Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Stake in the Heart of Living Beings

The Castroite/Chavista Left is truly out of control.  You've got to believe they know how destructive it is to take all the profit out of venture capitalism.  They can have only one goal:  its naked destruction.  What other possible rationalization could they have for almost trebling the taxes on their profits -- when only a fraction of their investments make any money at all?  (Not that venture capital hasn't been severely damaged already, as my partners and I know oh-so-well from trying to raise money for an electronics startup.)  To quote Dagny Taggart  in Atlas Shrugged once again (from a previous post):
"Have you anything left to loot? If you didn't see the nature of your policy before--it's not possible that you don't see it now. Look around you. All those damned People's States all over the earth have been existing only on the handouts which you squeezed for them out of this country. But you--you have no place left to sponge on or mooch from. No country on the face of the globe. This was the greatest and last. You've drained it. You've milked it dry. Of all that irretrievable splendor, I'm only one remnant, the last, What will you do, you and your People's Globe, after you've finished me? What are you hoping for? What do you see ahead--except plain, stark, animal starvation? ...Give up!"

[Jim Taggart] looked at her blankly.

"Give up--all of you, you and your Washington friends and your looting planners and the whole of your cannibal philosophy. Give up and get out of the way and let those of us who can, start from scratch out of the ruins."

"No!" The explosion came, oddly, now; it was the scream of a man who would die rather than betray his idea, and it came from a man who had spent his life evading the existence of ideas, acting with the expediency of a criminal....
Sound familiar?

Tax Venture Capitalists, Ventures Go Unfunded — Does Reich Understand Incentives?

A liberal pitches a tax-and-spend idea with no basis in economic behavior or statistics. Ho hum.

May 25, 2010
- by Jeffrey Carter <>

Robert Reich is advocating <>  a rise in the tax on “carried interest” — the money that venture capitalists (VC) and private equity (PE) partners make after all their investors have been paid. Reich would like to see the tax on carried interest go from its current rate of 15% to the top rate of 35%. Of course, next year, the top rate will be 39.5%, and even higher for higher earners.

In Reich’s world, virtually every investment that a VC or PE firm makes has the Midas touch. They never lose. However, in the real world they do lose, often.

VC and PE partners raise money for their funds. They receive a management fee and a percentage of the funds raised. They are taxed for this effort, as they should be, since they have zero risk associated with this activity. No matter what happens with their investments, they still get paid. Hence, they pay the highest rate of tax, whatever it is.

But once the money is raised, they become bankers and investors. In VC, they make investments in up-and-coming companies on the cutting edge of new industry. Billions of dollars of capital have been invested in Silicon Valley tech firms, biomedical firms, green energy firms, and anywhere there is innovation in the world. If the firms they invest in are successful, the VC makes money by selling them, or taking them to an initial public offering (IPO) on a public exchange.

The investors in the fund are then paid off from the proceeds of the sale. The VC keeps the rest and is taxed at 15% on those gains.

However, nine out of ten of these ventures end in failure. VC is a risky business fraught with danger.

The PE world is much different. They raise funds, just like the VC. Then they invest the funds by purchasing existing, operating companies. They internalize the companies and float a large amount of debt on that company.

The next step is to restructure the company so that it runs more efficiently and can grow quickly — quick growth is necessary to pay off the debt load. As the debt begins to be paid off, the PE firm either sells the company or takes it to an exchange for an IPO. They are taxed at 15% on those gains.

If the firm doesn’t grow, the debt load eats the PE firm alive. It either has to wait longer for a return on investment, or lose. Leverage causes huge profit when the firm is right, but cuts mercilessly when wrong.

Both PE and VC firms create thousands of jobs via their investments. If the U.S. raises taxes significantly on them, they will have zero incentive to invest. Innovation has already been kicked in the teeth with the passage of ObamaCare: recall the 10% increase in taxes on medical devices? Tax increases of this sort dig the economy’s grave, bury the corpse, and fill the hole with dirt.

Reich lives in a fantasy world where incentives don’t matter. He fails to follow real-life statistics — when capital gains taxes were cut in 2000 from 20% to 15%, government revenue actually increased significantly. Why? Because unproductive capital sitting in unproductive assets was repatriated into productive assets.

Reich also fails to understand the difference between accounting and economics. In accounting analysis, one plugs in numbers and monkeys with percentages to get output. It is static, one-dimensional. Economic analysis takes into consideration the change in behavior given different inputs and incentives. Sometimes, it’s counterintuitive — lowering taxes can actually lead to greater government revenues.

Instead of continuing the tax-and-spend path our government is currently pursuing, they ought to consider cutting both taxes and spending. The multiplier effect of a government spent dollar is zero, or very close to zero. Yet a 1% drop in taxes creates a significant amount of economic activity.

A different tax standard might indeed be appropriate for VC and PE. However, the new standard ought to be thoughtfully considered using sophisticated statistical economic analysis. Incentives matter. We shouldn’t use the random, pie-in-the-sky analysis Mr. Reich has applied to the problem.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Marxists in the Boardroom and on the Battlefield

In February 2009, McChesney wrote in a column, "In the end, there is no real answer but to remove brick-by-brick the capitalist system itself, rebuilding the entire society on socialist principles.
I remember not so long ago when most people thought I was too conspiratorial about Obama being a communist. Ah, to be on the vanguard.  And though I wish I was wrong, I think it's as certain now as anyone can be of something in the realm of politics.

It's also become more clear to me recently that Soros must be some kind of communist and not just a socialist. He makes money to destroy capitalism.  I'm pretty sure that's his conscious rationalization and deliberate goal. A telling comment that sticks in my mind (if I'm not misremembering) is that he wants to "prove markets aren't efficient". I didn't take that comment seriously enough before, I think. A pathetic Popperian powerluster, who, in a rational world, would be treated as more dangerous than muslim terrorists, picked up by a CIA rendition team and hauled off for interrogation as an enemy of the United States, to get his plans and accomplices.

I'm even wondering these days (you're not paranoid unless you're wondering) if the Trade Center attack didn't have some kind of Marxist origins.  I don't mean bin Laden is a communist -- according to the history, he's opposed even to communism. But commies love proxies, and it would have been an easy thing to anonymously inspire, goad and help fund Obama and his clan of kooks to do something. Think about it: the World Trade Center -- what could be a more prime target for capitalism hating commies? What could be better for them than to get someone else to do the dirty work?

All idle speculation based on the logic of their psycho-epistemology and goals. No evidence whatsoever.

As for the efficient market theory that Soros and others denigrate -- I think conventional notions of "efficiency" is the problem. A market can only be efficient if the philosophy of the dominant investors is rational. In my view, "efficiency" is only a long-term average assessment of security prices. Efficiency is certainly not valid in the short run or arbitragers and anyone else would never make money.

Pricing mechanisms can only be accurate when investors know how to objectively appraise value in securities and commodities -- and even then, it only reduces the spread between objective value and market value. But teach an entire generation of financial types the wrong investment theories -- and you'll get significant deviations from "efficiency". Suddenly "fundamentals" (which Soros publicly derides) don't matter. Even without the government screwing things up, markets will inflate, gyrate and fall back in response to irrationality. The Dot-com bubble is a perfect example.

My unschooled and very limited knowledge of "classical" efficient market theory (1960's classical) is that it is probably some variant of intrinsic value theory, and essentially a-causal -- it assumes stock and commodity prices will seek the right level "somehow" without regard to human volition. But it's served as a wonderful false alternative, punching boy and straw man for the alleged flaws of capitalism.

Head of Marxist-led institute joins Obama team

Soros-funded group urges more government control of media

Posted: May 28, 2010
12:45 am Eastern
By Aaron Klein
©2010 WorldNetDaily

NEW YORK – The policy director at a George Soros-funded, Marxist-founded organization calling itself Free Press has just taken a key State Department position, WND has learned. Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott has been named a policy adviser for innovation at the State Department.

"We will miss Ben's leadership, wise counsel, and strategic brilliance – for Free Press and the overall movement for media and technology policy in the public interest," said Free Press President Josh Silver. Free Press is a well-known advocate of government intervention in the Internet.

Scott authored a book, "The Future of Media," which was edited by the founder of Free Press, Robert W. McChesney. McChesney is an avowed Marxist who has recommended capitalism be dismantled.

He is a professor at the University of Illinois and former editor of the Marxist journal Monthly Review.

In February 2009, McChesney wrote in a column, "In the end, there is no real answer but to remove brick-by-brick the capitalist system itself, rebuilding the entire society on socialist principles."

The board of Free Press has included a slew of radicals, such as Obama's former "green jobs" czar Van Jones, who resigned after it was exposed he founded a communist organization.

Last week, WND reported Free Press published a study advocating the development of a "world class" government-run media system in the U.S.

Now the group is pushing a new organization,, that advocates the downfall of "big media" and the creation of new media to "promote local ownership, amplify minority voices, support quality journalism, and bring local artists, voices and viewpoints to the airwaves."

Free Press has ties to other members of the Obama administration. Obama's Internet czar," Susan P. Crawford, spoke at a Free Press's May 14, 2009, "Changing Media" summit in Washington, D.C.

Crawford's pet project, OneWebNow, lists as "participating organizations" Free Press and the controversial Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.

Crawford and Kevin Werbach, who co-directed the Obama transition team's Federal Communications Commission Review team, are advisory board members at Public Knowledge, a George Soros-funded public interest group.

A Public Knowledge advisory board member is Timothy Wu, who is also chairman of the board for Free Press.

Like Public Knowledge, Free Press also has received funds from Soros' Open Society Institute.

With research by Brenda J. Elliott

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Global Warming Support Declines, Hot Air Rises

While this story describes a massive decline in public support for global warming among Britons and Germans, the real thrust of the article is an opening salvo for a renewed attempt to get a Cap and Trade bill passed in Congress. It's all about the ignoramuses, dolts and buffoons who refuse to accept human induced climate change. East Anglia? Independent government reviews have shown they did nothing wrong!

The more insidious and unintended purpose of the article is the coming assault on free speech in this country:
In March, Simon L. Lewis, an expert on rain forests at the University of Leeds in Britain, filed a 30-page complaint with the nation’s Press Complaints Commission against The Times of London, accusing it of publishing “inaccurate, misleading or distorted information” about climate change, ...
...Stefan Rahmstorf, a professor at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, successfully demanded in February that some German newspapers remove misleading articles from their Web sites.
And who decides what is "misleading"? Government researchers. German government, British government, American government.
...The public is left to struggle with the salvos between the two sides.
How do you resolve the struggle? The government will clearly have to mediate and decide what constitutes facts or legitimate criticism. Probably in an "Information Regulation Bill" that establishes committees of experts to review everything that gets into the press, or put on the web. For our own protection, of course.

Climate Fears Turn to Doubts Among Britons


LONDON — Last month hundreds of environmental activists crammed into an auditorium here to ponder an anguished question: If the scientific consensus on climate change has not changed, why have so many people turned away from the idea that human activity is warming the planet?

Nowhere has this shift in public opinion been more striking than in Britain, where climate change was until this year such a popular priority that in 2008 Parliament enshrined targets for emissions cuts as national law. But since then, the country has evolved into a home base for a thriving group of climate skeptics who have dominated news reports in recent months, apparently convincing many that the threat of warming is vastly exaggerated.

A survey in February by the BBC found that only 26 percent of Britons believed that “climate change is happening and is now established as largely manmade,” down from 41 percent in November 2009. A poll conducted for the German magazine Der Spiegel found that 42 percent of Germans feared global warming, down from 62 percent four years earlier.

And London’s Science Museum recently announced that a permanent exhibit scheduled to open later this year would be called the Climate Science Gallery — not the Climate Change Gallery as had previously been planned.

“Before, I thought, ‘Oh my God, this climate change problem is just dreadful,’ ” said Jillian Leddra, 50, a musician who was shopping in London on a recent lunch hour. “But now I have my doubts, and I’m wondering if it’s been overhyped.”

Perhaps sensing that climate is now a political nonstarter, David Cameron, Britain’s new Conservative prime minister, was “strangely muted” on the issue in a recent pre-election debate, as The Daily Telegraph put it, though it had previously been one of his passions.

And a poll in January of the personal priorities of 141 Conservative Party candidates deemed capable of victory in the recent election found that “reducing Britain’s carbon footprint” was the least important of the 19 issues presented to them.

Politicians and activists say such attitudes will make it harder to pass legislation like a fuel tax increase and to persuade people to make sacrifices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Legitimacy has shifted to the side of the climate skeptics, and that is a big, big problem,” Ben Stewart, a spokesman for Greenpeace, said at the meeting of environmentalists here. “This is happening in the context of overwhelming scientific agreement that climate change is real and a threat. But the poll figures are going through the floor.”

The lack of fervor about climate change is also true of the United States, where action on climate and emissions reduction is still very much a work in progress, and concern about global warming was never as strong as in Europe. A March Gallup poll found that 48 percent of Americans believed that the seriousness of global warming was “generally exaggerated,” up from 41 percent a year ago.

Here in Britain, the change has been driven by the news media’s intensive coverage of a series of climate science controversies unearthed and highlighted by skeptics since November. These include the unauthorized release of e-mail messages from prominent British climate scientists at the University of East Anglia that skeptics cited as evidence that researchers were overstating the evidence for global warming and the discovery of errors in a United Nations climate report.

Two independent reviews later found no evidence that the East Anglia researchers had actively distorted climate data, but heavy press coverage had already left an impression that the scientists had schemed to repress data. Then there was the unusually cold winter in Northern Europe and the United States, which may have reinforced a perception that the Earth was not warming. (Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a United States agency, show that globally, this winter was the fifth warmest in history.)

Asked about his views on global warming on a recent evening, Brian George, a 30-year-old builder from southeast London, mused, “It was extremely cold in January, wasn’t it?”

In a telephone interview, Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist at the World Bank and a climate change expert, said that the shift in opinion “hadn’t helped” efforts to come up with strong policy in a number of countries. But he predicted that it would be overcome, not least because the science was so clear on the warming trend.

“I don’t think it will be problematic in the long run,” he said, adding that in Britain, at least, politicians “are ahead of the public anyway.” Indeed, once Mr. Cameron became prime minister, he vowed to run “the greenest government in our history” and proposed projects like a more efficient national electricity grid.

Scientists have meanwhile awakened to the public’s misgivings and are increasingly fighting back. An editorial in the prestigious journal Nature said climate deniers were using “every means at their disposal to undermine science and scientists” and urged scientists to counterattack. Scientists in France, the Netherlands and the United States have signed open letters affirming their trust in climate change evidence, including one published on May 7 in the journal Science.

In March, Simon L. Lewis, an expert on rain forests at the University of Leeds in Britain, filed a 30-page complaint with the nation’s Press Complaints Commission against The Times of London, accusing it of publishing “inaccurate, misleading or distorted information” about climate change, his own research and remarks he had made to a reporter.

“I was most annoyed that there seemed to be a pattern of pushing the idea that there were a number of serious mistakes in the I.P.C.C. report, when most were fairly innocuous, or not mistakes at all,” said Dr. Lewis, referring to the report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Meanwhile, groups like the wildlife organization WWF have posted articles like “How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic,” providing stock answers to doubting friends and relatives, on their Web sites.

It is unclear whether such actions are enough to win back a segment of the public that has eagerly consumed a series of revelations that were published prominently in right-leaning newspapers like The Times of London and The Telegraph and then repeated around the world.

In January, for example, The Times chastised the United Nations climate panel for an errant and unsupported projection that glaciers in the Himalayas could disappear by 2035. The United Nations ultimately apologized for including the estimate, which was mentioned in passing within a 3,000-page report in 2007.

Then came articles contending that the 2007 report was inaccurate on a host of other issues, including African drought, the portion of the Netherlands below sea level, and the economic impact of severe storms. Officials from the climate panel said the articles’ claims either were false or reflected minor errors like faulty citations that in no way diluted the evidence that climate change is real and caused by human activity.

Stefan Rahmstorf, a professor at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, successfully demanded in February that some German newspapers remove misleading articles from their Web sites. But such reports have become so common that he “wouldn’t bother” to pursue most cases now, he added.

The public is left to struggle with the salvos between the two sides. “I’m still concerned about climate change, but it’s become very confusing,” said Sandra Lawson, 32, as she ran errands near Hyde Park.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Obama is NOT James Cameron

"President Obama on Saturday pledged to shape a new "international order" as part of a national security strategy that emphasizes his belief in global institutions "
Global Institutions?  What country does he think he is president of?  

Seriously, how do we survive this guy?   His objective is nothing less than the dissolution of the United States and its absorption into some kind of socialist/fascist/Nazi-like world government.   (Nazi:  "National Socialists...")

Not so ironically, in the last screenplay I wrote, an adaptation of an old Heinlein sci-fi novel, I inserted a sub-plot about an Obama-like leader shortly after the United States was dissolved.  As I wrote it, the guy maneuvered for a new World Charter to replace all the individual governmental systems around the world (including the Constitution of the United States) -- but with greatly expanded authority, including the right of the World's Chief Executive to declare unlimited martial law at his own whim.   Barring some significant resistance from the populace, I think that's where we're headed down the road, even if the final dictator isn't Obama, who is only dreaming if he thinks he will be King of the World.

At West Point, Obama talks up national security strategy

By Michael D. Shear
Saturday, May 22, 2010; 11:45 AM
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- President Obama on Saturday pledged to shape a new "international order" as part of a national security strategy that emphasizes his belief in global institutions and America's role in promoting Democratic values around the world.
Speaking to the graduating class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point -- the ninth wartime commencement in a row, he said -- the commander in chief who is leading two foreign wars expressed his faith in cooperation and partnerships to confront the economic, military and environmental challenges of the future.
"The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times,'" he said in prepared remarks. "Countering violent extremism and insurgency; stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials; combating a changing climate and sustaining global growth; helping countries feed themselves and care for their sick; preventing conflict and healing its wounds."
The administration is set to officially release the president's first national security strategy next week, and Obama's preview on Saturday suggests it will be far different than the first one offered by his predecessor in 2002. In that prior document, President George W. Bush formally called for a policy of preemptive war and a "distinctly American internationalism."
Obama has spoken frequently about shaping new alliances with the world, and of attempts to repair the U.S. image abroad after nearly a decade in which Bush's approach was viewed with suspicion in many quarters. In his commencement speech to the graduates, the president emphasized his beliefs in those alliances.
"Yes, we are clear-eyed about the shortfalls of our international system. But America has not succeeded by stepping outside the currents of international cooperation," he said. "We have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice -- so nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities, and face consequences when they don't."
Obama said the United States will pursue a strategy of "national renewal and global leadership."
And yet, even as he calls for global cooperation, Obama has intensified America's own war in Afghanistan. And his administration has repeatedly confronted the dangers of Islamic terrorism on U.S. soil, including unsuccessful attempts to down a Detroit-bound airliner and to explode a car bomb in New York's Times Square.
To the men and women in the hall, many of whom are headed to Afghanistan because of the expansion of the war he announced here six months ago, Obama pledged "the full support of a proud and grateful nation."
The president expressed confidence in the military's ability to succeed in Afghanistan, but warned of a "tough fight" ahead as the United States helps the Afghan people to rebuild its civil institutions and its security system so they can battle the Taliban and other extremists on their own.
"We have brought hope to the Afghan people; now we must see that their country does not fall prey to our common enemies," he said. "There will be difficult days ahead. But we will adapt, we will persist, and I have no doubt that together with our Afghan and international partners, we will succeed in Afghanistan."
In Iraq, he said, the United States is "poised" to end its combat operations this summer, leaving behind "an Iraq that provides no safe haven to terrorists; a democratic Iraq that is sovereign, stable and self-reliant."
"You, and all who wear America's uniform, remain the cornerstone of our national defense and the anchor of global security," he said. "And through a period when too many of our institutions have acted irresponsibly, the American military has set a standard of service and sacrifice that is as great as any in this nation's history."
But he said civilians must answer the call of service as well, by securing America's economic future, educating its children and confronting the challenges of poverty and climate change. He said the country must always pursue what he called the "universal rights" rooted in the Constitution.
"We will promote these values above all by living them -- through our fidelity to the rule of law and our Constitution, even when it's hard; and through our commitment to forever pursue a more perfect union," he said.
To the cadets themselves, he praised their pursuit of being "soldier-scholars" and lauded the records of academic excellence the Class of 2010 has set. He also took note of the fact that the class's top two graduates this year are both women, reflecting, he said, the "indispensable role" that women play in the modern military.
As they become commissioned officers in the Army, Obama told the graduates of West Point that the country owes them a debt of gratitude.
"Here in the quiet of these hills, you have come together to prepare for the most difficult tests of our time'" Obama said. "You signed up knowing your service would send you into harm's way, and did so long after the first drums of war were sounded. In you we see the commitment of our country, and timeless virtues that have served our nation well."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Cork in the Butt of the World Economy

There's an old joke that goes something like:
Three agricultural scientists were determined to discover how much a pig could eat before it  had to poop. To this end they procured a sow and pushed a large cork into her ass.

After six weeks of forced feeding, the sow was the size of the Goodyear blimp and threatening to burst. Being humane types, the scientists agreed that the cork must now be removed.

No one wished to volunteer for the job, however, so in true scientific tradition, they decided to train a monkey for the task and swiftly put a small gibbon through a crash course in cork-pulling.

The day came and the pig was air-lifted out to the desert for safety's sake. Special equipment was set up to monitor the event. Picture the scene: In the middle of the desert, the pig. Behind the pig, the monkey. One mile behind him, the first scientists with a video camera. One mile behind that scientist are the other two scientists with a seismometer. Finally, the monkey reaches up and pulls out the cork.

There is a huge eruption. 

When the massive geyser subsides, the two scientists find themselves knee-deep in pigshit. Grabbing shovels they wade forward and dig out the first man who has been buried up to his neck. When they free him they find that he is laughing hysterically.

"What's so funny?" they ask.

"You should have seen the monkey trying to get that cork back in!"
That's the Federal Reserve we're talking about.  The monkey, that is.  I'll give Congress the role of those three scientists. Personally, I find the story vaguely reminiscent of the scene for "Project X", in Atlas Shrugged, when the government destroys middle America with the Sound Ray.

There still seems to be a lot of wishful thinking about the jobless rate. It's like --- every single person I've ever talked to knows the government statistics are meaningless, grossly understated, not to be trusted, and yet, every time they come out, there's a reaction if the government doesn't lie well enough about them.

It still boggles my mind a bit (not that much) that the Germans are stupid enough to believe that banning shortselling will keep their markets from going down. Where does that lead?? Limbaugh was arguing for a temporary price bubble then a collapse. I don't even see why there would be a price bubble, but it surely *is* like a penny in the fuse box, or stopping the pressure relief valve on an overheated boiler. The utter stupidity of the clowns in government.

Based on nothing more than the Germans' actions, I'd guess we can't be far from a total collapse of the markets. When governments are so openly defying reality for the sake of nothing more than a few more moments reprieve, we're surely doomed. There's a scene in Atlas that this reminds me of that, when Hank Rearden the steel industrialist asks the government's leaders what they can hope to accomplish by destroying him with all their regulations (doesn't it sound like the bankers and the finance regulations being pushed in the Senate?):
"Have you anything left to loot? If you didn't see the nature of your policy before--it's not possible that you don't see it now. Look around you. All those damned People's States all over the earth have been existing only on the handouts which you squeezed for them out of this country. But you--you have no place left to sponge on or mooch from. No country on the face of the globe. This was the greatest and last. You've drained it. You've milked it dry. Of all that irretrievable splendor, I'm only one remnant, the last, What will you do, you and your People's Globe, after you've finished me? What are you hoping for? What do you see ahead--except plain, stark, animal starvation?"
Give it time for us. The handouts of the Germans to prop up the lifestyles of the Greeks, or the coming big handouts of the Americans to prop up the lifestyles of the Europeans (if it hasn't already started in secret -- I don't think the presses have stopped running at the Fed) is surely like the relief ships sent from the U.S. to the People's States, in Atlas. As I said in a previous post, where's Ragnar when we need him?

Shortly afterward, Dagny Taggart is confronted by her brother Jim, the humanitarian railroad non-executive who runs to the government for favors, who is trying to get her to help him in some undefined way, or at least, to prevent her from abandoning him, but his motives are a broken pretzel, and even he's not sure why he wants to talk to her:
"...I wanted to have a conference, I wanted to know your view of the situation--"

"You know it."

"But you haven't said a word!"

"I said everything I had to say, three years ago. I told you where your course would take you. It has."

"Now there you go again! What's the use of theorizing? We're here, we're not back three years ago. We've got to deal with the present, not the past. Maybe things would have been different, if we had followed your opinion, maybe, but the fact is that we didn't--and we've got to deal with facts. We've got to take reality as it is now, today!"

"Well, take it."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Take your reality. I'll merely take your orders."

"That's unfair! I'm asking for your opinion-"

"You're asking for reassurance, Jim. You're not going to get it."

"I beg your pardon?"

"I'm not going to help you pretend--by arguing with you--that the reality you're talking about is not what it is, that there's still a way to make it work and to save your neck. There isn't."

"Well..." There was no explosion, no anger--only the feebly uncertain voice of a man on the verge of abdication. "Well... what would you want me to do?"

"Give up." He looked at her blankly. "Give up--all of you, you and your Washington friends and your looting planners and the whole of your cannibal philosophy. Give up and get out of the way and let those of us who can, start from scratch out of the ruins."

"No!" The explosion came, oddly, now; it was the scream of a man who would die rather than betray his idea, and it came from a man who had spent his life evading the existence of ideas, acting with the expediency of a criminal....
My emphasis. Doesn't that exactly describe the operation of all these kinds of people today? They will never give up or change course, even if it kills them, and us, and destroys the world.
"No!" he cried, his voice lower, hoarser and more normal, sinking from the tone of a zealot to the tone of an overbearing executive.

"That's impossible! That's out of the question!"

"Who said so?"

"Never mind! It's so! Why do you always think of the impractical? Why don't you accept reality as it is and do something about it? You're the realist, you're the doer, the mover, the producer, the Nat Taggart, you're the person who's able to achieve any goal she chooses! You could save us now, you could find a way to make things work--if you wanted to!"

She burst out laughing.

There, she thought, was the ultimate goal of all that loose academic prattle which businessmen had ignored for years, the goal of all the slipshod definitions, the sloppy generalities, the soupy abstractions, all claiming that obedience to objective reality is the same as obedience to the State, that there is no difference between a law of nature and a bureaucrat's directive, that a hungry man is not free, that man must be released from the tyranny of food, shelter and clothing--all of it, for years, that the day might come when Nat Taggart, the realist, would be asked to consider the will of Cuffy Meigs [a thuggish government bureaucrat not unlike Obama's "Czars"] as a fact of nature, irrevocable and absolute like steel, rails and gravitation, to accept the Meigs-made world as an objective, unchangeable reality--then to continue producing abundance in that world. There was the goal of all those con-men of library and classroom, who sold their revelations as reason, their "instincts" as science, their cravings as knowledge, the goal of all the savages of the non-objective, the non-absolute, the relative, the tentative, the probable--the savages who, seeing a farmer gather a harvest, can consider it only as a mystic phenomenon unbound by the law of causality and created by the farmer's omnipotent whim, who then proceed to seize the farmer, to chain him, to deprive him of tools, of seeds, of water, of soil, to push him out on a barren rock and to command: "Now grow a harvest and feed us!"

...she saw him slumping and heard him say--terrifyingly, because his words were so irrelevant, if he did not understand, and so monstrous, if he did, "Dagny, I'm your brother..."
Isn't that how you beg for alms? The big guilt trip:
"Dagny"--his voice was the soft, nasal, monotonous whine of a beggar--"I want to be president of a railroad. I want it. ...It's your sin if I suffer! It's your moral failure! I'm your brother, therefore I'm your responsibility, but you've failed to supply my wants, therefore you're guilty!
 Isn't that what we're hearing on the news every day now?
"...All of mankind's moral leaders have said so for centuries--who are you to say otherwise? You're so proud of yourself, you think that you're pure and good--but you can't be good, so long as I'm wretched. My misery is the measure of your sin..."
 Sounds like the Greeks, to me.
"...My contentment is the measure of your virtue. I want this kind of world, today's world, it gives me my share of authority, it allows me to feel important--make it work for me!--do something!--how do I know what?--it's your problem and your duty! You have the privilege of strength, but I--I have the right of weakness! That's a moral absolute! Don't you know it? Don't you? Don't you? ..."

"You bastard," she said evenly, without emotion, since the words were not addressed to anything human... She turned to leave.

"No! No! Wait!" he cried, leaping to his feet, with a glance at his wrist watch. "It's time now! There's a particular news broadcast that I want you to hear!"

She stopped, held by curiosity.

He pressed the switch of the radio, watching her face openly, intently, almost insolently. His eyes had a look of fear and of oddly lecherous anticipation.

"Ladies and gentlemen!" the voice of the radio speaker leaped forth abruptly; it had a tone of panic. "News of a shocking development has just reached us from Santiago, Chile!"

I like that part about fear and "oddly lecherous anticipation". Exactly like the government right now in its attempts to strangle the finance industry with new regulations. What would the reaction be to what they were trying to get away with? Jim was gloating at the thought that Dagny would have to endure hearing how the world's greatest copper company had been nationalized by the People's State of Chile, and instead he is shocked to hear that it has been utterly destroyed by it's owner, everywhere, rather than turned over to the looters.

Life imitates art: Hugo Chavez just got through nationalizing the Venezuelan metals industries. If you want to see the full scope of this imitation, google "chavez nationalizes", and you'll get a frightening crystal ball into the course of the United States under Comrade Barack. Here is how it looks:
Chavez nationalizes French-owned retailer
Chavez seizes U.S. food giant unit
Chavez Nationalizes University
Chavez nationalizes Venezuela's iron-makers
Chavez nationalizes Bauxite producers
Chávez Nationalizes Oil Service Companies
Chavez Nationalizes Bank of Venezuela
Chavez nationalizes two more private banks
Chavez Nationalizes Cement Industry
Chavez may nationalize gold mines
Chavez Nationalizes Last Venezuelan Oil Fields
Chavez seizes Hilton resort
Chavez nationalizes coffee
Chavez nationalizes French Supermarket Chain
Chavez nationalizes ports, airports
Chavez nationalizes steel sector
Chavez nationalizes small shops...

Etcetera. This is the guy that Obama admires most next to Castro. Whether the destruction is done intentionally or not, it's irrelevant. It's coming. I'll repeat my previous post: Quo vadis, America?

(P.S.: Coincidentally, I found recently that my boiler has been overheating rather badly and the pressure expansion tank was wiped out -- it corrects for normal pressure fluctuations--but the secondary pressure relief valve on the boiler was purging water to prevent the boiler from blowing up... the plumber is in this morning to fix it. He's really quite a competent guy. Known him for years. He'll know what to do: get to the root cause. A bad thermostat, scale in the boiler, a bad zone pump, whatever. Somehow I don't think that Uncle Sam under Comrade Barack will be repairing the boiler of the world economy. It would be like Bozo the Clown performing open heart surgery with a butter knife and party balloons.)

Dow Drops Nearly 300 as Jobless Claims Jump
Published: Thursday, 20 May 2010 | 10:30 AM ET
Stocks fell sharply Thursday after an unexpected spike in jobless claims and as global jitters pushed the dollar higher.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down nearly 300 points, or almost 3 percent, and the CBOE volatility index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, spiked more than 20 percent to above 43.

All 30 Dow components were lower, led by Caterpillar [CAT 58.496 -2.944 (-4.79%) ], Alcoa [AA 11.19 -0.59 (-5.01%) ] and Boeing [BA 63.5474 -2.6626 (-4.02%) ]

The Dow and S&P 500 are nearing correction territory and are on track to have their worst month since February 2008.

The market was already pointing lower today as volatility surged in global markets amid worries about financial reform and the sovereign debt crisis, when the jobless claims report came out and further rattled the market.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits shot up by 25,000 to 471,000 last week. Economists had expected claims to drop to 440,000.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Fed reported its gauge of regional manufacturing activity dropped to 21.4 in April, slightly more than expected, from 20.2 in March. And leading indicators fell 0.1 percent in April, the first decline in a year.

European stocks lost more than 2 percent amid worries that Germany's ban on naked short selling of some stocks and bonds will be extended to the entire euro zone.

The dollar surged against the euro. Commodity prices fell, with crude oil dropping below $68 a barrel and gold falling to near $1,180 an ounce.

Treasurys, particularly longer-dated securities, jumped on the stock market turmoil. The 30-year bond gained more than one point in price, sending its yield to 4.16 percent, its lowest since Oct. 20, 2009. Prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Uncertainty grew on the back of concerns about the euro zone's economic health, and whether Germany’s financial reforms will backfire on stocks.

Other European nations, including France, the Netherlands and Finland, announced they have no plans to follow Germany’s ban on naked short selling of specific instruments, to control what Chancellor Angela Merkel called "destructive" markets.

Also in Europe, more protests are scheduled to take place in Greece today against the new austerity measures.

Asian markets were lower, with Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney down more than 1.5 percent each, as political divisions in Europe, again, and fears of more market regulation pressured stocks.

In earnings, office retailer Staples [SPLS 21.585 0.045 (+0.21%) ] reported a 32 percent rise in profit to 26 cents a share.

After the closing bell, earnings are due from Dell [DELL 14.38 -0.60 (-4.01%) ], Gap [GAP 5.72 -0.21 (-3.54%) ], and Intuit [INTU 34.57 -1.00 (-2.81%) ].

In deals, Symantec [SYMC 15.1625 -0.4675 (-2.99%) ] is paying $1.28 billion for VeriSign's[VRSN 27.34 -0.65 (-2.32%) ] security business, which specializes in Web site identity and authentication.

And on the political scene, the financial regulatory reform bill failed to pass in the Senate on Wednesday amid resistance from both parties, but Democrats will attempt to seal the deal on Thursday with a fresh vote at 2:30 pm Washington time. SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro and CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler will testify about new regulations to prevent May 6th’s "flash crash” from happening again.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Kagan, with a "C"

"...Her views have not so much “evolved significantly” as expanded to encompass the whole Alinskyite/Obama policy of “hope” for “change.” They certainly have not mellowed and become less strident. The “socialist radicals” have moved from New York City to Washington. Kagan’s “roots” have only grown deeper, and are part of a vast interlocking root system that includes those of Bill Ayers, David Axelrod, Cass Sunstein….and Barack Obama."
 A good op-ed here from Ed Cline on the media's reluctance to name the real nature of Kagan. In my opinion, seeing the evidence, there's no doubt that Kagan is much more than a really earnest Socialist. The "C" word applies -- rhymes with Cuba, Castro and Chavez.
..."Kagan’s record shouldn’t deceive or confuse anyone. After all, Lenin was also a pragmatist. He and his fellow communists proclaimed the “New Economic Policy” that was intended to rescue the Russian economy from communist depredations. "
Just because she says, in her own words,
""In our own times, a coherent socialist movement is nowhere to be found in the United States. Americans are more likely to speak of a golden past than of a golden future, of capitalism's glories than of socialism's greatness...."
Doesn't mean she's a simple Socialist, any more than it meant Harold Laski was a simple Socialist ( -- he was secretly a Fabian and later revealed to be a hard-core communist with a specific agenda. Guess what that was?

:: Saturday, May 15, 2010 ::

Kagan the Pragmatist “Societal” Girl

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 6:32 AM

What is the problem that so many liberal/left MSM pundits and columnists have with identifying the moral, political, and judicial philosophy of President Barack Obama’s latest nominee for the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Elena Kagan? Fox Nation reports that:
In a 1996 paper [in the University of Chicago Law Review] "Private Speech, Public Purpose: The Role of Governmental Motive in First Amendment Doctrine," Kagan argued it may be proper to suppress speech because it is offensive to society or to the government.

That paper asserted First Amendment doctrine is comprised of "motives and … actions infested with them" and she goes so far as to claim that "First Amendment law is best understood and most readily explained as a kind of motive-hunting."
Kagan's name was also on a brief, United States V. Stevens, dug up by the Washington Examiner, stating: "Whether a given category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs."
In short, the government may elect to censor or not to censor, depending on a juggling act between the “value” of speech and its potential “societal costs,” performed by a government official whose decision is completely arbitrary and governed by his “motives,” which a court may or may not decide are “appropriate.” And from where does the government derive its “balancing” powers? Not the Constitution.

Who knows? Kagan may actually respect the First Amendment. In which case, she would gladly approve of the executive branch abridging it by decree, but not Congress.

It is a measure of the recidivist character of the mainstream media that it absolutely refuses to identify the political suasion of Kagan, except to vociferously deny that suasion when it is identified outside the MSM. Instead, the left/liberal pundits and columnists dwell on her feistiness, her devotion to her career, her allegedly indeterminate political leanings, and so forth, in a campaign of ambiguity and puffery. Her suasion is their suasion. Don’t expect the Democrats or their allies in the MSM to ever admit they comprise a collective Freddy Krueger. In the heavily made-up and lavishly garbed image reflected in their mirror, they see Jane Addams.

The MSM chooses to not reach the conclusion because a socialist selected Kagan. She is in line to sit permanently on the Court where she can help mete unconscionable damage to the republic and the freedom of its citizens. They refuse to entertain the question: Why would Obama choose anyone else but a fellow advocate of “hope and change”? The MSM does not accept the designation of Obama and his administration as socialist; they agree with Obama that the term is “vile” and “demonizing.” Ergo, it can’t be true, and anyone who says otherwise is guilty of character assassination.

It would be impractical to discuss all of Kagan’s positions and utterances here without endeavoring to write a book. The New York Times, bless its liberal/left heart, however, has provided a handy reference guide to Kagan’s positions and views, a guide that substantiates any and all charges against the Court nominee that she would be a leftist judicial activist on the bench.

Kagan’s record shouldn’t deceive or confuse anyone. After all, Lenin was also a pragmatist. He and his fellow communists proclaimed the “New Economic Policy” that was intended to rescue the Russian economy from communist depredations. As soon as that relaxation of controls put two or three crumbs of bread on Russian dinner plates instead of one, down came the controls again.

It is easy to identify Kagan’s political suasion because all of her positions are, if not overtly socialist, then pragmatically statist. She is for disarming Americans, she is for “selective” censorship, and she worked with the Clinton administration on the first round of attempted socialized medicine, she probably helped to craft the “master agreement” that put the tobacco companies under a special federal thumb. She is no friend of freedom.

The first step is to accept the premise that Obama would not have nominated anyone who advocated freedom of speech, individual rights, the sanctity of property, and limited government. That’s a given. He would nominate someone amenable to his statist agenda and at the same time present that person as “not radical.” She is a rationalizing pragmatist who also advocates the expansion of executive powers.

Reading her papers on cases and issues (especially the one on government “motivation“), one can’t immediately determine what her philosophy of law is, or where she stands on individual rights or on the Constitution. It’s much like trying to zero in on a target when it keeps moving in concentric circles. But there are key statements in her academic papers, and which she made throughout her career, that can simplify the task. That task is necessary, even though it means reading large chunks of her academic and career statements.

By way of exhibiting her pretzel-like thinking and expository style, try digesting this chunk from her Law Review article, "Private Speech, Public Purpose: The Role of Governmental Motive in First Amendment Doctrine.” In a seemingly endless screed on whether or not government may censor out of perceived or potential causes of “harm” or if it seeks to “advantage” or “disadvantage” the subjects or expressers of speech, she writes:
The narrower (speech-related) principle inheres in the broader; both are aspects, so the argument goes, of the appropriate relationship between the government and individuals within a liberal society.

The second kind of nonconsequentialist account for the prohibition of ideological motive relates more exclusively to expression, emphasizing the place of such activity in a democracy. On this view, the prohibition of ideological motive, and its concomitant principle of equality, lies at the core of the First Amendment because it lies at the core of democratic self-government. The democratic project is one of constant collective self-determination; expressive activity is the vehicle through which a sovereign citizenry engages in this process by mediating diverse views on the appropriate nature of the community. Were the government to limit speech based on its sense of which ideas have merit, it would expropriate an authority not intended for it and negate a critical aspect of self-government. Democracy demands that sovereign citizens, through each generation, retain authority to evaluate competing visions and their adherents-to decide which ideas and officials merit approval. Hence democracy bars the government from restricting speech (as it also bars the government from limiting the franchise) on the ground that such activity will challenge reigning beliefs or incumbent officials. The government must treat all ideas as contingent, because subject to never-ending popular scrutiny. On this view, the prohibition of certain motives again serves as a way to delineate the proper sphere of authority, hereby preventing a democratic state from contravening key principles of self-government and thereby undermining its foundation.
This is as bad as reading Stanley Fish, a professor of law at Florida International University, excoriate the First Amendment with his verbal embroidery, or Laurence Tribe, a confessed plagiarist and professor of law at Harvard, pronounce on the fluxing value of freedom of speech. One of Tribe’s “best” students happened to be Barack Obama. Leftists Tribe and Cass Sunstein, who now heads the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, not only vetted her Law Review article, but are cited numerous times by Kagan throughout as authorities on constitutional interpretation.

Readers may have read of deconstructionism in literature, in which “texts” are explored for their “tensions” and “contradictions,” apart from their literal meaning. The patron saint of this school of literary analysis is Jacques Derrida. Kagan’s paper is an example of deconstructionism in law. Its patron saint is Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., of “shouting fire in a theater” fame. What difference is there between a Holmesian “clear and present” danger in someone’s exercise of freedom of a speech that may lead to a “harm” forbidden by Congress, and the “value of a speech” as opposed to its “societal costs”? Kagan cites Holmes occasionally in her paper, in an appearance of amused dissension. But note 257 of her paper is in tandem with Holmes’ thinking:
As I explain, the distinction between motive-based analysis and effects-based analysis remains all-important for purposes of constructing (and explaining) First Amendment doctrine.
Holmes himself was a judicial “that was then, this is now” pragmatist who was against a strict interpretation of the Constitution.
Holmes declared that the law should develop along with society and that the 14th Amendment did not deny states a right to experiment with social legislation. He also argued for judicial restraint, asserting that the Court should not interpret the Constitution according to its own social philosophy.
As long ago as 1881, Holmes wrote in The Common Law:
"The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience. The felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political theories, intuitions of public policy, avowed or unconscious, and even the prejudices which judges share with their fellow-men, have had a good deal more to do than syllogism in determining the rules by which men should be governed. The law embodies the story of a nation's development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics.”
Fundamental ideas are out, no longer relevant to the “necessities of the time” or the “prevalent moral and political theories.” Kagan certainly possesses, together with her “gang,” an intuition of public policy, which is unbridled statism.

Kagan is an advocate of “racial and gender” equality (of the legislative kind), and writes that she would be elated if speech that allegedly perpetuated their inequality “disappeared.”

Kagan is in solid with Obama, with the Democrats, and with the “extreme“ left-wing of the Democrats. She taught law at the University of Chicago with Barack Obama, and has been his long-time collaborator and political supporter. Her donations to Obama and his party are public record. It is reported that between 2000 and 2008, Kagan contributed $12,550 to Democrats, more than half of it going to Obama's various campaigns. She contributed to Rahm Emanuel’s run for the Senate.

The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, found (as I was not able to) a copy of Kagan’s senior year Princeton University thesis, "To the Final Conflict: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933," in which she laments the ineptitude of the Socialist Party in New York politics. An excerpt goes:
"In our own times, a coherent socialist movement is nowhere to be found in the United States. Americans are more likely to speak of a golden past than of a golden future, of capitalism's glories than of socialism's greatness. Conformity overrides dissent; the desire to conserve has overwhelmed the urge to alter. Such a state of affairs cries out for explanation. Why, in a society by no means perfect, has a radical party never attained the status of a major political force? Why, in particular, did the socialist movement never become an alternative to the nation's established parties?"
She concludes:
"The story is a sad but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism's decline, still wish to change America. Radicals have often succumbed to the devastating bane of sectarianism; it is easier, after all, to fight one's fellows than it is to battle an entrenched and powerful foe. Yet if the history of Local New York shows anything, it is that American radicals cannot afford to become their own worst enemies. In unity lies their only hope."
Michael Goldfarb, author of the article, remarks:
Obviously, one imagines that Kagan's views have evolved significantly over the last three decades, but given Obama's stated aversion to radicalism, it's certainly worth noting the radical roots of the nation's top lawyer.
Obviously, her views have not so much “evolved significantly” as expanded to encompass the whole Alinskyite/Obama policy of “hope” for “change.” They certainly have not mellowed and become less strident. The “socialist radicals” have moved from New York City to Washington. Kagan’s “roots” have only grown deeper, and are part of a vast interlocking root system that includes those of Bill Ayers, David Axelrod, Cass Sunstein….and Barack Obama.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Totalitarian Agendas

Wouldn't it be a disaster if Obama succeeded in pressuring Israel to give up their nukes? (As reported in the article below.)  It would absolutely guarantee another mid-East war.

A related topic:  Brief checking seems to indicate Obama's latest Supreme Court nominee is a communist.  Another.  Not confirmed yet, but Obama is so surrounded by them you've got to believe in the conspiracy.  The ones that most interest me are the ones in high places that I can't prove.  (Gates? He seems too stupid, but you've got to judge actions...)

I'm reminded of Ayn Rand's letter in 1941, "To All Innocent Fifth Columnists" (Journals of Ayn Rand, chapter 10, "Communism and HUAC", available for free here:

..."When the Communists came to power in Russia, they were a handful of eighteen men. Just eighteen. ...Adolf Hitler started the Nazi Party in Germany with seven men. He was laughed at and considered a harmless crank."

..."Don't delude yourself by minimizing the danger. You see what is going on in Europe and what it's doing to our own country and to your own private life. What other proof do you need? Don't say smugly that "it can't happen here." Stop and look back for a moment.

..."The first Totalitarian dictatorship happened in Russia. People said: well, Russia was a dark, backward, primitive nation where anything could happen — but it could not happen in any civilized country.

"The next Totalitarian dictatorship happened in Italy — one of the oldest civilized countries of Europe and the mother of European culture. People said: well, the Italians hadn't had much experience in democratic self-government, but it couldn't happen anywhere else.

"The next Totalitarian dictatorship happened in Germany — the country of philosophers and scientists, with a long record of the highest cultural achievements. People said: well, Germany was accustomed to autocracy, and besides there's the Prussian character, and the last war, etc. — but it could not happen in any country with a strong democratic tradition.

"Could it happen in France? People would have laughed at you had you asked such a question a year ago. Well, it has happened in France — France, the mother of freedom and of democracy, France, the most independent-minded nation on earth.

..."The Totalitarians do not want your active support. They do not need it. They have their small, compact, well-organized minority and it is sufficient to carry out their aims. And they want from you is your indifference. The Communists and the Nazis have stated repeatedly that the indifference of the majority is their best ally. Just sit at home, pursue your private affairs, shrug about world problems — and you are the most effective Fifth Columnist that can be devised. ..."

..."It is when the majority in a country becomes weak, indifferent and confused that a criminal minority, beautifully organized like all gangs, seizes the power. And once that power is seized it cannot be taken back for generations. Fantastic as it may seem to think of a dictatorship in the United States, it is much easier to establish such a dictatorship than to overthrow it. With modern technique and modern weapons at its disposal, a ruthless minority can hold millions in slavery indefinitely...."
Remember, of course, that if anyone would know, Ayn Rand would, since she escaped Russia right after Lenin took over.

..."The Totalitarians are an efficient, organized, and very noisy minority. They have seized key positions in our intellectual life and they make it appear as if they are the voice of America. They can, if left unchecked, highjack America into dictatorship..."
Sound familiar?

Thursday, May 6, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Obama, Egypt strategizing for nuke-free Israel

WASHINGTON — Egypt and the United States have sought to draft a joint proposal for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

Officials and analysts said President Barack Obama has approved efforts of a joint resolution as a means of pressuring Israel to give up its purported nuclear arsenal. They said the resolution was not meant against Iran, which has denied a nuclear weapons program.

"The president is not happy with Israel's nuclear capabilities," former U.S. envoy to the United Nations, John Bolton, said. "I think he would be delighted if Israel gave up its nuclear weapons."

In an interview on May 4 on Israel Army radio, Bolton said Obama's predecessor, George Bush, refused to work with Egypt or any other country for a so-called nuclear-free Middle East. Israel has refused to confirm or deny reports that it possesses nuclear weapons.

"Egypt and the Obama administration are negotiating right now on an Egyptian proposal for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East, which certainly sounds good," Bolton, who served as Bush's leading nonproliferation official, said. "Except when you think about it, there is only one country that resolution is targeted at and that is Israel."

"When I was in the Bush administration we refused to even talk about these kinds of ideas," Bolton said. "I'd be quite worried about the possible outcome there."

Over the last 40 years, the United States has unofficially adopted Israel's refusal to discuss its purported nuclear arsenal. Israel has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty until peace comes to the Middle East.

The United Nations has hosted a month-long meeting on NPT. The session has been dominated by Egypt's recruitment of a bloc to press for the implementation of a 1995 resolution for a nuclear-free Middle East.

"We want to see every country be a signatory to the NPT," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on May 3. "We believe strongly in this. That’s why we are taking steps which have never been taken by any administration before."

Israel has become the focus of attention at the NPT meeting, sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano has asked member-states to propose ways to press Israel to join NPT.

"It would be helpful to me if Your Excellency could inform me of any views that your government might have with respect to meeting the objectives of the resolution," Amano said in an April 7 letter addressed to the foreign ministers of the 151 member states.

On May 5, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States called for a nuclear-free Middle East. The five nuclear powers, without mentioning Israel, called on all states in the region to sign the NPT.

"We urge those states that are not parties to the treaty to accede as non-nuclear-weapon states and pending accession to the NPT, to adhere to its terms," a statement by the five powers said.

Bolton did not rule out a U.S. campaign against Israel's purported nuclear weapons arsenal. He said the next few months could see an increase in U.S. and other international pressure on the Jewish state.

"The only unknown answer at this point is exactly how much pressure he [Obama] would exert on Israel to do just that," Bolton said. "Part of that pressure is being exerted right now by even considering the possibility of a conference on a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East."

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Quo Vadis, America?

There's an echo of my "Good Night, America?" post in that title, but I offer a different perspective this time.  For those of you who are neither biblical scholars nor privileged, because of the public school system, to have had a decent literary education, the translation of that latin title means "Whither goest thou?" It comes from a New Testament verse (John 13:36):
...related in the apocryphal Acts of Peter (Vercelli Acts XXXV), in which Saint Peter meets Jesus as Peter is fleeing from likely crucifixion in Rome. Peter asks Jesus the question; Jesus' answer, "I am going to Rome to be crucified again" (Eo Romam iterum crucifigi), prompts Peter to gain the courage to continue his ministry and eventually become a martyr.
From Wiki. In the classical literary tradition, it comes from the title of Sienkiewicz's 1896 historical novel--which I highly recommend--it's very powerful, for Christians or anyone else, especially if you take it allegorically, in relation to our times. Ayn Rand herself spoke of it as one of the truly great novels. From Amazon (,
Set in ancient Rome during the reign of the emperor Nero, Quo Vadis? tells the story of the love that develops between a young Christian woman and a Roman officer [Vinicius] who, after meeting her fellow Christians, converts to her religion. Underlying their relationship is the contrast between the worldly opulence of the Roman aristocracy and the poverty, simplicity, and spiritual power of the Christians. The novel has as a subtext the persecution and political subjugation of Poland by Russia.
The subtext was that Sienkiewicz didn't dare directly criticize his own rulers in Poland. Give us time. But till that happens, we have parallels.

As the Dow has slowly recovered from our own crisis, nibbling at 11,000 (and bouncing hard by 1000 points the other day), anyone who thinks we have a chance to avoid another major collapse should pay close attention to Greece, and now Portugal. News that their credit ratings have been downgraded should send shivers through all.  Anyone who thinks that the United States can embrace the same socialist policies as the Euro states should think again. Our own story was brought about by the contrast between the worldly opulences of the Washington aristocracy and the simplicity and spiritual power (in the best sense of that term) of American citizens who strive to work hard to be happy and free.

Back to Quo Vadis. It takes place in the reign of Nero, and though the famous story of him fiddling while Rome burned is merely allegorical, it fits: in Rome, the erosion of reason and morals among the citizenry paralleled rise of poverty and spiritual power among the slaves and barbarians who kept the Roman Empire alive. So it is in our own country. Unlike Sienkiewicz's novel, our own story has no subtext, however: anyone in this country who strives to make a living and achieve some measure of success and happiness is simply subject to political persecution and subjugation by our own ruling class. We are developing our own version

As I said, there are parallels to our own time that can be developed here -- many of them. For instance, who could the character of Lygia symbolize?
...the daughter of a deceased king of the Lygians, a barbarian tribe (hence her nickname). Lygia is technically a hostage of the Senate and people of Rome, and was forgotten years ago by her own people. A gorgeous beauty, 
Lygia has the role of America's founding tradition in this morality play, whom the Left regard as a "barbarian tribe" -- not unlike the role she played for Poland in Sienkiewicz's novel. Our own Lygia is a hostage of the Senate (Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and almost every other Democrat) and the people of Rome who want to vote themselves bread and circuses.

The character of Ursus is less complex: a barbarian of enormous size and strength who protects the princess Lygia, he is a convert to Christianity who struggles with it's teachings of non-violence. Here we have the productive power of every American who possesses great devotion to the country and struggles to preserve it, while lacking in the intellectual knowledge to lead the battle--your typical Tea Party type.

I would love to develop these parallels at length, especially that for Petronius, the "Arbiter of Excellence", an unapologetic Epicurean (lover of fine things) who serves the court of Nero. Let's say, every American who indulges his desires in the pursuit of happiness, while serving the court of Altruism, because that is really what Nero represents in this allegory. I will shortly make the connection more evident between Altruism and the debauched and worthless Nero, who is larger than life in the novel (and perhaps real life) -- but absolutely monumental compared to the pidgeon dropping called Barack Obama.

The novel is long and my memory grows weak, so  I will content myself with describing a scene from Chapter 7: a party by Emperor Nero for his favorites. The scene opens by introducing Acte, an Imperial slave and former mistress of Nero.
...Cæsar [ie, Nero] had loved her once... he had freed her, let her live in the palace, and gave her special apartments with a few servants. she too was invited at times to Cæsar's table. This was done perhaps because her beautiful form was a real ornament to a feast. [from the novel]
Who might Acte stand for? Let's say -- any businessmen who profess to be Democratic loyalists.  Acte was Greek, and
...It was known that she continued to love Nero with a sad and pained love, which lived not in hope, but only in memories of the time in which that Nero was not only younger and loving, but better.

Obama, of course, was never better, but as a historical symbol, the Dems may have been better.  Many of their supporters are not unlike Acte -- they love him while he defiles them.
Nero has grown tired of her and now mostly ignores her, but she still loves him. She studies the Christian faith, but does not consider herself worthy enough to convert fully." (Wiki)
"Christian Faith" in this allegory is devotion to the moral screed of altruism -- the creed of Christianity. Which gets back to the symbolism of Nero, who, as Caesar, not only represents a moral ideal, but the power altruism holds over people, both figuratively and politically.
...At his table the most varied medley of people of every position and calling found places. Among them were senators, but mainly those who were content to be jesters as well. There were patricians, old and young, eager for luxury, excess, and enjoyment.
All the sycophants lured to Washington by money and power.
There were women with great names, who did not hesitate to put on a yellow wig of an evening and seek adventures on dark streets for amusement's sake.
Everyone who loves a backroom deal done in the dead of night -- say, that lady of the night, Nancy Pelosi.
There were also high officials, and priests who at full goblets were willing to jeer at their own gods.
The "priests" we can think of a our intellectual and political leaders, and the "gods" they jeer at are GM, JP Morgan, IBM, and the rest of that pantheon.
At the side of these was a rabble of every sort: singers, mimes, musicians, dancers of both sexes; poets who, while declaiming, were thinking of the sesterces which might fall to them for praise of Cæsar's verses; hungry philosophers following the dishes with eager eyes;
The academics, media, and other rabble of that sort.
...finally, noted charioteers, tricksters, miracle-wrights, tale-tellers, jesters, and the most varied adventurers brought through fashion or folly to a few days' notoriety.
Al Gore, and his traveling troop of Global Warming clowns, let us say.
...The luxury of the court gilded everything, and covered all things with glitter. High and low, the descendants of great families, the needy from the pavements of the city, great artists and vile scrapings of talent, thronged to the palace to sate their dazzled eyes with a splendor almost surpassing human estimate, to approach the giver of every favor, wealth, and property--whose single glance might abase, it is true, but might also exalt beyond measure.
Anyone seeking introductions and alms from the court of D.C...
That day Lygia too had to take part in such a feast. Fear, uncertainty and a dazed feeling, not to be wondered at after the sudden change, were struggling in her with a wish to resist.
Let's give Lygia a little more specific role: Tea Partiers.
She feared Nero; she feared the people and the palace whose uproar deprived her of presence of mind; she feared the feasts of whose shamelessness she had heard from Aulus, Pomponia Græcina, and their friends. Though young, she was not without knowledge, for knowledge of evil in those times reached even children's ears early.
Young in spirit, let's say, cause the Tea Partiers have an upwardly shifted age demographic.
She knew, therefore, that ruin was threatening her in the palace.
Or any compromises in Washington.  Does it not threaten any American who believes that Washington is the narcotic solving all problems?
Pomponia ...had warned her of this at the moment of parting. But having a youthful spirit, unacquainted with corruption, and confessing a lofty faith implanted in her by her foster mother, she had promised to defend herself against that ruin; she had promised her mother, herself and also that Divine Teacher in whom she not only believed, but whom she had come to love with her half-childlike heart for the sweetness of his doctrine, the bitterness of his death, and the glory of his resurrection.
The "divine teacher" is the Founding principles of the United States, and the inalienable rights of the individual.  It is indeed a sweet doctrine, and though we may feel bitter about it's demise, there is the prospect of glory in its resurrection.
...On the one hand fear and alarm spoke audibly in her soul; on the other, the wish rose in her to show courage in suffering, in exposure to torture and death. The Divine Teacher had commanded to act thus. ...Pomponia had told her that the most earnest among the adherents desire with all their souls such a test, and pray for it.
That next Tea Party demonstration confronting the thugs of the SEIU, for instance.
...Lygia ...had seen herself as a martyr... But now, when opposition to Cæsar's will might draw after it some terrible punishment, and the martyrdom scene of imagination become a reality, there was added to the beautiful visions and to the delight a kind of curiosity mingled with dread, as to how they would punish her, and what kind of torments they would provide. And her soul, half childish yet, was hesitating on two sides.
As so many in our country hesitate...  If you defend yourself from physical assault by Obama's SEIU thugs, you can bet you'll be arrested, vilified, and the Left will excoriate you as a terrorist. 
...To oppose Cæsar's will, expose oneself from the first moment to his anger? ...From Lygia's own words it appears that she is, properly speaking, not really a hostage, but a maiden forgotten by her own people.
Let's underline that:  The meaning of our own Constitution has been forgotten by many people, even many in the Tea Party.
No law of nations protects her; and even if it did, Cæsar is powerful enough to trample on it [the law] in a moment of anger. It has pleased Cæsar to take her, and he will dispose of her. Thenceforth she is at his will, above which there is not another on earth.
"So it is," continued Acte.
...with everyone in Washington, these days.  As someone in Congress said recently during the Health Care putsch, "the law is what we make it." 
...Think of this, Lygia. ...when it comes to a choice between shame and death, it is permitted to choose only death. But canst thou say that death awaits thee and not shame too? ...Lygia, Lygia, do not irritate Cæsar. If the decisive moment comes when thou must choose between disgrace and death, thou wilt act as thy faith commands; but seek not destruction thyself, and do not irritate for a trivial cause an earthly and at the same time a cruel divinity."
Isn't this the droning message to America from Caesar (Obama), his polital hacks (the Czars) and our media (AP, NY Times, Reuters, etc)?  Think of Obama's recent calls for "civility" at the University of Michigan -- ie, his call to stop all criticism of him.
...Her eyelids filled with tears. Lygia followed her for some time with her blue eyes, and asked at last--"Art thou sorry for him, Acte?"
How do our better Democrats feel about what is happening to the country under Comrade Barack and his merry band of Bolsheviks?
"I am sorry for him!" answered the Grecian, with a low voice. And again she began to walk, her hands clinched as if in pain, and her face without hope.
"Dost thou love him yet, Acte?" asked Lygia, timidly.
"I love him."
And after a while she added, "No one loves him but me."
Warren Buffett maybe a little less these days -- he's sent his gladiator Ben Nelson into the Arena to stop Obama's new financial regulations (the Lions in our allegory) from destroying him and the rest of the banking and investment industry.
"Let us speak of thee, Lygia. Do not even think of opposing Cæsar; that would be madness. And be calm. I know this house well, and I judge that on Cæsar's part nothing threatens thee.
Or not. Stuff it, NYTimes, AP, Reuters, Washpost.
...Nero gave command, it is true, that thou shouldst be at the feast, but he has not seen thee yet; he has not inquired about thee, hence he does not care about thee.
Oh, so true. To our leaders, you, Lygia, are but a flag pin on their lapel, which even Comrade Barack now wears out of expediency.
The party guests now arrive:
...people passed in greater and greater numbers under the lofty arch of the entrance... crowds of people flowed past... Acte showed Lygia senators in wide-bordered togas, in colored tunics, in sandals with crescents on them, and knights, and famed artists; she showed her Roman ladies, in Roman, in Grecian, in fantastic Oriental costume...which pierced Lygia with fear, amazement, and wonder. For her this was a strange world....
For any sane person it is.  Washington is a place of many hidden mysteries and crimes:
...the low voice of Acte disclosed, time after time, a new and dreadful secret of that palace... See, there at a distance is the covered portico on whose columns and floor are still visible red stains from the blood with which Caligula sprinkled the white marble when he fell beneath the knife of Cassius Chærea; there his wife was slain; there his child was dashed against a stone; under that wing is the dungeon in which the younger Drusus gnawed his hands from hunger; there the elder Drusus was poisoned; there Gemellus quivered in terror, and Claudius in convulsions; there Germanicus suffered--everywhere those walls had heard the groans and death-rattle of the dying; and those people hurrying now to the feast in togas, in colored tunics, in flowers, and in jewels, may be the condemned of to-morrow...
Isn't it so in today's Washington?  We have passed from a government of objective laws, as originally conceived, to one where your life's work, your future well-being, even your physical safety has been left to the whim of Czars.
...Lygia's frightened thoughts could not keep pace with Acte's words; ...her heart contracted within her from fear, and in her soul she struggled with an immense, inexpressible yearning for the beloved Pomponia Græcina, and the calm house of Aulus, in which love, and not crime, was the ruling power.
The beloved house of reason, rights and reality.
...As in a dream, she ...heard the shout with which the guests greeted Cæsar; as
through a mist, she saw Cæsar himself. ...
Obama steps up to his Roman stage.  Did you see it at the Democratic National Convention?
The sound of the music, the odor of flowers and of Arabian perfumes, began to daze her. In Rome it was the custom to recline at banquets, but Vinicius was reclining near her, youthful, immense, in love, burning; and she, feeling the heat that issued from him, felt both delight and shame. A kind of sweet weakness, a kind of faintness and forgetfulness seized her; it was as if drowsiness tortured her.
Vinicius was a Roman officer, a symbol of power devoted to the beauty of his country. Think the American military.
...he seemed to her ever nearer, ever dearer, altogether true, and devoted with his whole soul. He pacified her; he promised to rescue her from the house of Cæsar; he promised not to desert her, and said that he would serve her. he said directly that he loved her, and that she was dear and most precious to him. Lygia heard such words from a man's lips for the first time; and as she heard them it seemed to her that something was wakening in her as from a sleep, that some species of happiness was embracing her in which immense delight was mingled with immense alarm. Her cheeks began to burn, her heart to beat, her mouth opened as in wonder. She was seized with fear because she was listening to such things, still she did not wish for any cause on earth to lose one word.
But her nearness to him began to act on Vinicius also. His nostrils dilated, like those of an Eastern steed. ...he felt a flame in his veins which he tried in vain to quench with wine. ...her maiden breast heaving under the golden tunic, and her form hidden in the white folds of the peplus, intoxicated him more and more. Finally, he seized her arm... and drawing her toward him whispered, with trembling lips,--"I love thee ...divine one!"
The Republicans love the Tea Party, but... that moment was heard the voice of Acte, who was reclining on the other side of Lygia.
"Cæsar is looking at you both."
Isn't he? Anyone who professes too strong a devotion to the ideals of this country in this day and age will surely have the eye of Caesar upon him -- the DIA, the FBI, the Secret Service.
Everything that Nero did roused attention, even in those nearest him; hence Vinicius was alarmed. He regained self-control, and began imperceptibly to look toward Cæsar. Lygia ...turned to him eyes at once curious and terrified.
Cæsar had bent over the table, half-closed one eye, and holding before the other a round polished emerald, which he used, was looking at them. For a moment his glance met Lygia's eyes, and the heart of the maiden was straitened with terror.
The emerald was a beautiful touch by Sienkewicz -- it fully captures the essence of a looter obsessed with power.
When still a child... an old Egyptian slave had told her of dragons which occupied dens in the mountains, and it seemed to her now that all at once the greenish eye of such a monster was gazing at her. ...Was not that he, the terrible, the all-powerful?
So it is with everyone when the gaze of Washington turns it's eyes toward them. Obama? Yes. But also anyone in D.C. who feeds on sores and clubs people with handouts and "good intentions".
She had not seen him hitherto, and she thought that he looked differently... almost ridiculous, for from a distance it resembled the head of a child.
This so accurately captures the essence of the altruists: they are like children who believe that goodness and wealth can be achieved by commandments and a gun.
He had no beard, because he had sacrificed it recently to Jove--for which all Rome gave him thanks,
Token sacrifices always placate the masses. Why, I believe Comrade Barack may have even left a few of his entourage behind on that last European vacation.
...though people whispered to each other that he had sacrificed it because his beard, like that of his whole family, was red.
Well, I'm sure about that one. Red, for sure.
In his forehead, projecting strongly above his brows, there remained something Olympian. In his contracted brows the consciousness of supreme power was evident; but under that forehead of a demigod was the face of a monkey, a drunkard, and a comedian--vain, full of changing desires, swollen with fat, notwithstanding his youth; besides, it was sickly and foul. To Lygia he seemed ominous, but above all repulsive.
Yeah, that's him alright, though the 'fat' part is figurative.
After a while he laid down the emerald and ceased to look at her. Then she saw his prominent ...eyes, blinking before the excess of light, glassy... resembling the eyes of the dead.
The eyes of those who loot for a living, with legislation as a gun.
"Is that the hostage with whom Vinicius is in love?" asked Nero, turning to Petronius.
"That is she," answered Petronius.
"What are her people called?"
"The Lygians."
"Does Vinicius think her beautiful?"
"Array a rotten olive trunk in the peplus of a woman, and Vinicius will declare it beautiful. But on thy countenance, incomparable judge, I read her sentence already. ...'Too narrow in the hips.'"
The powers-that-be do want to believe the Tea Party types are insignificant.
"Too narrow in the hips," answered Nero, blinking.
Let's keep in mind that appreciation of beauty and virtue isn't what rapists are about. So it is with our friends now running D.C.
..."Last night I dreamt that I had become a vestal virgin," said Calvia Crispinilla, bending over the table.
I have a dream of a free Republic... but not one provided by the Democrats and Republicans.
At this Nero clapped his hands, other followed, and in a moment clapping of hands was heard all around,--for Crispinilla had been divorced a number of times, and was known throughout Rome for her fabulous debauchery.
..."But admit, purest Calvia," said Petronius, "that thou couldst become a vestal only in dreams."
"But if Cæsar commanded?"
"I should believe that even the most impossible dreams might come true."
Some years ago people in Congress were wearing buttons that said "Reality is negotiable."  But only for awhile.
"But they do come true," said Vestinius. "I understand those who do not believe in the gods, but how is it possible not to believe in dreams?"
"But predictions?" inquired Nero. "It was predicted once to me, that Rome would cease to exist..."
"Predictions and dreams are connected," said Vestinius. "Once a certain proconsul, a great disbeliever, sent a slave to the temple of Mopsus with a sealed letter which he would not let any one open; he did this to see if the god could answer the question contained in the letter. The slave slept a night in the temple and had a prophetic dream; he returned then and said: 'I saw a youth in my dreams; he was as bright as the sun, and spoke only one word, "Black."'
The proconsul... grew pale, and turning to his guests, disbelievers like himself, said: 'Do ye know what was in the letter?'" Here Vestinius stopped, and, raising his goblet with wine, began to drink.
"What was in the letter?" asked Senecio.
"In the letter was the question: 'What is the color of the bull which I am to sacrifice: white or black?'"
There's a message there.
...Vitelius ...burst forth senseless laughter. "The ring of a knight has fallen from my finger...." ...Vitelius ...began to search for his ring in the peplus of Calvia Crispinilla.
...Vestinius ...said aloud -- "He is seeking what he has not lost."
"And which will be useless to him if he finds it," finished the poet Lucan.
There are no knights in Washington these days.
The feast grew more animated. Crowds of slaves bore around successive courses; from great vases filled with snow and garlanded with ivy, smaller vessels with various kinds of wine were brought forth unceasingly. All drank freely. On the guests, roses fell from the ceiling at intervals.
Kind of like TARP money.
Petronius entreated Nero to dignify the feast with his song before the guests drank too deeply.
Let's have another speech by Comrade Barack.
...Lucan implored him in the name of art and humanity. ..."Be not cruel, O Cæsar!"
...Nero spread his hands in sign that he had to yield. All faces assumed then an expression of gratitude, and all eyes were turned to him....
...Nero... raised his eyes; and for a moment silence reigned in the triclinium, broken only by a rustle, as roses fell from the ceiling. Then he began to chant, or rather to declaim, singingly and rhythmically, to the accompaniment of the two lutes, his own hymn to Venus.
"Hope and change, hope and change!" But toss me that sack of TARP money, too. I'm getting tired of loose change.
...the hymn, though glorifying the impure pagan Venus,
...the goddess of altruism,
seemed to her more than beautiful, and Cæsar himself, with a laurel crown on his head and uplifted eyes, nobler, much less terrible, and less repulsive than at the beginning of the feast.
A few bromides here and there, and almost anything seems palatable.
The guests answered with a thunder of applause. Cries of, "Oh, heavenly voice!" were heard round about; some of the women raised their hands, and held them thus, as a sign of delight, even after the end of the hymn; others wiped their tearful eyes; the whole hall was seething as in a beehive. Poppæa, bending her golden-haired head, raised Nero's hand to her lips, and held it long in silence. Pythagoras, a young Greek of marvellous beauty,--the same to whom later the half-insane Nero commanded the flamens to marry him, with the observance of all rites--knelt now at his feet.
This is how Barack Obama gets to sleep at night.
...Nero looked carefully at Petronius, whose praises were desired by him always before every other,
That is, Petronius symbolizes Comrade Barack's intellectual "handlers".
...Petronius, who had an amazing memory, began to repeat extracts from the hymn and cite single verses, exalt, and analyze the more beautiful expressions.
Pundits and academics can do this sort of thing endlessly. 
...On Nero's face were reflected delight and fathomless vanity, not only nearing stupidity, but reaching it perfectly.
I love that part.  It so perfectly captures the powerluster at heart.
...But from the golden net fastened to the ceiling only roses fell was far to the end of the feast yet. Slaves brought new courses, and filled the goblets unceasingly with wine;
The circus in D.C. goes on and on...
...two athletes [appeared to give the guests a spectacle of wrestling. They began the struggle at once, and the powerful bodies, shining from olive oil, formed one mass; bones cracked in their iron arms, and from their set jaws came an ominous gritting of teeth.
Doing battle in Congress, which has the role of the Coliseum in our allegory:
Roman eyes followed with delight the movement of tremendously exerted backs, thighs, and arms. But the struggle was not too prolonged; for Croton, a master, and the founder of a school of gladiators, did not pass in vain for the strongest man in the empire. His opponent began to breathe more and more quickly: next a rattle was heard in his throat; then his face grew blue; finally he threw blood from his mouth and fell.
I think I have to give Nancy Pelosi the role of Croton the Gladiator. Her opponent, of course, is the hapless Republicans.
A thunder of applause greeted the end of the struggle, and Croton, resting his foot on the breast of his opponent, crossed his gigantic arms on his breast, and cast the eyes of a victor around the hall.
Or walked through the Capitol Mall directly in the faces of Tea Party protesters.
...The feast passed by degrees into a drunken revel and a dissolute orgy.
A typical day in D.C., but it does seem worse lately, doesn't it?
...The air, filled with the odor of flowers and the perfume of oils with which beautiful boys had sprinkled the feet of the guests during the feast, permeated with saffron and the exhalations of people, became stifling; lamps burned with a dim flame; the wreaths dropped sidewise on the heads of guests; faces grew pale and were covered with sweat. Vitelius rolled under the table... But Domitius Afer, a hardened criminal and informer, was indignant at the discourse... He had always believed in the gods. People say that Rome will perish, and there are some even who contend that it is perishing already. And surely! But if that should come, it is because the youth are without faith, and without faith there can be no virtue.
Domitius takes the role of the Religious Right, don't you see?
..."People have abandoned also the strict habits of former days, and it never occurs to them that Epicureans will not stand against barbarians. "
The academics and media types rarely ever did.
...the consul Memmius Regulus laughed, and, raising his bald head with wreath awry, exclaimed,--"Who says that Rome is perishing? What folly! I, a consul, know better. Videant consules! Thirty legions are guarding our pax romana! ...from Britain to the Parthian boundaries!"
Or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Europe, or....
But the number of the legions guarding Roman peace did not pacify Domitius. "No, no! Rome must perish; for faith in the gods was lost, and so were strict habits! Rome must perish; and it was a pity, for still life was pleasant there. Cæsar was gracious, wine was good! Oh, what a pity!

And hiding his head on the arm of a Syrian bacchanal, he burst into tears. "What is a future life! Achilles was right,--better be a slave in the world beneath the sun than a king in Cimmerian regions. And still the question whether there are any gods--since it is unbelief--is destroying the youth."
Is this not where so many Republican's went over the years as they embraced big government and abandoned individual rights?  Exhibit A:  the Bush family.
...Nero, who drank little at first, ...emptied goblet after goblet ...and was drunk.
...with power, like Obama and the Democrats.
He wanted even to sing more of his verses, this time in Greek,--but he had forgotten them, and by mistake sang an ode of Anacreon.
...Vestinius, stretching his neck like a stork, whispered mysteriously,--"I do not believe in the gods; but I believe in spirits--Oi!"
Vestinius is a stand-in for the Democratic Party as a whole.
..."Thanks be to Cæsar, in the name of the city and the world!" cried Domitius Afer.
This is what's wrong in D.C. -- everyone is drunk on money and power, in both parties.
The uproar began anew. Lucan [Vinicius] ... rose and cried,--"I am not a man, but a faun! I dwell in the forest.
Eho-o-o-oo! ...Cæsar promised thee to me before he took thee. Thou must be mine! Give me thy
lips [Lygia]! I will not wait for to-morrow, give thy lips quickly."

And he moved to embrace her... she defended herself with the remnant of her strength, ...but in vain did she struggle with both hands to remove his hairless arm; in vain, with a voice in which terror and grief were quivering, did she implore him not to be what he was, and to have pity on her. Sated with wine, his breath blew around her nearer and nearer, and his face was there near her face.
Vinicius, it should be more clear now, represents another wing of the Republican Party -- actually, the Sarah Palin wing, if you can deal with the visual.  The kind of people who would endorse a creature like John McCain.  Do you have a clear image of how the people in Washington today embrace the Republic?
He was no longer the former kind Vinicius, almost dear to her soul; he was a drunken, wicked satyr, who filled her with repulsion and terror.

But at this instant a tremendous power removed his arms from her neck with as much ease as if they had been the arms of a child, and pushed him aside, like a dried limb or a withered leaf. What had happened? Vinicius rubbed his astonished eyes, and saw before him the gigantic figure of the Lygian called Ursus, whom he had seen at the house of Aulus.
The Tea Party.
Ursus stood calmly, but looked at Vinicius so strangely with his blue eyes that the blood stiffened in the veins of the young man; then the giant took his queen on his arm, and walked out of the triclinium with an even, quiet step.

...Vinicius sat for the twinkle of an eye as if petrified; then he sprang
up and ran toward the entrance crying,--"Lygia! Lygia!"
Do you see the Tea Party leaving the Republican's behind?
But desire, astonishment, rage, and wine cut the legs from under him.
Look who Sarah's been endorsing lately besides McCain -- and the reaction.
He staggered once and a second time, seized the naked arm of one of the bacchanals, and began to inquire, with blinking eyes, what had happened. She, taking a goblet of wine, gave it to him with a smile in her mist-covered eyes.
"Drink!" said she.
Vinicius drank, and fell to the floor.
That about sums up the Republican's, alright. The defenders of the Republic? Not.
The greater number of the guests were lying under the table; others were walking with tottering tread through the triclinium, while others were sleeping on couches at the table, snoring, or giving forth the excess of wine. Meanwhile, from the golden network, roses were dropping and dropping on those drunken consuls and senators, on those drunken knights, philosophers, and poets, on those drunken dancing damsels and patrician ladies, on that society all dominant as yet but with the soul gone from it, on that society garlanded and ungirdled but perishing.

Dawn had begun out of doors.
Roses of Federal largesse are dropping and dropping on those drunken sailors in D.C., on a society all dominant as yet but with the soul almost gone from it. Hopefully, our own dawn will dawn soon and we won't perish. Quo Vadis, America?

Postscript (September 3, 2012):

The preparations for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, are underway, and in the latest bizarre twist, a giant sand sculpture of Obama has been built (he built it, and no one else).   As I, and others have noted, this puts Obama's psychology firmly in the mold of dictators throughout history.  But you will note it was well-predicted by his Roman Forum from the first DNC convention in 2008, and consistent with my post last year (Nov. 26, 2011) on the psychology of such people ("A Post-script to Monument Builders"). Quoting one line from Sienkiewicz,

"...On Nero's face were reflected delight and fathomless vanity, not only nearing stupidity, but reaching it perfectly."