Monday, April 27, 2009

One of the VERY BEST...

I was fortunate to have worked with Mike Finer for a couple years when I was in 43 Engine and he was in Ladder 59, both housed in the same South Bronx firehouse.

I was even more fortunate to have run into him again and to have worked with him in Ladder 44, when he came over as a Lieutenant. I worked with him in Ladder 44 from around 1995, when he came to that firehouse until around 2005, when we both left, he to Marine-1 and I to Hazmat-1.

Mike retired recently, not long after pulling a suicidal woman out of the Hudson River last September.

This past Wednesday (April 22, 2009) Mike Finer, (58 y/o) was driving along the span of the George Washington Bridge en route to Kevin Flannagan's awards banquet, when he saw a man climb onto the outer railing of the bridge, he told the NY Daily News.

"He was over the railing, holding on with one arm, it was precarious. He was ready to go," Mike Finer told the New York Daily News.

According to the Daily News account, “Finer pulled over and ran toward the man, dodging rush-hour traffic on the busy bridge.

"I just said, 'Let me see what I can do to help,'" recalled Finer, who spent 30 years with the FDNY after working for the NYPD for five before that...

"...No one wants to see you do this," Finer recalled telling the man, who gave his name as Lloyd.

“Ignoring a Port Authority police officer who warned him to back off, Finer told Lloyd that the fall might not kill him - a notion that gave the suicidal man pause.

“Eventually, Finer coaxed Lloyd into climbing back up to safety.”

You can read the full story here;

I’ve been lucky to meet a LOT of really great guys over the years in the FDNY and Mike Finer is one of my all-time favorite people. Not only was he an excellent fireman and fire officer, he was a GREAT teacher, always sharing his broad range of knowledge with others. And Mike fought for his principles as well.

Recently, when the City paid all HazMat specialty Units 12% more for the added education and responsibilities, while conspicuously eliminating the Marine Units from that group, Mike fought the City and the FDNY in arbitration and the courts for the Marine Units and he did this, while seeking a spot as an officer in a Squad or Rescue Unit, before his career-ending injury. Mike’s fight was and IS for fairness, as the Marine Units are HazMat trained and they obviously take on those responsibilities. Both the City of New York and the FDNY have acknowledged that “EVERY shipboard incident is a HazMat incident.”

Mike Finer’s ALWAYS been one of the BEST, so it’s not surprising that he’d rise to the occasion even when officially “retired” and on his way to an important event. I can personally attest that anyone whose life has been touched by Mike Finer has been a LOT better off for that.

When New Yorkers count their blessing, they should count people like Mike Finer among them – they’re few and far between.

Is the Obama Administration Going Backwards on Iraq?

When the Obama administration took office in January, they inherited a stable Iraq, in which U.S. troops had for over four years been relegated to training Iraq’s Armed Forces and Police and rebuilding its infrastructure.

Iraq’s government had held two democratic elections and was taking a more proactive role in running the country as the U.S. military’s role subsided.

That’s why the AP report about Sunday’s pre-dawn raid in the southern Shiite city of Kut that ended with at least one woman dead, after being caught in gunfire, and six suspects arrested for alleged links to Shiite militia factions, is so puzzling.

Jawad al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister denounced a deadly U.S. raid on Sunday as a "crime" that violated the security pact with Washington and demanded American commanders hand over those responsible to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.

With Pakistan’s government being threatened by an expanding Taliban takeover of large swaths of that nation, it seems as though the Mideast has gotten a lot more volatile since the Obama administration came in seeking to end many of the Bush policies there.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Thought On the Possible Torture Prosecutions...

Congress was continually briefed on the “enhanced interrogations” conducted in the wake of 9/11/01.

ALL those Congressmen and women who were briefed and now support prosecutions for those who offered the legal opinions that allowed them, well, they TOO SHOULD BE prosecuted, precisely because of their presence in those briefings.

I’ll put it like this, if you were in Congress and were briefed and now claim you didn’t really get all the information, either you were incompetent (unable to even ask the right questions and comprehend those briefings), in which case you should RESIGN NOW, OR you are culpable and should be prosecuted to the same extent of those who rendered the decisions you now claim to oppose.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Capitalism as Corruption – a Simple-Minded Indictment

“The fact is that people acting selfishly get us exactly what we have right now -- economic catastrophe.

Bernie Madoff certainly acted in his best interest, wouldn't you say? All of the insider traders, Ken Lay, all of the thieves, cheats, and liars who became millionaires and billionaires definitely acted selfishly."
(anonymous committed Liberal)
“I'm sure Conservatives will say, "buyer beware" and other such conservative euphoniums and platitude that serve to remove any social responsibility for the rich business owners of the world...”

“...Fact is if the rich could make people work 80 hour weeks, work children, or work people for 1.00 an hour, they would (hell they have)...

“Like we have laws to keep people, the average citizen in check from their greed, we should have laws to keep the rich in check from their greed...”
(anonymous Leftist)
What a bunch of DOPES!

In the first case, Madoff was a criminal, involved in a ruthless ponzi scheme, while actual Capitalist entrepreneurs, like Bill Gates have delivered MORE good over the last three decades, to MORE people than ANY government in the history of the world.

Anyone so dumb as to NOT be able to see the difference between entrepreneurial behavior and the Capital investment that fuels it, enriches EVERYONE far more than even those made incredibly wealthy by the value of their own ideas, is too stupid to breathe on their own.

"Rockefeller's or Gates' productivity never hurt any of us, in FACT, the prodigious output by such giants improved life for us all....a little gratitude and perhaps even inspiration, in the form of inspiring the rest of us to work ceaselessly and tirelessly to contribute something that'll help others while enriching ourselves, would be in order.

The reason why there are so few such people is almost certainly proof that entrepreneurialism is the highest form of human creativity ever to exist.

But far from being linked to anarchy and criminality as the anonymous goofball above posits, because Capitalism is rooted in private property rights, it requires a STRONG law & order styled governance.

In FACT, Capitalism is INCONSISTENT with anarchy (no government). Everywhere Capitalism hs sprung up, so have harsh penalties for criminals (violent offenders and especially "crimes against property" scumbags).

Capitalism is VERY consistent with, say, a Bill Bratton-styled justice system that seeks to grind up those who don't comply to the accepted standard under the wheels of that judicial system.

We can blame a LOT of things for the current CRISIS, but MOSTLY it was the result NOT of government INACTION, but of wrong-headed government ACTION.

The ill-conceived Bush plan to "increase low income and especially minority homeownership" (a seemingly laudable goal) done in a very poor way, was a HUGE part of the crisis.

Bush signed onto the 0% DOWN for FHA mortgages, THAT coupled with the "turbo-charged CRA" of 1995, among other things, reconfigured lending criteria (although THAT was NOT entirely enforced or even encouraged UNTIL the Bush administration made increasing low income homeownership a stated goal.

Once 0% DOWN for FHA mortgages was signed onto in 2002, and the GSEs were directed to buy up (back) as much of those subprime mortgages as the banks and brokers could write - the U.S. government had, in effect, allowed "legalized counterfeiting." After 2002 Fannie and Freddie increased their share of the mortgage market they bought/backed from 24.8% to almost 50% including a HUGE portion of the post-2002 subprime mortgages!

That allowed banks and brokers to create as much wealth (CREDIT is wealth) as they could write. T
he current crisis proved two things, (1) there's as much money in writing counterfeit credit (government-backed bad debt) as there is in counterfeiting currency and (2) counterfeit CREDIT/DEBT may be as dangerous if not MORE than currency counterfeiting.

Were those banks and brokers who gorged on that flawed policy greedy? Were their actions criminal?

Yes to the first and NO to the second, given that government had taken the lead in encouraging and BACKING the "creation of credit (wealth) out of thin air" by members of the private sector.

That above anonymous poster didn't merely compare entrepreneurs to criminals like Madoff and lay, he clearly and inanely implied that that WAS part and parcel of the market process.

Perhaps one of the best, or at least most noteworthy passages, in Atlas Shrugged is that of Francisco D’Anconia explaining to Bertram Scutter, who’d uttered the phrase “Money is the root of all evil...”, that money is merely a tool, a medium of peaceful exchange that could not exist without the productive efforts of others.
“When you accept money in exchange for your efforts/labors, you do so only on the conviction that you will be able to exchange it for the products of the efforts of others. The trade, by means of money, is the code of men of good will. Money is rooted in the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his efforts...So long as men live together on Earth and need means of dealing with each other, the only substitute for money is the muzzle of a gun.”

As to the argument that “there are laws to rein in the “greed” of average men,” THAT is utter nonsense.

We have no such laws!

Are there laws that keep you and I from leaving our current employers to take jobs for more pay and better benefits?

No, there are NOT.

Are there any laws that keep you or I from investing as much of our own incomes as we want to try and leverage and make as much money as we can?

Again, there are NO such laws!

OK, so are there laws that restrict either of us from going out and starting our own business and making as much money as we possibly can?

AGAIN, no there aren’t.

The FACT is that there IS NOT “only a certain amount of wealth available.”

That’s called a “Malthusian argument...and it’s FALSE!

Wealth is constantly expanding and contracting and it’s ONLY expanded by the growth of private enterprise. Aggregate wealth SHRINKS as a result of the growth of government.

The accruing of inordinate amounts of wealth by individuals DOES NOT deny wealth to any of the rest of us, in fact, it INCREASES the aggregate amount of wealth available and increases opportunities for ALL.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Susan Boyle - SHOCKS the World on Britain's Got Talent 2009...

This is just an amazing tale of triumph. Susan Boyle shocks Simon Cowell, the audience at "Britain's Got Talent" and the world. It's an astounding story really - a 47 y/o, unemployed woman from a small Scottish town, who claims to have "never been kissed" stuns everyone with a voice described as "forged in heaven."


Economic Liberty IS the Foundation for ALL Other Freedoms...

Most Leftists don’t understand freedom and that’s why they don’t respect it.

Anyone who mistakes LICENSE (“the right to do whatever we’d like, so long as we don’t harm anyone else”) for LIBERTY (“self-ownership and the grinding responsibilities that come with that ownership”) does not understand freedom.

Anyone who fails to realize that “EQUALITY” is, always and everywhere, the enemy of LIBERTY, does not understand freedom.

And those who don’t understand that economic freedom/LIBERTY is the foundation for ALL other freedoms, does not understand freedom.

People who fail to realize that economic LIBERTY is the foundation for all other freedoms, tend to be the same kinds of people who routinely mix up economic and political terms.

ALL dictatorships are, in fact, politically totalitarian. That’s true whether the tyrant or despot is a Monarch, came to power through a coup, like Sukarno or Pinochet, OR was originally “democratically elected,” as in the case of Hitler and Chavez.

There really are only three possible political systems; (1) authoritarian totalitarian rule (that sees the people as “subjects” or “owned by” the state or government, (2) Constitutional Republics that see the rule of law above ALL men and institutions, including government, in fact, the Constitutional Republic is predicated upon the view of the government as subservient to the people – not “the will of the people” (as in pure democracy) but the innate individual rights of the people, as defined in a Constitution and (3) pure democracy, rightly derided by Ben Franklin as “Four wolves and sheep deciding on what’s for dinner.” Pure democracy unleashes the WORST possible abuse – the unbridled tyranny of the majority.

The ONLY system that could be potentially worse than that of the most miserable tyrannical despot is a pure democracy. It was pure democracy that brought down the Roman Empire.

Saying all that, without question, some dictatorships, some totalitarian regimes are better (at least in terms of the overall quality of life of the people) than others. Those tend to be those that respect individual property rights AND economic freedom/Liberty. Of course, those also tend to be few and far between, for exactly that reason. So, market-based totalitarianism, like that under Pinochet, Suharto and to a lesser, but still viable extent, Mussolini and Franco have proven preferable in terms of LESS overall deprivation and suffering and less violence toward the people (even dissenters, than have Leftist or Marxist totalitarian regimes such as Hitler’s, Mao’s, Pol Pot’s and Stalin’s.

Economic freedom doesn’t only LEAD to other freedoms, ALL other freedoms evolve FROM economic liberty, for without the right to OWN property, the people become property – “the property of the state.”

Freedom is NOT “the right or ability to do what we like” – THAT is license.

Freedom is individual Liberty, which is self-ownership – which carries with it the DUTY of self-defense, the right to own and the duty to upkeep and better one’s property and to be self responsible for making one’s own way in the world.

Economic freedom is, in essence, the right to CREATE (art, businesses, professional skills, etc.) and to market those creations for “what the market will bear.” ALL other freedoms evolve from the foundation that is economic freedom.

Freedom/Liberty is innately disproportionate and “unfair” because life is unfair.

Life is unfair because all people are born into this world with differing and varying talents, abilities and ambitions, BUT history has shown us that those societies that allow for the unfettered interplay between individuals, between the strong and the weak, the creative and non-creative, do far better, in terms of both overall quality of life and faster and more widespread economic and social development.

As for China, many Americans seem to still hold onto a 1980s mindset on that nation.
Mark Leonard, the Executive Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations has said, “The [1989 Tiananmen Square uprising] was an absolutely seminal time in China's political and intellectual development. In the west what we saw was a group of students longing to join the west and overthrow the socialist economic and political system.

"What is very interesting about the Chinese intellectuals now, is the revisionist account of what was happening in 1989. In many ways it was the moment when the reformist camp split in two.

“One group, mainly students, wanted to join the west, looking for political and economic reforms and another group [was] workers, trade unionists whose reasons for coming to the square were very different. They were protesting the economic reforms that had taken place within China that had caused hyper-inflation, that had made their lives a lot tougher.

“After the protest, when the government cracked down on the protesters, people went into exile, into prison, and you saw the reformist camp split. On the one hand you had a group of people who wanted to continue the economic reform and saw that as the absolute priority for China. They were mainly economists and people who had been very influential in the decade before Tiananmen Square. Many people talk about the ‘80s and ‘90s as 'The Dictatorship of the Economist'.

“[The other] group [was] quite aware of the social damage and environmental destruction that this economic growth was causing in China. They wanted a different kind of capitalism, one that was gentler, better able to deliver to the people at the bottom and less disrespectful of the environment.

“While the new right - sort of the Chinese equivalent of the aficionados of Reaganomics - have been willing to make political compromise in order to drive economic reform, the new left - who look more like social democrats - tend to be less willing, partly because they think the only way the state will be able to take on the vested interest of capital, is [with] greater political liberalization. If not, the interest of corrupted leaders will always win out over the interest of the mass of people.

How do you treat society as a whole and open it up in steps towards democracy?

“This debate about what model of capitalism China should have -- an embrace of the market [or] charting a more distinctive Chinese cause -- is mirrored in the political realm as well.

“A famous political scientist, who is supposed to be close to the Chinese president, has gathered all sorts of experiments in grass roots democracy; elections on the local level, villages, townships, even experiments within the Communist party.

“In China I went to a township in Sichuan Province where all of the township party sections were elected by their members. The group says elections have nothing going for them, from the Chinese perspective; they won't solve any of the problems that China faces. They believe China would be much better going for greater rule of law and supplementing that with different ways of finding out what the public wants. They talk about using focus groups, using opinion polls, using public consultations.”

See also: Ted Koppel’s The People’s Republic of Capitalism

The irony here is that while China is moving toward MORE economic Liberty and more political freedoms, the U.S. and Western Europe are moving away from that legacy.

In Sweden Leftists, Neo-Nazis and Islamo-Nazis Routinely March in UNISON...

A GREAT blogger from Sweden, Pela68 (gummihund - referenced an excellent piece in the Weekly Standard entitled, Welcome to Ramallmo.

The article started, “ "This is how it was last time too," said a Holocaust survivor, when she was escorted from Malmö's main square by the police. "We had to leave the square, while they got to stay."

"On January 27th, it had been almost a month since the Israeli military operation Cast Lead was launched in Gaza. A couple of hundred people, mostly Jews, had gathered in Sweden's third largest city, Malmö, to show their support for Israel. Their slogans--"Israel's right to self defense" and "Compassion with all civilian victims"--were met with shouts of "Sieg Heil" and "Damn Jews" by a group of mainly Arab and left-wing counter protesters. Stones, eggs, and bottles were thrown, and when a home-made bomb was fired at the Jewish group police finally decided to evacuate. The pro-Israeli protesters fled, while children ran after them with cell phones to report back into the crowd where the Jews were heading...”

But most compelling, at least to me, as an American, was the composition of the protests. Left-wing extremists, marched proudly along side European neo-Nazis and Islamo-Nazis, which is appropriate, given they share the SAME basic ideological viewpoint.

“...Last Saturday, roughly a month after the mob met Jews off Malmö's main square, the city was again shaken by riots. Seven thousand activists gathered to stop a Davis Cup match between Sweden and Israel, and the demonstration march was also a manifestation of the ideological confusion that has become the trademark of the Swedish pro-Palestinian movement. Hamas flags and headbands could be spotted next to banners supporting communist groups and feminist causes...”

“...The protesters were met by the largest Swedish riot squad since the anti-globalization riots convulsed the city of Gothenburg in 2001. In order to take on radical Islamists, left-wing extremists, and a small group of neo-Nazis that had
announced that they too wanted to show their resentment toward Israel, the Swedish police prepared with 1,000 officers, helicopters, police vehicles on loan from neighboring Denmark, and a platoon of "dialogue officers." Dressed in yellow vests, the specially educated dialogue police officers were on hand to sooth the violent extremists. But despite the preparation, the police could not prevent rioting.

“On their end, left-wing Swedish politicians worked to grant legitimacy to the protests.”

As Pela wisely noted, it’s “Funny how the extreme left (including the nazis and the Islamo-nazis) always walk hand in hand, sometimes saying they are anti-fascists while having opted for a fascist ideology and using fascist violent methods to get their message out!”

Yes, it IS “funny” in a sought of ironic kind of way.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Real Agenda of the Left...

What's most pathetic about dopes like the nitwit with the "Imperialist America is the #1 Enemy of Humanity" sign, is that they are dupes to a heinous, feudalistic agenda.

There are very wealthy people here and in Europe who very much DISLIKE the idea of an open market where all are free to compete and very much LIKE the idea of feudalism, where the wealthy/nobles lord over a mass of serfs.

THAT'S the ONLY alternative to the economic liberty of the market-based economy - economic and political FEUDALISM.

The sight of would-be serfs campaigning for their own indentured servitude is one of the most disgusting things I can think of.
H/T to Angel @ WomanHonorThyself ( for the GREAT Pic!
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