Saturday, June 26, 2010

Highly Recommended

I know the liberals call you 'the most dangerous man in America,' but don't worry about it, they used to say the same thing about me. Keep up the good work.
— Ronald Reagan
in a letter to
Rush Limbaugh,
December 11, 1992

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cutting off their Early Morning Cocktails is Next

This is what happens to societies that put all of their hopes in the Government, and by extension, at the fate of any and all of their fellow citizens.

An EU Commission paper on pensions argues that no more than a third of our adult lives should be spent in retirement writes Natalie Hamill. This means that by 2060, according to current trends, we should expect to be retiring at 70.

The next few years look rather bleak, as member states grapple to get their national finances in order. With credit ratings slipping and austerity measures becoming more widespread, governments are scrambling to find ways to cut their deficits and implement drastic public spending cuts. Retirement reforms will be an area of high priority.
Quite simply, had these folks taken on the responsibility for their own savings for themselves, they won’t live in societies that through Kamakaze budget spending, have put them in a position where they have to work until they’re 70.
as famed for their 35 hour working week as for their croissants, are the latest to protest, after the French Government announced that the retirement age must be raised to 63. Despite the strikes last week President Sarkozy is adamant; the pension system in France is close to bankruptcy (currently £27 billion in deficit) and therefore the age must be raised. France has the lowest retirement age in the EU, and given the economic climate, it cannot justify this anymore.

But whilst French workers huff and puff on strikes in Paris, they should spare a thought for the hard-working Germans, pillar of the EU, and (as they always feared) now a crutch of the Eurozone. Contributing the largest proportion of the Greek bailout has damaged the German government’s standing with its citizens and frustration is simmering at the injustice of their working hard and retiring at 67, but having to pay for the, previously, comfortable retirements of the Greeks at 61.

In Greece, strikes and violent protests have plunged the country into chaos; but few of the austerity measures have caused as widespread outrage as the proposal to raise the retirement age to 63. Prime Minister Papandreou has no choice, he must cut public spending or he won’t get the rest of his bailout. Greece cannot finance the “golden” retirements its citizens expect, and other countries shouldn’t be asked to.
March, yell, set fire to cars, and bang pots all you like, but your well-being is still your responsibility.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I’m Surprised that he Didn’t Dress them up like Uncle Sam

A cartoon by Arend van Dam says all you really need to know about European intelligence and sophistication. It’s reporting bad news that causes the bad news, not the bad news itself that anyone would need to know about.

The subheading that reads “Credit ratings agencies' estimations of Eurozone debt is hurting the single currency.” Is careful to avoid the fact that it’s the Eurozone debt, unfunded mandates, and punitive over-regulation that might might have something to do with their credit rating instead.

More of the Same Ol' "Rightists, Watch Out You Don't Go Too Far"

The Economist last week printed an issue which included the articles What's wrong with America's right ("Too much anger and too few ideas. America needs a better alternative to Barack Obama") and The risks of “Hell, no!” ("The tea-party movement is pushing the Republicans to the right. That may make it harder to recapture the White House from Barack Obama").

The more positive (i.e., more realistic) news is that this week it compared the Community-Organizer-in-Chief to Vladimir Putin

I responded by writing them the following:

When you write that America's "voters expect solutions, not just rage", you are suggesting that citizens are demanding (some sort of) intervention from above (from Washington, DC). But that is not what America is about. America is about solutions from the bottom — unfettered from (undue) interference from the top.

Speaking of foreign affairs and the USSR, Ronald Reagan said, "there is only one guaranteed way you can have peace" and that is to "surrender." The equivalent, for liberals, in America's internal affairs, is that there is one guaranteed way to "bridge the divide", to "renounce extremes", and to "go beyond polarization" and "beyond hatred and anger" (all "in the interests of America", of course), and that is for America's conservatives — never for the liberals themselves — to surrender their principles.

Therein we have the true meaning of the Democrats' "bipartisan support." It is Orwellian newspeak, concealing a request for Republicans to shut up and go along with liberals' progressive and statist politics.

The GOP is the party of No. As well it should be. Just as Democrats — and statists the world over — stand for "Yes we can" (get more government intervention and more bureaucracy and more hand-outs and more unity behind a "benevolent" ruler), the party of No stands (or ought to stand) by the Constitution, which itself is the declaration, 222 years ago, to statists the world over, from the British monarchy (in 1776) to would-be élites in the United States itself (from the 18th century to today), that the people stand up and say No.

They say No to the idea that we must rally behind the country's ruler (well-intentioned or otherwise); No to the idea that we must not question his policies, his taxes, and his decisions on our behalf (or not criticize them too harshly in any event); No to the very belief that our alleged betters have a better understanding of what is good for us; No to hamstrung efforts by would-be nannies to regulate our lives; and, indeed, No to the belief that the common individual is in need of oversight in the first place.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The EU Has More Regular Summit Meetings With Russia Than with the Obama Administration

So where is all that "smart diplomacy" of the Apologizer-in-Chief's leading us?

The main front page article of the International Herald Tribune on Tuesday (top right) has the European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, criticizing Barack Obama in an interview with The New York Times' Steven Erlanger and Stephen Castle — criticizing him all so diplomatically, of course, but criticizing him (and his policies, fiscal as well as foreign) nonetheless.
Mr. Barroso, speaking animatedly for 90 minutes, was rebutting a criticism by President Obama and some economists that Europe’s rush to cut government spending to appease market sentiment risked worsening the region’s economic slump. Mr. Obama wrote in a letter last week to his Group of 20 counterparts that withdrawing fiscal stimulus too soon could lead to “renewed economic hardships and recession.”

Mr. Barroso also rejected an American contention, made recently by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, that Europe was driving Turkey into the arms of its less secular Islamic neighbors.

…Concerned by Mr. Obama’s postponement of a European Union-United States summit meeting in May, Mr. Barroso confirmed that he had set up a small study group to examine ways to make the relationship more substantive and coordinated, especially on issues of job growth and regulation. He said that he wanted to produce “deliverables” and that the two sides could do more in relations with third parties, like Russia and China.

Yet the European Union has more regular summit meetings with Russia, he pointed out — two a year.

International Day of Rage

Mr Monks said union barons across Europe were planning a co-ordinated ‘day of action’ against the cuts on 29 September, involving national strikes and protests.
They will call it a historic moment for those in love neo-authoritarian-socialism, a tragedy, the beginning of the end, etc. I call it an inflection point.

Further in the old European spirit of licking the boot that kicks you, all the talk is about the old-fashioned thrill of the goose-step. While some pace hither and fro about the diminution of rights and the creeping dictatorship of the non-internationalists, they are at risk of falling into it for no good reason other than the widespread, shared political views of their do-gooders, luvvies, and activist “caring” types.
Mr Monks, now head of the European TUC, said: ‘I had a discussion with Barroso last Friday about what can be done for Greece, Spain, Portugal and the rest and his message was blunt: “Look, if they do not carry out these austerity packages, these countries could virtually disappear in the way that we know them as democracies. They've got no choice, this is it.”

‘He's very, very worried. He shocked us with an apocalyptic vision of democracies in Europe collapsing because of the state of indebtedness.’

Greece, Spain and Portugal, which only became democracies in the 1970s, are all facing dire problems with their public finances. All three countries have a history of military coups.
All of it caused by caving in to those very same do-gooders, luvvies, and activist “caring” types who always seem to demand an enlargement of entitlements. It’s sort of a “we are all ACORN” type of universe.

However it’s all idiotic. Lethargy is the player with all the momentum. The talk of apocalypse, which I guess means having to drink canned beer, the the kind of thing arrived at in moments of fear and ignorance, while rowing through the middle of the stormy sea.

I’ll believe it when I see the promotion of a ‘national dress’ or a reconstituted form of socially unifying mechanism once codified in martial non-uniform garb, like seeing a lot of the same sloganeered t-shirts, or some “unity color” selected by the now-threadbare Roy G. Biv minus the ones used for Thai, Iranian, and Ukrainian protest movements.

However, if I DID have to place a bet, my guess is that if a charismatic Hitlerian figure is to emerge, it will actually be a TV personality with a New Age or self-help bent to their unspoken narrative. Deepak Chopra for “interim manager”, if you will. What makes the jackboot theme implausible is the lack of actual force nor population of military age to pull it off in the stylish manner that they’re accustomed to.

Other than that, I would expect a real meltdown to take the form of a continent in a sort of localized chaos where a continental government still exists, but all their laws governing their citizens are ignored, and local and regional entities function in the manner of a fragmented array of something that looks an awful lot like the duchies and mini-states of the previous millennium. Pockets of cosmopolitanism (i.e. running water and public transit), form an archipelago laid out on a plane of more rural entities that will provide a wide range of quality of life from prosperous suburban life to ones where outsiders passing through are attacked out of simple paranoia.

Assuming that IS the case, it will some time in the future beyond it, well after a struggle of reconstitution of some kind, be looked back upon with horror, but also a great age of awakening for a revival of the creative arts, the individual will, and perhaps even of faith. An aristocracy will emerge. A lack of funding and of ingenuity will end most any conflict we now know of. One issue crackpots will simply evaporate, and Greek public culture will rationalize its superiority somehow.

Then again, it could really go south, even by the standards of medieval age style fragmented continent. The Greenies could take over.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How Dare you Smoke in ze Presence of the Philosopher!

Having doubled back over and over, over the years to cover Martin Heidegger’s inspiration and rationalization of the acts of the Nazis, a transcript of his now notorious seminar has been published.

A darling of recent ‘deconstructionists’, who ironically enjoy aesthetic chaos, his work has been blindly used over the past 25 years in the same way Derrida’s empty, self-absorbed rubbish has: to obfuscate.

Now everyone can read for themselves what, according to student transcripts, Martin Heidegger lectured on between November 1933 and February 1934 under the title "On the Essence and Concepts of Nature, History and the State". In April 1933, he became rector of the Albert Ludwig University and in 1934, he handed in his resignation. During his year in power he applied himself single-mindedly to organising the university's Gleichschaltung (bringing into line). All the documents from his rectoral term are now all being published together. The lack of empathy in their tone stands in contrast, for example, to his speech honouring the the Nazi martyr figure Albert Leo Schlageter from May 1933. The documents show that during the one year intermezzo, the new masters could rely on Heidegger. He cancelled the evening readings in January 1934, so that the "swearing in of the People's Chancellor" could be celebrated in style. He called upon people to make donations to the Winterhilfswerk so that it might become a "visible demonstration of the Volksgemeinschaft" (people's community).
The “people coming together” theme, especially that of constructing gleischhaltung or (uniform and universal) social agreement, might sound familiar to those paying close attention to the contemporary left, that seems to call anything that doesn’t agree with them ‘divisive’.

As opposed to monomaniacal gleischhaltung that they like to promote as ‘nice’ and free of disagreement and other viewpoints.

Admired for enacting "the automatic restoration of voting rights for former felons": Charlie Crist Praised by a Democrat Back in 2007

In case anybody is wondering about the late transformation (or betrayal) of Charlie Crist: already back in 2007, in a letter to the editor of The Economist, a Florida Democrat is heard to praise the governor of the Sunshine State for bringing an end to the alleged bickering in a "state that had once symbolised polarisation", for allowing "meaningful relationships to be forged across the political aisle" (in spite of angering "many of his fellow Republicans"), and because "his post-partisanship appears to be every bit as meaningful" as that of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In other areas pragmatism has almost always trumped partisanship. Mr Crist may not be as flashy as California's governor, but his post-partisanship appears to be every bit as meaningful.
The post-partisanship for which Crist is to be praised includes "the automatic restoration of voting rights for former felons"! Let nobody say we were not forewarned.
Sunshine state

SIR – Lexington frets that the “post-partisanship” politics of Arnold Schwarzenegger may not spread much beyond California (November 3rd). Lexington can find solace in another state that had once symbolised national polarisation: Florida. I voted against Charlie Crist in 2006, but in his first year as governor he has done more to re-enfranchise (mostly Democratic) black voters than any of his predecessors through his support for voting systems with paper records and the automatic restoration of voting rights for former felons. This has angered many of his fellow Republicans, but allowed meaningful relationships to be forged across the political aisle. In other areas pragmatism has almost always trumped partisanship. Mr Crist may not be as flashy as California's governor, but his post-partisanship appears to be every bit as meaningful.

Seth Kaplan
Miami Beach

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Caring and Sharing

Remember: they’re better than you.

As the economic crisis pinches national budgets, EU member states' funds set aside for development are dwindling and increasingly being used instead as channels for public cash for domestic companies and promoting national vested interests rather than poverty reduction in the poorest of countries.

Some states are even counting the cost of deporting refugees back to their home countries as 'development aid'.
They even believe the platitudes they’ve been parroting about themselves.
"There is even talk of counting remittances - the money sent home by immigrants. This is taking the fruits of the labour of migrants and calling that aid."
Meanwhile, between breathless, overbearing complaints about the Arizona border enforcement law, they take time to be munificent and generous.
A number of countries, notably France and Italy, have made agreements with developing countries that force them to co-operate on repatriation of migrants before they can access the aid, making development aid into a tool of anti-immigrant policies.
Presumably, they aren’t talking about personal remittances.
Countries often use aid to funnel money to domestic companies. Aid to China makes up a large proportion of Polish aid and aims to boost national exports for example. This sort of activity, termed 'tied aid' has existed for as long as governments have offered development assistance, but in the last few years, this has taken off as a share of aid.
Surely you ‘little people’ will understand that.