Archive for January 18th, 2009

January 18, 2009

Video: Flight 1549 landing

(BUMPED TO ADD 2nd VIDEO) At about the 2:00 mark, you’ll see the plane skid into the river: (Thanks to Intellectual Redneck.)


Embedded video from CNN Video

January 18, 2009

America’s No. 1 growth industry

(BUMPED; UPDATES BELOW) Somewhere around here in one of my bookshelves, I’ve got a copy of Stephen Moore’s 1995 classic, Government: America’s No. 1 Growth Industry: How the Relentless Growth of Government Is Impoverishing America, the title of which speaks a truth that is now truer than ever.

That title recurs to memory because of a few items Instapundit linked this weekend. Item No. 1:

While the private sector was shedding millions of jobs in 2008 and government budgets were collapsing under the weight of waste, fraud and carved-in-stone personnel costs, the public sector had another banner year. Governments at all levels hired 164,100 new employees and were largely responsible for the addition of a further 96,600 jobs in education and 371,600 in health care. Now President-elect Obama wants to add 600,000 to the bloated federal payroll. . . .
Lip service by public officials about fiscal austerity notwithstanding, governments and their public-employee unions seem to be approaching 2009 as if the recession is none of their concern.

Item No. 2:

After the 2000 Census, the richest county in America was Douglas County, Colorado. By 2007, Douglas County had fallen to sixth. The new top three are now Loudon County, Virginia; Fairfax County, Virginia; and Howard County, Maryland. All three are suburbs or exurbs of Washington, D.C. In 2000, 14 of the 100 richest counties were in the Washington, D.C., area. In 2007, it was nine of the richest 20.

Government growth is parasitical, like a tick growing fat with the blood sucked from its host. The private sector is the only place that real wealth-creation occurs. Government’s collection and expenditure of revenue can only redistribute wealth, not create it.

The necessary result, then, of the unequal fiscal action of the government is, to divide the community into two great classes; one consisting of those who, in reality, pay the taxes, and, of course, bear exclusively the burthen of supporting the government; and the other, of those who are the recipients of their proceeds, through disbursements, and who are, in fact, supported by the government; or, in fewer words, to divide it into tax-payers and tax-consumers.

The great failure of the Bush administration and of the Republican congressional leadership was their failure to understand and act on this principle. Bush cut taxes, but he failed to restrain the growth of government and, indeed, through No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D, actively expanded the size, power and expense of the federal government. The tax-consuming ticks grew fatter.

In 1994, the Republicans who gained control of Congress did so by pledging themselves as representatives of the taxpayers, and passage of the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 was their greatest achievement. But some Republicans grew weary of being called “mean-spirited” and, after Bob Dole’s defeat, these GOP fainthearts heeded the siren song of “national greatness” — that oxymoronic chimera “big government conservatism” or, as the Bushies called it, “compassionate conservatism.”

We now see the bitter fruit of that poison tree: Once they ceased to be the party of taxpayers, Republicans were left without a raison d’etre. If the GOP cannot be trusted as thrifty stewards of our taxes, what is the point of voting Republican? There are many explanations for why the Republican share of the popular vote plummeted from 62 million in 2004 to 58 million in 2008, but the fatigue of the taxpaying host and the concommitant fattening of the tax-consuming ticks is the clearest explanation. Political cowardice has reaped its inevitable reward.

This was the grand idiocy of “compassionate conservatism” as an outreach strategy: “Look how blithely we betray our core principles! See how eager we are to backstab our staunchest supporters! Vote Republican!”

Why should any Republican feel malice toward Barack Obama? His election is the necessary consequence of Republican failure. If you don’t like Obama, blame Bush, blame Karl Rove, blame Tom DeLay, blame Denny Hastert, blame Mitch McConnell, blame Trent Lott — blame every Republican who adopted that go-along-to-get-along stance toward the ceaseless growth of the federal Leviathan. You can’t feed the ticks and expect the host to remain healthy.

Next time you hear some Republican whining about the liberal media’s fawning over Obama, ask them this: How on earth did John McCain — a/k/a “Obama’s secret weapon” — get the Republican nomination with only 47% of the primary vote? Who were those 47% and why couldn’t Republicans prevent the nomination of an unpopular candidate who had spent the previous decade stabbing his own party in the back?

If Republicans cannot unite on the principle of limited government, they will be divided and conquered by the united advocates of unlimited government. If you are unwilling to lose an election by standing firmly on principle, you might win a few elections in the short run, but eventually you will be defeated by your unprincipled betrayals.

The only glimmer of hope for the GOP at this point is that the incoming Obama administration and its Democratic allies in Congress are singing unison from the Keynesian hymnal, advocating a plan that will inject the tax-consuming ticks with hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ blood. Conservatives know one thing for sure: It won’t work. More deficit “stimulus” spending won’t produce economic recovery and will, in fact, make the recession much worse.

“Central economic planning doesn’t work. That’s why we’re in this mess.”
Ron Paul

Now that the election is over, now that “Republican foreign policy” is a moot debate, now that the Surrender Lobby is fully in control of the White House, can Republicans stop hating on Ron Paul long enough to admit that he is absolutely right about the fundamental principles of political economy? You don’t have to be a gold-bug conspiracy theorist to recognize that the open-the-floodgates policy at the Fed ultimately served only to enrich the Tim Geithners of the world. And among Geithner’s Republican defenders, we see who sides with the tax-consumers against the taxpayers.

Since conservatives know that the neo-Keynesian methods of Obama and the Democrats are doomed to a disastrous end, this low ebb ought to be the beach head on which we plant our flag. Any Republican who votes for more “stimulus” is giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and deserves to be treated as the traitor he is. Perhaps the candidates for the RNC chairmanship should be asked to take a pledge: Not a cent of party contributions will be spent to support the re-election of any Republican member of Congress who votes for the Democratic stimulus package. If party discipline can’t be enforced, at least ensure that the sellouts betray conservative principles on their own dime.

Obamanomics can lead to only one result: Weimar America. And that reminds me of a third item Instapundit linked:

“Why wait until the government gets around to issuing them in 2011, when they’ll buy a single measly gallon of gas?”

Heh. And mega-heh. Taxpayers or tax-consumers? Take your pick, and make your stand.

UPDATE: Linked at Libertarian Republican. Thanks!

UPDATE II: Michelle Malkin refuses to join the Kumbayah Conservative Chorus.

UPDATE III: So predictable: “Shrill racist hatemonger Michelle Malkin indulges in a little codespeak . . .” Translating the code: “Shrill racist hatemonger” = Republican. Thou shalt not criticize Obama.

January 18, 2009

Cracker-Americans for Steyn

Whatever idiot sent that stupid e-mail to Mark Steyn, he doesn’t speak for the entirety of “cracker Appalachia,” and he certainly doesn’t speak for me.

When a man suffers what Steyn suffered for political incorrectness, he is my ally. And when you consider that what Steyn is saying about demographics, immigration and culture is, to a great degree, the same thing that Pat Buchanan has been saying about demographics, immigration and culture — well, you see the basis for a new fusionism, an opportunity to heal the bitter breach between paleoconservatives and neoconservatives that goes back to Mel Bradford.

Why do I feel like I’m the only one who sees these things? Peter Brimelow includes Michelle Malkin on his VDare blogroll. Phyllis Chesler favorably cites The Camp of the Saints. In Godless, Ann Coulter paid tribute to Joe Sobran (!) as a mentor. Could the basis of a tactical ceasefire be any more apparent? If we view the embarrassing defeat of Crazy Cousin John as the final debacle of the GOP’s open-borders wing, is it not possible that, at a very minimum, conservatives in the circular firing squad could agree to form a semi-circle for the next four years?

As I said this morning in reference to Ron Paul, with Obama in the White House and Democrats in control of Congress, “Republican foreign policy” is now a moot debate. Can we call an intermission in the Sharks-vs.-Jets quarrel over imperialism? Conservatism is at coffin corner, and one good thing about having your back against the wall is, it makes it much harder for your “friends” to backstab you.

If we cannot unite on a few basic issues, Team Obama will run the table so completely, there will be nothing left worth fighting over. I attended a roundtable last week during which one conservative suggested that, with 41 Republican senators, a filibuster is possible. I couldn’t restrain myself: “Susan Collins? Are you kidding me?

Conservatives who imagine that the current crisis allows leisure for internal feuding over ancient grievances and philosophical disputes are woefully underestimating the severity of the crisis. Folks, if Obama gets nationalized health care, that’s it: Game over. Hello, Permanent Welfare State, a la Scandinavia.

As my remark about Susan Collins was meant to suggest, our only hope of stopping such a measure is to bring unbearable heat on enough red-state Democratic senators to force them to join in a filibuster with the 30-something Republicans who can be counted on for the cloture vote. If a national health-care plan passes cloture, even some of those 30-odd GOP stalwarts will peel off, the plan will pass with 70-plus votes and — if history is any guide — it can never be repealed.

Seems to me some of my fellow Cracker-Americans are living in a dreamland, spoiled by a quarter-century of Republican ascendance, imagining they can be finicky in their choice of allies in the battles to come. The Hell No Coalition — “Hell, no” to the stimulus, “Hell, no” to open borders, “Hell, no” to national health-care — can ill afford such self-destructive infighting. In this hour of great peril, start fighting the common foe, or forfeit any right to call yourself a friend of conservatism.

UPDATE: Banner linked at Steyn Online.

January 18, 2009

Bittersweet irony

“During the 2008 campaign . . . CNN correspondent Drew Griffin interviewed Sarah Palin and, to discredit the governor with the notion that even conservatives were lambasting her, said, ‘The National Review had a story saying that, you know, I can’t tell if Sarah Palin is “incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, or all of the above.” ‘
“What is the truth? Those words were taken grossly out of context. The point of the NR writer, Byron York, was that the media coverage of Palin was so biased that based upon it one couldn’t tell if she was ‘incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, or all of the above.’ And the irony is bittersweet. By taking words designed as a defense of Palin and indictment of the media and using them to impugn the governor,
CNN reinforced the very point York was making.”

(H/T: Ed Driscoll.)

January 18, 2009

Losing the Spago vote

“She looks fantastic. She’s spent 13 years on a top-rated TV series making a high six figure if not seven figure annual salary. And ‘The last eight years have been such hell’? Why, lights on the set too bright? Wolfgang Puck didn’t give you the first table at Spago?”

January 18, 2009

Obama can’t quit the Crackberry

The damned things are addictive:

Despite legal and security hurdles, president-elect Barack Obama says he has a plan to retain his beloved Blackberry once he moves into the White House next week.
Interviewed by CNN Friday, Obama said the smartphone was among the tools that he would use to stay in touch with real Americans and avoid becoming trapped inside the presidential “bubble.”
“I think we’re going to be able to hang on to one of these. My working assumption, and this is not new, is that anything I write on an email could end up being on CNN,” he said.
“So I make sure to think before I press ‘send’,” he said of his Blackberry, which was an ever-present fixture on his belt or in his hand on the campaign trail.
Obama did not divulge just how he will overcome legal constraints, given the requirement of the post-Watergate Presidential Records Act of 1978 to keep a record of every White House communication.

You can’t go anywhere in DC without seeing people hooked on the Crackberry/iPhone habit. People sit through panel discussions with their heads down, texting away. You see them in bars and restaurants checking their messages. So the image of the POTUS sitting around the Oval Office reading Twitter tweets isn’t exactly reassuring.

UPDATE: Linked at Pirates Cove and, really, what’s the deal with redheaded pinups?

January 18, 2009

Obama’s big donors

Remember all that hype about small donors giving $20 on the Internet? Forget it:

Nearly 100 wealthy families and power couples contributed at least $100,000 each to help Barack Obama over the past two years, creating an elite set of donors to whom the president-elect repeatedly turned in financing his campaign, transition and inauguration, a Washington Post analysis shows. . . .
The families gave to as many as five committees, records show, and 27 of the 94 families also bundled money from others, collecting millions of dollars on top of their personal donations.
Among the supporters were well-known families such as the Rockefellers, as well as lesser-known backers such as New Yorker Frank Brosens, a leader in the hedge fund industry, who raised $500,000 for Obama’s campaign and inauguration in addition to the $182,000 he gave with his wife, parents and three sons.
High-profile donors include Hollywood director Steven Spielberg and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, who gave $163,900. . . .
Twelve members of the Rockefeller extended family gave a total of $316,000. Hotel magnate and former Maryland lawmaker Stewart Bainum Jr. and 13 members of his family gave $236,000.

Remember this, the next time someone tries to tell you Republicans are “the party of the rich.”

UPDATE: Ann Althouse:

Now, should we be upset, and if we are, what are we upset about and is it not poetic justice that John McCain came out the loser?

Hey: Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Bob Barr!

January 18, 2009

Death of a blogger

Michelle Malkin has a moving tribute to Bill Faith, a Vietnam veteran and war-blogger, at Small Town Veteran and Old War Dogs. R.I.P, Bill.

January 18, 2009

Ceasefire in Gaza

Israel runs out of fish in the barrel:

Israel called off its three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, saying Hamas was “badly beaten,” but the Islamist group vowed to fight on in a war that has killed 1,200 Palestinians in the coastal enclave.
Within minutes of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announcing that a unilateral ceasefire would start three hours later at 2 a.m. (0000 GMT) on Sunday, several missiles struck southern Israel.
“Conditions have been created whereby the goals set at the launch of the operation have been more than fully achieved,” Olmert said in a televised address from army headquarters.
He said Hamas’s ability to fire rockets at southern Israeli towns also had been severely limited.

Noah Pollak at Commentary:

Hamas is responding to the announcement with fresh barrages of rocket fire. Israel has recently been under immense international pressure to stop the offensive, including substantial pressure from the U.S. The unilateral nature of the cease-fire should be read in the context of Israel’s (and Egypt’s) desire to avoid direct Israeli negotiations with, and thereby the legitimization of, Hamas. By acting unilaterally, Israel affirms this policy of diplomatic isolation.

The timing of the ceasefire — two days before Obama’s inauguration — tends to confirm my original gut-hunch feeling that the Gaza war was Israel deciding to give Hamas a good ass-whupping before the beginning of a U.S. administration that Israeli leaders view as pro-Palestinian.

Which is not quite the same as “I question the timing,” however. I’m not suggesting anything conspiratorial, just summarizing the most obvious geopolitical considerations involved. And, yes, “ass-whupping” is a phrase you don’t see often enough in discussions of geopolitical strategy.

UPDATE: Ehud Olmert:

“Hamas did not foresee Israel’s determination and its seriousness in bringing about a change of the reality in the region,” he said. “Hamas’s leaders did not believe that Israel would launch an operation of this scope on the eve of the elections. Hamas did not foresee the strength of the military attack, and more than anything else, it did not foresee the results,” he said.

The results? An ass-whupping for Hamas.

UPDATE II: Hugh Hewitt: You know who this ceasefire is good for? Mitt Romney Benjamin Netanhayu.

UPDATE III: Linked at Cold Fury.

January 18, 2009

NY Times death watch

Things are so bad at 620 8th Avenue, they’ve forced Maureen Dowd to start writing travel features in order to keep her job. One of American journalism’s living legends — a Pulitzer winner, no less — compelled to file 2,500 words of fluffy hype about a luxury spa in Miami. Oh, the indignity of it all!

(H/T: Ann Althouse.)