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Orwellian Newspeak has been thrust upon us by the new administration. For those of you who either don’t remember your summer reading from high school or chose not to read it at all, “Newspeak” was the means by which George Orwell, in his novel 1984, demonstrated the power of an oppressive regime’s control over dialogue and thus thoughts. The novel describes newspeak as “the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year.”
Language is the key to our very understanding. Studies have shown that most people think and contemplate by using a running dialogue in their head. Through the manipulation of the language that is used in the marketplace of ideas one can essentially control the parameters of any discussion. Essentially, the words used to describe the thought controls the thought. Here’s a quick refresher on Newspeak.
The basic idea behind Newspeak is to remove all shades of meaning from language, leaving simple dichotomies (pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness, goodthink and crimethink) which reinforce the total dominance of the State. Similarly, Newspeak root words served as both nouns and verbs, which allowed further reduction in the total number of words; for example, “think” served as both noun and verb, so the word thought was not required and could be abolished. A staccato rhythm of short syllables was also a goal, further reducing the need for deep thinking about language. (See duckspeak.) Successful Newspeak meant that there would be fewer and fewer words – dictionaries would get thinner and thinner.
In addition, words with opposite meanings were removed as redundant, so “bad” became “ungood”. Words with comparative and superlative meanings were also simplified, so “better” became “gooder”, and “best” likewise became “goodest”. Intensifiers could be added, so “great” became “plusgood”, and “excellent” and “splendid” likewise became “doubleplusgood”. Adjectives were formed by adding the suffix “-ful” to a root word (e.g., “goodthinkful”, orthodox in thought), and adverbs by adding “-wise” (“goodthinkwise”, in an orthodox manner). In this manner, as many words as possible were removed from the language. The ultimate aim of Newspeak was to reduce even the dichotomies to a single word that was a “yes” of some sort: an obedient word with which everyone answered affirmatively to what was asked of them
The new administration has instituted at least two instances of Newspeak principles in the first 60 days. First, the administration has decided that we will no longer refer to terrorist attacks as such. They now fall under the category of “man made disasters.” How reassuring. Under the Obama administration we can be certain will be free of terror attacks. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describes man made disasters as follows: “Man-made disasters are events which, either intentionally or by accident cause severe threats to public health and well-being. Because their occurrence is unpredictable, man-made disasters pose an especially challenging threat that must be dealt with through vigilance, and proper preparedness and response.” In fact, Janet Napolitano, the Head of Homeland Security, now refuses to use the words terrorism or terrorist threats. She calls their use part of the old “politics of fear.” By eliminating the use of the word “terrorism” the administration seeks to transform attacks on U.S. sovereignty from acts of war to merely unpredictable events similar to those caused by nature in the form of hurricanes or floods. Man made disasters “feel” much more palatable than terror. I know I feel safer now.
Further, the Obama administration had decided to no longer use the term “enemy combatant” instead substituting it with the term “detainee.” The Obama administration is seeking to sanitize an unsavory ingredient in combat, that of the enemy. It appears that under the new administration there will be no acknowledgment that the US actually has enemies. Individuals seeking to seek and destroy this nation are merely regular old gents hoping to be the source of man made disasters. Perhaps we should give this a try with the economy as well. Referring to the current state of the economy as “doubleplusungood” is sure to boost consumer confidence.
“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – Albert Einstein
A recent report out of Senator Lugar’s office is calling for a change in policy towards Cuba. “We must recognize the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban regime in a way that enhances U.S. interests,” wrote Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in a report dated last Monday. Lugar is under attack from fellow Republicans and is being labeled as a RINO (Republican in name only). While Sen. Lugar is indeed a moderate Republican he is actually promoting a policy that should be embraced by Fiscal Conservatives and those in favor of free markets. Why is it considered blasphemous for Conservatives to question the audacity of maintaining the embargo? The embargo can only be described as a failure and maintaining it in its current incantation falls squarely within Einstein’s definition of insanity.
As our economy continues on its downward slide it is the perfect time for us to search for previous untapped markets. Before 2000 there was a complete and total ban on trade with Cuba for U.S. businesses. However, since Pres. Clinton passed a law allowing for the sale of humanitarian aid to the island nation the trade between U.S. and Cuba has gone from virtually nothing to $440 million a year. This is a paltry sum compared to the trade that could be taking place. Cuba is a nation of almost 12 million people. This should be viewed as 12 million future trade partners. While Cubs is clearly an impoverished country there is a great deal of future trade that can take place between the nations. Of particular note is the trade that would increase between many of the Southeastern US states and Cuba. For a quick microcosm of the loss in trade the country is facing we will focus in on Cuba’s second closest neighbor.
According the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, the state of Alabama has exported between $100 to $120 million worth of agricultural goods to Cuba each of the past 4 years. Current legislation allows for the sale of humanitarian and agricultural goods to Cuba. However, under the current restrictions Cuban importers must pay up front before the cargo can be shipped from the U.S. to Cuba. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that the embargo costs the U.S. $1.2 billion annually in lost export revenue. According to a 2005 Texas A&M study, the state of Alabama currently accounts for almost 1/3 of total trade between the U.S. and Cuba and it is reasonable to assume that Alabama farmers are currently facing a trade shortfall of over $300 million a year due to the embargo. Removing the embargo would significantly increase the trade revenue of the state. The main items that Alabama currently sends to Cuba are poultry, timber, utility poles, lumber, soybeans, eggs, and catfish.
Cuba currently accounts for over 25% of the total revenue of Alabama exports. The port of Mobile is only 600 nautical miles from Cuba and would see a significant increase in traffic should the embargo be rescinded. A 2007 Auburn University study found that a removal of the embargo would also “result in an increased demand for Alabama business services. Service industries that will enjoy increased demand include engineering, construction, shipping, transport, banking, finance, insurance, consulting, and higher education.” Also of note is the fact that Raul Castro is now allowing an increase in the privatization of farms. This has resulted in a desperate need for farm equipment in Cuba as individual farm owners are not allowed to buy their own equipment instead of being forced to rely upon the Central Government for their tools.
It is an inherent contradiction that we will conduct in trade with Red China and Vietnam while the Europeans fill the needs of Cuban trade. While the US is forcing itself out of the game the Euros are more than happy to take our place. We have bought ourselves into indebtedness with the Chinese. Here is a chance for the US to dramatically increase its exports. It’s clear that our policy towards Cuba has been a 50 year failure. The Castro regime has survived 10 U.S. Presidents while the U.S. has missed out on billions in trade revenue. Why are we stubbornly holding on to a failed policy at the expense of north of a billion dollars in trade a year?
It should go without being said that there is a dramatic need for the Cuban regime to make strides in the humanitarian treatment of its citizens. However, the current embargo has been ineffective in forcing this change. Opening the markets between the US and Cuba could be the proper catalyst.
As I type this the market is currently down almost 300 points and I haven’t even had my mid-morning snack. If President Obama is serious about creating jobs his first priority should be to get the market back on track. That will allow hundreds of thousands of individuals to retire who wish to do so, but are currently unable due to the fact that their 401(k) is in the tank. However, that’s a topic for another day and something I’m sure the O would like to see accomplished as well. So let us begin.
There was a lot of lip service last night with very few details, so it is hard to actually get a substantive critique on the plans mentioned by POTUS. As they say, a moving target is a hard target. First, let me give credit where it is due. BHO pledged not once, but twice that no family who made less than $250K would see an increase in taxes. He even made sure to repeat himself to get full effect from the Pubs sitting to his left. This could be a watershed moment in the 2012 campaign as President George H.W. Bush’s re-election attempt was derailed by a similar message of “read my lips, no new taxes.” It will be interesting to follow this remark as we progress through this administration.
The President also promised to responsibly end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Who wouldn’t want that? Conservatives hope that O’s idea of responsibly is one that we can get behind. The goal of having 90+K troops pull out of Iraq within the next 19 months is a lofty goal but one that could possibly result in a successful measure assuming the remaining troops have the support they need to ensure that the work done prior is not undermined by a hasty withdrawal. It should be noted that O’s campaign promise was ALL troops out of Iraq within 16 months. That’s clearly not going to happen and that is a good thing. Along the lines of something everyone wants to see happen was O’s pledge to “seek a cure for cancer.” I’m really not sure why this was inserted into the speech. Is there a large contingency of people who don’t want see a cure for cancer? Was he just trying to score some bonus points based upon emotion? It reminded me of a beauty pageant contestant answering a question with the words “world peace.” It should be noted that he got a standing ovation for this line. In a similar effort I personally pledge to use my space on this blog to promote perseverance, integrity and citizenship. No, please hold your applause, you’re too kind.
Moving on, O made promises with which most citizens can agree. However, we almost certainly disagree on who should be responsible for accomplishing the stated goals. Among these were promises to build better schools, expand health care coverage and move the nation to “greener” fuel use. While President Obama feels it is role of the Federal Government to undertake this responsibility it can be more efficiently implemented by the states (schools) and the private sector (expansion of health care coverage and greener fuel use). Of particular note on the green fuel use – it would obviously be beneficial to this nation if we could move away from fossil fuels and thus a dependence on foreign fuel sources. However, innovation in this field will not take place until it becomes cost effective and efficient. As we have seen with ethanol subsidies merely pumping federal money into a program will not make non-fossil fuel sources desirable to the market or consumers.
O said his budget request also will create new incentives for teacher performance and support for innovative education programs. I applaud this effort though I wonder how he will be able to implement it with teacher’s unions staunchly opposed to such action. Perhaps he can tie this provision to the receipt of federal education funds. States would have no choice but to accept these provisions if failure to do so cut off all federal funding to that field. I don’t approve of such a tactic by the federal government as it impedes on state sovereignty but I’m unsure of how else O could push through this particular item. I’m also not willing to trade state sovereignty for teacher incentives though I do believe state legislatures should pass such measures. If you would like to read more on this topic there is a good post in this blog that provides more detail. Just scroll down a little and you should find it.
O also stated that “everyone in this chamber, Democrats and Republicans, will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars . . . and that includes me.” That’s eloquent rhetoric but it is a hollow statement in the aftermath of the enactment of the recent stimulus package where billions of unneeded spending was coupled with measures that would actually stimulate the economy. As my grandmother used to say “the proof is in the pudding” and right now the pudding has gone bad. It’s something we have come to expect with politicians but when we examine the facts it is clear that the actions of Congress (which the POTUS pushed and signed) is inherently contradictory with the words of last night’s speech.
One of the more troubling statements made by O last night was in regards to his future action.“I ask this Congress to join me in doing whatever proves necessary,” O said. “Because we cannot consign our nation to an open-ended recession.” This statement is very disconcerting. Whenever someone says something along the lines of “whatever proves necessary” they are giving themselves carte blanche to push through ANY measure through the guise of necessity or emegergency. This is reminiscent of President John Adams’ Alien and Sedition Acts as well as President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Acts. Both of these actions were viewed “necessary” at the time by those in power yet history shows them to be the Constitutional tragedies that they were. It should be noted that I consider President Adams to be an American Hero but this was clearly not his finest moment. The same can not be said for Old Hickory. To give a more modern day example we can look to our neighbors to the South and see that Comrade Chavez used similar measures to nationalize Venezuela’s oil industry. The fear is that O’s “proves necessary” test could result in the nationalization of any of the troubled industries including the banks, the healthcare sector (approximately 1/5 of the economy) or, as seen in other parts of the world, the oil industry. If you control the fuel source you gain de-facto absolute rule over the citizens.
Equally troubling was O urging lawmakers to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that cause (allegedly) climate change by creating a cap-and-trade system of limits and pollution allowances, especially for industries such as utilities with coal burning power plants. With this point I vehemenently disagree for multiple reasons. First it has yet to be scientifically proven that human activity has resulted in an increase in global temperatures (wow, talk about a story for a different day) and therefore the government should not be making long term decisions based upon a what is increasingly being proven as a false theory. Second, as O stated during his campaign the cap and trade system could very possibly bankrupt the coal industry. Why would we want to bankrupt yet another industry when we already have a struggling economy? Why would we want to force even more unemployment? These are questions that President must be forced to answer.
I’m sure I’ve left out some key points and I as well as the other writers on this blog would be happy to discuss those with you. Leave us a comment telling us what we forgot to mention. Or you can just tell us why I’m wrong about a certain item and I will be sure to respond and show you the error of your ways. All kidding aside, leave a comment and you will get a response.
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet”
The above text is from a play by Billy Shakespeare called Romeo and Juliet. What does this over 400 year old poem have to do with reemergence of Conservatism? I’ll break it down for all of the non English Lit majors. Shakespeare is saying: it doesn’t matter what we call something, what matters is what it actually is. This thought works well with the word “Socialism.” Yes, that dirty little word politicians avoid is actually what they are making our federal government.
Socialism is briefly defined as “a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating public or state ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal opportunities for all individuals, with a fair or egalitarian method of compensation” (Thanks Wikipedia). Let’s translate that too: you work, and the government decides where your money is best spent. This should scare the pants off all of us (and not merely Conservatives). Why? Because, it’s happening in our country. For what we have seen over the past 6 months or so, beginning with the Bailout of the Financials and the Auto Industry and recently with the Trillion Dollar “Stimulus” Package (or Economic Recovery Plan or whatever we’re calling it these days . . . there we go with the “names” again), we are becoming socialist. A friend lamented recently that he missed the Cold War because at least back then the Socialists were mainly outside our borders and we knew who they were and how to fight them. Now it seems that the Socialists are not only within our borders but have infiltrated every level of government from local municipalities to the head man himself.
But let’s go back to the definition Socialism and examine alongside Congress. Congress has demanded that the auto industry report back to them with a plan as to how they will operate their businesses. Of course these plans must meet Congressional approval if they want further funds. Sounds like “state ownership and administration of production to me.”
Next we have “fair and equal opportunities for all individuals”. You probably remember that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac forced bankers to give loans to people who could not afford a house. So that’s two out of two for those of you keeping score at home. But, what about the “egalitarian method of compensation” you ask? Fear not, our Dear Leader (aka POTUS) has mandated that each bank accepting federal funds must cap Executive pay. That’s right, the feds are now telling private businesses what they will and will not be allowed to pay their employees. So we are three for three in the “Are We Becoming Socialists Sweepstakes.” While 3 for 3 is a great day for those that follow the Nation’s Pastime it is harbinger of doom for those that wish to see our nation thrive.
The circle is complete. We can now call it whatever we want from, Economic Recovery Plans to Stimulus Packages, but the truth of the matter is we are now neck-deep in Socialist policies. The politicians who voted for these programs should stop calling themselves Democrats (and Republicans –yes we’re talking to you Senator Graham, who believes the nationalization of banks is a valid option) and should refer to themselves as what they are: Socialists. While a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, a Socialist by any other name does not have quite as pleasant of a smell. We should ask our grandfathers what it was like to smell that acrid odor, they fought it on foreign shores throughout the world. Now, we must fight it within our own.
Most Conservatives believe earmarks go hand in hand with pork and excessive spending and therefore, earmarks are anti-conservative. We need to re-examine this position. While we must fight excessive Federal spending, the use (and even demand) of earmarks in spending bills can go a long way towards holding the current Democratic controlled Congress responsible for their spending spree. Sen. McCain has been quoted as saying that “earmarks are the gateway to corruption.” Note to Sen. McCain: corruption doesn’t need a gateway. It’s already a full-blown disease infecting all levels of government.
With an earmarked item we can be partially assured of where the money will be spent. There is at least a modicum of transparency in play with earmarks. The lack of earmarks should terrify true conservatives. Without earmarks, varied agencies receiving funds are forced by Congress to create “spending plans.” Once the bill is passed Congress requires that these agencies come to them with a plan for how the funds will be spent. Congress can reject the plans in perpetuum, or until the agency gets it right. The varied agencies know the priorities of the appropriators and therefore they try and get the spending to line up with the wants of the appropriators so that there funds will be expedited. Do you really want people who think like Pelosi, Reid, and Frank guiding spending without being held accountable for specifics?
Conservatives who fight earmarks actually provide cover for individuals who misuse funds. The money in the bill has to go somewhere and it will be used. Isn’t it better to know precisely where our money is being spent? We must fight excessive spending. I repeat, we must fight excessive spending, but when we lose that battle (as we did with the recent stimulus package), we must ensure the money is spent wisely, not merely to push a liberal agenda. One way to ensure responsible spending is to force as much money as possible into earmarks, so that there is a public accounting of the direction of the funds. This way the liberal controlled Congress to be held somewhat responsible for spending decisions.
Case in point: the $4 billion included in the stimulus package for Community Redevelopment Programs. How much of this money is going to find itself in the hands of ACORN? It’s virtually impossible for us to know. If we demand earmarks in future spending bills then we can attempt to hold the Legislature accountable for their actions. Earmarks also provide a golden opportunity for our candidates in 2010 and 2012 to strike directly at their opponents’ decisions, because we will have a line by line accounting of where they spent the public’s money. President Obama has promised that there will be no earmarks in the stimulus. This is disconcerting. The money will be spent, of this we can be certain. Without earmarks, that’s all that can be certain.