Your Lying Eyes

Dedicated to uncovering the truth that stands naked before your lying eyes.

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29 June 2007

The Pandercrat Debate

The Democratic debate was held last night at Howard University. I didn't watch the debate, but for all accounts I've read and heard it wasn't much of a debate, with the candidates falling over each other to please the crowd and gain the whoops of approval from the spirited audience, or as the Washington Post more charitably phrased it, they "aggressively sought to outmuscle one another on the topics of race and poverty and derided yesterday's Supreme Court decision banning most affirmative action in public schools."

Barack Obama might have gotten second runner-up for the Preposterous Pander award when he denounced the Supreme Court's decision yesterday by citing Brown v. Board and other precedents: "If it were not for them, I wouldn't be standing here." There probably aren't too many black men in America more unaffected by Brown than Obama, having grown up in multi-racial Hawaii and Indonesia and raised by his white mother and white grandparents. Sure, maybe he wouldn't have gotten into Harvard with his unspectacular credentials, but he would have gone to a decent school which surely would not have held him back. This is another in his general pattern of rank disingenuousness.

But surely the absolute prize for Preposterous Pander goes to Hillary: Let me just put this in perspective: If HIV-AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country. Wow, you don't get more pandering than that. Of course Hillary's correct, in the same sense that if the illegitimacy rate among white women were 65%, or there were widespread drug abuse among them, there would also be outrage. But there isn't, and AIDS is not one of their leading causes of death. I wonder why Hillary thinks that this is the case? Does Hillary think that AIDS is like the common cold, striking people seemingly at random though in this case only affecting one demographic group? Or perhaps she believes there is a conspiracy and AIDS is a weapon of genocide? Or perhaps she was playing off this fairly widespread myth? Perhaps some hard-hitting interviewer will ask her - Ha!

P.S. - There's a goldmine of material in this debate for the eventual Republican nominee to use to his advantage if he had the balls, though he'll probably leave it to some sleazy 501c group to exploit, being the coward he no doubt will be.

26 June 2007

Hey, What's Happening to My Money?

The stock market is kind of sputtering right now and real estate is on the verge of tanking while interest rates are on the launching pad counting down for take-off, all while the dollar stands on a precipice ready to dive headlong into the abyss.

How do your finances work? Has the value of your home grown 2 to 3-fold over the past 15 years, allowing you to take out huge home equity loans to finance your spending sprees? How's your 401k and other investments fairing - they've climbed pretty nicely over the last 3 years. Do you get great bargains on furniture, clothes, and electronics, all goods manufactured abroad? Do you lease your Nissan? Like to go out to nice restaurants, take vacations at fancy resorts, throwing money at service people mixing drinks, cooking meals, waiting tables and carrying bags?

Well the day of reckoning is nigh. Each year 6% of our economy goes out the door (net) to foreigners - mostly foreign governments, who finance our profligate ways. There are all kinds of ways this will resolve itself - the dollar will crash, leaving imports (i.e., everything we buy) far more expensive. Interest rates will go up, making those home equity loans unaffordable. Home values will depreciate, resulting in defaults and foreclosures. And of course the combination of the newly impoverished American consumer and foreigners disinclined to invest in American business will crash our equity markets.

Won't a falling dollar boost exports? Perhaps, but I fear years of a declining manufacturing base might have left the U.S. economy unable to respond effectively. You can't just flick a switch and revive shut-down factories overnight. No doubt China and the other exporting nations do not want to see us fall apart as we are such an important market for them, so I don't really expect an armageddon, but we shouldn't expect continued double digit growth in our investments - or any significant positive growth, for that matter - over the long haul. Given the trend of increasing income inequality over the last few decades, it is highly likely that the vast majority of Americans will experience steady and noticeable declines in their standard of living in the coming years.

Some dramatic technological advances could possibly turn the tide - perhaps in energy (e.g. battery technology) or aerospace or bioengineering. The self-replicating machines Greg Cochran predicts would no doubt render all this moot, but that's a number of decades away. On the other hand, demographics are against us, as minorities - who have shown intractable performance shortfalls - will constitute a far greater proportion of the future workforce than they do currently, while our leaders from both parties have shown pretty much zero concern over any of these matters, making it unlikely the kinds of hard decisions (consumption taxes, savings incentives, tough trade policy, etc.) that need to be taken now will ever get implemented. But should levels of immigration from Central America continue at the current pace or even increase, we are surely doomed (absent Dr. Cochran's miracle cure). - though our exports may go up as a result as we will by then officially be a third-world nation.

Read this paper by Martin Feldstein discussing these issues as well as this shorter (and harsher) VDare piece by Paul Craig Roberts from the other day. While in tone worlds apart, they're really saying the same thing.

Oh to be a Columnist

What few readers I have are quick to make mincemeat of me when I screw up, so I feel a fair amount of pressure to get my facts right in my posts, and back them up with references. Columnists have never really had to worry about that.

Today, WP's Richard Cohen presumes to refer to history in arguing how Republicans can still pull out a victory in '08 by looking to the past. His example, Richard Nixon's landslide victory in 1972.
The history I have in mind is 1972. By the end of that year, 56,844 Americans had been killed in Vietnam, a war that almost no one thought could still be won and that no one could quite figure out how to end. Nevertheless, the winner in that year's presidential election was Richard M. Nixon. He won 49 of 50 states -- and the war, of course, went on.
Uh, Richard, Mr. Cohen, sir, by 1972 Nixon had dramaticaly reduced American involvement in Vietnam. Combat deaths had declined from over 16,000 in 1968 to 641 in 1972. American involvement in Vietnam by 1972 was limited to an air war, leaving opposition to the war in the hands of the far left who were clearly wanted the communists to win. The Republicans not only didn't inherit the Iraq war (like Nixon had) but the casualties are increasing rather than decreasing, so there really isn't much they can learn from Nixon's 1972 landslide victory (other than to avoid getting caught bugging the opposition's headquarters). But I suppose it's unfair to expect a Washington Post columnist to know something about recent history or, heaven forfend, spend a couple minutes of research on the internet.

The Court Veers Right

One of Bush's few successes is his moving the Supreme Court to the right. Conservatives went 4-for-4 with yesterday's decisions, though a closer look at the box score suggests it was more like 4 singles with no rbi's.

In deciding against the "Bong Hits for Jesus" kid, the court connected with some common sense. In this case, a high school principal disciplined some wise-guy kid who unfurled his offending banner during a school sponsored event during school hours (though off school property). Principals can't be expected to face lawsuits everytime they try to tame their charges, and so barring an obvious outrageous infringement of civil rights, the kids will just have to like it or lump it.

In another decision too boring to get through, they limited to some extent the "Endangered Species Act." This is an obviously easily abused law, and so this decision seems sensible. This is a victory for developers, but not necessarily for the average property owner. As Steve Sailer has pointed out, if a community is facing an unwanted development that is likely to increase traffic, overburden community resources, hurt property values, etc., the Endangered Species act could be a handy way to thwart it, if some useless though rare species of lizard could be found on the property. Though it probably doesn't come up too often, it's another example of where libertarian, free-market philosophy collides with the real interests of Republicans' natural constituency - upper middle-class suburbanites.

In deciding for Bush's faith-based initiative, Alito made little sense. Scalia, who agreed with the decision, lambasted Alito's reasoning in a separate opinion. Alito's decision seemed designed to give Bush's particular faith-based initiative a pass while doing little to help religion in the public sector generally.

I tend to agree with the decision to invalidate the restriction on political ads in McCain-Feingold. But, again, for the average person who is not involved in advocacy for a special-interest group, there's little to get excited about.

The real test will come Thursday, when the conservatives on the Court will have a chance to knock one out of the park with the two cases involving race-based school assignments. There are few things more important to people than where their kids will go to school (particularly since this is so critical to deciding where to live). Forced de-segregation leads to the destruction of cities as habitats for the middle class. But minority communities in cities can't resist the temptation to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs by insisting that their kids get to go to the "good" schools, which inexorably leads to the "good" schools becoming "bad" schools when all the "good" kids' parents take off for the suburbs (or send them to private school).

The fact that each of the above decisions was a 5-4 split suggests that the court remains bitterly divided, and thus portends another 5-4 decision against the forced integration practice. My thinking is that the liberals might have been tempted to go along on one of these (as a show of unity) if Thursday's decision were going their way. On the other hand, the fact that swing-vote Kennedy went along with the conservatives on each of these might mean he abandons them on Thursday. Kennedy in the past has gone with the conservatives on the equal protection cases, while O'Connor went with the liberals. Hopefully, Kennedy hasn't decided to fill O'Connor's role (and bask in the adulation of the elite press).

11 June 2007

And This is Why We Need a Wall

From USA Today:
Soldiers patrolling border charged in alien-smuggling ring. The soldiers allegedly negotiated the details, price and number of people who would be smuggled north in a series of text messages uncovered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents after Pfc. Jose Rodrigo Torres, 26, of Laredo, was arrested Thursday. Also arrested were Sgt. Julio Cesar Pacheco, 25, of Laredo, and Sgt. Clarence Hodge Jr., 36, of Fort Worth. A Border Patrol agent found 24 illegal immigrants inside a van Torres was driving on Interstate 35 near Cotulla, Texas, about 68 miles north of the border, the U.S. attorney's office said. Torres was in uniform at the time of his arrest.
Strengthening the Border Patrol is a good idea, but these low-paid civil servants are quite corruptible, which is one reason a wall is necessary. Democrats like the idea of more Border Patrol agents because they always like more bodies on the government payroll and they don't care about border security. Bush just likes to pretend to be concerned about border security, and so offers up more agents. But catching people after they've crossed is about the worst way to go about securing a border. Mr. Bush, put up this wall!

05 June 2007

Obama, Laying it on the Line

Whoa! Now that's the way to rally the base - the Republican base, especially. (Via Drudge).

Not at 'Liberty' to Discuss?

And speaking of the PBS special "Six Days in June," how do you discuss the diplomatic tensions among Israel, the Arab nations, the Soviet Union, and especially the United States, without once mentioning the USS Liberty incident? Is it because as a case of mistaken identity (allegedly) it was mostly just beside the point? Or is it a case of the filmmakers feeling there are some things its viewers - even PBS viewers - are better off not having to think about?

For more reading on this bizarre and tragic incident, just Google on "USS Liberty."

04 June 2007

War Fever Has Lasting Effects

I just watched the PBS special "Six Days in June" about the Six Day War in 1967. It was pretty riveting, as measured by the few times I flicked over to the ball game, not wanting to miss a word. The film notes how the war changed Israel from a mostly secular nation into the more religiously zealous state it is today. Jerusalem, for example, wasn't much of a concern to the average Israeli then, but the act of taking back the city elevated it to such a prize that overnight it became the most precious jewel in Israel's crown.

Over the weekend, I watched a documentary on Turner Classic Movies from the late 40's about the "Friendship Train," a nationwide charity drive spearheaded by Drew Pearson, which gathered donations of grain and canned milk to feed the hungry in France and Italy. The narrator went on and on about "freedom" and how France and Italy were now free and this food would help friends in freedom. But France and Italy were anything but free in 1940-41 when Americans had absolutely no interest in joining the conflict. We entered the war because Japan attacked us and Germany declared war against us, not to make France and Italy "free." But to keep the war spirit going, the war fever quickly took on a more messianic tone.

Even the cold war required a dedicated public to stay engaged with a pretty scary enemy who could obliterate our cities. And so our relative prosperity to the Soviet Union - which was due to a combination of ours being the only surviving intact modern economy of the post-war period, a wealth of natural resources, and an efficient free-market economy (as opposed to the hopelessly inefficient, centrally-planned Soviet behemoth) - was elevated to a tenet of religion faith. All those people throughout the world wanting to emigrate here weren't just eager to grab a piece of the pie - they were sign of just how wonderful we are, and don't we want them all to come here and share in the fruits of freedom. And if a free market is so wonderful for us, why then global free trade will be even more wonderful. And those 700+ billion trade deficits - again, just shows how desperate the rest of the world is to loan us money.

Then we had Bosnia and Kosovo - which for some reason we had to get involved in. The Serbs were just about the baddest guys around for a few years there - an entire people, apparently, evil to the man. And then there's Saddam, the ultimate bad guy, whose regime tortured children in front of their parents, Olympic athletes, and who gassed his own people (though of course to Saddam the Kurds were anything but "his own people"). In addition to the expected WMD and his previous invasion of Kuwait, the Iraq attack could now take on a more messianic mission - Operation Iraqi Freedom.

And you'd have thought that the 9/11 attack itself would be enough to justify attacking the country that sponsored and protected the bastards who murdered 3,000 of our countrymen and destroyed parts of our greatest city. But in the weeks leading up to the Afghan invasion, we were treated to undercover documentary films about the suppressive Taliban rule, public executions of adulteresses in football stadiums and the plight of women under sharia. What did any of that have to do with 9/11 - why did we need to get all worked up over the medieval nature of the Taliban before agreeing to take revenge? Why was our action code-named Operation Enduring Freedom? Why did Paul McCartney write a song about "Freedom" and how nobody can take it because it's my right - what did any of that have to do with the fact that we were attacked and were not going to let the attackers get away with it? Did people really think the Taliban were going to conquer America and force Elizabeth Hasselbeck to wear a burka?

The answer is yes, people do think that this is about our freedom and the war on terror is necessary to defend our freedom. But of course the War on Terror is about not letting terrorists harm us and damage our property. The terrorists don't want to take away our freedom - they want to hurt us. The only way we can lose our freedoms to fanatical Muslims is by allowing them to immigrate here and push us around (which they're already starting to do). The other way we can lose our freedoms of course is by giving excessive power to our government - whether it's to fight terror, drugs, porn, hate, inequality - whatever the evil-du-jour may be. Treating terrorism as a threat to our lives and property is much simpler and probably more effective than fighting it as an existential threat to our way of life.