Monday, September 19, 2005

About Roberts

The necessary Mark Steyn, who has come to occupy the place where Jonah Goldberg was a few years ago - from which he can skewer our ruling class with a combination of fact and humor second to none - has given us a precious look at the process that is called "Advice and Consent." Short of quoting the entire text, there is no excerpt that can give you the flavor of the thing - read it yourself. Trust me.

As President James K. Polk wrote in his diary: "There is more selfishness and less principle among members of Congress ... than I had any conception of, before I became President of the U.S.", in an entry dated December 16, 1846. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Ownership Society

Ownership Society

President Bush has been very lucky in the disasters he has had to deal with. Starting out as a president with little foreign policy experience, he was handed the 9/11 wakeup call, which galvanized him into a titan on the world stage. Love him or hate him, you can not ignore him. Now, just a half year into his second term, he has this opportunity to push the core of his agenda, which he calls his "Ownership Society." He also has the chance to put another nail into the coffin of the democrat party.

In his second Inaugural Address, President George W. Bush declared once again his desire to build an ownership society. He describes it thus:
And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance - preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.
One might wonder how this could hurt the democrats, since this would seem to be the fulfillment of their dreams, as well as Bush's. The answer is two fold. Primarily, they will never go along with anything that Bush does, so filled with rancor are they. But, just as important, their idea of helping the poor revolves around the idea of entitlement and handout, with the strong implication that this will ensure voters retain a certain loyalty to them and their party. Give a man his rent, and you have created a dependency for another handout every month, when the rent comes due. Give a man ownership of his home, he just might forget who he is dependent upon.

The crazy political theatre that is about to ensue will be a joy to behold. As the administration goes to congress for the rest of the money needed to help the hurricane victims, we will see conservatives promoting a form of welfare, and liberals opposing the aid, with a technical reasoning that will be invisible to most of their constituents. This is going to be fun to watch. Sweat equity, tax abatements, zero rate nothing down mortgages, and private homes going up where the housing projects formerly stood. Why, some of "the poor" might very well become "the rich." And the democrats will oppose it all. It's gonna be great.

Blair Relents

Blair Relents

As I have been saying for a long time, the Kyoto protocol is dead. After years of ridiculous posing, Tony Blair has finally realized that asking the U.S.A. to destroy its economy is not going to work. He also now seems cognizant that any plan that calls itself "Global" needs to address, at a minimum, nations constituting a majority of mankind.

The twentieth century saw a decline in European power, from leading the world to second world status. Their military might destroyed, European countries live in a fantasy world where they have outlawed unpleasant things like war. They are trying to legislate themselves into economic dominance as well. At some point they will have to face reality. This is a first step. They should have realized this back on July 25, 1997, when the U.S. Senate passed a resolution 95-0 denying any possibility that we would ratify this strange political document. At that moment, with the U.S., India, and China excluded, Kyoto lost all relevance. Now, more than eight years later. Europe has finally seen the light.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Katrina Follies

Katrina Follies

As the human tragedy goes on, but starts getting better, for millions of affected people from the gulf coast, our political class is hell-bent on creating another, more long lasting tragedy for the rest of us. Aside from those whose hatred for Bush forces them to turn every political conversation into an opportunity to make claims against his character or competence, there are those opportunists who are already using this situation to lobby for the movement of national policy in the direction of their choice. Others are in the midst of covering their asses, or the asses of their fellow travellers, but it amounts to the same refrain. Instead of "Bush lied, people died" it is "Bush fiddled while New Orleans burned."

In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof and others are attempting to ignite the flames of race and class warfare, but they are having one problem - Bush has a better record on class and race than most of his predecessors. He gets no credit from his detractors for this, but it is a loser when it comes to converting the working people, who know that the economy is booming, and Bush's minority appointees are neither tokens nor were they elevated to less important positions - Joycelyn Elders, meet Condoleeza Rice. Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd blame Bush for neglecting New Orleans, and the poor and black especially. Yet his has been an administration that has spent lavishly, even foolishly. Federal discretionary spending is up over a third on Bush's watch, and it was Clinton who downsized government, and halving the military as well.

But truth matters not to pundits and pols who are used to being able to count on the people being a credulous bunch of ninnies. Their problem rests on the fact that their support has been reduced to a small, but dedicated coterie of such credulous ninnies, and the rest of Americans are less and less wiling to believe anything that the political and the chattering classes have to say. No, the real danger lies not to the left. It is the right that we should fear now.

Not the real right, of course. I am talking about the Republicans who will use the present crisis as they have used the last crisis, to erode our liberty and spend our money. I fully expect the Congress, under Republican leadership, to propose and pass sweeping legislation, ostensibly to ameliorate the crisis, but in actuality to continue the old one - the crisis of a political class that has seized more power than the Constitution ever uintended, and now can not be stopped. And now, with Rehnquist dead, we have no Supreme Court Justice, save Clarence Thomas, with the desire to continue Rehnquist's crusade to return our federal government to constitutional limits of federalism. And Rehunquist's replacement? We just have to trust the same guy that hired Michael Brown to be head of FEMA.

Now come all of the calls we are already hearing to grant broad and sweeping new powers to the executive branch, and even the military, to overrun local and state government next time a turf-guarding incompetent like Governor Blanco stands in their way. Now we see over Fifty Billion Dollars in gimme cash being hosed out as fast as possible by a federal bureaucracy hell bent on scoring a record increase in their budget. We see a government evicting people without due process, taking their weapons without benefit of law or reason, and can next expect an attempt to have these seizures enshrined into federal law. And, once the city is empty, who will rebuild? The Corps of Engineers, or Haliburton, can build a new planned federal community, perhaps, where government will make the choices that the people are too foolish to make.

All of us who fear a bigger government have reason to believe that hurricane Katrina will prove to be a greater threat to liberty than 9/11 ever was.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Brown, and Republicans, Relieved

Brown, and Republicans, Relieved

For once, President Bush has listened to me, and has relieved FEMA Director Michael Brown from his role managing Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. As I said a few days ago, this guy had to go. Republicans should rejoice, since the public is hungering to see some heads roll, and the less than qualified FEMA director was the obvious first choice.

Brown will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts. The FEMA director should always be a hands-on guy. It may well be that Brown padded his resume to get the job in the first place. He was a political crony appointment of the worst type, so all zero base thinkers should applaud his fall from his position of power. It is to be hoped that his boss will demote him all the way to civilian, but getting him out of New Orleans is a fine first step.

Fun With Advertising

Fun With Advertising, A Modest Proposal

Internet advertising is experiencing a boom, and many of my blogging friends are making substantial incomes from Adsense ads on their sites. As a reader, however, there is plenty of fun that one can have with such ads. This is divided into two kinds of fun. Let's have some fun with advertising.

First, you must understand how Google Adsense works. Advertisers bid on key words in an open auction, and pay for each click that results. Some key words pay several dollars per click. The blog or site owner gets about half of this money. Google tries to place ads where they are congruent with the site content. The site owner can not advise readers to click on the ads, or even mention the existence of the ads themselves. The fun that is possible comes in two flavors. they are:

1) If you like the site, or its content, you can click to reward the owner. At dollars per click, a bit of clickage can reward your favorite writer a bunch. Do not overdo it, however, or Google will pull the ads, and retroactively rescind any monies due.

2) But the real fun that is possible, comes when you hate the advertiser. This is especially fun when political ads you hate come up on a site that you like. In this case, click away to your heart's content. Then you can kill two birds with a single stone - reward your favorite blogger, and at the same time destroy your enemy. Remember that the advertiser is paying from pennies to dollars per click. In a few minutes, you can cost your enemies many hundreds of dollars. Especially when you tell your friends to do the same.

You must be careful, though. Google, and I am sure that the other providers do the same thing, watch their results carefully, so if you overdo it they will obviate your intentions. Yet, by a bit of daily, judicious clicking, you can have a major positive impact on blogs that you like, and moreso, cost your enemies major amounts of money. Let's say that the democrap party advertises one of their anti-American sites. Merely click on the Adsense link once or twice each day, for a month. If a few hundred of us does the same, they will have to pay plenty of dollars per month, for absolutely nothing. Recently I had the chance to do this in favor af one of my favorite libertarian blogs, when a democrap ad came up over and over. My buddy the libertarian received the dollars, while George Soros paid about double that, and received nothing.

Now, I am well aware that such activity, if it become popular, would have a chilling effect on blog advertising. Such advertising, and the boom in internet advertising in general, which is just now making some of the more popular blogs profitable, is a great boon to the blogosphere. And, believe me, I welcome that trend. I may decide to avail myself of that advantage any day now. But, I have never done this for money. In fact, I have never compromised to garner readership either. But, in the spirit of honest information exchange that this blog has always been about, I cannot hold back this information. Indeed, for some, this info may be a revelation. That being said, carpe clickum.

Disclaimer: The above essay is posted completely in jest. No one should attempt to click adsense ads, or any ads, unless you are serious in your interest in the advertiser's product, service, or web site. Causing trouble for an organization you do not like, or causing the unfair enrichment of those you do, is unethical, immoral, and quite likely illegal. I have posted this information for the sheer fun of it, and with the understanding that it is entirely true.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Not So Easy

In the wake of tragedy, it seems unfair to pile on. I have thus resisted the urge to post anything on The Hurricane, at least until now. I will, however, point to other written material that I find most illuminating.

First, one must peruse the magnificent, and much reviewed, piece in the Wall Street Journal by Bob Williams, the former state legislator who represented the legislative district most impacted by the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. He says it best, and puts the lie to the fatuous Left, that will blame Bush for everything, from the hurricane itself to the slow response. Williams is a guy who has been through it before, and knows how it works.

Next, the great Mark Steyn gives his two cents, without the usual humor but, as usual nails it.

On to Ralph Peters, the New York Post's rock steady military analyst, chimes in with a criticism of everyone with a dog in this fight, and does not spare the feds. He points out that there is plenty of blame to go around, but singles out the Department of Homeland Security for special derision. As a military guy, Ralph knows what the military can do, and what they can not do.

Finally, I am amazed at the lack of criticism of Michael D. Brown, the head of FEMA, in the articles linked above. While I promised not to pile on with my own criticisms of the failures of our "leaders" in this mess, I found it instructive to take a look at Brown's background, training, and the way that he got his job. A taste:
Brown ran for Congress in 1988 and won 27 percent of the vote against Democratic incumbent Glenn English. He spent the 1990s as judges and stewards commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association. His job was to ensure that horse-show judges followed the rules and to investigate allegations against those suspected of cheating.

"I wouldn't have regarded his position in the horse industry as a platform to where he is now," said Tom Connelly, a former association president.

Brown's ticket to FEMA was Joe Allbaugh, President Bush's 2000 campaign manager and an old friend of Brown's in Oklahoma. When Bush ran for president in 2000, Brown was ending a rocky tenure at the horse association.

Brown told several association officials that if Bush were elected, he'd be in line for a good job. When Allbaugh, who managed Bush's campaign, took over FEMA in 2001, he took Brown with him as general counsel.

"He's known Joe Allbaugh for quite some time," said Andrew Lester, an Oklahoma lawyer who's been a friend of Brown's for more than 20 years. "I think they know each other from school days. I think they did some debate type of things against each other, and worked on some Republican politics together."
Obviously, cronyism at its best. Grow up with a pol, get responsibility for millions of citizens as a reward. If Bush does not fire this guy, I may start asking for his impeachment. There has got to be a limit, and there has got to be responsibility. All those dead and homeless souls down in The Big Easy need to see something from their chief executive, and firing the most visible and the most culpable member of a less than stellar federal cast is a good place to start. Otherwise, we can expect the Rebublicans to pay a dear price next year in the mid-term elections.