Bill Ayers, the True Author of Obama’s (Supposedly) Dreams From My Father

The cat’s out of the bag:

Then, unprompted he (Ayers) said–I wrote Dreams From My Father. I said, oh, so you admit it. He said–Michelle asked me to. I looked at him. He seemed eager. He’s about my height, short. He went on to say–and if you can prove it, we can split the royalties. So I said, stop pulling my leg. Horrible thought. But he came again–I really wrote it, the wording was similar. I said I believe you probably heavily edited it. He said–I wrote it. I said–why would I believe you, you’re a liar.

That explains two things I’ve mused on in this blog.

It explains Why William Ayers Matters, which I posted in the latter stages of the campaign last year.  It means that my Option 2 was the correct one:

The second is that he (Obama) has been (influenced by William Ayers,) in which case we’ll have what I’ve been hoping to avoid for a long time: a country run by an elite that basically hates it.  Getting past the obvious problem relative to foreign policy, if those at the top don’t like this place, it’s only a matter of time before those at the bottom get the same idea.  It will be hard to fill our military, and even harder to get our economy going when hopes of improvement are dimmed by a hefty tax take and the realisation that the taxes are going to people who neither like us nor have our best interests at heart.  Such a realisation will make the downward turn in the stock market look minor.

It also explains Why My Family Business Left Chicago (where I quote from the book directly):

However, in a world where the state explicitly enforces the perpetuation of “traditional” society–necessary to prevent the problems that Obama describes in the quote above–corporations will lose the power to make such decisions.  They will be forced to perpetuate operations such as Vulcan’s in Chicago in the manner they’ve been operated until the company is forced to close them without a sequel or face nationalisation, which only stalls the inevitable.

And such “traditional” societies have a strong appeal to Obama’s latté liberal core constituency, not only for purely sentimental reasons (the loss of a way of life, the lamenting of which drove Obama’s mother for so many years) but also because such societies favour the perpetuation of established elites, be those elites hereditary aristocracies or bureaucracy-ensconced mandarins.  And, to be honest, such a scenario has a strong appeal to the end product of multi-generational success like myself.

Chicago was the quintessential “can-do” city.  People like Ayers and Saul Alinsky have eroded that.  That’s why companies like Vulcan had to leave.  That’s why I don’t take promises such as “green jobs” and growth through expanded government seriously.

HT to William Sulik.  BTW, it doesn’t bother me that Dreams From My Father was ghostwritten, just who the ghost is.

Now the Arabs Move to Replace the Dollar, and the Pakistanis Move to Replace the Taliban

It just keeps coming:

In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.

Secret meetings have already been held by finance ministers and central bank governors in Russia, China, Japan and Brazil to work on the scheme, which will mean that oil will no longer be priced in dollars.

The plans, confirmed to The Independent by both Gulf Arab and Chinese banking sources in Hong Kong, may help to explain the sudden rise in gold prices, but it also augurs an extraordinary transition from dollar markets within nine years.

A fistful of yuan looks better than ever…

But all is not glum for the U.S.:

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari can be well pleased with his recent visit to New York, securing US$1.5 billion annually for five years in non-military aid and gaining unprecedented political support from over two dozen heads of states under the Friends of Democratic Pakistan initiative.

Now it is the turn of the military to deliver following its successful campaign this year in the Swat Valley in North-West Frontier Province: it is poised for a major operation in the heart of Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda territory, the North Waziristan and South Waziristan tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan.

The need for this operation in the two Waziristans, over which the Pakistani armed forces had previously expressed grave concerns, was agreed on in a meeting in New York last week between the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other US security officials and Zardari, who is also the supreme commander of the armed forces.

Pakistan has always been the key player in the whole situation in Afghanistan.  But the Pakistanis have, over the years, hedged their bets on the U.S. vs. the Taliban, in part because the nature of Pakistan has always been to be an Islamic state, and the Taliban (and of course al-Qaeda) have had that as their objective par excellence.

Evidently those who control things in Pakistan have finally settled on the Taliban and their allies to be an existential threat to themselves, which is about a quick of a way to get things moving on this earth as there is.  Success in this would simplify things across the border in Afghanistan as well.

Stimulus Spending for Transportation at a Snail’s Pace

From here:

Stimulus spending on transportation projects is expected to account for more than half the 3.5 million jobs the Obama administration says the stimulus will create or save. So far, only 7 percent of transportation stimulus funds have been paid out. (Snail image from Jürgen Schoner/Wikipedia Commons)

Stimulus money for transportation projects is being spent far more slowly than expected.

When the economic stimulus act passed in February, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated [1] that the U.S. Department of Transportation would spend about $5 billion by the end of the fiscal year, which was Wednesday.

But Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Thursday that only $3.4 billion has been spent [2] so far – about a third less than forecast. Rep. John Mica, the top Republican on the House transportation committee, said the spending rate was disappointing, noting that unemployment figures released today were expected to hit 9.8 percent [3].

I predicted this from the start, in December of last year:

But this road–and I’m going to concentrate on the transportation infrastructure–is longer than it looks.

  • The general financial situation of the Federal government, coupled with that of the states, will make allocating funds to this difficult, even in a “stimulus mode.”  The general trend in American governmental budget allocation has been towards entitlements, and reversing that habit won’t be easy.  For the most part the states don’t have the option of deficit spending.
  • All transportation infrastructure projects have an environmental impact, and getting through both the regulatory maze and the political opposition of the environmentalists will be time consuming.  I discussed this during the campaign.
  • Most state DOT’s have projects “on the shelf” ready to go for Federal funding.  But there will be a delay in finalising the designs and getting through aforementioned regulatory processes.
  • If he tries to push too hard, the waste of money will increase.  Any time a large flow of money comes from the government all at once, oversight deteriorates and more money ends up in places it wasn’t intended to.  The financial bailout is a good example of this.
  • The construction industry will be delighted with the increase in activity.  But expanding the labour force will take time.  In the 1930’s when FDR and Huey Long were out expanding the infrastructure, much construction labour was unskilled and people with no prior experience could be absorbed into the workforce much for easily.  On today’s techno-mechanised, safety conscious job site, people (especially in the heavy construction segment, which builds transportation projects) needs to be trained and know what they’re doing.  And that, with the native labour force, is easier said than done.

Although upgrading our infrastructure is badly overdue, it’s not a quick road to reinflating our economy.  And in a political system notoriously short of patience, Barack Obama will discover that his electorate will become restless very quickly.

The Country of a Second Chance

I’ve griped at length on this site—and elsewhere—on how the graduates (at all degree levels) of a few elite schools dominate our corridors of power, be they the White House, the Supreme Court, or in our financial centres. A recent Facebook post by Fox News Radio’s Todd Starnes has finally galvanised me to lay out why I think this is bad for the country, and fundamentally “un-American” as we have traditionally understood these United States.

The idea that the graduates of a few schools should dominate a country is well established in Europe. But until the last few years, it’s been a foreign concept here in every sense of the word. Obviously the graduates of these schools think it’s a great idea, and many conservatives are reluctant to challenge the concept. This is because they don’t want to come across as whining populists (although a few broach this barrier.)

To start with, it’s not good for a country which is diverse as ours—and certainly one that has made diversity such an obsession—to restrict its highest places to those trained at a few places. It’s true that ethnic and socio-economic diversity has come to these places—Sonia Sotomayor reminds us of that—but after four (give or take two) years in these places, the intellectual idea—to say nothing of the connections one makes with the people one goes to school with—has a levelling influence, and ultimately an isolating one.

But the ultimate problem with this kind of centralisation is that it flies in the face of the United States as the country of a second chance.

Except for the Native Americans, we are a land of immigrants. Why did our ancestors come here? We know that some came to do the work, some did not. But all of them came because, for one reason for another, they came to the conclusion that they and their families had come to some kind of dead end where they were at. So they left familiar surroundings and relatives to find a better life of one kind or another. They wanted a second chance for themselves, for those who came with them, and for those who came after them.

We even see this in the internal migration in the U.S. Even after arrival, the movement didn’t stop. Black and white alike left the economic dead-end of the post-bellum South for the factories of the North. The reverse migration took place after the disaster of the 1960’s by those escaping the Rust Belt, a cold climate and high taxes. (Some even made the round trip!) And, of course, the West has beckoned ever since the Midwest was the “Northwest” and the South Central states were the “Southwest.”

Social place has been flexible along with geographical place. Although the phrase “know your place” usually has racial associations, originally it came from a society where upward social mobility was slow or non-existent, and it was the mantra of upper classes who wanted to keep their “inferiors” down. Until recently the phrase was a quick way to make an American of any race angry.

It’s always been a source of embarrassment to our elites at how “uneducated” many Americans are or seem relative to others (especially the Europeans.) That was certainly the case during World War II, and it was one of the driving forces behind the GI Bill. But the fact that our society has worked with so little regard for formal education is another part of the second chance. If formal education came up short, either by early school leaving or by scholastic mediocrity, there was always real life to fix the problem. Although there’s certainly a correlation between education and income, traditionally in American society it’s possible for recipients of the “gentleman’s C” (like my grandfather) to do well in life, if they’re prepared to work at it and exercise the social skills a society with a large civic life rewards.

The transformation of our upward social mobility into the prize for those who get into the “right” schools and meet there the “right” people alters that beyond recognition. Those who are a product of such a system realise early that they cannot make it in the society of a second chance when they put all of their eggs into the first chance. When the society doesn’t automatically alter itself to meet their expectations, the “first chancers” turn first to resentment and second to snobbery to express their bitterness, all the while working to insure that advancement is by their own rules.

In terms of the U.S. Presidency, they’ve succeeded, as I’ve documented before, and as one would expect that has worked its way down the line. Now I’m sure that elitists have raised many a latté to the sidetracking of the likes of Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. But what happens when they cut off people like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs at the pass? Gates did start Harvard but didn’t finish, and Jobs neither finished his undergraduate studies nor darkened the door of Old Ivy. These “second chancers” went on to change the world.

That’s a more urgent question as the left pursues its other objective: bringing a progressively larger portion of our economy into state control. The more of this that takes place, the easier it will be to have a society where “first chancers” rule and the rest take what’s left. But will the rest bother with really going out and putting in the hard work and effort necessary to maintain a society with our traditional dynamism? Or volunteer to put their lives on the line for a society which mouths freedom and opportunity but is in reality organised for the benefit of those who control it? To put it another way, who wants to put the extra effort into a society where the fix is in by the time you’re eighteen, the national future is determined by a small group of admissions committees, and you know you’re on the short end of the stick?

There’s an important spiritual aspect to this too. Christianity is a religion of the “second chance,” a place where the shortcomings of the first birth can be rectified by the second, whose founder challenged the “downtown establishment” of his own day and recruited from amongst those who were deemed not quite up to par for rabbinical training. It’s the religion of the great “mulligan,” and consciously or not Americans have made the connection between the two. I don’t think it’s an accident that more and more challenges to Christianity are coming from a society which operates on the principle that “the fix is in” and there are no second chances once one misses the school with an inadequate Ivy League admission rate.

All of this is why I don’t think that either centralising our “best” people in a few schools or having a largely credentialistic/educational advancement system is good for our country, and believe that not only will we have a very different country for it, but also will have a lesser one as well.

Grand Funk Railroad: Closer to Home

This week’s video relating to music alluded to in the novel The Ten Weeks is Grand Funk Railroad’s “Closer to Home.”  It’s their performance of this classic in Shea Stadium, New York, on 9 July 1971.

On the album with the same name, the song ends with a very effective fade out.  Unfortunately, that couldn’t be replicated in concert.

In the novel, it’s mentioned right at the end of the book, but I’m not going to do a spoiler here.

Obama’s Messianic Pitch: Not as “Un-American” as it Looks

Jay Cost at Real Clear Politics finds Obama’s decidedly “messianic” (my characterisation) presentation in the campaign and afterwards to be in conflict with American traditions:

Since he emerged on the national stage, Barack Obama has not been the model of American republicanism. This was the case during the campaign, and it continues today. Juxtapose the simple respectability of the White House with these images taken from the Obama-Biden campaign website.

This is why I was not surprised to see that video of schoolchildren being taught to praise President Obama like he is a deity. Ultimately, the campaign that President Obama waged hinted at such ideas. Is it a shock that a few, overly enthusiastic supporters thought it appropriate to proselytize in such a fashion?

That “Progress” picture is easily the most non-republican of the bunch. The image suggests that Obama’s campaign is somehow a source of goodness for the people. From a republican standpoint, the imagery in the picture should be reversed, with the people being the source of goodness from which the candidate benefits.

I had hoped that the President would find his inner republican upon ascension to the office. I have been disappointed. His speeches are too full of references to himself. His omnipresence suggests a disregard for the people’s tolerance levels, as well as for the idea that ours is a limited government and we are entitled to enjoy our lives without these constant executive impositions.

He’s right, but the problem is that our country has changed in this regard.

A lot of that is generational, and I went into detail about that this time last year.  For the most part, those coming up look upward–and I don’t mean that in a spiritual sense–for direction and sustenance.  Their micromanaging parents put endless “executive impositions” on them.  How else have many of them lived?  The Obama campaign’s ability to resonate with that was a stroke of genius, and it paid off.

Unfortunately the set-up for this has been coming for some time.  Boomers, those perennial rebels, are obsessed with authority, left and right both.  Having preached this for so long, it was almost inevitable that someone would come in and tap into that in a secular sense.  And someone has.  Beyond that, the growth of government has made it a source of sustenance for many of us.

But blind obeisance to authority isn’t what made these United States what they are.  “No king but Jesus” states that our only monarch is heavenly, and his yoke is easy and his burden is light; we are free people on earth.  The paganisation and secularisation of our culture and society only directs the object of people’s first loyalty earthward.

The Israelites looked at the societies around them (like our elites do today) and demanded a king, and, with updates in the technology, Samuel’s warning is still true today:

“And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” 1 Samuel 8:10-20, KJV.

Happy Anniversary, People’s Republic of China! Thanks for the Revival!

Today, of course, is the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.  On 1 October 1949, Mao Zedong mounted the Tian An Men and announced that the Chinese people had stood up.

Above: the Tian an Men (Gate of Heavenly Peace) in the centre of the photograph, taken from the Beijing Hotel in 1981.  To the left is Tian an Men Square and the Great Hall of the People, to the right is the Forbidden City.

It’s been a long road since then, and I feel blessed to have been able to participate in at least part of it.  But before we lapse into Western platitudes (or even this) there are two things that the Chinese have managed over the last three score.

The first is to become the largest (or soon to be largest) industrial power in the world.

The second is to experience the greatest Christian revival in human history.

Our government and country have accomplished neither in recent years; in fact, we have gone in reverse on both accounts.

The results speak for themselves.