Monday, June 16, 2008

McCain vs. Obama: Either Way, Capitalism Loses

"[O]ur individual salvation depends on our collective salvation. [Don't] take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy."
-- Barack Obama, 2008

"I led . . . out of patriotism, not for profit."
-- John McCain, 2008

We've come an awfully long way since the 1980s, haven't we? Do you think back fondly of the days when the influence of Thatcherism was producing massive privatization in Britain while Reagan valiantly battled the steady encroachment of socialism in the United States? Even a casual Capitalist can't help but read about Britain's 2008 decision to nationalize the private bank Northern Rock and blink in bewilderment. What happened?

Well, for starters, even in the 1980s Capitalism was no more than an uncomfortable ally for conservatives. Although Reagan and Thatcher were for the most part genuinely committed to economic freedom, the vast majority of their supporters were very definitely not. In both Britain and America, the political right defended Capitalism with one hand as the only legitimate economic system for a free and democratic society while, with the other hand, condemning the profit motive as selfish. These conservatives demanded, as they continue to demand today, that we sacrifice our rational self-interest for the higher good of altruism. With friends like these, Capitalism didn't need any enemies.

And it doesn't seem to have any philosophical enemies left anyway. Have you noticed that the Democrats have abandoned all efforts towards a substantive criticism of free enterprise? Why would they bother engaging in a debate about ethics and economics when there are so few real Capitalists left to oppose them? Instead, pseudo-socialistic organizations like the Obama campaign interest themselves with the "social consequences" of Capitalism as they investigate the "fundamental human aspect" of their economic system, thus deftly side-stepping any awkward questions regarding the economic reality of their country. Even Hillary Clinton would have the good sense to blush at this obvious evasion of a real discussion of the issue.

The upcoming American election is as true an example of a Sophie's Choice as I've ever witnessed. Barack Obama turns up his nose at big business to the cheers of Democrats everywhere while repudiating Americans for playing into the "money culture" that has made them the wealthiest country in the world. John McCain sneers at Mitt Romney and big business for daring to pursue the profit motive while claiming that his own motives are pure since they aren't tarnished by self-interest.

And so the question of who will win in November becomes economically irrelevant. True, if Obama wins he will roll back the Bush tax cuts, install a universal health care scheme, and impose unsustainable environmental restrictions on big business the likes of which the US economy has never seen before. A victory for McCain, however, would amount to the same thing in the long run. The Republican nominee has been committed to the anthropogenic global warming movement for years now and his voting record should be enough to convince any businessperson of his lukewarm commitment to a free economy.

As a John McCain presidency would swiftly demonstrate, there is no surer way to undermine an idea than to argue for it poorly. As the leader of the so-called "Party of Capitalism," McCain would destroy Capitalism in America just as thoroughly as would his Democratic opponent.

It all adds up to a demoralizingly clear conclusion: McCain? Obama? Who cares? Either way, Capitalism loses.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

RIP Mary Katherine Ham

Just kidding. She isn't actually dead. Just dead to us. She's leaving HamNation and behind for the glamorous world of Old Media. She's accepted a job at the Washington Examiner. I'll certainly miss her.

Her final video is as good as any HamNation installment. A jaunty little musical number. Follow the link below.

"Obama On Your Shoulder."

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Google Snubs D-Day For ... Diego Velazquez's Birthday?

6 June 1944:

On 6 June 1944 the Western Allies landed in northern France, opening the long-awaited "Second Front" against Adolf Hitler's Germany. Though they had been fighting in mainland Italy for some nine months, the Normandy invasion was in a strategically more important region, setting the stage to drive the Germans from France and ultimately destroy the National Socialist regime.

It had been four long years since France had been overrun and the British compelled to leave continental Europe, three since Hitler had attacked the Soviet Union and two and a half since the United States had formally entered the struggle. After an often seemingly hopeless fight, beginning in late 1942 the Germans had been stopped and forced into slow retreat in eastern Europe, defeated in North Africa and confronted in Italy. U.S. and British bombers had visited ruin on the enemy's industrial cities. Allied navies had contained the German submarine threat, making possible an immense buildup of ground, sea and air power in the British Isles.

Schemes for a return to France, long in preparation, were now feasible. Detailed operation plans were in hand. Troops were well-trained, vast numbers of ships accumulated, and local German forces battered from the air. Clever deceptions had confused the enemy about just when, and especially where, the blow would fall.

Commanded by U.S. Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Normandy assault phase, code-named "Neptune" (the entire operation was "Overlord"), was launched when weather reports predicted satisfactory conditions on 6 June. Hundreds of amphibious ships and craft, supported by combatant warships, crossed the English Channel behind dozens of minesweepers. They arrived off the beaches before dawn. Three divisions of paratroopers (two American, one British) had already been dropped inland. Following a brief bombardment by ships' guns, Soldiers of six divisions (three American, two British and one Canadian) stormed ashore in five main landing areas, named "Utah", "Omaha", "Gold", "Juno" and "Sword". After hard fighting, especially on "Omaha" Beach, by day's end a foothold was well established.

As German counterattacks were thwarted, the Allies poured men and materiel into France. By late July these reinforcements, and constant combat, made possible a break out from the Normandy perimeter. Another landing, in southern France in August, facilitated that nation's liberation. With the Soviets advancing from the east, Hitler's armies were shoved, sometimes haltingly and always bloodily, back toward their homeland. The Second World War had entered its climactic phase.

But I can totally see how the artist Diego Velazquez's birthday outranks one of the greatest moments in the history of the free world. The Invasion of Normandy was a heroic military moment but all that rough talk of war can be distasteful to the more sensitive googler. We wouldn't want to offend Nazis by glorying in our legendary victory. Let's just go with something safe like a really old painter.

LSTs landing vehicles and cargo on a Normandy beach, June 1944.

Well, it's no Velazquez.

H/t Purple Avenger

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Final Thought About Conrad Black

Although we uppity rightists have moved on to our next legal outrage in Steyn and the BC Human Rights Tribunal, my thoughts have recently been turning to an older court-room debacle as its one-year anniversary approaches: the Conrad Black trial.

We certainly have our own problems in Canada but, as troubling as they are, I don't envy Americans their own legal headaches. As the Lord Black case eloquently demonstrated, the US justice system is absurdly weighted in favour of the prosecution. The system has forgotten what it once knew: that a man or woman charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. An atmosphere of unprincipled compromise has developed in the United States in which questions of innocence and guilt are subordinated to a process of haggling between jurors and attorneys. It has become truly ugly.

Say what you will about the Canadian Human Rights Commissions and the very serious threat they represent to freedom of speech, but at least our justice system remains true to that most fundamental tenet of civilized law: "innocent until proven guilty." For that we can be thankful and proud.

Also: Steven Skurka has a new book out called "Tilted: The Trial of Conrad Black." I'm still working my way through it but what I've read so far has been excellent. I would certainly recommend it to anybody interested in Lord Black, the Black trial, or the current witch hunt for business men and women who dare to turn a profit in the United States.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Freedom of Speech Is An American Concept: Mark Steyn & The BC HRC, Day I

Remember how much fun you had reading Mark Steyn's blow-by-blow analysis of the Conrad Black trial? Just imagine how much fun you'll have reading Andrew Coyne's sardonic updates now that it's Steyn's turn to sit before a legal body that has already decided upon the defendant's guilt.

But please remember, friends: "Freedom of speech is an American concept." So I don't want to hear any of you right-wing loonies whining about what may or may not be overtly fascist about this case. Liberty is so last century. It's passed time that we get with the times.

Coyne's liveblogging at the link.

UPDATE: And, of course, I would be remiss if I forgot to mention Ezra Levant's flurry of blog posts today regarding Steyn's trial. Every word is worth reading.

Does Levant have high hopes for the trial's outcome?

This is the same B.C. Human Rights Tribunal that has come up with such gems as a ruling that McDonald's can't force its staff to wash their hands, because it's discrimination; or that bus drivers have the right to take 118 sick days a year. They're nuts.

Levant also fills us in on some juicy details from Khurrum Awan's testimony. For instance, Awan now admits that his demands of Maclean's magazine included money as well as the right to a submission of "equal length and prominence" which boils down to a cover story. How unreasonable of Maclean's to reject this magnanimous compromise.

UPDATE II: Jay Currie catches us up on Chair of the Tribunal Heather MacNaughton's specs as well as provides some excellent information about the lawyers on both sides.

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