaks the collectivist, the socialist. Dawkins, the brilliant exponent of evolution, there abandons reason. Politically he  is on the side of the emotions, has the Left’s moral vanity, its conviction that it knows what’s best for all of us and will force its design on us whether we like it or not.

We need to intelligently design the way we run our lives, not look back to scrolls – I was going to say ancient scrolls, they’re not even very ancient, about 800 BC the book of Genesis was written. I am often accused of expressing contempt and despising religious people. I don’t despise religious people; I despise what they stand for. I like to quote the British journalist Johann Hari who said, “I have so much respect for you that I cannot respect your ridiculous ideas.”

Fine, but it isn’t the case that the only alternative to religion is socialism.

… Science makes us see what we couldn’t see before. Religion does its best to snuff out even that light which we can see.

So we’re here to stand up for reason, to stand up for science, to stand up for logic, to stand up for the beauty of reality and the beauty of the fact that we can understand reality.

I hope that this meeting will be a turning point. I’m sure many people have said that already. I like to think of a physical analogy of a critical mass. There are too many people in this country who have been cowed into fear of coming out as atheists or secularists or agnostics. We are far more numerous than anybody realizes. We are approaching a tipping point, we’re approaching that critical mass, where the number of people who have come out becomes so great that suddenly everybody will realize, “I can come out, too.” That moment is not far away now. And I think that with hindsight this rally in Washington will be seen as a very significant tipping point on the road.

We share his wish for more atheists to make themselves known – especially to us – but we don’t think the wet lefty rally in Washington will prove a tipping point.

And I will particularly appeal to my scientific colleagues most of whom are atheists if you look at the members of the National Academy of Sciences about 90 percent of them are non-believers an exact mirror image of the official figures of the country at large. If you look at the Royal Society of London, the equivalent for the British Commonwealth, again about 90 percent are atheists. But they mostly keep quiet about it. They’re not ashamed of it. They can’t be bothered to come out and express what they feel. They think religion is just simply boring. They’re not going to bother to even stand up and oppose it. They need to come out.

Religion is an important phenomenon.

Yes, dangerously important in it’s baneful effects.

Forty percent of the American population, according to opinion polls, think the world – the universe, indeed – is less than 10,000 years old. That’s not just an error, that’s a preposterous error. I’ve done the calculation before and it’s the equivalent of believing that the width of North America from Washington to San Francisco is equal to about eight yards….

Will any bible literalist hear and take heed? We’d like to hear his/her response.

We just ran a poll by a foundation in Britain in which we took those people who ticked a Christian box in the census … We just took the people who ticked the Christian box and we asked them “Why did you tick the Christian box?” And the most popular answer to that question was “Oh, well, I like to think of myself as a good person.” But we all like to think of ourselves as good people. Atheists do, Jews do, Muslims do. So when you meet somebody who claims to be Christian, ask her, ask him “What do you *really* believe?” And I’ll think you’ll find that in many cases, they give you an answer which is no more convincing than that “I like to be a good person.”

Also if he substituted “Leftist” for “Christian”, he’d be right on the nail. 

He questions the sincerity of the religious:

So when I meet somebody who claims to be religious, my first impulse is: “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you until you tell me do you really believe – for example, if they say they are Catholic – do you really believe that when a priest blesses a wafer it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?” Mock them! Ridicule them! In public!

Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits. Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.

Yes. Religion and collectivism should be constantly ridiculed with contempt.

The tyranny of Obamacare 15

The Constitution of the United States is designed to protect liberty. Let’s hope it proves a perfect shield. We’ll know if it does when the Supreme Court delivers its verdict on the constitutionality of Obamacare. That tyrannous Act vastly extends the power of government over the individual, and it should be struck down.

Dr. Paul Hsieh writes at PJ Media on how the Act restricts the freedom of physicians to make decisions in the best interests of their patients:

The escalating economic costs of ObamaCare will pale in comparison to the escalating losses of freedom.

Losses of freedom for both patients and doctors.

The infringement of personal freedom receiving the most attention lately has been the “individual mandate” requiring Americans to purchase health insurance. This issue is at the heart of the current legal challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court. But ObamaCare imposes numerous other mandates and controls, including the following:

Doctors must purchase and use expensive electronic medical record systems.

Doctors must electronically record certain patient data such as ethnicity, BMI (body mass index), blood pressure, and smoking status — and turn over patient data to the government upon request.

Doctors treating Medicare patients must practice according to government “quality” guidelines or face economic penalties.

Insurance companies must offer numerous “free” benefits, including various preventive health services, birth control, and coverage of “children” up to age 26.

Insurers may not raise their rates to cover these new expenses unless the government agrees those rate increases are “reasonable.”

A provision that will drive insurance firms out of business. And, as Dr. Hsieh notes, “Once the private insurance market has been destroyed, Americans will be forced to buy their health insurance on government-run ‘exchanges’ where the government decides which health services should or should not be covered.”

An Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) of unelected bureaucrats will set prices for Medicare services that will lead to de facto rationing.

The administrative costs associated with complying with these regulations will accelerate the trend of doctors leaving traditional private practice. Instead, doctors will increasingly work for large Accountable Care Organizations where they’ll practice according to government protocols, with their compliance monitored by the mandatory electronic medical records

As Dr. Donald Berwick (President Obama’s former head of Medicare) once noted:

“The primary function of regulation in health care, especially as it affects the quality of medical care, is to constrain decentralized, individualized decision making.”

In other words, restricting physicians’ freedom to practice is not some “unintended consequence” of ObamaCare, but rather an explicitly desired goal. 

“To constrain individual decision making”. Could the aim of the would-be tyrants be any more explicit?

Dependence on the state always brings suffering:

Government controls over the health sector will lead to longer waits for medical care.

Very long waits probably, as in Britain and Canada. Waits so long that often death comes before the appointment with the doctor.

Health laws similar to ObamaCare have been in effect in Massachusetts since 2006. Massachusetts patients must now wait an average of 48 days to see an internal medicine physician — double the national average. Under ObamaCare, the rest of the country will soon experience similar problems.

If history is any guide, the government will likely impose additional controls to “solve” the problems created by their earlier controls. As Ludwig Von Mises [the great Austrian School free-market economist] once noted, controls breed controls.

One logical next step would be further “physician mandates.” Some disturbing precedents that have already been proposed in the U.S. and Canada include the following:

Massachusetts legislators recently proposed requiring doctors to accept government-controlled insurance rates as a condition of retaining their state medical licenses, regardless of whether or not the doctors lost money on each patient. …

Oregon will require “concierge doctors” to register as insurance companies, because those physicians accept fees from patients in exchange for the promise of future medical services. This makes it harder for doctors to “opt out” of the government-controlled insurance system.

The Canadian government once proposed compelling newly graduated doctors to work in “underserved” regions of the country before allowing them to live and practice where they wished. …

Dr. Hsieh asks:

As a patient, do you want your doctor to be free to practice according his best independent judgment for your best medical interests, or compelled to practice according to government guidelines, beholden to the state for his livelihood?

He concludes:

The Supreme Court may or may not decide to overturn ObamaCare. I hope it does. But if it doesn’t, Americans will still have one last opportunity to overturn ObamaCare at the ballot box this fall: elect politicians committed to repeal. Robert Heinlein [the science-fiction writer] once wrote, “The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.” Right now, the first group controls our health care. It’s up to us whether they remain in charge after November.

Yes, the big political divide comes between collectivism and freedom. Obamacare is the chief bid of the Left under Obama’s disastrous presidency to turn America into a socialist collective. In November the collectivists must be voted out. And if Romney is to be president, let’s hope he deeply regrets imposing Romneycare on Massachusetts.

Infestation of bedbugs and Muslims at the UN 2

Pat Condell eloquently derides the UN, Islam, and political correctness.

We applaud his scorching derision.

 

The UN must be destroyed.

Obama conspires with Putin against America 6

If Obama is re-elected to the US presidency, he will no longer have any reason to fear the disapproval or anger of the voters. He will not be facing another election, so he will feel free to do whatever he likes in dealing with other countries, however unpopular with Americans and damaging to America his actions may be. And the actions he intends will be damaging.

Obama has said as much in a message he sent, via the political marionette Dmitri Medvedev, to Vladimir Putin, the uncrowned Czar of Russia.

Everywhere he can, Putin is using Russia’s muscle to thwart the interests of the United States. He supports and protects the Syrian dictator Assad, aids Iran in its pursuit of nuclear capability, and  succeeded, with Obama’s complicity, in preventing the implementation of US missile defense strategy in Europe.

And now Obama is promising to help him weaken American military power if he’d only be so good as to wait until Obama is safe from democratic restraint.

The Heritage Foundation reports and comments:

It is hard to overstate the dangerous implications of what happened this week when President Obama was caught by an open mic sending a message to Russia’s dictator-in-waiting to wait quietly till after the November elections, after which Mr. Obama could make concessions on America’s national defense. The White House is trying to explain this incident away as par for the course in an electoral year. It is not.

Here, in essence, is what it appears to be: this was our commander in chief in league with an anti-American autocrat to dupe the American public until after it’s too late. What makes it even worse is that the issue at hand–missile defense–has to do with protecting the American people against the likes of Russia.

We don’t need to exaggerate what happened. All we need is to review what Obama, our President, was caught telling Russia’s current president, Dmitri Medvedev, while the two met at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea. Neither man knew the microphones were live and picked up their exchange. Here it is:

  President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.

  President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…

  President Obama: (reaching over and putting his hand on Mr. Medvedev’s knee): This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

  President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

The Vladimir in question is none other than Vladimir Putin, who just won elections in Russia this month under a cloud of suspicion, to replace Mr. Medvedev, who has been a fig leaf president for the past four years while Mr. Putin has wielded power from his post as prime minister.

Mr. Putin, who has been open and public in his disdain for both the United States and President Obama in particular, opposes American foreign policy from Syria to Asia to Latin America. He is the poster child for a new breed of authoritarian world leaders who openly want to thwart America’s intentions. Most recently, Putin used hostile rhetoric toward the United States as a tool in his re-election campaign, labeling opposition leaders puppets of the CIA. That followed Russia’s decision at the United Nations Security Council to veto a U.S.-backed resolution calling for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to step aside.

The President’s surreptitious hat-tip to Putin comes at a dangerous time for the American people and U.S. allies. North Korea is preparing to launch yet another long-range missile, and Iran is in desperate pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, the United States and its allies remain unprotected from the threat of nuclear missiles, and now it appears that Obama wants to cede even more ground to Russia on vital national security issues.

… Mr. Obama was clearly telegraphing the willingness to give Mr. Putin at least part of what he wants on missile defense. This President has already given too much. In the New START strategic nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, President Obama agreed that U.S. missile defense capabilities must be reduced along with strategic nuclear weapons — essentially laying down America’s arms and its shield as well.

Now it appears that President Obama wishes to go even a step farther in order to appease Mr. Putin. …

The exchange with Mr. Medvedev …  only deepens and validates two already extant and related narratives about our President: one is that he harbors views that are inimical to the American people and only come out in unguarded moments. …  The other is that the President will be unshackled once (and if) he is re-elected, and will put in place a plan far more radical than he is letting on in public at the moment.

If concessions to Russia on missile defense are what Mr. Obama wants, he can make his case to the American people and ask them to endorse his policies. To hide them until it is too late and he is safely ensconced in office is unseemly.

Unseemly? That’s the only word in the column we disagree with. Conspiring with an enemy power is treasonous.

Posted under Commentary, Russia, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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The intolerable act 1

Rare is the occasion when the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court gather to hear three days of arguments, and rarer still is when it is for a case like Obamacare – one that cuts to the core of the Constitution and whose outcome could fundamentally alter the role of the federal government and its power over the people. But today the Court will do just that when it open its doors and begins weighing the arguments on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s seminal health care law.

We take these extracts from comment by the Heritage Foundation:

The decision is not as cut and dried as an up or down vote, but one that involves the interplay of a series of issues raised by those who are challenging Obamacare – more than half the States of the Union and a collection of interested organizations and private parties – and those brought by the Obama Administration, which is defending the law. And they come to the Supreme Court after conflicting appellate court rulings which have left undecided the question of whether Obamacare is permissible under the Constitution.

The central issue before the Court is whether Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause to impose the individual mandate on the American people, forcing them to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. If the Court holds that Congress was outside the bounds of its authority, it can strike down the individual mandate, leaving the justices to then decide whether all or part of Obamacare should fall along with it.

If the Court upholds the mandate, America will be in the same position it finds itself today — facing a law that vests untold power and resources in the hands of the federal government, that transfers health care decision making from individuals to unelected bureaucrats, and that increases costs while decreasing access. In short, America’s health care crisis will get worse, not better, and future generations will be left paying the tab.

What’s more, if the Court allows the individual mandate to stand, it will unhook Congress from its Constitutional leash, empowering it to regulate commerce and individual behavior in new ways never before imaginable.

There are other issues, too, besides the individual mandate. Even before the Court reaches that subject, it must broach the issue of the Anti-Injunction Act, a 145-year-old federal tax law which could bar the Court from even hearing a challenge to the individual mandate. Under that law, one cannot sue over a tax until they have paid it. If the penalty for violating Obamacare’s individual mandate is considered a tax under that law, then the challenge could be brought at this time since the penalty has not yet taken effect. Obamacare’s challengers and even the Obama Administration agree that the Anti-Injunction Act shouldn’t prevent the Court from hearing the case, but the issue will still be heard, and some think that the Court could rely on the Act as a way of avoiding having to answer the question of whether the mandate is constitutional.

If the Court finds the Anti-Injunction Act doesn’t apply, it will move on to the individual mandate. Its decision on that issue brings with it a whole other set of problems — namely, if the Court finds that the mandate is unconstitutional, it must next decide the issue of severability — whether Obamacare will operate as Congress intended if it is stripped of the mandate, or whether all or parts of the law must be struck down with the mandate. If the Court finds that the mandate is severable, the Court can strike it down and leave it up to Congress to clean up what’s left, or, as the Obama administration has recommended, it can strike down the mandate and related provisions of the law that depend on it. Finally, if the justices find that the mandate is not severable, then it will throw out all of Obamacare

Not only would that be a hugely welcome outcome in itself, it could also help the defeat of Obama in the presidential election.

America waits for the Supreme Court to weigh the facts and the law, to consider the precedents and the policy, and to issue a decision that will have implications far into the future. Will Congress be limited by the Constitution, or will its authority expand beyond the limits that the Founders intended?

Will Americans’ liberties stand?

Will Obamacare fall?

No matter the outcome of the Court’s ruling in June, Congress can and should act now to repeal Obamacare and rid the land of this intolerable act.

The disguised tyranny of infantilization 10

In order to work, the dependency agenda needs not only to cultivate … a population of dependents. It also needs to foster a population of controlling bureaucrats, … warders of the system. And this brings us to … “the real entitlement mentality that threatens to bankrupt the nation: A political class that feels entitled to rule over the rest of us.”

So Roger Kimball writes at PJ Media:

Republicans … are often heard grumbling about the “entitlement mentality.” I sing in that chorus myself. Usually, the song dilates on the growing habit of dependency and appetite for … “goodies provided by the government and financed by taxpayers.”  …

It is a corollary of that “psychological change” in a people that Friedrich von Hayek diagnosed in The Road to Serfdom: a transformation from the practice of autonomy and self-reliance to the habit of dependency. It was, Hayek noted, both a regular result and precondition of “extensive government control.” Cause and effect fed upon and abetted each other. It was … a textbook case of what Tocqueville described in his famous paragraphs on “democratic despotism.”

How would despotism come to a modern democracy? Tocqueville asked. Not through the imposition of old-fashioned tyranny. No, that instrument is too blunt, too crude for modern democratic regimes. Much more effective is the disguised tyranny of infantilization. Turn government into the sole provider of all those “goodies” and you enslave the population far more effectively than an old-style tyranny ever managed. …

Entitlements are bait on the hook  of totalitarianism. Don’t take it.

What the state gives the state can withhold. Don’t depend on it.

The state should be neither a nanny nor a sugar-daddy. It should do only what it alone can do – protect our liberty.

The road to poverty 1

This is from the Washington Examiner:

Some 10,215 new federal regulations from the Obama administration are costing consumers, businesses and the economy overall $46 billion annually, more than five times the regulatory price tag of former President Bush in his first three years in office. Worse: just implementing those regulations had a one-time additional cost of $11 billion, according to a Heritage Foundation analysis provided to Washington Secrets … titled “Red Tape Rising: Obama and Regulation at the Three Year Mark.”

The analysis backs up complaints from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups that the president’s regulations are stalling the economy and employment growth. …

Hundreds more costly regulations are coming, especially those targeting energy companies and Wall Street. They threaten “to further weaken an anemic economy and job creation,” said Heritage’s James Gattuso and Diane Katz. …

The $46 billion price tag calculated by Heritage is staggering, as are those hitting the economy the hardest. Just consider the regulations tagged as “major” for costing $100 million or more. Obama’s team issued 106 on private industry since taking office, compared to 28 by Bush. Last year alone, Obama’s administration issued 32 major regulations impacting everything from clothes dryers to toy labels.

Heritage said the most expensive regulation of 2011 was from the Environmental Protection Agency, which added five major rules costing $4 billion. Among them, stricter limits on industrial and commercial boilers and incinerators, for a cost of $2.6 billion annually for compliance.

The Environmental Protection Agency must be  abolished. 

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