You are currently browsing the daily archive for 25 August 2010.

John Stossel at RCP asks “Where are the new jobs?” After an analysis that’s not bad for a journalist, he concludes that the problem is uncertainty:

In at least three big areas — health insurance, financial regulation and taxes — no one can know what will happen. […] Nothing more effectively freezes business in place than what economist and historian Robert Higgs calls “regime uncertainty.”

Rubbish, John. Oh, the details haven’t emerged yet. What is absolutely certain, and clear to everybody, is that the bureaucrats are poised, ready to pounce. We don’t know exactly what they will do — and neither do they, because they’re waiting to react. From their point of view, business (and the economy in general) has to make the first moves, whereupon they will leap into the breach, propounding rules and regulations that will squash the slightest hint of a recovery.

The broad outlines are visible to everyone:

–There will be NO ENERGY. “Coal makes us sick”. Energy production releases [horrified sepulchral tones, with reverb] CARBON DIOXIDE, unless it is nucOMIGODGLOW-IN-THE-DARKBABIESWHATCANYOUPOSSIBLYBETHINKINGOF??!!!???

–There will be NO CAPITAL INVESTMENT. If you have the scratch to make a capital investment, clearly you are an eeeevulgreedycapitalist, withholding valuable assets that could be used to Feed the Children; those resources will be taken for just that purpose, plus a penalty for your eeeeevul.

–There will be NO TRANSPORTATION. Transportation burns OIL, which releases [horrified sepulchral tones, with reverb] CARBON DIOXIDE!!! (Limited deliveries of arugula and Kobe beef to the DC area and a few other enclaves will take place from 0200-0400hrs, and the shippers must prove that they aren’t making any money to participate. Once the USDOT takes over managing the program that won’t be a problem, of course.)

–Productive workers MAY NOT BE HIRED. You may, naturally, fill all the “social justice” positions you care to; such people must be from a defined minority or victim group, and their involvement is limited to receiving a paycheck unless they decide to show up and brag. Any slightest whisper of a hint that such people might actually do something is exploitation, and will be met with the severest possible penalties.

–Your state MUST VOTE FOR DEMOCRATS. The existence of a Republican Congresscritter in any district is conclusive evidence that you have scamped your duties to the Party of the People, and that is unforgivable; you get nothing, and anything you have is subject to confiscation without notice.

–You MUST PAY TRIBUTE to any alphabet-soup dependent of the Party of the People who stops by; compelling them to actually ask is unDemocratic, so just start forking over, bub. How much is enough? What is this strange concept, “enough”? It only applies to you — you have enough money. Gimme some.

The only “uncertainty” involved is the implementation details.

On Wednesday, the doctor who supervises the nursing home where Bobbe lies, mute and half paralyzed, makes his rounds. I need to set the trash out and go shower, so I can see if he knows anything or has any prognosis, even guesses.

According to the dashboard, as of 0900 I have six readers. Amuse yourself as well as you can, folks. Try not to break the servers.

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UPDATE 11:30 AM — well, that was a bust. The doctor didn’t show up. “Maybe tomorrow,” Joyce says. Bobbe was snoring, so I didn’t wake her.

The invaluable Gerard van der Leun looks at illegal immigration:

…we’ve done everything possible to stop the flood except the one thing that would stop the flood: call off the party and slap the organizers of the Big Pinata Raves into jail, pronto, so they can’t organize any more. And, while we’re at it, we need to make sure any pinata around is empty. Yes, even if you make it and hit it, you get bubkis. Nothing falls out. After all, when a slot machine doesn’t have a jackpot, nobody plays it.

[…]

The stark reality is that for this country to get serious about immigration and controlling our borders, something else other than just a flood of illegals coming in on a daily basis has to happen. Something terrible. Something that doesn’t just cost mere money and jobs, but costs lives. A lot of lives. That’s the one way, the only way, that anything will be done. And what will be done then will be, well, the most terrible solution to the border problem any can imagine, and nobody wants.

Communist East Germany. Searchlights and the Stasi . With the guns pointed out and Predators high overhead.

I beg your pardon, sir, but that’s not the only way to empty the piñata.

Venezuela doesn’t have floods of immigrants overpowering its authorities, nor are resentful Brits complaining that they can’t get into Chavez’s paradise on a permanent basis. Destroy industry, confiscate the Means of Production, and set up a ruling oligarchy that regards every penny as theirs to dispose of at will; support it by a divide-and-conquer strategy based on encouraging envy and jealousy (“soak the rich!”), victim politics, and disdain for bourgeois values (except those of the elitists, natch); nail everybody’s feet to the ground by eliminating free movement under the rubric of “carbon trading”. When the place you’re headed looks just like the place you’re leaving, what’s the point of going to the effort?

Obama and co. are in the process of solving the immigration problem. The solution they’ve chosen is the same as the one Gerard anticipates with dread, except that the guns on the Wall will be pointed inward, just as the ones on their preferred model were. They won’t need many. Where would anybody go?

Professor Reynolds cites Ann Althouse, who remembers one of the many “political protest” bombings of the late Sixties and early Seventies. Althouse’s commenters are properly (for today) disdainful of such goings-on and wonder at the incredibly light sentences the murderous bastards got, and many of them piously protest that they were anti-war and even protested, but never got into anything like that.

Bullshit. Forty years on, what’s crystal clear about the protesters of that era is, one, that the nasty dirty Goldwateran reactionaries of the time were right — the protesters’ motives were drugs, sex, and refusal to accept their duties as citizens — and two, that the “movement” was almost instantaneously hijacked whose motive was to damage and weaken the United States, primarily operatives of the Soviet Union. Believe me or not as you please — I don’t give a damn — but I’ve actually had dinner with one of the low-level operatives involved in that effort, who regarded it as a triumph for International Socialism.

What’s missing in all the present discussion of that era is that Ayers, Dohrn, the mad bombers of Wisconsin U, and hosts of others got light sentences and were returned to society to do more damage because in the minds of the American people, the original protesters had a point, whether or not the Movement had been hijacked by Russian imperialists. It is virtually impossible for anyone who wasn’t an adult by, say, 1968 to comprehend the United States of that era — a place where ammonium nitrate and even dynamite could be bought in bulk with no questions asked (though the seller would remember who bought dynamite and tell the cops if asked; much safer to acquire fertilizer in 50-lb bags); where a “country boy” with two rifles and a shotgun in the rack in his pickup’s back window could drive into the city and get sneers for lack of sophistication rather than sirens and a SWAT team, and go home after a restaurant meal with his armory intact; where you could walk onto an airport at 2:00 AM with a 30-06 over your shoulder, and the fat, slow security guard would politely ask you to leave because you might damage a plane shooting varmints. By that time, though, there were already signs that that was changing, visibly as a result of “anti-drug” efforts, but more significantly (and much more ultimately damaging) from the intersection of Civil Rights, sovereignty theory, and opportunistic lawyers.

The Constitution of the United States begins with the phrase “We the People…” The original vision of the Founders was that the Sovereignty of the United States was embodied in the people; exercise of the powers and privileges of Sovereignty was granted to Government to a limited degree, on the ground that such exercise was awkward and troublesome for the average citizen who just wanted to get on with life. Civil police built on the Robert Peel model cannot operate in that environment. They require that Sovereignty be held by some entity higher up the chain of “Authority” (actually Power), which entity can grant them a limited portion of it to empower them to carry out their duties, and the mere existence of such a police force has the effect of sanctifying that theory. A person with a gang of armed men at his disposal is empowered to enforce prohibitions, and is irresistably tempted to consolidate and extend that power; the Temperance movement, the original Progressives, and FDR’s “social justice” measures provided moral and ethical theories justifying such extensions, leading directly to today’s “nanny state” and population-controlling “security” systems. Prior to about the 1870s, prohibitions and speech control would have been impossible because there were no police to enforce them; thief-takers were private citizens exercising their Sovereign powers, often organized in private companies like Wells Fargo and Pinkerton’s, and up with such nonsense they would not put.

By the 1950s the Civil Rights movement had morphed into an active defense, led by lawyers imbued with the notion of top-down Sovereignty. Under that rubric, a policeman who violated the civil rights of a citizen could not be effectively punished in his own person; the guilt for the violation belonged higher up in the chain of Power where the grant of Sovereignty the cop was exercising originated. The legal experts pushing that theory had another motive: the higher-ups they could blame had access to money taxed from the citizens, and the lawyers wanted to be paid — their clients, mostly (and genuinely) poor and downtrodden, had no resources to compensate the people working on their behalf, and somebody had to pay the electricity bill for the legal office. As a result, a cop who beat or killed someone exercising their free speech got a short suspension (with pay) to deter him from future excesses of zeal, and the city paid a gigantic Court judgement, which was taken from the pockets of citizens who would never have supported such an outrage and sympathized with the person suffering abrasions and contusions.

You better look out kid, they keep it all hid,
Better jump down a manhole, light yourself a candle,
Don’t wear sandals, try to avoid the scandals,
Don’t wanna be a bum you better chew gum
The pump don’t work cause the vandals took the handle

(Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues, ©1965 Special Rider Music)

This inversion of the original principles of the Nation is so totally familiar today, so much a part of the perfectly normal landscape, as to pass without notice or remark. In the Fifties and Sixties it was still new enough that NBC could produce a popular show  in which the earlier system was celebrated and have it be comprehensible to the audience. Tales of Wells Fargo, starring Dale Robertson and William Demarest, could not be made today because the number of people in a modern audience who have any concept of what it was about, what those people were up to, or what they were driving at is so small as to generate an Arbitron number near zero. When the “hippies” and their protests were new those referents were still in existence if subliminal, and the protesters were judged by them. William Ayers owes his pension to nostalgia for an earlier day, when stupidly counterproductive behavior produced headshakes and a rueful declaration that it’s a free country, rather than a flying-wedge of nannystate bureaucrats anxious to save the poor fellow from himself or a police team determined to suppress the assault on community values.

The Justice Department’s search for “Ebonics” translators is noted at several places, including The Smoking Gun, who files it under “bizarre”:

AUGUST 23–The Department of Justice is seeking to hire linguists fluent in Ebonics to help monitor, translate, and transcribe the secretly recorded conversations of subjects of narcotics investigations, according to federal records.

A maximum of nine Ebonics experts will work with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Atlanta field division, where the linguists, after obtaining a “DEA Sensitive” security clearance, will help investigators decipher the results of “telephonic monitoring of court ordered nonconsensual intercepts, consensual listening devices, and other media”

Tanker at Mostly Cajun picks up the meme with his usual savoir faire, and commenter “Jett” remarks, in part:

It is a sad situation when the feds are so stupid and divorced from the “real” U.S. that they can’t understand basic street. Hard to imagine a clearer expression of institutional racism and the now well-known fed “us vs. them” culture.

Sad, maybe — the phrase “rage-inducing” comes to mind — but surprising? No.

The only thing that’s genuinely reprehensible here is the politically correct designation “Ebonics” instead of the culturally and, well, physically correct “urban black dialect.” The dialect can be as impenetrable as Cockney, especially when the speakers are deliberately emphasizing it with the specific purpose of foiling eavesdroppers. I would offer a bet that Jett would have problems listening over an intercepted cell-phone channel to a couple of South Side Chicagoans who knew, or assumed, that the Feds had their number, and it isn’t surprising that people wishing to wiretap would want people who could do that.

What’s hysterically tragic is that the form of the request, added to Civil Service regulations and procedures, guarantees that what they will actually get is academic “experts” who have extensive and impressive qualifications from studying urban black dialect, but couldn’t get a cup of coffee from a McDonalds half a mile south of Midway airport. The result will be a million dollars (9 “interpreters” x $100K++ salary and benefits) pissed away to support the wacko left-racist professariat, and no useful support for the wiretapping effort. I’m no fan of the Drug Wars, but if they’re going to do it at all they ought to at least try to do it right.

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