30 May 2008

Trade cannot do what Charity does

Fascinating times lead to interesting conclusions, some warranted and some not warranted. Consider Ronald Bailey's article in Reason 29 MAY 2008 (H/t: Instapundit) about the need to increase free trade and the benefits that would come from it looking at a recent Copenhagen Conference on this issue by Kym Anderson:

Anderson looked at a number of econometric modeling scenarios and calculated the cost and benefits that would obtain from full trade liberalization under realistic assumptions derived from the current World Trade Organization's Doha Development Agenda negotiations. Anderson estimated that liberalization of global merchandise trade would mean an annual increase of $287 billion per year in global GDP, of which $86 billion would go to developing countries. This compares very nicely with the $104 billion in development assistance that the governments of industrialized countries gave to developing countries in 2006.

In other calculations, Anderson found that the long term effects of trade liberalization would be that global income in 2098 would be up to 10% greater than it otherwise would have been. The associated net present values from freer trade range from $50 trillion to $424 trillion. Consider that in 2007, total gross world product was $53 trillion. In other words, both the immediate and long-term benefits from free trade are enormous. Anderson reports benefit cost ratios ranging from 269:1 to 1121:1.

Unfortunately this only looks at government assistance to developing countries, which is by far not the whole story. Consider the following from the USINFO site on charity for the year 2006 written on 26 JUN 2007 by Jeffrey Thomas:

Americans increased their charitable donations significantly in 2006 to more than $295 billion -- a record, according to a study released June 25 by the Giving USA Foundation, which reports on charitable contributions.

The overwhelming majority of this money was donated by individuals, not corporations or foundations, according to the chairman of Giving USA, Richard Jolly. Donations from individuals, including bequests, accounted for 83.3 percent of total giving last year, or $245.8 billion, he told USINFO.


Americans long have preferred to donate their money through the private sector or to private charities. Of the $122.8 billion of foreign aid provided by Americans in 2005, the most current data available, $95.5 billion, or 79 percent, came from private foundations, corporations, voluntary organizations, universities, religious organizations and individuals, according to the latest annual Index of Global Philanthropy, which is published by a Washington research organization, the Center for Global Prosperity at the Hudson Institute.

The Giving USA report does not take into account the value of contributions Americans make in terms of time and labor. More than 61 million Americans volunteered for charitable and national service organizations in 2006, and about half of all Americans participate in volunteer activities each year, according to Brooks. Volunteerism is “a major cultural phenomenon in the U.S.,” Brooks says.

Consider that the annual charitable donations in foreign aid, $122.8 billion, is roughly 43% of the proposed estimate of what increases in global trade would accomplish. Even better is that this aid is targeted and accountable by individuals and private organizations who ensure that money spent on projects that they solicit funds for are, indeed, well spent. The amount of American after-tax income that is donated to achieve such levels? 2.2% via the USINFO article, with a substantial portion of that coming from households with sub-$100,000 per year income.

When I took a look at the FY 2007 budget for the US in relation to foreign assistance, the amount the US puts forward via its government is interesting: International Assistance Programs came to just under $17 billion, and there would be some portion of the State Dept budget also devoted to this, but would be a fraction of their $14.4 billion budget. There are other 'freebies' tucked into places like Dept. of Agriculture, Interior and so on, but that total should be well under $20 billion per year, across the federal government, and certainly under $30 billion. So US charitable giving outstrips US government foreign aid by at least 10 or 15 times, or a 10:1 to 15:1 ratio.

Over at Charity Navigator a 31 MAR 2008 article by Arthur C. Brooks looks at the donations of money and time:

Q. Are Americans more or less charitable than citizens of other countries?
A. No developed country approaches American giving. For example, in 1995 (the most recent year for which data are available), Americans gave, per capita, three and a half times as much to causes and charities as the French, seven times as much as the Germans, and 14 times as much as the Italians. Similarly, in 1998, Americans were 15 percent more likely to volunteer their time than the Dutch, 21 percent more likely than the Swiss, and 32 percent more likely than the Germans. These differences are not attributable to demographic characteristics such as education, income, age, sex, or marital status. On the contrary, if we look at two people who are identical in all these ways except that one is European and the other American, the probability is still far lower that the European will volunteer than the American.

Much of the foreign trade increases only come about because of such things as micro-lending systems and charities actually able to go into poorly developed areas and provide targeted aid beyond humanitarian assistance. There is a problem with depending on government solely as a way to develop trade via foreign assistance, and it is clearly pointed out by the Charity Navigator article:

Q. Monetary giving doesn’t tell us much about total charity, does it? People who don’t give money probably tend to give in other ways instead, right?
A. Wrong. First of all, there is a bright line between people who give and people who don’t give. People who do give time and money tend to give a lot of it. According to the Center on Philanthropy, the percentage of givers donating less than $50 to charity in 2000 was the same as the percentage giving more than $5,000. Similarly, the same percentage of people who only volunteered once volunteered on 36 or more occasions in 2000.

Second, people who give away their time and money to established charities are far more likely than non-givers to act generously in informal ways as well. For example, one nationwide survey from 2002 tells us that monetary donors are nearly three times as likely as non-donors to give money informally to friends and strangers. People who give to charity at least once per year are twice as likely to donate blood as people who don’t give money. They are also significantly more likely to give food or money to a homeless person, or to give up their seat to someone on a bus.

The problem with seeking government solutions to problems such as building economic structure in poor nations is that it must go through the highly bureaucratic structure that, itself, takes up anywhere from 35% to 55% of the funds just to ensure accountability of those funds and pay for government overhead. Private and institutional charities instead compete on the lowest amount of overhead so that the most relief is provided, and charities that spend more than 10% on overhead are seen has having a problem. Trade, going through commercial channels, can and does develop minimal means of manufacturing or labor markets, but the support of society to ensure that things like a 'work ethic' are developed and that the poor have an opportunity to gain jobs from such commercial activity is a charitable concept.

Trade liberalization in and of itself does not build institutions of liberty, freedom, self-worth or ensure that societies are reinforced by it. China is better since 1972 not for trade but for the removal of Mao, and yet the authoritarian and fascistic state that has grown up since his death has not improved the actual ability of individuals to express themselves freely, take part in an open government via democratic means or even have better health. China, today, is one of the world's largest polluters in carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, has a 20% nation wide unemployment rate, has nearly 17% of its population below the poverty line, has 25 to 50% of all loans being Non-Performing Loans which puts the amount of GDP depending on that poorly structured debt at between 30 and 60%. Due to pollution *alone* the city of Beijing loses an estimated $1.5 billion/year due to health effects and poor sanitation. And it has LOTS of trade with the US and the rest of the world! Just one of its companies supported by the State, Huawei Technologies, has infringed on intellectual property rights to undercut competition and sell knock off equipment of reputable manufacturers. In the US. And then seeks to buy its way into the market via a leveraged buyout. It has also been cited for competition practices depending on blackmail and coercion. It, too, is part of that 'global trade' system, and yet its mafia style tactics and willingness to break international copyright laws is abundantly clear.

That is the problem with gross growth numbers for global outlooks: it ignores the problems that have come in with current 'trade liberalization' in the way of ensuring accountable enterprise activities on a global basis. This is a problem with the modern view on trade, deriving from the Wealth of Nations view, which I have looked at before. It is a nasty bit of learning that trade is to support National interests, and while more trade is better, when it undermines the National interest and degrades the ability of a Nation to manufacture or support itself in key areas, it becomes a negative factor. The division of labor on a global scale argument only goes so far as it does not address liberty on a global scale. We have three major places where trade was placed as the key to creating liberty, and yet in each of those places it has failed: President Wilson would not attack the Ottoman Empire which was allied with Germany and placed US trade and corporations as the reason and trade as the means to increase liberty in the region in 1917, President Nixon proposed the same for China starting in 1972, and Presidents Carter and Reagan proposed the same for Yugoslavia in the late 1970's and early 1980's. In each of these instances of large scale trade views to increase liberty and increase security for the citizens of those Nations, it was a failure.

On the overall scale of things, looking at the Reason article's $53 trillion level for the global economy, the US accounts for nearly $13 trillion of it (Source: indexmundi) for the year 2006, or nearly 25% of it. Now, if US charitable giving were emulated by the REST of the top 10 nations in the world, we might have a system of global interaction that would support societies by individuals and private concerns addressing the needs of poverty, hunger and basic education on how to keep oneself fed. In fact US charitable giving at $295 billion places it, GDP-wise in 2006 as the 34th largest nation in the world between Malaysia at $309 billion and Sweden at $285 billion out of a list of 210 nations. The foreign aid amount via charity falls lower, of course, at 122 billion between the 57th placed UAE at $130 billion and 58th New Zealand at $106 billion. Throw in $20 billion from IAP and other government sources and that pops it up to right after 54th Morocco $147 billion.

If China, Japan, India, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Russia and Brazil had private charitable works equal in percent of post-tax income to the US, that personal contribution would not only foster commitment to international growth but have accountable systems via private institutions to go with it. The argument that external government donor aid plays a larger factor is belied by this the results seen at indexmundi for external donor aid where the US comes in fourth ($6.9 billion) after the UK ($10.7 billion), France ($10.1 billion) and Japan ($8.9 billion).

That $6.9 billion comes out of the IAP, State Dept and other federal funds sources as donor aid and note that the fraction missing is quite high even just taking the IAP *alone* ($17 billion) the overhead is in the 40% range. If you are hot for international trade, then, the idea is to get governments out of the way for promotion and development of it. What National governments are given TO DO is to protect their Nations and ensure that trade does not undermine their societies or their Nation. Wealth and wealth production is not the same thing as liberty expressed through human freedoms: it is a measurement of buying power, not human liberty. China is going great guns on unstructured debt, lowered life spans, suppression of political and religious organizations, and utilizing its workforce for national power vested in the government, not its people. Also notice where China sits on the giving side of the equation from its government.

It is in this area where we confuse the ideal of Wealth of Nations with the hard-headed reality of the Law of Nations, where National gain and prestige is not necessarily equivalent to human liberty and freedom. The idea that mere cash 'empowers' an individual is belied by a place like China that is slowly grinding its people, no matter how wealthy, for its national ends for its government. One cannot decry Tibet and then support the idea that increased trade is helping the people of Tibet due to the goliath that controls it being able to do what it wants without respect to human liberty and freedom. And with the Chinese poverty line set far below that of the US, indeed looking more like the poverty line for a rural based economy, that 16% below that line points to a major problem in China beyond what trade can accomplish.

Trade liberalization when it is not hard and deeply coupled with the expansion of teaching human liberty and the price to secure it does not promote EITHER. A fine and dandy 'global labor pool' devolves towards the lowest, poorest common denominator for liberty and rights as those are the most available for the highest profit margin on output. And when pay gets too high in one region, the transnationals shift to others leaving those who had jobs without them. My article on NAFTA looks at this and the results for a place like Mexico with 'free trade' with the US. The local job pathways out of poverty and for self-sustainment by agriculture were broken by cheap, industrial crop production in the US (any high capital expenditure system becomes an industrial enterprise, as opposed to a manual labor one). Jobs along the northern border for low end manufacturing in textiles and other goods shifted jobs from the US south east and midwest to northern Mexico. Labor headed north for those jobs and to the US as higher paying work with no penalties worth mentioning was available there, which depressed local pay scales and increased pressure on social services. The manufacturing sector then saw the Far East as the next place to go (Philippines, Malaysia, China) and soon the factories in northern Mexico were idling down or shutting down. The US then went for its 'biofuels' binge and increased food costs in Mexico which now had no local agribusiness due to the hard competition it suffered from the US for nearly a decade. Those people had to seek jobs northwards, also. The last employer of opportunity became organized crime which is now supported transnationally and that is leading to a criminal based insurgency backed by foreign organizations on the other side of the US border.

Trade liberalization may have put more money into the pockets of Mexico in general, but it is now getting them killed at a higher rate than ever before due to the economic effects on the poorest there. This is really not the harbinger for a rosy world of the future with a non-accountable 'global labor pool' and 'global business climate' that has no adherence to Nation based societies and cultures. In treating labor as a commodity we ignore the human aspects of labor to be creative and have free reign via liberty for self-expression and support of society. It is possible to get both richer and no more free, because money does not buy liberty and freedom. The US should understand that because we have the saying that tells what *does that* and money cannot buy it:

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

- Thomas Jefferson

29 May 2008

All the nuance you could want in Sen. Kerry

Ah, how the winds of fate twists and turns on those seeking the Presidency!

From AP via Yahoo! news 28 MAY 2008 (H/t: http://hotair.com/archives/2008/05/28/are-you-ready-for-secretary-of-state-john-kerry/):

Four years after a failed presidential bid and amid a race for a fifth Senate term this fall, Kerry's moves have prompted some questions:

_Is the Massachusetts Democrat positioning himself to be secretary of state in a potential Barack Obama administration?


Kerry aides insist he's not angling for the job and point to his long involvement in foreign affairs. It started with his famous testimony as a 27-year-old veteran questioning the Vietnam War before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It continues today, at age 64, as the No. 3 Democrat on the same panel.

But envisioning him in the post would hardly be a stretch given Obama's chances at securing the Democratic nomination, a general election shaping up as a "change" campaign and Kerry's relationship with the Illinois senator.

Kerry would likely face competition from Sen. Joseph R. Biden of Delaware, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a former Peace Corps volunteer who also sits on the panel, and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, a top Obama adviser.

Really, that has been something that folks on the Right have been quick to criticize Sen. Obama on - his nuanceophilia! Where meetings without preconditions are somehow different when he prepares for them! Yes, such lovely 'nuance' that it is unsurprising to see the Junior Senator from MA angling for a spot in diplomatic circles. I mean, he was in Vietnam, in case you have forgotten! He has the 'magic hat' to prove his daring deeds, and the home videos he had others shoot of him doing heroic things while he was there. Then he came home and talked about how his fellow soldiers were like unto Genghis Khan's army... and then threw someone else's medals over the White House fence. And he was for the Iraq war before he was against it!

Do note that the majority of that litany is pre-Iraq, although his lack of stance after it follows in the same line of thought: say tough things today and tomorrow say just the opposite, all to look tough and 'nuanced'.

So, here is the question: would a Presidential candidate considering Sen. Kerry, Biden, Dodd, Daschle, et. al. be a candidate you would trust? I mean look at the squish factor there, where brave talk in the 1990's against Saddam turned into jello knees when it came time to pay the price of removal and putting something better in its place. I mean they were all so hot for stopping Saddam from getting WMDs that they even asked for Iraq to be attacked while under a cease-fire:

"We are skeptical, however, that Saddam Hussein will take heed of this message even though it is from a unanimous Security Council. Moreover, we are deeply concerned that without the intrusive inspections and monitoring by UNSCOM and the IAEA, Iraq will be able, over time, to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction programs."

Signed by Carl Levin, Joe Lieberman, Frank R. Lautenberg, Dick Lugar, Kit Bond, Jon Kyl, Chris Dodd, John McCain, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Alfonse D'Amato, Bob Kerrey, Pete V. Domenici, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara A. Mikulski.

Thomas Daschle, John Breaux, Tim Johnson, Daniel K. Inouye, Arlen Specter, James Inhofe, Strom Thurmond, Mary L. Landrieu, Wendell Ford, John F. Kerry, Chuck Grassley, Jesse Helms, Rick Santorum.

October 9, 1998

All 'bi-partisan' and everything, too! I am sure that they were all aware that attacking during a cease-fire effectively ENDS IT? Oh, wait, Saddam had been shooting at us all that time and we were not doing a damned thing to hold him to his word. How silly of me to forget that we can't even understand the Laws of War and Peace. I mean such Congresscritters should realize this, no? Firing during a cease-fire ends the cease-fire. Apparently not, not enough 'nuance'.

Still, the idea is that some of these folks looking for this job of Sec. State might just want to have some idea of what they are doing, right? Maybe keep a continuous thought in their heads about calling for 'tough action' means following through when the action actually gets tough? So, considering that some of these 'bi-partisan' Congresscritters aren't all that hot in understanding basics of foreign policy, and how firing during a cease-fire ends it and such like, you wouldn't want to place much on them calling for simple missile attacks that would, of course, signal that we were done with the cease-fire. Because if the US can't stick to its word, then why should we try to keep Saddam to his?

Got a bit of steam up on this concept? See Sen. Obama as a bit of an appeaser looking towards the squishy left to get support?

In a FindArticles archive article from Insight on the News of 13 MAR 2000, we get just what the McCain senior team would look like when he last ran for President, and if you don't like Sen. Obama's inclinations, then do think about what Sen. McCain was looking at back then:

"What's the first thing you would do as president?" the Detroit News recently asked McCain.

"The first thing I would do," the candidate answered, "is call in John Kerry, Bob Kerrey, Joe Biden, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Henry Kissinger, Dick Lugar, Chuck Hagel and several others and say we've got to get foreign-policy, national-security issues back on track."

That statement ricocheted through cyberspace, with Washington national-security experts wondering, "Is McCain nuts?" The formula doesn't compute:

* John Kerry is the very liberal senator from Massachusetts who ran Vietnam Veterans Against the War and whose dogged efforts to save Nicaragua's Marxist regime in the 1980s prompted his hometown paper, the Boston Herald, to refer to him as "the Sandinista ambassador."

* Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska Democratic senator and Clinton/Gore critic, is retiring and won't even be in the Senate when or if McCain makes it to the White House.

* Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, solidly on the left, is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but won't set its agenda because Sen. Jesse Helms, a North Carolina Republican, still will be the chairman.

* Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was President Carter's national-security adviser, is admired for a toughness toward Moscow that's matched by a puzzling softness toward Beijing.

* Henry Kissinger, architect of President Nixon's premature detente with the Soviet Union and the opening to Communist China, has made millions of dollars consulting with international business while advising U.S. political leaders (see "Lion Dancing With Wolves," April 21, 1997).

* Dick Lugar, the thoughtful, even-handed Indiana Republican senator, has been a key ally of the Clinton administration's failed Russia policies.

* Chuck Hagel, Lugar's eager apprentice, is a first-term Republican senator from Nebraska whom Kissinger wowed on a trip to China. Hagel is formally a member of the McCain camp's "senior foreign-policy team," with a grand total of three (count 'em, three) years' experience in the Washington foreign-policy world. (Hagel is such a Kissinger fan that he told the newspaper The Hill that Kissinger's book Years of Renewal was his "summer reading.")

McCain's anointment of these men left GOP national-security experts scratching their heads. "It shows he has a certain lack of confidence when he has so many people from wholly different environments," a former senior State Department official tells Insight.

That is not what I would call an outstanding concept even in 2000. Not only was this team stuck in the Cold War, they were some of the prime architects that led to the inability of the US to actually understand terrorism. Kissinger, if one can recall, decided that siding *against* the world's largest democracy because it was getting help from the USSR meant that we should help Pakistan, then undergoing one of its regular cycles between dictatorial rule and quasi-democracy, because it was aligned with China which was more or less siding against the USSR. Say, why couldn't we just talk with another democracy and see what we can do between us against thugs, tyrants, communists, and totalitarian states? Even during the Cold War President Nixon and Henry Kissinger were criticized on these grounds. Brzezinski was the prime architect of 'Support the Shah' then 'Don't Support the Shah' then 'Feel out the Ayatollah to form an alliance of Green Islamic States' against the USSR and then against that when it became clear the Ayatollah wanted nothing to do with either the US or USSR.

Can you imagine Sen. McCain turning to *that* team on 2001? A year after 9/11 they would still be trying to figure out which way to go and waffling all over the landscape, because they had no clue as to what to do during the Cold War to thwart Islamic terrorism.

So do remember, that Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama both thought to a lot of the same people as the FIRST ONES to turn to... of course Sen. Obama now can see how the nuancers and wafflemaniacs have performed under pressure.

And Sen. McCain? When looking around I found this article Human Events looked at this on 02 APR 2007:

At a recent Manhattan fundraiser, Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) was asked whom he is relying on for foreign policy advice in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. He listed Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, Robert Kagan, George Schultz, Lawrence Eagleburger, William Kristol and Robert Zoellick. “And, you’ll be surprised how often I touch base with that circuit” he told the crowd.

Yes, more of the failed 'realists'. Don't worry, I am sure that Sen. McCain can make it more 'bi-partisan'. I just can't think of anyone from the Democratic party I would want in that sort of arrangement, especially if these nitwits are showing up to pontificate about their 'experience' during the Cold War.

The Cold War is over.

Can we get a President who can understand this? We are really in need of one who doesn't see old ideas like 'rational states' as a way to deal with Iran: it hasn't been rationally governed for a few decades, now. Or heading back to appeasement: that didn't work out so well for the world, either.

Going back to those is a 'change' but it is certainly not 'progress'.

28 May 2008

What, me worry?

The long time premier magazine of the satirical was MAD Magazine, assured to festoon the lives of children for the very irreverent attitude taken towards all things. But it was not without its competitors, one of the best of which was Cracked magazine, which always tended to be a bit more cutting and even handed on its satire and irreverence. If MAD was aimed at pre-teens and 'tweens' then Cracked went for teens to young adults, and both had their place in the ecosystem of the age of analog printed material. I lost track of both coming into my teen years and really hadn't thought much about them, until I started to notice some of the Cracked lists showing up... brand new lists. Cracked.com's list of Funny Stuff is a compendium of its new productions in the irreverent, coarse, rude, crude and somewhat socially indifferent. It is, perhaps, one of the greatest time wasters invented if you like the sort of thing they produce. From 5 Certifiably Insane Politicians People Still Voted For to Your Body Hates You: 6 Gruesome Disorders Anyone Can Get to The World's 16 Least Inspiring Flags to The 6 Cutest Animals That Can Still Destroy You the entire panoply of sex, scat, art, politics, religion, pest control and history all are fair play at Cracked.

Still, they do slip in a semi-serious to actually useful article now and again, of the sort that were BS sessions in High School, College and seemingly everywhere online. Those have their own areas of fascination like looking at the 9/11 conspiracy theorists and how something that starts as fiction turns into a near cult following to things that Atheists and Christians really do have to agree on. That sort of thing is why Cracked looked at an older demographic than that of Alfred E. Neuman. After that latter one there is a column on trying to do a reduction of scientific secularism, which is fascinating not only for the authors view, but what the author misses. When conversing with a follower of the Cult of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, we get this view:

What is baffling about the Pastafarians, however, is that they don't demand that. They stop short in their understanding. While rightfully mocking this magical force called "will" in the form of religious belief, many of them seem to cling to the idea of "will" in the human brain. They'll accidentally use words like "mind" as if the "mind" is some separate thing that exists apart from electrochemical signals transmitted between neurons. They may talk about "love" as if it were also some kind of mystical energy and not just a certain kind of neural chain reaction. They laugh at the idea of a "soul" and then proceed to talk and live every day as if they had something exactly like it inside themselves.

Even worse, one Pastafarian chatted with me online and went from mocking the silly creationists, to talking about attending a rally on environmentalism. He said I "should" support cleaner alternative fuels and cutting greenhouse gases:

"Othwerwise global warming is going to get really bad in 30 or 40 years, mass starvation, the whole bit."

"So? I won't be alive for that. I'm already 72 years old."

"Well, yeah, but your children..."

"No kids. I drive an Escalade and I leave it running 24 hours a day, because it might hurt my wrist to twist the key every morning. Don't worry, I can afford it."

"But... what about future generations? Don't you want them to survive, too?"

"Why? How does that affect me? I'll be dead."

"But... but... you should care about your fellow man even if it doesn't benefit you!"

"That's a false emotional impression, left over from our ancient herd instinct. Surely you're not saying that it's 'better' to care about your fellow man than not to."

"Of course I am! People will die if you don't!"

"So you say it's better that people live than die? Why?"

"It just is!"

I was shocked and disappointed. He believed in this invisible, unmeasurable force called "better" as much as he believed in man's equally-unmeasurable ability to discern and act on the "better" thing and that "it just is" right do that "better" thing when given the chance. He believed in things science can't quantify. He believed in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Learned lesson one - if you believe in GW you already have a religion, but it is a nice one and allows others to co-exist with it right up to the point you disagree with GW.

Second, however, is that arguing from the Larry Niven view of a biological end-state, that is where you can't reproduce easily and most of your vested energy has already been spent, has a negative problem all its own: your reason *to* exist (that of reproduction and continuing the species) is no longer viable. More easily put, once you get old, mother nature is out to kill you to make way for the next generation. That was a great bit of insight from the SF invention of boosterspice in Niven's Known Space works, and that as you went beyond your natural life span, you learned to be very, very careful about what you did as mother nature was no longer looking out for you.

That second point has a non-trivial outcome: you come to understand the utility of laws and society as they are now the ONLY things keeping you alive. If society goes, the boosterspice goes and in a short period of time your biological age will start to re-assert itself and catch up with your chronological age. If you have lived, say, 250 years, being dead in 20 or 30 is no longer having a lot of time left to live compared with how long you have been around. You also get a very different perspective on children, however, as now the short period of time to support raising children is balanced directly against your ability to survive. It may be a short period of time, less than 20 years, but you could be out doing other things and not taking up your time raising children. The positive benefit to you once having passed through the normal age-span is no longer as strong as it is when you were younger.

From that the third point is that brought up by the author of the 'false emotional impression'. The author is clearly indicating that emotional instincts are false, yet they are just the opposite: they have positive value to you and beyond you even and especially if you are from the scientific determinist view of the world. If those emotions are false, then, exactly, which ones are *true*? What is the balancing point of that? Are instinctive emotions any less valid than instinctive muscle contractions or biochemistry that acts without thought to defend your body? If you answer that the entire class of inherited characteristics are useless, you are then arguing for something that is unreasonable: that is not the argument of reasoning out emotional behavior but one of denying that the unreasonable or irrational can have justification and reason for being. To do *that* requires a belief in will outside of such behaviors, and yet all of humanity, including the author, demonstrate just the opposite.

So, the question is: having these emotional responses to reproduction, what are their source?

The reason you do good things is actually astonishingly simple: it makes you feel good. In other words it has a positive reinforcement value in your mental view that helps to lower stress and other biochemical influences within your own body that have a negative impact on your survival. But there is an even more subtle reason that comes from the 'herd mentality', which, for humans, would date far back before the Cretaceous along mammalian lineage. It is one that is seen throughout the animal kingdom and even in the plant kingdom, and it is so obvious it is taken for granted.

That is the division of labor. The benefit to you of helping others out is that it not only feels good to *you* but it helps the recipient feel good *also*. As a part of that herd, or now our society, that has indirect benefit in reducing larger scale tension amongst individuals. That is why the ability to apologize for doing something hurtful leads to the opportunity of acceptance that something done was not meant, or if it was ill-meant, that the activity is owned up to by the individual and this is an attempt to stem hatred before it gets out of hand. Accepting an apology means that you must understand your personal feelings and that this larger herd, this greater society, has requirements upon you for the well being of all involved. That is because the survival of everyone depends upon the specialized skills and knowledge brought by individuals to this larger group and put to work so that the overall group has a higher chance of survival.

Not only does doing good feel good, it gives you and everyone around you a higher chance of surviving.

To not do so lowers overall survival rate for personal satisfaction and pleasure absent societal benefit. In that direction is Perfect Liberty and it has only one state of being: under the Law of Nature. Even if you are of the scientific deterministic view absent of religion, the Law of Nature is *still* present, in this case as the base operational system of the planet given its history, biosphere, solar output, volcanic activity, spatial position and if you are being chased by a carnivore or not. In that state of being you have Perfect Liberty and No Security: you are left up to your own devices and NO ONE will help you. That said very few creatures live in that Perfect State for as soon as there is longer term survival for the species when vesting energy in raising young, you will feel good doing so.

Why do you feel that way? Because those who didn't died off as they didn't have any positive stimuli to invest that time and energy, and so they adapted less well and soon their genetic traits were lost. Of all the higher animals, Sharks are the closest to that state, and even some of those spend time caring for their young, usually via internal gestation of said young. What the author posits is the position of being a male black widow spider now beyond time to mate, and it has only one reasonable value left to it: food. Mother nature likes to clear out the old and unfit, to make way for the next generation, so that 72 year old male without children unwilling to contribute back to society has a negative survival factor for his own beliefs and outlook. Others will come to assist you if fallen, as there is worth in you as a potential: it is possible to change one's way and contribute towards the greater good of all involved. You will be remembered that way, and even folks like Carnegie and Ford made sure that their rapacious reputations would be mollified by starting foundations and libraries that would exist far beyond their mortal time.

None of that requires an extra-body 'will' or greater good from outside source. Our biology gives us many impulses which we have then built upon so as to create larger groupings more able to survive the rigors of life on Rock 3 from the Star Sol. And there is a human example of what happens to a society that does *not* sustain such things, and is a clear representation of what happens when civilization makes non-support of society acceptable and concentrates interest in the here and now: The Roman Empire.

The decay of support for the greater Empire meant that there were fewer citizens, more slaves and a higher transit of wealth out to procurement of entertainment and 'pleasures' than there was going into the upkeep of roads, bridges, aqueducts, and the military. The result is what was called 'decadence': the Empire started to decay as being a Roman Citizen meant less to society and even some slaves gained riches that allowed them power without having to be an accepted part of society. Decadence also turned to debauchery, where base feelings and impulses were allowed to run free amongst the citizenry and the value of life and society decreased further. The Roman Empire was decaying as personal liberty took a primary importance over the security of society. In the Western Empire they soon found they were unable to have security, which then led to a further eroding of society until there was no society left to uphold or defend or even adhere to.

Thus, seeing someone try to put a 'rational' view to work for irrational personal safety so as to secure personal pleasure, I can only call it, as my ancestors did of Rome: decadent.

A society in decay because its individuals no longer gain personal value from upholding it is well described:

"Our present condition, is, Legislation without law;
wisdom without a plan;
a constitution without a name;
and, what is strangely astonishing,
perfect Independance contending for dependance.
The instance is without a precedent;
the case never existed before;
and who can tell what may be the event?
The property of no man is secure in the present unbraced system of things.
The mind of the multitude is left at random, and seeing no fixed object before them, they pursue such as fancy or opinion starts.
Nothing is criminal;
there is no such thing as treason;
wherefore, every one thinks himself at liberty to act as he pleases."

- Thomas Paine, Common Sense

That is where it being all about *you* and personal self-satisfaction ends, with perfect liberty... and soon Revolution. Because you no longer want to survive and are aiming to take society down with you.

And the GW enthusiast is no better having forgotten the basics:

Some writers have so confounded society with government,
as to leave little or no distinction between them
whereas they are not only different, but have different origins.
Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness;
the former promotes our POSITIVELY by uniting our affections,
the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one
encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions.
The first a patron, the last a punisher.

That is what happens when the multitude no longer have a fixed object before them... some seek perfect liberty, some seek perfect tyranny and the struggle between them can get millions killed.

This sort of thing is always why I preferred MAD Magazine.

What, me worry?

27 May 2008

The Blueprint of ignorance

H/T to Lee Cary at American Thinker Blog for his article pointing to Sen. Obama's Blueprint for Change.

This is in the 'I report, you think for yourself' category, and I will restrict this post to *just* the overview.

From the 'At a Glance' very top of the Blueprint, page 3.

Point number one:

A Leader for Reform
Obama reached across the aisle and challenged leaders of both parties to pass historic ethics reforms both in Washington and Springfield, IL. Unlike other candidates, he refuses to accept campaign contributions from PACs and Washington lobbyists.

From Kathy's US Politics Blog at About.com on 31 MAR 2008:

Given that PACS must be "bad" for Obama's campaign to make such an assertion, regardless of its merit, what do we make of the fact that Obama himself runs a PAC? And Obama's Leadership PAC (The Hope Fund) accepted donations from 56 PACs in 2004-2006, according to the Globe. In 2006, Harper's itemized corporate and legal (law firms) interests, PACs and lobbyists who had financed Obama's campaigns and Leadership PAC.


These tables show the extent of Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton's leadership PAC donations and whether or not the candidate has been endorsed for president, if that is known. There is not yet a direct cause-and-effect: that is, everyone who has gotten money has not endorsed a candidate. And both candidates have endorsements from senators and representatives who have not received leadership PAC contributions.

Instead, the Leadership PAC, like Obama's history with political money, remind me of Caesar's justification for divorce: "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion."

"Change" or "more of the same"? Seems pretty clear to me.

From Trudy Lieberman at the Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk on 15 FEB 2008:

The word “lobbyist” seems to have a particular meaning in Obama’s campaign
vocabulary. His stump speeches imply that he is not taking money from people who
want things from the government and push for them. The reality is that he has.

To explain: Opensecrets.org, the Web site of the Center for Responsive Politics, is the most authoritative source on campaign finances. Basing its reports on data from the Federal Election Commission, the Center shows that Obama indeed doesn’t take much money from a sector the Center calls “lobbyists.” Through the end of December, Clinton received more than $800,000 and McCain around $400,000 from this group, which the Center says includes people who work for lobbying firms at the local, state, and federal level and their relatives who are not otherwise employed, as well as those who are officially registered as Washington lobbyists. Obama received contributions of about just $86,000 from this group. Obama’s Web site says he doesn’t take money from Washington lobbyists or political action committees,and the Center says that if his campaign finds that the money came from registered Washington lobbyists, it does get returned.


Significantly, the Center’s lobbyist sector excludes in-house lobbyists who work solely for one company, union, trade association, or other group. These people may lobby, but their contributions are grouped in the totals for the various industries they represent, along with contributions from other employees in the sector, their relatives, whatever PAC money has been raised, and donations from trade and professional associations which, of course, carry lots of weight in the horse trading that occurs when legislation is drafted. (Corporations cannot contribute directly to candidates.)


Last August The Boston Globe, in a piece by Scott Helman, took a hard look at Obama’s contributions, noting that “behind Obama’s campaign rhetoric about taking on special interests lies a more complicated truth.” That truth revealed that as a state legislator in Illinois, a U.S. senator, and as a presidential aspirant, Obama had collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists and PACs. Helman quoted an Obama campaign spokeswoman saying that after he experienced firsthand the influence of Washington lobbyists, he was taking a different approach to fundraising than he had in the past, and that “his leadership position on this issue is an evolving process.” If Obama’s leadership on campaign financing is indeed evolving, more news outlets should be following the evolution.

Then there is Michael Isikoff's Newsweek piece of 02 JUN 2008 Issue:

When Illinois utility Commonwealth Edison wanted state lawmakers to back a hefty rate hike two years ago, it took a creative lobbying approach, concocting a new outfit that seemed devoted to the public interest: Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity, or CORE. CORE ran TV ads warning of a "California-style energy crisis" if the rate increase wasn't approved—but without disclosing the commercials were funded by Commonwealth Edison. The ad campaign provoked a brief uproar when its ties to the utility, which is owned by Exelon Corp., became known. "It's corporate money trying to hoodwink the public," the state's Democratic Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said. What got scant notice then—but may soon get more scrutiny—is that CORE was the brainchild of ASK Public Strategies, a consulting firm whose senior partner is David Axelrod, now chief strategist for Barack Obama.

No he doesn't want lobbyists to give him money, he wants them to work for him, especially ones creating deceitful ad campaigns for companies putting out 'astroturf'.

That is the first point of the Blueprint demonstrating Sen. Obama's concept of change.

Point number two:

Close the Revolving Door
Obama will close the revolving door between the executive branch and K-Street lobbying shops. Obama’s appointees will serve the American people, not their own financial interests.

So, will he vet his administration any better than his campaign staff? Or are campaigns tied to lobbyists ok? Well, lets ask K-Street! From The Hill's Alexander Bolton on 28 MAR 2007:

Mike Williams, the director of government relations at Credit Suisse Securities, said of the network of lobbyists supporting Obama: “I would imagine that it’s as large as the Clinton list,” in reference to rival presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who is an entrenched favorite of the Washington Democratic establishment.

He said that while lobbyists cannot give money to Obama, they can give “policy” and “campaign support.” Indeed, K Street denizens have rare policy and national campaign expertise.

Williams is actively building support for Obama among lobbyists and the corporate clients they represent. While other Obama supporters have described him as a leading activist, Williams demurs: “I wouldn’t want to put my position as a spearhead.” He acknowledges that the gains Obama is making among Washington’s Democratic establishment are hard to see because Obama’s K Street supporters have kept a low profile. As a result, Obama’s K Street network is a stealthy operation.


Obama’s spokesman Bill Burton said the senator knows that it is impossible to completely escape the influence of Washington’s establishment, but that rejecting lobbyists’ money is an important gesture.

“Senator Obama said when he set out this policy that it doesn’t solve the problem of money in politics but it is a sign and symbolic step in the right direction,” said Burton. “It’s not going to stop the sway that money has over policies or that special interests have over legislation, but it indicates the type of administration Obama would have if elected.”

Other K Street players working to build momentum for Obama are former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), a consultant for Alston & Bird; Broderick Johnson, president of Bryan Cave Strategies LLC; Mark Keam, the lead Democratic lobbyist at Verizon; Jimmy Williams, vice president of government affairs for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America; Thomas Walls, vice president of federal public affairs at McGuireWoods Consulting; and Francis Grab, senior manager at Washington Council Ernst & Young.


One lobbyist who has worked hard for Obama behind the scenes, according to two pro-Obama lobbyists, denied that he was in the Illinois senator’s camp when queried by The Hill. The shy lobbyist wanted to keep his allegiance secret because he represents a New York-based company and his job could be harmed if he alienated Clinton, explained a fellow Obama partisan.

Other pro-Obama lobbyists are open about their plans to help him become president.

“He’s like Bill Clinton with no baggage,” said Jimmy Williams, of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers. “He’s got that aura and people are talking about him. You realize you’re in the presence of something incredible. He has broad appeal.”

“He won’t take our money but we can go out and campaign for him,” he said. “I’m more than happy to campaign for the guy because the country is in dire need of honest leadership.”

Williams, a former aide to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), said he was in contact with Durbin’s office to plot out ways to get more young voters interested in Obama.

He also said he would try to raise money for Obama’s campaign in his home county of Rappahannock, in Virginia “We’ll have a fundraiser in Little Washington or Sperryville or something. I haven’t locked it down yet,” he said.

Jimmy Williams of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers wants to get the youth vote out for Obama? Hold a fundraiser? Any sponsorship of said fundraiser? But you really do have to love how the Obama campaign admits it really can't do anything about K-Street Lobbyists, and just takes the anti-lobbyist position to 'set the tone'. Because to do something would require legislation.

From Congress.

Where Sen. Obama currently resides.

Over at Roll Call they have the list of those K-Street lobbyists openly pulling for Sen. Obama:

Barack Obama (20)

Donald Alexander (Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld)
Theodore Bornstein (Foley & Lardner)
John Buscher (Holland & Knight)
Kevin Chavous (Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal)
Tom Daschle (Alston & Bird)
Stan Fendley (Corning)
Elizabeth Fox (Jolly/Rissler)
Francis Grab (Washington Council Ernst & Young)
Tim Hannegan (Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates)
Tom Jensen (Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal)
Broderick Johnson (Bryan Cave Strategies)
Mark Keam (Verizon)
Bob Maloney (Maloney Government Relations)
Marcus Mason (The Madison Group)
Ronald Platt (Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney)
Andy Rosenberg (Ogilvy Government Relations)
Bobby Sepucha (Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal)
Jarvis Stewart (Stewart Partners)
Tom Walls (McGuireWoods)
Michael Williams (Credit Suisse)

The interested student of lobbying look-ups can go to The Center For Public Integrity's LobbyWatch search and have at it! Never know who these various lobbyists are supporting. Remember that CPIC is pretty partisan, but the numbers do speak for themselves. But do remember, that Sen. Obama's campaign recognizes that the Platform is unrealistic.

Point number three:

Increase Transparency
Obama will increase transparency so that ordinary Americans can understand their government and trust that their money is well spent.

Can we start with Sen. Obama? He has released his earmarks, according to Lynn Sweet at the Sweet Scoop at the Chicago Sun-Times, but only after initially refusing to do so:

Sweet scoop: Obama, after initial refusal, releases all earmark requests. Read them here. UPDATES

WASHINGTON--After refusing since June to make public earmark requests from 2005 and 2006, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is releasing Thursday all the earmark requests he has made since he entered the Senate in 2005.

This disclosure was made just before the campaign starts a conference call with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to discuss congressional earmarks. This interest in earmarks comes as Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) --knowing one of them will face anti-earmark Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the fall--have signed on to a bill calling for a one-year earmark moratorium. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is against an earmark moratorium.

Here's one highlight: Obama sought money for the University of Chicago Hospitals. Wife Michelle works for the University of Chicago Hospitals, appointed in spring 2005 as vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals. She is now on leave from the job to campaign for her husband. Top campaign adviser and friend Valerie Jarrett is the Chair of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board and also Chair of the Executive Committee of that board. She has also been named Vice-Chair of the University's Board of Trustees. Obama taught at the U. of Chicago law school and the Obama's two daughters attend school there.

Also mentioned are the following earmark requests by Sen. Obama for 2006 as given in Lynn Sweet's article:

  • $1.6 Million To The University Of Illinois College Of ACES For The Livestock Genome Sequencing Initiative.
  • $2 Million For The Soybean Disease Biotechnology Center At The University Of Illinois College Of ACES.
  • $3 Million The Future Foods Initiative At The University Of Illinois College Of ACES.
  • $2.5 Million For The Illinois Program For Integrated Sustainable Agriculture At The University Of Illinois College Of ACES.
  • $3 Million To Support The National Center For Food Safety & Technology At The Illinois Institute Of Technology.
  • $310,000 For The Slocum Watershed Management Project In Lake County.
  • $2,499,400 For The Food Stamp Participation Project Of The Illinois Department Of Human Services.
  • $1.75 Million For The Secure User Network For Food And Agriculture Response And Mobilization (SUN-FARM) For The Illinois Department Of Commerce And Economic Opportunity.
  • $900,000 For The Women's Sports Foundation’s Go Girl Go Chicago Initiative.
  • $550,000 For The John G. Shedd Aquarium’s At-Risk Youth Monitoring Initiative.
  • $350,000 For Guardian Angel Community Services To Support Its Transitional Housing For Women And Children Suffering Domestic Violence Program.
  • $300,000 To Support The A Child Is Missing (ACIM) Program. In 2006, Obama requested $300,000 for the A Child Is Missing Program (ACIM).
  • $1 Million For The Village of Franklin Park To Support Its Law Enforcement Strategic Technology Program.
  • $3 million For The DuPage, Kane & Kendall County Sheriff's Offices To Support The Tri-County In Car Video Camera Project.
  • $62 million For The Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy Project.
  • $1.75 million For The Northern Illinois Technology Triangle.
  • $500,000 For McHenry County’s Integrated Criminal Justice Information System.
  • $450,000 For The South Suburban Association of Chiefs of Police To Support Its Center For Law Enforcement Technology Collaboration.
  • $675,000 For The Metro Chicago Youth For Christ Juvenile Justice Ministry Gang Prevention Program.
  • $500,000 For The Lakeview Museum To support Its Planetarium For Central Illinois Regional Museum.
  • $2 million For The University of Illinois At Chicago Prisoner Reentry, Family And Communities National Resource Center.
  • $750,000 For The Windy City Harvest To Support Its Windy City Harvest Resource Center.
  • $1.9 Million For The Constitutional Rights Foundation of Chicago To Support Its National Coordinated Law-Related Education Program.
  • $3 million For The Museum Of Science and Industry’s Expansion Of Its Center For Human Exploration/Henry Crown Space Center.
  • $500,000 For McHenry County’s Law Enforcement Communication System.
  • $4.3 Million And Helped Secure $1.8 Million For The Air Force ALERT System.
  • $10 Million And Helped Secure $5.85 Million For The Rock Island Arsenal’s Arsenal Support Program Initiative (ASPI).
  • $3 Million And Helped Secure $1.95 Million For The Compact Tactical Laser Program.
  • $7.5 Million And Helped Secure $4.9 Million For The National Center for Advanced Secure Systems Research.
  • $2 Million And Helped Secure $1 Million For HUMVEE Hybrid Electronic Conversion Technology.
  • $5 Million And Helped Secure $1 Million For The Fuel Cells for Mobile Robotics Systems Project At Chicago State University.
  • $8 Million And Helped Secure $1.3 Million For The High Explosive Air Burst Technology Program.
  • $7 million And Helped Secure $6.3 Million For Rock Island Arsenal Industrial Preparedness Items.
  • $5 Million And Received $3.3 Million For The Technology, Research, Education, And Commercialization Center At The University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign.
  • $5.8 Million For the Copper Antimicrobial Research Program. In 2006, Obama requested $5.6 million for the Copper Antimicrobial Research Program.
  • $8 Million For Human Genome Expression Through The University Of Illinois At Chicago.
  • $7.5 Million For Advanced Pathogen Titer Diagnostic The University Of Illinois at Chicago.
  • $4.8 Million For A Light Emitting Diode Healing Program At The University Of Illinois At Chicago.
  • $5.2 Million For A Copper Air Quality Program.
  • $4.2 Million For Advance Technology Research On Fabrication At Remote Sites.
  • $6 Million For Work On The Roof For Building 299 At Rock Island Arsenal.
  • $3 Million For Improvements In Heating And Cooling At Rock Island Arsenal Facility.
  • $784,000 In Funding For The Final Phase Of The Upper Mississippi River Comprehensive Plan.
  • $500,000 For Water Distribution Upgrades In The Village Of Oakwood.
  • $1 Million For A Regional Waterways System In The City Of Monmouth.
  • $2 Million For Reconstruction Of A Water Distribution System In The City Of Shawneetown.
  • $1 Million To Support The Bubbly Creek Restoration Project In The City Of Chicago.
  • $750,000 For An Arts And Science “Green Building” At Quincy University.
  • $5 Million For The Illinois Department Of Natural Resources Demonstration Asian Carp barrier Project.
  • $1 Million To Support The Asian Carp Barrier Operations And Maintenance Funds For The Illinois Department Of Natural Resources.
  • $500,000 For Peoria County’s Senachine Creek River Restoration Project.
  • $300,000 For McHenry County’s Groundwater/Stormwater Protection Investigation.
  • $750,000 For A Neuroscience Laboratory At Dominican University.
  • $1 Million For Construction Of A New Hospital Pavilion At The University Of Chicago.
  • $1 Million For An Intensive Care Unit Expansion And Renovation Project At St. Mary Medical Center.
  • $2.5 Million For A Science Storms Program At Chicago’s Museum Of Science And Industry.
  • $300,000 For The Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum.
  • $500,000 For The Heartland Water Resource Council (HWRC) For Storm Water Management Assistance For The Turkey Creek Watershed.
  • $6.1 Million For The Illinois Department Of Natural Resources’ Upper Des Plaines River Basin Feasibility Study (Levee 37).
  • $300,000 For The Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Expanded Study of Phase II of the Des Plaines River.
  • $2 Million For The Thorek Memorial Hospital Cancer Treatment Center.
  • $1.3 Million For Will County’s Flood Studies Project.
  • $600,000 For The International Arid Lands Consortium’s For Research And Demonstration Projects On Providing Water Resources For Arid Lands.
  • $2 Million For The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to support its National Corn to Ethanol Research Center at SIU-Edwardsville.
  • $4 Million For The Illinois Department of Natural Resources For New Gates At The East End of The Chicago River Lock.
  • $900,000 For Governors State University’s Homeland Security And Disaster Management Center For Excellence In Learning, Research And Outreach.
  • $800,000 For Wireless Communications Technology For The Will County Sheriff’s Office.
  • Northeastern Illinois Sewer Consortium Receive $3.5 million To Support Its Northeastern Illinois Sewer Consortium Project.
  • $2 million For Olympia Fields To Support Its Storm Water Conveyance Improvements.
  • $1 million For The Village Of Park Forest To Support Its Sanitary Sewer Upgrades.
  • $7 million For The Wheaton Sanitary District to support its Water Environment Research Foundation.
  • $120,000 For The Water Environment Research Foundation To Support Its Countywide Wetland Preservation And Restoration Plan.
  • $1,953,331 For Will County To Support Its Ridgewood Water And Sewage Project.
  • $405,000 For The Village Of Olympia Fields To Support Its Water Pumping System Improvement Program.
  • $750,000 For The Lakeview Museum’s Illinois River Interpretive Center.
  • $2 million For Lake County’s Watershed Plan Implementation Project.
  • $1 Million For The Village of Park Forest To Support Its Water Main Distribution System.
  • $500,000 For The University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign To Support Its Midwest Technology Assistance Center For Small Public Water Systems.
  • $700,000 For The Village Of Riverdale’s Illinois Pacesetter Sewer/Water Project.
  • $8 Million For The City Of Chicago’s Drinking Water Security Initiative.
  • $1.5 million For The Illinois State Geological Survey To Support Its Central Great Lakes Geologic Mapping Coalition Project.
  • $1 Million For The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urban Teaching and Leadership Center.
  • $500,000 For Kids Voting USA.
  • $200,000 For The Teen Challenge Faith-Based Drug Abuse Treatment And Prevention Program In Illinois.
  • $3 Million For The Safer Foundation. In 2006, Obama requested $3 million for the Safer Foundation.
  • $500,000 For Goodwill Industries Of Metropolitan Chicago.
  • $335,000 For The Chicago Zoological Society Of The Brookfield Zoo To Support Its Excellence Through Diversity Program.
  • $1 Million For National-Louis University To Support Its Center for City Schools' Secondary Reading Initiative.
  • $500,000 For The Salud Latina Resource Center To Support Its Community Health Programs.
  • $2 million For The Illinois State University Institutes For Mathematics And Science Teachers Program.
  • $2.5 million For Illinois State University’s Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline Programs and Partnerships Program.
  • $500,000 For The Illinois Downstate Assistive Technology Evaluation, Training And Device Loan Program.
  • $1.2 Million For The ACCESS Community Health Network Behavioral Health Care Activities.
  • $200,000 For the Knowledge Is Power Program’s (KIPP) Ascend Charter School in Chicago.
  • $2.2 Million For The Center For Neighborhood Technology’s Information For Communities Project.
  • $2 Million for Chicago Public Schools’ CPS Reading Initiative (CRI).
  • $250,000 For The Chicago Park District’s Obesity Prevention-Affordable Fitness Centers.
  • $1 Million For Alton Memorial Hospital To Support Its Riverbend Stroke Center.
  • $1 million For The Lakeview Museum To support Its K-12 Education And Outreach Program At The Central Illinois Regional Museum.
  • $500,000 For McHenry County’s Job Readiness Program.
  • $300,000 For The Lawson House YMCA’s Targeted Case Management Service For Veterans.
  • $4 million For The Children’s Memorial Medical Center’s Electronic Medical Record Project.
  • $1 million For The Chicago State University (CSU) HIV/AIDS Policy And Research Institute.
  • $1 million For Chicago State University’s (CSU) Establishment Of A School Of Pharmacy.
  • $500,000 For The University Of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Online Science Teacher Certification Program.
  • $250,000 For McHenry County’s Mental Health Court.
  • $450,000 For Swedish American Health System’s Davis Junction Rural Health Center Clinic.
  • $360,000 For Library And Technology Learning Center At Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.
  • $800,000 For A Training And Resource Center Of The Swedish Covenant Hospital.
  • $300,000 For An Extended-Day And Extended Year Academic Program At The Chicago Jesuit Academy.
  • $900,000 For An Early Childhood Professional Development Center At Saint Xavier University.
  • $700,000 For Youth Conservation Corps, Inc. For A GED Program.
  • $1.8 Million For The Illinois Department Of Public Health To Conduct A Men’s Health Pilot Project.
  • $700,000 For Expansion Of The Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant Project By The Illinois Department Of Public Health.
  • $500,000 For The Uhlich Children’s Network To Support Its Adolescent Mental Health Service Support Program.
  • $2.5 Million For The Children’s Hospital Of Illinois’ Replacement Project.
  • $942,400 For Cyber Seniors, Inc.’s Senior Power Program.
  • $5 Million For Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Prentice Woman’s Hospital.
  • $1 Million For Catholic Charities’ St. Leo Residence For Veterans And VA Clinic And Resources Center.
  • $650,000 For A Real-time Writers And Captioning Program At Sparks College.
  • $5 Million For Loyola University’s Center For Public Service.
  • $500,000 For The Children’s Health Fund’s Chicago Children’s Health Project.
  • $2 Million For The Illinois Primary Health Care Association’s Electronic Health Records Project.
  • $5 Million For The City Colleges Of Chicago To Support Project ALIGN.
  • $6 Million For The Midwest Emergency Department Services’ Rural Emergency Access Safety Net Program.
  • $200,000 For The Guardian Angel Community Service’s Before-And-After School Enrichment Program.
  • $162,000 To The Cristo Rey Jesuit High School For Its Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Work Study Internship Program.
  • $1.95 Million For The Will County Health Department To Support Its Mentally Ill Substance Abuse Programs.
  • $312,202 For Helen Wheeler Center For Community Mental Health’s Child And Family Services Program.
  • $250,000 For The Beecher hall At Illinois College.
  • $1 Million For A Center For Communicative Disorders At Augustana College.
  • $400,000 For The Carr Center Second Floor Renovation Of Seguin Services.
  • $2.5 Million For The Center For Excellence In Health Professionals Education At Governors State University.
  • $200,000 For The Peoria County’s Get The Lead Out Program In Peoria County, Illinois.
  • $200,000 For The City Of Rock Island’s The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center.
  • $200,000 For The Decatur Lakefront Development Project.
  • $200,000 In Funding For The Shawneetown Community Center And Children’s Park.

My thanks to Lynn Sweet!

Having to ask for this information to extract it from a Congresscritter is awful. It should be openly published and available online, without having to force members of Congress to fess up on their porkritude. Of course Sen. Obama could sponsor an open earmarks amendment to publish all earmarks before they are put into the budget. Congress does that, you know, sets their own rules. Maybe make it official via a FOIA system for Congress. That would, however, take a Congresscritter to draft, sponsor and get such a thing through Congress and show leadership.

And a commitment to transparency.

Point number four and the last of the 'At a Glance' items:

End Wasteful No-Bid Contracts
Obama will clean up government contracting and end the abuse of no-bid contracts.

Well, luckily government already passed laws to get contracts to be open source when at all possible using Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) goods. That went down way back in the early 1990's. I know, I was gainfully employed in the federal government then. When I worked my way over to a slot in R&D I found out where the 'no bid contracts' and grants were coming from.


You see, Congress can side-step its own laws by putting in a 'must get from...' sort of language in a line item. That is a mandatory sole source guidance from Congress, which is then justification to get a contract from only that source. If that language is left out, however, then the government agency must go through the entire open source procurement arrangement, which has a high overhead but gets the 'best value' for the money (not necessarily the lowest cost, but the best overall value to the government for money spent).

Grants have even less in the way of strings to them and as long as who ever gets it does what they are supposed to do or even try to, that is pretty much it (and yes that is a vast oversimplification). Contracts require drawing up specifications, publishing them, taking bids, reviewing bids, awarding contract, going through any appeals, then you start in the whole contract delivery and acceptance problem... the 'no-bid' contracts are the exception, not the rule these days, and only used for critical war supplies or where Congress directs the government to a sole source. It is a Congressionally Directed Action and has the force of law behind it.

If Sen. Obama wants to stop 'no-bid' contracts, he can START with his fellow Congresscritters and get them to STOP putting in those damned earmarks. What Congress doesn't seem to understand is that in putting the earmark *in* it does not put in the necessary administrative and contractual overhead to run said contracts. That usually comes to 10-15% of the cost of the earmark in labor time and legal tracking of work. So a $1 million earmark will eat up $100,00 to $150,000 of agency budget.... and no one had planned to spend it on the earmark so that gets taken out of the hide of other, needed programs. If you are very lucky and Congress did not justify an earmark well, then some of that money can go to overhead, but that is not often.

Senator Obama has a problem in common with the other Senators left running for President: They are not familiar with how the government actually works and what it costs to get things done. They are familiar with the budget, yes, but not the expenditure process that comes from their laws and budgets. I know that from first-hand experience. So when I hear such lovely talk from a Congresscritter about 'transparency' or 'no-bid' contracts, all I have to say to them is: Hold up a mirror for the problem.

Good government does not start at the expenditure side.

It starts in the budget process.

And that starts with the President putting a budget together, and then Congress throwing that out and making its own.

You have to do some digging to get the last President that *just* got his budget and only that. The problem is not in the Executive, but the Legislative. And *that* could sure use some 'leadership'.

25 May 2008

Looking at the remaining candidates, such as they are

It is a fascinating election season if you are into depressing scenarios for the US. Having stated that none of these three is worthy of being dog-catcher, we are now in the 'dog-catcher trainee' department of US politics. With Republicans unable to understand that not standing for those things you ran on being important to their own base, they, as a whole, started to wander out into the Leftist wilderness of Congress back in the mid-1990's. The Democrats found that the Leftist wilderness didn't offer any learning opportunities, save to teach Republicans how to put in more earmarks, expand the federal budget, create nannystate legislation and, generally, look to feather their own nests at the expense of the taxpayer. Now we have *two* parties that do that in the US.

One of my long-term views is that there is no 'center' in US politics: the polarization of the two political parties to more strident positions is an effect of the center walking out on US politics. The trends from that shift by not voting are clear and apparent: more legislation to regulate individual behavior, more regulation to proscribe what citizens can and cannot do in their lives, and the shift to the idea that the government regulates the economy in detail and has some role in financial well-being. The center, by being unable to gain a voice in these things via the two party system walked out on it. Today the firm basis of the two parties is the belief in 'activist government' to cure every social and societal ill by the force of government and the law. That becomes State control over society and liberty, not the protector of those things for the greatest free exercise by the individual of them. It is that foundation that the three remaining candidates stand upon. As Jonah Goldberg points out: Fascism is Right Socialism and Communism is Left Socialism and the Center is Socialism.

Note that the ideals of liberal democracy are not present in that formulation.

Sen. John McCain is a case in point: by trying to be 'bi-partisan' he is looking to go between the Left and the Right, while taking dogged stances on military affairs he does not step away from government interventionism for things like Global Warming. His major problem is that this 'center' is the type of center that would be seen in Social Democratic parties in Europe: Socialism on the sliding scale of 'one spoonful at a time'. Social Democratic parties in Europe pre-WWI bemoaned the ideal of International Socialism ever working and signed up for where the population was - in support of Nation States. In Germany it was the SPD that was in power because it stood by that formulation, and finally would be unable to control the outcome of US intervention in WWI and the Left Socialism that appeared to be taking shape in Russia. In that tradition of regulating work hours, regulating industry, supporting military affairs, and using progressive attitudes towards State based control of ever more in life, we see the modern conception of Sen. McCain. He is weak on economic understanding, more than able to put in legislation for endorsement of affirmative action goals, seeking to utilize the power of the State to tell citizens what they do or do not need in local affairs, and, generally, performing a soft-socialist trend by seeking to address the non-problem of Global Warming even for the deep and severe industrial impacts that would have if given fruition. From Social Security to health care, there is the idea that government will always 'find a way' even when its job is to let citizens find that way without government help. These outlooks of wanting to have the government do *more* are the things that the center has walked out on, and the recognition is that his 'base' is on the Statist side of the Republican party and the weakly individualistic side of the Democratic party. It is this same strain that has caused economic decay and hardship in Europe with short work weeks, small families, an unsustainable 'social safety net', lowered standards for health care, and the need to pull in poor workers to do actual work, even if they are from backgrounds radically different to the host society and undermining it.

Sen. Barack Obama - Nothing says Communism like 'hope & change' with banners, slogans and iconic images drawn in the cast of the working man from Stalinist Russia to Nazi Germany. His nonexistant record and non-voting record allows Sen. Obama to try and hide his past associations with the hard, anti-American left, organized crime, and a view that the US has lost some standing in the world because we haven't been 'nice' to dictators, thugs and tyrants. His stance is blatantly anti-military, anti-industrial, anti-liberty and unwilling to see any part of life where government shouldn't be involved. If the ideal of the Progressive era was to reshape the American mind via taking over educational institutions and marginalizing vocational schools, then Sen. Obama is the outcome of decades of elitism bent towards producing people who have a disdain for manual labor and the people who do it. If Sen. McCain is a Democratic Socialist, then Sen. Obama is a Communist of the Internationalist/Transnationalist stripe, wanting to work with those who have a disdain for human liberty and to appease them. Any time we hear a word about 'post-partisan' times, we hear of governments enforcing its dictates via military and police means so as to wipe out all opposing views. Pol Pot was certainly 'post-partisan' as was Mao Tse Tung, Josef Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini, Robert Mugabe, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro... being 'post-partisan' means squelching all other viewpoints, often with ruthless means, so as to establish a dicatorship or one-party rule in a Nation. His proposed budget programs and disarmament programs are suicidal in a world with huge budget deficits by the government and an unsustainable health care system that gets worse as more people are added to it.

Sen. Hillary Clinton - I have described her outlook before, examining how her personal and professional life interact as a whole. Even without a mental condition underlying her actions, they do conform to an outlook of the world that is manipulative, conniving, disingenuous, and willing to send friends out to 'take one for her' even if the friend doesn't know that is going to happen. Her methods, like that of her husband's, are fixed while their actual outlook is amenable to whatever gets applause and plaudits and ensures that criticism gets undermined by distractions. This is 'triangulation' and started off this election season with Sen. Clinton 'triangulating' to the Left to try and suck out Sen. Obama's support. That was seen as disingenuous, called as such and she started losing primaries as the monied Left interests of Soros and Geffen ensured that Sen. Obama would have time to gain applause while saying not very much. These interests know that they must win, or Sen. Clinton will extract revenge as she has done to other political foes along with her husband Pres. Clinton. Because there is only a general Leftist ideology in Sen. Clinton, she found herself unable to confront the Communist formulations of Sen. Obama, and so moved to the Nationalist and working class formulations deeper in the roots of the old Democratic party. This is becoming a form of Nationalist based Socialism or Right Socialism, and would require only a single 'triangulation' back to supporting Iraq to complete that cycle. Sen. Clinton started out with an amalgam base of some hard Left, some moderate Left and a very few Nationalist Left, plus a whole bunch of skeletons to pull out of closets. Because she was blinded by Leftist views, she could not see nor find the skeletons in Sen. Obama's closets and only when taking up a the more socially conservative track did Sen. Clinton begin to get traction - she has found her Base. This track of Social Conservative/Economic Liberal is one being seen in the Republican party under the Aegis of Gov. Huckabee, and they both revolve in the same demographic trends and regions. While Gov. Huckabee did not find these roots in the Republican party, Sen. Clinton did in the Democratic party. This is highly worrying to both parties as these folks from central New York State down the Appalachians and into the Arkansas, Missouri and northern Mississippi and Alabama represent a formulation of American life generally not being served by the modern world. Because of their Nationalist stance, they move to the military hero, Sen. McCain, giving Sen. Obama a headache across that entire region that has little in common with Big City elitists. Because Sen. Clinton has no honor of keeping positions, however, she also is risking her career and having to come to terms with these people: being anti-war and pro-military is a very hard thing to do, especially when Iraq is turning around, FARC is failing in Colombia (a job her husband started, BTW and yet she takes no credit there), and Mexico is slowly sliding into organized crime based insurgency. What Sen. Clinton is *not* however, is suicidal in her politics: calculating, ruthless, cold, hard... those terms describe it.

Now to the one other thing they all have in common: Senator.

These three represent the cause of social disintegration by government control even when the record is scant, in the case of Sen. Obama, each of these three has the strange belief that government is there to 'help' the citizenry. That is not a formulation from classical roots, but one which comes more from the inculcation of Socialism into western liberal politics and was a slow replacement for Monarchism. Although Monarchist supporting parties were already dying by the mid-19th century, the rise of Progressivism brought back a wider view of State control via a ruling elect or select class. Nobility is replaced by learned individuals and experts, and with government power in hand they will dictate for the society what to do. By the late 20th century, after the era of Progressive politics ran its course in the US, stopping in major steps with the mid-1970's and the end of the Nixon Administration, the two party system had shifted its basis due to the apparent success of large government projects. The decay and downfall of societal projects, particularly housing and ghettoization, as opposed to engineering ones, was apparent in the late 1970's as the Welfare State was turning into a permanent underclass. The last, great upwelling of classical views started in 1980 (in government, although preceded in the early 1960's by Goldwater) and would culminate in the restriction of welfare under a triangulating Leftist President and Republican controlled Congress. The other values of that upwelling were never addressed: smaller government, lest activist government, removing government intrusion from the life of citizens, fiscal responsibility by cutting government first, ensuring the safety of the nation, and upholding equality under the law for all citizens and no breaks for *anyone* based on race, class or wealth.

Those latter got tossed under the bus.

Also note those are not 'tax cuts': it is a formulation of lower taxation by having minimal government necessary to do its work. Fiscal responsibility is not biting off more than you can chew and then asking for a better class of wine to try and wash it down: you spit it out as no matter how good it tastes it just can't be swallowed. That is what the 'center' that has walked out is trying to achieve by 'gridlock' and ever more partisan parties - the immobilization of activist government. None of these three candidates represents that.

On military affairs in the arena of getting Iraq, Afghanistan and Colombia done right, Sen. McCain does well, but do note a triangulation strategy to go after political opponents would do Sen. Clinton well if she aims to keep her base. Sen. Obama fails.

On diplomatic affairs, especially in dealing with the decaying nature of Nation to Nation relations and the slow slide of Europe into Eurabia, none of these three have bought a clue. While Sen. McCain opposes Russia, he has problems getting a staff to weed out Red Mafia types of the highest order, as seen in Davos meeting with Oleg Depripaska, who had given a good payout to Bob Dole for a visa. As it is likely that one of the major sub-groups in the Red Mafia is supplying money and arms to Mexico for their own reasons, confronting Russia will now start in Mexico as the Russian government is decayed to the point where major functions are corrupted by the Red Mafia. If the Red Mafia can use influence in Turkmenistan to put screws to Iran, think of them getting a portion of the Mexican petro game and doing that to the US. Supporting friends and allies and punishing those opposing freedom and liberty is beyond the grasp of these three candidates, it is a loss for all of them.

National Security does not start in Iraq but at home and the border. An understanding of diplomacy, organized crime, economics and US global interest might prevent Mexico from sliding farther into decay. Sen. McCain has now waffled repeatedly on this issue with regards to illegal immigration and the rule of law and that is making our enemies bolder as the Right goes soft on law enforcement. The other two have no problems with not enforcing the law, save for when they want it done to punish only those that threaten them, not the Nation. US economic interests require a long term agenda to encourage private industry to research, develop and deploy new energy technologies and slowly shift the Nation from a liquid fuel based economy. None of them have put that on the agenda and have offered retrograde stances via Global Warming views. Those will empower the oil supplying Nations via cash infusions, and many of those are not all too amenable to democracy or liberty. That direct connection for National Security is not made by any of the three candidates, and all are lethal to US long term survival.

In Economic affairs, each of these three seem to be beholden to relatively antiquated ideas of trade and protectionism. None of made a central point of linking trade to the foundations of democracy and liberty abroad so as to secure ours at home. Increased trade with authoritarian regimes or totalitarian ones may give us economic incentives, but costs humanity the benefit of having more freedom and liberty supported by trade globally. Trading with people under such regimes is not empowering them, but keeping them under such systems via bribery and goods. The failure of trade to garner liberty and freedom in the Middle East (since 1917), China (since the mid-1970's), Yugoslavia (late 1970's) or Mexico (since the mid-1990's) points to a political failure to understand that trade is not a causation of liberty but a creator of it. Trading with unfree peoples does not give them freedom nor the liberty to have full lives out from under the control of officious and dictatorial regimes. This is a leading causal factor for the slow decrease in liberty at home as the US no longer supports free people via trade. As this has been a bi-partisan failure spanning decades, none of the candidates will recognize their failures to address this in a meaningful way.

Domestic Tranquility is not being addressed by any of the three candidates. The divisiveness of this election season is a fallout of a plurality walkout by the Center and this election will most likely mark the turning point of that being a Majority for Presidential and Congressional elections. While Sen. Obama has 'registered' more people to vote for him, that is currently in the 5-6% of those not voting, which is substantial on a party basis, but not substantial on a National basis as it is such a small amount compared to the size of the population uninterested in politics. The demographic concentration of those people in States are those of upper-income whites or the young and college educated, none of which has been influential in elections under the modern primary based systems, and the latter have been 'no-shows' in National elections. What is worrying is the larger inter-party percentages that may not vote from both parties, with that running between 10-30% on the Democratic side and 10-15% on the Republican side and those tend to be mirrored, as a whole, in the 'non-affiliated' voters not directly aligned to parties. A 10% walkout by those that normally vote will shift the entire representative democracy of the US into a near majority non-voting scenario. Any more and the it is a majority of the population not voting. As 'voter outreach' by the parties and the candidates is not bringing these individuals in with substantial numbers, and there are no countervailing indicators of actual enthusiasm for the upcoming election, the US will be moved into a state of Domestic Tranquility put at peril by the two party system and its candidates unwilling to address the broader needs of the Nation in a meaningful way. This is not 'divisive politics', pre se, but the division between the two political parties and the large portion of America who are not voting for them. As the common ground disappeared, the two parties no longer needed to address it and they became polarized. Thus this is not a 50/50 America, but a 30/30/30/10, with the last 10% those that have been disaffected completely, the remaining 30 is the disaffected and walk-outs.

From those things, my vote as an individual being placed along those lines, sees no benefit in any of the three candidates, for all their differences on Iraq. If Sen. McCain was an un-maverick, able to guarantee the gridlock between Republicans and Democrats by holding traditional Republican values, then it would be an easy vote choice to make. As he, instead, adheres the 'third way' of just wanting to get more government and pay for it, the allowance that government should do more is omnipresent with him, and that negates, for me, any positive stance on Iraq as the threats to the Nation are far larger, deeper and longer than Iraq and do not include Global Warming. Getting Iraq 'right' is necessary but not sufficient to long-term stability for the US and Sen. McCain is one step above Sen. Clinton who appears to be on the slow triangulation course to something similar. And as her new base is unconnected to that of Sen. Obama, she can afford to offend the hard Left while ensuring her base is looked after, and their more traditionalist values will include the Truman idea of a Marshal Plan to make sure those citizens of Nations defeated have a chance to stand for themselves. If Sen. Clinton makes that swing before the Democratic convention, by 'triangulating' progress in Iraq with a drawdown but longer-term 'peace-keeping' support (yes, via military means), the threat to Sen. McCain is deep if she can win on that in the convention. It is a steep road for her to do so, but is one aimed at a part of the Republican party that Sen. Obama has a hard time touching after Rev. Wright - Gov. Huckabee followers. For all of Gov. Huckabee's good naturedness on the Wright affair, his followers trend towards traditionalist christian values, not engendered in Sen. Obama's belief system. Sen. Obama, however, due to his strident stances, will have any ability to do that shifting negated by his previous positions, unless he wants a party dissolving under him after getting the nomination.

What Sen. McCain has been unable to do is address the Traditionalist conservatives (the non-Huckabee flip-side of the Social Conservatives) and his key stances against smaller government. That base has spread slowly since Ronald Reagan and feels 'out in the cold', and yet will not see either Sen. Clinton or Obama as viable for their views. These do not, by definition, default to Sen. McCain if Sen. Clinton is not running: they can join the exodus started in 1968 in the Democratic party and further polarize the socialists remaining in the two parties. If Sen. Clinton does run, they may see an opportune time to 'vote the opposition' as it will hold the same views as the one from the Republican party in an attempt to fracture the Republican party and try to shake out the more socialist leaning groups and become a minority party.

That 'swing vote' from the Democratic party, the blue/pink/low-white collar Appalachian to Southern Democratic base that looks to hold the future of the US for this election cycle. Their brethren across the 'bible-belt' into the lower mid-west and then in the inter-mountain areas of the western States are becoming the swing demographic. Mostly because they have families beyond replacement rate and place more value on work than getting a degree. That is becoming the US swing-vote and it is very disturbing to have Sen. Clinton as their temporary representative in this primary season.

What form of socialism do you want this time around?

The Doe-eyed Left, willing to meet with thugs and dictators because they are 'misunderstood', and say 'I'm sorry' to them when our citizens get killed?

The Squishy Center that just can't seem to want to regulate everything immediately, just increase that heat until everything in the pot is mush?

The Crunchy Right still looking to take things over because what we all need is to be managed by bureaucrats?

Because no matter who you vote *for* it is socialism you will get this election.

Decisions, decisions...