Friday, August 8, 2003

Candidate Arnold

Chuck, at You Big Mouth, You! has anexcellent, reasoned take on Arnold Schwarzenegger's entry into the shark frenzy that is the California Gubernatorial Recall/Election. His conclusion? It's not the end of the world, and Arnold's detractors need to lighten up. RTWT.

posted at 08:23 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Rich Dems target GOP

In this AP article from Yahoo! news, it is noted that another wealthy billionaire has donated vast sums of money to defeat Bush in 2004. George Soros, who gleefully makes gobs of money from the free market and globalization, while spending it supporting candidates who are implacably hostile to capitalism. Soros apparently sees no conflict between the two activities, however, which is puzzling to me. The man is obviously not stupid, but he either is not paying close attention to what they are saying, or he really doesn't believe that they will implement their ideas if elected, which raises a whole 'nother set of issues.

There are a few ironies in the article. Try this for example:

Under the nation's new campaign finance law, the group must remain separate from the Democratic Party to accept contributions on the scale of what Soros has pledged. The law bans national party committees from accepting contributions of that size from any source.

It's not an arm of the Democratic Party, but all of the officers are hard-core Democrats, including the leader of EMILY'S List, which is a narrowly-focused Dem special-interest group (they give money exclusively to pro-chioce Democratic women). I assume that they are analogous to the independent group that ran the Willie Horton ad against Dukakis in 1988 (you know, the one that the Democrats still bring up to insinuate racism in the Republican Party).

Another howler is this one:

In addition to Soros' pledge of $10 million, the PAC has raised $8 million from labor groups and a total of $12 million from several individuals, Malcolm said. The donors include Louis and Dorothy Cullman, who helped finance the newspaper ad with Soros; Anne Bartley, former president of the Rockefeller Family Fund; Peter Lewis, founder of Progressive Insurance; Patricia Bauman, head of the Bauman Family Foundation; and Rob McKay, head of the McKay Family Foundation. Malcolm declined to say how much each committed.

Remember, the Democrats constantly tell us that the GOP is the group beholden to deep-pocketed fat cats, yet Soros alone kicked in $10 million, and the other six (two of whom are married) kicked in another $12 million. I hate to break it to McAuliffe, but that kind of spending qualifies his supporters as very rich indeed. And of course, the Democrats don't like shining the light of day on fundraising activities, as they have steadfastly refused to released their donor demographics, unlike their counterparts in the GOP.

posted at 07:47 PM | permalink | Comments (3)

Soros is an excellent example of two tendencies among those who have recently (i.e., within the past three or four generations) achieved great financial success:
-- an undeserved sense of guilt over it;
-- an unadmitted desire to prevent anyone from replicating it.

These two tendencies don't often occur together; Soros is an unusual specimen of his kind. Still, when you survey the behavior of rich persons of the century past and compare it to that of the great nineteenth century capitalists and industrialists, you simply can't help asking what's changed.

Ludwig von Mises's little book The Anti-Capitalist Mentality is illuminating in this connection, as is Helmut Schoeck's blockbuster Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour.

posted by Francis W. Porretto on August 9, 2003 04:01 AM

"George Soros, who gleefully makes gobs of money from the free market and globalization, while spending it supporting candidates who are implacably hostile to capitalism. Soros apparently sees no conflict between the two activities, however, which is puzzling to me. The man is obviously not stupid, but he either is not paying close attention to what they are saying, or he really doesn't believe that they will implement their ideas if elected, which raises a whole 'nother set of issues."

I have seen these types of comments from time to time, so I thought I would respond.

First, it is possible to work a system without believing that that system is a GOOD one. Therefore, Soro's action are not inconsistant, nor do they betray a weak mind. He finds himself in a world that has a system that he does not believe he supposed to be poor, then? Should he supress his talents for this reason? I think not. It is not irrational to use the system for all it's worth, and then donate to causes that undermine that very system...on the contrary, it is the wisest course of action possible! Indeed, it is the only course left open to him. While I do not agree with Mr. Soro's views, (at least so far as I have heard them) I suport his actions. Your "puzzulement" leaves me puzzuled. What else would you have him do?

posted by Xiaoding on August 13, 2003 06:27 AM

Here's a thought: ask questions, then shoot from the hip.

If you're really interested in what Soros is thinking, read his book "The Crisis of Global Capitalism" -- google it, you'll find excerpts of its most important parts.

Like this:

What pains me and frustrates the pace of solutions to real problems in this country -- e.g., our faltering health care system and its impact on productivity or, even, human rights -- is how quickly we repeat tired cliches about Democrats being anti-capitalists or Republican being pro-capitalists — or, for that matter, that all politicians are careerists intent on using money to preserve their access to power and, thus, more money. (Explain Sen. McCain or Mayor Bloomberg or Barry Goldwater?)

Not all Republicans respect the free market. Any Republican (or Democrat) who has indulged in irrational protectionism through tariffs or subsidies to benefit a special interest group is not a true capitalist.

Any Republican (or Democrat) who favors back-room dealings in a country club or at the White House instead of open and transparent bidding and competition for services and goods is not a true capitalist.

Any Republican (or Democrat) who manipulates insider knowledge on, say, energy markets in order to determine national domestic and foreign policy so as to favor one industry over another is not a true capitalist.

A true capitalist believes and practices transparency -- from pricing to quality control to oversight -- and those are not principles exclusive or even inherent to either of our nation's dominant political parties.

Instead of repeating cliches about parties and their supposed ideological differences, consider that there are fundamental questions unanswered in such myths -- mainly, where to draw the limit between capitalism (an economic model) and the sovereignty and well-being of a state.

What's good for GM (moving all of its factories to China and selling its vehicles at the exact same prices as it does today) is *not* necessarily good for America.

Consider, this bipartisan bill to punish companies that incorporate offshore (outside of the U.S.) in order to skip on corporate taxes, while its shareholders, its board and executive directors, continue to live and enjoy the benefits of citizenship in the United States?

Is what's good for a company's bottom line necessarily what's good for the stability and health of a country? How would an offshore company help pay for the Predator drones, AWACS and cruise missiles that protect its assets in the U.S. of A. and abroad?

Does the army of Switzerland keep global conflicts in check for the benefit of those who have Swiss bank accounts? No, Virigina, the U.S. government (and, importantly, U.S. taxpayers) keep regional tensions in check in order to grease the machinery of global capitalism.

I cite these examples because it is not always possible to equate a political decision with one's stance towards capitalism. Thus, it may be possible for Soros to disapprove of this Republican president while still believing that a) governments have an important role to play in determine the health of markets; b) markets should not always dictate the health of a state; c) capitalism is the best model for creating jobs, improving the quality of goods and services.

If you believe Bush is a proponent of open and transparent methods for protecting the stability of capitalism, please be ready to explain why the SEC has been eviscerated in the wake of grave (and, in the long-term, quite destructive) insider-trading scandals on Wall St.

If you believe that the Bush-sponsored tax cut is more than a political ploy aimed at securing his popularity among a highly vocal minorty of ideologically-driven voters, please be ready to demonstrate how it is that those tax-cuts will allow state governments -- many of which are run by Republicans -- to escape from staggering deficits? For how can a bankrupt state (including states that have been dominated by Republicans for the last 8 years) provide the basic infrastructure necessary to sustain investments and job growth?

Just a thought.

posted by jose on August 14, 2003 12:21 PM

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

First Amendment Poll results

Ken Paulson, executive director of the First Amendment Center, notes the results of a poll on First Amendment issues in an op-ed entitled Free press needed more these days. It reveals that the nation is pretty evenly divided on a significant number of first amendment issues, but the results that caught my eye were on the religion provisions of the amendment, and the public's perception of them. From the piece:

• Almost seven in 10 said that the public school recitation of the phrase “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance does not violate the separation of church and state.

• About 62 percent of those surveyed said government officials should be allowed to post the Ten Commandments inside government buildings. Almost eight in 10 said the government’s use of the phrase “In God We Trust” on U.S. money does not violate the principle of the separation of church and state.


About 73 percent of those surveyed said the phrase “one nation under God” was “primarily a statement related to the American political tradition.” Fewer than 20 percent said they thought this reference to God was “primarily a religious statement.”

As I have maintained, I am not a particularly religious person, but I do not have the irrational fear or hatred of religion that some (particularly Randian libertarians) seem to have on the issue, and I hardly think that the pledge was some sort of religious litmus test.

Another portion of the same poll indicated that my views on media consolidation put me in the minority, as I don't fear a loss of divergent views as a result of buyouts and mergers. (I can always count on weblogs, as for every corporate owned or sponsored weblog, there are dozens of weblogs, some of which feature independent reporting or thinking.) I've posted at length about the issue in this post, and Jim Miller points out a Robert Samuelson column on the subject. Perhaps it is just a case of lack of information, or perhaps Samuelson and I have on blinders.

posted at 12:57 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 4, 2003

Stupid Letters—SW Florida edition

It's become impossible to avoid the anti-Bushies; they are everywhere. Even in a solidly Republican area such as southwest Florida, they show up like cockroaches. Today's letters to the Fort Myers News-Press include one typical of the breed:

I cannot believe the absolute stupidity of some of the Mailbag’s obviously Republican writers. For one thing, I never would admit I was a Republican stupidly kissing up to one of the sorriest presidents this country has ever endured. Instead, I would be hiding my head in shame over what this pitiful excuse for a president has done to our country.

People who back this arrogant egomaniac must be living on another planet to deny what this despot has done since he stole the election from Mr. Gore. It would take nearly an entire newspaper page to list all of the crimes against humanity as well as the middle class of the country this tyrant has committed while in office.

However, there is hope that justice will be served as we witness a strong and passionate movement to have this reckless cowboy sent back to Texas through the impeachment process.

RICHARD LENT, Lehigh Acres

Okay, once again, we have the standard talking points.

1) Stole the election

2) Arrogant Cowboy

3) Crimes against humanity

4) Crushing the middle class

Long on broad-based allegations, yet not a single fact. Typical lefty bellowing, even in GOP country. A quick check on Richard Lent shows that he has been writing letters to some of the other local papers, spouting off about impeaching Bush. Here is a link to a letter in last Wednesday's Marco Eagle, urging everyone to register on a left-wing Bush impeachment site. In this letter, he works in the "Bush lied about Iraq's WMD" meme, conveniently leaving out all of the other (Democratic, French, German, Russian, and UN) sources that flatly stated that Hussein had not destroyed all of his weapons. Even the sainted Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright were convinced that Hussein had kept his weapons, and the 12 years worth of flouting the UN's resolutions were further evidence that Hussein wasn't going to play by the rules.

posted at 03:29 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

I believe that he is merely following the instructions that I've seen on several of the leftie websites, such as Eschaton, MWO and Hesiod.

posted by Terry on August 5, 2003 08:00 PM

Sunday, August 3, 2003

Press Hostility

The press has beeen hostile towards Bush for quite some time, but Jim Miller points out a pair of unbelievable questions directed at Bush during his last press conference. I cannot believe the sneering condescention dripping from these questions, and I am astonished that they were directed towards the president, rather than to a press secretary. It won't happen, but I'd be more than willing to support an official White House snubbing of these two reporters' news agencies, by refusing to acknowledge interview requests or calling upon them in press conferences. Note that it is not the questions that peeve me, but the sactimonious, insufferable smugness in which they were framed. There were a number of uncomfortable questions asked at the press conference, but for the most part, they were asked as questions, not framed as editorial snipes. Perhaps a little time out in the cold will allow "John" and "Ed" to develop a little bit of decorum.

One of the things I find amusing is the constant criticism levelled at Ari Fleischer (Bush's former press secretary) was the constant criticism levelled at him for his occasional pokes at reporters, and his supposed disdain of foreign leaders. However, despite his faults, he never descended to the level displayed by Francoise Dubois, Jean Chretien's former press secretary. She called George Bush, leader of a country allied to Canada, a "moron". Can you imagine the furor that would erupt if an American press secretary leveled a similar slur at an allied leader? Resignation would not be enough; there would be calls for impeachment of the president, wailing about American indifference to foreign sensitivities, and so forth.

posted at 01:18 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

See also this.

It would be nice if there were some sort of popular outcry against this new technique in calumny, wouldn't it?

posted by Francis W. Porretto on August 3, 2003 05:15 PM

SeaFair squawks

It's time for SeaFair again, Seattle's annual community festival. Since one of SeaFair's draws is the Navy's Blue Angels flight-demonstration team, each year the anti-military types snivel about the evils of military propaganda. This year is no different, as evidenced by this letter to the Seattle Times:

It's time for Seattle's annual Seafair celebration. More accurately, it should be called Sea-War-Fair. Headlined by the Blue Angels and a mini-fleet of naval vessels docked at piers along our waterfront, what we have in Seattle is a carnival of recreational militarism, war-as-entertainment. Unfortunately for the people in the countries invaded by our armed forces, Blue Angels-type technology is not fun or entertaining. It's simply terrifying. Angels, perhaps. Angels of death.

Jonny Hahn, Seattle

Wow, six aircraft (not rigged for combat) and three small ships, one of which is a Coast Guard cutter. The Seattle warfest is ready to take on Costa Rica (which has no military) or perhaps Benin. Get a grip, Jonny. Just because *you* loathe the military doesn't mean that the rest of the people in the Pacific Northwest should have to miss the sights of the Blue Angels.

posted at 12:18 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

wow! 2 navy ships? I'm amazed (really) that they found 2 that weren't deployed, in the yards or in POM.

posted by Kevin on August 10, 2003 01:33 PM

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