Palin: The Next Chapter

I like Sarah Palin. She has good values and great courage. I’ve been impressed with what she has been able to accomplish in Alaska. She has shown that she will do what’s right, even if it is inconvenient, and even when it requires confrontation with her own party. Unlike a senator from Arizona who will remain nameless, Palin is a maverick for all the right reasons.

Palin’s ability to energize the conservative base is quite impressive and her natural political talents are outstanding. Conservatives will not soon forget what she said at the RNC: “…Here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion – I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country. Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reasons, and not just to mingle with the right people.” The way Palin delivered those words was very inspiring, and it was obvious that she meant every word. She declared war when she gave that speech, and she stoically paid the price when “those reporters and commentators” came at her with all their slings and arrows.

Palin will be a tremendous asset to the conservative movement for many years to come. Early next week, Palin will be travelling to Georgia to campaign on behalf of Georgia Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss. This is good news. I think it shows that Republicans know they need to reach out to the conservative base. I think it also shows that Repulicans are ready to put Palin’s talents to good use where they are most likely to helpful. If there is anyone who can help turn out the conservative base, in a close race, in a red state, where conservative turnout is likely to tip the scales, Sarah Palin is the one.

Having said all that, I don’t think Palin is ready to lead this nation, and I doubt that she will be ready in four short years. Palin has the experience, knowledge and intelligence to take the lead on some issues (such as energy policy), but she is not prepared to lead on issues such as macroeconomics, the supreme court, and foreign policy. Palin needs to take time to cultivate her thinking on a wider range of issues.

Palin also needs more time to hone her communications skills. Yes, the way Palin was treated by the likes of Charlie Gibson was patently unfair, but the media aren’t going to stop being unfair. If Palin is ever going to take a position of national leadership, she must learn to deal with the media more effectively. When I first saw Gibson’s hateful and cowardly interview, I cringed…but not just because Gibson was such an arrogant snob. Palin was obviously nervous and very intimidated. At that point, I realized Palin is not ready to be the leader of the free world (just imagine Palin vs. Putin).

Could Sarah Palin be the next Margaret Thatcher? Possibly. But Palin is still very young. Conservatives need not waste her talents and jeopardize her potential to make great contributions to the conservative movement by pushing her back into the national spotlight before she is ready.

Palin in 2020?


Palin back on the stump

Change is Changing (article of the day)

Giving Thanks for Self-Reliant Americans

An extraordinary fact about the universe: its basic properties are uncannily suited for life.

Will the Terrorists Win?

Islamic terrorism is the whole world’s problem. The recent events in Mumbai, India highlight that fact. The Islamists are prepared to fight anywhere at anytime and pay any price. In Mumbai, they made a symbolic effort to target Americans, Britons and Jews, but most of the casualties were locals caught in the gunfire. Make no mistake: Islamic terrorism is a cancer that isn’t going to stop spreading until either it has been stopped in its tracks by people who have the courage to be proactive, or it has taken over the whole world and it begins to implode on itself. 

This is not radial Islam vs. the neocons. This isn’t radical Islam vs. America. This isn’t radical Islam vs. Christianity. This is not radical Islam vs. the West. This is radical Islam vs. anyone who dares to stand in the way. Atheist, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, moderate Muslim, black, white, yellow, brown, liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, communist, socialist, capitalist, rich, or poor…it doesn’t matter who you are or where you live. If you get in the way, or if you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, you’re in trouble. Collateral damage is of no concern to Islamic terrorists.

So we can take on terrorism one terrorist attack at a time or we can be smart about it. We can wait until the problem gets bigger or we can act now. We can do just enough to delay the inevitable or we can act to win the struggle decisively. We can wait until we are surrounded on all sides or we can take the fight to their backyard. We can give up after fighting a for a few difficult years or we can hold out longer than our very patient enemies.

The fight against Islamic terrorism will be long, expensive and bloody. Are we up to the challenge?


Happy Thanksgiving

The reasons to be thankful are too numerous to count.

Thanksgiving 1623: The Forgotten Lessons
Thanksgiving sky: Jupiter, Venus, moon together
The Pilgrims’ Financial Crisis

Cystic fibrosis too ‘white’ for Ottawa fundraiser

Barack Obama and The Bloodletting of America

Through all kinds of poorly-conceived schemes, our leaders in Washington seek to revive our ailing economy, or at least to give the impression that they are taking the problem seriously.  These remedies will ultimately do more harm than good, and as they draw us closer to wholesale socialism, they could turn a case of the sniffles into a life threatening illness.  Obama urges Congress to “act quickly” on yet another economic stimulus plan.  I hope they don’t.  In this case, the cure is almost certainly worse than the disease.  For all the stimulating and reviving we’ve seen lately, we’ve seen little or no success.  Our elected officials are bloodletting the economy.

Here’s a refresher on the practice of bloodletting. Bloodletting was the longest-running tradition in medicine. It originated in the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece and lasted through the second Industrial Revolution.

“Most bloodletters would open a vein in the arm, leg or neck with small, fine knife called a lancet. They would collect the blood in measuring bowls. Doctors bled patients for every ailment imaginable. They bled for pneumonia and fevers, back pain and rheumatism, headaches and melancholia; even to treat bone fractures and other wounds. Yet there never was any evidence that it did any good.

“Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluids were considered to be ‘humors’ whose proper balance maintained health. Sick patients were thought to have an imbalance of their humors, which bloodletting was thought to restore. Bleeding was as trusted and popular in ancient days as aspirin is today.”

George Washington, the first President of the United States, was bled to treat severe laryngitis in 1799 and died shortly thereafter. Of this incident, one medical historian writes: ‘Today we find the removal of about eighty-two ounces of blood from a sick patient in less than sixteen hours to be incredible. However this was the method of treatment being taught in those days. It was the treatment of choice for many diseases and the complications of using this method were not understood by the physicians of that day.'” 

Reports indicate President Washington had somewhere between five to nine pints of blood drained from his body.  We don’t know if these multiple bloodlettings resulted in his demise, but bloodletting clearly was not the solution. 

“It wasn’t until well into the 19th century that people began to question the value of bloodletting. Scientists such as Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister, and Robert Koch showed that germs, not humors, were responsible for disease. Furthermore, medical statisticians tracking case histories began to collect evidence that bloodletting was not effective. Eventually the practice died, although it continued in some parts of America into the 1920s.”

It is important to keep in mind that well loved remedies do not always have a basis in any kind of evidence. They often have no impact on the underlying causes of disease, and in many cases they are very harmful. 

This brings us back to the economy.  As has been widely publicized, president-elect Barack Obama believes in the power of redistributionism to heal our ailing economy. Barack’s famous words to Joe the Plumber: “…I think that when we spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”  This statement represents the redistributionist essence of socialism.

But socialism was the twentieth century’s economic equivalent of bloodletting, a well loved remedy with no evidence so support its efficacy.  In fact there is abundant evidence to show that socialism is every bit as irrational and harmful as bloodletting.

As a buzzword, ‘socialism’ had mostly good connotations in most of the world for most of the twentieth century. That’s why the Nazis called themselves national socialists. That’s why the Bolsheviks called their regime the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics…”  But the promise of socialism never materialized.

“While [socialism] promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery

“In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, socialism may show early signs of success. But any accomplishments quickly fade as the fundamental deficiencies of central planning emerge. It is the initial illusion of success that gives government intervention its pernicious, seductive appeal. In the long run, socialism has always proven to be a formula for tyranny and misery. 

“A pyramid scheme is ultimately unsustainable because it is based on faulty principles. Likewise, collectivism is unsustainable in the long run because it is a flawed theory. Socialism does not work because it is not consistent with fundamental principles of human behavior. The failure of socialism in countries around the world can be traced to one critical defect: it is a system that ignores incentives. 

“In a capitalist economy, incentives are of the utmost importance. Market prices, the profit-and-loss system of accounting, and private property rights provide an efficient, interrelated system of incentives to guide and direct economic behavior. Capitalism is based on the theory that incentives matter! 

“Under socialism, incentives either play a minimal role or are ignored totally. A centrally planned economy without market prices or profits, where property is owned by the state, is a system without an effective incentive mechanism to direct economic activity. By failing to emphasize incentives, socialism is a theory inconsistent with human nature and is therefore doomed to fail. Socialism is based on the theory that incentives don’t matter!”

“Both history and current events demonstrate that the socialist reality is always bad for the individual, and this is true whether one is looking at the painfully brutal socialism of the Nazis or the Soviets or the Chinese, with its wholesale slaughters, or at the soft socialism of England, in which people’s lives are ever more tightly circumscribed, and the state incrementally destroys individual freedom.  And that is why Obama’s socialism matters. Regardless of Obama’s presumed good intentions, socialism always brings a society to a bad ending.”

Evidence-based political solutions would be ideal. As with evidence-based medicine, evidence-based politics would promote policies that have been proven to work. Bad ideas like Marxism and socialism would be abandoned. 

But political thinking is still as backward and irrational as medicine was 200 years ago. Too many politicians don’t care if their policies don’t ultimately work; they only care about getting votes in the easiest way possible. The ideas of socialism are easy to sell, and the consequent failures are easily attributed to other causes.  Therefore, despite the fact that Marxism and socialism have been repeatedly proven to be failures, leftists keep going back for more. 

Americans gave up bloodletting in the practice of medicine over a century ago.  How long will it take for Americans, and the rest of the world, to give up bloodletting in the practice of politics?


Remembering How Far Health Care Has Come Since George Washington’s Time
Thankful for Our Piece of Pie
Daschle-Obama Health Care Reform?
A Libertarian Defense of Social Conservatism

Civics Quiz

Are you more knowledgeable than the average citizen? The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%. Can you do better? 

Congress and the Courage of Conviction

In the midst of a bailout frenzy with no end in sight, I think now is a good time to revive an old idea.  As the Imperial Federal Government pumps our hard earned money into the coffers of every failed institution and into the pocket of every reckless spender, we should insist on a “taxpayers addendum” for federal legislation. The idea is to have a standard addendum added to every piece of legislation introduced in the House or Senate. The addendum would do nothing to change the nature of the legislation.  It would neither increase nor decrease spending.  It would simply be an expression of how important the sponsors think their legislative idea actually is.  The Taxpayer’s Addendum would simply read:

“We, the undersigned sponsors of this legislation, hereby state that it is our belief that it is more important for the Federal Government of the United States to spend the taxpayer’s funds necessary for the implementation of this legislation than it is for the private and corporate citizens who actually earned this money to retain it and to use it for their own purposes.”

Would this be too much to ask?


Think that Libertarianism and Social Conservatism don’t mix?  Think Again.  A Libertarian Defense of Social Conservatism (must read)

Conservatives Really Are More Compassionate

The infernal stupidity of bureaucrats: NYC Churches Ordered Not To Shelter Homeless

Celebrities Who Lean to the Right.

A nation too ignorant to be free?

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”  Thomas Jefferson

Do we live in a nation that is too ignorant for the responsibilities of freedom? Consider these staggering facts:
  • Seventy-one percent of Americans failed a 33-question multiple choice civic-literacy survey conducted by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Among 2,508 respondents ISI randomly selected, 1,791 failed this test of U.S. historical, political, and economic basics. The average score was 49%, a solid “F”. 
  • Fewer than half of all Americans could name all three branches of government.
  • Forty percent of college graduates did no not know that corporate profits equal revenues minus expenses. 
  • Only 24% of college grads knew that the First Amendment forbids the establishment of an official U.S. religion.
  • Officeholders have less civic knowledge than the general public. On average, they scored 44%, five percentage points lower than non-officeholders.  
  • Thirty percent of elected officials did not know that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence.
  • Only 21% of respondents correctly identified Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address as the source of the words “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” But 56% properly named Paula Abdul as a judge on American Idol.
  • Republicans scored 52%; Democrats scored 45%.
A post-election Zogby Poll showed that Obama voters were especially ill-informed. Just 2% of voters who supported Barack Obama on Election Day obtained perfect or near-perfect scores on a post election test which gauged their knowledge of statements and scandals associated with the presidential tickets during the campaign.
  • 57% of Obama voters were unable to correctly answer that Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate.
  • Nearly half (47%) did not know that Joe Biden was the one who predicted Obama would be tested by a generated international crisis during his first six months as President.
  • Most (56%) were also not able to correctly answer that Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground.
  • 86% correctly identified Palin as the candidate associated with a $150,000 wardrobe purchased by her political party
  • 81% correctly chose McCain as the candidate who was unable to identify the number of houses he owned.
Why is America so poorly educated and so poorly informed?  The public education system bears most of the blame.  Public schools “educate” most of the children in this country and set the bar for private schools.  “The reality of private school education in America is that, with some outstanding exceptions, most seek to stay just one notch or two ahead of public schools. Too many private schools follow the lead of the public schools in low achievement expectations, unproven teaching methodologies and curricula, and social engineering, such as sex ed, counseling, and mandatory community service.”  
What can we do to improve education in America almost immediately?  Implement a voucher system to give parents school choice.  When parents have the the power to choose, schools are forced to compete and improve.  Unfortunately, this simple solution is one that will be very difficult to implement.  Neal Boortz describes the problem very well:

“[Public school] teachers go to sleep at night worrying about vouchers…  You do understand why these teachers fear vouchers as they do, don’t you?  These teachers are unionized.  Their jobs are all but guaranteed.  It’s terribly difficult to fire them.  Generally speaking, there is no requirement that they do their job!  They have a monopoly!  The government provides them with a place to work, pays their salaries, and works hard to prevent competition!”  

Destroy the education monopoly with school choice, and job security for poorly performing teachers and administrators will evaporate.  Therefore, unless Americans force the issue, the extremely powerful teachers unions aren’t going to allow school choice to become reality.

To better appreciate the absurdity of our public education system and why our education resources are misused, consider Boortz’s grocery store analogy:

“…Let’s say that about 100 years ago someone came up with the brilliant idea of establishing a system of government-run grocery stores.  To make sure that every American got enough to eat, local governments created a nutrition tax.  All property owners had to pay a nutrition tax every year amounting to thousands of dollars.  Under this great government plan you are assigned to a grocery store when you move into a neighborhood.  Every year the local government creates a credit for you at this grocery store; an account in your name.  When you want to buy groceries you have to go to this store and no other.  

“Would your assigned grocery store feel any pressure to make sure that you get the best quality foods?  Would this grocery store work hard to determine what its customers want?  Would you be assured of the latest technology and products?  The answer to all of these questions is, of course, no!  Competition? There IS no competition! The citizen’s money is taken away from him by force and put into an account at one particular grocery store, and no other store.  If you want to go to a private, non-government-operated grocery store you are going to have to dig into your own pockets and spend even more money!  You’re trapped, and the grocery store managers and employees know it.”  

This is the joke that is the public education system in the U.S.

Voters need basic knowledge in order to choose their leaders wisely.  Leaders need basic knowledge in order to perform their jobs.  Because of widespread ignorance, the United States is a nation at risk.  To introduce competition that will save money, provide better education, and prepare our children for the responsibilities freedom, support school choice.

“Promote then as an object of primary importance, Institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”  George Washington

Government Education and Government Grocery Stores
A Nation Held Back By (Lack of) Education
Universal Publicly-Funded School Choice  (An excellent video)
Zogby Poll: Almost No Obama Voters Ace Election Test
Low IQ alert!  Interviews with Obama Voters
The voters are not symetrically ignorant.

Civics Quiz
Are you more knowledgeable than the average citizen? The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%. Can you do better? 

Questions for the Global Warming Experts

We hear a lot about the global warming crisis.   We’re told we’re living on a planet in peril.  I freely admit that I’m too ignorant to put forth an authoritative opinion on the topic of global climate change.  I have no training or education in meteorology or climatology.  If Global Warming is a religion, I’m an agnostic. 

I know that hundreds of scientists from scores of countries have said global warming is a real threat. But I also know that science isn’t determined by consensus.  At one time, it was clear to all but the most feeble minds that the sun rotates around the earth. Consensus changes. But maybe the scientists of today are correct.  Maybe the earth is in serious trouble.  If so, now is the time to ask some very important follow-up questions.
  • How cool do we want the world to be?  What is the ideal temperature for the earth? 
  • What are the criteria for determining the ideal temperature of the earth?
  • Would a modest increase in the temperature of the planet necessarily be bad? Are there any potential benefits?
  • How can we ensure that efforts to stabilize the earth’s temperature don’t backfire, resulting in a larger than intended drop in the earth’s average temperature?
  • At what temperature would the earth be too cold?
  • Can we be sure that reductions in CO2 emissions will result in a significant and helpful change in temperatures?
  • What if industrial and automotive CO2 emissions are cut to nearly zero and the earth continues to warm…what do we do then?
  • How long should humans try to control the world’s average temperature? 

A.  For the next hundred years? 
B.  For the next thousand years?

C.  Forever?

  • Can we be absolutely confident that global climate changes aren’t mostly the result of that giant fireball in the sky, you know, the sun?
  • Scientists are very good at using statistical analysis to calculate certainty.  Approximately how certain are we that we have the correct answers to global warming questions?

A.  50 percent?
B.  80 percent?
C.  95 percent?

  • Isn’t it necessary to answer the questions above before we try to fashion solutions?
Someone who understands global warming, please provide answers.

Two hundred whales prayerfully wait for the results of global warming.

Thinking globally but not clearly?

Global Warming? Hot Air

Let Cooler Heads Prevail.

Is Global Warming Always Bad?

Global Warming? Bring it On!