October 3, 2008

Why The Bailout is not Really a Bailout

While the term seems to be popular in the media, this "bailout" is technically nothing of the kind. Here are the reasons why the corporations are not really getting away with as much as you might think, and why it's not quite the end of the world everyone seems to think it is:

- Just punishment: The companies themselves are the ones enduring the loss, not the government. The government is buying the shares at below normal cost right now. So the tax payers (by proxy) are getting the shares at bargain rates. The current stock holders will end up being the final losers.

- No golden parachutes. There is a cap on how much compensation departing CEOs can get.

- The companies will not just disappear. They will continue to function as they did before. It is likely that they will increase in value over time. While no investment is risk free, this investment is extremely low risk. In the end the American People stand to lose little or nothing (and may even make a profit), while averting a potentially devastating economic disaster.

- The government is not running these companies. The shares the government is purchasing will not have voting rights. Since they dont have voting rights, the companies are, in essence, still private companies. Decisions will still be made by the voting shareholders.

- Ultimately, this is not a sign that America is finally degenerating into socialism, since it will not be ongoing. The government has no intention of maintaining permanent ownership...just recouping it's investment. The bill includes provisions that will mandate that the assets be sold at a future date.

- No one is being forced to sell their shares. The bill simply authorizes the Treasury Dept to purchase the shares available. It does not compel anyone to sell them.

There are still a lot of things I don't like about the bill. Congress managed to stuff billions more pork into it to get it to pass. If I can find the details of exactly who was responsible for this added pork (from either party), I will be posting them here shortly.

Yes, I am a free market capitalist. I believe that capitalism works best with as little government interference as possible. But while I originally opposed this bailout, I have to reluctantly admit that I can see why it was necessary. The alternatives were worse, and we have to work with what we've got.

February 14, 2008

Superdelegates: The Democrat Aristocracy

The so-called "Democratic" party exercises some distinctly non-democratic methods in the choosing of it's Presidential candidates. There are people within the Democrat party whose opinions apparently matter more than those of the common people of the party. These people are known as Superdelegates.

The Superdelegates are basically an elite class of Democrats who have the option of overriding the popular will of the rest of the party by virtue of their status within the party. These elite individuals include all Democrats currently in Congress, all current Democrat governors, all current members of the Democratic National Committee, all former Democrat Presidents and Vice Presidents, all former Democrat Senate leaders, all former Democrat Speakers of the House, all former Democrat Minority leaders, and all former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee.

Each of these individuals is afforded their own vote as if they were a delegate. They are not obligated to follow the will of the party majority. If the race is close enough, they basically get to decide who the party nominee will be, regardless of who got the most actual (popular) votes. The technical term for this is a Brokered Convention.

The empty egalitarianism of the Democrat party is clearly exposed here. They are not really in favor of true equality, but only the illusion of equality. Granted the Republican party also exercises a variant of this system, but to a far lesser degree (due both to tradition and to the fact that Superdelegates have far less power and autonomy within the Republican party). While both systems should be abhorrent to everyone who values political equality, the Democrat system is far more offensive due to it's blatant hypocrisy. This is the party that claims to defend the rights of the little people, yet does not want to little people to actually decide who leads them. Made even more poignant in the wake of the 2000 elections, in which many (many) Democrats whined and complained about Bush's victory over Gore by an electoral majority. "He wasn't elected, he was selected" they said. Apparently is it not as offensive when it is Democrat Elites who are doing the selecting.

In recent interviews one Democrat Superdelegate was quoted as saying they intend to vote with the majority this time around, even though they are not obligated to do so. It remains to be seen if they will follow through with this promise. But either way, this twisted parody of democracy needs to come to an end in both parties. It can't happen soon enough for me.

February 8, 2008

Ann Just Can't Keep Her Damn Mouth Shut

In a recent Fox interview, Ann Coulter was quoted as saying she would campaign for Hillary if McCain wins. Here is an excerpt from that interview:

COULTER: No, and if you're looking at substance rather than whether it's an R or D after his name, manifestly, if our's candidate than Hillary's going to be our girl, Sean, because she's more conservative than he is. I think she would be stronger on the war on terrorism. I absolutely believe that.

HANNITY: That's the one area I disagree with you.

COULTER: No, yes, we're going to sign up together. Let me explain that point on terrorism.

HANNITY: You'd vote for Hillary —

COULTER: I will campaign for her if it's McCain.

She has said a lot of stupid things, but this really takes the cake. Even Rush Limbaugh couldn't find it in himself to defend this insipid comment. It is just so ridiculous. No matter how liberal you may think McCain's views are (and yes, he has some very liberal views) he is most certainly more conservative than Hillary Clinton, as well as every other Democrat front runner.

Does she honestly believe that Hillary is going to be a better choice to lead the War on Terror than John McCain? My guess is no; she is doing it for attention, which in turn puts money in her pocket. I don't believe she is a stupid woman, and she doesn't appear insane, so the only conclusion I have left is that her greed has overwhelmed her ideology. Which is actually more disappointing. I would almost rather that she were stupid or insane.

I never really took her that seriously anyway, but any credibility she had with me before evaporated with that stupid comment. While he may not be conservative enough on most issues, on every issue John McCain is more conservative than Hillary Clinton. And to any real (sane) conservative, that would be obvious.

I know you need to sell your books Ann, but please try to avoid stabbing the party in the back in the process.

October 7, 2007

What are we Fighting For?

This is the question liberals constantly ask me. As if this should end any argument for staying there.

The truth is, we have a variety of reasons why we need to stay there. So I will debunk the various liberal arguments in order:

What happened to "Mission Accomplished"?
This is an example of how Liberals seem to think in a very linear way. The short answer is that the mission WAS accomplished; the context of that banner was the removal of Saddam and his government. Yes, that was accomplished. Our goal was to remove Saddam. We removed Saddam. Therefore, the mission was accomplished.

That is separate and distinct from subsequent missions (holding elections and establishing a democracy for example). The fact that we completed the mission of removing Saddam doesn't mean that the threat is gone or that our job is done. There is more than one mission. The "mission accomplished" banner was in reference to only one of them.

So why are we still there?
The main reason we are still there is to help the Iraqis entrench their democracy. The democracy might succeed even if we pull out. But the chances that it will fail (and the risk that another Saddam-like dictator will come to power) increase exponentially if we leave. Because they cannot adequately defend themselves from the anti-democracy forces that are trying to topple them.

The main reason we are there is to function as a stop-gap military and police force until the Iraqis can build one of their own. We are giving them breathing room in order to establish their own defenses against the infection of anti-democracy forces aligned against them.

What do we have to gain by staying there?
The permanent removal of a threat to us, as well as a potential ally.

Statistically speaking, democracies almost never attack one another. Even if the Iraqi democracy never becomes an ally of the US, they are extremely unlikely to cooperate with terrorists. That alone makes our efforts worth it; It is one less nation that terrorists will not be able to colonize.

There is also the possibility that a successful Iraq can start a democracy cascade in the Middle East, leading to the potential birth of other democracies. Right now a lot of people (both here and over there) are operating under the assumption that Muslims are incapable of sustaining a democracy. That there is some kind of fundamental difference between our cultures that precludes the possibility of a Muslim democracy. A successful Iraq will prove them wrong, and demonstrate that the people of the Middle East can indeed live in democracies. That it is a viable alternative for them.

But isn't it wrong to force a Western-style democracy on the People of Iraq?
This one always makes me laugh...as if giving them the opportunity to choose to make their own laws is somehow immoral. It is not. It is like saying it is wrong to "force" someone to breathe.

Furthermore, there is no such thing as a "western style" democracy. That is a fabrication of the left. Either a nation is a democracy or it is not. The definition of "democracy" is very clear....it requires only that the common people ultimately control political power (either directly or by proxy). Technically speaking, we did not install a US-style democracy. Iraq has a parliamentary system. We do not have a Parliamentary system.

In any event, the People of Iraq now have control of their government. Their current politicians were freely elected (not appointed by the US). And their Constitution was ratified by a large majority of the population. They have the ability to alter their Constitution just as we do. So if they really don't want a "western style" democracy, they have the power to change it.

If you support the war, why aren't you over there fighting instead?
This argument is kind of a cop out on the part of liberals. But its a common one, so I will address it.

First of all, we have a 100% volunteer military. Not a single soldier was conscripted. Every single person fighting in Iraq (without exception) is there because they chose (for whatever reason) to join the military.

Second, we don't have to participate directly in every dangerous profession in order to have an opinion on what the people in that profession should do. Liberals don't seem to have a problem being anti-crime, even though most of them are not cops, and don't have to risk their own lives confronting dangerous criminals. They don't seem to have a problem believing that Firefighters should have to fight fires, even though the vast majority of them have chosen not to become firefighters themselves, and so do not have to face the same risks firefighters do. So why is it any different with soldiers? The argument is incredibly hypocritical.

The function of the military is to defend the nation. Establishing a democracy in Iraq will contribute to our long term security in a significant way. Most people in the military seem to agree. Support for the war is actually higher in the military than it is in the civilian population. But even if that weren't true, they don't get to override the will of the nation. And the elected representatives of our nation have decided that the war is necessary. A soldier does not get to pick and choose which wars he wants to fight.

These are just the purely selfish reasons we have to establish the Iraqi democracy. There is also a moral imperative; It is MORAL to spread freedom to people who are not already free. It is justified for no other reason than because it is the right thing to do.

March 21, 2007

Do the Iraqis want us out?

Not according to a recent poll by the BBC.

Almost since the war began, liberals have been claiming that one of the reasons we should withdraw is because the Iraqis do not want us there. 2000 Iraqis were asked (unambiguously) in this poll whether or not they wanted us to remain. This poll makes it very clear that a large majority want us to remain.

The poll had a few more surprises as well. Another liberal assumption that they often project as if it were fact is that Iraq is currently embroiled in a civil war. However the poll showed that most Iraqis do not seem to agree. 56% of those polled claim that Iraq is not in a civil war.

The real issue seems to be the definition of what a civil war is. The liberal definition seems to be unreasonably broad. According to them, a violent conflict between two factions for control of the nation is a civil war. But by that definition, most nations on Earth would be in a civil war...even the US.

The majority of Iraqis appear to agree with the rest of us that the factions must be sufficiently large to merit the label of "civil war". And the insurgency in Iraq accounts for a tiny fraction of the overall population. Therefore, it is unreasonable to call it a civil war. It would be like saying the US is in a civil war because we are combating the KKK or the Mafia.

Many liberals have also been suggesting for a long time that the easiest way to solve the problem is to simply give each of the major factions their own state. It is unreaqsonable, they insist, to impose a single state solution on them when it is "obvious" that they do not want to live with each other.

But the poll suggests somthing much different; by a large margin, they want a single state solution. Even a majority of Kurds, who have wanted their own autonomy for a long time, said they would rather have a single unified Iraq. More than that, a VAST majority (94%) of those polled said they would not want to divide along sectarian lines.

So the will is obviously there. Despite all the problems they have with each other, despite the daily violence, they are still willing to try to live together.

They had something to say about their neighbors as well. They are apparently not blind to the fact that Iran, Syria, and even Saudia Arabia have their hands in the Iraq pie, trying to destabalize their new democracy.

The poll had a great deal of negative items as well. Support for Coalition forces has declined sharply, and qualifty of life has suffered a great deal. The poll does indicate that they do not believe we are making the best decisions. But it is very clear that despite this, they see the US as a means to a better life. That they do believe we will succeed eventually. A majority polled said they expect that their children will have a better life than they had.

Given the problems (both internal and external) problems with the transition were to be expected. But even the Iraqis themselves believe we will probably succeed.

February 6, 2007

For the Last Time: Iran is not a Democracy

Apparently there are still a lot of people confused about Iran's political system. Although it looks like a democracy on the surface, it is not a true democracy. The liberal media seems to be doing everything they can (short of outright lying) to try to encourage this illusion.

This chart from the BBC illustrates their complex political system. But notice the red dotted line...that line indicates that the Guardian Council has veto power over who the electorate is allowed to vote for. It would be as if Republicans could arbitrarily deny all non-Republicans the right to run for office.

Wikipedia has a pretty good write-up of the Guardian Council. Here is an excerpt:

All candidates of parliamentary or presidential elections, as well as candidates for the Assembly of Experts, have to be qualified by the Guardian Council in order to run in the election. The Council is accorded "supervision of elections".

The guardian council interprets the term supervision in Article 99 as "approbation supervision" which implies the right for acceptance or rejection of elections legality and candidates competency. This interpretation is in contrast with the idea of "notification supervision" which does not imply the mentioned approval right.

So there is no check on them under Iran's system...if they say you are unfit to run, there is no recourse. Naturally, one could assume that they would probably not allow anyone to run who would potentially limit or remove their power.

Which means they can basically dictate policy just like any other Oligarchy, because only the people who reflect their views will be allowed to even have a chance at being elected.

de·moc·ra·cy di-mok-ruh-si/ –noun, plural -cies

1. government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme
power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

Since the People are arbitrarily limited in who they are allowed to vote for, Iran is not a real democracy. It is an oligarchy cloaked in the skin of a democracy.

February 1, 2007

Why Conservatives are Wrong About Venezuela

I have been hearing a lot of panic from conservatives concerning the recent changes in Venezuela's government. I am used to seeing liberals exaggerate trivial events way out of proportion, but I am surprised to see conservatives doing the same thing when it comes to Chavez. The latest source of hysteria has centered around the 18 month "Rule by Decree" that Venezuelan legislators have granted Chavez, which he intends to use to nationalize resources and remove term limits.

To hear other conservatives talk, you would think that Venezuela was effectively a dictatorship. There is no dictatorship for the following reasons:

  • The "sweeping powers" are not unlimited, and are only valid for the next 18 months.
  • At the end of that time, they may be extended, but only if elected Venezuelan legislators decide to extend them. He cannot grant himself an extension.
  • Removing term limits does not mean he cant be removed from office. He still has to win re-election to stay in power.
Yes, Chavez is a commie-loving socialist. But Venezuela is still technically a democracy. These "sweeping powers" that have been granted by Venezuelan legislators can also be removed by them as well. He does not have dictatorial powers.

Much of the hissy fit seems to center around Chanvez's desire to remove Presidential term limits. Personally, I don't see the problem with term limits in general. Of all the horrible mistakes Chavez is making (with the blessing of the Venezuelan People apparently) this is the one issue I actually agree with him on. Why not leave it up to the People to determine how long a politician stays in power? Term limits to me smack of nanny-state babysitting....as if we are somehow unable to determine when we don't want someone in power anymore. There should be no term limits for any elected official in my opinion.

Far be it from me to defend Chavez however. I definitely think the Venezuelan People are making a huge mistake. The man is a buffoon.

But the truth is that it is THEIR mistake to make. Venezuela is not a real threat to us; their technology is horribly obsolete. A perfect example being the missile air defenses they recently purchased. These systems only have a range of 22,000 feet. The F-16, F-117, and B2 Stealth Bomber all have ceilings of 45,000 feet or more. The missiles would not even be able to reach us if we ever did decide to bomb them. The most advanced fighters they have are SU-30s, and even then only a handful of those. Their conventional military is not a threat to us.

Aside from the fact that it would be morally wrong to interfere in their electoral process, it would also be a huge mistake on our part, which he would be quick to exploit. So long as they remain a democracy, we need to stay out of their political affairs and let them learn from their own mistakes just like we did. Demonstrating our sincerity in our desire to spread democracy is at least as important as our reolve in confronting threats to democracy.

January 28, 2007

Another successful test for National Missile Defense

THADD is the 2nd tier layer of National Missile Defense. In the test the system successfully intercepted another missile over the Pacific:

This fifth missile defense intercept since June of 2006 builds more and more confidence in our technical and operational capability to defeat ballistic missile attacks. The THAAD missile system is the next layer in our current deployed missile defense systems which are based world-wide that includes the ground-based GBI’s, Aegis Sea-Based SM-3 missiles and the ground based Patriot 3 systems. This demonstration of the THAAD system will question the investment that both Iran and North Korea are putting into offensive ballistic missiles.
The missile intercepted was a single-stage ballistic missile. It was destroyed through kinetic impact, meaning that it physically impacted the target.

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January 27, 2007

The Democrat Party

I have seen this on the forums for a while, but it seems to be spilling into the TV media as well now. Democrats getting pissed off because their party is referred to as the "Democrat" party instead of the "Democratic" party.

Aside from the fact that it is entertaining to see them pissed off over something so ridiculously trivial, the term is technically correct. After all, you don't refer to them collectively as "The Democratics". They are "The Democrats".

Presumably, the main reason they are pissed off about it is because they want to portray other parties as "non-Democratic". So it is just kind of funny to see Republicans needle them over this. I heard Rush mention it on his show last week, but I also heard it on CNN tonight (some commentator casually whining about it during a debate). The fact that it bothers them at all is pretty funny.