Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Prison Option

A colleague who is a "progressive" notes that President Obama "spoke to the N.A.A.C.P. this month, reaffirming the standard racial narrative while lecturing the black community on the need for better family values. But he barely uttered a word about the ways in which public policies — policies over which he might exert no small influence — have resulted in the hyper-incarceration of poor black men."

As a Republican, I support the proposal that President Obama should announce support for the early release of prisoners, especially those convicted of violent crimes, and I urge President Obama to do so. He also should set up a health care plan as good as the one Congress gets, call it the "prison option" and ensure that all prisoners are covered, with extra benefits going to those convicted of murder. The state of prison hospitals is tragic, and it is patently unfair that prisoners are not treated as well as Congressmen. I urge President Obama to solve this problem.

By urging early prison release, superb health care for prisoners and special benefits for convicted murderers, President Obama will prove his concern for the oppressed and ensure the appropriate election results in 2012.

The Name "Factcheck.org" Is An Orwellian Lie

Aaron J. Biterman of the Republican Liberty Caucus forwarded the message below from the Orwellian-named left-wing propaganda site, "Factcheck.org". My response is as follows:

>As usual, the Annenberg Foundation, on whose board, if my memory does not deceive me, Obama once sat, gets it all wrong. They call their propaganda site "Factcheck.org" which makes it sound like they're Consumer Reports rather than a left wing propaganda service linked to Obama. Factcheck.org has had trouble keeping the facts straight concerning Obama since the very beginning. Phil Orenstein on Democracy Project writes thus of Congressman Joe Wilson, who rightly called Obama a liar:

"His own frustration which pushed him beyond the brink is justified by the fact that as an immigration attorney he pushed for amendments to the healthcare bill that would prevent illegal immigrants from being covered which were shot down by Democrats in the House. The lack of any enforcement mechanism in the bill to prevent illegals from gaining free access to taxpayer subsidized healthcare, makes it an exercise in deception to claim the contrary that the bill doesn’t cover illegals. The Heller amendment to HR 3200 introduced in the Ways and Means committee which would have set up citizenship status verification systems, which are currently used in other public assistance programs, was killed by a party-line vote."

Factcheck's assumption that Obama did not know this or that the deceptive ruse of including an unenforceable provision is not a lie suggests that the name "Factcheck.org" is itself an Orwellian lie.


>>Sent: Thu, Sep 10, 2009 6:52 pm

Subject: New FactCheck Article: Obama's Health Care Speech
Obama’s Health Care Speech
We fact-check the president's address to Congress and the nation.
September 10, 2009

Summary

President Obama’s prime-time address to Congress and the nation on health care prompted a Republican congressman to shout “you lie!” Did he? Here’s what we’ve found:

Obama was correct when he said his plan wouldn’t insure illegal immigrants; the House bill expressly forbids giving subsidies to those who are in the country illegally. Conservative critics complain that the bill lacks an enforcement mechanism, but that hardly makes the president a liar.

The president said no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.” But the House bill would permit a “public option” to cover all abortions, and would also permit federal subsidies to be used to purchase private insurance that covers all abortions, a point that raises objections from anti-abortion groups. That’s true despite a technical ban on use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion coverage.

The president repeated his promise that his plan won’t add “one dime” to the federal deficit. But legislation offered so far would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The president overstated the degree of concentration in the insurance industry. He said that in 34 states the “insurance market” is controlled by five or fewer companies, but that’s true only of insurance bought by small groups, not the entire “insurance market.”

Obama said his plan won't “require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.” It’s true that there’s no requirement, but experts say the legislation could induce employers to switch coverage for millions of workers.

Letter to Congressman Maurice Hinchey Requesting Impeachment of President Ocheeseball

Dear Congressman Hinchey:

President Barack Obama lied to Congress recently when he claimed that his health care proposal (a) excludes non-citizen immigrants, (b) would not involve rationing that would limit care to many elderly Americans and (c) will be a stable system that will not result in fascist control of the entire health system by an increasingly totalitarian American state.

I urge you to propose to impeach President Obama for lying to Congress. His irresponsible lying is a disgrace and an embarrassment to the American people.

Sincerely,

Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D.

Thomas Sowell Calls President Ocheeseball A "Charlatan"

Netty Wisbaum just forwarded Thomas Sowell's excellent Investor's Business Daily article in which he calls President Ocheeseball "a charlatan". Sowell writes:

"To tell us, with a straight face, that he can insure millions more people without adding to the already skyrocketing deficit, is world-class chutzpah and an insult to anyone's intelligence.

"To do so after an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office has already shown this to be impossible reveals the depths of moral bankruptcy behind the glittering words."

A reader of my blog just made the point that in the mid twentieth century Friedrich von Hayek, the famous Austrian economist and advocate of free markets, said that social insurance is compatible with a free market and that there is nothing wrong with providing for the poor. In fact, throughout the development of the barbarian economy, i.e., from the fall of Rome until the time of Henry VIII and the Protestant reformation, the Catholic Church provided for the poor. When Henry VIII confiscated the church lands and sold them to raise money to wage war, the responsibility for welfare was centralized.

By 1950 the American economy had been through many gyrations but government spending represented less than 15% of the total economy. Some of this was for welfare programs such as social security (which has always been in part a welfare program, although government has lied about it from day one). The economy was still 85% free. This began to change in the 1960s. Massive programs, most of which produce absolutely nothing of value, exploded. Today, government spending as a percentage of the economy has more than tripled. Economists do not keep good track of this because the spending is broken up into local, state and federal sources, but overall government now controls about 50% of the national income. The middle class is being strangled.

Hayek, of course, would turn in his grave at the bail out and the effects that Federal Reserve policy has had on our economy. This would have been problematic to von Mises and Hayek because monetary expansion creates mal investment in their view. Like most Democrats, the writer to my blog doesn't bring up Hayek in the context of complaining about the massive dislocation that the Bush-Obama bailout will cause; the future food shortages that will occur as farmland is turned into real estate development; the future inflation that will leave families poorer. Rather, he or she selectively points out that the health plan was something that Hayek said might be consistent with a free market.

At 15% of the economy, yes. At 50%, doubtful.

The United States is dangerously close to being, if not already, a fascist economy. The government controls so much of the national wealth, and so much is squandered, that development has been curtailed, and the average worker is much poorer now than he could have been. He is no better off than in 1970. Thus, the period of greatest growth in government has been paralleled by the slowest wage growth and the absence of improvement of welfare of those working for a living. Rather, government employees, Wall Street and the special interests whom President Ocheeseball represents have made out like the bandits that they are. (And Obama's saying that the opponents of his plan represent special interests is again a bald lie. Rather, it is Obama who represents special interests and the wealthy. As though college professors, the Economist magazine, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanely, George Soros, Warren Buffett, the Ochs Sulzbergers, and most of Wall Street are the poor, and the blue collar plumbers and carpenters who voted Republican in the last election are the wealthy. The plumbers and carpenters understand their own economic interests, as do the government-supported professionals who supported Obama. The fools are the working poor and young people who voted for Obama, the candidate of the wealthy. Obama will guarantee bad future job opportunities for the vast majority of young people. America has raised a cohort of suicidal fools.)

Sowell offers an insight as to how President Ocheeseball has gotten away with his perennial lying:

"One of the secrets of being a glib talker is not getting hung up on whether what you are saying is true, and instead giving your full attention to what is required by the audience and the circumstances of the moment, without letting facts get in your way and cramp your style. Obama has mastered that art."

Sowell also points out the potential unforeseen effects of the Obama plan:

"President Obama tells us that he will impose various mandates on insurance companies but will not interfere with our free choice between being insured by these companies or by the government.

"But if he can drive up the cost of private insurance with mandates and subsidize government insurance with the taxpayers' money, how long do you think it will be before we have the "single payer" system that he has advocated in the past?"

Joe Wilson Calls President Ocheeseball a Liar



Phil Orenstein has written an excellent blog on Democracy Project in which he calls Joe Wilson (R-SC) "our new hero". No one in the Democratic Party propaganda machine has questioned Mr. Obama's pathological lying. Worse, few Republicans have had the courage or integrity to tell the truth about him. Finally, Wilson has done so: President Ocheeseball is a liar. In the above video he is lying about the immigration provisions in the health care bill and he is lying about the effects of health care rationing on the elderly.

Orenstein says of Wilson:

"as an immigration attorney he pushed for amendments to the healthcare bill that would prevent illegal immigrants from being covered which were shot down by Democrats in the House. The lack of any enforcement mechanism in the bill to prevent illegals from gaining free access to taxpayer subsidized healthcare, makes it an exercise in deception to claim the contrary that the bill doesn’t cover illegals. The Heller amendment to HR 3200 introduced in the Ways and Means committee which would have set up citizenship status verification systems, which are currently used in other public assistance programs, was killed by a party-line vote."

My chief complaint about Wilson is that he did not call President Ocheeseball "liar" loud enough.

(Uh oh, do I hear a Democratic Gestapo agent knocking on my door?...)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I sent this e-mail to GOP national Chair Michael Steele at Chairman@gop.com:

>I just received this e-mail from my Republican Liberty Caucus group in New York. Is it true that Florida Republicans have ousted party officials who oppose the Roosevelt-Rockefeller Progressivism that has come to dominate the Republican Party? The last election, in which John McCain lept like a Federalist to support President Bush's bailout concept, loved by every economist on Wall Street's payroll, was a key reason the Republicans lost the election. Now, there seems to be an interest in driving out every Republican who does not agree with reactionary Progressivism. Guess what will happen in 2012 if the Republicans don't wake up?

>>Friend of Liberty,

Last Friday, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF)Grievance Committee notified Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida Chairman Will G. Pitts of Jacksonville and four other Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC) members - including Northeast Florida RLC Chair John Stevens - that they have been REMOVED from positions within the RPOF or are prohibited from serving in any official RPOF capacity for varying lengths of time, from six months to more than six years.

"The reasons for this `Party Purge´ are that we have collectively and individually called for a complete audit of the Republican Party of Florida finances, advocated for candidates not favored by party leaders, and that we are members of the Republican Liberty Caucus," said activist and RLC member Doug Guetzloe of Orlando, one of the `purged´ members. Guetzloe has served as Chairman of "Axe the
Tax" and a member of the Orange County (Orlando)GOP Executive Committee since 1980!

This Florida situation is a sad example of a party `leadership´ that is out of control and totally obsessed with power. Jim Greer, the RPOF Chair, was recently elected the Rules Committee Chair of the Republican National Committee despite his disregard for decency and his actions against fellow Florida Republicans.

Greer is totally committed to helping centrist Governor Charlie Crist become the next Florida U.S. Senator - and, probably, U.S. President. In his steadfast commitment, he has `purged´ Republican Liberty Caucus members and others who vocally oppose Crist´s policies (such as support for Obama´s bailout) from the party. All of the purged members were supporting an alternative Republican candidate for Governor and Senate.

Despite this setback, the purge by Greer is evidence of how effective (and much-needed) our Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida is. The first rule of politics is that when you make political enemies as significant as the party chairman - you´re doing something right. Otherwise he would not
be wasting his time on the `lil `ole RLC.

But he is. The Florida RLC is tremendously effective - it´s able to mobilize grassroots activists across the state and lobby at the State Capitol - all while clinging to the principles we hold so dear.

Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock

I just saw Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock at the Tinker Street Cinema in Woodstock, NY. The concert, as the movie makes clear, was not in Woodstock but rather in White Lake, which is about 30 miles away. In real life Michael Lang, the then-young promoter of the Woodstock concert and often on horseback in the film, works out once in a while at the same gym I do, in the Emerson Inn and Spa. The film notes that its protagonist, Elliot Teichberg (aka Elliot Tiber), and Lang both grew up in Brooklyn not very far from my employer, Brooklyn College. I live about midway between Woodstock and where the concert actually was. During the summer of 1969 Jimi Hendrix lived about 4 miles away in Boiceville. He must have driven past my house, which was a small cabin then, when he drove to White Lake. I spent that summer as a janitor in a summer camp near Woodstock. I was only 15 years old and did not have the guts to ditch out and go to the concert. Even then I disliked crowds.

Taking Woodstock is a good movie. Ang Lee's direction, as usual, is crisp and sensitive. James Schamus's and Tiber's writing is excellent. All of the acting is very good. Demetri Martin as Elliot Teichberg is excellent as is Henry Goodman as Jake Teichberg. Imelda Staunton as Sonia Teichberg steals the show. She is great.

The film handles Teichberg's inner conflict about his homosexuality tastefully. But I thought that, like other recent movies about the Catskills such as Wendigo, it is unfair to the "locals". As the movie makes clear, there are at least two cultures in the Catskills. First, descendants of Dutch and Yankee settlers from the 18th and 19th centuries (for the most part the Catskills were settled almost as late as the American west because of a lengthy conflict and law suit about title to the Hardenburg patent, because the Livingstons' attempt to create a neo-feudal system by settling Scotch-Irish tenant farmers who were to sign three-generation leases failed, and because the Catskills are rocky, terrible farmland and have no natural resources except for their physical beauty, streams, wood and fish). Second, more recent immigrants from New York City and around the country.

An excellent book on Woodstock is the late Alf Evers' Woodstock: History of an American Town and his equally excellent Catskills: From Wilderness to Woodstock. The Catskills still has a remnant of true American individualism and there has always been an anti-establishment streak around here ever since the farmers used to dress as Indians and tar and feather the Livingstons' rent collectors. Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead and Hervey White selected Woodstock for an artists' colony in 1902 because of the area's physical beauty. Within a few years there was a division between the musicians, who moved to Maverick Road and the artists who remained at the original artists' colony on Byrdcliffe that is still there, where some of the earliest artists' lofts still exist. Of course, Woodstock is not White Lake, and the various cultures in Woodstock, the old artist culture which is still around, the weekenders, and descendants of the original townspeople have gotten along reasonably well, despite occasional resentments, and on occasion have married. The film depicts the people of White Lake as quick to exhibit prejudice, and although bigotry exists everywhere, I do not think that is a fair depiction of the Catskills culture, which I have loved for most of my life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Keep Big Brother Out of Our Schools

The Kingston Freeman editorialized in favor of President Obama's speech to school students. I wrote the following response:

Dear Editor:

Your editorial about Obama's speech is symptomatic of a division in American politics that is intensifying. Your Tuesday edition is riddled with it. The United States was built on the concept that private initiative and freedom maximize social welfare and that Americans ought to be free from government violence. Of course, the idea that government can be "violent" when it compels payment of taxes is alien to those on one side of the divide. But because of laissez-faire, the absence of government, the nation became the richest in the world, drawing huddled masses even as real wages grew two percent per year until the 1970s, when the effects of government expansion in the 1960s and expansion of Federal Reserve Bank power in 1971 began to take hold.

In the late 19th century, in part because Americans were awed by the German university and sent thousands of bright graduate students there, America's elite began to reject laissez-faire and began to advocate centralization and government violence, i.e., forcible extraction of taxes, redistribution of wealth (supposedly in the name of equality but inevitably toward the wealthy), and a wide range of failed government boondoggles that benefit the upper middle class at the expense of blue collar workers and small business. For the last century, newspapers and universities thus have advocated state expansion at the expense of freedom, individual initiative and entrepreneurship.

Thus, Pierre Angiel experiences bad advice from a government office about a badly designed government benefit plan, and, defying logic, his conclusion is to advocate total government control over all benefits. Patti Gibbons writes about corrupt and incompetent government in Kingston. And you editorialize that people who disagree with the President's statist ideology are wrong to shield their children from him.

President Obama was associated with hard leftists like Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pfleger prior to his election. Other than this and his confused health care proposal, his policies largely mirror those of George W. Bush. In fact, his promise of change with respect to the Iraqi War and economic policy are belied by his reappointment of President Bush's Secretary of Defense and Federal Reserve chairman. The assumptions that have driven both Bush's and Obama's presidencies are that subsidies to big business via monetary policy, corrupt bailouts. expansion of failed government programs at the expense of America's working population, and in general, big business socialism, are essential. Along with many Americans, I submit that the specter of big business socialism that Bush and Obama represent is a threat to this nation. President Eisenhower, who was not addressing school children, made a similar point about the military industrial complex.

Americans are right to shield their children from President Obama's version of Bush socialism. America is a nation based on freedom, not devotion to authority. We ought not permit Big Brother access to the classroom.

Sincerely,


Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D.
Town of Olive, West Shokan
845-657-8460

Monday, September 7, 2009

Robert Lenzner and Judge Richard Posner Argue for International Socialism

I responded to a Forbes article by Robert Lenzner in which Lenzner quotes Judge Posner in arguing that subsidies to large, incompetently run Wall Street firms that produce no value are essential because otherwise benefits to Posner's employers, the University of Chicago and the federal court system, will slow to a trickle.

Posner has made a career arguing that the judicial system optimizes social welfare. In Posner's view, the United States is wealthy because of judges and academics, not because of the innovation of the free market. In his view, all that is needed to become wealthy is further government control and centralization.

The difference between Posner and Stalin is this: whereas Posner, like Trotsky, argues for international socialism, Stalin argued for socialism in one country.

My response to Lenser follows:

Judge Posner's theory that he is smarter than the dynamic of markets is in a long tradition of advocacy of centralized economic planning that goes back to the days of the Emperor Diocletian. Posner's ideas worked so well in the Soviet Union and Cuba that he aims to transplant them here. The difference is that in the Soviet Union the spoils of socialism went to armed thugs, whereas in the USA Posner aims to distribute them to donors to the University of Chicago and his clients in the federal court system.

Posner's ideas do not work. The court system has done nothing to make the economy more rational. Rather, it has redistributed wealth to the wealthy. Now, Posner aims to extend his failed utilitarian strategy by subsidizing incompetently run Wall Street firms which have been cancer in the lungs of the American economy for a century.

The idea that Bear Stearns needed help from me is like saying that my grandfather's pneumonia ought to have been encouraged by his physician.

If Wall Street created value it would not need subsidies. If it created value, we would not need to transfer massive amounts of wealth to it annually via the Federal Reserve Bank's monetary expansion. Wall Street steals from the productive sector of the economy and donates it to the unproductive, say universities and the court system.

In the 19th century the American economy was relatively decentralized, there was no Fed, the courts had less power, and the real hourly wage increased two percent per year. In the 20th century we have increasing power arrogated to a self-serving federal court system and Wall Street, and real wages are increasing 2% per 25 years.

Posner, Lensner and the rest of the "oh dear Wall Street needs a trillion dollars of your money or the sky will fall" corrupt nexus of mass media, courts and academia should move to Cuba, that benign island nation off the shore of Florida where Posner's ideas flourish.