While I'm working on a longer article, for today's reading I'd like to offer you this antidote to the conventional wisdom about the impact of the current GOP primary election season, by the always excellent Salena Zito (one of my favorite political reporters.)
Additionally, I recommend the WSJ op-ed by Walter Williams and Don Boudreaux about the harmful effects of a high minimum wage on low-skilled workers, including youth, employment:
With Sunday's news that a US soldier massacred 16 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children, in their sleep and then burned the bodies, the little that the US can claim to have achieved in Afghanistan, at great cost over a decade, is now likely to be lost.
No American, and probably no westerner, will be safe in Afghanistan for a decade after the soldier's murderous rampage. Really, if they're willing to murder people over burned books, imagine the intensity of Afghan hatred for a truly heinous crime against sleeping civilians, with one man losing all 11 members of his family.
Although speculation is pointless, the first thing that comes to mind, especially with reports that this soldier is a sergeant (rather than a lower-ranked soldier) is revenge against Afghanistan for the murder of multiple US soldiers by Afghans following the recent burning of a few Korans by American soldiers.
Although I understand a soldier's desire for vengeance against a nation which demands apologies for singed books but offers none for murder, this soldier's actions are obviously beyond sanction and deserving of the death penalty -- even if he claims insanity.
As is his wont, President Obama has already apologized to the president of Afghanistan, who has said that the murders "cannot be forgiven." While I understand Karzai's feelings, and would likely share them, it is a distinctly unhelpful line of rhetoric from the nation's leader if he actually cared about maintaining any even superficially friendly relationship with the United States.
The fact that he said what he said means he is more concerned with domestic politics than with his "alliance" with the United States. That focus is all the easier when dealing with a US president who projects weakness and fecklessness at every opportunity, and can't even make a statement in support of Israel without contradicting himself within hours.
Historians can debate whether the war in Afghanistan was worth it at all, whether we should have left after just a couple of years, or whether we should not have pulled back at all until the Afghan army and police were more prepared to secure the country. But since that goal may not even be desired by the government, and may not be attainable even it it were desired by the government, it's hard to argue at this point that we should do anything other than take Newt Gingrich's latest approach, getting our soldiers out while telling Karzai "You know, you’re going to have to figure out how to live your own miserable life because I'm not here - you clearly don’t want to hear from me how to be unmiserable."
My view, which I've maintained for several years, is that we should leave Afghanistan to the Afghans, but tell their central government and each of the nation's powerful warlords that should any harm befall American interests anywhere in the world due to people whom we can trace back, in an operational sense, to areas under their control, we will turn those areas into glass, making sure to target the areas' rulers and their families, and we will then douse every body we can find with pig blood, so they cannot enter the Muslim version of heaven.
Harsh, you say? I think that nothing less will impact the mindset of tribesman who understand nothing but power. Unfortunately, even if such a threat were made, no Afghan warlord or government figure would believe it as long as Barack "I'm sorry for American power" Obama remains in office. Just as the Iranians were not afraid of Jimmy Carter I, the Afghans (and the Iranians for that matter) have no fear of Jimmy Carter II.
On the Sunday, March 11, 2012, edition of the Ross Kaminsky Show:
A US soldier is being held in Afghanistan after apparently going on a killing spree, killing 16 Afghan civilians, including 9 children and 3 women.
It is a grizzly story of assassination of innocents, and the US has already responded that justice will be done. Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is already terming the killings "unforgivable." This view is more understandable than a similar response by Afghan muslim clerics who said that the accidental burning of Korans by some American soldiers was also unforgivable.
What do these events mean about our involvement in Afghanistan? Is it time to get out entirely? If so, has our mission there been an enormous waste of blood and treasure?
In the second hour, we'll be joined by Deneen Borelli, whose new book "Blacklash" discusses the liberal left's drive to put all Americans on the "government plantation." It's obviously explosive race-related language, coming from one of America's leading black conservatives -- and a woman at that.
One of Borelli's many interesting questions is this: If all women aren't expected to agree with Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin, if all whites aren't expected to agree with any given white politician, then why are all blacks expected to agree with Barack Obama and other far-left "leaders" of the black community?
Some of the things Borelli has been called due to her conservative positions are truly shameful. It seems to me -- and to Borelli -- that it has been at least a generation since this nation was so negatively focused on race issues, and that's thanks to our "post-racial" president, Barack Obama, who has never met a group he didn't want to turn into government-dependent "victims" and haters of the GOP.
In our final half hour (before the 1:30 PM Rockies pre-game show):
This weekend, HBO released its docu-drama "Game Change" which covers Sarah Palin's journey through the 2008 Presidential (and Vice-Presidential) campaign.
I watched the film on Saturday and would recommend that if you are given the opportunity to watch the film or to give yourself an appendectomy, you should take the latter.
Have you seen the movie yet? Are you going to?
What's your reaction when you see the liberal media so aggressively try to make a popular conservative look like an idiot?
What do you think of Sarah Palin at this point? Are you a fan? Are you happy that she's a lot less visible than she used to be? Do you want to see her run for national office again?
All this, and maybe even more, on this Sunday’s edition of The Ross Kaminsky Show!
For today's reading, I offer you this important article by my American Spectator colleague Quin Hillyer (and the linked article by the always excellent John Fund) about the true, destructive racism of our nation's Attorney General. Eric Holder is, as if Christian Adams' book hadn't already convinced you, a dyed-in-the-wool racist whose every decision insults the justice system's requirement that "justice is blind."
John Fund's article: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/292684/infinite-affirmative-action-john-fund
Christian Adams' must-read book: http://www.amazon.com/Injustice-Exposing-Racial-Justice-Department/dp/1596982772
It's a maxim in political communications that something that isn't repeated at least half a dozen times in a speech won't be remembered by the audience.
So it was no surprise to hear the words "job" or "jobs" uttered by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney a dozen times during his 16 minute speechfrom Boston on Super Tuesday evening.
Former Senator Rick Santorum, on the other hand, only used those words twice during his Tuesday remarks, and neither use related to jobs in the way that people care intensely about them today, namely their Democrat-induced scarcity.
The comparison of the two men's use of "job" and "jobs" shows why half of all primary voters -- including many who don't support Mitt Romney -- believethat Romney is the Republican most likely to beat President Obama in November.
Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
Climategate, Fake-gate, and climate data itself have combined to cause the public to view with a skeptical eye claims by climate alarmists that the end is nigh.
Every once in a while, the desperation of the alarmists, including, sadly, of scientists who see their incomes at risk from losing the ability to find funding for studies aiming to prove substantial human impact on climate, is laid bare. After all, there isn't a lot of money to be made by proving that there isn't a major problem, or even that there is a problem but the cost of "solving" it far outweighs the possible risks.
Sometimes the alarmists' desperation is truly amusing.
If you were trying to convince Canadians that the world might come to a horrific end, what would be the first thing you'd claim was threatened by climate change?
A gold star for you if you said hockey.
Thus it offered a good chuckle when I saw an article in Canada's National Post ( a publication which is one of the best in allowing climate "skeptics" to express their data and opinions) entitled "Global warming could spell the end of Canada’s outdoor hockey rink."
Seriously, the article starts with this: "A team of Canadian climate scientists is predicting the widespread disappearance of outdoor hockey rinks across the country in the next 50 years due to global warming ? with some regions of the sport’s spiritual birthplace likely to witness an even earlier eclipse of old-time shinny on natural ice."
What the authors did was to accept the standard and fatally flawed UN climate projections, and then to say these predictions suggest a threat to Canada's national sport -- indeed to Canada's national identity.
I trust that Canadians, who have demonstrated some wisdom in recent years by electing, and re-electing, a center-right government which has embarked on reductions in the size and cost of government, will not be fooled by this obvious, almost pathetic, desperation.
After half an hour of trading on Tuesday, the stock market is having its worst day in several months, with the S&P 500 down more than 16 points, or about 1.2 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down just over 140 points, and the Nasdaq 100 down about 29 points, each about 1.1 percent.
In the "nothing is safe" category, gold is down almost $30/ounce with every other commodity I watch except for natural gas also down on the day. Economically sensitive materials, such as oil and copper are getting hit hard, with the latter being down more than 2.5 percent. Copper is considered one of the most economically sensitive commodities.
In addition to many people thinking the market is "due" for a correction, it is primarily overseas news driving today's pessimism. There is fear that the Greek bond swap (in which current bondholders swap their bonds for new bonds with roughly half the nominal value) may not go smoothly. A European organization suggested that a disorderly default could cost 1 trillion euros in financial damage. Meanwhile, Europe's GDP shrank in the last quarter, making the EU appear to be on the bring of a second recession in three years. China lowered its growth estimate yesterday from 8 percent to 7.5 percent. China is Brazil's largest trading partner. This, combined with recent strength in Brazil's currency, has damaged Brazil's economic growth which was reported at a 2.7% GDP growth rate, down from 7.5 percent in 2010.
In our global economy, slowing in major developing markets bodes very poorly for our economy as well, particulary for commodity and heavy industry companies, such as miners and machinery companies. For example, copper and gold producer Freeport-McMoran (FCX) is down nearly 4 percent today while Caterpillar is down more than 3 percent.
The US economy is in modestly better shape than many other places, but we will not escape at least a modest sniffle if most of the rest of the world catches cold.
Erik, whose last name I won't use, listened to my Sunday radio show on Denver's 850 KOA and had a few comments on the topic of contraception (which was brought to the forefront again by Rush Limbaugh's recent controversy and apology.) Erik made several points, each of which I'd like to respond to with more than one sentence.
In the note below, the indented material is Erik's note to me, with my response to each paragraph immediately following. (I have not edited Erik's note for grammar or spelling.)
I listened to your show today, and while I found the discussion interesting, I think your misinformed on the applications of birth control. Hormonal therapy can be used by doctors to assist women with their contraceptive needs, but it is also to treat medical conditions like ovarian cysts. You and your right brethren live under the assumption that women use birth control simply for sexual deviancy. I think that this subtext is abhorrent and it's part of the reason why there has been so much outrage against Rush Limbaugh.
First, thanks for listening.
Next: The vast majority of the use of "birth control" pills is, believe it or not, for birth control, also known as contraception. To the extent that any particular drug is used for multiple medical purposes, each of those purposes can be the subject of different conversations. If a woman is being treated for cysts, that is a different subject entirely than using the same drug for contraception, and you will notice that the debate at hand is about the use of the drug for contraception, not other medically indications. Furthermore, those who are against government requiring insurance to include "free" birth control -- and abortion-inducing pills, and sterilization -- are not against using the same chemical to treat a disease or other medical condition.
I never suggested that birth control is used to allow "sexual deviancy." In fact, I was quite clear that I couldn't care less what people do in their private lives, nor do I think that someone who has multiple sexual partners is somehow immoral or deviant, nor do I care whether someone has sex outside of marriage, though I do think it's at least unethical, and I might use stronger words, to commit adultery. (My view on this is not based on a religious prohibition but simply because it breaks a solemn promise and can destroy a family. Someone who cheats on a spouse without intending to get divorced, and particularly if they have kids, has some serious thinking to do. But it's not my business and not the government's business.)
(Back when I was single, I could only have hoped to run into more of the "sexual deviancy" you described, but I was a little too much of a nerd for that, despite being a partner in one of Chicago's most popular nightclubs.)
I think there are two reasons for the outrage against Rush: First, he shouldn't have used the language that he did...and he knows it and apologized for it. (This despite the fact that when the left uses similar language against conservative figures, nobody in the media bats an eye.) Second, the left is furiously spinning this into a "war against women" when in fact what it is is a war for religious conscience and for limited, rational government.
I listened to your argument against having "pay for birth control," and I kept asking myself why you were making this assertion. In your dialogue you repeatedly stated that you didn't care what others did, but you didn't want to pay for it. I wanted to call your show but was unfortunately driving and wanted to make this simple point.
What could you object to in someone's saying that Americans shouldn't pay for the costs of other people's personal diversions? I would reemphasize the point I made on the air: Insurance, by definition, is a policy to "insure" against possible loss from an unforeseen from an unforeseen future event. It's why car insurance covers accidents but not oil changes. Covering something which a person (1) can decide whether or not to use, (2) can easily foresee using in most cases, and (3) stands essentially zero chance of being a substantial economic hardship should someone have to pay for it is far outside what insurance means.
The blunt amendment is anti-liberty and anti-democratic. If I am an employer and I have a "moral objection" to any form a medical care I can block it. To give an example that may have more potency than birth control let's pretend for a moment that I am a gay man with HIV, and let's just say for a second that my boss has a moral objection to my homosexuality and refuses to treat my HIV. In our world employers have rights but employees, that's employees, also have rights to basic health care. In my opinion, contraception falls under the same umbrella as HIV treatment. I know you disagree with this assertion but as someone who hates government it's really you dictating to women across the country that they cannot have access to birth control because of "your" moral whims.
You speak, like many liberals, as if employers have no rights. Furthermore, you misconstrue the meaning of liberty as it has historically been understood in America. We are a country of "negative rights," meaning that the government is restricted from doing certain things to its people and people are restricted from doing certain things to each other. We are not a country of "positive rights," where people can make claims for things which can only be provided by taxing or otherwise taking from others.
I understand that much of this has changed since FDR, but even most of his unconstitutional welfare state programs are at least contributed to by those who then benefit from them. Yes, they are all Ponzi schemes, and with the current worker-retiree ratio they have turned into "positive rights" programs, which is part of they reason they are both immoral and bankrupting the nation -- as Obamacare is and will if not repealed.
Next: An employer could not "block HIV treatment." An employee who was concerned about such coverage would check whether that was covered before taking a job. Once covered, unless there was some fraud on the employee's part, the insurance coverage is what it is. Since it's possible to get HIV from activities other than homosexual sex, your hypothetical of an employer trying to block HIV coverage is extremely unlikely. Still, even if it were real, it is something an employee could learn about before taking the job. By the way, Ms. Sandra Fluke KNEW that Georgetown's health insurance program did not cover contraceptives but enrolled anyway. If you don't like a club's rules, go join a different club; don't make the government try to force the club to play by rules you prefer.
It should be obvious that contraception and HIV treatments are not at all similar, when it comes to how insurance can treat them. Putting aside the question of pre-existing conditions, let's say someone gets health insurance coverage believing that he is healthy. And let's say he then contracts HIV...it doesn't matter how. That is something which was unforeseen, perhaps unforeseeable, and poses a real risk of extreme financial hardship. Contraceptive use could hardly be different.
But I want to address perhaps your (and liberals') biggest and most dangerous intellectual error: You say that there is a right to "basic health care." What sort of right is that, exactly? Do you actually mean "a right to have someone else pay for my basic health care"? If so, where does that right come from, and where does your right to take my money to pay for it come from?
Let me make this clear: Everyone has a right to try to access whatever health care is provided in a free market system without requiring someone else to pay for it. And everyone has a right to get whatever health care is guaranteed under the provisions of a health insurance policy which he or she is covered by, as long as the insured also lived by the provisions of the contract. Nobody has a right to health care paid for by others (other than through private insurance contracts.) In fact, nobody has a right to be offered health insurance, much less to have it funded by others. Instead, people should consider themselves fortunate to live in a society where companies have found a way to create health insurance that is financially sensible for both the insurer and the insured to participate in. Or at least it used to be financially sensible before government mandates and manipulations have -- just as they have with education costs -- caused premiums to skyrocket while quality does not improve proportionately.
The other totally erroneous leftist talking point you are making is that I am trying to keep women from having access to contraception because of my moral whims. First of all, in the sense that most people use the word morality, it has nothing to do with this discussion. (I do think that using the power of government to make others subsidize my life is immoral but I doubt that's what you meant.) I am, after all, not religious and not Christian. Secondly, and more importantly, please tell me how, prior to insurance policies covering the extremely inexpensive birth control pill, women were blocked from "access." Any woman, whether with insurance coverage or not, can go to a Target pharmacy and get a 28-day supply of the most common type of birth control pill for $9. The idea that women don't have access to contraception if someone else doesn't pay for it is an outrageous lie. By the way, presumably there are two people involved in the act that requires contraception. The idea that two people together can't afford this stuff is utterly ridiculous.
Obama is mandating that all females must get birth control he is merely saying that each female in the country should have access to birth control if they want it. This reaches a more fundamental issue about healthcare and I think you can alter your argument so its pro women and pro liberty.
Again, this is an outright lie. You can probably name a thousand products which people have access to without those things being paid for by others, whether oatmeal or windshield wipers or condoms or movie theater tickets. Contraception is no different except that feminists have claimed it to be so.
Being against having taxpayers or those with moral objections being forced to subsidize anything for anyone is not anti-woman. Furthermore it is your view, not mine, that is anti-liberty since your view can only be satisfied by what Bastiat called "legalized plunder."
Put it this way: If someone mugged me but gave the money he stole to charity, is that then not a crime? No, Erik, your do-gooder urges make you no less a thief in spirit than that mugger.
And where does it end? What about people who say they need very expensive custom-made shoes (or shoe inserts) to help their feet feel better? What about people who need mouthwash every day for bad breath? What about people who have ugly teeth and want expensive veneers or other dental treatment to help their self-seteem? Should others be required by government pay for all these things? And can you imagine how much more expensive your health insurance will be if it has to cover those things? (Well, you can imagine to some degree by looking at the incredible insurance premium inflation we've suffered in recent years because of government mandates and government prevention of competition.)
And don't think for a second that anything which an insurance company provides for "free" is actually free.
By the way, I don't object to an insurance company offering contraception in a policy if they want to. Indeed, such a decision could make financial sense for them given the cost of maternity, especially high-risk pregnancies, etc. What I object to is government requiring private citizens, companies, and institutions to purchase health insurance policies with any specific provisions. All terms of insurance should be left to negotiation between the insurer and the insured, or in our current system, between the insurer and the employer of the insured.
Instead of sounding like an old curmudgeon, I aint gonna pay for no birth control why don't you take a more libertarian stance and say that the individual should be able to choose their own healthcare plan i.e. allow employers to give their employees a stipend to pay for their own health insurance. An individual could choose their own plan and do what ever they would like. This is the position I think the right should take, but clearly your more obsessed with forcing women to cater to your moral whims rather than giving them the freedom to choose how they wish to behave.
I already answered this. Anything which is done voluntarily in a non-government-coerced transaction is OK with me. But if a Catholic institution will not voluntarily do anything that would directly or indirectly purchase or subsidize a particular thing, such as contraception, that right of free exercise of religion is one of the most important rights that Americans have. Indeed it was perhaps the single most important right to those who fled to these shores from across Europe several centuries ago.
The healthcare reform bill was a noble attempt to fix our system but I think it creates too much bureaucracy. My answer to solving the whole care problem would be to have government take over all catastrophic care and have private insurance cover preventative and extra medical coverage. The second part of my plan would be purely electable, and individuals could receive tax subsidies if they signed up for plans. I think you should take a look at the blunt amendment and see what it really does. It's so tyrannical that it's almost fascist and it really makes me sick to my stomach that someone who professes to be "pro liberty" would decide that it's a worthy piece of legislation to support.
The healthcare reform bill was anything but noble. It was a reprehensible power grab implemented by the most unethical government in modern American history, and perhaps in all American history. There is a reason that the majority of Americans still want this travesty repealed. When you say government is trying "to fix our system," you remind me of a medieval doctor who, having attached a few dozen leeches to a patient but not seeing improvement then calls for a hundred more leeches to suck the patient's blood. You can't cure a cancer by injecting more cancer cells; government (especially federal government) meddling in the health insurance system is a cancer in that system. The cure is FREEDOM.
Obamacare, if not ripped out by the roots, will destroy the private health insurance system -- which is exactly what the left wants. Your intellectual gymnastics, trying to think of a way that government can "fix our system" by implementing its own plans, rather than by just allowing and encouraging competition, without creating "too much bureaucracy" is extremely naive.
Why should government be involved in "catastrophic care", especially the federal government? Where does the constitution give the federal government the power to even have a thought about health insurance, much less to effectively nationalize the industry and turn insurers into the only utilities hated more than our usual utilities? Heath care is no government's business but to the extent that there must be government meddling, it should be at the state level so each state can learn from the mistakes of others -- and so that Americans can move to states which are not bankrupting their citizens through socialism.
How about saying government should handle all really bad car crashes but let regular auto insurance handle the crashes which aren't too bad? The whole idea is ridiculous, and can only end badly, as every government program does, both in terms of quality and cost.
I have read the Blunt Amendment, and it's pretty straight-forward. If you read it and you really think it's tyrannical, then you should read 1984. Actually, you don't need to because your mind is already in that world. The only way the Blunt Amendment is tyrannical is if you also think black is white, and war is peace. The tyranny -- the only tyranny in this whole discussion -- is the tyranny of the federal government imposing the current government's will on the citizens of the United States. It is truly stunning that you believe it is government tyranny to allow an organization to live by its moral precepts. How you can hold that thought in your head without an aneurysm is remarkable. Do you not see the similarities between your view and those of any of the world's most horrific dictators?
I would also point out that the leftists who are so happy with Obamacare now won't be happy the next time that conservatives (of which I am not one) have control of the White House and both houses of Congress. They will then use this extreme social engineering power to implement policies you (and perhaps I) would really hate, but you will have no moral high ground to stand on since you've already shown your willingness to use government to implement social policy. I have made this argument to conservatives when they had control, but of course libertarians are routinely ignored when people think they know what's best for our private lives.
I'm sorry, Erik, but your view represents a disturbing but all too common complete abandonment of the fundamental principles of this nation, of what rights really are, and of the nature of government. This debate isn't really about contraception. It is about religious freedom and limited government, neither of which you understand. It might give you some consolation to know that you are not alone in your ignorance of American principles. But for me it just represents what a long and difficult path it will be to return our nation, even if only slightly, back toward the path of constitutionally limited government which our Founders wisely created.
Don't forget, Erik, the most important political document in human history, the Declaration of Independence, says that we all have the right to pursue happiness, not to be guaranteed happiness by redistributing the property of others. Furthermore, it makes clear -- whether you believe in God or not -- that rights come from our all being "created equal", and therefore that rights do not come from government. Every "right" you have claimed to believe in can only come from government, and therefore it cannot, in any truly American sense, be a right at all.
I hope you will consider these words seriously, and perhaps change your view, though I think it's a longshot. For your edification, I would be happy to mail you (or anyone else who promises to read it) a copy of Bastiat's seminal "The Law"; it is one of the most important (but barely known) expositions on (against) expansive government ever written. You can read it in one evening, and if your mind is open to persuasion, it will leave you as a new person, politically speaking.
There is a lot to talk about today, including Rush Limbaugh's Saturday apology, tomorrow's Super Tuesday contests, especially Ohio, and today's meeting between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu.
But instead, I ask you to take a moment, read one of the saddest stories I've heard in a long time, think about what's really important, and consider making a donation to the Red Cross:
On the Sunday, March 4 edition of the Ross Kaminsky Show:
Does it seem to you like Americans spend all their time fearing the slightest offense of someone else's feelings, and then apologizing for thinks which range from the slightly funny to the "who care" to a few things which truly shouldn't have been said?
Several days ago, Ben & Jerry's ice cream company apologized for creating a "Lin-sanity" ice cream flavor which had fortune cookies in it. People complained, but was there really any offense? I'm sorry, but I'm sick of all this apologizing.
In the noon hour, we'll talk about gas prices. They're the highest ever for this time of year and we have a federal government who is perfectly happy with that situation (other, perhaps, than how it might impact the next election.)
Are gas prices impacting your life? Are you spending less on other things? Are you thinking about buying a more fuel-efficient car?
We'll discuss these issues, as well as hearing John Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute explain why gas prices are as high as they are. Is it the government, is it "big oil", is it a strengthening economy, and how much should President Obama's nose be growing when he claims credit for increased oil production in the US?
And in the 1 PM hour, we'll talk about Rush Limbaugh and the politics of contraception. For those who haven't heard Limbaugh created a firestorm this week by calling a young woman who was to testify before Congress about contraceptive coverage in health insurance a "slut" and a "prostitute." Limbaugh initially didn't back down but I am yet to hear one person of influence or notoriety support him, and he seems to be losing advertisers rapidly. Perhaps more because of the latter fact than the former, Limbaugh issued an apology on his web site on Saturday -- for his choice of words rather than his view on the subject at hand.
More importantly, how much damage are Republicans doing to themselves, especially among women voters, with so much conversation being about contraception?
All this, and maybe even more, on this Sunday’s edition of The Ross Kaminsky Show!