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Comments by JEM
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On “Fight Them All Together II: On Allahpundit’s questions

CK MacLeod wrote:

JEM wrote:
I think the moderate Muslim is under attack from groups like the one proposing to build the mosque near ground zero and when we try and validate them we hurt the moderate muslim who is trying to ignore the call to jihad.
That’s really rich. The “moderate Muslim is under attack” from a group that proposes to build a culture center explicitly dedicated to interfaith communication and a rejection of Bin Ladenism. And the brave protectors of “moderate Muslims” are the non-Muslim conservatives who ceaselessly claim that all Muslims are directly and inextricably responsible for Bin Ladenism.

Ok - now you are losing me on this one. We know who is financing this place. We know which groups they are affiliated with. If YOU can't see that don't deflect your blindness as some discriminatory affliction of the rest of us. If you don't think that battle is currently taking place within the observers of Islam then you need to pay more attention.

And where do you come off with the bin laden rap anyway. I didn't say that. You know what - your "tolerance" is responsible for lots of deaths. Yes - yours. If you don't want to own it - if you cannot deal with that reality - then so be it.

I think my time here at ZC is done, because if I read your comments in this thread - you are linking tolerance to moral bankruptcy.
You can sugar coat it as you like, but your attitude is one of please observe how morally superior I am while they kill somebody who isn't close to me. You sir, and it pains me to say this, are a coward with that last crack.

I am not suggesting that other religions haven't had their episodes, we all know they have. Guess what - that is pretty far in the past. Islam and its problems are here and now - and blood has been on its hands since its founding - and it has never stopped - never. If we are to help them find their reformation, or whatever we want to call it, we have to quit hiding behind wishy-washy words and concepts that they reject out of hand. My grand kids will not wear the burka. And the first person who tries to make them will be dead. And if the moderate Muslim wants me to keep thinking they are moderate, I need to see groups that are moderate and renounce jihad and act in the middle east the way they talk to the west. It is in very short supply.

Your path is death - I choose life.

Good afternoon - see the rest of you around the internet.

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I think the issue is one of duty to the constitution - which all citizens give an oath to defend if they are not naturally born.

Islam has a real problem with identifying the differences between their religion telling them to subjugate or kill all the non-believers and the constitution telling them everyone can believe as they choose. This is not a problem our other religions seem to be carrying with them at the moment.

I think the moderate Muslim is under attack from groups like the one proposing to build the mosque near ground zero and when we try and validate them we hurt the moderate muslim who is trying to ignore the call to jihad.

On “…and take all our separate planets with us

Now if you want to say that people just wanted hope and change and there was value in that and that my rather clinical assessment of his policies from an economic perspective is too narrow; it was the reality of those clinical assessments that had the people upset in the first place. If you are going to say FDR was great because he fooled people into thinking things were better economically, OK. But my definition of success and greatness requires something more.

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@ CK MacLeod:

Because I never took issue with your statement. How can I concede that which I have never denied. I merely stated, and continue to do so, that FDR's economic policies were a disaster and economically the 30s were stagnant, with no growth and high unemployment from beginning to end. That's all. Black's comment references an economic reality of a nation in total survival mode - not the product of FDR's policies. Your statements with regards to what the govt achieved during WWII was also in a war footing with the govt probably driving 90% of GDP. To both of your I state that it was unsustainable, and that the population was tiring of the sacrifices in mass as early as late 1943 after not much more than 2 years of active fighting. The decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan was of course a military one, but also a domestic politics issue of a nation who tasted victory in Europe and was impatent for the same in Japan. So while the accomplishments were tremendous, they were only going to last for a blip in time.

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Rex Caruthers wrote:

What you fail to recognize is that gold doesn’t have a constant value either – it fluctuates in relation to currencies.
Au Contraire,Currencies flucuate in relation to Gold.
In the coming alleged economic armageddon gold will be worthless, food and water and guns and bullets will be king. How could that be?
I’m not aware of Gold being worthless anywhere in the last 4000 years, but There’s always a first time.

For most people in a barter economy, gold doesn't even exist.

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@ CK MacLeod:

CK - I am not arguing that the people did not want what was served up, they clearly did. And FDR used propaganda to try and ease the angst, telling people things were getting better. But in reality, taking the decade as a whole up to WWII, it did not get better, it essentially stagnated. I am arguing that while politically perhaps progressivism was the only route to take that people chose to follow, with other routes completely out of favor, the route chosen was the wrong one. Had WWII not come who knows what might have happened and after WWII there was some immediate correction on labor laws as some politicans began to see there was a problem brewing. JFK realized the tax rate was way too high, and we began to separate what I would call economic central planning and social central planning. Though none would come out and say so, they realized that much of the economic policy of the progressives was counter-productive - they didn't come out and say so. They just did. And when Nixon pulled all his crap in the 70s with price controls, etc. we were reminded again of the fallacy of govt interference. The beauty of the current financial dust up was the melding of social justice theory with govt financial inducements to create a perfect storm. Alinsky would suggest that was the plan all along. That is why OSlash's current economic policies are looked at with the notion of is he stupid or devious?

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Rex Caruthers wrote:

I can’t believe you cannot answer a simple question yet
I’ll try again,you can’t devalue gold to Zero.
We’ll worry about running out of Gold later,right now,we need to reconstruct our currency,I’d be happy with $35 Oz money,wouldn’t you?

You can't? Why? I am serious. And your non-answer to my follow on question indicates you realize it has no answer for it means economic stagnation and the loss of value of labor, for productivity is no longer rewarded.

Gold is not necessary to reconstruct our currency. Just turning off the printing presses, reducing govt spending, and quit hiring govt workers would do wonders.

What you fail to recognize is that gold doesn't have a constant value either - it fluctuates in relation to currencies. In the coming alleged economic armageddon gold will be worthless, food and water and guns and bullets will be king. How could that be?

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@ narciso:

Can you direct to the passage that you feel supports your contention?

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@ Rex Caruthers:

I can't believe you cannot answer a simple question yet. Gold's value has been manipulated by govt's under the gold standard as well. Is it easier to print money - sure. It is just as easy to devalue either.

Now another question for you, which I have also asked many times to not just you but to many other gold bugs. What happens when we cannot find anymore gold? We know ore is getting less and less pure, so we might actually be beyond peak gold already. So what happens then?

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@ CK MacLeod:

I have conceded nothing - I have acknowledged the political environment of the times. That FDR's remedies were largely ineffective is pretty much without dispute. That I am willing to recognize the politics of the day seems strange to be some kind of concession that FDR was correct. He was not.

His legacy is farm price supports, which increasingly distort world markets while being paid to corporate behemoths, and a retirement program that while still largely popular has begun paying out more than it receives while its assets have been raided and replaced with IOUs. It will have to changed in our lifetimes pretty drastically yet when a young politician brings up some ideas the dems decry it and the GOP gets timid. I guess you could also say that his foundation laid the groundwork for medicare. You know where I stand on that. Very popularly supported, even when pased, but a disaster right now.

I will always give FDR credit for recognizing the gathering storm of WWII. However, his domestic economic programs were a disaster.

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Rex Caruthers wrote:

I don’t think you can because for a long time you haven’t yet given an explanation for why gold has value that would differ from paper.
Why do the markets believe it takes 1300 pieces of paper to equal the value of 1oz of gold? It takes a very unusual person to not understand that Gold backing makes paper money more valuable.

Rex, everytime you answer the question your answer is because people BELIEVE it does. Guess what, people BELIEVE paper does too. At times they like gold, at other times they like paper. So what is the difference?

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In any event - suggesting that Black's economic argument has any merit, as Rex did - I think we can all agree that FDR's economic policies in general did not work. We can argue until the cows come home if there were any other alternatives. There were, but neither the politicians nor the populace were willing to consider something that might have worked. To whitewash them of their negative consequences seems rather silly.

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@ CK MacLeod:

Did you mean this?

What was the debt to GDP numbers after WWII? Come on - it wasn't sustainable and you know it. Hoover was a govt action guy by the way as even my junior high social studies teacher taught me in 8th grade. Other options? How about reversing all the progressive crap and global tariffs that Hoover imposed.

This is a handy argument - progressive politics made a bad situation - the late 20s stock meltdown - worse, so the remedy was to do more of it. That sounds like the argument for programs from today. Let's let govt screw up the health care system with medicare and then blame the private sector for the mistake 30 years later. Lets let them screw up student loans and then take it over after they screwed it up.

Your argument that the population was wildly in favor of it is a statement of fact of course, but it doens't mean any of it was particularly effective. That is like suggesting we know we are going to fail but we are going to do it anyway.

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@ Rex Caruthers:
Rex - stick to what you know - every other western country had tax rates just as high and the ability to move capital was constrained by the financial logistics of the day - that is a fact. There is no value to gold beyond what we decide to give to it. Your explanation for its value is just as accurate as for paper. Your definition is worthless - you say gold has value because people say it does - try again. Why does paper have value - because people believe it does. In both cases faith, pure faith is the definition - so explain how they are different. I don't think you can because for a long time you haven't yet given an explanation for why gold has value that would differ from paper.

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@ Rex Caruthers:

Rex - I have no quibbles with the emphasis of the article, but it doesn't offer any arguemtn for gold or not. What the goldbugs always forget is that by their scenerio once we cannot find more gold our currency is done, it cannot expand and so goes economic expansion with it. Once again I will ask - why is gold valuable?

To Mr. Black's column, it is one of his own biases that he reveres FDR to a fault. FDR's economic policies were a disaster - unemployment cycled between horrific and terrible thoughout his pre-war adminstration. The conditions Black notes were almost exclusively a result of the war effort. To lend them credence because of any of his policies is ridiculous. In fact as the economy shrugged off bad policies he passed more which then dipped us again. Outside of prohibition and some infrastructure he was hopeless.

On “A time for not choosing

Rex, that is true, because as you know eventually the socialist - or progressive - will run out of other people's money. I liked Hungary's little announcement today - the Euro promptly broke 1.20

I tend to give Will's column more favorable marks just on the basis that you can never divine perfection, as CK notes even the founders had what I would call parochial concerns and took actions in what seemed like direct refutations of their handiwork, but Will's reflection on where does the progressive stop and at what point does their remedy become the problem is a good one. Of course CK and I will always argue on where that line is, but what Wilson supported was making people happy by government action as opposed to utilizing govt power to enable people to find what makes them happy. I saw this recently which really helped focus it for me from a recent Harvard University president:

"And so I think a government that tries, systematically, to relieve what causes lasting misery and emphasize what gives lasting happiness will eventually win the support of the people."

How does the govt determine what makes me happy? What if they do something that makes CK happy and me angry? The argument against progressivism is that who decides what is happiness and what is misery. Even CK's favorite poster child for progressive politics - child labor laws - now actually work against young people getting work experience. So how much is too much. They don't know how to stop and the present health care reform act is demonstrating, along with the BP spill, that govt has limits to what it can perform. We need to roll back and find that break even point.

On “…and take all our separate planets with us

CK - my comment:

to a populace that did want to believe them for very understandable reasons.

was actually meant to provide cover to the French and British politicians who were acting in accordance with a very prevalent thought in their populations - the drastic impact WWI had on their psyche. I believe Chamberlain was widely adored for the Munich peace in our time schtick. I question whether he really believed or just wanted to. Of course in less than a year there was a new Prime Minister in Britain, one who had been warning all the political class what was coming. I probably should have been more clear about which population I was speaking about. I realize that at the time the US was very isolationist as well and FDR had to combat that reality, but my comment was not referencing that situation.

Funny, but I ran across this posting in Contentions after I read the post:

"Crawshay-Williams {Churchill's private secretary - JEM ed.} wrote Churchill a meandering letter on June 27, 1940. He served in World War I, so he wasn’t a coward. But in 1940, he lacked the moral courage either to fight on or to argue straight-out that Britain had already lost the war. So he resorted to an argument that sounds familiar in the context of American declinism today: defeatism wasn’t defeatism; it was realism, and “if and when” an “informed view” demonstrated that there was no chance of victory, Britain should quit while the quitting was good. As is so often the case, the “informed view,” of course, was the pessimistic one.

In June 1940, Churchill was a very busy man, but he took the time to reply the next day. He didn’t, though, take too much time. His response, in its entirety, was as follows: “I am ashamed of you for writing such a letter. I return it to you — to burn & forget.” "

I believe there is a level of moral courage necessary to not think all is relative in this world, and I appreciate that this concept lies outside the norm in the political world where everything is relative. There is evil, and Israel is currently right in its crosshairs. We can quibble over Israel should have boarded the ship more heavily armed, been more prepared to share their story immediately with the press, etc. But it's errors in execution do not mean they were wrong to do so and they do not deserve the criticism they are receiving. It is a reflection of the world's notion of relativity. I think quibbling whether it is exactly this or that is insane - yes insane. I like to look at the big picture, often times bigger than most are willing to acknowledge. We are in a cultural war for our survival. And we are barely playing defense.

"

Nothing ever parallels the past but it can track uncomfortably close to past events on a general line and in that case I will forgive the author his perhaps overly simplistic analysis that suggests the western democracies seem to be sticking their heads in the sand because it is too difficult to either believe directly what our enemies say in broad daylight, or what our current leaders predominently say about nuclear disarmament when one nation just torpedoed another nation's ship and the other one has promised to wipe little zion off the face of the planet.

But hey, I work in the world of HR where we have to deal with the fact that all the fairy dust rules and laws don't mean a hill of beans to most employees and just work to keep bad employees on the job with a gun to their employer's head.

But, its all good - the fact that you have taken the exact opposite argument on progressives by giving the term a definition you are comfortable with, one that they never used for themselves, that's fine.

Guess what - I do believe in evil, and I believe it works to obtain power at all costs in order to lord over the rest of us. I find the parallels between now and the pre WWII era rather scary, your phrase - "Unfortunately, it’s entirely possible that both sides are equally right. On the good side, it’s absolutely certain that both sides are, unquestionably, wrong." - sounds like a world unwilling to confront what is facing them in the face. I believe if you read enough British and French pre WWII history you will notice your comment paraphrased by most of the leading political figures, to a populace that did want to believe them for very understandable reasons. The difference is that the leaders had information that the population did not. Hey, but what's 50 million dead between friends, right.

To FDR's credit, he understood that.
Had he not quietly begun the mobilization effort who knows what might have happened in Europe.

On “Look out below, the (other) sequel

Oh, I see, I didn't understand what you were saying in your post, my bad.

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?? Carter beat Reagan??

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Wow, that might be a record!

What to do is an interesting question, while I know you and I do not agree on the gold standard, there is still the duty to protect the value of the dollar, and we clearly are not doing that now. The Fed is promoting massive liquidity and only the more dire issues surrounding the Euro have given us some breathing room. And on a daily basis when the world thinks Europe can be OK - China announced it wouldn't sell its European debt - we see oil move up and the Euro rise. As I write the Euro is up to 1.23 and oil is sniffing $74 a barrel and the 10 yr US Bond has moved higher 20 basis points. What we have is a window, and so any US politician's array of options will be dictated by how bad it is at that time. I tend to believe Europe will manage to keep most bondholders busy for the next few years so I will attack your question with the assumption we have a little more time.

Really I think what you need to do are a few primary things and I think you will have the political capital to do them both. One, re-evaluate laws which "privatize profit and publicize risk". You really need to attack Freddie and Fannie hard, re-write what I assume will be a bad financial reform bill, restate the supremacy of bankruptcy laws, kill Sarbanes, and get rid of bills like the CRA. They are the engines of bubbles. Publically state there will be no "evolution" of employment law. Employers would like that.

Absolutely flatline the budget - and it will be politically popular, symbolically important and financially sound. This means you lay off people and cut the costs of all the rest. Everyone knows the govt overpays and has overly generous benefit packages. Introduce them to the real world. This has the added bonus of ticking off the public sector unions. If I was feeling really ambitious I would by executive order outlaw the unionization of public sector employees. There is no feedback mechanism to restrain their appetite. A great deal of our govt financial woes are as a result of the AFSCME and the SEIU.

The last area is entitlements. Very difficult but I think there would be some options here. Of course I would kill Obamacare day one, it is a budget busting, care rationing, monstrosity. In its place I would promote moving seniors in Medicare into Medicare Advantage accounts and cap the govt subsidy. If the govt contributes say $7000 a contract to Medicare today - it will do the same 5 years from now. Individual seniors can then determine the coverage levels they wish to pay for. This helps decrease the upward cost of Medicare and might make the program sustainable in the short term, plus would eliminate the cost shift from Medicare to private insurance; we have bigger issues in healthcare but that would be a start. On SS I really think you need to find a bridge to privatization and my thought would to be make SS optional, with another approved but privately held account option available, funded by an amount equal with the current taxes. I would probably start with under 30 types.

Thats a thought of what I would do.

"

As an HR guy, I am seeing the quiet killer and of course we all see the very public one.

Obama's criticism of Bush's handling of Katrina, which had some validity, is painful when you realize Obama's performance with the BP spill is worse. It is hurting the cover he gets from the left because the environmental wackos (to borrow a phrase) are now taking shots at him. Jindal is waiting on someone to at least respond to his sand berm proposal to try and protect the Louisiana marsh and coastline. I think we are on almost 2 weeks now. The lack of leadership is there for all to see.

His handling of Arizona illegal alien situation has likewise bit him in a very powerful way. I think like 70% of the population is now in support of it and Obama's lackeys who criticized without reading it (it looks like federal immigration statutes) just made his administration look stupid. The reason he cannot fight it is because the only argument he has - usurption of federal authority - has already been ruled on in the favor of the state vs the fed in a previous SCOTUS ruling. When you add on the incredibly stupid handling of the president of Mexico's visit and congressional address you are losing blue collar democrats. PA 12 was won by a democrat who sounded just like a conservative republican, running against everything Obama stands for, such that if he now fails to vote like it, he will get wiped out in November.

Lastly healthcare. We all know it is unpopular with the important 60% in favor of repeal level being just broken. But more importantly is the role the nation's employers (people like me) are playing in proving no you likely won't keep your current plan, and the costs are going up. HHS's inability to provide very basic interpretations of the laws requirements has every benefit department is slowing everything up. Word I heard is that everytime they make a decison the badness that we all said was there becomes obvious and the politics go a little further south. So they are being pressured to stop making decisions (just like their C in C) in order to stop the bleeding. With each delay, employers let their employees know they cannot answer their questions because the govt regulations aren't complete. A vicious cycle.

Obama is a weak leader who has no ability to persuade anyone to his side. His support among black American's is propping up his poll numbers, he is esssentially around post 2006 Bush numbers and still falling. He looks like a deer in the headlight, angry that the spot light on these other concerns is stopping his larger agenda. The GOP can still screw up (see Rand Paul), but Obama is dead in the ocean and taking on water. He will sink further. McMahon was a terrible choice in Connecticut - but if the GOP can pull that one one out the Senate will flip. Boxer is in a fight, and now Washington is in play. Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvannia, Delaware are probably already gone. And Obama will be a drag on each and every one of the rest.

On “Forgetting Wilson (Reply to Jonah Goldberg)

The link is consistent with my understanding of the period.

As to your latest, Huckebee doesn't strike me as a conservative Burkean standard bearer. The political alliance between social and fiscal conservatives have been more on the basis that social conservative's values and morals are more likely to be protected in a more conservative fiscal environment wiith less govt safety nets in place, where the ramifications of "poor" decisions are much more serious.

Where the cultural battle is joined is that the progressives overcame local law to enforce national standards, and we have constitutional amendments to show how those fights turned out. But it went from significant amendments on the aftermath of slavery to madeup rights to privacy on abortion where prostitution was ignored. Hell, Rand Paul just got tripped up on it. I understand where he was coming from but based upon the conditions of the time and the clear disregard for the amendments coming out of the Civil War, something needed to be done. A better answer would have been, yes I would have voted for it but not for what it has become.

That would have been a home run - that he hasn't seen it yet indicates he isn't ready for prime time - where as Paul Ryan clearly is. Rand just grounded out to the pitcher with the bases loaded.

"

I will take a look at your link. I take issue with your definition of "right" however in that post. He was attacked by other progressives for not being into the fight enough. Even JG acknowledged that in LF. Wilson was not the brightest light crying for joining in the fight.

Feels good to get back into the scrum.

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Oh, I have no love for the corporation either. And I have a great deal of suspicion for them, particularly when they go to govt to force me to use their product.

The profit motive per se is not altruistic or greedy. The motivation it has creates the ability over the aggregate to provide the best allocation of resources that fits the desires of the most people. It is, in a sense, the most efficient. And I doubt most conservatives would doubt the requirement for govt to set rules for how business will be conducted and provide for the enforcement of contract and property rights. If govt were happy to be the impartial umpire, no problem.

However, the govt has increasingly decided I will pick winners and losers. We subsidize risk and privatize profit. Why didn't we allow the nation's bankruptcy laws to deal with GM and Chrysler? Why did we prop up AIG in order to faciliatate the total recovery of loss to Goldman Sachs and others? Why didn't we allow the rules to play out over businesses that made poor decisions and let them reap the consequences? A great deal of the financial trouble came because in addition to poor govt policy, we also guarenteed to bail out institutions. Why didn't we allow more to fail, or extract more grievous penalties to support them. I don't mean to underestimate the ramifications of a crippled financial center, it is is necessary for our continued prosperity. But why not make them understand that if you make crazy bets - the whole securitized subprime mortgage mess - you pay, not the tax payer.

As to my comment on national security/war with TR, Wilson and FDR, I can grant that FDR and Wilson had external issues driving decisions. I think FDR was always more "worldly" if you will than Wilson who I believe looked more inward. But Wilson's practices domestically were nothing like FDR's even when the threat was greater during WWII than WWI. In JG's reply to CK's criticisms, he listed in summary some pretty nasty domestic policies of Wilson's that make the War on Terror security measures we have taken look lame. I will grant the internment of the west coast Americans of Japanese descent by FDR was pretty bad, but he was facing what many military experts feared was a pending invasion of the west coast by Japan. Wilson had nothing similar to fear.

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