Patterico's Pontifications

3/31/2009

Should Women Have the Right to Vote? Is This Even An Issue???

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:11 pm

You wouldn’t think that women’s right to vote would be an issue in the United States in 2009. But apparently it is — in Texas.

What’s going on here?

The controversy surrounds an El Paso Indian tribe which bans female voting. Watch the video at the link and despair as a bunch of lawmakers sanctimoniously discuss how they shouldn’t be imposing their views on a sovereign nation.

This reminds me of when Silvio Berlusconi took a bunch of flak several years ago, for saying that our Western culture is superior to that of Islam:

“We must be aware of the superiority of our civilization, a system that has guaranteed well–being, respect for human rights and – in contrast with Islamic countries – respect for religious and political rights.” He hoped the “the West will continue to conquer peoples, like it conquered Communism.”

I remember, at the time, thinking: well, he’s right. Our culture is superior.

I’m not talking about religion. I’m not even religious. I’m talking about respect for human rights — in particular women’s rights. I’m talking about honor killings. About lashing women for the crime of being raped. About preventing them from voting, and driving, and working. And involuntary female circumcision.

A culture that engages in such barbaric practices is inferior. Period.

And so is the culture of an American Indian tribe that prevents women from voting.

I’m no expert on the laws of this country with respect to the interface of American Indian sovereignty and U.S. sovereignty. But, morally and practically, it seems to me that some basic principles have to be non-negotiable. Things like severe punishment for crimes of violence; respect for property rights — and voting rights for women. Anything else takes sovereignty too far.

And if we can make Islam respect women’s rights, I’m for that, too.

There Is No Freedom Without Capitalism

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:43 pm

This morning I said: without capitalism, there is no freedom. A couple of commenters took issue with that statement. They are wrong, and the explanation is vital.

Understanding the relationship of capitalism to freedom is fundamental to understanding why Obama’s handling of the economic crisis is such a disaster. Now that we’ve moved beyond the President firing corporate CEOs to Barney Frank seeking to set corporate salaries, we have to be crystal clear on this point.

Let me turn over the microphone to Thomas Sowell, who wrote in his book Basic Economics:

Too often a false contrast is made between the impersonal marketplace and the compassionate policies of various government programs. But both systems face the same scarcity of resources and both systems make choices within the constraints of that scarcity. The difference is that one system involves each individual making choices for himself or herself, while the other system involves a smaller number of people making choices for others.

It may be fashionable for journalists to refer to “the whim of the marketplace,” as if that were something different from the desires of people, just as it was once fashionable to refer to “production for use, rather than for profit” — as if profits could be made by producing things that people cannot use or do not want to use. The real contrast is between choices made by individuals for themselves and choices made for them by others who presume to define what these individuals “really” need.

Simply put:

Capitalism is each individual making choices for himself.

Socialism is those who claim to know best, making your choices for you.

The former is freedom. The latter is anything but.

Moral Disorder in Oakland

Filed under: Buffoons,Crime — Jack Dunphy @ 10:23 am

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

My column on the recent horrors in Oakland is up on NRO today. I was particularly appalled by Oakland mayor Ron Dellums’s inability to condemn the behavior of those in Oakland who expressed support for Lovelle Mixon, the man who killed four Oakland police officers on March 21. below is a selection from the column, but I invite you to read the whole thing and leave your comments here.

Last week, Oakland mayor Ron Dellums met with reporters and discussed the shootings. One reporter expressed his surprise at finding so many people who seemed indifferent or even jubilant at the death of four police officers. “People in the neighborhood,” said the reporter to Dellums, “said they were not sympathetic — they expressed no sympathy for the officers when we went down there. What does that tell you?”

Incredibly, Dellums couldn’t muster the courage to denounce such people. “I don’t want to comment about that,” said the mayor. “This is a moment of tremendous grief and tragedy. This is not a time to politicize death.” Only in Oakland and a handful of other cities would it be considered “political” to condemn such execrable behavior. With leadership like that, is it any wonder that Oakland finds itself in its present condition?

I suspect that if the racial equation in this incident were inverted, Mayor Dellums would have had quite a bit to say.

–Jack Dunphy

David Horowitz Is Right — And Also, Terribly Wrong

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:28 am

David Horowitz has a piece titled Obama Derangement Syndrome. He makes two basic points. First, that Obama is not the anti-Christ, and that treating him as such makes us little better than the “Bush is Hitler” crowd we despised for eight years. Second, that Obama’s policies aren’t really that radical or worrying.

I agree with the first point and strongly disagree with the second. Horowitz mushes these two issues together into one global “Obama isn’t that bad” thesis, which is a mistake, because it gives Obama a pass on his radical socialist policies.

Let’s start with the part that will upset the conservatives:

I have recently received commentaries that claim that “Obama’s speeches are unlike any political speech we have heard in American history” and “never has a politician in this land had such a quasi-religious impact on so many people” and “Obama is a narcissist,” which leads the author to then compare Obama to David Koresh, Charles Manson, Stalin and Saddam Hussein. Excuse me while I blow my nose.

This fellow has failed to notice that all politicians are narcissists – and that a recent American president was a world-class exponent of the imperial me. So what? Political egos are one of the reasons the Founders put checks and balances on executive power. As for serial lying, is there a politician that cannot be accused of that?

I think that when people start comparing Obama to David Koresh, Charles Manson, Stalin, and Saddam Hussein, we are indeed in “Bush is Hitler” territory.

I spent eight years watching a crazy set of people on the left use every trick in the book to attack and tear down President Bush on a personal level. They seized on every maladroit turn of phrase to suggest that he was a moron. They distorted his policy pronouncements, trumped up phony issues, and displayed an unyielding self-righteousness that justified literally any tactic used in service of their political ends. This is why they felt comfortable demonizing Bush to the point where they compared him to Hitler.

Remember how we hated that?

Now that our guy is out of power, we have to decide: did we hate those tactics because they were wrong? Or only because they were used in service of the other guy?

I do not want to see us becoming the conservative nutroots. It is not, as some suggest, that I am some “country club Republican.” I despise those people.* It is because I do not want to become that which I hate. When we make a mountain out of the molehill of Obama’s birth certificate; when we seize on a “Special Olympics” joke as the Height of Outrage and manufacture trumped-up howling rather than dismissing it as a dumb thing to say; when we insist on comparing Obama to mass murderers . . . when these things happen, we are becoming what we hated.

There are those who stand up against such nonsense; people like David Horowitz, or in the blogosphere: Allah, Ace, Charles Johnson, and others. We can start drawing up a growing list of Insufficiently Pure Conservatives and cast them out as apostates — or we can recognize that they have performed years of valuable service in support of the conservative cause, and that they are trying to keep us from taking on the worst traits of our enemy.

It’s seductive to take on those traits because of the justifiable anger we feel over Obama’s policies, which are ruining this country. And this is where I disagree with Horowitz. Horowitz says:

So what’s the panic? It is true that Obama has shown surprising ineptitude in his first months in office, but he’s not a zero with no accomplishments as many conservatives seem to think – unless you regard beating the Clinton machine and winning the presidency as nothing. But in doing this you fall into the “Bush-is-an-idiot” bag of liberal miasmas.

It is also true Obama has ceded his domestic economic agenda to the House Democrats and spent a lot of money in the process. But what’s the surprise in this?

No, it’s no surprise, but that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. We now have a situation where the CEO of a major American car company is resigning at the behest of the American president, and everyone is nodding their heads as though it makes perfect sense. It doesn’t. This is insanity. Putting the government in charge of our economy is socialism. It represents the end of capitalism, and without capitalism, there is no freedom.

FDR started to ruin this country with the New Deal, which gave us huge unsustainable government programs. LBJ kept the path of destruction going with the Great Society, which gave us new programs which essentially created a new underclass of people who maintain an irresponsible and criminal lifestyle using government funds. Obama is putting the final nail in the coffin, with trillions of irresponsible spending that will cripple our children financially, and with a mindset of centralized control of economic decisionmaking.

We have to fight it, and the first step is recognizing it for what it is — and how dangerous it is.

The Feds are closing in on Sen. Dodd’s Sugar Daddy

Filed under: General — Karl @ 5:52 am

[Posted by Karl]

Yesterday’s Washington Times broke the story about AIG executives and their spouses being squeezed for donations to Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).  But who did the squeezing?

The message in the Nov. 17, 2006, e-mail from Joseph Cassano, AIG Financial Products chief executive, was unmistakable: Mr. Dodd was “next in line” to be chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which oversees the insurance industry, and he would “have the opportunity to set the committee’s agenda on issues critical to the financial services industry.”

***

Mr. Dodd’s campaign quickly hit pay dirt, collecting more than $160,000 from employees and their spouses at the AIG Financial Products division (AIG-FP) in Wilton, Conn., in the days before he took over as the committee chairman in January 2007. Months later, the senator transferred the donations to jump-start his 2008 presidential bid, which later failed.

Ed Morrissey thought the Federal Election Commission might want to investigate whether those donations were reimbursed.

Guess what? Cassano has bigger problems than the FEC:

The FBI and federal prosecutors are reportedly closing in on the AIG executive whose suspect investments cost the insurance giant hundreds of billions of dollars. The government is investigating whether or not 54-year old Brooklyn-native Joseph Cassano committed criminal fraud in virtually bankrupting the company.

“He almost single-handedly is responsible for bringing AIG down and by reference the economy of this country,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Ca.)

***

“AIG was insuring junk and it was the AIG insurance that made the junk marketable,” said tax law expert Jack Blum. “American taxpayers have been put on the hook for this insurance junk.” 

Even as the bad loans began to emerge, Cassano boasted to Wall Street analysts that his transactions, called credit default swaps, were foolproof.

***

An ABC News investigation found that Cassano set up some dozens of separate companies, some off-shore, to handle the transactions, effectively keeping them off the books of AIG and out of sight of regulators in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

 “This is the other very important issue underneath the AIG scandal,” said Blum. “All of these contracts were moved offshore for the express purpose of getting out from under regulation and tax evasion.”

But wait… there’s more!  AIG-FP’s internal auditor, Joseph St. Denis, alleges that Cassano deliberately thwarted St. Denis’ effort to do his job, reminding some of the Enron and WorldCom cases.  TPM Muckraker has a handy Cassano timeline with further details.  Cassano is based in London, but AIG-FP is reportedly under investigation by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office in addition to the FBI and Congress.  And at least one of the execs whose bonuses sparked the populist rage of the past few weeks was assisting in the investigation.

One thing we learned from the AIG bonus furor is that those populists are not very discriminating in their rage.  Consequently, the fact that 84% of AIG-FP donations went to the Democrats and that Dodd has a habit of legislating windfalls for the insurance industry at taxpayer expense suggests that Cassano was not the only one having a bad day yesterday.

–Karl


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