"It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words."

Freedom of thought.

Friday, July 9, 2010

American Non-exceptionalism

So, it's been awhile since I've posted anything, and so much is hitting the proverbial fan.  There is simply too much to talk about, but I'll hit on some of the issues I've seen lately.

I thought I'd begin with revisiting the notion of "American Exceptionalism," and Obama's apparent denial of it.  You probably remember last year when President Obama was asked by a (I believe) Financial Times reporter  about the idea of American Exceptionalism and whether he believed in it.  Much to the surprise and chagrin of most Americans who expect their president to answer that question with a resounding, "yes," Obama gave some kind of ridiculous and contrite answer that went something like this:  "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."  The point is he was extremely dismissive of the idea, almost mocking, and managed to simultaneously disregard America's truly exceptional history and current world status.  Many reporters and media-type talking heads were equally dismissive, attributing it to a mere difference in interpretation of the phrase.  But it's a very big difference of interpretation.  This is because I believe it's an indication of how he really feels about this country.  I doubt any president would go on record as saying he doesn't subscribe to "American Exceptionalism," but he's the first to take the idea from an objective, clear, and positive observation of America's role in world history to a post-structuralist, subjective, unquantifiable, and politically-correct construct.  In other words he thinks America doesn't stand alone with any particular greatness and we're all just unique in different ways.  I, like I imagine most other Americans, find this wholly intolerable.  Nevermind that in just 234 years this nation has produced the greatest democracy, greatest individual standard of living and wealth, greatest equality under law (even with our flaws), and greatest testament to the human spirit in the 15,000+ years of human civilization.  Let's review some other instances from this president and his administration that gives this credence:

1.  Now-First Lady Michelle Obama was on record as saying something along the lines that she wasn't truly proud of this country until it elected her husband president.  Wow.

2.  Obama sat in a church congregation for 20 years whose pastor regularly preached messages of racism and espoused that the US government routinely commits crimes against humanity.  You telling me he wasn't influenced by that?

3.  The NASA administrator Charles Bolden, went on Al Jazeera TV to explain the president tasked him with expanding international relationships and "[...] perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science... and math and engineering."  WTF?  It gets better.  He went on to say the United States is not going to travel beyond low-Earth orbit on its own and that no country is going to make it to Mars without international help.  Oh yeah, except that we already have with the Apollo missions.  But remember, that wasn't really exceptional.  We still need help from the Muslim world to get to space, I guess.  I also suppose it does make it kinda difficult to get into space when you, ya know, stop building spaceships.

Oh, there's so much more.  I could go on.  But this post is already long enough.  I applaud (and thank) you if you made it all the way through.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Obama's speech: There's a pipe spewing a gazillion gobs of oil into the gulf, so let's build more windmills

Obama's speech: There's a pipe spewing a gazillion gobs of oil into the gulf, so let's build more windmills

Gobs of oil are hitting the Gulf by the thongs... er, I mean, throngs! Seriously though, if you can get past the hilarious picture, it's an awesome article.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

BP to Fight Federal Government Over Liability

It appears that BP is expected to fight the federal government's demands for BP to pay all costs, both direct and indirect, stemming from the Gulf oil spill.  Without going off on too much of a tangent, suffice it to say that BP and other companies associated with the rig most certainly are responsible for the costs associated with cleaning up the spill, rehabilitating the damage, and all "legitimate claims," as BP's CEO Tony Hayward has himself has stated.

However, it's those "indirect" costs which are of concern.  Specifically, the government is demanding that BP pay unspecified (and ever-increasing) millions of dollars in lost wages for oil rig workers occurring as a result of the government's moratorium on deep-water offshore drilling.  Not that I harbor any secret fondness for BP, but why should BP pay lost wages resulting from a government-imposed moratorium?  The White House's rationale is of course that BP caused the disaster which led to the moratorium.  And of course this rationale is utter nonsense.  There could be any number of arguments made using this rationale for endless things for which BP "should" be responsible.  The fact of the matter is BP didn't impose the moratorium; the government did, so the government should be responsible for the lost wages, if anyone.  More importantly, though, the moratorium itself is disastrously absurd; it will obviously cause lost wages, not to mention significantly and negatively affect our crude oil supply and force the country to rely even more heavily (and dangerously) on foreign oil.  Yes, great idea ye infinitely wise federal government.  Let's completely end drilling in our own country where we literally have billions of barrels available, and instead rely even more heavily on foreign oil which has none of the environmental protections that we do, and thus indirectly fund hostile regimes and possibly even terrorism.

Finally, there's the small matter of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, whereby BP can only be held responsible for the direct costs of the clean-up and couldn't be held responsible for lost wages of oil workers.  Oh yeah, forgot about that one.  The Obama Administration has no legal authority to demand BP pay indiscriminant and unspecified (potentially endless) indirect costs.  That act was put in place specifically to prevent this from happening.  Hey people, have we forgotten that we actually need BP to remain solvent so they can actually pay the legitimate claims and get this mess cleaned up?

All that's to say, let's try focusing not so much on a witch-hunt and making this a fairy tale about the evils of greedy capitalism, and more on actually stopping the leak, cleaning up the spill, and making sure this never happens again.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Gaza Flotilla Group's Ties to Terrorism and the UN

Please click the link in the title and read the full story.  Fox News seems to be the only major news organization doing any serious reporting on this.  Why is CNN not reporting the flotilla's known links to terrorist organizations? The IHH (the "charity" sponsoring the last flotilla) openly supports Hamas, whose charter expressly calls for the destruction of Israel, and the CIA and Israeli intelligence have also linked it to Al Qaeda. Why is it not being reported that the IHH operates freely and without restriction as part of the UN's NGO branch? Why is it not being reported that the flotilla's expressed intention was not to provide humanitarian assistance, but to specifically breach the 100% internationally legal naval blockade and incite exactly the response they got from Israel. Why is it not being reported that at least one of the "activists" aboard the ship wrote a letter declaring he was ready to martyr himself?

We have to ask ourselves, why are the so-called Western "democracies" of the world denouncing Israel, the only other Western-style democracy in the Middle-East, conveniently overlooking the reasons behind the incident, as well as the evidence which clearly and unequivocally shows the "activists" on board weren't peaceful at all.  They attacked the commandos with steel pipes, chairs, rocks, firebombs, etc., and even threw one commando overboard before a single Israeli shot was fired.  If these activists were so peaceful, why did none of this occur on any of the other ships in the floatilla and not just the one which was sponsored by a terrorist funding - *ahem* - I mean, charity organization.  Does Israel not have a right to defend itself when attacked?  Was not the naval blockade recognized as legal under existing international law?  Was not the blockade jointly enforced by Egypt as well?  Did not Israel offer to deliver all humanitarian supplies itself after first screening the cargo?  Would not we do exactly the same thing, if not react even more severely, under the same circumstances?

What's wrong with us?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Census Takers Can Enter Your Apt. in Your Absence

If no one is home when they gain entry to your apartment in your absence, how will they count the number of people living there?  What kind of other "statistics" would they be gathering while you're gone?  Is the census really just about counting the number of people in the country?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bailout Proposed for Union Pensions

Fox Business is reporting that Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) is introducing legislation for a bailout of troubled union pension funds.  This after Obama told us there would be no more bailouts.  Obviously, the measure hasn't been voted on yet and it's unclear how much support it has.

According to Business Insider, "The bill in question will essentially let multi-employer union pension plans, like the Teamster's plan that is currently causing UPS so much trouble, segregate out the workers of defunct companies and get the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp to pony up for their benefits."

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/is-the-government-bailing-out-union-pension-funds-to-the-tune-of-165-billion-2010-5#ixzz0p3ouuiOw

The PBGC provides insurance, but these mulit-employer plans have not paid any premiums for the benefits Sen. Casey wants to give them.

It's also unclear exactly what the bailout would cost (several billion, to be sure), but what is sure is that it would place $165 billion of additional liabilities on the US taxpayer.  Further evidence of your money involuntarily being used to advance a specific agenda.  So, what shall we take over (*ahem)... I mean, bail out next?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lenders Agree to Prop Up Ailing ShoreBank - FOXBusiness.com

Lenders Agree to Prop Up Ailing ShoreBank - FOXBusiness.com

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So, some major Wall Street firms, such as GE, Citigroup, and even Goldman Sachs are bailing out Chicago-based ShoreBank, which has well documented and strong ties to the Obama Administration.  The White House has also pledged "tens of millions" in additional taxpayer funds.  So why is this bank so important?  And why would Wall Street, and in particular, Goldman Sachs, which the Administration is 'aggressively' pursuing for alleged criminal investment fraud, be hunky-dory with shelling out $140 million for this bank.  What interest do Fortune 500 companies have in rescuing a small, politically connected community bank with taxpayer money?

Obama himself has apparently singled out the bank for praise for lending to low-income communities, despite the fact the bank has made some bad investments to put itself into this situation.  And these major Wall Street firms have all been the recipients of huge sums of government financial assistance during the financial crisis.  It would therefore be reasonable to deduce that the government has strong influence over these firms.  According to this same report, "[...] some of the Wall Street firmst that have given money have said they've received political pressure to contribute to the bailout of a business that under normal circumstances would have been left to fail."

So the banks were pressured into lending the money.  It would also be reasonable to assume that at least some of that money was received from the government (i.e. your tax dollars), not to mention the unspecified "tens of millions" coming directly from the government for the bank.  So rather than demonizing and railing on Chicago-based ShoreBank for its bad investments like the rest of Wall Street, the President praises this particular bank to which his administration just happens to have strong ties, for lending practices that he happens to politically agree with when convenient.

Is it too much to conclude that the government is once again cherry-picking which institutions are deserving of assistance?  From ShoreBank's own website, "[...] our mission is to help build thriving communities with opportunities for good jobs, quality education, affordable housing, and a healthy environment."  Sounds all rosy and wonderful, but it's euphemistic language for social justice, which is itself a euphemism for redistribution of wealth.  ShoreBank is no longer just a small community bank with a few political connections.  It has evolved into a bank with very important political connections to both the Obama and Clinton Administrations (it only takes a few Google searches to find out more), which is highly interested in domestic and foreign microfinancing, "green jobs," minority owned business, and all kinds of other politically motivated investment practices.

It gets even better.  As recently as February, ShoreBank reported $50 million in losses, according to the Chicago Tribune.  ShoreBank could be eligible to receive TARP money if it were recognized as a "Community Development Financial Institution," but in order to receive the TARP funds (and not be seized by the FDIC), it would have to secure matching funds from private sources.  Looks like ShoreBank magically got Wall Street to come to the rescue, while ten other Illinois banks have closed this year alone.

So let's connect the dots, shall we?  A "community" bank is selected to get hundreds of millions of dollars from big, politically pressured Wall Street banks which received taxpayer money, plus tens of millions more in direct taxpayer money, to make it eligible for even more taxpayer money in the form of TARP and keep it from being seized by the regulatory arm of the government, all because of the bank's political agendas and far-reaching connections.  What does that mean?  The government determines winners and losers, who gets money or who is left to fail.  More importantly, the government just gave your money to a politicized investment firm, which in turn will invest it in foreign and domestic "social justice" initiatives.