Don't Let Me Stop You

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GML-TV Update

Posted by Dan Draney on May 22, 2010

We have a new Give Me Liberty TV episode running on Lincoln’s Time Warner Cable public access channel. There are three segments in this show:

  1. The conclusion of the interview with Tea Party leaders Shelli Dawdy (Grassroots in Nebraska) and Laura Ebke (Red State Eclectic / Campaign for Liberty) hosted by GML-TV’s Patrick Tarr. The discussions cover the Federal Reserve, local grassroots organizations for limited government, citizen efforts to report on legislation in the Unicameral, and the new movie, “A New America.” If you missed the first part of the interview, you can check it out here.
  2. The second is an interview I did with Lory Storm of the Nebraska 912 Freedom Project about their Initiative petition to allow recall of elected officials in Nebraska. The Initiative process in Nebraska allows citizens to place amendments to the state constitution on the ballot by collecting signatures throughout the state in support of the amendment. The purpose of this particular amendment is to increase government accountability by adding a mechanism for the people of Nebraska to remove a politician from office before the end of his/her term. If the amendment reaches the ballot and is enacted, it would apply to Nebraska officials at all levels of government: federal; state; and local.
  3. Finally there is a video of a speech about Repeal and Replace that former NY Governor George Pataki gave in Lincoln recently. It’s a good speech, but I’m not a big fan of Pataki based on what I saw of him when I lived in Connecticut. The Governor appeared through RevereAmerica, which seems to be mainly a vehicle for promoting him for the 2012 presidential race. That seems like a pipe dream to me.

Posted in Constitution, GML-TV, Nebraska, tea party, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Statistics and Reality

Posted by PLaplace on May 2, 2010

Fellow poster Dan Draney drew my attention to this article on statistics the other day.  It’s a fascinating look at what statistical significance really means and how the notion is unwittingly abused by those in the sciences, predominantly in the fields of psychology and economics.  As astute observers may have inferred from my pseudonym, my interest in mathematics and statistics is more than casual, and as such the topic of abuse of statistics is dear to my heart.  Moreover, in a world where billions, if not trillions, of dollars ride on the reliability of statistical models and conclusions, a strong understanding of what statistical significance means is essential.

The beauty of statistics comes not from its ability to discover objective truth, which it cannot do, but rather from its ability to quantify uncertainty.  At the heart of statistics lies probability theory.  This is used to assign probabilities to experimental results.  If for instance, 12 out of a 1000 people suffer heart attacks when given a new drug, is that result significantly different enough from what we might expect from blind chance to justify pulling a drug from the marketplace?  It turns out than when one digs deeply into the laws of probability, one discovers that it is possible to prove many many probabilistic conclusions from the simple assumption of randomness in sampling.  Even if one knows absolutely nothing about an underlying population (for instance, how many people favor Barack Obama over John McCain) a properly constructed sample can yield measurable results.  Hence the importance of always conducting surveys, clinical trials, and psychological experiments with completely random samples, i.e. calling random households or selecting random patients.  This point is crucial, so I will repeat it:  without a random sample, results mean nothing.

As concerns politics, this is rarely a problem with the major polling firms such as Gallup or Rasmussen.  Their statisticians are rigorous and extremely competent.  One must however always be wary of polls put out by think tanks or political advocacy groups, especially if they talk about “weighting” the result for demographics or socioeconomic status, any other number of data manipulation techniques.  The instant this happens, all of the conclusions of the survey or study evaporate.  Additionally, another issue is margins of error.  These are critical to the quantification and understanding of statistical conclusions.  If someone says that Barack Obama is leading John McCain by 49% to 47% amongst registered voters with a margin of error of .1%, that result is highly significant and I would put money on an Obama victory.  If the margin of error was 3% (as is common for most polls), then we can’t really say anything about Obama’s chances of winning.  To but it in betting terms, a margin of error of .1% might correlate to something like 1000:1 odds of an Obama victory, while a margin of error of 3% would be close to 1:1.

Now when it comes to predicting a presidential election, there are enough polls going around that a clear picture normally emerges, regardless of the results of any individual poll.  But what about when the survey in question is only done once or twice, such as our heart attack experiment above, and billions of dollars might be on the line?  In that case the difference between 10:1 odds of being right (often not enough of an outlier to justify action), and 1000:1 odds can be critical.  Surveys and studies will almost always show differences between the populations in question, be they voters, medical subject, or psychology volunteers.  Being able to interpret what these differences actually mean is an essential skill, not just for statisticians but for anyone who might encounter statistics on a regular basis.  Given how often statistics are thrown around in academia, industry, and government, the ability to decipher statistical conclusions can often prove useful.  While not everyone can devote years to the study of the mathematics behind it all, and few rigorous statistics courses are offered as part of the “standard” American college or high school education, taking some time to at least browse wikipedia might well prove invaluable down the line.  At the very least, one might find oneself better equipped to correct the erroneous conclusions of those who bandy about flawed studies without knowing their error.  The world can always use a little more truth.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Blacks, the Media, and the Tea Parties

Posted by Dan Draney on April 22, 2010

Lloyd Marcus is a talented, singer-songwriter and Tea Party Patriot. He’s also a Big Problem for those peddling the official line on the “threat” posed by the Tea Party Movement:

Liberal mainstream media all but call me an Uncle Tom. Their reports imply that I am a token black too stupid to realize that I am being used by the tea party movement. In typical liberal mainstream media arrogance, they are totally blind to the blatant racism of their reporting.

Because I do not fit the liberal mainstream media’s “all blacks must vote Democrat and believe that America is racist and unjust” template, I must be an idiot. As a matter of fact, because I am a black man who loves his country and proclaims that America is the greatest land of opportunity on the planet for all who choose to go for it, much of the liberal media consider me dangerous and even wish me harm.

The liberal mainstream media are relentless in their quest to portray the tea party patriots as racist. And yet, I have performed my song, “American Tea Party Anthem,” at over 150 tea parties, been treated like a rock star, and have even seen signs which read, “Lloyd Marcus for President!” Not one tea party attendee has ever called me the N-word.

Read the rest at American Thinker: Blacks, the Media, & the Tea Parties.

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Honk If I’m Paying Your Mortgage

Posted by Dan Draney on April 18, 2010

… and for your healthcare.

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A Ray of Light

Posted by PLaplace on April 10, 2010

Good news came my way today in the form of sensible statements by Obama administration officials.  In an interview with the Huffington Post (article here) Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes had this to say:

“You’re correct, some universities are running up tuition increases far above the rate of inflation,” Duncan said. “But you see other universities doing some really creative things. You see some universities going to three-year programs, basically taking out of their expenses. You see other universities going to no-frills campuses.”

“And so students and parents are very, very smart,” he added. “They’re sophisticated. They’re going to vote with their feet, they’re going to go where they can get a great education but getting the good value along with that. And folks that don’t contain cost, I think, frankly are going to lose market share, lose competitive advantage.”

Though March brought a great deal of bad news on the governmental front, it is heartening to see that at least some members of the administration have a respect for and at least a basic understanding of market mechanisms. Before being appointed to the cabinet, Duncan was head of the Chicago public school system, and he has a history of support for school choice oriented reforms.  It’s a pity these ideas weren’t put forward when it came to health care, but seeing them applied to education will be of some consolation.  If Duncan can successfully push for this approach in the administration’s handling of education, then he will have my praise.

On another note, in the HuffPo article itself, the author takes a moment after the quotation to offer his position on education:  blur the line between different colleges, “open up the application process,” and “convince” colleges to “keep tuition low and recruit more students.”  I can’t help but be struck by this plan’s basic similarity to another newly minted government entitlement program.  I have a  fear this may well be the left’s solution to most every problem.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Tea Party Demonization: NY Times Edition

Posted by Dan Draney on April 4, 2010

The New York Times dutifully adds its latest contribution to the ongoing efforts to portray the Tea Party Movement as dangerous, potentially violent radicals. They trot out the usual suspects, including (somehow) the Foot Hood jihadist, the lefty loon who flew a plane into an IRS office, and, of course, Timothy McVeigh as evidence of the potential for Tea Party violence.

Not that the rage, or the risk of escalation, necessarily goes away. If a group with enduring gripes is shut out of the political process, and begins to shed active members, it can leave behind a radical core. This is precisely what happened in the 1960s, when the domestic terrorist group known as the Weather Underground emerged from the larger, more moderate anti-war Students for a Democratic Society, Dr. McCauley said. “The SDS had 100,000 members and, frustrated politically at every step, people started to give up,” he said. “The result was that you had this condensation of a small, more radical base of activists who decided to escalate the violence.”

Given the shifting political terrain, the diversity of views in the antigovernment groups, and their potential political impact, experts say they expect that very few are ready to take the more radical step.

So, it was Beyond the Pale to say anything during the campaign about Obama’s real, longterm connection to Weather Underground alumni Ayers and Dohrn, but drawing an absurd parallel between the TPM and the Weathermen is just fine.

Stacy McCain has a post on his blog that highlights the vast differences between the two movements, demonstrating just how absurd the NYTimes piece is. He concludes with this gem:

To suggest that Tea Party activists are fundamentally like SDS and the anti-war movement of the 1960s simply because both engage in public protest rallies is to say that Barry Manilow and Metallica are fundamentally alike because both engage in concert tours.

McCain’s co-blogger, Smitty, argues that the Tea Party Movement is now too big to be taken down directly. He expects the main thrust of the administration and its minions will be on divide and conquer efforts to split the opposition in November. See my previous note on why a Tea Party Party would be A Bad Idea.

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The Individual Mandate and You

Posted by PLaplace on March 29, 2010

A fascinating tidbit came my way today (from more than one place) regarding the recently and regrettably passed health care bill.  Tucked away on page 33 of the recent Joint Committee on Taxation report on said bill comes this enticing nugget in regards to the penalty applied to those not maintaining “minimum essential coverage”:

“The penalty applies to any period the individual does not maintain minimum essential coverage and is determined monthly.  The penalty is assessed through the Code and accounted for as an additional amount of Federal tax owed.  However, it is not subject to the enforcement provisions of subtitle F of the Code. The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty.  Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner.”

In short, though the bill does stipulate a tax of $695 or 2.5% of income, whichever is greater, on those without health insurance, there is no real mechanism in place for enforcement of this tax.  Many writers have already commented on how this is a possibly catastrophic flaw in the Obamacare machinery, for without any teeth the mandate will have no real effect.  If it has no effect people will not buy into the insurance risk pool, and as a result insurance premiums will soon begin an upward death spiral of sorts.

What interests me more is whether this omission was intentional, or simply a blunder.  While I always seek to credit ignorance over malfeasance, Morgen Richmond at makes the point (in the final paragraph) that this built in self-destruct provision could have been inserted with the intention of insuring the eventual death of the private insurance industry.  After all, it would most likely be easier to slip in a public option or single payer system somewhere down the line if the insurance industry had been jacking up prices in response to the last effort at “reform.”  This line of argument however presumes an incredible amount of attention to detail on the part of this bill’s architects, and while that is a possibility, my cursory observations of Washington lead me to believe it is highly unlikely.  Moreover, it seems that though this provision might make it easier to demonize the insurance industry, it would be even easier to point out how Democrats had set themselves up for failure in their own bill; a point which would provide a strong case against letting them do it again.  In that case we are left with ignorance on the part of the Democrats.  Given the size, scope, and general murkiness of the 2700 page bill itself, I find the explanation of ignorance highly plausible.

On a final note, for all of President Obama’s repetition that the mandate penalty is not a tax, even the Joint Committee on Taxation doesn’t buy it.  They title the section on the mandate as “Excise Tax on Individuals Without Essential Health Benefits Coverage.”

Posted in healthcare, taxes, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Go-Go Nancy

Posted by Ryne McClaren on March 14, 2010

Nancy Pelosi exists in a world which is impenetrable to the harsh light of reality: For Nancy Pelosi, There Is No Such Thing As Bad News.

To sum up: A procedural barrier was confirmed, an old issue-based conflict proved effectively unsolvable, another issue-based conflict flared up, and the president all but admitted that 1) his timeline was (yet again) unrealistic and 2) the votes to pass the bill don’t yet exist.

Pelosi response? According to The Daily Caller’s Jon Ward, the day was “another step taking us closer to voting.”

We’ve learned a lot of things over the past few weeks, but the biggest might very well be that despite spending just shy of 23 years in the House, she has very little idea of how it actually works.  Procedurally, I mean.  She’s got the greasing of the federal teat and trough queuing down pat, but the nuts and bolts?  Perhaps not so much.

There’s nothing about the last two weeks especially that would make me think otherwise.  Health care “reform” is burning down around the Democrats, but Speaker Nan keeps marching the soldiers onward in a fashion reminiscent of lemmings, and with the cliff metaphorically represented by the mid-term elections of November 2010.

We all know that this is a woman who thinks that contraceptives alone can lower state “costs,” and that bills must be passed before we can know what’s in them.  Those of us with any eyesight whatsoever also know that one thing Nancy Pelosi has never said no to is Botox and extensive plastic surgery. We’ve even let this clownish woman burn our tax dollars on booze.

But even our most sleazy and despicable politicians usually have to be given credit for possessing a keen intellect (no matter how misguided), or their charisma and star power.  Pelosi possesses neither of those traits, and is largely just a beneficiary of a constituency that has played a large hand in essentially destroying what was once America’s most industrious state.

Nancy Pelosi serves America about like a call girl serves her best john.

When I’m teaching my future children exactly what’s wrong with American government (I’m figuring at least thirty years worth of lesson plans will be needed), it’s the kinky bureaucrats like Pelosi that I’ll point to.

There are politicians with whom one can politely disagree.  There are politicians which you would readily vote against even if they were running for county coroner.  Then there are those like Pelosi, who deserve every bit of mockery and scorn you can humanly pile atop them in a given day.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

The First Pacific President

Posted by Ryne McClaren on March 14, 2010

Don’t worry, Europe; he doesn’t give a damn about us, either:

The president’s affinity with the Pacific serves as a reminder that the sole European in his lineage seems to be a great-great-great-grandfather from County Offaly who inspired the 2008 folk song There’s No One as Irish as Barack O’Bama.

Unlike George W Bush and Bill Clinton, Obama has made little effort to strike up friendships with European leaders. At the G20 summit in Pittsburgh last year he was pictured walking out with the leaders of China and India, his administration’s evident priorities, along with Russia, at the expense of America’s traditional allies.

So don’t go thinkin’ that you’re special in your not-give-a-damn-ness.  We’re running such a large friendship deficit in this era of Hope and Yada-Yada-Yada.  And when it comes to getting the shaft from Barry and his tribe of Capitol Hill careerists, Israel still has you beat hands down.

This is the sort of nonsense that I could have easily predicted for, well, everyone, but didn’t really want to harsh the awesomeness of The One.

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Starring Eric Massa as Janet Leigh

Posted by Ryne McClaren on March 10, 2010

If we didn’t have Rahm Emmanuel, we’d have to invent him: Nude Rahm Emmanuel told Massa he “better vote with the President.”

Massa is nothing short of a creep and a nutball, but this is the sort of hard charging, Alpha Male B.S. that Emmanuel could conceivably pull.

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The Symbolic Symbolism of Fakery

Posted by Ryne McClaren on March 7, 2010

Initially I wasn’t particularly concerned about President Obama’s “green” initiatives, until I remembered that America had just elected a complete fraud.

And while the following story doesn’t have anything to do with our current administration per se, I think it’s handy to remind ourselves that you can pick any issue of the day out of a hat, and whatever the government can do, the private sector can do better, cheaper, faster.

To wit: this informative Tom Steward post at Big Government titled ‘Symbolic Wind Turbines Generating more P.R. Than Power.

Now that most of twelve California wind turbines retrofitted for Minnesota winters are finally operational, several cities have acknowledged to the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota that the $5 million project may be more suited for generating PR—both good and bad—than producing significant quantities of power.

The wind power project involves utilities in eleven cities scattered across the state from the metro area to East Grand Forks in a consortium called the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA). Each of the eleven member cities received one turbine, and the twelfth was given to the MMPA owned and operated Faribault Energy Park in Faribault. It was supposed to be a step toward meeting the state renewable energy mandate that requires 25 percent of Minnesota’s power be from renewable energy sources by 2025.

It turns out, however, the twelve wind derricks will produce power for perhaps several hundred homes, hardly making a dent in the MMPA’s 57,000 household and business customers.

“They’re basically for public relations, educational purposes. They’re just not feasible for any significant amount of electrical generation,” said Dan Voss, Municipal Utilities Director for the City of Anoka.

President Obama’s campaign pledge to promote “green” spending and research hasn’t flowered.  But when it does — pending the collapse of health care “reform” and any number of other items on his agenda — I expect that we’ll see a lot more of this sort of thing.

“Going green” is a farcical notion, in both the corporate and political sense.  “Green” products are stamped as such to induce the consumer to buy them, so caveat emptor.  “Going green,” in the political sense, is a lullaby to convince you to open your wallet to the cats who run Washington, DC and your state legislature.

I’m a pretty solid advocate of research and development of alternative energy sources, as well as the technology to reduce energy consumption.  My political and ethical philosophies are both aligned with being good stewards of the earth, and being effective managers of the resources that are available to us.  I don’t think that makes me any more or less like any particular political party, I think it makes me similar to the majority.

But do we honestly believe that the accounting shell games run by our state and federal governments will ever produce actual, reality-based technologies to make our lives cleaner, more efficient, and more affordable?

I certainly do not think so.  If you read the linked story above, and apply it at the macro-level, you’ll see what I’m getting at.

Until “green” R&D presents an actual, accountable savings to the population, it’s never gonna fly.  But when the stars align just so, then we can look forward to a cleaner and more sustainable style of living.

Clean, renewable energy will have to be 1.) profitable to the producer, and 2.) profitable to the consumer.  So ask yourself this: who do you trust to pull this one off?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Governor Christie: “Time to Hold Hands and Jump Off the Cliff”

Posted by Dan Draney on March 2, 2010

Boy was I wrong about NJ Governor Chris Christie. I was afraid he would turn out to be another Tom Kean or Christie Todd Whitman, and continue to tax the state into oblivion. Instead, the new governor is showing incredible leadership in tackling the root cause of NJ’s troubles: out of control public sector spending. There’s a partial transcript of his speech to the mayors at Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis: Governor Christie: “Time to Hold Hands and Jump Off the Cliff” – Chris Christie For President?. Here’s the lead-in to that post.

Governor Christie: “Time to Hold Hands and Jump Off the Cliff” – Chris Christie For President?

In an amazingly candid appraisal of the sorry state of affairs in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie laid it on the line in a speech to about 200 mayors at the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

The speech is 24 minutes long and well worth a listen because it is both an honest admission of the problem, and a refreshingly accurate appraisal of what the solutions are. He chastised the legislature, unions, municipalities, and affordable housing initiatives while promising to do something about all of those.

Follow the link to read the partial transcript and/or watch the whole speech. Incredible. Did I say that before?

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Now It Can Be Told

Posted by Ryne McClaren on February 27, 2010

Who caused the latest financial crisis?  Hippies.

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Practicing Gun Safety

Posted by Ryne McClaren on February 27, 2010

Jay Tea points out that the Brady Campaign rates California as the “best” state for gun safety, according to its most recent report card.

I’m sure that it comes as no surprise to DLMSY’s philosophically aligned readers that California scored the “best,” but is also a national leader in gun violence by state.

I saw some of this illogical hogwash in the local Nebraska papers, but couldn’t be bothered to read it.  I see from Tea’s links that Nebraska gathered a score of 8 on the “report card” and earned zero stars.  Wyoming gathered up a whopping 10 Brady Points, but my home state of South Dakota did splendidly at 4 points.  Our Democratic friends to the east of us, in Iowa, swept up 14 points.

Here’s to hoping that next year we Cornhuskers can do better.

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What Does “Socialism” Look Like?

Posted by Ryne McClaren on February 25, 2010

I occasionally engage persons at random — now more than ever — in conversation regarding whether or not America is becoming a “socialist” state.

Let’s face it: most people have a very loose grasp on what socialism or communism really look like.  Socialism, they kind of get (“Weren’t the Nazi’s socialists?”).  The same goes for Communism (“It had something to do with a wall, and nuclear bombs.  And then a movie star ran for president and a Russian guy had a funny birthmark on his head.”)

Anyway, I was particularly intrigued the other day when someone I really don’t know very well made the comment on Facebook (paraphrasing), “Wonder if those who criticize socialism realize how many social programs upon which we all rely…”

The “…” made me immediately spring in to action, because ending a written sentence with a “…” leads me to think you’re looking for my input.  I thought that my reply was pretty straightforward: “It might be helpful to use ‘social democracy’ rather than ‘socialism.’  Because yeah, most people do criticize one more than the other.”

It must have been an off day on the Internet Tubes, because my 2-cents went largely unnoticed in the following discussion about the dumb rubes in America who spend all their time criticizing “socialism.”  But it did get me to thinking, namely, “What is socialism, and do we live in a socialist society?”

The answer, at least in February of 2010, is a firm No. The collectivist ownership aspect of socialism is not yet present (yet), nor is the distribution of collected resources mandated by the government.  Again, yet.  And our only serviceable interstate commuter rail service has essentially failed, so I have no idea how we’d ever get to the gulags.

But let’s back up to the Facebook comment.  The ensuing responses were largely supportive of the fools like me who criticize what a wonderful job our government does taking care of us and providing for our needs.

One individual lent support by saying, “Like public education?”  Fair enough.  Most, if not an incredible majority of us, were educated in the public fashion.  (The debate over whether it did any of us a damned bit of good would require a post of its own.)

Another (and this is my favorite) voiced their approval as well: “Police, fire, military, roads, Medicare/Medicaid.”  The argument that these are “social programs” is debatable.  Laughable, but debatable I suppose.  The cops, firemen, public roads… well, those are all things that we would probably agree our state and federal governments not only should do, but are required to do.  Nearly all good citizens (and especially small-l libertarians like myself) would raise our glasses to toast what a fine job these organizations do, and how we should be fairly and equitably paying for such things.  The military?  Not a social program as I define it.  In fact, it’s one of the few items in the discussion that the Constitution provides for in language even someone who attended a public school can understand (heh, see what I did there?).

But again, what is socialism, and is it spreading red little fingers through the fabric of our American life?  Yes.  Well, yes and no, actually.  Something far more benign in form is starting to creep in on us, and that’s the European-style “social democracy.”

Oh, it’s an innocuous thing at first.  The bank is failing?  The government is here to help.  13-year olds aren’t getting educated, and are instead spending their youth in the local sweatshop?  Not so fast, the government is here to help.  But then, like the neighbor who graduated from minding the petunias while you go on vacation to walking in the back door of your house without knocking one Saturday morning, we’re seeing something far more oppressive forming.

Instead of “free” public education, we’re seeing America’s children held hostage by unionized gangsters who break the legs of parents requiring a voice in said education.  Instead of a safety net to help those of us who could not afford to age in comfort and peace, we’re seeing the forced submission to a Medicare system that isn’t simply broke, but failing.

Nearly all of our “social programs” were designed to help.  But then they overstayed their welcome, becoming more.  More expensive, more oppressive, more entwined with our everyday lives.  The American taxpayer stopped calling the shots, and turned the reins over to elected for life politicians and ward heelers.

Actual socialism in practice is a failure, and a massive one.  That’s why we’re so fond of those caring (but zany) Europeans and their “social democracies.”  See?!  We put two perfectly usable words together there, and we came up with something for everyone to love!  Democracy and the government distribution of resources and money.  What could possibly be wrong with that?

This is what’s wrong with that: Greece: Mass Strike Over Tough Economic Measures Sees Country Grind To A Halt

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is attempting to reform the country’s bloated public sector in the face of mounting national debts.

His government wants to freeze pay, increase the retirement age to 63 and raise extra duty on fuel, cigarettes and alcohol.

Yannis Panagopoulos, head of the private sector union GSEE, said: “We ask the government to set people’s needs as a priority and adopt a mix of economic and social policies that won’t lead to recession but to jobs.”

The government giveth… and giveth… and giveth… and giveth… and taketh away.

The strikes have effectively caused the country to shut down – airports, schools, ministries and hospitals have all been hit.

Greece needs to get its finances in order quickly.

Its national debt stands at more than £275bn pounds, while its public deficit has reached 12.7% – four times the amount allowed under Eurozone rules.

This latest national strike is the second in as many weeks.

Union leaders are warning there is worse to come if the government does not listen.

Can’t happen in America, you say?  Have you caught a headline out of California, recently?  Say, in the last two years?  Their bonds are virtually worthless, backed by house-of-cards municipalities.  Public sector employees accepting IOUs in lieu of paychecks.  Corporations and income earners fleeing in droves.  Manhattan and California alone should offer enough proof that a “social democracy” is an 800-pound gorilla.

I, for one, don’t find anything funny any more about American reliance on “social programs.”  Do you?

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Come and Take It; Or, The Gonzalez Cannon

Posted by Ryne McClaren on February 23, 2010

From Wikipedia — sometimes correct and usually enlightening — comes today’s bit of required reading:

Come and take it” was a slogan used in the Texas Revolution in 1835. In March 1831, Juan Gomez, a Lieutenant in the Mexican Army, worked alongside Tadeo Ortiz, a consul at Bordeaux, France, and granted a small cannon to the colony of San Antonio. The small bronze cannon was received by the colony and signed for by Randy Tumlinson. It was then transported to Gonzales, Texas and later was the object of Texas pride. At the minor skirmish known as the Battle of Gonzales, a small group of Texans successfully resisted the Mexican forces who had orders to seize their cannon. As a symbol of defiance, the Texans had fashioned a flag containing the phrase along with a black star and an image of the cannon which they had received six years earlier from Mexican officials.

And from the American Legion’s October 1, 2009 “This Day In Military History” entry:

After some parleys, the Texians then wheeled up their cannon and unveiled a homemade banner; it was white, with a crudely painted picture of the cannon in black paint, a single star above it, and underneath the words, “COME AND TAKE IT.”  (Many historians have speculated that these words are a variation of the famous words of the Spartan king Leonidas prior to the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, “Molon labe” or “Come and take them,” a defiant response to the Persian call to surrender their arms.)  The cannon was fired, the Mexican commander decided he could not prevail against the Texians, and withdrew back to Bexar.

Cheers to this Republic, and how far she has come.

Come and Take It

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Tea Party Signs

Posted by Dan Draney on April 9, 2009

Here’s great site for free Tea Party sign downloads.

After you download the pdf file, put it on a flash drive or other portable device. Take the file to your local copy shop (such as Staples, Office Max or FedEx Office). The copy shop should be able to print the pdf file on 11″ x 17″ CARDSTOCK or cover stock. You can print 1 sign or 100 signs! Our local copy shop charges $2.00 for a one-sided color copy on 11″ x 17″ cardstock. That is about the same price as a piece of posterboard!

Some general advice, if you are designing your own signs: Don’t let the media portray you, and consequently the whole Tea Party movement as kooky.

  1. Stay away from Nazi references (Didn’t we see enough of those from the Left with GWB?)
  2. Forget the “birth certificate issue” for now, even if you are convinced it’s important. Sorry, it just looks nutty.
  3. No calls for violence and no racist slogans (Duh!)

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Bailoutistan Dead Ahead

Posted by Dan Draney on December 21, 2008

Mark Steyn takes on the argument that GM and Chrysler are “Too Big to Fail.” Not so much. Where does the current “bailout everyone in sight” course lead us? We’re in the fast lane to Bailoutistan. It’s an excellent article, full of Steyn’s unique wit:

“General Motors now has a market valuation about a third of Bed, Bath & Beyond, and no one says your Swash 700 Elongated Biscuit Toilet Seat Bidet is too big to fail. GM has a market capitalization of about $2.4 billion. For purposes of comparison, Toyota’s market cap is $100 billion and change (the change being bigger than the whole of GM). General Motors, like the other two geezers of the Old Three, is a vast retirement home with a small money-losing auto subsidiary. The UAW is AARP in an Edsel: It has three times as many retirees and widows as ‘workers’ (I use the term loosely). GM has 96,000 employees but provides health benefits to a million people.”

What was justified initially as an essential, temporary, emergency measure (TARP) to prevent a credit freeze-up from bringing down everything is now open for everyone. Nevermind that it’s illegal to use that money for a loan to GM and Chrysler. Apparently, the bailout window is open wide, so line up and sign up. Get it fast before it’s gone, because then… ?

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When You Have No Idea What to Do

Posted by Dan Draney on November 26, 2008

The Associated Press: Obama promotes fiscal restraint, big spending: “WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Barack Obama wants to project fiscal restraint even as his economic team assembles a massive recovery package that could cost several hundred billion dollars.
A day after introducing the captains of his economic team and promoting a giant jobs plan, Obama on Tuesday was to lay out his budget belt-tightening vision. The dual images — big spender and disciplined budget watcher — were designed to give both political and economic assurances to the public, the Congress and the financial markets.”

Because nothing inspires confidence quite like the simultaneous pursuit of diametrically opposed objectives. It’s kind of like the way the PLO leaders say one thing in English and the opposite in Arabic, but in this case both audiences have to be addressed in English. You might think that would make it more difficult.

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Capitalism vs. Corporate Privilege

Posted by Dan Draney on November 12, 2008

This is a somewhat long, but excellent, article on the important distinctions between free market and pro-corporate policies. This distinction is often missed by people from all perspectives:

Cato Unbound – Blog Archive – Corporations versus the Market; or, Whip Conflation Now: “Defenders of the free market are often accused of being apologists for big business and shills for the corporate elite. Is this a fair charge?

No and yes. Emphatically no—because corporate power and the free market are actually antithetical; genuine competition is big business’s worst nightmare. But also, in all too many cases, yes —because although liberty and plutocracy cannot coexist, simultaneous advocacy of both is all too possible.

First, the no. Corporations tend to fear competition, because competition exerts downward pressure on prices and upward pressure on salaries; moreover, success on the market comes with no guarantee of permanency, depending as it does on outdoing other firms at correctly figuring out how best to satisfy forever-changing consumer preferences, and that kind of vulnerability to loss is no picnic. It is no surprise, then, that throughout U.S. history corporations have been overwhelmingly hostile to the free market. Indeed, most of the existing regulatory apparatus—including those regulations widely misperceived as restraints on corporate power—were vigorously supported, lobbied for, and in some cases even drafted by the corporate elite.[1]”

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