Thursday, December 11, 2008
Contrary to popular belief, there is no real Right Wing in America. Every single government, Democrat, or Republican, has vastly expanded the government. There is only one real difference; ways and means. The Democrats like to tax and spend, the Republicans to borrow and spend. Either way, there is more government encroachment on the economic livelihoods of Americans, especially if you are in the top 60% of earners. This is not to mention slowly conditioning Americans and others round the world to being watched 24/7.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
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For those of us who watch Fox News it is no secret that the channel is far from “fair and balanced.” With commentators such as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Mike Huckabee and now Glenn Beck, I am comfortable saying that Fox News is a conservative political commentary network.
My question to those on the left however is, so what? The left makes it no secret that they are offended by the existence of Fox News. For some reason, conservative political commentary has no place on television in the eyes of the left. My own roommate (a liberal) often times laughs at what is said on Fox News programs and has on more than one occasion stated he believes they’re simply making things up.
It is not as if the left does not have its own political commentary on television. To see leftist political commentary all you need to do is turn to MSNBC. The channel runs liberal political commentators such as Keith Olbermann and Rachael Maddow (who just the other day stated she believes President Bush has been the worst President in the history of the Republic).
Unlike those on the left, however, fellow conservatives and I do not have a problem with MSNBC; we just don’t watch it! America is a nation that emphasizes the idea of free speech. Therefore I see nothing wrong with one television network running conservative commentary and another running liberal commentary. The American public will decide which network they most agree with and most enjoy watching.
That decision has already been made—Fox News. Nielsen TV Ratings consistently show Fox News doubling MSNBC in Prime Time ratings, which is when the political commentary programs air. For example, for the eight o’clock hour on Thursday December 4, The O’Reilly Factor drew 3,149,000 viewers, compared to the 1,553,000 viewers drawn by Countdown with Keith Olbermann. For the nine o’clock hour, Hannity & Colmes drew 2,131,000 viewers, compared to the 1,242,000 viewers drawn by The Rachael Maddow Show.
So, my overall message to liberals here is simple—stop whining! Conservatives have just as much of a right to have political commentary on television than liberals do. The fact that the American public prefers Fox News is not a sin; it proves that America is still a center-right nation. If liberals want to change this fact they should try and compete with Fox News by creating better programs on networks such as MSNBC, rather than attacking the existence of Fox News all together.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Panelists will be representing paleo-conservatism, neo-conservatism and libertarianism. They will be explaining and discussing the differences and the audience will have much opportunity to become engaged.
Make sure to come!
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (or Prince Reid and Princess Pelosi, like Sean Hannity likes to refer to them as) have been able to dodge deserving criticism, mostly due to the fact the media is overrun by liberals. However, those of us who are not blinded by the left-wing light are able to see just how narcissistic these two really are.
Despite the fact that I am opposed to a bailout of the auto industry, like I wrote on this blog before, I do not believe Princess Pelosi has any right to so harshly criticize the CEOs of the Big Three for flying into Washington DC on private jets. As just about everybody knows, the Big Three CEOs were heavily criticized the first time they went to Washington because they flew private corporate jets and still had the nerve to ask for taxpayer money.
Despite the ridiculousness of this argument (CEOs do not own companies they work for them) it brings up an interesting question: Why is it that nobody criticizes Princess Pelosi for being the first Speaker of the House to have her own government-issued private jet? In case her Highness forgot, the taxpayer pays for her private jet! If Princess Pelosi is so concerned with protecting the taxpayer why not get rid of her private jet? The answer is simple of course—Pelosi could care less about the taxpayer, all she cares about is criticizing American business to advance her socialist agenda.
Now what about Prince Reid? Recently, a new visitors area for tourists of the Capitol was completed. When Congress issued the original plans, the people were told it would cost some $350 million less than it did. In reference to this brand-new visitors area, and why it was necessary, Prince Reid said, “In the summertime, because (of) the high humidity and how hot it gets here, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol.” Apparently, the Prince cannot be bothered by the foul smell of the masses. While he claims to care about protecting the taxpayer dollars from being abused by the Big Three CEOs, he seems to believe taxpayer dollars should be put to use to prevent him from having to smell us common people.
Over 230 years ago the Declaration of Independence was drafted in order to declare our independence from the nobility that was England. Perhaps the most famous words of that document read, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It appears that today, however, Princess Pelosi and Prince Reid do not view themselves as equals, but rather as superiors.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I am not a Catholic. I was raised in a Jewish family in an Italian American neighborhood outside New York City. I attended public schools other than a three year stint in a secular private institution. In college I decided on Fordham for several reasons. I liked the Catholic and Renaissance background of the school, I knew many people who went there and it had the perfect location for me. When I desperately needed to move on with my life, Fordham was there for me and took me in as a member of the family, as many a Catholic family did for me when I was growing up. Fordham, The Jesuits and most of all, the Catholic Church granted me my ticket to freedom.
My background, I believe, having been involved in many Catholic traditions out of support for friends, gives me some insight as to the condition of Catholics and the Catholic Church today. This also comes from reading endless volumes of mostly periodical material on the subject.
In spite of how many Jews view the Catholic Church, I have always seen it as a pillar of Western Cultural life. The thought of empty pews in Europe depresses me. The Catholic Church is easily the oldest surviving Western Institution. Its various projects greatly lessened the damage done by the collapse of the Roman Empire. Its monks and scholars wrote down everything they possibly could to preserve the knowledge of millennia that had been built up. The Church was later instrumental (but had less power than many would like to think) in building the national project in Europe. They made kings and empires and allowed people to form into political organizations that last to this day.
Now, if you were to speak to any Catholic on the streets of New York, they are either dissatisfied with the Church’s teachings or disgusted by the crimes of a select few members of the Church. Except in Hispanic communities, the pews are not empty, but they are lacking. Most priests are older, and most New Yorkers cynical. Everyone seems to think the Church is passé and out of touch with the times.
In many ways there is not so much reason to be gloomy. The priests are older, yes, but the number of new priests does not seem to be declining too rapidly, as many men become priests from an older age. This may help them in their struggle to bring God to people’s lives, as they themselves have had many more of life’s experiences which brings wisdom
Roman Catholicism is also growing, albeit not as quickly as Evangelical Christianity and Islam, but it is nonetheless growing. The number of Catholics from 1900 to 2001 increased by 394%. This is not just because of a baby boom, but because of conversion. Therefore, right now as growth slows somewhat, it is probably just because of an era of expansion unmatched by any other in the history of the Church. But these numbers mask overall demographic picture. In 1900, 25% of Catholic lived outside the Western World. In 2001, 70% lived outside the West. Asia, Africa and Latin America are where new Catholic life is to be found.
Those who think the Catholic Church does not reform should realize that in actuality it constantly does so. The problem for these people is that the Catholic Church reforms without telling anybody. It has to save face during reform.
Catholics should keep their faith in the Church. It has done much great goodness in the societies it has touched. The sudden turns to extremism are few and far between considering the whole picture. Regardless of what positions it takes in the future it will always put forward its core beliefs, salvation in Christ and the belief that life beings at conception. The Catholic Church is and will most likely always be powerful and righteous institution.
Friday, November 28, 2008
By Douglas Kohn
America, like many other nations, tends to view Latin American politics as a matter of trends. Of these various social and political trends lately, the one that makes the most headlines is the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ of Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela, and the seemingly endless rants of a blowhard elected dictator whose position is becoming ever more untenable.
As the most recent poll by the Latinobarometro points out, the Latin American public is significantly further to the left on economic and political issues than Americans would like them to be. In poll after poll, the people of Latin American nations consistently favor big government doing many of their services.
The so called Revolution of Chavez has expanded its following to include the states of Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba. For all of Chavez’ blustering, this is relatively little to show for his efforts and his active foreign policy that has come at the expense of the long term economic and social health of his own Venezuela.
The other story of Latin America has been the notable progress of pragmatic, center left governments throughout the region, having permeated much further than Bolivarianism. In Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and others, fiscal restraint and government deregulation has been the real trend, in spite of the left wing preferences of the population. Rising economic growth, decreasing inequality and an overall increase in the quality of life in so many Latin American nations have ensured that these governments are reelected and prudent policies continued.
Chavez received his first setback a few years ago in a plebiscite that would have greatly expanded his powers and ability to preserve his socio-economic policies. His rants of racism in the United States have had the rug pulled out from under them in the election of America’s first black president.
Chavez then made the mistake of trying to tangle, possibly militarily with Colombia, the most Pro-American country in South America. With American backing, the democratically elected right wing government of Colombia has brought order to a country usually known for its lack of it. Through a combination of military buildup and amnesty programs, Uribe has nearly eliminated Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC. Chavez tried to support this group through back channels and gave them some protection, in spite of their heinous acts of hostage taking and other forms of brutality. This was a major diplomatic loss for him. Colombia, in conducting daring raids into Ecuador and its own territory, has won the respect of many in the region. America’s Colombia policy may be counted as one of the only foreign policy success stories of Bush Administration.
Venezuela, after these setbacks, is increasingly looking for allies and support. It is now reaching out to Russia, Iran and other regimes united only in their hostility to the United States. Venezuela is stepping up armed cooperation with these nations as well, hosting Russian naval units. These developments, however, are probably not nearly as dangerous as some in the media have been portraying.
The best evidence of this is Chavez’ most recent difficulty that the opposition party has gained ground in municipal elections in Venezuela. Chavez, essentially an elected dictator, is now a cornered animal. With the decrease in the price of oil, his policies now seem increasingly wrongheaded and imprudent. The ultimate test of Venezuela’s electoral system is about to come, the world will watch and see if Chavez lashes out like a caged animal as his power decreases, or if he peacefully concedes the failure of his false revolution.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
To implement a ‘universal health care’ plan in America would be one of the greater follies of our government. There are many reasons to be against it, but there is one glaring one. We already have it. America has had universal health care for many years. It may not be like Britain’s National Health Service but it is on just as great a scale relative to our population. The simple fact is, anyone within the geographical boundaries of the United States of America, even a tourist, can go into a hospital emergency room where by American law, the hospital is obligated to treat them even if they are unable to pay. Even if an individual has so much as a head cold, they can go to a hospital where they will receive treatment, and if they are unable to pay their bill, there are no consequences.
This goes beyond the Medicare and Medicaid programs that target the poor and the elderly respectively. The bottom line is, there is no one who is denied health services in the United States when they go for treatment. This is despite what Michael Moore may have us believe. The 47 million uninsured or under insured in America still have access to all the health care they could possibly need. For this reason alone, a ‘universal health care’ law would be simply redundant.
The other reason that ‘universal health care’ would be folly is America’s great tradition of scientific research is far beyond that of other nations. According to Economist Magazine’s World in Figures 2007, America spends 2.59% of its GDP on R&D (research and development). As a percentage it ranks 7th among all nations listed. However, as a hard number, no nation comes even remotely close to what America spends.
This number includes the very hefty amount of money spent by drug companies on R&D. Yes, this drives up the cost of many drugs in America (where 1/7 of GDP is spent on health care), but it pushes the bounds of the medically feasible. This is a service to America and to mankind that no one in their right mind can doubt the great achievements that result from American research. The bottom line here is that if new costs are imposed on insurance companies and hospitals engaged in activities such as clinical trials, this country will look more and more like Europe, where relative to their economic power very little R&D is done. The only sizeable country that rivals America in scientific achievement is Japan. The others on the list are very small countries all with populations of under 10 million and GDPs comparably small.
There are other factors that make medical care much more expensive relative to other developed nations but the primary reason for high cost health care in America is R&D. This is widely noted by leaders of pharmaceutical companies.
The last reason to oppose ‘universal health care’ is that there is no reason to impose greater costs on the American taxpayer for those who can afford their own health insurance and medical care. The existing bureaucracy has become so complex that many people who can afford it simply opt out of the existing system and pay medical costs out of pocket. We have programs for the poor and elderly, we have emergency rooms that take literally anyone and also impose great costs on the taxpayer. Why, if someone can afford to pay for their own health insurance, should the tax payer take up the burden? At the very least we may look at the logic on car insurance, where laws prohibit owning an uninsured vehicle.
The last reason that ‘universal health care’ is a bad idea in America is that when the government runs an economic entity in this country it usually is handled terribly. The late great economist Milton Friedman eloquently put it; ‘if the US Government ran the Sahara Desert, in five years, it would be out of sand.’ Look at every single government run program. Social security is going to be bankrupt in the near future, welfare was a disaster, Medicaid and Medicare are becoming ever more cost prohibitive. Even our great military is such a disaster, that $2.5 trillion of its budget went missing. Nearly every time the government steps in to run something in America, it runs over budget or is unsustainable in the long term. One can only imagine with the massive bailouts of the idiot bankers of Wall Street, how badly underestimated the overall costs will be.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Throughout my lifetime, I have often times found that those of the left and even in the center tend to take the position that conservatives are not interested in helping the poor. While I still believe this a complete falsity, I must say that over the past decade it has become clear to me why many people feel this way. We, as right-wingers, need to stop using the populist rhetoric of “job creation,” and instead need to offer clear but conservative solutions to poverty. Conservative reforms to education would certainly be a good place to start. One such reform that I believe should become a staple of the conservative movement is school choice.
School choice may in fact be the Civil Rights issue of our day. The late great economist Milton Friedman first proposed the idea in the 1960’s. Unfortunately, the “conservative” No Child Left Behind Act failed to include school choice because the far-left, in particular Senator Ted Kennedy, fought against it.
The idea of school choice is simple in principle but genius in application. School choice simply refers to allowing parents to use tax vouchers in order to opt out of sending their children to public school and instead sending them to a private school of their choice. Right now, the tax system forces parents who choose to use private schools for their children, to still pay public school taxes. In my opinion, this is simply wrong. Why should one pay for a service they do not use? Why not allow one to use that same tax money to send their child to a private school?
School choice would not only better the public schooling system by forcing it into even stiffer competition with the private school system, it would serve as a pathway to the American Dream for many impoverished Americans. Take conditions such as those on Fordham Road right outside this campus for example. A family living in conditions like these is forced to send their children to run-down public schools with poor quality teachers and almost no path to advancement. Under school choice, this same family would be able to use a tax voucher and send their child to Fordham Prep. Clearly a student at Fordham Prep has a greater chance to succeed than a student using the Bronx Public School system. Not coincidentally, 73% of Hispanic Americans and 82% of African-Americans (both of which suffer higher poverty rates) support school choice according to the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance.
In fact, most people of all demographics support school choice (63% according to The Center for Education Reform) and see it as a great way to help the poor. So then why is it that school choice has still not be installed? The far-left opposes it.
They argue that school choice is unconstitutional in that it violates “separation of church and state” by sending tax dollars to religious schools. But those of us who are actually familiar with the Constitution know that “separation of church and state” does not appear and that all the Constitution does is prohibit the State from establishing a national religion. The far-left is also under extreme pressure from the teacher’s union to oppose school choice. Clearly, if public schools were forced into stiff competition with private schools, sub-par teachers would have a difficult time keeping their jobs. But, I for one, would rather see our children being educated by the best teachers we have to offer, rather than making sure sub-par teachers still have work.
School choice is an issue we as conservatives can all support. It is vital for us to push for school choice as the number one means to help the poor. The American Dream is beautiful, but the government monopoly over education has started to break it. School choice is a conservative way to reform education and make the American Dream attainable for everyone once again.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Although I’m still concerned about the outcome of the election and would’ve preferred anyone over Obama (by anyone I mean, Hillary, Kerry, even Ted Kennedy), I refuse to treat him or even think of him in the same disrespectful, disparaging light as the liberal media and even fellow Republicans painted our current president, George W. Bush.
His treatment from the media was absolutely unpatriotic, deplorable, and downright scary. Obama should be weary of the media building him up to take him down, as the media has done to Bush post 9/11, our hero who led us out of the dark confusing days into a strong global war on terror that has produced results. Even the war in Iraq, since the surge, has been going well, but you would never hear that from the media. It’s certainly no longer reported that Fallujah has been given back to the Iraqis for control and that US marines have withdrawn their posts there, or that suicide bombings have gone down dramatically. Of course that wouldn’t be reported, because that would have been positive news about Iraq and consequently, about Bush’s competence and decision making.
Furthermore, I’m intrigued as to how Michael Moore is going to create another piece of misinformed propaganda about Bush. He intends to do just that on the economic crisis, yet he must be conveniently blocking out some very important years in history. 1966, 1977, and 1995 are three glaring years that again, Americans won’t hear about because it would make Bush seem less like an incompetent president.
1966 started the Lyndon Johnson “Great Society” program, which increased entitlement programs (read: welfare, read: higher taxes) nationwide. 1977 was the year Jimmy Carter plummeted the country into a recession due to his bad foreign policy agenda, which lead to the gas crisis. 1995, under the beloved Clinton administration (again, I’m baffled as to why he is so revered considering he was impeached), showed us a Democratic president signing into law the deregulation of banks. (And who could forget that Clinton had Osama bin Laden in his sights and let him go?!) Most recently, in the past two years, the public has seen a Democratic Congress sit by as the sub prime mortgage crisis raged out of control. Their motivation behind that: move slow, pin the crisis squarely on Bush, and guarantee a Democratic President-elect.
Besides all of those essential facts, I still refuse to revert to the kindergarten like behavior of the Democrats and “rogue” Republicans have done the past 6 years. Not only was their behavior distasteful, it was downright embarrassing internationally. What must enemies think of a country who can’t stand behind their president, with at least a bit of basic respect? It was unpatriotic, not in the sense that a person in America can’t disagree with the government, but there are ways to disagree with a President and compromise than instead, tear him apart personally to demonize him to gain public support and get their way. That’s the exact opposite route I hope Republicans take in dealing with Obama, to if nothing else, demonstrate that there is a fundamental difference in the way Republicans view authority than Democrats have recently, and that difference needs to be noticed so that damage control can be done in the way Bush was treated (an apology would be nice too).
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Anyone who hears a left wing intellectual or writer speak of Barack Obama would notice they never speak to the strength of America. I am hoping that Barack Obama’s presidency does not end in disaster, but that is another question. On other issues, Barack Obama, by his very identity is having an impact on America and the World.
The reaction globally to Barack Obama’s electoral victory is astounding. Historically speaking, only Kennedy has engendered that reaction. But this shows the enduring strength of America in the hearts and minds of people around the world. The Liberals do not mention this; they prefer to say that it is only because of Barack Obama’s personality and charisma that the rest of the world is reacting this way. But Bill Clinton was no less charismatic than Obama and the world did not welcome him in the same way.
To the rest of the world, rightly or wrongly the election of Barack Obama is the embodiment of what America has meant to them. A nation that unlike any other is able to redress historical wrongs. America is still the shining city on a hill. It is still the canary in the coal mine of civilization. And the rest of the world still sees it as the last, best hope. Hopefully, Obama governs well and keeps it that way.
What the liberals do not say, is that America, not Barack Obama, is what has captured the fascination of the world.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Ever since the founding of the nation, people have touted the everlasting idea of American exceptionalism. Even though every country is unique in its own way, Americans liked to see their place as exceptionally exceptional, especially when compared with other capitalist, democratic nations.
This notion was further reinforced by an essay written on the 100th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto called ‘On Marxism and American Exceptionalism.’ It was written by two American communists. Former Neoconservative Francis Fukuyama declared an end to history after the Cold War, and Samuel Huntington declared the Clash of Civilizations. The new world we are entering is looking increasingly like the latter.
Now, after the Cold War has ended, the world is on the precipice of the return of the 19th Century. America will no longer be one of two poles during the superpower years of the Cold War or the only pole during the hyperpower years of the end of the 20th Century and the Beginning of the 21st Century. The world is going to have many poles, with America being of the foremost of several great powers, with political power increasingly distributed by population, rather than technological or economic dominance.
The primary powers in this new world will be America, China, India, Brazil and possibly some form of European political entity. I am intentionally leaving Russia out of this equation as I believe that country to be in real decline, even if they will be able to cause trouble in many ways in the future. The new world we are living in will look increasingly like the map of Europe in the late 19th Century, with many great and powerful nations uneasily trying to maintain a precarious balance of power.
Every single time in history that has had the doctrine of a balance of power has led to war. This was most appropriately played out in Europe after the 30 Years War, after the War of the Spanish Succession, again after the Napoleonic Wars, after the Rise of Germany, and lastly after World War I. In his famous Sinews of Peace speech at Westminster College, Winston Churchill declared that after the Second World War the doctrine of a balance of power was unsound and in a new age ‘We cannot afford to offer temptations to a trial of strength.’ This may have been the world that was taking shape in the days of the ideological conflict between the Free World and Communism, but it is no longer the world we live in.
Somehow, a new balance is going to have to be put in place, and this is why America’s much longed for isolationism may not come to pass. It is a desirable place to be, where you do not have to depend on the rest of the world for sustenance, but the world is much smaller and America will have to find some place in it to preserve its interests and keep any possible competition for geopolitical power as peaceful as possible.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
America’s posture since the rise of Bill Clinton increasingly looks like we are trying to forge an Empire. The NeoConservatives, who took their inspiration from earlier American liberal ideas were the main intellectual force behind this. The movement culminated in the invasion of Iraq. Such was the imperial hubris that several essays came out in direct defense of it, such as ‘The Case for Empire.’ It seems that as America is humbled militarily and economically, this new empire will have to be the first thing to go.
Contrary to popular belief, the ideas of the NeoConservatives have a long history in America going back to the founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson spoke of using America’s future potential power to build ‘an empire of liberty.’ The NeoCons further believed they drew inspiration by twisting many of the ideals of Winston Churchill.
America has at least a small military presence in nearly130 nations, though most of these are not combat ready troops. Our largest permanent bases remain in their post war locations, with Japan, Germany and South Korea having the most.
Much of this is unnecessary. Why do we have bases in South Korea still? Yes, North Korea is a problem but South Korea has nearly twice the population of the North and are armed with the most sophisticated American weaponry money can buy. Their army has over half a million men, and though it is smaller than the North’s, it has much more sophisticated weaponry and tactics. America maintains a force of 37,000 men in Korea, a fact greatly despised by a local population that has come to greatly despise the country that saved them from Communism. Our 37,000 men would not be able to help the South Korean army in any significant way if the North were to invade. South Korea is more than able to take care of itself in the event of a war, which is very unlikely.
The Bush Administration recently set up the African Command for the Pentagon. Under his administration engagement with the nations of Africa has deepened on every level. Funding to fight AIDS has increased to a historically high level. This is not a problematic policy; AIDS is a truly global problem that has the ability to spread by exponential levels when more people contract it. It is something that could very well reach America’s shores quite easily. However, there is a new semi imperial scramble for Africa going on. China has engaged with Africa on record levels as well, mostly on an economic sphere. America has only two recognizable interests in Africa, increasing African oil production to keep prices low and contributing to fighting AIDS.
Our constant intervention here is unnecessary. It was not necessary to intervene in Somalia when an Islamist regime was formed. Yes, it would have been a radical Islamic regime and we have worked with many of these before, but it would not have been in a serious position to cause major problems around the world. Somalia is not a powerful country and would not have had access to nuclear weapons. The spread of Christianity in Sub Saharan Africa will serve as its own check on the spread of Islam and its militants. We do not need significant numbers of troops to trounce around Africa, our election of a Kenyan president will give us much sway over the hearts and minds of the continent.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Throughout this election season President-elect Barack Obama constantly hammered the idea of “fundamental change” and bi-partisanship. With the current American automaker crisis, President-elect Obama has the chance to bring this “fundamental change” and bi-partisanship to life by finally rejecting the political wishes of lobbyists and those in his own Party.
Prominent Democratic leaders in Congress, in particular, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have lobbied for a federal bailout of the auto companies. This is not the way to restore the auto companies. Contrary to their belief, the current troubles the auto companies face are not due to the current credit crisis, but are instead due to the all-powerful labor union United Auto Workers (UAW). To give an example of the power of this union we can compare data on the average labor cost per U.S. hourly worker reported by General Motors (GM) and Toyota.
In the year 2005, this data was as follows: General Motors $73.73, Toyota $48. Anybody familiar with economics should immediately take note that in a free-market equilibrium system, such a drastic difference in these statistics would not be possible. It is the power of the UAW that allows for such a drastic difference. Also, American auto laborers belonging to the UAW are often times paid to not work! In fact, according to The Detroit News, as of 2005, 12,000 UAW workers were paid to not work.
In addition, current federal mileage standards also force American automakers to produce small cars that make almost zero profit, at plants organized by the UAW. This is why we see American automakers continually produce cars that do not sell. These are just a few of the problems American auto companies suffer, but what is most important is that none of these problems have to do with people being unable to receive credit to purchase automobiles.
In fact, even when the economy was thriving in 2005, GM reported a third-quarter loss of $1.7 billion, according to The Washington Times. What this data tells us is clear—American automakers are hammered by their labor contracts. One would think that Pelosi and Reid would recognize this and demand that the bailout will only be provided if these labor contracts are re-written. However, we are talking about the far-left ideologues of the United States. What have they decided to do to ensure the taxpayer money goes to good use? Place limits on executive pay. What a shocker!
Also, not by coincidence, Pelosi and Reid are only fighting for bailouts for the American automakers stationed in the blue-state of Michigan and controlled by the largely Democratic union, the UAW. This despite the fact that nearly 113,000 Americans work for “foreign” auto companies, which are not doing so great right now either. In fact, Toyota is reporting a 70% fall in profits in the third-quarter according to The Guardian. So then if the proposed auto bailout is meant to protect American jobs, why not provide money for companies such as Toyota as well? This answer is simple; these companies are stationed in the red-states of Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. This proposed bailout bill by Pelosi and Reid is entirely partisan-based and has been created in order to please the lobbyists for the UAW, as well as, the voters of the blue-state of Michigan.
Assuming President Bush decides to end his term as a conservative (which is a broad assumption) and veto this bailout proposal, it will be the first piece of legislation before President-elect Obama. If Obama truly wants to bring fundamental change and bi-partisanship he should stand-up to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, the UAW and partisan-based politics in general and veto this proposed bailout for failing to address the issue of labor contracts.
Monday, November 10, 2008
America voted for a fix to the economy. But what we may get is a new world order.
The news media is already reporting that Obama wants to start off with a surge of executive orders, the least balanced and accountable form of action, to begin what he sees as a mandate to change America.
I believe that America, despite its flaws, is a great nation. I am convinced that many others feel this way too. I hope you’ll join me in watching carefully, standing firm, and making our voices heard to our representatives and senators so that the basic tenets and principles of our nation are not altered in a misunderstood reading of the wishes of the American people.
Let’s start with the representatives who will listen best, those who are up for election in two years.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Terror, militant Islam, tribalism, violence, backwardness and corruption are the running themes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, particularly in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, where the NATO fight against the Taliban has taken on a new front. There are many problems with taking the fight there, though further measure will be necessary to end it.
The area has not had a significant governmental presence since the time of Alexander the Great. When Alexander and his men fought a deadly battle against the Indian army of the time, his men became so demoralized that they forced him to turn back. He then died in Babylon.
The area is full of many cultures, but no civilization. As civilization is defined as a culture that has some form of written record, this area has a literacy of less than 10%, and most literate people are in the capital of the region at Peshawar. America is not going to bring civilization to this part of the world that has never been reached by it. We made grave errors in our war aims and it will take a master warrior and politician to not make this battle look like a loss for America.
At the height of its Empire, Britain had many problems in this area that was ostensibly under its rule. Pashtun (the main ethnic group) warlords were carrying out raids into British India and harming Imperial interests and security in the region. Britain then took military action, but it was a much more measured response. They raided all over the area and set their aims at killing and capturing the warlords and radical Muslims that were causing them so much trouble. This region was also the buffer zone of the Great Game of imperial domination between the British and Russian Empires. America would do well to look at their records in the region.
At the outset of Operation Enduring Freedom, America did not just set its goals as the removal of the Taliban and the neutralization of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, we set out to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan, a country of little civilization to speak of in its long history on the map. Not realizing that this is a near impossible country to govern, we set up a weak parliamentary system led by an impotent technocrat, Hamid Karzai. We now need to eventually withdraw from Afghanistan and Pakistan while saving face and accomplishing at least some of our goals. The fight is not over.
President elect Obama, as part of his campaign pledge, promised to step up efforts to finish the war in Afghanistan and kill or capture bin Laden. What he does not realize is that we are going to have to lower our expectations and aims for the rest of the country, because it is not fit for any government, much less a weak democratic one.
Afghanistan has seen the passage of many invaders through its borders, especially through the Khyber pass on their way to the vast riches of India. Aryans, Greeks/Macedonians, Arabs, Turks, British, Russians then Soviets, and now the Americans have all been pinned down in this region of fierce warriors. If Alexander could not conquer it, does America really believe it can?
Friday, November 7, 2008
When America’s closest historical permanent alliances come to mind, the names that usually come up in conversation are Britain, Canada, the rest of the English speaking world, Continental Europe, Japan and Israel. We have other allies to be sure, but few of them are on as deep a level of cooperation and common values as these.
However, an alliance routinely overlooked by many in America who wish we did not need it is the Saudi monarchy. Reminiscent of the absolute monarchies of 15th Century Europe, this oil powered ally of America’s is no less significant than any other. Relations were first forged at the outset of World War II by President Roosevelt very much under the auspices of Winston Churchill. The Saudi royal family, though they have to carefully manage their behavior publicly, is currently our most important ally in the Middle East. I think it would suffice it to say that in the short term, they may even be more important than Israel.
The Saudi royal family is firmly pro American. The Saudi people are not. This is a massive disconnect. There are many threats to the Saudi family but their power does not seem to be in serious question. At any given time there are some 200 wealth wielding members of the al Sauds and another 7000 in the extended family. The state’s infrastructure and traditions are firmly still in place and the standard of living has been rising on the back of oil exports.
The world is changing. Al Qaeda has been beaten from much of the Middle East and the alliance between the al Sauds and the Wahhabist (anti American) clerics remains. Al Qaeda’s intellectual firmament remains the Wahhabist ideology. But there are many nuanced issues that deserve their own attention.
The first is that Saudi Arabia remains an ally despite being a despotic repressive regime at home. The al Sauds are experienced in the art of statecraft and need peace and security for themselves. America’s oil for security pact with Saudi Arabia may be under strain. However, it seems the internal security of the monarchy, though challenged, is not in critical danger.
Unusually for many countries around the world, the Saudi official position, while officially impartial, is known to be friendly and comfortable with George Bush, in spite of his mistake in Iraq. The al Sauds have long ties with the Bush family and with the Republican Party. The Saudis will meet with President Elect Obama this week and size him up for the first time. Among inner circles within the Saudi Court it is known that hearing his calls for hope and change ring hollow and even cause nervousness. Stability is the word of the day. The Stability of Saudi Arabia and the Greater Middle East is necessary for furthering American interests there and facing up to an increasingly belligerent Iran. Saudi Arabia will also be a key diplomatic force in pushing through any Israeli Palestinian Peace Accord.
If Obama pushes the Saudis away he will be making a colossal failure. The last monarchy that the US turned its back on was Iran, and it then became one of our fiercest enemies, blocking every move America has made to try to set up stable regimes in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan (though it originally cooperated with us in Afghanistan). The Saudis knew that in ousting Saddam from Iraq, the only check in the region on Iranian power and influence had been removed. Iran was now free to play a chess proxy game across the region to increase its influence at the expense of the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and our smaller Gulf allies. The Russian invasion of Georgia further complicated that country’s value to Western Strategic schemes in the region.
This issue has a very long history. If one goes back to read the old New York Times articles from the 70s they railed on and on about how the Shah was running the most evil and brutal regime ever created. The truth is he was running an enlightened monarchy and was favoring eventually introducing democracy. He had also built a country with a highly educated workforce and vast industrial and mining base. But the Times and eventually the Democratic Party did not let up. When finally Ayatollah Khomeini took over, there was nothing left but for America to elect Reagan to get the hostages out.
We must not make that mistake today. It seems that even on its own the Saudi Monarchy will stay in place. But President Elect Obama must not try to take a moral stand on them. They are slowly reforming. It is painful to not see it go further but the alliance must be maintained. They are now the key to holding back Iran.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
On November, 4th 2008, around 11 PM Eastern Time, the final blow was dealt to the Republican Party as Barack Obama was elected to be the 44th President of the United States. But, I do not believe this loss will throw the Republican Party into the wilderness forever, in fact I believe it will finally make the Party wake up. What do I mean by “wake up?” I mean that the Party will now finally understand the reason for its demise—the alienation of libertarians.
At first thought the average reader will probably say, “ So what? There are hardly any libertarians anyway” but this statement is simply untrue. In fact, the American National Election Studies finds that roughly 13 percent of voters are libertarians. The shift away from the Republican Party started four years ago in the Bush-Kerry election. In the 2000 election, libertarian voters preferred President Bush to Former Vice-President Gore, 72%-20%, according to the Cato Institute.
In 2004, however, libertarians preferred President Bush to Senator Kerry, 59%-38%, once again according to the Cato Institute. And now in 2008, although the data has not been made official yet, it is very likely that Senator McCain and President-elect Obama may have split the libertarian vote. This assumption being made due to the vast number of “libertarians for Obama” movements as well as Obama’s victories in the libertarian strongholds of the nation.
These areas include the “sun-belt” region of the nation, as well as the “live free and die hard” State of New Hampshire. Not coincidentally, in the 2008 election, President-elect Barack Obama won such sun-belt States as New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada, while only losing Arizona by 162,482 votes. In 2004, President Bush won all of these States. Perhaps even more telling is the election data over the past 8 years from the State of New Hampshire. New Hampshire, a State that is known for its heavy libertarian presence most notably seen by its lack of State Income Tax, State Sales Tax and seat-belt laws, went for President Bush in the year 2000 by a 1.4% margin. In 2004, however, the States went for Senator Kerry by a 1.37% margin, and now in 2008 the State went for President-elect Obama by a 10% margin.
From this evidence I believe it is undisputable that libertarians are leaving the Republican Party and opting to instead vote with the Democrats most likely because the Republican Party has decided to forget about us. The Bush Administration grew the size of government larger than any Administration since the Lyndon Johnson Administration. The Republican Establishment, who instead chose to compel to an idea of “compassionate conservatism”, has laughed off our prominent voices in the Party, such as Ron Paul and Jeff Flake. And what did they get for it? A government controlled by the far-left.
What I believe this election must do for the Republican Party is help us return to our Goldwater-Reagan roots. We need to center a platform on limited government ideas. Such ideas as school vouchers, privatized Social Security, and a flat-tax may be good places to start. But, either way, as a libertarian while I am deeply stung by the Obama victory, I am also confident that it will return the Republican Party to its limited government roots and bring us victory in 2012.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
No one writing for this blog is happy with the result of this disappointing, though historic, election. John McCain, a great man who has served his country in a way that the vast majority of us will never have the opportunity to do, lost. We must look to the future and to make the best with what we have.
First of all, Barack Obama is now our President. He is not the President of African Americans or Democrats or Liberals. He will govern all of us, and as he is the President- elect we owe him our loyalty and must uphold the honor of this country.
As a matter of policy, now all Conservatives can do is hope for the best, that Barack Obama is not the Socialist of his youth. May he rule his people well.
With Democratic victories in the Senate and Presidential races, political control in Washington has shifted from Republican to Democratic- from a philosophy of limited government to a philosophy of larger government, from a philosophy of greater freedom to a philosophy of greater government control and regulation over our individual lives.
Perhaps this was the result of panic over the economy.
Perhaps this was just the swinging of the pendulum after 8 years of a Republican presidency.
Perhaps the nearly billion dollars spent by Obama made the difference.
Perhaps this occurred because of disarray and dishonesty that had infiltrated the Republican Party itself.
Regardless, we now have a President who ran on the platform of changing our great nation. How far he succeeds in moving our country towards the world of George Orwell in the book 1984 depends on how we respond to this setback. We must not give up but rather MUST start today to defend our freedoms, use our talents to become involved in the political debate, and build the skills and grassroots organization needed to be successful in the future.
I love America. Too much change could destroy it.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
This morning, as I passed a freshman dorm on my way to the deli, a female student blew the smoke from her freshly lit cigarette in my face and snarled “I HATE McCain!” I assume that the sight of the small McCain-Palin pin I wear on my jacket sparked this disgusting reflex. Such knee-jerk, thoughtless reactions are inarguably much more common amongst liberals than amongst conservatives. Blogger and investigative journalist Michelle Malkin details this fact brilliantly in her 2005 book “Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Going Wild” in which she describes the outrageous behaviors of unhinged liberals after the 2000 and 2004 election cycles, as well as some of the unbelievably hateful treatment that she herself has been subject to as a crusader in the conservative movement.
In every major US city, police forces are preparing for the riots that are expected should Obama lose on Tuesday. Just as I could never imagine any conservatives I know blowing smoke in the face of an Obama supporter, I could never, ever imagine Republicans rioting if an underdog Democratic candidate for president were to win a surprise victory over a media-darling Republican (and I realize I’m pushing the limit of a hypothetical situation with that). Such irrational behavior is not in our nature and it is just plain wrong.
“There are crazies on both sides,” a friend told me in discussion of my run-in today, “take abortion clinic bombers,” he said. Abortion clinic bombers are not conservatives. They are radicals, and indeed, “crazies.” In no way does killing abortionists help the pro-life cause, and the vast, overwhelming majority of conservatives recognizes this clearly and condemn such crazies. Liberal crazies, on the other hand, get much more sympathy from their liberal cohorts in this country. Take Bill Ayers, and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, for example. Conservatives have clear limits on what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, on what is right and what is wrong. Liberals tend to accept a wide “diversity” of philosophies, behaviors, and tactics as helpful in advancing liberal causes, which reveals the dangerous lack of rationality in today’s American liberalism.
Liberals often assert themselves as staunch proponents of diversity and tolerance, yet, in reality, the diversity they promote is a diversity of liberal thought and tolerance and that alone. Conservative thought is outside this spectrum. Conservatism is too diverse to be tolerated. And so we, conservatives, get smoke blown in our faces. Literally. Since our beliefs fall nowhere in-between the bounds of liberal thought, as diverse as that spectrum may be, I suppose we do not deserve their respect.
And they say conservatives are the “close-minded” ones?
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Gradually, American government has moved further and further left over the last 60 years. There has never been a concerted effort at communism or socialism in America, but it has been a gradual march. Each time the left makes an advance, no President rolls back the expansion of government. No one rolled back the New Deal or the Great Society.
Obama’s Robin Hood policy seems contradictory. The rich will be taxed more, even though the wealthiest 5% pay 60% of the tax bill and the lowest 40% pay no income taxes. It has been long, slow and arduous, but the left is winning. Especially with the country’s changing demographics, where there is a large immigrant population hostile to the Republican Party and Conservatism in general, it is hard to see anything standing in the way of this mutation of all that is American.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
We are in the midst of fighting two wars as a financial meltdown threatens to escalate into a global crisis. We have a president with a historically low approval rating and a congressional GOP that has lost its way amid the complacency of Washington. We have a dependency on foreign oil from countries who do not have our best interests in mind and a national consensus that proclaims we are headed in the wrong direction.
America has certainly seen better days and there is no question that a valiant effort will be required to put us back on the right track. A fundamental question remains however. If the perspective of this country is so bleak and the people of this country so dissatisfied, why has the “agent of change” not closed the deal yet?
This is the question that the left has been grappling with over the past few months. Times are tough, so change seems like the practical remedy to assuage our national woes. It would seem that the candidate who proposes a new direction would be the candidate of choice. In times of peace and economic growth the residing political brand is the hero, in times like these, the natural villain. So I ask again, if a new direction is so desperately needed, why has Obama not closed the deal? I believe the answer can be found deep within the soul of this country.
For the past several months, America has been watching Senator Obama. We have learned a great deal about his associations, his voting records, his accomplishments, his beliefs, and most importantly, his idea of what direction this country should go in. The soul of America has absorbed the prevailing knowledge and has found pause with the senator. The reason? His direction contradicts certain truths in life. Some of which include: capitalism not socialism is the best way to achieve economic prosperity; smaller government not larger, is the best structure to assure individual liberty and the preservation of private enterprise; evil exists in this world and the best way to protect self interests and prevent the prospect of war is to remain strong from within.
Peace remains the highest aspiration of the American people. Ronald Regan showed us that without firing a shot, wars can be won with a robust dollar and military, as Barry Goldwater so famously coined the term “peace through strength.”
Our founding fathers mapped the trajectory of this country on the premise that we the people could govern ourselves better than an intellectual elite in Europe could. Americans defined patriotism as telling England to shove it when they imposed confiscatory taxation on us. The revolutionists did not consider paying higher taxes “patriotic,” they considered higher taxation an infringement upon liberty. Contrary to what Senator Biden believes, the Boston Tea Party was not over the dislike of a certain brand of tea.
I think now is the time when Americans should call this presidential race into perspective. We should ask ourselves, what is it that has made us so great and in such a short duration of time considering the youth of our country? What are the ideas and convictions that have kept us strong from within and an inspiration to those who seek a better life? Why is it that immigrants who seek opportunity flock to our shores and countries who rule with the sword of oppression plot our demise? The majority of Americans understand who the real Barack Obama is and what he stands for. This is why it is still a race. As for the polls, they have been more volatile than our current stock market and only one poll truly matters, November 4th.
As a final thought, John McCain found the spirit of America inside a rat infested prison in North Vietnam. It is what gave him the resolve to forgo a ticket home and put his countrymen before him. America now needs to find McCain. We are in tough times, and tough times call for a leader who truly understands what it is that has made us great. This must be understood in order to continue that direction. John McCain knows this because it is what kept him alive in Vietnam and kept his campaign alive after the pundits and intelligencia wrote him off. If there are two things in life that I will never underestimate, they are the will of the American people and the power of a comeback. This could be the comeback of a lifetime.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Following the exposure of Governor Sarah Palin after she was selected as the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Republican Party, the Party has seen a great schism. On one side of the fence stand the populist conservatives, on the other stand the small-government/intellectual conservatives (this is not to suggest populist conservatives are not intellectual it is just a political term). Governor Palin clearly represents the ideals of populist conservatism and to myself, and other small-government conservatives, this is not the direction the Republican Party should be heading.
First, it is necessary to explain what is meant by “populist conservatism,” and why Governor Palin’s adherence to it divides the Republican Party. The term “populist” refers to a political philosophy that puts the ordinary people above the elites of society. When the word “conservatism” is attached, it simply means a political philosophy that places the ordinary people over the elites of society while supporting conservative positions. By this definition, Governor Palin clearly is a “populist conservative.” The Governor constantly stresses the point that she is just an ordinary “hockey mom;” this is great and all, but as a small-government conservative the fact that the Governor hosts a bake sale for her son’s hockey team doesn’t really mean much to me.
Personally, I want to hear why we must support a privatization of Social Security, why we must install a school voucher system, and why we must drastically cut, if not eliminate, the capital gains tax. Maybe I just haven’t had the television on at the right time, but I do not recall ever hearing the Governor address matters such as these. Rather, she spends her time ranting about “the liberal media elite,” abortion, hunting moose, her family and “real” America.
This brings me to my next point, what is the ‘real America’? Am I not a real American because I do not hunt? Am I not a real American because I take interest in our financial markets? Am I not a real American because I happen to live in New York? When Governor Palin speaks of this real America she has effectively isolated the Republican Party to just include those who live according to her lifestyle. This is why her adherence to populist conservatism serves as a divider to the Republican Party. She effectively excludes all those who advocate small-government conservatism, moderate conservatism, libertarian-conservatism, etc.
If Senator Obama is elected on Tuesday, November 4th, I will personally point the finger of blame at Governor Palin. She has turned the Republican Party into an exclusive party of populism: a party that does not include intellectuals, corporate businessmen, social moderates and non-religious people. I urge conservatives of all types to think about why our movement was so successful in the past before anointing Governor Palin as the Party’s new-coming star, and nominee for 2012. Let us not give the image that Republicans are ordinary people with ordinary ideas, but let us give the image that Republicans are intellectual people with small government ideas based on free-market economic theory.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
“I’ve known John McCain for 25 years,” he continued. “He’s a good man, a wonderful man. But he’s not a good presidential candidate.”
The host of CNBC’s Kudlow and Company claimed the GOP candidate slipped in the polls after his poorly judged response to the credit crisis. McCain held roughly a five-point lead coming out of the convention in St. Paul. The worsening stock market in following weeks, however, made McCain suspend his campaign to assist with the bailout initiative, which “might have made sense,” said Kudlow, “if he himself had a plan. But he did not.” This failure to offer a personal proposal for the crisis, according to Kudlow, greatly weakened his support.
In the midst of citizens’ heightened panic over this issue, the senator also announced that America’s economy was still fundamentally sound. While Kudlow agrees with this view, he feels it was an ill-timed remark.
Kudlow, although a free-market capitalist and supply-side enthusiast, does approve of the bailout bill. He feels this strategy is a necessary part of capitalism, and explained, “It’s not nationalization, and it’s not socialism. It’s a rescue.”
The bailout plan, which passed Congress on a second try after being defeated in the first attempt, allocates $700 billion to the Secretary of the Treasury to buy up mortgage-backed securities from firms. Kudlow believes that once these “toxic” assets are removed from banks’ portfolios, they will begin lending to each other again, the frozen credit markets will thaw, and foreign investment will flow in.
The speech further validated the rescue bill when Kudlow dated the first bailout initiative back to Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the US Treasury. In 1790, Hamilton convinced Congress to buy $25 million in state debts in order to establish good US credit and draw in foreign capital, and the American economy has required similar methods several times since.
While Kudlow feels McCain responded ineffectively to the credit crisis, he commended two main positive actions made by the senator in recent months. The first was his advocacy for offshore drilling, which will form a bridge to the future when the US can use alternative energy sources like nuclear power. 75% of Americans agreed with this plan, and McCain’s enthusiasm was very beneficial. The second positive was choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, which energized the conservative social issue base.
Still, the speech showed that McCain has yet to gain the majority vote in several vital groups, the most important being the investor class. “A Republican can’t win without support of the investor class,” said Kudlow. There are 100 million in this group, including citizens who own direct brokerage accounts and 401 K and pension holders. Right now, 46% of them are for Obama, while 43% support McCain. Kudlow advocated McCain’s recent call to cut the capital gains tax from 15% to 7.5%, but then citied McCain’s failure to hammer home the issue as evidence of his poor campaigning skills.
Kudlow also pointed to three main tenants that he believes if strongly emphasized by a Republican candidate, ensure election victory: low tax rates, strong national defense, and pro-life legislation. Kudlow claimed he has never seen someone with these three tickets lose an election. It is McCain’s failure to push for tax cuts and a pro-life agenda, Kudlow believes, that will ultimately cost him this election.
The concluding remarks offered a bit of hope to panicking citizens amidst the nation’s financial nightmare. “We have the most long-running, prosperous economic system, we have the most political freedom, and we have the most economic freedom out of any country in the world,” said Kudlow. “In America you can fall several times and still pick yourself up and succeed.”
Tuesday’s speech suggested American capitalists will manage to do just that. As for November 4th’s turnout, however, Kudlow isn’t so optimistic. For America’s sake, he simply prays Obama is ready.
Monday, October 27, 2008
As a sophomore at Fordham University, I am required to take a semester of philosophical ethics. Among other things, the class teaches the two major worldviews of Kantian Ethics (deontology) and Utilitarian Ethics. Kant would have us believe that results are not important in determining whether an action was just or not; for him, only the motive matters. In other words, if we try to start a fire in order to keep a homeless person warm but in doing so we accidentally burn down the adjacent building, thus killing all the inhabitants, our action is still moral.
On the other hand Utilitarians, such as John Stuart Mill, believe that actions should be judged by results, not intentions or motives. Today, as our economy is burning, Democratic Senators Schumer, Reed, and Menendez would have us believe that this is ok because their intentions and those of Congress have been just.
The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, pushed through Congress by a Democratic super majority and signed by a Democratic President, had a “noble” intention. The act sought to increase homeownership among minorities and low-income families by setting lending requirements for banks. However, as anyone who takes the time to look at the causes of the current financial crisis will admit, this act has had disastrous consequences despite its intentions. Although history clearly shows that government involvement in bank lending is a bad idea, the trio of Democrats is about to repeat this mistake.
Because all three currently serve on the Senate Banking Committee, they surely understand typical banking operations, right? Wrong. On Wednesday, they called on the Treasury to set “lending goals” for banks receiving capital injections under Paulson’s rescue plan. They fear that the banks will hoard the cash as opposed to increasing lending and unfreezing the credit markets. Perhaps these career attorneys should be enrolled in Finance 101, in which they would surely learn that it is unnecessary to force banks to lend since this is the principle way that they make money.
Banks, run by finance and economics professionals, know how to loan money to ensure that borrowers will be able to pay it back. The recent call from the Senate for “lending goals” is particularly frightening because I believe it mirrors the same uncalled for policies of the Community Reinvestment Act. With (as I fear will be the case in 3 months) Democrats in control of both Congress and the White House, who knows what these “lending goals” will require. If they require loans to low-income families with no chance of paying the loan back, it will be “all just a little bit of history repeating”. As the economy burns, I fear the American people are about to send arsonists to fight the fire.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Though the margin seems to be narrowing even by standard polls, Obama has maintained a slight lead over John McCain for most of the election season (though the season has spanned two years). There is a problem however. Many Conservatives such as myself either used to be slightly more left wing or rejected George Bush as being a Neoconservative and not a real Conservative. I will admit it on this blog, in spite of being pro life and fiscally conservative, I voted for John Kerry.
At the time I was in high school and somewhat more left wing, usually splitting my vote between both Republicans and Democrats. I believed George Bush had been very destructive. I still do. But what these polls do not take into account are people like me. Not all, but some are ignored because pollsters assume everyone votes the way they did in the last election, which is not always so. This must be kept in mind when looking at the numbers. Needless to say, though I will still throw a vote to Conservative Democrats when one comes to the ballot, I am going to be voting 100% Republican without asking questions in this election because the Democratic Congress has shown itself to be every bit as irresponsible as the Bush Administration.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Otto von Bismarck once said that the most potent factor in 20th Century geopolitics will be that Britain and America speak the same language. So was predicted the greatest and most effective alliance in world history, between the United States of America and the British Empire, that brought Nazi Germany to its knees and faced down the Soviet Union and global communism.
America is now faced with the prospect that, while she is the preeminent power in the world, it is no longer quite as preeminent as it once was. America will continue its relative decline for the foreseeable future, though there will not be a major power that is able to take over as the world’s sole superpower in the same way America is. However, a cold hard look at America’s position in the world must be taken into account so that she can leave the world a safer place, especially when she must preserve her interests overseas.
In the spirit of Bismarck, it seems to this writer that there is a corollary. This writer believes that the most potent factor in 21st Century geopolitics will be that America and India were once colonies of Great Britain. Some scoff at this suggestion and say that India is too culturally different and bogged down by the age old caste system.
I make the argument that India has retained many customs that Great Britain tried to spread there. The first is the rule of law and democracy. India is the only country in the world that has been able to maintain a completely democratic government in the face of soul crushing poverty. It is now rapidly industrializing and in many ways is becoming more Americanized and Anglicized than it was even under the British Raj.
This is particularly important given the strategic position of India being between,-let’s face facts- Jihadistan (pretty much everything from Morocco to Pakistan) and “Communist” China. This is America’s opportunity to decline in secure manner as Great Britain did at the loss of its empire. Britain, realizing its position in the world was in decline, aligned itself with the rising power of the age, the United States of America. Let it be clear, neither India nor China will overtake the United States in overall geopolitical strength for most, if not all, of this century.
Even if China’s overall economy becomes larger than America’s, which all indicators say it will, The People’s Republic will still not be able to project its power in the same manner as America has because it will be consumed with internal problems that it must resolve first. However, having America forge a formal alliance with India, one of the few countries with which we have excellent relations right now, is pivotal for her to be able to protect its interests in a future where she does not completely dominate the global system.
America should not reserve her alliances and affections to only those countries which are democratic. But India makes sense because it has become a nation much friendlier to America than during the Cold War and in poll after poll, its population regards America as a great and respectable power in spite of her fraught reputation in much of the world. In this new world America is also forging stronger relations with Vietnam, a former foe whose interests are now much aligned with America’s. An alliance between India and America has the potential to do much good in the world and preserve some of America’s standing overseas.
Yes, Obama is clever and articulate. So clever that he picked Senator Biden to block for him and obscure the fact that NO, HE IS NOT FOR MIDDLE AMERICA.
Obama’s Senate record, his record in Illinois and his life’s work show his very liberal outlook and his focus on programs for the poor and urban populations. He even voted in S. Con. Res. 70 against death tax relief for small farms, small businesses, and middle class ‘estates.’ In the words of William W. Beech of the Heritage Foundation, “Senator Obama’s focus is on the redistribution of income.” .
John McCain is the candidate with a real history of balance, the candidate for all Americans.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
In Father McShane’s homily at the opening Mass of the Holy Spirit for this 2008-2009 academic year, he spoke about the responsibility we have to ourselves and to others. His insights complement my own feelings about our values and mission both as individuals and as Americans, but I would like to clarify what those actual responsibilities are. As the world becomes more interconnected through globalization and economic trade, the U.S. continues to display an imperialist nature, which we justify with rhetoric that emphasizes magnanimous intentions for spreading democracy and peace.
We think it is our obligation to enforce our supposedly supreme way of life on the rest of the world. I do think we do have an obligation as a world superpower to support struggling countries that make honest efforts to build stable political, economic, and social infrastructures. However, unnecessarily involving ourselves in every foreign political affair is not only unwise in my opinion, but also against the very founding principles of this country as promoted by our very first president, George Washington.
I do not think that the isolationism Washington advocated is realistic today, and as an International Political Economy major, I see the importance of providing guidance and political and economic assistance to nations that need and deserve it. Nevertheless, trying to institute our specific form of democracy on every country lacking a democratic structure is not only impossible, it is foolish.
The tradition, history, and culture of many nations are not even compatible with our democracy. Also, by trying to build an image of ourselves as a righteous and benevolent world power, we have instead developed a paternalistic attitude, and we believe we have the right to invade countries at will. Ironically, we have created more enemies in our obstinate quest to spread democracy, and many people— even citizens of our own country— question what our true intentions really are. Furthermore, we need to reassess our responsibilities and fix the ongoing problems here in the U.S. before we can effectively serve as a virtuous leader and guardian of nations abroad.
We must focus our responsibility to ourselves back on ourselves. Many of the most serious problems in the U.S. are unrealized by a majority of people, and these issues are never represented in the political arena. The degradation of the stable family structure, the sexual carelessness and immorality encouraged by pop culture, the lack of educational opportunity for the impoverished, and the chemicalization of the foods we eat are just a few of these fundamental, underlying issues.
However, we tend to only want to recognize and fix the consequences. Our method of improving situations in the U.S. is to find solutions to problems rather than to prevent the problems in the first place. We never seem to want to look to the root of problems, and if we would just take more responsibility for our actions and reflect on how we are living our personal lives, we could make a world of change. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our future generations to make this country a better place in which to live. Our responsibility lies here in the U.S. first and foremost, so it is about time that we start paying attention to our personal selves as well as our collective American selves.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
As much as I hope, desperately hope, that Barack Obama will not get elected in November, I’m beginning to get very nervous about the outcome of the election. I must hand it to Barack’s media and public relations staff- they’ve successfully made it seem like he is this new found messiah, this savior and “international” leader of America.
Even Colin Powell has been overcome by the mirage of Obama. Recently, Howard Stern’s radio show antics prove my point- people don’t know the issues, and even go so far as to side with McCain’s idealogy when they are told that the ideas are Obama’s policies!
However, that is deeply upsetting to the parts of the American population who are actually paying attention. Obama’s socialist policies, international policy naivete, elitism and down right hypocrisy are going completely unreported, unnoticed, or just plain ignored in the face of the giant Obama image that has been constructed.
It’s completely unbelievable to me that more Americans are not upset and in uproar over the William Ayers relationship and connections to Obama, and that the public has apparently forgiven Obama for his relationship with Jeremiah Wright. I know, I hear the groans and eye rolls of liberals every time I utter those names too, but this is a fundamental problem I have with Obama, and I would have with any person who dared to associate with those types of individuals.
One is a home grown terrorist that Obama allotted millions of dollars to from money he requested from the senate, and we all already know and remember the infamous YouTube documentaries and Wright’s hate filled speeches about our country.
How are these unforgivable associations forgotten? Where is the hope and change here? I fail to see the hope in a candidate who has not achieved much as a senator from Illinois, who at best is an orator and word manipulator, and a good salesman (he’s somehow campaign financing millions in loopholes to the point that the World Series has been delayed a half hour to showcase an Obama ad).
He refuses to answer questions about his past and family (while the press and media have a field day with the Republican candidates). Another thing that bothers me is that Obama has been quoted as saying that when he is confused or doesn’t know something, he seeks information from his wife Michelle. GREAT, go to the most liberal, biased woman who was quoted as saying that the first time she was proud of her country is when Barack was nominated.
(Speaking of Michelle, why hasn’t the New York Times done on expose on her life? Why haven’t people written scathing reviews on her life and practices? Oh wait, it’s because if they did that, Michelle and Obama would cry foul to protect their privacy and family, and then play the race card, as they did with the New Yorker magazine cover scandal). And who could forget Barack refusing to put his hand over his heart and not saying the National Anthem!
Has hell frozen over? Are Americans just that desperate for a change (which, has yet to be defined, has yet to be explained how it would be paid for, because to explain that would mean to be honest about the fact that taxes will skyrocket) that they are fooled by a smooth talking Democrat? Regrettably, I almost wish now that Kerry had won in 2004, so that the Democrats would’ve been blamed for the economic mess and McCain could’ve trounced in the election. That’s just how bad Obama is for America–that I’m wishing that Kerry had been elected-- to avoid the catastrophes that Obama’s socialist, unAmerican and unrealistic policies will inflict on America.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Every year, Fordham University Law, through their Stein Center for Law and Ethics, presents the prestigious Fordham-Stein Ethics prize. According to its charter, the prize recognizes an individual who "exemplifies outstanding standards of professional conduct, promotes the advancement of justice, and brings credit to the profession by emphasizing in the public mind the contributions of lawyers to our society and to our democratic system of government." This year, the prize will be given to Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer.
However, Justice Breyer is a long-time supporter of abortion rights. In 2000, he wrote the majority opinion in Stenberg v. Carhart. In stating “this Court…has determined and then redetermined that the Constitution offers basic protection to the woman’s right to choose,” he struck down a Nebraska state law banning late-term, or partial-birth, abortions, where a physician partially delivers the baby, kills it, then completes the delivery.
There are many legal and ethical objections to this case, especially on the basis of federalism and the morality of abortion. These are compounded by the fact that a Catholic, Jesuit school is awarding Justice Breyer an ethics award. In my opinion, no person who supports abortion should be awarded an ethics prize of any kind, much less from an institution that is “guided by its Catholic and Jesuit traditions,” as Fordham University’s mission statement proclaims.
The Catholic Church has long since spoken out against abortion. The Catechism, or teaching, of the Catholic Church states that “since the first century, the Church has affirmed that” any abortion or cooperation therein, constitutes a “grave offense” against “moral law.” In 2004, the United States Catholic Bishops stated that “the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”
New York Archbishop Edward Cardinal Egan has said, of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, a pro-choice proponent: “Anyone who dares to defend that [children in the womb] may be legitimately killed because another human being ‘chooses’ to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.”
In a 2004 interview, Avery Cardinal Dulles SJ, the Laurence J. McGinley professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University, stated that abortion is not just a “Church” issue but is “governed by the natural law of God, which is binding upon all human beings. The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights, since a person deprived of life has no other rights.”
The awarding of the Fordham-Stein Ethics prize to Justice Breyer is a clear violation of Fordham University’s mission statement and guiding principles. It is immoral and in direct conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The decision to give this award to Justice Breyer is inconsistent with the award’s purpose of recognizing the “positive contributions of the legal profession to American society.” Fr. Joseph McShane and Fordham University must rescind this award to maintain the ethical and moral standards that they preach.
*Note: To sign a petition urging Fordham to rescind this award, please visit http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/OpenLettertoFatherMcShane/tabid/392/Default.aspx
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Russia is an enigma wrapped in a riddle and shrouded in mystery. Much of the world is up in arms with angst about the resurgence of the legendary Bear. But what is Russia today? Is it making a serious and competent attempt to restore its former place in the world? Is it truly an emerging market as envisioned by Goldman Sachs? The answer to most of these questions is an emphatic no.
Russia is a country in static, constant decline, lashing out as its neo Nazi fringe distorts its politics, rampant abortion distorts its demographics and oligarchs swallow up the vast majority of its wealth.
First we must look at demographics. When the Soviet Union collapsed, so did the future of the Russians as a people. In 1992, Russia had 148 million people. Today, in 2008, it has under 142 million. The Russian birthrate is paltry and its abortion is at a level unprecedented in human history. 64% of all pregnancies in Russia are aborted. Russia has by far the highest abortion rate in the world.
What does this say about the former superpower? Not only is a moral outrage and wanton disregard for human life, it says much about the Russian psyche. It is a litmus test. The ultimate statement of belief in a bright future is to have a child. Russia, clearly does not believe in its future. Even the most Liberal pro choicer would see this is a horrible reflection on a society. Combined with high rates of alcoholism and drug use (half of all of Russia’s premature deaths are alcohol related) clearly shows this is not a functioning society.
That being said, Russia could still cause many problems in the world. Their economy, as with the economy of the Soviet Union, has been given steroids due to the high price of oil. But what is this really but fleeting wealth? Vladimir Putin himself once stated ‘if you can start a business in Russia you deserve a medal.’ I guess he would be the one to know. This is not a real economy. Russia has very little long term strength in every aspect of its existence.
We also have to be aware of Russia’s history. There is no question that the United States completely mistreated this historically great and powerful nation. We made grave errors in moving our NATO based empire up to Russia’s borders. Russia must have its sphere of influence and there is nothing the United States can do about it. For 45 years we spent all our energy avoiding a shooting war with the old Soviet Union. Why should we now risk one with Russia when we can really just wait out the price of oil and let their demographic crisis remove them as a serious threat?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
As anyone well knows, America is being very nearly overwhelmed by illegal migration and uncontrolled borders. While certain numbers of immigrants greatly enrich our country, being overwhelmed by monolithic and culturally confident blocks of immigrants is not only a drain on resources and a potential security threat, but also puts our very culture at risk.
The most obvious historical comparison that one can draw is that today’s illegal migrants were yesterday’s Visigoths entering Rome. The Visigoths originally came into the Roman Empire, not as conquerors, but wanting to share in the fruits of being part of the greatest civilization of the age. Ultimately, the Visigoths were too culturally alien to be properly assimilated into Rome, went into open rebellion and eventually helped engineer the collapse of the Empire.
Overall, this is a wholly depressing picture. But there is great hope that the situation is improving.
Today’s illegal migrants are in much the same position, having flouted American law they now live underground and it is impossible to even count them properly. Estimates range from 12-20 million with practical solution in sight.
What can be done?
The answer is to muddle through. The answer is attrition. There are many new technologies available that are starting to have an impact on the situation. Using the internet, employers now find it possible to screen nearly everyone who comes to work for them to make sure they are citizens. In poll after poll of the illegal migrants that we can locate, the word of the day is fear. They are now living in constant fear of having the authorities find them, are finding fewer job opportunities (not just because of a poor economy) and a general atmosphere of hostility. 2008 is the first year since 2002 that the ‘official’ number of illegal migrants has started to decrease.
This is attrition. It is impractical to have one massive roundup of illegal migrants and deport them all at once. It would also lead to an unnecessary humanitarian crisis. Gradually tightening the grip, with small busts of smuggling rings and punishing employers will do the trick. It will take time but there are signs it is happening. Patience is of the utmost importance in dealing with this situation.
We also must put some of the problem of immigration into perspective. We will always have to cope with some level of illegal migration, though none of it should be openly tolerated. The wall and better border enforcement will help but it would not be a cure all. The wall is not going to cover the entire Mexican border. For the wall to be effective it would need two layers and several large towns would have to be destroyed for the wall to run through it. This would be prohibitively expensive and logistically impossible.
For more perspective on the situation, we need only look at immigration in Great Britain. Britain is an island nation that finds in its midst thousands of illegal migrants from as far away as China and Southeast Asia. It is impossible to stop all of it, though with proper awareness and better enforcement, it can be reduced from today’s overwhelming problem to a minor inconvenience.
As of right now, this immigration problem could prove to be a fatal illness; however, through patience and proper policy, it may be reduced to the equivalent of a chronic ailment.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
After yesterday’s explosion of 936 points on the Dow it seems as though the worries of last week’s bloodbath throughout the world markets is all but a distant memory. The Dow posted its largest percentage point gain since March of ‘33, giving investors hope that a 10,000 point Dow Jones Industrial Average was still attainable by the conclusion of the fiscal year. To close within striking distance of 10,000 points after touching below 8,700 points and being down 21% last week is something truly unprecedented.
But what’s new considering Friday’s market had a 1000 point swing before it closed down 128 points Friday afternoon? Anything can happen these days when the opening bell rings, the previous two weeks prove it. Volatility is the buzz word on the Street these days but after the Bulls stampeded the Bears on Monday many people think the bottom is in and the worst may soon be behind us if it is not already.
The problems of the credit crisis have mostly dissipated in the minds of many traders and investors. The government’s $700 billion bailout, their backing of inter-bank loans and increasing FDIC insurance, and buying stock in the US banks has, in coordination with similar policy actions throughout Europe, contributed to soaring world markets yesterday.
But not so fast my friend, while all this government action was needed and has eased frozen credit markets, and seems to have solved the crisis, there is still reason to be concerned.
Last week’s triumph of bears was due to more than just uncertainty in the market or the bailout. Deleveraging, coupled with hedge fund redemptions and margin calls, all created the blood red boards seen around the world. And Monday’s stampede of bulls was a result of traders and investors not being able to pass on valuations and bargains throughout the market.
The lack of volume in yesterday’s session means that just as last week there were no buyers, yesterday there were no sellers, so everyone was trying to catch the rising tide for it lifts all boats. Both instances come down to one word: fear. Fear has been driving the markets for the past two weeks, if not longer. When markets were down big last week the fear was centered on what more the government would or could do to ease the crisis.
Monday’s fear was if you didn’t buy you would miss out on the rally and a chance at big money. Markets run by fear are concerning. Whether or not the stock market rises or falls right now is not as important as knowing what fear is driving investors and traders at any given moment. Find the fear, trade it and make the fast money. Miscalculate and you could be taken out in a body bag. The credit crunch may very well be behind us, but there is still the impending recession for monetary and fiscal policy makers to worry about, that is the fear driving markets for the next few weeks.