Monthly Archives: January 2009

Quote Of The Day

From Obama’s speech (as retold by Ezra Klein):

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

Free men and women accomplish great things every day by voluntarily joining together for common purpose in a mutual self interested described by Adam Smith’s invisible hand. Those free people are the reason that we today can live in a level of affluence that would astound anyone living prior to the industrial revolution.

But those “big plans” to which Obama refers are not the actions of free men and women. In fact, they are the actions of unfree men and women who have been coerced to be the piggy banks which fund “big plans”.

The man who helps an elderly lady carry groceries is a free man joined to a common purpose. The man who donates his money to a charity feeding the homeless is a free man joined to a common purpose. The man who works hard at his job in order to design a piece of technology or improve a process that adds to human productivity is a free man joined to a common purpose.

Which isn’t to say that unfree men cannot achieve great things. The pyramids, the Great Wall, and the Hoover Dam are great things. But they are certainly not the product of free men*.
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Orwell Couldn’t Have Named It Better

From WaPo:

The George W. Bush Presidential Center will include a “Freedom Institute” focused on a broad portfolio of topics, including the expansion of democracy abroad and education reforms of the kind Bush implemented during his presidency, according to organizers.

Aside from a few really minor issues which defined the Bush presidency (i.e. torture, Gitmo, Patriot Act, NSA wiretaps, corruption, Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, gay marriage, the drug war — and of course, the Iraq War), I suppose we could call George W. Bush somewhat freedom oriented.

By the same token, we could call FDR a hero of small government, Nixon law-abiding, Johnson clean-mouthed and Kennedy true to his marriage vows.

Only Chrysler Would Want Fiat Technology

Perhaps, in some alternate universe where Italian cars were known for reliability and value rather than performance and beauty, this might make sense:

Chrysler LLC said today it was striking an alliance with Fiat S.p.A. that will give the Italian carmaker 35% of Chrysler in return for sharing technology, manufacturing and management.
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The deal must be approved by regulators, including the U.S. Treasury, which oversees a $4-billion rescue loan of Chrysler. Fiat did not commit any cash to the deal, and made no vows to do so in the future.

Chrysler said the deal would give it access to Fiat’s engine and other vehicle technology that Chrysler would build in its plants. Fiat will help sell Chrysler vehicles in foreign markets, where Chrysler lags its competitors today. And Chrysler said Fiat would “provide management services supporting Chrysler’s submission of a viability plan” to federal regulators.

Chrysler agreed to give up 35% of its equity in exchange for Fiat’s technology and no cash. The only thing dumber than this would be if we taxpayers were on the hook for Chrysler’s financial position.

Oh, wait… Now that I think about it, this is bizarro universe. Can someone find me a way to get back to the sane one?

Some Inaugural Day Observations

“So it goes. One man with a record of disrespect for the Constitutional limits on his power leaves the office of the presidency, and another takes over,” writes Anthony Gregory.

If there is such a “mandate,” why is Markos Moulitsas elaborating about the “most technologically advanced protection vehicle in the world” — one which Obama requires for protection.

Markos does knock this one out of the park: “Hey, whatever happened to the people who claimed that Bush would never give up power? They were hilarious.”

Never fear, as they will be replaced by those already claiming that Barack Hussein Obama is really a terrorist in disguise.

Yes, there was a flub-up in the reading of the oath of office.  I’m sure some of the tin-foilers out there will also be stating that “Barack isn’t president because he wasn’t officially sworn in” for the next four years.

Obama’s best line: “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.  Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.”

“Nah nah nah nah, hey hey, good-bye,” jeered the crowd at former (it felt good to write that) President Bush.

As with Bush, I’m still concerned about never-ending war, ever-increasing government spending and additional encroachments of our civil liberties.

Rush Limbaugh hopes Obama fails, while Ed Morrissey and Jon Henke “hope” for the best.

Doug Bandow may have summed up my feelings best:

Finally, after eight long years of wasteful spending, unnecessary war, and trashing the Constitution.  Finally!

Now the challenge begins to constrain President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress.  Onward and upward.

The Very, Very Creepy Pledge to Our Lord and Savior Barack Obama

“I pledge to be a servant to our president…”

As Mike noted, several people (Radley Balko, Will Wilkinson, Jonah Goldberg) posted a YouTube video (which seemed to have gone down memory hole already) described by Michael Goldfarb as…

…a bunch of B-, C-, and D-list celebrities, and Michael Strahan, resolving to take time out of their busy schedules of pilates and facials to end slavery, hunger, and Alzheimers — and to be a “servant” to our new president. That or a lot of slaves, hungry people, and confused seniors just got punked.

In tracking down the links, it appears that Ashton Kutcher posted an article at Huffpo on the 17th.

“A wise friend once told me that every time you serve someone else you take on all of their good traits,” writes Kutcher. “Maybe this explains the outstanding character of Barack Obama. He is a servant to this country and he has inspired me to adopt his spirit and to serve him with that dream of a great America in tow.”

We call it a Presidential Pledge. We have gathered a group of individuals who share the courage to pledge to our president, and the world at large, what it is that they are willing to do, give, or sacrifice, in an effort to help their fellow man…   …I encourage everyone to take a few moments to reflect on how they can serve our great nation and to create their own Presidential Pledge at http://www.myspace.com/presidentialpledge.

The video may still be found on above-referenced Myspace page and it’s embedded below.

“Obama is the new Scientology!?,” writes Wilkinson.

Balko refers to the “creep factor” while Goldberg notes “I know that liberals would mock anything remotely like this if it were tied to a Republican president.”

The final seconds of the video (starting at 3:53) may reveal the true nature of their desires: they wish to assimilate us into the collective of Borg Obama.

MySpace Celebrity and Katalyst present The Presidential Pledge

So What’s A Libertarian Supposed To Think About All This ?

Doug Bandow sums up what January 20, 2009 means for those of us who believe in freedom and limited government:

Finally, after eight long years of wasteful spending, unnecessary war, and trashing the Constitution. Finally!

Now the challenge begins to constrain President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress. Onward and upward.

Exactly.

Now that Bush is out of office, there’s no need for anyone to defend him and the mess he left the Republican Party and the country in, and that’s coming from someone who voted for him, twice (and boy do I regret those votes).

George Bush was as much an enemy of limited government as Barack Obama is shaping up to be.

Let the games begin.

If a picture is worth a thousand words…

…then here is something that should dovetail nicely with Doug’s post below:

Obama_flag

Picture source: REUTERS/Jason Reed

h/t: Radley Balko, who also posted a video that was pulled just a few minutes ago. It featured a bunch of celebrities (so I know, it shouldn’t be taken seriously) but it included the line “I pledge to be a servant to our President.” Creeped the hell out of me.

Remember, We’re Inaugurating A President, Not Coronating A King

Words of wisdom:

Men( and any woman will tell you this ) are just men. Some are good, some are bad, but they all have their flaws. Let us not forget that he is a man, and only a man and that any man who holds the office will someday leave it. Let us pray he does not begin to actually believe the good things that people say about him. Let us hope that he also does not believe the bad things that people will say. Let us deeply wish that he doesn’t care one way or the other, because in the end he was elected to lead, not to be loved and adored or dare I say – worshiped.

The new President is a man,just a man, and there is a real majesty to that fact. The majesty is that a man of no real consequence can be the President if the people so decree. Come what may, we will decide in four years whether to renew his contract to serve us and in eight years he will voluntarily leave the office to his predecessor. This is what the Constitution holds. That is the core of the Oath taken for the office. That is the essential majesty of the office; that so much power,once achieved is to be given up in an orderly fashion. For like the life of a man, it is designed to be temporary, lest it be mistaken by others for a mask of holiness. Being President doesn’t make you a better man than the rest of us, it simply reveals to everyone what you already were back when you were just a man. Some men find this humbling, others shrink from the image it brings, others accept the burden and do the best they can, comforted in the fact that it is only temporary and relief will surely come to them in the end.

Let us all be wary of the day when any man is elevated above the office, not for how the process of deification can elevate the man into being something he is not, but how it lowers the rest of us into being something less than men.

Barack Obama is no better than you or I. His ideas are no more valid or correct than yours or mine.

The mindless worship I am seeing from a good many people today is troubling.

Originally posted at Below The Beltway.

Bush Caves, Commutes Sentences for Ramos and Compean

Well, maybe I should say he partially caved. With less than 24 hours left in his presidency, Bush decided to commute Ramos and Compean’s sentences rather than granting full pardons.

The Associated Press reports that the president chose to commute their sentences because he agreed with the court’s finding that the men broke the law but also believed the mandatory minimum sentences were too harsh. They had “suffered enough” from temporarily losing their freedom, their jobs and their reputations. Ramos and Compean’s prison terms will expire on March 20th but will be required to pay their fines and their three-year supervised release term will also remain in effect.

For the reasons I have previously stated, I am very disappointed that President Bush commuted the sentences of these two men. Ramos and Compean deserve to be in prison for at least a decade. It seems to me that President Bush gave in to the pressure to satisfy the last 20% of Americans who otherwise actually approve of how he has governed over the last 8 years.

Having said that, I am pleased that Ramos and Compean’s crimes will remain on their records and am hopeful that neither will ever have the ability to work in law enforcement on any level in the future. Of course there is always the possibility that they will have their own talk shows on talk radio or Fox News Channel.

Let’s just hope that others in law enforcement don’t get the idea that they can shoot first but be forgiven later if the suspect happens to be a criminal.

Quote of the Day, Part Deux

Comes from this AP story on our soon to be President’s activities on the day before his inauguration:

Then his motorcade headed for the Sasha Bruce House, a facility for homeless teens, where he grabbed a paint roller and helped volunteers who were fixing up rooms.

“We can’t allow any idle hands,” he said. “Everybody’s got to be involved.”

I don’t know about you, but the idea of the government deciding who has “idle hands” and then forcing them to “be involved” terrifies me.

The best part of this is the irony inherent in the way the article was structured…before the section about using government to force people to be involved there was a bit about the President-elect visiting wounded troops at Walter Reed, people who VOLUNTEERED to serve their country. After the section there was a bit about him visiting VOLUNTEERS working at a local high school.

Quote Of The Day

TJIC, riffing on the Boston Globe, as the Globe writes an alarmist tale of the “crisis” of young Americans:

The average college graduate has nearly $20,000 in debt.

Oh noz! The average salary for college graduate jobs is $46,000. So, that’s almost five whole months of income to pay off the debt!

My thought? $20K in debt with a $46K income makes them a lot better off than our federal government!

More “Change” From the Obama Administration

Meet the new “change” — same as the old change.

Here’s soon-to-be Surgeon General Sanjay Gupta on the reform of medicinal marijuana laws:

But I suspect that most of the people eager to vote yes on the new ballot measures aren’t suffering from glaucoma, Alzheimer’s or chemo-induced nausea. Many of them just want to get stoned legally. That’s why I, like many other doctors, am unimpressed with the proposed legislation, which would legalize marijuana irrespective of any medical condition. [snip]

But I’m here to tell you, as a doctor, that despite all the talk about the medical benefits of marijuana, smoking the stuff is not going to do your health any good.

There’s a good rebuttal of Gupta’s article here.

DC Government Got This One Bass-ackwards

The District of Columbia intends to create Prostitution Free Zones during Obama’s inauguration.  From WUSA:

District police have placed signs along 5th and I Streets. They read, “Warning, Prostitution Free Zone.” Those who disobey could be fined 300 dollars, and even jailed. But will the city’s plan work?

DC City Councilman Jim Graham said officers cannot enforce loitering laws, which is the reason for these signs.

“Because this is focused, its limited in time, its aimed at a very specific issue, if you don’t move along, well put you in the car,” he said.

Whomever planned this really doesn’t know DC geography very well.  The last time I checked, the Johns hang out on K Street.  The prostitutes do most of their business from the Cannon, Rayburn and Longworth Office Buildings.  When the prostitution happens in DC, unlike the time-honored tradition of the world’s oldest trade, it’s the taxpayers who get screwed.

How Many of Your Tax Dollars Will Be Used to Pay for Obama’s Big Party?

MSM advice about Obama’s inauguration:

So you’re attending an inaugural ball saluting the historic election of Barack Obama in the worst economic climate in three generations. Can you get away with glitzing it up and still be appropriate, not to mention comfortable and financially viable?

To quote the man of the hour: Yes, you can. Veteran ballgoers say you should. And fashionistas insist that you must.

“This is a time to celebrate. This is a great moment. Do not dress down. Do not wear the Washington uniform,” said Tim Gunn, a native Washingtonian and Chief Creative Officer at Liz Claiborne, Inc.

“Just because the economy is in a downturn, it doesn’t mean that style is going to be in a downturn,” agreed Ken Downing, fashion director for Neiman Marcus.

And if anyone does raise an eyebrow at those sequins, remind them that optimism is good for times like these. “Just say you’re doing it to help the economy,” chuckled good manners guru Letitia Baldridge.

Of course, inaugurations cost significantly more than is raised though voluntary means.  In this case, DC Councilmember Jim Graham uses the pages of the “conservative” Washington Times to beg for federal dollars to assist with party expenditures.  It shouldn’t be considered a surprise that President Bush was more then willing to help out.  He’s declared “a state of emergency” to help cover the tab.  Of course, it is the taxpayers who will really foot much of the bill for the nation’s most extravagant party.

In “Our permanent state of routine emergency,” Mark Steyn observes:

In just about his last act as president, George W. Bush has declared Washington, D.C., a federal disaster area.

No, seriously. I’m not setting up some lame-o punchline here, like we used to do a decade back in the good old Monica days: “President Clinton today declared his pants a federal disaster area,” etc. What happened last week was that the Bush administration formally declared a federal emergency in the District of Columbia.

So what was it? An ice storm? A hurricane?

No, it’s the inauguration of his successor. The inauguration is scheduled to make landfall on Tuesday and wreak havoc all night long, as Category Five conga lines buckle highways round town, and emergency busboy crews find themselves overwhelmed as they struggle to clear drained champagne flutes. So the mayor, Adrian M. Fenty, put in a request for more federal money, and, apparently, the easiest way to sluice the cash to him no questions asked was for the president to declare a state of emergency in the District and funnel however many extra gazillions he wants through FEMA – the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

If Obama really wants to create the “change” he has so often promised, he could declare a state of Federal Budgetary Disaster and refuse to sign any spending bill which doesn’t immediately balance the federal budget.  Alternately, he could spend even more money on a silly party than his predecessor did.

FedGov Can’t Even Plan A DTV Switch Given 2 Years!

Oh, this is rich:

West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the new chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced legislation that would postpone the digital transition by almost four months. “I firmly believe that our nation is not yet ready to make this transition,” Mr. Rockefeller said in a statement.

Congress began seriously considering delaying the county’s transition to digital television — now set for Feb. 17 — after the Commerce Department reported last week that it was running short on funds for a government coupon program to defray costs for consumers who will lose their TV signals after the switch.

How long have they been advertising this switch? How long have they had to plan, to forecast expected cost, and to put enough money in the budget to get these coupons out the door?

And they can’t do it. Yeah, these are the yokels I want in charge of my family’s healthcare!

Microsoft Attacked By EU For Same Practices That Apple/Linux Use

Back in the day, antitrust regulators decided that including a browser with an operating system was an unfair competitive measure. But to this day, they’ve only ever enforced this against Microsoft, and the EU is still pushing:

European antitrust regulators have told Microsoft Corp. that the company’s practice of including its Internet browser with its popular Windows operating system violates European competition law, Microsoft said Friday.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant (MSFT) said that it’s been presented with a statement of objections informing it that related remedies put in place by U.S. courts when Microsoft settled an antitrust case in this country in 2002 are not adequate for Europe, though a “final determination” hasn’t been made on the matter.

I’ve never really used Apple’s computers much, but I’m pretty sure you can’t buy an Apple PC without Safari pre-installed. I’ve installed a number of Linux distributions (Red Hat, Debian, ubuntu, and even a 50MB distro called DamnSmallLinux), and every single one of them has been bundled with a browser. Microsoft has argued that a browser is a critical part of an operating system, and thus — even though it sucks — it makes perfect sense for them to distribute IE with Windows.

In fact, it’s so pervasive, that I’ve never seen an OS that comes without a browser pre-installed. Is the EU going to go after each of OS distributors next? I didn’t think so.

Hat Tip: QandO

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