Knight Of The Mind

I'll do my best to present a philosophical and generally conservative look at current events and life, the universe and everything. Readers are invited to take all that's posted herein with a grain of salt. or if they prefer, a grain of salt, a slice of lime and a shot of tequila.

Name:
Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Greetings and welcome. My name is Steve, I'm 35 years old and I work for the US Army as an Operations Research Analyst. Hence my blog title Knight Of The Mind.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Is This Why They Call Him "Firebrand"?

"Ward Churchill is a viciously anti-American demagogue. He has every right to free speech, and I support his free speech… We should give him free speech by not paying him.

You don’t need tenure in this country anyway. The idea that he would be oppressed without tenure is nonsense. There are 75 whacked-out foundations that would hire him for life. Dozens of Hollywood stars would hold fundraisers for him. His life will become a film by Michael Moore.

The question here, is ‘What obligation does society have to fund its own sickness?’

We ought to say to campuses, it’s over…We should say to state legislatures, why are you making us pay for this? Boards of regents are artificial constructs of state law. Tenure is an artificial social construct. Tenure did not exist before the twentieth century, and we had free speech before then. You could introduce a bill that says, proof that you’re anti-American is grounds for dismissal."

Newt Gingrich unloads on Ward Churchill. Next time he should tell us how he really feels.

Jim Gereghty at NRO.Com thinks Ward Churchill could abolish tenure. I doubt it. Academia takes care of itself in a vicious manner. He will be drummed out of the fraternity and left to swing in the wind.

Meanwhile: Michelle Malkin details that Churchill takes his plagarism so seriously that he does it in more than just his writing.

And Furthermore: We get a dissenting view from a different academic who dislikes both Ward Churchill and Gingrich's idea.

There already exists a great deal of resentment towards universities in the public, and Churchill has become the poster child for that resentment. Still, I find it ulikely that there will actually be a major movement to utterly do away with tenure. Although I will note that there has been a diminution in the number of tenure-track jobs in recent years, and that fact has nothing to do with public pressure.

Setting aside the issue, for a moment of whether tenure is a good thing or not, I find Gingrich’s stance to be stunning. Yes, Ward Churchill has said, and will continue to say, hateful thing about the United States, yet how in the world does Mr. Gingrich propose operationalizing the concept of “anti-America” and thereby codifying it into law? And do we really even want to do such a thing? Do we want to unleash a witch hunt in our universities to weed out those who don’t think and speak “the right way"? To what end? What will we, as society, gain from such a process? - Steve Taylor.

- Once more TKS on NRO.

This Land Was Your Land, But Now It's My Land...

Eminent Domain has become way too eminent. It's also now exercising way too much domain. The various layers of government in The United States are taking possession of entirely too much land that should be in the hands of private individuals. It has to be stopped somewhere.

Unrestrained eminent domain harms both citizens and the government in two vital ways. It obviously harms citizens whose land is taken. That's immediate and in the victim's face. The person once had land and now to paraphrase an old Jethro Tull Song "Farm On The Freeway," they just have a check and broken down pickup truck.

They say they gave me compensation...
That's not what I'm chasing. I was a rich man before yesterday.
And what do I want with a million dollars and a pickup truck? - Off of Crest Of A Knave.

The problem here also runs far deeper, for the individual in question. A number of our rights as citizens have far less power when we do not own the land we sleep on. Try aguing the 5th Amendment over a search of your property, if the government owns the land you live on. It's not a daunting task for a government agency to ask an allied government agency for a search warrant. A ban on religion in the public square is far worse when the public square is almost every parcel of land within the dominion. (Nevada, for example.)

Another problem occurs when the state owns all of this land, has to service it, and discovers there isn't any revenue coming in off their land taxes because they already own just about everything in site. Or, the people that own private property, within the domain of a government entity, are not wealthy enough to support that government in the style which it has become accustomed to.

This touched off a Supreme Court case over land siezures in New London, CT. Here, the municipal government of New London tried to buy up low income housing for the purpose of moving in rich corporation that would pay more taxes. It was throwing it's citizens out into the street to improve the municipal tax rate. Let's hope they can fight City Hall. Here's a discussion of the legal technicalities involved.

It was against this backdrop that Ohio Libertarian Chairman, Robert Butler, took to a lectern to decry the avaricious leviathon our rulership had become. He first described the justifications used by municipal governments in eminent domain land grabs.

"Butler said that the government's first step in exercising eminent domain is having property condemned or declared "blighted." Property that does not meet certain criteria laid down by local government can receive this designation.

He said homes in Lakewood were declared blighted for having only one bathroom or having an unpaved driveway. "Its scary to think about," Butler said. "

He also described how these governments were defrauding the Public Good clause of these eminent domain laws.

"The way the government improves the neighborhood is by taking your house away and giving it to someone else," Butler said.

The Chairman of The Ohio University Libertarians decried this as problematic for two reasons.

Corbett argued that there are "no incentives for (private corporations) to use the land responsibly" once they have been given a "free tab by the government."

In other words, eminent domain is an ever-flowing font of contractor waste, fraud, and abuse on the taxpayer bar tab. Mr. Corbett further elaborated.

The fight against eminent-domain abuses, Corbett continued, has elements of class struggle. "It's poor people that are going to lose their homes," he said. "There's definitely class components in the argument."

So not only does The People's money get wasted, but it gets wasted in a process that empowers the government to totally screw the most destitute and defenseless people in society. Does it really surprise anyone that The Sheriff of Nottingham was a public official and that Robin of Loxley gave to the poor as a member of the private sector until he could marry and claim his inheritance?

This Libertarian Party leader is out in the sticks speaking to college students and is the only person fighting the good fight on this. Where are GOP Congressmen and Senators who came to power as signators to The Contract With America.

He's trying to accomplish what the party now in power promised us in order to get elected. It's time for the GOP to return to its base on this issue and fight for the individual rights of our people. The Rockefeller Republican model of a more efficient welfare state is not a free America. It's time for Tom DeLay, Lindsay Graham and several other powerful and more economically Libertarian members of the GOP caucus to start pounding this issue.


Update I: Boi From Troy Demonstrates that West Hollywood is not immune from municipal interdiction of property rights.

Update II: C-Pol covers the New London, CT land grab.


Update III: The Blog Of The Mind, enjoyable, but not related to my blog in any way, has also taken up this issue on behalf of the oppressed in New London, CT.




Thursday, February 24, 2005

More Of A Quisling Than A Churchill

How does one truly become a media darling in the Postmodern Academic World?

For Richard Feynman, this involved genuine brilliance and a knack for self-promotion. He redefined quantumelectrodynamics, helped build the atomic bomb and then still had the energy to hit the lecture circuit and sell his discipline.

For others, less talented, they have to do something really loud and stupid. That will carry someone pretty far before the world gets told the emporer really has no clothes. The developers of "Cold Fusion" at the University of Utah had us all admiring their sartorial elegance for about 15 minutes.

For those with no ability whatsoever, academia proves a barren ground, unless, of course, you really hate the United States and actively root for a lot of its citizens to die a horrible death. Then George Soros, or one of his puppet organizations, opens the funding floodgates for you.

Ward Churchill became a loud and strident activist for terrorism against The United States. Not just an apologist, not just a milquetoast, whitebread, wet-pantied, liberal sympathizer. An outright advocate, rooting for the Hamas Team the way a Good Catholic Roots for Notre Dame. He's on tape firing up the troops in seattle.

(Here, Here, Here, and Here) - Michelle Malkin reader Anthony J.

This gibberish, this hatred of his own land, this unrepentant desire to see all of us "Little Eichmans" burn in the fires of Gahenna, doesn't come on the cheap. It takes a certain level of funding and support to really stab your country in the back. A whole network of committed "Little Zunigas," ready to stand up and say "screw them!" anytime an American dies by the hands of a terrorist.

Like the end of a program on PBS, this delightful entertainment is brought to you by the following sponsors:

Gustavus Myers Center, which is in turn funded by....

NAACP
The Urban League
The Ford Foundation
The Public Welfare Foundation

and amazingly enough, B'Nai Brith International.

Please keep this in mind if you are ever handed a CFC form or are solicited for a tax-deductible contribution.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Bizarre World Of The Neosinophile

Thomas P. M. Barnett sat on a panel I attended during a business conference last week in Williamsburg, Va. The man served our country well for years at The Pentagon and has an active mind, a glib turn of phrase and the ability to make an entire room of bored convention attendees laugh at some of his remarks and gasp at others. He was enpaneled with two stodgy DC careerists and stole the entire 90 minutes with off-the-cuff blandishments such as:

-- "The bigger a mess Iraq becomes, the more it unsettles the Middle East. This is turning out better than George W. Bush could have hoped for."

--"The modern DOD analyst has a chance to really screw up the world for the next 50 years."

--"The Department of Homeland Security will end up being the Department of Agriculture of the 21st Century. I guess the current administration looked at what happened in the former USSR and decided centralization was a good model."

These are all paraphrases, but they sum up the bomb-throwing tone of his thought-provoking, amusing and interesting remarks. It also made me read his blog and try to figure out roughly what made Barnett tick. This was where I came away disappointed.

Barnett seems enamoured with an old economic chestnut known as Growth Pole Theory. This theory posits that urban areas reduce the transactions costs on economic activity and therefore encourage more of it. This, in turn, sucks more people into the city, and therefore brings them into contact with the world and makes them more civilized and urbane. This theory works in some cases, and fails in others.

Barnett, no doubt, rode The Metro to Pentagon Station at taxpayer expense rather than sitting in his car during an August rush hour on 495. He also never set foot in East Hollywood any further downhill from Griffith Park than Santa Monica Boulevard. Cities have the potential of providing convenience and socialization, and they have the reality of economic dislocation, sky-high costs of living, crack houses and homeless people.

Barnett then takes the partially errant Growth Pole Theory and attempts to apply it to the current geopolitical situation. He does this through the popular framework of a model that divides the world into a Gap and a Core. The Core lives in cities, chats on the internet and has interconnected with the rest of the world via globalization. These Core nations have enjoyed all the benefits of modern travel, information technology and commerce because of their proximity to these urban growth poles that made it affordable for them to taste this luxury.

The Gap, on the other hand, lives out there in the sticks. They are the people on the other side of the modern Hadrian's Wall of geopolitical alliances. They cannot address modernization and refuse to acknowledge its risks. Thus they are forced somehow to behave like The Unabomber or Osauma Bin Ladin.

Where this leads Barnett off the tracks of reasoned thought is on the subject of China. He sees China emerging from the Gap and entering the Core. He sees strong economic growth and reads where things are manufactured when he shops at Target or Wal Mart. This leads Barnett to uncritically label China as the success story of the 21st Century.

Barnett accurately captures the fact that China has made itself a lot better off and more civilized than it was during Mao Tse Tung's Great Leap Forward. What he missed was the context in which the governing class of The Chinese Military was allowing this to happen.

Growth and modernization in a moral vaccuum do not lead to decency or make a nation someone the US should make a trusted ally. This is where I part company from Barnett and his Core epistomology of geopolitical thought. If there is such a thing as a Core group of modern nations, it should require some core standards of decency and decorum before they roll out the welcome mat to anyone who can jump start a national economy. Hitler and Pinochet both accomplished that to a certain degree. Niether could claim rightfully enroll their governments as decent global citizens.

China reached a critical juncture in the late 20th Century. They could not remain a backwards nation and expect to survive or even mange to feed their population. Their efforts at economic modernization via central planning had failed and they needed to import at least some of the powerful trademarks of liberal democracies such as the US, Japan and the nations of Modern Europe. The Chinese Military Oligrchy wanted the cash, the gadgets and the culture. They did not want the free thinking and dissent that came coupled with Western Style Democracy.

This lead to a crisis when a group of students demonstrated for a more open society in Tienamin Square. The Chinese could have listened to these people, and at least tried to negotiate a few of their demands and throw them a bone or two. Except that they couldn't afford to. The entire system in China smacks of Fuedal privaledge; like any failed marxist state, it was an aristocracy of pull.

Who got what and who knew what could not be decided domestically by market systems. Beijing and Shanghai may meet every definition Barnett and other Growth Pole Theorists offer for an urban core. However, the society in which they exist still rigorously enfrces a gap and refuses to let the vast majority of it's population leave that gap. No matter whether the economy is agricultural, industrial or information-based, no Fuedal manor operates for long sans its surfs.

China will have to internally collapse and combust before it is ready to join the modern world as anything other than a predator state. They claim to fear US intentions in Asia, but their government desperately needs that fear. Nearly as much as Kim Il Jung in North Korea.

Hitler would never have made it longer than two years as Chancellor of Germany without the Anchluss and The Juden. The Chinese oligarchy would gone down in widespread anarchy and bloodshed without the same nationalistic fight against an enemy. They are not ready to join us in any sort of alliance, we are entirely too useful and vital an enemy to them. This is where the Neosinofiles such as Barnett egregiously miss the point of modern Facist China.

Swallower Arguments: The Ideological Closed Loop

Anyone who has ever sat through a time share sales pitch, in order to get the two free tickets at the other end of the rainbow, almost understands the exquisite pain experienced by John Derbyshire, at a recent leftist teach-in about diversity. Why an individual intelligent enough to author Prime Obsession would sit through that twaddle is a topic for another day. Today, I'll focus on why these "teaching sessions" are such a hands-on history lesson in 14th Century Dentistry.

Peter Wood wrote on diversity fetishism. He opined that "(diversity studies) is a closed loop of thought and experience. Once one enters this loop and accepts the main propositions of diversity, it is difficult to see out of it." I feel this is true and can also be assumed over a much larger domain of liberal thought and belief without any significant loss of generality. In other words, you have to buy into liberalism on an emotional level or not at all.

Now that works for a lot of otherwise intelligent people, but not enough to muster the popular groundswell required to ascend to power in a representative democracy that offers anything close to universal suffrage. To make the illogical seem orderly, you have to warp the reality the reveals its flaws. To convince people that purple is really yellow or blue instead, for example, you have to do something to screw up their vision. Maybe give them glasses with funky, shaded lenses.

The logical equivalent of glasses with the weird colored lenses is an argument waged on preempted categories. That is, you make a participant in the argument agree to certain ground rules and suppositions that make the outcome of the discussion a foregone conclusion. This constitutes what's called a swallower argument. It's an argument that can't be debunked because the participants have to accept a set of unproven, a priori condiditons to entry that make disagreeing illegal to the rules of the game.

For example, no one in his right mind would buy into the environmental movement and it's ideology without first proceeding from the premise that modern industry did more harm through it's pollution than it did good through its production, philanthropy or job creation. Reject that initial ground rule, and there is no logical justification to reject the premise that environmental regulation should only occur after a cost benefit analysis establishes that the regulations do more good than harm.

Another famous chestnut is the argument that the rich are unduly compensated and should therefore be taxed more in order to share the wealth. This could make some sense on its own merits, but does not become an emotional teeth-clincher that turns out the populist with pitch forks until the apriori assumption is made that every dollar that rich person makes means less welfare for those who aren't just as rich as him. Class warfare does not work if we step back and examine whether or not this wealth was stolen or earned and whether or not people entered into a bargain with this person to enrich him.

P. J. O'Rourke skillfully eviscerated this argument by describing it has "The Dominoes Pizza" view of political economy. Where if one guy gets too many slices, everyone else has to feed their family on a bunch of old, stale crusts. Logical examination renders this conceit ludicrous. Rail Baron Cornelious Vanderbilt may have been an utter Type A, Yuppie Scum, Tyrannosaurus Rex from Hell, but every time a grain wholesaler was able to ship the contents of a silo to market before it spoiled so that every farmer in town got a better price on their grain, the entire community served by that railroad was better off precisely because Vanderbilt was an egomaniacal, driven, uber-jerk would refused to take "no" for an answer.

Thus it is with much of what the cult-like hard left believes. There is no logical discussion allowed of whether standards are fair, fetuses are alive, wealth is good, or society just. Believe any of these things and you're disqualified from the discussion. The swallower argument doesn't work and the hard core of the left doesn't want you around. There are some forms of diversity that just weird these people out.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Gonzo Journalism - Blogging Before The Internet?

Hunter S. Thompson shot himself in the head. He won a cult-like following of fans for inventing what he termed "Gonzo Journalism." The most famous example being his book "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

Although he certainly coined the term, "Gonzo Journalism" wasn't entrely Hunter S. Thompson's invention. Cohorts such as P. J. O'Rourke coalesced around the tutalege of Jann Werner of Rolling Stone Magazine. Other publications that catered to this sort of blatantly and unapologeticaly opinionated reporterage included Mother Jones, Ramparts and The Village Voice.

The "Gonzo" genre relied on humor, ludeness and an open defiance of the standards of the day to attract it's following and push the debased tenets of later 20th Century Post Modern Hedonism. The entire schtick worked in aposition to the very formal and professional atmosphere in which TV News Anchors droned. It targeted a yound audience that found the MSM of Hunter S. Thompson's day to be a disaffecting, crashing bore.

Thompson's willingness to attack the self-selecting canons of journalism with the reverence of Attila The Hun broke new ground. While Thompson lived and died a committed man of the left, his example inspired many people of every ideology.

Even though I would probably fear and loathe anyone Hunter S. Thompson thought should have held higher office, I admit the man blazed a trail of defiance against the restrictive, propagandic voice of the MSM. Perhaps "Gonzo Journalism" occurred because Hunter S. Thompson started blogging decades before Berners-Lee invented the internet.

Update I: Tow wolfe niether fears nor loathes the writing of Hunter S. Thompson. According to Sean at TAM, he has branded Thompson "The last century's greatest comic writer in the english language."

Or Else What?

The Syrians have denied any involvement in the brutal slaying of Rafiq Hariri. It must have been a rogue group of terrorists that the Syrians have no connection to. Bashir Assad is way too nice a guy to do a mean thing like kill someone. After all, Mullah Omar initially said the same thing about 9-11.

Well, contrary to optimistic opinion, the Syrians have owned Beirut for three decades. They've done for it what Washington, DC has done for Prince Georges County, Maryland. They've turned it into a refuse dump and it won't be improving any time soon.

So did the Ba'athists wax Hariri? Absa-Frikkin-Lutely! Of course they waxed him and they wanted President George W. Bush to see and hear it live and in stereo. Now, like the Chinese after The Tienamin Square Massacre, they are posing us an implied question. Or else what?

The what with Tienamin Square was most-favored nation status and the entire retail floor at the local Walmart. Followed then by the hand-over of Hong Kong by the British. Then to really fix the Chinese but good, we built North Korea a nuclear reactor so they wouldn't have to. We showed them what would happen if they didn't play nicely.

Bashir Assad may not have the greatest reputation for being a visionary leader of his people. However, he's not blind and deaf. He knows that the way to get over on the West is to Mau-mau them; hard. Make them have to do something and push the crisis to the sticking point.

No one had the guts to stop Hitler from rearming Germany. No one saw fit to deny China anything after Tienamin Square. No one has the nerve to call out Kim Il Jung after his announcement of a nuclear arsenal. Why would anyone have the guts to stand up to Syria. There will be no peace in Lebanon or in a new Palestinian state if Damascus has a say.

President Bush and Jacques Chiraq can denounce the Syrians all day long. It makes for good television, but the enemy always gets a vote. We're getting back to cozy with the sophisticates over on the continent. We can say anything we want, but Bashir Assad knows well that the proof is in the pudding. The question he still poses is "Or Else What?"

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A Sad Song Ends - Arthur Miller, RIP

The Sping Semester of 10th Grade English brought The Death Of A Salesman, by Arthur Miller, into my life. Miller saw the world in a different way than I had been raised to. I remember reading this play and thinking Willy Loman should have changed the beneficiary line of his policy and not reading too much into the ending other than that.

It took a few of the profound disappointments of adulthood to really understand why Death Of A Salesman was a masterpiece. Until someone has lost a job or two, lost a woman or two and had a member of their family completely let them down, they just don't really get Willy Loman.

When Arthur Miller sought to personify mediocrity, pessimism and mid-life despair, he developed the character Willy Loman. Loman became a symbol of the failed man. The person who reaches a level of incompetence and then loses his aim and sense of morality. Loman's failure reached his core and although Willy Loman worked for years,he had nothing left to give his family better than his life insurance.

It was this profound symbolism that expressed so many people's disenchantment with the burdgeoning wealth and decaying spirit of post World War II America. Arthur Miller was the voice of the counterculture before it became unwashed, undignified and aliterate. He leveled vituperation upon the society he saw around him, but always managed to wear a velvet glove while he back-handed the morals of his age.

As a rank amatuer at writing myself, I am at awe of how Miller viewed his protagonist as a character. Miller was obviously disgusted by Willy Loman as a human being, but at the same time, I got the sense he would have bought Loman a drink and done everything in his power to cheer this beaten man up and send him home with at least something to live for tommorrow. Arthur Miller could tell a story about a failure, because he felt honest compassion for the man.

When I think about Miller's masterpiece now, I'm reminded of EdwinArlington Robinson,aturn of the century American poet who had the same awesome capacity to loathe the failures that plague the hman race, but to still love the people who suffer from them. For Robinson to compose "Richard Cory" or "Miniver Cheevy" took a certain genius. For Miller to write the entire five acts of Death of A Salesman required a super-human stamina.

When Vaclav Havel, Harold Pinter and Salmon Rushdie mourn Arthur Miller's passing, they should also stop to ponder on his decency and compassion. A lot public figures will glibly drop the biblical passage "Love the sinner, hate the sin."
Arthur Miller very nearly obtained this lofty moral goal via his character Willy Loman in Death Of A Salesman.







Friday, February 11, 2005

Final Thoughts On Ward Churchill

Early in his 15 minutes of infamy, I couldn't even get Ward Churchill's name right. I was sputtering mad that this jerk named Matt, Bob or Dave or maybe it was Mark Churchill had spewed a bunch of sick-up juice about the victims of Al Quaida being Little Eichmans. I should have stopped and reflected.

A little more thought on the subject of this Lilleputian Axis Sal would have caused me to at least get his name right when I reccommended that his infamous essay On The Justice of Roosting Chickens: Some People Push Back be read aloud to the drunk and happy CU alumni next Homecoming. I still like the idea, but would prefer to engage in a scholarly activity foreign to Ward Churchill. Namely, the proper citation of one's references.

Perhaps it's a little much to expect a man as thoroughly deracinated as Mark, I mean Ward, Churchill to keep his footnotes straight. He's bad enough with his own geneology. Perhaps he smoked too much dope while listening to Niel Young and Crazy Horse and woke up believing he was a Lakota Sioux. No, actually he showed up at a pow wow and got a card that named him an honorary Cherokee.

Ward Churchill then took his Cherokee membership card and concocted a dog and pony show about how The White Man was keeping him down. He wrote papers accusing the US Army of conducting medical experiments on Indians back in 1837. This led to numerous speaking engagements and teaching gigs and eventually, the Chairmanship of The Colorado University Ethnics Studies Department.

It was when Chief Fecing Bull booked an engagement to speak in New York that the facade came tumbling down. Someone actually remembered reading one of his delusional, barm-headed Jeremiads of racial victimization and wasn't too embarassed to admit to it. It turned out that Ward Churchill had all but said the 9-11 terrorism victims had it coming in spades. He's tried to backtrack since, but then Napoleon tried that too after leaving a big mess outside the mercilous, iron gates of Moscow.

Now people are blogging and researching Ward Churchill's innumerable deceits, prevarications and acts of outrageous barbarism that border on treason. The whole Potempkin Village of a CV he erected just got hit with a nuetron bomb. This is a perfect place to insert some snarky comment about justice and chickens coming home to roost.

But no, I'm done with Ward Churchill. I've found Andy, Trey or Bob Churchill to be a very useful symbol to express my unending reservior of contempt for the blood sucking, tenured lampreys that feed off university endowments to spew vile and untrue garbage. Luke Churchill's name can now be forgotten. The egg timer rang and his fifteen minutes are up.

Update I: According to Ace Of Spades, Ward's up and joined The Raelian Tribe as well.

Update II: Thanks to The Leather Penguin, we've got just what you need to go from lilly white to Custer's Blight!

Update III: Whoever is cloning the moorlocks needs to stop! According to Michelle Malkin, there's a nut-hatch on the Pittsburgh University faculty who's just as dyspeptic as Ward Churchill.

Update IV: The American Mind asks if blogging Ward Churchill helps the little creep by giving him more publicity. I would respectfully suggest that an IRS audit would give him similar publicity and be about as helpful to his career as we've been.

Correction: The little creep Michelle Malkin posted about actually teaches at Penn U. Thanks, Snake. Good Catch!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Entitlements, Budgets and Cost Estimation

President Bush can generally count on the unquestioning support of the very conservative Heritage Foundation. This, however, excludes the debacle surrounding health care policy in general and more specifically, The recently passed Prescription Drug Panderation Act. This ominous money vacuum has even President Bush's strongest ideological supporters scratching their heads and asking a few very pointed questions.

Robert E. Moffet, The Heritage Foundation's ranking expert on health care policy, kicked off proceedings with the following cheerful tidbit.

"Recently, David Walker, the Comptroller General of the United States, noted that the official debt of the United States is more than $7 trillion, which is about $24,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. Mr. Walker told the National Press Club, however, that if you count the unfunded liabilities--in other words, the promised benefits of entitlement programs, including the new $8 trillion unfunded liability on the prescription drug benefit alone--you are talking about $42 trillion, equal to about $140,000 for every man, woman, and child in America.

Medicare is the toughest problem substantively. It is also the most difficult problem politically. The question is: Can Congress contain those costs? Will Congress contain those costs? How can Congress contain these costs?..."

Joseph R. Antos, a former Congressional Budget Office, added the following good news.

"....My former colleague at AEI, Jagdeesh Gohkale, estimates that the Medicare drug benefit will have an unfunded liability that is more like $13 trillion. That assumes that things proceed along in a normal fashion without Congress expanding the Medicare benefit.

Can Congress contain Medicare's explosive growth? There is a 39-year track record on this question and it does not look too good...."

How bad is 'not too good'? Antos offers us a 'ferinstance'.

What is the real number? It might be $400 billion; it might be $500 billion; it might be $800 billion; and it might be $13 trillion in promised, but unfunded, benefits over the long term. Whatever the total might be, it is an unlimited amount because this is an entitlement.


Not surprisingly, spending an unlimited amount does wonderful things to The Federal Budget. Another Ex-CBO staffer, Jeff Lemeuix, lays it out in somewhat plain English.

The latest projections are that the federal deficit is going to be about $440 billion this year. That is almost 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). It will probably range somewhere between 3 percent and 3.5 percent of GDP for the next several years as the economy recovers. After that, things just go downhill.

How far downhill? None of the wise men at Heritage seem to care to speculate. One thing David Crippin, the final panel member, gives us even more cheerful news.

Therefore, if we continue to tax an average 18 percent or 19 percent of GDP--as we have since World War II--almost all of that federal revenue would have to go to funding Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Put another way, we would have to eliminate the rest of the federal government as we know it, including the Defense Department.

I'm not quite that libertarian, and I'm certain Donald Rumsfeld and the board members at ADM and Con Agra would all have to be put to the sword in order to make this happen. The propensity for Congress to spend has got to be changed. If it is not, there will be a day when all the benfit recipients line up for their Hershey Bar and there is no candy to hand out.

It won't feel like Christmas, when millions of government benefits recipients wake up one morning and discover that there ain't no such thing as Santa Claus. The entitlement programs like Medipander and Social Security have to either be reformed to where we can support them or flat-out ended cold turkey.

People can whine all they want about the fairness of all this, but at the end of the day, the numbers on a spreadsheet just don't give a $hit. Right now, those numbers only add up to trouble in America's future. The time to cut the budget is now. The time to kill The Prescription Drug Panderation Act is now.

Update I: Patrick Presscott gives us an excellent idea of what we're up against in reforming entitlements...AAARGGHHH!!

Update II:Sean Hackbarth hates Medipander as much as I do. He wants them to pass a new drug to the left (just kidding, Sean). Excellent post!

Update III: Martin O'Malley calls GWB the equivalent of a 9-11 Terrorist for daring to spend less the day after he annouced a $440Bil deficit. Mayor O'Malley is the Michael Moore of fiscal commentary. So There!!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

FarmAid or Farmacide?

Imagine government activism during the 11th Century in Europe. This would involve the Sheriff of Nottingham riding out with his men and trying to hang Robin Hood so that he could steal from the poor and give to his drinking buddies, the rich. The truly conservative believe that the essential nature of government activism hasn't changed a whole lot since back when things were rotten and Mel Brooks would have been pincushioned with arrows for having any part of Robin Hood: Men In Tights.

No segment of America's overbloated and sometimes highly uncivil government service gives the conservative view of government activism more credence than the fiasco-laden list of agriculture welfare programs. These programs operate on a premise of human nature that you would have to leaf through Das Kapital to properly appreciate and understand. They stem from the belief that a government agency can intervene in a market and fix a price without obscuring essential information that consumers require to know how much of that product they want to purchase, or how much they should be paying.

There are three predictable results of this sort of Old Deal stupidity and each is nearly as depressing as the economic conditions that spawned these government waste and fraud engines.

1) The levels of production get distorted away from what people really want. People produce to suck at the teat of taxpayer funded largesse, not to actually feed the hungry. The top recipients of this welfare program all probably dress in Brooks Brothers and could afford to have their hair cuiffed by Christophe rather than cut by Bubba. Sixty percent of the swag goes to the richest ten percent of American farmers.

"The subsidies reward the guy who gets higher yields with higher subsidies, and he's able to buy out his neighbor and get even bigger," says Dennis Avery, an agriculture expert at the Hudson Institute.

2) Renumeration for the effected activity in no way relates to how honest or effective the person engaged in that activity becomes. Rich Lowry of National Review cites some agricultural subsidy recipients as no better than Enron with a tractor.

But that restriction is evaded, sometimes by people occasionally participating in farm-related telephone conference calls. Dubious partnerships are a way to get around restrictions on how much any one operation is supposed to get in federal payments. As a result, some agriculture businesses are little better than Enrons with tractors.

3) The prices charged for the product in no way reflect what the product costs to produce or what, if given the choice in the matter, a rational consumer would pay for any of it. The US tax code contains tarrifs on a large number of agricultural products to prevent foreign competition from underselling the producers, at the same time agricultural price controls keep the price from dropping below a certain point.

This makes the cost that working class American families pay for their basic staples like milk and bread several times what it needs to be. State governments don't tax staples of sustinence like food or medicines, but the Federal Government taxes them in a major way every time they enforce a law like Senator Jeffords' Northeast Dairy Price Compact.

So by attempting to eliminate the level of current federal involvement in agriculture, President Bush is making America a better place to farm. By capping the amount that one farm can receive at $250,000, he will make it a fairer place to farm. Senators and Congressmen will hear it loudly from the so-called farm lobby about how terrible this whole idea is, but then again, the only thing these agri-business types harvest well is federal welfare money. It's time to put these fat-cats off the dole.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Ruck'd - Fear The Dragon

As they say across the Atlantic about NFL games, no matter what the odds, there's a reason they play the game. Wales proved this truism in week 1 of The Six-Nations Rugby Cup, when they took England's scalp in a hard-hitting 11-9 upset. For England, it's been a long downward spiral since they defeated Australia for The Rugby World Cup in 2003.

The match stats suggest a nasty affair in which the ball was kept in maul and towards the center of the field. The sort of boring game I'd expect England to own. Except they didn't.

Wales kept the game in England's half and made just a smidgen fewer mistakes. Wales had Errors Made: 19, Turn Overs Won: 6, Free Kicks Conceded: 0 and most importantly spent 54:11 of the match in England's end of the pitch. England could only muster Errors Made: 22, Turn Overs Won: 3, Free Kicks Conceded: 1 and spent a mere 34:00 in the Welsh end.

This reduced England to only scoring on penalty kicks, as they spent most of the afternoon on the back foot and in their own end. Wales got breathing room early with an unconverted try. England grimly bore down and had managed to kick themselves to a 9-8 advantage with less than 10 minutes to play.

They weren't able to defend their zone at the end and Wales marched down for the clincher. Three minutes from time, Gavin Henson drilled a penalty kick and put England away. The Welsh had come to play, and England had once more faltered. France can only hope England plays as predictably uninspired ball when they travel to Fortress Twickenham for Le Crunch next round.

Update I: Wizbang's bawdy tale of post-match drunkenness only demonstrates that sometimes these Welsh Dragons are even a danger to themselves...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Why Denounce Mark Churchill

The Colorado State Legislature registered it's mortification with CU Ethnic Studies Professor Mark Churchill. It seems the illustrious Dr. Churchill called the victims of 9-11 killed in the bombing of The World Trade Center 3,000 Little Eichmans for their role in US economic imperialism. The Colorado Legislature found this, and other passages from his magnum opis "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality."

People have called for Dr. Churchill to be fired. I think that's totally out of line. I think he should be invited to speak at CU's Commencement. His essay should be read aloud to The University of Colorado Board of Regents with television cameras focused upon their reaction to it's lyrical beauty.

It would be like the Ice-T recital Charleton Heston conducted a few years back. The one where the fat, rich whities at the record company were exposed to the musical brilliance of "Cop Killer".

Rather than just throwing Churchill out and sweeping his infamy under the rug, let's make him a public figure. Let's put him in front of the nation and let him share his wonderful thoughts with a wounded nation. Let the people judge this man by his beliefs and let them judge the values of our higher education community by the strength of its good works.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Dementiacratic Party Follows Dr. Dean

The Democrats are infested by a man who is truly a charismatic Nut-Job. So steeped in unreality, that his opponents within his own party have accused him of "hiding in a spider-hole of denial." His opponents on the other side of the partisan divide violate Godwin's Law with regularity, whenever he opens his mouth in public.

He's out there so far that comparisons to Alan Keyes wouldn't be totally untoward to Alan Keyes. Heck, he's way worse than Alan Keyes. He's not only crazy, but unlike Alan Keyes, he could actually win, if you ran him for anything important.

So the Democrats found a way to put him in what the Japanese refer to as an "office by the river." One with a pretty view and an attractive secretary, but no legitimate professional responsibility. Howard Brush Dean now heads up the DNC.

His RNC counterpart was quick to congratulate him on his new promotion.

Richard Bond, the former head of the Republican National Committee, said: "He's a very capable guy, he's got high energy, but he will reinforce all of their worst instincts. His style and message is one that will narrow his party's options rather than expand them."

"I think it's a scream," Mr. Bond said.

The Post-Puberty Wing of The Democratic Party wasted no time in reminding the exhuberant Dr. Dean who he had to go see about the keys to the family car. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid offered Dr. Dean the following "reminder."

Mr. Reid said: "The Democratic chairman has a constituency of 447 people. Our constituency is much larger than that."

For those not fluent in Doublespeak, he meant "Who's your Daddy now?"

The few remaining opponents to Dean's coronation seemed to be waking up and smelling the asphalt. One candidates paid mouthpiece offered the following assessment.

"We are assessing the situation, with a dose of realism," he said.

Which implies that the other candidates are vastly more qualified than Dr. Dean to lead a major political organization. No one has come forward lately and accused Dr. Dean of prescribing anything relatively close to a dose of realism to his fellow mental patients on the far left wing of The So-Called Democratic Party.

Update I: ColdHeartedTruth gets some excellent feedback on how Dean will do as DNC chair. (I reccommend the user comments to this post.)

Update II: Sean Hackbarth can resurrect The Duck Hunt. He's keeping close tabs on Howard The Duck as always.


Frank Talk From Congressman Barney

I have a confession to make. Congressman Barney Frank is not my favorite person in The House of Representatives. I wouldn't like the guy even if the prostitute who ran the escort service, catering to young males, out of his swank, Georgetown townhouse had been named Stephanie, rather than Steve Gobie.

However, he did do the US a favor yesterday as a member of our delegation to the international leftist wonkfest at Davos, Switzerland. He pimp-slapped CNN Nut-Job Jordan Eason in a manner that would have made the aforementioned Gobie fetch him a cold Coors Light.

It seems Eason Jordan has a pet theory that US soldiers are intentionally dropping the hammer on journalists. Luckily, Congressman Frank, while not a rabid fan of the US presence in Iraq, was a smart enough Congressman not to allow any personal prejudice lead him into defending the indefensible.

He told Eason Jordan to put up or shut. In Gobiespeak, that would be "Show me the money, b___h!" Jordan tried to slither back to his hole, but the Hateraid drinkers denied him the cover. So in the end, Jordan looked like a nut, the Davos Divas looked like the Anti-American bigots they all truly are and Congressman Barney Frank, yes Congressman Barney Frank, walked out of that wonk session looking like the voice of reason and Democracy. The 21st Century is truly off to a bizarre start.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Medipander - It's The Dicker-Picker-Upper

The Prescription Drug Panderation Act has gone past rediculous now and verges into the territory of federally financed brigandage. It started as a plan to supplement the affordability of emergency medicines for the elderly and then like the man-eating vine in Little Shop of Horrors, it grew.

Soon obesity, pain-killer and other non-lifesaving medications were cozened onto the list of covered drugs. As one doctor put it, they were nice things to have.

"These are drugs that treat a condition that compromises the quality of life but doesn't threaten life," said Dr. Ira Sharlip, a professor of urology at UC San Francisco. "But there are many drugs that are approved for quality-of-life indications. It wouldn't be right to single out [impotence drugs] as frivolous when there are so many others in the same category" — such as prescription drugs for indigestion or mild pain, he said.

This is precisely what happens with these feel-good, oh-so-sensitive, giveaway boondoggle programs. There is never a justifiable place to say "Hell, No! GO buy your own."

So now we make taxpayers fit the bill for horny old men to buy their boner pills. This is robbery. This is an outrage. This is not why I vote for conservative candidates. This must be stopped. Next month, when the RNC asks for a donation, tell them you'd be glad to, except that the money you would have contributed is funding some old, lecherous prick's purchase of Cialis or Viagra.

Update I: Sue Bob's Diary describes the tyranny by taxation that these federal largesse programs bring into being.


"Reciprocals"

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.
Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

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