July 31, 2008
"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer."
-- Benjamin Franklin, 1766 - On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor
Thomas Sowell's random thoughts
Thomas Sowell periodically publishes a column called "Random Thoughts." This one has some interesting ones:
What is amazing this year is how many people have bought the fundamentally childish notion that, if you don't like the way things are going, the answer is to write a blank check for generic "change," empowering someone chosen not on the basis of any track record but on the basis of his skill with words.
Some of the most emotionally powerful words are undefined, such as "social justice," "a living wage," "price gouging" or a "fragile" environment, for example. Such terms are especially valuable to politicians during an election year, for these terms can attract the votes of people who mean very different-- and even mutually contradictory-- things when they use these words.
Although most of the mainstream media are still swooning over Barack Obama, a few critics are calling the things he advocates "naive." But that assumes that he is trying to solve the country's problems. If he is trying to solve his own problem of getting elected, then he is telling the voters just what they want to hear. That is not naive but shrewd and cynical.
How many in the media have expressed half as much outrage about the beheading of innocent people by terrorists in Iraq as they have about the captured terrorists held at Guantanamo not being treated as nicely as they think they should be?
Go read the whole thing.
July 30, 2008
"It should be our endeavor to cultivate the peace and friendship of every nation.... Our interest will be to throw open the doors of commerce, and to knock off all its shackles, giving perfect freedom to all persons for the vent to whatever they may choose to bring into our ports, and asking the same in theirs."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1787 - Notes on the State of Virginia
I still like our President
The Anchoress provides some heart-warming pictures of President Bush just being himself.
Despite all of the vilification and hate that has been spewed at him, President George W. Bush remains a man of sterling character and impeccable quality. He has done more good for this country than many care to admit, yet the fact remains that this country needed him in 2001, and he served, and serves, gladly and well. And he did it in spite of the narcissistic, foolish people who have done everything in their considerable powers to neutralize his efforts.
I say this from my heart.
July 29, 2008
"On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1823 - letter to William Johnson
"I don't think it's necessary to win a popularity contest with your kids, and especially not while they're kids. Parents should be more concerned with what their kids will think of them when they reach thirty. Or, more importantly, what their kids will think of themselves. Most of us, when we look back over our lives and our reactions to our parents, discover that today we accept and are grateful for things we rebelled against at the age of fifteen or twenty."
"I don't feel that a family should cling to its young to the point that they're reluctant ever to leave the nest. Quite the contrary, I think the whole duty of parents is to bring their children up with a sense of values to the point where, with confidence, they can throw them out of the nest and start them on their way."
-- Ronald Reagan
July 28, 2008
"[T]he first transactions of a nation, like those of an individual upon his first entrance into life make the deepest impression, and are to form the leading traits in its character."
-- George Washington (letter to John Armstrong, 25 April 1788)
Much to the consternation of the gibbering media, it appears that this country is not in a recession.
Late next week the government will release initial estimates of real economic activity in the second quarter. Not long ago, in early April, when the quarter was just beginning, the consensus forecast for Q2 2008 real GDP growth was 0.0%, with as many economists predicting contraction as were predicting growth.
Now, three months later, the consensus is up to 2.2%.
The quote is from First Trust, but they're certainly not alone among economists who think we are not, nor have we recently been, in a recession. First Trust also took this swipe at the doomsayers:
Eventually, those forecasting recession are going to run out of time. The clock is already ticking and the economy remains resilient.
Ya gotta love their candor. I find it refreshing.
The truth of the matter is, all you have to do is look to America's highways to see the condition of the economy. See all of those eighteen wheelers? They're so plentiful that they add greatly to traffic congestion on the roads of America. Yet their presence on our roadways (even when the price of diesel is around $5/gallon) tells us that our economy is still humming along smartly.
Don't believe those who are trying to sell doom and gloom. The economy is sound despite the one-two blows of the housing bubble collapse and the skyrocketing price of fuel. (Both of those, by the way, are directly attributable to Congress, I'm sorry to say. It seems that Congress does not understand the free market system yet.)
Unemployment went up because the minimum wage did (thanks, again, to Congress) which forced businesses to cut back on the number of people they could employ.
Are you seeing a pattern here? Perhaps we should provide our Congressional representatives with remedial instruction in basic economics. Or, maybe we should just vote every one of them out of office until they start acting responsibly. It would make for a tremendous transformation of our representation in Washington, DC!
I just wish we had the cajones, as a nation, to do that . . .
[First Trust reference was provided by Mark Perry at Carpe Diem.]
July 27, 2008
"The state governments have a full superintendence and control over the immense mass of local interests of their respective states, which connect themselves with the feelings, the affections, the municipal institutions, and the internal arrangements of the whole population. They possess, too, the immediate administration of justice in all cases, civil and criminal, which concern the property, personal rights, and peaceful pursuits of their own citizens."
-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)
Origins of the banking "crisis"
Thomas Sowell points out where the mortgage crisis had its beginnings. And it wasn't crooked lenders, either.
It was government intervention in the financial markets, which is now supposed to save the situation, that created the problem in the first place.
Laws and regulations pressured lending institutions to lend to people that they were not lending to, given the economic realities. The Community Reinvestment Act forced them to lend in places where they did not want to send their money, and where neither they nor the politicians wanted to walk.
Now that this whole situation has blown up in everybody's face, the government intervention that brought on this disaster is supposed to save the day.
Politics is largely the process of taking credit and putting the blame on others— regardless of what the facts may be. Politicians get away with this to the extent that we gullibly accept their words and look to them as political messiahs.
Remember this on election day.
July 26, 2008
"[T]he government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government."
-- James Madison (speech in the House of Representatives, 10 January 1794)
July 25, 2008
"One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one."
-- James Madison, 1788 - Federalist No. 48 (referring to Congress)
Housing appears to have bottomed out
According to Larry Kudlow's Money Politic$
Media reports painted a pessimistic picture of today’s release on existing home sales, which fell 15 percent from a year ago and recorded higher inventories. But inside the report was an awful lot of very good new news, which appear to be pointing to a bottom in the housing problem; in fact, maybe the tiniest beginnings of a recovery.
For example, the median existing home price has increased four consecutive months and is up 10 percent since February. Yes, it’s down 6 percent over the past year. But the monthly numbers show a gradual rebound. Actually, this median home price is $215,000 in June, compared to $196,000 last winter.
And there’s more. One of the hardest hit regions is the West, including California, Arizona, and Nevada. The other two bad states are Florida and Michigan. However, existing home sales in the western region are up four straight months, and are 17 percent above the low in October. At the same time, prices in the West have increased three straight months.
Meanwhile, overall national existing home sales are basically stabilizing at just under five million. And in the first and second quarters of 2008, these sales dropped slightly by 3 percent in each case, which is a whole lot better than the roughly 30 percent sales drops of the prior three quarters.
So maybe people really should quit their "whining."
July 24, 2008
"I think all the world would gain by setting commerce at perfect liberty."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1785 - letter to John Adams
July 23, 2008
"I am not influenced by the expectation of promotion or pecuniary reward. I wish to be useful, and every kind of service necessary for the public good, become honorable by being necessary."
-- Nathan Hale, 1776 - remark to Captain William Hull, who had attempted to dissuade him from volunteering for a spy mission for General Washington
"The spectre our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face is that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and appeasement does not give you a choice between peace and war, only between fight and surrender."
-- Ronald Reagan
"Government is like a baby -- an alimentary canal with a big appetite on one end and no sense of responsibility at the other."
-- Ronald Reagan
July 22, 2008
"A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate."
-- Thomas Jefferson (Rights of British America, 1774)
“Liberals, it has been said, are generous with other peoples’ money, except when it comes to questions of national survival when they prefer to be generous with other people’s freedom and security.”
—William F. Buckley Jr.
July 21, 2008
"So that the executive and legislative branches of the national government depend upon, and emanate from the states. Every where the state sovereignties are represented; and the national sovereignty, as such, has no representation."
-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)
July 20, 2008
"The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations."
-- George Washington (Farewell Address, 1796)
Obama favors a nat'l civilian security force?
This really bothers me. Obama wants to create a domestic civilian national security force with the same budget as our military.
The stunning comments from Democrat Sen. Barack Obama that the United States needs a “civilian national security force” that would be as powerful, strong and well-funded as the half-trillion dollar United States Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force have mysteriously disappeared from published transcripts of the speech.
In the comments, Obama confirmed the U.S. “cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set.”
Campaign officials have declined to return any of a series of WND telephone calls over several days requesting a comment on the situation. Nor have they posted a transcript of the speech on their website.
This disturbs me on a couple of levels. First, where is the money coming from to effectively double our defense budget?
The more important question that comes out, though, involves a civilian national security force. That sounds alarmingly like a federal secret police organization. East Germany called theirs "Stasi", Nazi Germany called theirs, the "SD".
Here's a definition of secret police:
Secret police (sometimes political police) are a police organization which operates in secrecy to maintain national security against internal threats to the state. Secret police forces are typically associated with totalitarian regimes, as they are often used to maintain the political power of the state rather than uphold the rule of law. Secret police are law enforcement organizations officially endowed with authority superior to civil police forces, operating outside the normal boundaries of the law, and they are often accountable only to the executive branch of the government.
Now one can argue that Obama wants security from external threats, not internal ones. But the two are very closely related, and we have no need for civilian security forces beyond what we already have. We need to boost the budget of our border control agents, but we don't need a federal civilian security force like Obama espouses.
July 19, 2008
"If men of wisdom and knowledge, of moderation and temperance, of patience, fortitude and perseverance, of sobriety and true republican simplicity of manners, of zeal for the honour of the Supreme Being and the welfare of the commonwealth; if men possessed of these other excellent qualities are chosen to fill the seats of government, we may expect that our affairs will rest on a solid and permanent foundation."
-- Samuel Adams, 1780 - letter to Elbridge Gerry
There is no consensus on global warming
In fact, there is considerable evidence against anthropogenic global warming. An article at DailyTech shows that there is still considerable room for debate.
The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science. The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming "incontrovertible."
In a posting to the APS forum, editor Jeffrey Marque explains,"There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution."
Ed Morrissey, over at Hot Air, expands upon the Daily Tech article with a recap of the scientific findings over the last nine years -- including a quote from David Evans, one of the original proponents of man-made global warming, who has changed his position based upon the environmental research over the last decade.
I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia's compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector.
FullCAM models carbon flows in plants, mulch, debris, soils and agricultural products, using inputs such as climate data, plant physiology and satellite data. I've been following the global warming debate closely for years.
When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core data, no other suspects.
The evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we were certain when it appeared we needed to act quickly? Soon government and the scientific community were working together and lots of science research jobs were created. We scientists had political support, the ear of government, big budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet.
But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
We all need to ask that question of ourselves . . .
Dr. Evans goes on to enumerate some inconvenient truths, based on the research to date, about global warming:
1. The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring for years, and cannot find it.
2. There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. There is plenty of evidence that global warming has occurred, and theory suggests that carbon emissions should raise temperatures (though by how much is hotly disputed) but there are no observations by anyone that implicate carbon emissions as a significant cause of the recent global warming.
3. The satellites that measure the world's temperature all say that the warming trend ended in 2001, and that the temperature has dropped about 0.6C in the past year (to the temperature of 1980). Land-based temperature readings are corrupted by the "urban heat island" effect: urban areas encroaching on thermometer stations warm the micro-climate around the thermometer, due to vegetation changes, concrete, cars, houses. Satellite data is the only temperature data we can trust, but it only goes back to 1979. NASA reports only land-based data, and reports a modest warming trend and recent cooling. The other three global temperature records use a mix of satellite and land measurements, or satellite only, and they all show no warming since 2001 and a recent cooling.
4. The new ice cores show that in the past six global warmings over the past half a million years, the temperature rises occurred on average 800 years before the accompanying rise in atmospheric carbon. Which says something important about which was cause and which was effect.
None of these points are controversial. The alarmist scientists agree with them, though they would dispute their relevance.
The last point was known and past dispute by 2003, yet Al Gore made his movie in 2005 and presented the ice cores as the sole reason for believing that carbon emissions cause global warming.
In short, the Earth is not in danger of “getting a fever”, and the global-warming theory has been shown to be a Chicken Little scenario with no real scientific basis. Even those who helped lead the hysteria now have serious doubts. It’s time to stop wrapping public policy around a fraud.
Go read it all, and decide for yourself.
July 18, 2008
"The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex."
-- James Madison, 1788 - Federalist No. 48
On the need to get back to a basic truth
"We are told God is dead. Well, He isn't. We just can't talk to Him in the classroom anymore."
-- Ronald Reagan
"The other day, someone told me the difference between a democracy and a people's democracy. It's the difference between a jacket and a straitjacket."
-- Ronald Reagan
July 17, 2008
"On every unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the people rise in rebellion or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellions should we have had already?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1782 - Notes on Virginia, Query 12
"The system has never failed us once. But we have failed the system every time we lose faith in the magic of the market place."
-- Ronald Reagan
"The American dream that we have nursed for so long in this country, and lately neglected, is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become."
-- Ronald Reagan
July 16, 2008
"Where liberty dwells, there is my country."
-- Benjamin Franklin (letter to Benjamin Vaughn, 14 March 1783)
July 15, 2008
"We have heard of the impious doctrine in the old world, that the people were made for kings, not kings for the people. Is the same doctrine to be revived in the new, in another shape - that the solid happiness of the people is to be sacrificed to the views of political institutions of a different form? It is too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting that the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the attainment of this object."
-- James Madison (Federalist No. 45)
"The result is that we're beginning to ignore the sacredness of the individual. If we keep going in that direction there can be one outcome: our surrender to a totally government planned and controlled society. And when it happens it will be called the "fulfillment of the liberal dream." But in fact it will be fascism, because that what fascism is: private ownership with total government control."
-- Ronald Reagan
July 14, 2008
"[H]onesty will be found on every experiment, to be the best and only true policy; let us then as a Nation be just."
-- George Washington (Circular letter to the States, 14 June 1783)
Still true today
“Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us that they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy ‘accommodation.’ And they say if we only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he will forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer—not an easy one, but a simple one—if you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based upon what we know in our hearts is morally right... [E]very lesson in history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face.”
— Ronald Reagan
[Via The Patriot Post.]
July 13, 2008
"My confidence is that there will for a long time be virtue and good sense enough in our countrymen to correct abuses."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Edward Rutledge, 1788)
July 12, 2008
"Reading, reflection and time have convinced me that the interests of society require the observation of those moral precepts...in which all religions agree."
-- Thomas Jefferson (Westmoreland County Petition, 2 November 1785)
July 11, 2008
"It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn."
-- George Washington, 1789 - letter to the Legislature of Pennsylvania
Still true today
"Our problem isn't a shortage of fuel, it's a surplus of government."
-- Ronald Reagan
"I'm sure everyone feels sorry for the individual who has fallen by the wayside or who can't keep up in our competitive society, but my own compassion goes beyond that to those millions of unsung men and women who get up every morning, send the kids to school, go to work, try to keep up the payments on their house, pay exorbitant taxes to make possible compassion for the less fortunate, and as a result have to sacrifice many of their own desires and dreams and hopes. Government owes them something better than always finding a new way to make them share the fruit of their toils with others."
-- Ronald Reagan
July 10, 2008
"Our own Country's Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions - The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny mediated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth."
-- George Washington, 1776 - General Orders
July 09, 2008
"First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting; correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private charter gave effulgence to his public virtues;. Such was the man for whom our nation morns"
-- John Marshall (official eulogy of George Washington, delivered by Richard Henry Lee, 26 December 1799)
Spengler, at Asia Times Online, writes about what makes America different from the rest of the world. Why it is both loved and hated. About it's special grace.
Violent antipathy to America measures the triumph of the American principle, and the ascendance of America's influence in the world. America's enemies make more noise than her friends, but her friends are increasing faster than her enemies. America's influence in the world leapt as result of her victory in three world wars, including the fall of communism in 1989. Arguably, America is ascending even faster today, despite the reverses in its economic position and the strains on its military resources.
There are nearly a billion more Christians in the world today than in 1970, including a hundred million Chinese, most of whom adhere to the House Church movement on the American evangelical model. Denominations of American origin, notably Pentecostals, led the evangelization of a quarter of a billion Africans in the past generation. There are nearly 100 million additional Latin American Christians, of whom perhaps 40 million belong to Pentecostal or other Protestant denominations centered in the United States. Philip Jenkins has chronicled the spiritual transformation of the Global South, I reviewed his most recent book (A new Jerusalem in sub-Saharan Africa Asia Times Online, Dec 12, 2006.)
It may be outrageous, but it is not far-fetched, to speak of a special grace for America, because hundreds of millions of people around the world look toward such a special grace, in the precise sense of the word.
This is something that I have experienced with acquaintances and friends I've met around the world back in the 1990's when I was traveling overseas a great deal. They envied Americans even as they criticized America. They wanted what I had, even though they did not fully understand it. (At the time, I didn't fully understand what I had as an American, either.)
Go read the whole thing. It is well worth it.
July 08, 2008
"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."
-- George Washington, 1796 - Farewell Address
July 07, 2008
"Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families."
-- Benjamin Rush, 1773 - letter to His Fellow Contrymen: On Patriotism
July 06, 2008
"No one more sincerely wishes the spread of information among mankind than I do, and none has greater confidence in its effect towards supporting free and good government."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Trustees for the Lottery of East Tennessee College, 6 May 1810)
July 05, 2008
"The best service that can be rendered to a Country, next to that of giving it liberty, is in diffusing the mental improvement equally essential to the preservation, and the enjoyment of the blessing."
-- James Madison (letter to Littleton Dennis Teackle, 29 March 1826)
July 04, 2008
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1787 - letter to William Stephens Smith
July 03, 2008
"The diversity in the faculties of men from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government."
-- James Madison (Federalist No. 10, 23 November 1787)
July 02, 2008
"The proposed Constitution, so far from implying an abolition of the State governments, makes them constituent parts of the national sovereignty, by allowing them a direct representation in the Senate, and leaves in their possession certain exclusive and very important portions of sovereign power. This fully corresponds, in every rational import of the terms, with the idea of a federal government."
-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 9, 1787)
July 01, 2008
"Wherever indeed a right of property is infringed for the general good, if the nature of the case admits of compensation, it ought to be made; but if compensation be impracticable, that impracticability ought to be an obstacle to a clearly essential reform."
-- Alexander Hamilton (Vindication of the Funding System, 1792)