Saturday, December 31, 2005

What happened to limited government?

American conservatives are nearly unanimous in their disappointment over the failure of President Bush and the Republican Congress to restrain the growth in government spending. In 1995, after the historic Republican takeover of Congress during the previous November elections, Republicans rarely held a press conference without mentioning the words "reduce the size and scope of government" and "move more power back to the states."

But then a serious of electoral disappointments assualted conservative Republican idealism. Republicans lost several seats in the US House of Representatives in the 1996, 1998 and 2000 November elections. Bob Dole lost the 1996 Presidential election to President Clinton. George W. Bush, espousing a political philosophy of "compassionate conservatism," lost of the popular vote to Al Gore in 2000 Presidential election while Republicans lost five US Senate seats. These electoral setbacks convinced many Republicans that the public had a large appetite for government spending that Republicans would have to satisfy if they wanted to win elections.

In his column Respect the Limits that Made the USA, Karl Zinsmeister discusses the causes and effects of runaway government spending.
As 2005 closes, and the next year’s federal budget season opens, fiscal conservatives are up in arms. Though he talks a good line about battling government bloat, our current President has shown an eerie lackawanna when it comes to actually keeping a lid on the federal Pandora’s box. Quite apart from Katrina or the war on terror, there has been a pattern of troublesome spending spikes right from the beginning of the Bush Administration: Dubya’s 2001 education bill (“No Child Left Behind”) was the most expensive in history. His 2002 farm bill was the highest priced ever. His 2003 Medicare law was our most costly entitlement expansion. George Bush has not vetoed a single spending bill during his Presidency.
Zinsmeister offers a comparison between the United States and Europe in terms of the amount of government involvement in each of the two societies.
In the U.S., 17 percent of agricultural revenue currently comes from the government—a glum indication of how manipulated our farm sector is. But in the European Union, fully twice as much farm income—34 percent—comes from the state.
Ours has always been an extremely lightly ruled nation. At the turn of the twentieth century there were still only a total of 21,000 people working for the federal government in Washington, D.C. Even at the opening of George Bush’s Presidency, the U.S. federal apparatus remained smaller than counterparts in most other industrial nations by a third or more.

Our sharply limited government has been a central element of American distinctiveness and success. As one historical observer put it, the voice of Adam Smith “has been ringing in the world’s ears for years…but it is only in the United States that he is listened to, reverenced, and followed.”

Thursday, December 29, 2005

F*** the EU!

Now you can also take this literally.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The View From My Window

First, I would like to thank everyone here at Warm 'n Fuzzy Conserva-Puppies for asking me to join their wonderful blog. It is quite an honor and I hope that I will prove to be an asset.

Tom suggested that I lead off with a post about how I came to my political views. That certainly got my mind going. I cannot emphatically call myself a Republican as I am not registered under either party. And according to the little quizzes you can take to show your political leanings, in every case I have come up as a moderate. Despite all this, I have been assured by many that the Republican party has a very large tent and all are welcome.

In college, I will admit that I leaned left as students are oft to do because of the inherent liberal bias of the college professors. Although I did vote for the first time in '84 for Reagan, I did not feel connected to either party, so I did not declare a party on my voter registration. Later I realized that I really was more moderate because there were liberal and conservative issues that I agreed with, so I would vote according to whomever I thought would be the better person for the job.

Yes, I voted for Clinton in '96, and yes, I must admit that I voted for Gore in 2000 more so because he was a known quantity. It was a case of "better the devil you know than the devil you don't" philosophy. But starting with the multiple recounts in Florida and the whining, crying and gnashing of teeth mostly on the liberal side, I realized that I really didn't like how liberals represented themselves thus representing those of us who voted for them. The whole situation seemed to degenerate into a children's fight on the playground. When Bush was finally proven to be the winner I thought, "Okay, what is this guy all about?"

Before I could really get an answer to that question, 9/11 shattered our world. Politics took a back seat. I was stunned, angry, grief-stricken, and soon I wanted to make the people who had done this pay, and pay just as dearly. This is when I, and the rest of the world, found out what kind of man George W. Bush really is. He was just as angry, and just as grief-stricken as I was, yet he kept a cooler head and did not amass troops on 9/12 (as I would have!). He said that we could not allow the terrorists to get away with this and that we would not let them change our lives. He told us to go on, lead a normal life, do not lock ourselves away in fear, and show those terrorists they would not bring us down. He was very inspiring. Then, he and those he trusted, planned the attack.

Once a plan was established and congress approved it, that's when the divisiveness of the liberal party really began to show itself...What is Bush really up to? Why is he so secretive? Why hasn't he caught bin Laden? Iraq? Okay. What do you mean there are no WMDs? Bush did this! Bush got us into this! Bush lied, people died! This supposed "war on terror" is a quagmire! (always a favorite cry) Complaining to the world that they certainly didn't agree to this.

Wait, wait, wait...yes, you did. It may not have been handled the way you would have liked and there may not have been the WMDs that were expected by everyone and yes, maybe bin Laden hasn't been caught, but that did not make freeing first Afghanistan, then Iraq and capturing Saddam any less necessary. Would you rather have the Taliban running one country? Or Saddam with his degenerate sons wreaking havoc on those innocent people in another country? Would that be better? No, I thought not. You did agree to Bush's plan, but now you want to run the show, call the shots. You often say that you would do things differently, but you have not said how you would do those things. All I have seen this liberal party do over the last several years is lie and scheme and try everything possible to bring the President down. The motivation is, in my estimation, jealousy.

But I digress. Did all these feelings and realizations make me a fanatical right-winger? Turn me into a staunch Republican? No, they didn't. Because there are fools and idiots on both sides of the aisle (Lord knows I didn't vote for Governor Taft!) and since I do still agree with a few things liberal and more things conservative, I still have not declared a party on my voter registration. I don't think the right-wing fanatics would accept me in their number, but neither would the left-wingers! I am a moderate....but I'm sure leaning way over to the right and I think I will probably stay here as it is a very good place for me to be!
UPDATE: You can read the mini-bios of the other puppies by reading Peter's Greetings from a pro-market Flemish friend of America, Marvin's Another Puppy, Kat's I am a change agent, Tom's A Cold Warrior, Larry's My Confession and Mark's Always a Republican, sort of

Monday, December 26, 2005

Nobles and Knaves, the Contest

Yes, it's that time of year again. Every year the Washington Times holds it's annual contest, whereby you the reader get to choose the Noble and Knave for 2005. The instructions are simple:

To vote, send an e-mail to with "Nobles Contest" in the subject line or send a fax to 202-715-0037. Entries must be received by Dec. 31. When voting, please remember that only this year's Nobles and Knaves of the week are eligible and that votes sent en masse with the intention of unfairly weighting nominees will be not be considered.

Puppies and commenters can send their choices to the editors of the Times, but we may as well take our own vote here on this blog. Everyone is invited to participate, the only rule beiing that you must make your selection from the list below. The Nobles and Knaves listed were the weekly choices of the Washington Times thoughout 2005.

Without further ado, the contestants are:

For Noble of the year, select three:

The American people, for their generous donations to the victims of the Southeast Asian tsunami (and, we'll add, for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and her somewhat less slutty sister, Rita).
Trevon Jenifer, the Huntington High School wrestler who faces his opponents on the mat with one major disadvantage: He has no legs.
William and Janet Norwood, who lost a son in Iraq, and Safia Taleb al Suhail, who lost her father to Saddam Hussein's assassins 11 years ago. President Bush recognized them in his 2005 State of the Union Address.
Firen Gassman, the Herndon High School wrestler who doesn't let the boys push her around.
Hans A. Bethe, the late Nobel laureate for physics and winner of the Presidential Medal of Merit who headed the theoretical physics division of the Manhattan Project.
George Kennan, the late U.S. diplomat who in 1946 outlined how the United States must confront Communist expansion.
Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, whom President Bush posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of 100 soldiers before being killed in action. He was the first soldier in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
The Washington Wizards, for their first playoff berth since 1997, when they were called the Bullets.
The Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents, for hunting down the serial arsonist who terrorized the D.C. area.
The Marine Corps, which cleared a corporal accused of murdering a terrorist in Fallujah of any wrongdoing.
The D.C. Air National Guard's 121st Fighter Squadron, which responded to the panic of May 11 -- when the Capitol, White House and surrounding federal buildings were evacuated -- with the same professionalism it exhibited on September 11.
Ike Boutwell, who honored his flight students who died in Vietnam by refusing to show Jane Fonda's latest movie "Monster-in-Law" at his theater. Below a sign that read "No Jane Fonda movie in this theater," Mr. Boutwell posted the infamous 1972 photograph of Miss Fonda sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun.
Three Ethiopian lions, for rescuing a 12-year-old girl from her kidnappers -- and for being kind enough not to eat her.
The voters in Discovery Channel's "Greatest American" competition, for their wise choice of Ronald Reagan and rescue of a poorly conceived contest.
Vice Adm. James Stockdale, the late Vietnam war hero, Ross Perot's 1992 presidential running mate, a POW in Vietnam and recipient of the Medal of Honor.
Aage Bjerre, the Danish pizzeria owner who was jailed in 2003 for his refusal to serve German and French tourists -- which was his way of protesting the French and German governments' opposition to the U.S.-led effort to liberate Iraq.
James "Scotty" Doohan, the late D-Day veteran who delighted millions of Trekkies with his lifelong portrayal as the USS Enterprise's chief engineer.
Kate Ziegler, the 17-year-old Arlington swimmer who amazed the swimming world by breaking decades-old records.
Steven Vincent, the late war correspondent whose reports from Iraq stand as some of the finest of the war.
The first-responders, for their selfless sense of duty in the immediate, chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The D.C. Armory, for providing hundreds of Katrina refugees shelter and sustenance.
U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Preska, for throwing out a bogus case brought against power producers by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer because of their contribution to "global warming."
Simon Wiesenthal, the late Holocaust survivor who dedicated his life to tracking down former Nazis and bringing them to justice.
Gen. Richard B. Myers, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who retired this year after 40 years of service.
The city of San Antonio, whose military recruiters ranked first in the nation among all battalions.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, one of the Cold War's finest soldiers, who turned 80 this year.
The D.C. Council, for softening the city's ludicrous and unfair drunk-driving laws.
The Iraqi people, who through their own courage and conviction have joined the other democratic peoples of the world.
Peter F. Drucker, the late icon of managerial philosophy who spent a lifetime improving American businesses.

For Knave of the year, select three:

Prince Harry, whose idea of a funny costume is to dress up as a Nazi officer.
The student protesters at Seattle Central Community College, who heckled a pair of Army recruiters during their anti-war walk out.
Student rioters from the University of Maryland's College Park campus, who celebrated a Terrapin victory by lighting fires in the streets.
Mark McGwire, for his cowardly congressional testimony on steroid use in baseball.
Students across America's campuses, for exercising their First Amendment rights by throwing food at speakers with whom they disagree.
New York University law student Eric Berndt, whose crude and insulting question for Justice Antonin Scalia during a speaking event revealed the level of discourse on college campuses.
Anna Ayala, who tried to swindle cash from Wendy's with a false claim of finding a finger tip in her bowl of chili.
Sen. Ken Salazar, who called a Christian advocacy group the "anti-Christ of the world," after the group criticized his support of judicial filibusters.
Discovery Channel, which held a particularly silly "Greatest American" contest in June.
The U.S. media, for hyping news detrimental to the American war effort, while downplaying or ignoring any good news.
Newspaper Guild President Linda Foley, for reviving the myth that the U.S. military intentionally targets journalists.
Anette Pharis, who hired a stripper for her son's 16th birthday party.
Rep. Charles Rangel, who compared the Iraq war to the Holocaust.
The Democratic leadership, who spent most of 2005 making false claims, encouraging defeatism and displaying a disturbing sense of moral relativism.
British MP George Galloway, who spent a year defending dictatorial regimes and terrorists around the world.
The San Bernardino City Unified School District, which incorporated Ebonics -- black slang -- into its curriculum in the fall.
Pop singer Ricky Martin, who unwittingly donned a headscarf with the words "Jerusalem is ours" while visiting Palestinians.
Rafael Palmeiro, who was caught lying to a congressional committee about his steroid use.
Harry Belafonte, who compared the presence of prominent blacks in the Bush administration to Hitler's purported promotion of Jews in his regime.
The U.N. Development Program, whose funds to the Palestinian Authority went to the production of anti-Israel propaganda.
Gwendolyn Hemphill and James Baxter III, who were convicted in August for stealing millions from the Washington Teachers Union.
Democratic staffers Katie Barge and Lauren Weiner, for illegally obtaining a copy of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele's credit report.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which added to its shoddy record of Peace Prize recipients by honoring International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei.
Al Gore, whose pontificating throughout 2005 was as dishonest as it was laughable.
Kamau Kambon, the former visiting professor at North Carolina State University who called for the extermination of white people during a discussion at Howard University.
Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who characterized the situation in the Middle East prior to the coming of the Bush administration as "fifty years of peace."
Rep. William Delahunt, who negotiated with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez to provide Massachusetts residents with cheaper heating oil.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who described Vice President Cheney as a war criminal to a BBC audience.
New Orleans community leader Leah Hodges, who compared the treatment of blacks in New Orleans after Katrina to the treatment of the 6 million who died in the Holocaust.

My Choices

It's only fair that since I initiated this thing I go first.

1) Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, whom President Bush posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of 100 soldiers before being killed in action. He was the first soldier in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
2) Simon Wiesenthal, the late Holocaust survivor who dedicated his life to tracking down former Nazis and bringing them to justice.
3) Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, one of the Cold War's finest soldiers, who turned 80 this year.

1) New York University law student Eric Berndt, whose crude and insulting question for Justice Antonin Scalia during a speaking event revealed the level of discourse on college campuses.
2) The U.S. media, for hyping news detrimental to the American war effort, while downplaying or ignoring any good news.
3) The Democratic leadership, who spent most of 2005 making false claims, encouraging defeatism and displaying a disturbing sense of moral relativism.

Every year it's the same thing for me; making the choices is a lot harder than I think it will be. With a few execptions, most of the Nobles are so good, and virtually all of the knaves are complete idiots. It takes me awhile to settle on three, and even with that I'll admit there are a dozen others who deserve top pick.

I'll post the winner of each category when the Times announces the result, which will be on or shortly after January 1.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Americans and Flemings, one common goal

What follows next, is a post which is exclusively directed at my American friends. The situation in Iraq has dominated most of my previous posts on this blog, and as my point of view on that issue is basically the same as yours, I should therefore admit that I failed you a bit on my earlier promise to inform you about Europe and more specifically about Belgium.

Today I finished reading a book that I had bought some months ago. Only a few days ago, I started reading it, and since then, I have used every spare minute to read. It was hard for me to lay it down.

The book is called ‘A Throne in Brussels’ and basically it tells the history of Belgium since its inception in 1830 through the prism of the history of its six Kings. It is written by Paul Beliën, editor of the excellent The Brussels Journal, a blog you probably already have heard of or visited (and which has already reproduced a few of my posts, if I can humbly, but proudly add). I strongly, very strongly, recommend you to read it. It is available through Amazon.

To give you the short, well sort of, version: Belgium is a territory which French exiles-republicans wanted to break away from The Netherlands and to have annexed by France. However, the UK prevented the second step from happening (thus performing their usual balancing act for the continent). So Belgium became an independent entity and was bestowed with a King.

The new country was inhabited by two peoples, the Dutch-speaking Flemings in the north and the French-speaking Walloons in the south. The Flemings, who didn’t want to separate from the Netherlands in the first place, were denied the right to use their language in their contacts with the authorities, weren’t allowed to follow secondary education in Dutch, couldn’t defend themselves before court in their own native tongue, got less funds from the State for their economic development, had less chances in the military. The capital of Brussels, geographically and historically a Flemish and Dutch-speaking city, has been Frenchified. The list of injustices is long.

So this new country, which was never to become a true Nation, could only be kept together if its elites could be persuaded (read: bribed) to stay. One way to achieve this end was the establishment in the twentieth century of a national, corporatist welfare state which still exists today and which produced a national debt of 138% of GDP (figure of 15 years ago, now reduced to 90% thanks to balanced budgets (if you forget about the many accounting tricks) and low interest rates).

The Flemings, throughout history, have claimed their basic rights and used the German occupation during WWI and WWII to further that end, but after both wars were rewarded by a severe repression that turned the clock back for a few decades. After WWII, however, when the claims of the Flemings for their rights could no longer be ignored, the Belgian establishment reacted by introducing federalism, with its parity between Flemings and Walloons, thus de facto containing the growing power of the Flemings and generating an ever-growing stream of money (the “transfers”, now almost 7% of Flemish GDP) from Flanders to Wallonia which guarantees the latter’s continuation of its small socialist republic with massive unemployment and a pervasive public sector.

The book describes the contribution of the Kings to the creation of both the national corporatist welfare state and federalism, juiced with a lot of sex, intrigue and scandal. I don’t know whether this short summary already succeeds in making you sympathize with the cause of the Flemings, but I am sure that the many details and anecdotes of this well-documented book will. Belgium may be at the bottom of America’s friends’ list, but after reading this book, it will sink, if possible, even lower.

You might argue: “How might this local issue be of any interest to America?” Well, corporatism and federalism have also infected the European Union. This was also the dream of the Belgian establishment. I don’t mean to overestimate the power of little Belgium in the EU, but it is no coincidence that Belgium is the biggest supporter of a corporatist and federal Europe.

Recently, a group of respected Flemish (former) business leaders and academics have issued a Manifesto “for an independent Flanders within Europe” in which they demonstrate, using a lot of statistics, that the transfers from Flanders to Wallonia is holding Flanders back in its future development and to face the challenge of globalization and is not helping Wallonia to leave its economic quagmire (no pun intended here) and that therefore Flanders should leave the federation. The reaction to the Manifesto has, all in all, been very mute. The Walloons and the Belgian establishment, of course, have thrown abuse at the “egotistical” Flemings. There were even signs of a new wave of repression when one of the signatories, Herman De Bode, was forced to resign as chairman of the Belgian chapter of consultant McKinsey. But the Flemish politicians remained rather quiet. Nevertheless, the Flemings seem to have bought many copies of the Manifesto.

If Flemings can achieve independence, thus ending the present corporatist and federalist system and restoring truly free markets and democracy, maybe, just maybe, their achievement will mark the beginning of a successful movement to achieve the same goals for Europe. Then Europe will revert to the values upon which America was created, thus revert to "American" values and be a reliable ally in the unstable world of the 21st century.

Therefore, my American friends, when the going gets tough around here, we count on the support of our American friends. Support the Flemings, for their and your sake, for the sake of free markets and democracy in a dangerous world.