Monthly Archives: April 2012

Is government an “institution that made this country great”?

A pathetic example of how President Obama might have carried the football over the proverbial goal line in the left’s efforts to transform our society into a government-centered one.  Government is the cause of all ills and the solution to all woes.

The subject of this National Journal article entered into a mortgage (with no money down) that he couldn’t afford and has lost his home.  Now he is blaming Gov. Daniels (Ind.) for “squeeze[ing] him out,” the Obama administration for failing to modify his mortgage, and his local city government for an (admittedly ridiculous) fine.  He also blames the state government (who employed his wife) and his former employer for laying him off.

Nowhere does he express any personal responsibility for his plight.  “I live in a trailer now because of a mortgage company and an incompetent government.”  No, you live in a trailer because you could not meet your financial obligations in the free market.  Of course one feels sorry for a man in this situation, but what happened to the American way of overcoming adversity, getting a job, and pulling yourself back up?

We wouldn’t expect much different from Ron Fournier, but let’s hope that this case study that he dug up doesn’t reflect the typical mentality of a down-on-his-luck man in the heartland, or else this country is truly doomed.

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Non sequitur of the day from the New York Times

Utterly sloppy—not to mention scurrilous—reporting in this “News Analysis” in the Times:

Mr. Obama and his detail have been keenly aware of the risks inherent in the job of protecting the first black president and his family. That has been true since Mr. Obama started receiving Secret Service protection in the spring of 2007, nine months before the Democratic primaries began.

The article does not provide any further “analysis” of such racially-motivated threats to the president.  The first sentence is a complete non sequitur, but we can suppose that New York Times reporters are so inured to the narrative of America as an institutionally racist country that they casually refer to “inherent” “risks” without any substantiation.  Even if we grant that the Secret Service felt the need for an abundance of caution, due to the candidate’s race, in spring 2007, we don’t see any evidence on which anyone—except, perhaps, the usual suspects such as the Southern Poverty Law Center—can legitimately assert that President Obama faces more “risks” than any other president by virtue of his race.  Yet the Times article mentions this in passing as if it’s an established fact.

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I only have one question

Didn’t we create the Department of Homeland Security to protect against terrorism?

From the Baltimore SunFederal agents raid Patapsco Flea Market

“Vendors at the Patapsco Flea Market have a history of allegedly selling counterfeit and pirated merchandise, according to an affidavit, which outlined the latest accusation that resulted in a raid Sunday by federal Homeland Security Investigations special agents.”

 

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A USAID program we can support, for a change

We don’t mind the existence of the U.S. Agency for International Development, as long as its mission is seen as part of our national security apparatus.  On the contrary, almost all of its programs futilely ram government-centered bureaucratic “economic development” programs down the throats of third-world societies that are laughably unable to cope with them.  The result is, inevitably, utter waste, incompetence, and corruption.  (We once worked on a typically inept USAID program at the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology in Afghanistan in efforts to improve automation of government services—except that most government buildings lacked electricity and most government employees were illiterate in every language.)

Here is one decent example of a USAID program that seems to have the right goals:  creating alternatives to terrorism in the southern Philippines by training locals to work as call center agents.  It brings the added value of benefiting U.S. companies and maybe even exposing the area to some positive American cultural influence.

Predictably, leftists and protectionists decry the effort as undermining jobs at home.  Memo to the opportunist politicians who are slightly unattuned to business realities:  call center operators in the Philippines making $200 a month are not a threat to U.S. workers.  Those jobs are gone.

We can have a legitimate debate about whether the U.S. should be spending any money on such a program given our fiscal straits, but, if we’re doing to have a USAID at all, this seems like one of its better efforts.

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What’s next, condemning the troops for mooning?

Erich Maria Remarque should have been dragged to The Hague . . . if there was such a thing after World War I.  We really don’t see the big deal with troops at war urinating on corpses.  The corpses don’t mind, after all, and this seems like a pretty harmless way for macho fighters to blow off a little steam in a war zone.  It is certainly morally superior to the way that our Islamic extremist enemies express their disdain for their opponents—i.e., burning down buildings and killing people.

If memory serves us correctly from high school, Remarque wrote charmingly in All Quiet on the Western Front about how the two sides would moon each other across the trenches.  We suppose that the Secretary of Defense would condemn that kind of outrageous behavior these days.

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Intelligent economic development in the UAE

This is a rare case in which an Arab country (especially in the Gulf) is part of any significant global supply chain.  (There are few examples at all of a GCC company producing anything that successfully competes globally.)  The UAE is probably doing this at a loss, and we’ll see how it works out (how long before the first Boeing crashes due to a defect in this part?), but, still, quite an accomplishment.

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The biggest problem with Obama

There’s a lot of competition for this distinction, we know, but Peggy Noonan highlights the key issue (the “it” that she refers to isn’t relevant for the purposes of this discussion):

It came from his hermetically sealed inner circle, which operates with what seems an almost entirely abstract sense of America. They know Chicago, the machine, the ethnic realities. They know Democratic Party politics. They know the books they’ve read, largely written by people like them—bright, credentialed, intellectually cloistered. But there always seems a lack of lived experience among them, which is why they were so surprised by the town hall uprisings of August 2009 and the 2010 midterm elections.

We would orient this a bit more specifically toward the lack of private-sector experience.  OK, so the president hasn’t really had a job in a for-profit company, but we can forgive that—there have been plenty of career politicians as presidents.  What we can’t forgive is that it seems like neither has anyone around him had a job in a for-profit company.  It’s scary that the people running the government consist entirely of career bureaucrats, academics, politicians, community organizers, and union bosses.  Has any Obama political appointee ever invested his money in his own business?  Had to make a payroll?  Had to stay up all night to complete something for the paying customer?

It is a symptom of Obama’s arrogance, as Noonan cites, that he really doesn’t think that he needs this perspective at his table.  Maybe he doesn’t even understand what this perspective is—sort of a Rumsfeldian “unknown unknown.”

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