Just heard from Bob (who is in the middle of a major change of his site) that Dakota Voice is currently down and may be only intermittently available today. Matters should be taken care of soon.
Very soon, a whole collection of people will be headed to the Senate for confirmation hearings. Among them will be Tom Daschle. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, given the context of his past relationships with lobbying and healthcare:
Speaking of lobbyists…That lauded great head “liberal” of the Obama cabinet, Tom Daschle, former Senate leader, is now hailed as the Wizard of the Office of Health Reform and nominee for Health and Human Services.
Ignore that lobbyist behind the curtain. The Wizard has a not-so-well-kept secret. His wife, Linda Hall Daschle, is one of the most influential lobbyists in Washington D.C. And Daschle himself was a paid “consultant” for the law firm Alston and Bird and sits on the board of several health related industries.
According to a recent investigation by the Washington Post of Senate lobbying reports, Linda Hall Daschle, has aerospace and airline industry clients, but also lobbied for some “health care-related firms in the past.”
The Post article states she had such accounts as the pharmaceutical company Amgen Inc. and cigarette makers Lorillard Tobacco and Philip Morris Cos. in 1999. I didn’t know the “tobacco lobby” was a health-related industry, except for maybe causing “poor health” among its clientele. Oddly enough, Mrs. Daschle has her bases covered: Amgen Inc. manufactures drugs to battle cancer.
Despite these conflicts of interest, Tom Daschle’s appointment is a slam dunk for President Obama. While it’s not actually crossing the line, Daschle’s recent work is close enough to argue the ethics of making a “no lobbyist” pledge to his supporters.
Right now I would tend to agree very much with that last paragraph. However, confirmation hearings do sometimes turn up issues that preclude confirmation. It will be informative to see where in the lineup Mr. Daschle appears. I would think he’ll make the top five (that is, will be one of the first five to receive a nomination hearing).
It has been half a century since Cuba decided to begin a long term relationship with communism and socialism. For anyone to claim that is has been anything but a failure is to ignore everything which is available to the five senses:
Spare us the fireworks and media-parroted claims of Fidel Castro’s dictatorship bringing universal health care and education to Cuba. The real story is that a prosperous Cuba was turned into ruins in just five decades.
Its inflation-adjusted gross domestic product is a mere 5% of what it was in 1958, the year before Castro took over, according to Jorge Salazar-Carillo of Florida International University.
“It’s a major failure,” Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a University of Pittsburgh economist, told IBD. “Cuba is unable to increase food production to meet its needs and now imports 84% of its food. Cuba produced 7 million tons of sugar in 1952. This year, it’s 1.5 million tons. This is the result of economic policy of collectivization, killing of individual incentive, inefficiency, constant changes of policy.”
Granted, we are a different country than Cuba, but as Obama and friends strive to take our country in a new direction are they truly so blind as to assume that implementing similar policies (not the extreme ones, just the “soft socialist” ones) will end up with remarkably different results?
For a country’s GDP to have fallen 95% in 50 years (without the black death or something comparable) is nothing short of amazing. For the oldest of Cuba’s residents, they can indeed look back to the “good old days.” I pray that we will never be able to do so here.
With everyone else putting out their hands, it was only a matter of time before the purveyors of old-fashioned news periodicals joined their voices in the chorus:
Connecticut lawmaker Frank Nicastro sees saving the local newspaper as his duty. But others think he and his colleagues are setting a worrisome precedent for government involvement in the U.S. press.
Nicastro represents Connecticut’s 79th assembly district, which includes Bristol, a city of about 61,000 people outside Hartford, the state capital. Its paper, The Bristol Press, may fold within days, along with The Herald in nearby New Britain.
To some experts, that sounds like a bailout, a word that resurfaced this year after the U.S. government agreed to give hundreds of billions of dollars to the automobile and financial sectors.
Relying on government help raises ethical questions for the press, whose traditional role has been to operate free from government influence as it tries to hold politicians accountable to the people who elected them. Even some publishers desperate for help are wary of this route.
Former Miami Herald Editor Tom Fiedler said that a democracy has an obligation to help preserve a free press.
“I truly believe that no democracy can remain healthy without an equally healthy press,” said Fiedler, now dean of Boston University’s College of Communication. “Thus it is in democracy’s interest to support the press in the same sense that the human being doesn’t hesitate to take medicine when his or her health is threatened.”
A few thoughts regarding these newspapers: 1) This is only the beginning of media requests for flotation devices; 2) It absolutely is a bailout, no matter how the assistance is obfuscated; and 3) A democratic republic does need a healthy press, Mr. Fiedler. That is why the newspapers are dying. Most of them are not healthy and will never be healthy (like the Detroit automakers) unless they completely rethink/reengineer their approach to business.
A few suggestions for these newspapers: 1) Report the news (and keep the commentary separate); 2) Spend less than you earn; and 3) Realize that the time has come when you are yourselves the object of much scrutiny. Accountability? It’s a sword that cuts both ways.
It will be windy here in South Dakota. Let’s hope that wind is put to good use.
For the New Year, I think a blessing is appropriate. I’ll try my best to cover the essentials, but I crave your pardon if I forget anything important.
May you find this new year full of challenges and worthwhile endeavors. May your parents receive proof that you are indeed mature enough to do whatever it is that you’ve been wishing for since forever. May your spouse be unable to find anything new about you to dislike, while running out of paper to write down all the things he/she does like about you. May your offspring realize that you are probably way smarter than they are. May your employer not find you indispensable but essential to the everyday functioning of the business. May your coworkers rely on you to be honest with them and with yourself. May your friends be willing to call you when things don’t go well, knowing that you will do what you are able to help. May your neighbors be glad you live in their neighborhood, and not somewhere else.
May your pets admit that you are firm but fair. May your automobile always start, no matter the outside temperature. May your gun go boom when you squeeze the trigger. May your house stay warm when it ought to, and cool when it should. May your computer never give you the blue screen of death. May your data be backed up weekly (if not daily). May your keyboard never fail to provide you with the letters necessary to build the right words, sentences, paragraphs and documents.
Finally, may you make all new mistakes this year.
Merry New Year!
Bob Schwartz is not happy that South Dakotans are getting concealed carry permits in record numbers:
Be sure and remember that stat [about 50,000 concealed permits in South Dakota] the next time someone cuts you off on 41st street and you feel like giving them the bird in retaliation as he might be one of the almost 10% of South Dakotan’s [sic] carrying a concealed heater to prop up their manhood.
I, on the other hand, am quite glad to hear the news. To me it means that citizens are unwilling to trust their personal safety to someone who is likely to be several minutes (or more) away.
God only knows what a difference a “concealed heater” might have made for Piper Striley.
Apparently the fact that Piper’s murder was 10 years ago somehow makes it not germane to the current discussion. And yes, Mr. Schwartz, concealed carry laws do seem to make citizens safer:
States with right-to-carry laws have lower overall violent crime rates, compared to states without right-to-carry laws. In states whose laws respect the citizen’s right-to-carry guns for self defense the total violent crime is 13% lower, homicide is 3% lower, robbery is 26% lower and aggravated assault is 7% lower. (Data: Crime in the United States 1996, FBI Uniform Crime Reports)
I apologize in advance for this data being 12 years old.
Regarding the “line in the Second Amendment,” you might need to check with the US Supreme Court on that one.
I am gravely concerned about the probable encroachment on the Second Amendment by this next federal administration. Via Instapundit comes this link to a video in which an ATF agent speaks of the recent increase in violent crime in Arizona. However, he classifies a whole group of guns as “weapons of choice” for these criminals (who are doubly criminal in that most are illegally here to begin with). Buffering on the video is horrible (to warn those of you who might actually want to see it) since the site is probably getting pounded right now.
Here’s a news story which is tied to the video interview:
A recent gun bust in Phoenix is a clear indication of how the drug cartels depend on their connections in the United States to obtain the weapons they need to continue their deadly battles. They are powerful, sophisticated weapons they cannot get in Mexico but are finding in the U.S.
One of the weapons is called a “mata policia” or cop killer. Rounds fired from that weapon will penetrate bullet-proof vests that law enforcement wears.
No incendiary language there. When’s the last time you heard of a “car bust”? Wish I knew which weapon was the “cop killer.” Last time I checked, just about any gun that wasn’t a .45acp, 9mm, 40 S&W or similar (that is most centerfire rifle rounds) had the capability of penetrating standard body armor at close ranges. (Update: From other data I can find, the “mata policia” is the FN 5.7 (such as the P90). That’s what SWAT in Sioux Falls, South Dakota uses.)
Let me be blunt. While I (and our federal constitution) have no difficulty with a law enforcement agency knowing what types of guns are most attractive to criminals, to stop lawful commerce of such weapons is wrong. I’m not saying that the ATF has actually done this as of yet, but this is exactly the sort of thinking which led to the 1994 gun ban (and Obama has been very friendly to all of those who were not friends of the Second Amendment).
To stop commerce of these weapons is analogous to the TSA determining which airliners are most likely to be used by terrorists and then proscribing their manufacture, or having the NTSB determine which vehicles are used most often for hit-and-run crimes and determining that such autos are the “vehicles of choice” for such criminals.
This type of thinking is not a slippery slope: it is a greased pole.
Jay Reding has been at this (writing on policy and politics) much longer than I have. I’m not sure exactly what that means, other than to say that he’s done some very good work laying out his predictions for next year (and I’ve not taken the time to do the same). Here is the section on economics (as a teaser):
- The recession will not go away in 2009.
- Obama’s $1 trillion stimulus bill will narrowly pass on a party-line vote. It will not stimulate the economy, but will cause further job losses as small businesses prepare for the worst.
- The Dow will sink below 8,000 and not stay above that level for most of the year.
- By the end of 2009, the U.S. will face double-digit unemployment, economic recession, and massive deflation as the credit markets remain frozen.
- Congress will pass a protectionist trade measure that will have massive ripple effects throughout the world economy. The European Union will push for the WTO to punish the U.S. for their actions. Rather than improve our relations worldwide, America will be disliked ever more intensely across the globe.
- The one bright spot will be that consumers begin shedding their debts and living more fiscally responsible lifestyles.
One can only hope that the last item comes true. Pain is often the only way to learn life’s hardest lessons. Make sure you go over and read the rest of Mr. Reding’s predictions. You are, of course, welcome to leave your own here in the comments.
In the UK (where there is no Bill of Rights like ours), government is rapidly approaching Orwell’s dystopian vision:
The private sector will be asked to manage and run a communications database that will keep track of everyone’s calls, emails, texts and internet use under a key option contained in a consultation paper to be published next month by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary.
A cabinet decision to put the management of the multibillion pound database of all UK communications traffic into private hands would be accompanied by tougher legal safeguards to guarantee against leaks and accidental data losses.
Senior Whitehall officials responsible for planning for a new database say there is a significant difference between having access to “communications data” – names and addresses of emails or telephone numbers, for example – and the actual contents of the communications. “We have been very clear that there are no plans for a database containing any content of emails, texts or conversations,” the spokeswoman said.
Please people, I’m not stupid: “no plans for a database” doesn’t mean there won’t be one. It is only a matter of time. In fact, at the risk of sounding alarmist, I’m guessing that such data is already accessible to the UK government. From a purely practical standpoint, why wouldn’t one save the contents of messages as well as the the metadata? Hard drive space is very cheap and one never knows how it might come in handy.
Maintaining the capacity to intercept suspicious communications was critical in an increasingly complex world, he said. “It is a process which can save lives and bring criminals to justice. But no other country is considering such a drastic step. This database would be an unimaginable hell-house of personal private information,” he said. “It would be a complete readout of every citizen’s life in the most intimate and demeaning detail. No government of any colour is to be trusted with such a roadmap to our souls.”
The language may be a bit florid, but the meaning is clear. You’ve heard about not putting all of your eggs into a single basket? Sometimes, one should not pick up the eggs at all. God save the UK.