Thursday, April 30, 2009

How false Leftist assumptions about race are destroying America

One of my fellow psychologists speaks out about the way accusations of "racism" destroy rational thought and damage the future of American young people. I recycle his whole post below. See the original for links. I am glad I am not the only one willing to speak truth to power.

There are a few simple rules one must follow when talking about race. One must carefully adhere to the position that any inequality between Whites and Asians in which Hispanics and Blacks et al fare poorly must be explained as caused by racism or the legacy of racism while any inequality that favors Blacks and Hispanics must be studiously ignored. Without considering whether the disparity is caused by Nature (genetics, constitution) or Nurture (parenting, community standards, culture) it is clear, but dangerous to one's career for a White person to point out, that Blacks tend to be better athletes than Whites. (It is unexceptional for Charles Barkley to quip that "white men can't jump" but for a White commentator to make a similar point is to risk social opprobrium or worse.)

There is a high cost associated with our inability to speak honestly about race. Several recent examples come to mind.

Part of the reason for the financial collapse and our current recession is that people were given mortgages for over-priced properties that they had no real hope of ever being able to support. A majority of such mortgages were in four "sand states" (Florida, Arizona, Nevada, California.) As Steve Sailor has pointed out, there is something besides sand which these states have in common:
... the bubble was worse in Florida and California than in Georgia and Indiana. In the sand states in the fall of 2006, there were still Greater Fools around who believed that Hispanicization meant an unending increase in home values. The idea never gets fully articulated -- are home prices high because Hispanics can pay high prices? Or are home prices high because non-Hispanics are desperately paying high home prices to get their kids away from public schools full of Hispanics? When you spell out the logical alternatives, neither one sounds terribly sustainable, but the point is that political correctness keeps people from thinking it through. Young Wall Streeters just all emotionally believed Diversity = Goodness = Money.

It's one of those ideas -- that a constant influx of Hispanics meant ever growing property values -- that people get in their heads vaguely, but aren't allowed to interrogate under our reigning worldview and our reigning EEOC regulations, under which Malcolm Gladwell makes a fortune and Charles Murray makes nothing lecturing corporations.

For those with short memories, it is worth recalling that the impetus for the development of exotic mortgage products included the need to hide (and deny) the risk associated with changing lending standards for minorities, who had been "red lined" by racist banks and thus were unfairly denied homes. If we remain mute and in denial of this unfortunate fact, we will find ways to replicate the current disaster. In other words if we understand the disparity in home ownership as being based solely on racism rather than as a multi-factorial, complex array of inputs that eventuate in higher default rates for minorities than Whites or Asians, our "cure" for the financial meltdown will necessarily include the seeds of the next meltdown.

A second area where our denial distorts our social and economic functioning is on display at the Supreme Court. The New York Times offers a classic example of the kind of Mobius strip thinking required to support the insistence that discrimination is the only acceptable discourse to explain the disparity between White and Minority functioning:
A Bad Test

New Haven’s Fire Department administered an exam in 2003 for promotion to captain and lieutenant. A significant number of the 118 firefighters who took the test were black and Hispanic, but their pass rates were far lower than those of the white firefighters who took the test. If the Fire Department had promoted based on the test, two Hispanics and no blacks would have been eligible for the seven open captain positions. No Hispanics or blacks would have been eligible for the eight lieutenant positions.

Faced with a test that had such a strong adverse impact on minority applicants, New Haven decided to throw out the results and leave the supervisory positions open. In their lawsuit, the white firefighters insist that there was nothing wrong with the exam. They argue that the city’s refusal to rely on it was an unconstitutional race-based decision, motivated by a preference for promoting minority firefighters over white firefighters.

New Haven was in a bind once the results came in. If it had used the tests to make promotions, it would have opened itself up to a lawsuit by minority firefighters. When it decided not to use the results, it was sued by white firefighters....

New Haven still bears a good share of the blame for what has gone wrong. With all of the research that has been done on employment testing, it should have had a carefully constructed system for evaluating potential supervisors that could withstand a legal challenge.

The firefighters who took time out of their lives to study, did well on the test and then had their hard work nullified are right to feel as if they were treated badly. It does not mean that they should prevail. New Haven set aside the test results not to discriminate on the basis of race, but in a reasonable effort to avoid discriminating.

Is that clear? Since we cannot tolerate the idea that there might be an objective reality behind the disparity of results, we must discriminate, without calling it discrimination, against the White firemen and leave New Haven for the last five years with a more carefully selected (ie, diverse) set of temporary lieutenants, results be damned!

The sorry fact is that there is an entire industry that has sprung up that for forty years has attempted to create tests that will lead to equal outcomes between Minorities and Whites. The unspeakable secret is that whatever test has been devised, even those that are least reliant on language and those sub-tests that maximize Minority strengths, have consistently found that Whites and Asians out-perform Blacks and Hispanics. This has led to a third problem, the insistence on producing equality of results means that the upper limits of tests must be shifted downward; ie, we are dumbing down our society from top to bottom.

In the style that he has parlayed into a lucrative sinecure at the New York Times (though who knows for how much longer), Tom Friedman discusses the failure of our educational establishment to prepare our children for the modern world, and in his inimitable fashion manages to assume the critical rule without noticing how it impacts his argument:
Swimming Without a Suit

Just a quick review: In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. dominated the world in K-12 education. We also dominated economically. In the 1970s and 1980s, we still had a lead, albeit smaller, in educating our population through secondary school, and America continued to lead the world economically, albeit with other big economies, like China, closing in. Today, we have fallen behind in both per capita high school graduates and their quality. Consequences to follow.

For instance, in the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment that measured the applied learning and problem-solving skills of 15-year-olds in 30 industrialized countries, the U.S. ranked 25th out of the 30 in math and 24th in science. That put our average youth on par with those from Portugal and the Slovak Republic, “rather than with students in countries that are more relevant competitors for service-sector and high-value jobs, like Canada, the Netherlands, Korea, and Australia,” McKinsey noted.

Actually, our fourth-graders compare well on such global tests with, say, Singapore. But our high school kids really lag, which means that “the longer American children are in school, the worse they perform compared to their international peers,” said McKinsey. [Emphasis mine-SW]

There are millions of kids who are in modern suburban schools “who don’t realize how far behind they are,” said Matt Miller, one of the authors. “They are being prepared for $12-an-hour jobs — not $40 to $50 an hour.” .....

Using an economic model created for this study, McKinsey showed how much those gaps are costing us. Suppose, it noted, “that in the 15 years after the 1983 report ‘A Nation at Risk’ sounded the alarm about the ‘rising tide of mediocrity’ in American education,” the U.S. had lifted lagging student achievement to higher benchmarks of performance? What would have happened?

The answer, says McKinsey: If America had closed the international achievement gap between 1983 and 1998 and had raised its performance to the level of such nations as Finland and South Korea, United States G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $1.3 trillion and $2.3 trillion higher. If we had closed the racial achievement gap and black and Latino student performance had caught up with that of white students by 1998, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $310 billion and $525 billion higher. If the gap between low-income students and the rest had been narrowed, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been $400 billion to $670 billion higher.

It is easy to talk about closing the educational achievement gap but incredibly stupid to refuse to question the conventional wisdom as to the cause of the gap. It is quite literally unthinkable for Tom Friedman to consider that the educational achievement gap between Whites and Asians versus Blacks and Hispanics, might actually reflect an underlying reality rather than that our schools are subtly racist. Further, the failure to recognize that among the many reasons our students do worse the longer they stay in school is precisely because we must expect less and less from them in order to minimize that gap, is unconscionable.

Again, it matters not for the purposes of understanding our problem whether the gap between Whites and Asians versus Hispanic and Blacks is cultural, constitutional, or some as yet unidentified element of the ether. Further, is doesn't even matter if the gap is, in fact, caused by residual racism. The denial of the gap, the denial that the gap persists despite 30 years and counting of efforts to address the gap with mountains of money and good intentions, is destroying our educational system.

In 8th grade, my daughter, an avid reader, was offered a list of intriguing books by her Honors English teacher. When Mrs. SW met the teacher and asked why these books were no longer on the standard reading list for 8th grade Honors English, she as told sotto voce that the distinct no longer allowed her to include such challenging books for her 8th graders because too many children could not do the work. If that is not the definition of "dumbing down", what is?

The gap exists; the gap in performance is predictive of success or lack thereof, in academic pursuits. Our need to deny the evidence before our eyes is burdening our society with the equivalent of adding epicycles to Ptolemaic cosmology. The system of discrimination to repair the effects of discrimination without allowing the awareness of the new reverse discrimination, just becomes more and more cumbersome until it collapses of its own internal contradictions. Beyond everything else, when our efforts to resolve the problem has still not shown any progress in over 40 years of social engineering, it is time to consider whether or not our assumptions are accurate and warranted.



Fox drops Obama, but is that a big deal?

Yes, it looks bad. Fox announced earlier today that it would not carry Barack Obama's prime-time press conference on Wednesday, opting to air Lie to Me instead. Now, it is rare for a network to tell a president "no,” but before we accuse Fox of political bias, greed, or abandoning civic responsibility, we should take a look at the record on presidential interruptions -- for all networks. In that light, Fox’s decision seems a lot less menacing.

The problem Fox faces is one of perception. Most viewers tend to think of the network as conservative, and think that FoxNews, home of Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity , slants pro-GOP. (MSNBC, by contrast, is widely thought to support Democrats). Plus, Fox was the only network not to air the Democratic response to then-President Bush’s address on Iraq in 2007. Add all that up and it looks like the network simply didn’t want to dish out any of its precious sweeps time to the Democrat in the White House. The thing is, it only looks that way.

For one thing, Obama is not the first president snubbed by Fox. The network didn’t air a 2001 speech by Pres. Bush, then took the same tack three years later, joining all networks in declining to air Bush’s May 2004 speech on Iraq. What aired instead? Fear Factor...on NBC. Plus, if we’re really getting specific, Fox didn’t air two of the 2000 presidential debates, and ABC was the only network that didn’t air then-candidate Obama’s campaign infomercial.

So is it just the almighty dollar, then? Is Fox putting the Tim Roth procedural, Lie to Me (currently trying to attract sweeps dollars even though its ratings are trending downward), ahead of the civic good? Perhaps. But a Fox insider points out that the network typically comes in dead last in the ratings when it airs presidential interruptions (even coming in behind FoxNews most of the time), largely because Fox has no internal news division. There’s no Katie Couric or Brian Williams offering analysis or talking to pundits -- which is why most viewers turn to ABC, NBC, CBS, or the cable news outlets whenever the president invades primetime. And let’s face it, this president seems to enjoy interrupting our favorite shows, having already had three previous addresses/press conferences (and pre-empting Lie to Me before).

But we are in a recession. And two wars. And now we’re all freaked about swine flu. So yes, it would be nice if all the networks carried the president’s press conference. (We should note that an insider says Fox's decision is not a signal from new network chief Peter Rice that Fox will abandon the president indefinitely.) It would also be nice if we all watched, but that doesn’t happen either. Unless and until all of us would rather hear what’s going on with the nation than watch Lie to Me, maybe we should cut Fox just a bit of slack.


This swine flu scare is just another media-created panic anyway. It is now reported that there were only 7 cases in Mexico and other reports indicate that the mortality rate is similar to "normal" flu. And antivirals help cure it, with Relenza being best, I believe



British reservists to be trained for quick move to front line: "The Territorial Army is to be overhauled so that it can be deployed overseas more quickly, the Ministry of Defence has announced, a recognition of the military’s growing dependence on reservists in the war in Afghanistan. News of the overhaul came after months of speculation that the reserve force would be cut drastically to make savings in the defence budget. Bob Ainsworth, the Armed Forces Minister, told Parliament yesterday that there would be no drop in numbers, but that reservists would be relieved of “burdensome training that they don’t really need to do”, making them ready for deployment within three years. About 18,000 of Britain’s 33,000 active reservists have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003 and reservists make up 8 per cent of Forces deployed in theatre".

Britain upstaged by Poland: "Gordon Brown's attempt to put the economic misery of Britain behind him on a whistle-stop world tour were stymied today when Poland's Prime Minister embarrassed him with a lecture on the perils of excessive public borrowing and culture of debt. Speaking after a breakfast meeting between the two leaders in Warsaw, Donald Tusk, the Polish premier said that while he did not want to comment on any other economy, the Poles had fared so well because they behaved with "full responsibility in terms of their deficit". While Britain is struggling to cope with the effect of three quarters of economic contraction, Poland is basking in 12 years of consecutive, uninterrupted growth. With Mr Brown standing next to him, Mr Tusk said that one of the main reasons Poland has so far managed to avoid the ravages of the credit crisis was because Warsaw had "efficient supervision to banks and sticking to the rules.... not exaggerating with living on credit. These are the most certain ways of avoiding [the consequences] of financial crisis."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Congratulations to all Israelis on their independence day

Their return to the land of their fathers is a modern miracle and their achievements are a beacon of light amid the stygian darkness of the Muslim lands that border them.

Welcome back Punditarian!

Consider this statement: "School bullies are inadequate people who endeavour to compensate for their own inadequacies by attacking vulnerable fellow-students".

Is there anything wrong with that statement? I don't think there is. But whether it is right or wrong, note what it does. It explains bullying by referring to two things: The characteristics of the bully ("inadequate") and the characteristics of the victim ("vulnerable"). And the entire social science discipline of Victimology does that. It sees victimization as an interaction between the characteristics of the victim and characteristics of the victimizer. And, being myself a social scientist I tend to look at human relations generally that way: as an interaction between different parties in different positions.

But here come the tricky bit: I do that when I speak of Jews too. I am the madman who thinks I am entitled to treat Jews like any other group and expect them to have both strengths and weaknesses. And you will see that I do that even in my side column. On the one hand I speak of Jews as being "the best we've got" and on the other I describe Jews in general as being politically stupid. And when I look at why Jews are persecuted and hated, I take into account vulnerabilities in Jews that might be one side of the explanation for the phenomenon. I think there is no doubt that doing that is good social science but it is of course politically perilous.

Which is where Punditarian comes in. He and I have engaged in dialogue about Jews several times and it has always been a civil and enjoyable exploration of the facts. He is himself one of the NY Ashkenazim so he does well to talk civilly with someone who tends to put him on the defensive. Jews are used to ignorant criticism but fact-based criticism from Goyim is normally beyond their experience. Jewish criticism of one-another is however a torrent. One only has to read the Israeli press to see that. Israelis who do their best to undermine Israel are appallingly common.

I recently put up a post about the role of high drive in both Jewish success and antagonism twoards Jews and Punditarian has just responded to that. I reproduce his comment:
"You are making a very old mistake, of seeking in some feature of the Jew the reasons for his persecution. Jew-hatred comes first, however, and the reasons the Jew-haters give come after.

While it may be true that the Ashkenazi Jews are a couple of standard-deviations [actually about half a standard deviation -- JR] more intelligent than the populations surrounding them, and that they may have an energy or drive that the surrounding populations seem to have lost, the Mizrachi or Eastern Jews in the Arab and Muslim countries were hated by the people around them, despite the fact that they don't test out with such substantially higher IQ results, and were not more prominent in their countries than other members of the middle and merchant classes.

I think my preamble about bullying etc. has adequately answered his first point so I will go straight to his point about the Mizrahim. He is quite right in saying that in IQ and in other characteristics the Mizrahim are not readily distinguishable from the Muslims among who they resided for many centuries. He is also right that they were oppressed by the Muslims. But were they any more oppressed than were the Christians living in Muslim lands? Not notably as far as I know. Muslims oppressed ALL "infidels". Mohammed during his early conquests did slaughter Jewish communities whom he thought stood in the way of his plans so The Koran in fact offered ample warrant for a holocaust against the Jews. But there was no holocaust. So I think that what Mizrahi Jews suffered was because they were kuffars (non-Muslims), not because they were Jews as such.

So I think the experience of the Mizrahim is quite dissimilar to the experience of the Ashkenazim and leaves the fate of the Ashkenazim in need of an explanation which considers just them and their experience. And I try to do that.

I might add that I do NOT go along with the story of a "golden age" for the Jews under the Moorish (Muslim) rulers of Spain. The Moors discriminated against Jews as much as did other Muslims. The grain of truth in the myth is that the Muslims were at least better than the Catholics -- who expelled all Jews from Spain once they had conquered the Moors.

It is always tempting to see deep similarities where there are only superficial similarities. In 1290 a Catholic King of England -- Edward I -- expelled all Jews from England too. That seems like pretty good comparability with Spain but it is not. The Spanish expulsion was motivated by religious fanaticism whereas Edward was mainly aiming at dodging his debts. The superficial similarity is there but the explanation is different.



Evening Newscasts Have Covered Obama More Than Bush & Clinton Combined: "The nonpartisan research group Center for Media and Public Affairs along with California's Chapman University released a study that found the nightly newscasts devoted 27 hours, 44 minutes to Pres. Obama's presidency in his first 50 days. That compares to 7 hours, 42 minutes for Pres. George W. Bush and 15 hours, 2 minutes for Pres. Bill Clinton during the first 50 days of their first terms. Not only has Obama gotten more coverage, but that coverage has been more positive than his predecessors. On the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening newscasts, 58% of all evaluations of the president and his policies have been favorable, while 42% were unfavorable. That compares with 33% positive in the comparable period of Bush's tenure and 44% positive for Pres. Clinton. CBS led the coverage with 365 stories and 10 hours 46 minutes of airtime, followed by NBC with 327 stories and 9 hours 38 minutes, and ABC with 329 stories and 7 hours 20 minutes. But Fox News stands apart from its competitors here - only 13% of comments were considered favorable. On ABC, 57% of the comments were favorable, compared to 58% for CBS and 61% for NBC.

Taxachusetts still in business: "House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo today plans to push a 1.25 percent sales tax increase, which would bring the state’s 5 percent sales tax to 6.25 percent, and bring in an estimated $900 million in new revenue. He wants to dedicate about $275 million to transportation — a maneuver designed to avoid increasing the state’s gas tax, as Governor Deval Patrick has proposed, according to a State House source briefed on the plan and a briefing document obtained by the Globe. Patrick has proposed a 19-cent increase in the gas tax, which would raise nearly double the amount for transportation that DeLeo’s plan would. DeLeo also wants to dedicate $200 million to restoring cuts in local aid.”

DC: Driveways now a no parking zone: “Beverly Anderson is mad as hell. She just started to get tickets for parking in her own driveway. That’s right. The District of Columbia is ticketing people who park their cars in their own driveways. ‘This is clearly an attempt by the city to extort money out of property owners,’ Anderson tells WTOP. Anderson has received two of the $20 tickets in the past month. Anderson has owned the Capitol Hill house (and the driveway, so she thought) for more than ten years and has never gotten a ticket. And she’s not alone. It seems Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has also been breaking the law in the eyes of the D.C. Department of Public Works.”

The victory of the emotions: “While I agreed with many of their positions, in retrospect the anti-Bush movement was poisonous to the level of discourse in this country. At the time, I thought it was healthy for citizens to be vocal and active critics of the powerful. But millions of people, most of them my generational and cultural peers, became accustomed to viewing their political opponents as evil idiots. The battle lines drawn, they are incapable of thinking through a policy issue for themselves, adopting valid ideas from political movements other than their own, or perceiving a debate with a viewpoint uncolored by rank partisanship. Their politics reside at an unfortunate intersection of boring group-think and dangerous, assertive self-righteousness. Moreover, the fanaticism of the anti-Bush movement fueled the emotional, messianic campaign of Barack Obama, whose Presidency has wiped out any remaining impulse to be critical of power.”

Is Pelosi a war criminal?: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — then the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — was briefed on CIA interrogation techniques including waterboarding when they were begun in 2002. She was among the ‘Big Eight’ present at the briefings — the Senate and House leaders and chairmen and ranking members on both intelligence committees. … what if Pelosi and the other Democrats had objected? [US Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO)] told me in a Friday interview that, ‘We know that when we object to planned activities by the CIA, they don’t do it.’”

Continuing attacks on the Georgian leadership: "The already embattled Georgian President Mikheil ‘Misha’ Saakashvili’s ill-fortunes don’t seem to be improving. In late March, Der Spiegel published a damning account of the yet-unreleased findings of the EU inquiry into the brief August war between Georgia and Russia. In short, the article places blame for the conflict most heavily upon the Georgian leadership, particularly Saakashvili. Paired with the PR blow of the New York Times‘ open questioning of the Georgian account in early November, there is a shifting consensus of the narrative. However, like the Times article, the circumstances of the Spiegel piece provide context for doubt and showcases more framed innuendo than evidence.”

Washington to regulate your bake sale: “Informal production and distribution, from small farms and homes, were once not only common, but the backbone of everyday life. Today, there’s a revival of much of this, as people begin to realize that corporate practices have increasingly relied upon putting additives in foods and plastics in other products. I have sad news for locavores and other health food fans hoping to buck the trend of corporate practice: H.R. 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. This new bill, now worming its way through the corridors of Capitol Hill, would require anyone who stores or sells any food products to any third party to register with the federal government and keep extensive records about every product bought, produced, modified, or sold.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Milton Friedman co-worker Anna Schwartz on the present financial problems

Yet isn't Bernanke a disciple of Friedman and Schwartz? He publicly refers to them as mentors, and, thanks to their scientific breakthrough, he has famously declared that "the Great Depression will not happen again." Bernanke is right about the past, Schwartz says, "but he is fighting the wrong war today; the present crisis has nothing to do with a lack of liquidity." President Obama's stimulus is similarly irrelevant, she believes, since the crisis also has nothing to do with a lack of demand or investment. The credit crunch, which is the recession's actual cause, comes only from a lack of trust, argues Schwartz. Lenders aren't lending because they don't know who is solvent, and they can't know who is solvent because portfolios remain full of mortgage-backed securities and other toxic assets.

To rekindle the credit market, the banks must get rid of those toxic assets. That's why Schwartz supported, in principle, the Bush administration's first proposal for responding to the crisis--to buy bad assets from banks--though not, she emphasizes, while pricing those assets so generously as to prop up failed institutions. The administration abandoned its plan when it appeared too complicated to price the assets. Bernanke and then-Treasury secretary Henry Paulson subsequently shifted to recapitalizing the banks directly. "Doing so is shifting from trying to save the banking system to trying to save bankers, which is not the same thing," Schwartz says. "Ultimately, though, firms that made wrong decisions should fail. The market works better when wrong decisions are punished and good decisions make you rich." She's more sympathetic to Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner's plan, unveiled in March, to give private investors money to help them buy the toxic assets, but wonders if the Obama administration will continue to support the plan if the assets' prices turn out to be so low, once investors start bidding for them, that they threaten the banks.

What about "systemic risk"--much heard about these days to justify the government's massive intervention in the economy in recent months? Schwartz considers this an excuse for bankers to save their skins after making so many bad decisions. "The worst thing for a government to do, though, is to act without principles, to make ad hoc decisions, to do something one day and another thing tomorrow," she says. The market will respond positively only after the government begins to follow a steady, predictable course. To prove her point, Schwartz points out that nothing the government has done to date has really thawed credit.

Schwartz indicts Bernanke for fighting the wrong war. Could one turn the same accusation against her? Should we worry about inflation when some believe deflation to be the real enemy? "The risk of deflation is very much exaggerated," she answers. Inflation seems to her "unavoidable": the Federal Reserve is creating money with little restraint, while Treasury expenditures remain far in excess of revenue. The inflation spigot is thus wide open. To beat the coming inflation, a "new Paul Volcker will be needed at the head of the Federal Reserve."

Who listens to her these days? "I'm not a media person," she tells me. She rarely grants interviews, which distract her from her current research: a survey of government intervention in setting foreign exchange rates between 1962 and 1985. Never before have these data been combined to show what works and what doesn't. In her nineties, she remains a trendsetter.



Bullets meant for bankers could kill the British welfare state

Note: "The City" is shorthand for London's financial services district. But it is the people there, not the geography, that matters and Britain's new higher taxes seem set to drive many of them abroad

My first reaction to Wednesday’s Budget was to focus on the increase in the top tax rate, rather than the explosion in public borrowing that horrified other commentators. On examining the Budget documents in greater detail, I am more confident than ever that the tax rise was Alistair Darling’s biggest blunder; but I have to concede that some other decisions and numbers hidden in the small print were far worse than I first thought....

The eye-catching measure in this respect was the increase to 50 per cent in the top tax rate, but there were several equally damaging changes, mostly relating to pensions, in the fine print. In terms of Treasury revenues, these reforms are likely to be self-defeating, or at best, utterly futile.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, behavioural changes, such as changes in work patterns, relocations abroad and conversion of wages into corporate profits or capital gains, will mean that the Treasury raises much less than the £2 billion of revenue predicted. And even in the unlikely event that Mr Darling’s pre-election tax gesture did manage to raise the odd billion, these sums would be far too small to have any impact on public borrowing projections running at £150 billion to £200 billion a year...

Hopes of the quick improvement in UK economic conditions assumed by Treasury forecasts rely more than ever on maintaining the City’s role as the dominant centre of global financial and business services and on reviving the top end of the housing market. The Budget Red Book says the financial sector provided 25 per cent of the £47 billion in Britain’s total corporation tax before the recession, plus a “significant” proportion of income tax and national insurance receipts....

Yet the Budget tax measures seem deliberately designed to ensure that Britain’s financial and business service sectors never return to the global dominance they enjoyed... That, in turn, means that the growth of government revenues and the solvency of the British welfare state will depend largely on what happens to the international competitiveness of the financial sector. The logic of the Budget is simple: those who want to punish the bankers could end up destroying the welfare state.



Suspicions of staggering corruption surround GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt

O’Reilly: “Will GE get paid for supporting President Obama? GE, which owns MSNBC, has been very aggressive in helping Barack Obama.

O’Reilly: “There is also emerging evidence that GE CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, and NBC News Chief Jeff Zucker, told CNBC personnel to stop criticizing Obama’s economic policies. Now, that would be a major breach of journalistic ethics. In fact, Obama critic Rick Santelli was reported to have said that he was sent to a “Re-education camp” by NBC. “

An O’Reilly Factor producer and GE stockholder, Jesse Watters, asked GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt the following question at a stockholders’ meeting in Florida: “Last week on MSNBC, Janeane Garofalo, said that Americans who attended tea parties and were protesting high taxes and government spending were racist rednecks. She was not challenged by the anchor on MSNBC. Are you okay with that? And do you consider this a form of hate speech sir?”

Immelt’s response: “Again, we have not censored MSNBC. Again, my own personal beliefs aside, I believe that MSNBC has some standards that they follow and that’s what you are seeing.

Watters: With all due respect, this is the kind of hate that MSNBC traffics in on a regular basis. Are you comfortable with this and do you think this hurts the GE brand?

Immelt: I don’t censor what they do or what they say despite the fact that I might disagree with some of it or much of it, some of the time.

O’Reilly: “Most CEOs would have stopped NBC’s corruption a long time ago. But Immelt may be looking for a major payout. When a powerful corporation which controls a major part of the American media may be using its power and the airwaves to influence politics in order to make money from government contracts - That kind of corruption would make Watergate look small.”

TDC asks: Why would GE CEO Immelt put his own beliefs aside when GE owns MSNBC? He wouldn’t. However, he would choose to do nothing about this hate speech if he is trying to get into Obama’s good graces.




Drugs in Portugal: A decriminalization success story: “Pop quiz: Which European country has the most liberal drug laws? (Hint: It’s not the Netherlands.) Although its capital is notorious among stoners and college kids for marijuana haze–filled ‘coffee shops,’ Holland has never actually legalized cannabis — the Dutch simply don’t enforce their laws against the shops. The correct answer is Portugal, which in 2001 became the first European country to officially abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. At the recommendation of a national commission charged with addressing Portugal’s drug problem, jail time was replaced with the offer of therapy. The argument was that the fear of prison drives addicts underground and that incarceration is more expensive than treatment — so why not give drug addicts health services instead?”

Credit card folly: “By mandating that the credit card companies lower their fees, the government will severely hinder their tenuous profitability. In order to avoid bankruptcy, the companies will have to deny credit to marginal borrowers, which would reverse the ‘easy access’ policies that have defined the industry over the last generation.”

Strange idea in Nevada: "On a party-line vote, the Democrat-dominated Nevada Assembly on Tuesday backed a bill designed to neuter the 538-member Electoral College, guaranteeing the presidential candidate who wins the national popular plurality will always be declared president.The purpose of Assembly Bill 413 is to see to it that Nevada’s five electoral votes go to the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes nationwide, regardless of which candidates carries the majority of Nevadans."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Monday, April 27, 2009

Barack Obama and the CIA: why does President Pantywaist hate America so badly?

If al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the rest of the Looney Tunes brigade want to kick America to death, they had better move in quickly and grab a piece of the action before Barack Obama finishes the job himself. Never in the history of the United States has a president worked so actively against the interests of his own people - not even Jimmy Carter.

Obama's problem is that he does not know who the enemy is. To him, the enemy does not squat in caves in Waziristan, clutching automatic weapons and reciting the more militant verses from the Koran: instead, it sits around at tea parties in Kentucky quoting from the US Constitution. Obama is not at war with terrorists, but with his Republican fellow citizens. He has never abandoned the campaign trail.

That is why he opened Pandora's Box by publishing the Justice Department's legal opinions on waterboarding and other hardline interrogation techniques. He cynically subordinated the national interest to his partisan desire to embarrass the Republicans. Then he had to rush to Langley, Virginia to try to reassure a demoralised CIA that had just discovered the President of the United States was an even more formidable foe than al-Qaeda.

"Don't be discouraged by what's happened the last few weeks," he told intelligence officers. Is he kidding? Thanks to him, al-Qaeda knows the private interrogation techniques available to the US intelligence agencies and can train its operatives to withstand them - or would do so, if they had not already been outlawed.

So, next time a senior al-Qaeda hood is captured, all the CIA can do is ask him nicely if he would care to reveal when a major population centre is due to be hit by a terror spectacular, or which American city is about to be irradiated by a dirty bomb. Your view of this situation will be dictated by one simple criterion: whether or not you watched the people jumping from the twin towers.

Obama promised his CIA audience that nobody would be prosecuted for past actions. That has already been contradicted by leftist groups with a revanchist ambition to put Republicans, headed if possible by Condoleezza Rice, in the dock. Talk about playing party politics with national security. Martin Scheinin, the United Nations special investigator for human rights, claims that senior figures, including former vice president Dick Cheney, could face prosecution overseas. Ponder that - once you have got over the difficulty of locating the United Nations and human rights within the same dimension.

President Pantywaist Obama should have thought twice before sitting down to play poker with Dick Cheney. The former vice president believes documents have been selectively published and that releasing more will prove how effective the interrogation techniques were. Under Dubya's administration, there was no further atrocity on American soil after 9/11.

President Pantywaist's recent world tour, cosying up to all the bad guys, excited the ambitions of America's enemies. Here, they realised, is a sucker they can really take to the cleaners. His only enemies are fellow Americans. Which prompts the question: why does President Pantywaist hate America so badly?




GOP dumping a RINO: "Incumbent Senator Arlen Specter trails former Congressman Pat Toomey by 21 points in an early look at Pennsylvania's 2010 Republican Primary. Fifty-one percent (51%) of Republican voters statewide say they'd vote for Toomey while just 30% would support Specter. Specter is viewed favorably by 42% of Pennsylvania Republicans and unfavorably by 55%, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of voters in the state. Those are stunningly poor numbers for a long-term incumbent senator. Specter was first elected to the Senate in 1980. Toomey, who served in the House from 1999 to 2005, earns positive reviews from 66% and negative comments from just 19%. Though Specter has been in the Senate for 28 years, he has struggled to maintain grassroots support within his own party during recent years. Six years ago, the incumbent barely survived a primary challenge and defeated the more conservative Toomey by just two points, 51% to 49%. He then went on to win the general election in 2004 by a 53% to 42% margin. This time around, things could be even more challenging for Specter. He was one of only three Republicans in the Congress to vote for President Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Pennsylvania Republicans said they were less likely to vote for Specter because of his support for the stimulus package."

Presbyterians vote against queer clergy: "Efforts to allow gays and lesbians to serve as clergy in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have been defeated again, sealed by votes Saturday. But the margin of defeat -- the final tally has yet to be determined -- is already guaranteed to be much closer than in previous years. That is encouraging for gay clergy supporters and concerning to opponents, with both sides expecting the issue to be revisited in the future. Last summer, the 2.3 million-member denomination's General Assembly voted to drop a constitutional requirement that would-be ministers, deacons and elders live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." Any such change requires approval by a majority of the nation's 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies. Those votes have been trickling in for months, and on Saturday enough "no" votes had been recorded to clinch the measure's defeat."

Nuclear chief says Obama shuns science: "Nuclear Energy Institute President Marvin Fertel said Wednesday that the Obama administration did not base its decision to close the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage site in Nevada on science, and therefore it is the federal government's obligation to find an alternative. Speaking to editors and reporters of The Washington Times, Mr. Fertel said he does not think Mr. Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu even looked at the scientific research before they deemed Yucca unfit to serve as the permanent storage depot for used nuclear fuel, contradicting President Obama's promise to base his administration's decisions on sound science."

Mortgage relief faces Senate defeat: "The centerpiece of President Obama's plan to keep thousands of people from losing their homes amid the worst economic crisis in decades appears headed for defeat next week in the Senate. A handful of Democrats are siding with Republicans in opposition to allowing people to seek mortgage relief in bankruptcy court. Critics say the change would unleash a torrent of loan defaults, ultimately driving up mortgage rates and introducing fresh uncertainty into an already ailing economy. The rejection would deal a direct blow to a popular president as he pushes an ambitious agenda to stabilize the economy. The number of homes under threat of foreclosure by banks has shot up since last year, when 2.3 million U.S. households received foreclosure filings."

Typical: British spy loses secrets in a handbag: "A BRITISH agent has thrown the war against drug traffickers into chaos by leaving top secret information about covert operations on a bus in South America. In a blunder that has cost taxpayers millions of pounds and put scores of lives at risk, the drugs liaison officer lost a computer memory stick said to contain a list of undercover agents’ names and details of more than five years of intelligence work. It happened when the MI6-trained agent left her handbag on a transit coach at El Dorado airport in Bogota, Colombia. Intelligence chiefs were forced to wind up operations and relocate dozens of agents and informants amid fears the device could fall into the hands of drugs barons. The incident, which was hushed up by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), the agent’s employer, is an embarrassment for the government. It is another blow for Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, who has ultimate responsibility for Britain’s anti-drugs operations and the safeguarding of criminal intelligence."

We’re fleeing high-tax Britain, say City tycoons: "Two of Britain’s best known entrepreneurs are considering leaving Britain in protest against Alistair Darling’s new 50% tax rate, as leading figures from business and the City line up to warn of a talent exodus. Hugh Osmond, the pubs to insurance entrepreneur, is thinking about a move to Switzerland. Peter Hargreaves, the £10m-a-year co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown, the financial adviser, is looking at the Isle of Man or Monaco. More are likely to be follow. Osmond, whose net worth is estimated at £230m, said: “A lot of people will be off. It’s highly unlikely that I will continue to have the UK as my country of residence. It’s just as easy to work from any close location — Switzerland or wherever.” Hargreaves, facing an extra £500,000 on his tax bill, warned: “I won’t pay, I’ll leave.”

Commonwealth cousins prop up the British Army: "The British Army’s “foreign legion” of soldiers recruited abroad to fill its ranks has expanded to more than one in 10 of all troops. NonUK nationals now number about 10,430, just less than 11% of the army’s full-time troops, excluding reserves, according to new figures released under the Freedom of Information Act. Some nationalities have become so numerous that they could form their own units in the manner of the Nepalese Gurkhas. The number of Fijians has reached 2,110, the strength of a small brigade. Other nationalities such as Ghanaians and South Africans have also increased to 700-800 each, enough for a battalion apiece. Some fears have been voiced that burgeoning numbers of nonUK soldiers could foster a “mercenary” image, while other critics believe the armed forces’ British identity could be endangered... The army has now put a cap on the number of Commonwealth recruits in some units at 15% “in the interests of operational effectiveness”. The influx of foreigners has helped compensate for the army’s problems in retaining British-born soldiers. The number of Fijians in the forces as a whole has grown from just 10 in 1999 to 2,220 in January, the figures show. One attraction for the army is the Fijians’ prowess at rugby. Last year the army’s 12-man sevens squad included 10 Fijians and a South African. Its captain, Mark Lee, was the only British player."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Steady descent into third world

Opening a can of worms always tempts a mischief-maker, but it's risky business. That can of worms might turn out to be a can of snakes, like Barack Obama's latest gift to the nation.

The president's on-again, off-again, maybe-he-will and maybe-he-won't decision to punish someone who loosened tongues of Islamist terrorists at Guantanamo suddenly threatens not only the CIA interrogators and Justice Department lawyers, but even members of Congress. Maybe it won't stop there: if the lawyers who offered legal opinions are at risk of punishment for their legal advice, why not the members of Congress who knew what was going on? Why not the secretaries who typed up the transcripts? Why not the interns who fetched the coffee? All were accessories either before or after the fact.

We're on unfamiliar ground now. No president before has sought to punish his predecessor for policy decisions, no matter how wrong or wrong-headed. Lyndon B. Johnson's management of the Vietnam War was often ham-handed, as anyone who was there could tell you, and his policy makers sometimes verged on criminal incompetence. But Richard Nixon was never tempted to send LBJ or any of those presidential acolytes to prison. Abraham Lincoln, by his lights, would have had ample opportunity to hang Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, but even the rabid Republicans who survived the assassination stopped short of putting Davis in the dock, finally releasing him from imprisonment at Fort Monroe when judgment overcame lust for revenge. Lee was never touched.

Exacting revenge for unpopular policies is the norm in the third world, heretofore more likely in Barack Obama's ancestral Kenya than in America, more in the tradition of gangland Chicago than in Washington, where we count on cooler heads to prevail when raw emotion threatens to overwhelm sobriety and the undisciplined senses. We recall perceived national mistakes with the sadness of regret and even gratitude for lessons learned, not the frenzied catharsis of a St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Mr. Obama, having won the White House fair and square, is entitled to change any presidential policy he chooses, but the vindication of a national election does not entitle any president to exact mindless revenge.

The loquacious prince of Hyde Park should understand this, having eloquently sounded caution and reason on his inauguration as president, promising as he had during the long campaign to "look forward," not "backward." Rahm Emanuel, once described as the president's alter ego (if indeed such an outsized ego could have an "alter"), said as recently as Sunday that "it's not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back in any sense of anger and retribution."

This was in line with what the president had said all last summer when he was campaigning for the White House, what he had said on his inauguration, and in line with his oft-stated goal of restoring bipartisan civility and mutual goodwill to governing the country. Mr. Emanuel's reassurance was regarded in Washington as putting paid to an ugly era, an emphatic determination to "move on" to something close to national unity.

The president hadn't counted on the rage of the jackals on the leftmost fringe of his party, organizations like, which want only the "unity" of the lynch mob. They demand a hanging and the president promises only to think about it. Ever confident that his golden tongue, with or without the teleprompter, would mesmerize all foes and vanquish all rancor, Mr. Obama then threw George W. Bush's lawyers to the mob.

Perhaps the president imagines that nobody cares much about what happens to lawyers, but he has set in motion something neither he nor anyone else can control. Some of the Democrats in Congress, eager now to join the mob, will regret what they cry for. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, for one, was a member of the House intelligence committee and sat in on super-secret briefings after Sept. 11. She concedes that she heard about waterboarding but she doesn't remember exactly what she heard. Just like Barack Obama sleeping through 20 years of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's rabid sermons, Ms. Pelosi dozed through the briefings. Her colleagues on the intelligence panel say they remember her demanding that the CIA do more to get the "intelligence" to prevent another attack.

Republicans in the Senate, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are finally finding their voices. So is Joe Lieberman, a courageous Democrat. If we're going to have hangings, Ms. Pelosi may be at risk of becoming our most famous female hangee since Mary Surratt paid her debt at the end of a rope for hanging out with John Wilkes Booth.



Greatly Depressing

History is written by many people, but those who write government school textbooks tend to hold disproportionate sway. Sadly, their vision of America – which has driven conventional wisdom and popular opinion for decades – is built on many myths. The biggest myth of them all? That capitalism and our free market system caused the Great Depression – and that only a massive expansion of the federal government saved America from permanent economic ruin.

Nothing could be further from the truth – and yet as the true history of government meddling repeats itself all around us (with the direst of consequences for future generations), America seems incapable of learning from these mistakes for the simple reason that no one has ever taught them how destructive interventionism has been in the past and present.

Over a decade ago, Lawrence Reed of the Mackinac Center – a Michigan-based research and educational institute – penned an important analysis of the Great Depression. Written at the height of the dot-com boom (and shortly after President Bill Clinton told us that “the era of big government is over”) Reed’s treatise breaks the Depression down into sections and analyzes the cause and effect associated with each new development.

His conclusion? It’s a complete reversal of the textbook myth, an unflinchingly-candid, meticulously-documented proof that “government intervention worsened (the Depression) and kept the economy in a stupor for over a decade.” “The calamity that began in 1929 lasted at least three times longer than any of the country’s previous depressions because the government compounded its initial errors with a series of additional and harmful interventions,” Reed writes.

Anyone who follows things like money supply and interest rate adjustments knows that the Federal Reserve’s policies in the months leading up to the Great Crash of 1928 courted disaster. But it was the effect of government interventionism after the crash that did the real damage – which given the unprecedented $13 trillion intervention currently underway in our country should send shivers up and down every American’s spine.

Perhaps most importantly, Reed’s paper shatters once and for all the myth that President Herbert Hoover was the laissez-faire capitalist recalled by American textbooks. For starters, Hoover’s administration – with Congressional support – dramatically increased government spending from 16.4 percent to 21.5 of GNP in one year. Hoover also signed a foolhardy tariff that crippled trade, as well as the largest tax hike in American history in the spring if 1932. On top of that, during Hoover’s tenure the Federal Reserve imposed the biggest interest rate increase in its history. High tariffs, huge subsidies, deflationary monetary policy, tax increases – does that sound like a laissez-faire capitalist to you?

Ironically, Franklin Delano Roosevelt – whose New Deal policies were later revealed to have been taken straight out of Hoover’s playbook – won election by blasting his predecessor as “reckless and extravagant,” and presiding over “the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history.” Roosevelt, the “limited government” advocate, even bemoaned Hoover’s desire to “center control of everything in Washington.”

Obviously, Roosevelt flip-flopped after he was elected and put Hoover’s interventionist approach on steroids – much as President Barack Obama has done with the failed bailout mentality of his predecessor. The reality, though, is that none of these leaders differ all that much in their ideological approach to recession.

Now the question is this – does the big government approach work? Absolutely not. Prior to the Great Depression, no American recession had lasted longer than four years. Most were over in two. The Great Depression dragged on for nearly twelve years, however, with unemployment reaching as high as 25% at one point. And just as it is doing now, government over-taxed and over-regulated the economy the whole way through, starving it of desperately needed capital while consolidating frightening levels of power in Washington.

But that’s not the story told by government textbooks – just as it’s not the story that’s being told today by the America’s mainstream media. Politicians are relying on big government’s myth to make – and promote – some of the most monumentally foolhardy economic decisions in our nation’s history. Frankly, it’s past time that we started telling the truth about our past – and applying common sense to the future. The longer we wait, the deeper we dig the hole for future generations.




How a socialist government doesn't work: "More than four million Spanish people are out of work. According to the country's National Statistics Institute a record high figure of 17.4 per cent were unemployed in the first quarter of the year. Unemployment leapt from 13.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008, the biggest quarterly jump since 1976. Joblessness in Spain has almost doubled in a year. The Bank of Spain had previously forecast that unemployment would not surpass 17.1 per cent for the year. Alarmingly, 1,068,400 families have every member out of work. And as the dole queues lengthen, labour unrest is growing. Two hundred pickets yesterday picketed a shipyard in the Basque country to protest at the employment of cheap Romanian and Portuguese workers that is threatening the jobs of 1,100 local workers."

Tony Blair opposes new 50 pence tax rate for high earners: "Tony Blair believes the new 50 per cent top rate of income tax introduced by Gordon Brown is a "terrible mistake". The former Prime Minister has privately expressed his despair at the Labour government's decision to target the wealthy in the Budget. Some of the leading architects of New Labour have also savaged the move, which they believe has cost Labour any hope of winning the general election. The revelation that Mr Blair has privately indicated his opposition to the headline 50 pence tax rate for people earning over £150,000 will cause consternation in Downing Street. One of Mr Blair's closest allies said: "The 50p tax move is a disaster. Blair would have cut taxes, not increased them." The hostile public reaction to the Budget, which signalled a return to the politics of class warfare, has intensified speculation that Mr Brown could face a leadership challenge. The mood of despair among Labour MPs deepened after figures published yesterday showed the economy contracted far more sharply in the first quarter than the Chancellor Alistair Darling predicted in his Budget statement only two days earlier."

The British police State: "Every phone call, email or website visit will be monitored by the state under plans to be unveiled next week. The proposals will give police and security services the power to snoop on every single communication made by the public with the data then likely to be stored in an enormous national database. The precise content of calls and other communications would not be accessible but even text messages and visits to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter would be tracked. The move has alarmed civil liberty campaigners, and the country's data protection watchdog last night warned the proposals would be "unacceptable". Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, will argue the powers are needed to target terrorists and serious criminals who are taking advantage of the increasing complex nature of communications to plot atrocities and crimes."

Legion leader accepts apology from Napolitano: "More apologies came from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Friday during and after a meeting with the commander of the American Legion about the disparaging language in a security assessment that suggested returning troops from Iraq or Afghanistan could be recruited for "right-wing" domestic terrorist attacks. "We connected meaningfully about the important issues that have emerged over recent days, and I offered him my sincere apologies for any offense to our veterans caused by this report," Ms. Napolitano said. "I pledge that the department has fixed the internal process that allowed this document to be released before it was ready." David K. Rehbein, commander of the veterans group, told Fox News he has forgiven the department for the report, but he will not forget it happened. "[Ms. Napolitano] said the report was not worthy of the department or the veterans of this country," Mr. Rehbein said."

NYT demise coming: "The nation's largest left-wing newspaper and the bible for network news producers and bookers may be going under. This week, The New York Times announced more staggering losses: nearly $75 million dollars in the first quarter alone. The New York Post is reporting that the Times Company owes more than $1 billion and has just $34 million in the bank. A few months ago, the company borrowed $250 million from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim at a reported 14 percent interest rate. With things going south fast, pardon the pun, Slim might want to put in a call to Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. The problem is that under Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller, the Times has gone crazy left, attacking those with whom the paper disagrees and demonstrating a hatred for conservatives (particularly President Bush) that is almost pathological. That unfair and unbalanced approach has alienated a large number of readers and advertisers. According to a recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll, 46 percent of Americans define themselves as conservative. Just 34 percent say they are liberal. In this very intense marketplace, insulting half the country on a daily basis may not be a great business plan. The New York Times is most definitely a committed left-wing concern that is openly contemptuous of the conservative, traditional point of view. That is the primary reason the paper may soon dissolve. And all the cash in Carlos Slim's fat wallet is not going to change that."

Obama's Iraq Policy and a Surge of Violence: "On Thursday, Iraq suffered its worst death toll on a single day since the start of U.S. engagement there; 80 people perished after the supposed capture of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, al-Qaeda in Iraq’s leader and one of Iraq’s most wanted men. On Friday, there was another attack almost as deadly; 60 people died and 125 were injured when two suicide bombers attacked a Shia mosque in Baghdad. This upswing in violence comes on the heels of Obama’s new policies in the Middle East, which call for a phased withdrawal from Iraq starting this summer and lasting until 2011. An upswing in violence is almost certainly related to Obama’s adjustments in troop numbers"

Germany's slump risks 'explosive' mood: "A clutch of political and labour leaders in Germany have raised the spectre of civil unrest after the country's leading institutes forecast a 6pc contraction of gross domestic product this year, a slump reminiscent of 1931 and bad enough to drive unemployment to 4.7m by 2010. Michael Sommer, leader of the DGB trade union federation, called the latest wave of sackings a "declaration of war" against Germany's workers. "Social unrest can no longer be ruled out," he said. Gesine Swann, presidential candidate for the Social Democrats, said "the mood could turn explosive" over the next three months unless the government takes drastic action. While authorities have belatedly agreed to create a "bad bank" to absorb toxic loans and stabilise the credit system, further financial troubles are almost certainly in the pipeline. Swiss risk advisers Independent Credit View said a "second wave" of debt stress is likely to hit the UK and Europe this year as the turmoil moves from mortgage securities to old-fashioned bank loans"


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Saturday, April 25, 2009

ANZAC day today

Australia's most solemn day of commemoration

Another small meditation on antisemitism

I can't help myself, can I? I can't leave Die Judenfrage alone. I can never quite free myself from the dangerous delusion that my goodwill towards Israel in particular and Jews generally should permit me to speak freely about why I think Jews have the horrendous problems that they do have.

There has been much said about Ashkenazi IQ and I think that there is no doubt about a substantial Ashkenazi advantage in that regard. Much less noted is something that I think is equally important: High Ashkenazi drive. By that I mean motivation to "succeed" in various ways. And the combination of high drive and high IQ does put Ashkenazim into society's prestigious positions with great frequency -- a frequency which enraged Hitler and has enraged many others before and since.

It would be easy to say that the drive to succeed and grow rich is a natural response to persecution: Because of their horrendous past, Jews feel a need to "make up" for that past somehow or protect themselves in the event of a new Pogrom. And I think there must be an element of that. But I think, for what it is worth, that there is a genetic component too. There is plenty of evidence that personality is strongly inherited genetically so that is a fairly safe conclusion. The environmental influences that selected for high IQ could well have selected for high drive too. Jews should be brimming over with energy, and I think many are, from what I see.

What I now want to ask is whether that drive is safe. How do other people respond to finding that large numbers of people in positions of influence in their society are Jewish? I think that to ask the question is to indicate the answer: Lots of people resent having "aliens" telling them what to do and think. And while a significant subset of Jews retain a distinctive identity with distinctive practices Jews WILL be seen as aliens. So should Jews ignore that resentment? Maybe. German Jews once did. But I think it is very unsafe to ignore it. Germany was once the most cultured, enlightened and civilized society on earth with a large Jewish elite and look where it ended up.

Advice is the world's most oversupplied and useless commodity but I will venture some anyhow. I think Jews should ease up -- relax more. Among the Goyim there are many high IQ people who work happily away as butchers, mechanics etc. Their friends and family are their rewards in life. Could it be the same for Jews too? Fame and fortune may not really be as good as they are cracked up to be. They might just make you a more prominent and more resented target one day. There is no doubt that antisemitism is once again on the rise worldwide -- even in Japan, amazingly enough.

And achieving that fame and fortune may entail sacrifices that are not worth it. Take, for example, England's Susan Greenfield (ancestrally Gruenfeld, presumably). She is an academic neurologist so is clearly a smart lady. And she has certainly fulfilled what many would see as a dream. Britain's Labour Party government has made her a Baroness! She is a member of that august body, the House of Lords.

But how did she manage that? By becoming a sort of intellectual prostitute. She has used her academic position to propagandize in favour of many things that Britain's Leftist elite believe in -- such as the belief that the workers spend too much time in front of TV and entertaining themselves with computers. You can see an example of that here where I look at her latest attempt to justify medically that belief in the evils of computers. What she writes is sheer drivel -- pure speculation without an ounce of proof behind it. It is a very low place for a scientist to end up in. I personally think that scientific integrity would have become her better, even if fewer baubles came with it. One hopes that she eventually will come to that conclusion too.

Just for purposes of illustration, let me describe a high IQ, high drive Goy whom I know. I will call him "S". S is in his early 40s, has a beautiful wife and two attractive children. He has recently had a large and airy house built for himself and his family that is specifically designed for entertaining. He is as happy a man as any I know. I am sure he is not perfectly happy. Who is? But I am sure he is at least as happy as (say) Susan Greenfield. From the available online biographies of her I gather that she is divorced and childless. S has been in the military for all his working life and has risen through the ranks but not to a position of any great distinction. He recently served in the Gulf so is no chocolate soldier. As befits a military man his hobby is fighting -- martial arts -- and he is as a result very fit and healthy -- and his hobby is also a good outlet for any surplus energies. So he has lived a good life, greatly appreciated by his friends and relatives but entirely out of the public eye. So he is happy with no need for fame and fortune at all.

I am sure that the life S has chosen would not be attractive to many Jews -- though Greg Sher is remembered with great honour -- but I think it shows clearly that fame and fortune is not the only way to a good life.



Some economic sanity for a change: "Three cheers for President Obama's decision, announced quietly on Monday, to repudiate a campaign promise and not press for new labor and environmental regulations in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The last thing the Western Hemisphere needs are more trade barriers that would snarl supply chains and damage commerce. Perhaps we should call this Austan Goolsbee's revenge. Recall that last year the Obama economic adviser had told a Canadian diplomat to ignore Mr. Obama's Nafta campaign rhetoric; the candidate was merely pandering to Big Labor. When that disclosure became news, Mr. Goolsbee was banished to the campaign's isolation ward for imperfect spinners. Now we know Mr. Goolsbee -- not the candidate -- was the one telling the truth. Mr. Obama got an earful on trade from his counterparts at the Summit of the Americas over the weekend and that might have something to do with his Nafta walkback"

LOST at sea: “The return of piracy to the high seas demonstrates the limits of international law. The ‘international community’ might agree that it is wrong to seize ships for ransom, but a few thugs with guns in Somalia beg to differ. Paper guarantees cannot stop seajackings. Yet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants Congress to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty, the ultimate in paper guarantees."

Abolish the “death tax”: “If there were a prize for the most destructive tax, the death tax surely would be a prohibitive favorite. Known to policy wonks as the estate tax, this levy is a punitive form of double taxation that penalizes people for trying to create a nest egg for their children. The damage to families, though, is just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem, at least to economists, is that the death tax discourages economic growth by reducing saving and investment.”

The drug war: A bonanza for the enemies of freedom: “If it had been dreamed up by Satan himself in the bowels of Hell, the War on Drugs couldn’t be more diabolically calculated to destroy our liberties and promote the cause of evil in the world. In the Netherlands, where marijuana is (de facto) legal, and most hard drugs are virtually decriminalized and available to addicts by prescription, the rates of drug use are actually lower than in the United States. That means we’ve militarized and corrupted our police forces, turned the Bill of Rights into toilet paper, and handed the country over to gangs (including gangs in police uniforms) — all for absolutely nothing.”

Is “sexting” same as porn?: “I am sure that Vermonters don’t like the idea of teens sending sexy pictures from one phone to another. Nor do Ohio and Utah parents want their kids using cellphone minutes to bare their bodies with their buddies. Nevertheless, their state legislatures are among the first trying to sensibly ratchet down the penalties for ’sexting.’ They are backing away from laws that currently treat a teenager with a cellphone the same way they treat a child pornographer. They know there’s a difference between truly dreadful judgment and a felony. Over the last months, sexting — that spicy combo of sex and texting — has created something between a moral panic and a reprise of ‘Trouble in River City.’”

New Obama adviser is anti-Israel: "While President Bush was "blindly" and "mindlessly" supportive of Israel, President Obama may be less willing to give the Jewish state "blank checks," says Rosa Brooks, the Obama administration's new adviser to one of the most influential Pentagon officials. Brooks will advise Michelle Fluornoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, a position that wields enormous power over drafting U.S. military doctrine in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Until accepting her position earlier this month, Brooks, who did work on behalf of George Soros' philanthropic foundation, also served as a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. A WND review of her opinion pieces in the newspaper finds trends that defenders of the Jewish state may view as anti-Israel, including distorting history to seemingly whitewash Palestinian terrorism."

N.Korea has world's largest artillery force: " The top US commander in South Korea said on Wednesday that North Korea has the world's largest artillery force and could rain fire on Seoul should the communist state decide to provoke all-out conflict. General Walter Sharp's comments came amid rising tensions on the peninsula. Last Saturday the North's military reminded South Korea that its densely populated capital is "only 50 km away" from the border. Sharp, commander of some 28,500 US troops in South Korea, said the North has "an old but very large military that is positioned in a very dangerous place, very close" to South Korea. "They have a very large special operating force. It has the world's largest artillery force that is positioned as far south as possible and that can rain on Seoul today," he told local business leaders. The North maintains 80,000 special forces and is believed to have some 13,000 artillery pieces deployed along the border, Sharp said. Cross-border relations are at their worst in a decade after South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak abandoned his predecessors' policy of providing almost unconditional aid to the North. Sharp said US and South Korean troops are prepared to "fight and win" at any moment, stressing they "have operational plans prepared in order to be able to meet any contingencies".


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Friday, April 24, 2009

Self confidence as a boost to educational achievement among bottom-performing blacks

The abstract below appears to be the study some Leftists refer to in their zeal to show that African IQ levels have more potential than is normally apparent. The article is not unreasonable. That blacks at the very bottom rung of educational achievement are there because of low IQ PLUS low motivation is a perfectly straightforward idea that raises no new issues. But is it true? The effects reported below cover only a 2 year time-span -- which is ludicrous for evaluating the effectiveness of the procedure. "Fadeout" of such improvements as the child moves into adulthood is the norm. There is no reason to believe that the procedures reported below will be any different
Recursive Processes in Self-Affirmation: Intervening to Close the Minority Achievement Gap

By Geoffrey L. Cohen et al.

A 2-year follow-up of a randomized field experiment previously reported in Science is presented. A subtle intervention to lessen minority students' psychological threat related to being negatively stereotyped in school was tested in an experiment conducted three times with three independent cohorts (N = 133, 149, and 134). The intervention, a series of brief but structured writing assignments focusing students on a self-affirming value, reduced the racial achievement gap. Over 2 years, the grade point average (GPA) of African Americans was, on average, raised by 0.24 grade points. Low-achieving African Americans were particularly benefited. Their GPA improved, on average, 0.41 points, and their rate of remediation or grade repetition was less (5% versus 18%). Additionally, treated students' self-perceptions showed long-term benefits. Findings suggest that because initial psychological states and performance determine later outcomes by providing a baseline and initial trajectory for a recursive process, apparently small but early alterations in trajectory can have long-term effects. Implications for psychological theory and educational practice are discussed.

Science 17 April 2009: Vol. 324. no. 5925, pp. 400 - 403


Presidential Poison

His invitation to indict Bush officials will haunt Obama's Presidency -- and make bureaucrats who might otherwise help Obama sit on their hands -- fearful of how a future GOP administration might use this precedent. Once again the man shows that he is a fool

Mark down the date. Tuesday, April 21, 2009, is the moment that any chance of a new era of bipartisan respect in Washington ended. By inviting the prosecution of Bush officials for their antiterror legal advice, President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret.

Policy disputes, often bitter, are the stuff of democratic politics. Elections settle those battles, at least for a time, and Mr. Obama's victory in November has given him the right to change policies on interrogations, Guantanamo, or anything on which he can muster enough support. But at least until now, the U.S. political system has avoided the spectacle of a new Administration prosecuting its predecessor for policy disagreements. This is what happens in Argentina, Malaysia or Peru, countries where the law is treated merely as an extension of political power.

If this analogy seems excessive, consider how Mr. Obama has framed the issue. He has absolved CIA operatives of any legal jeopardy, no doubt because his intelligence advisers told him how damaging that would be to CIA morale when Mr. Obama needs the agency to protect the country. But he has pointedly invited investigations against Republican legal advisers who offered their best advice at the request of CIA officials.

"Your intelligence indicates that there is currently a level of 'chatter' equal to that which preceded the September 11 attacks," wrote Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, in his August 1, 2002 memo. "In light of the information you believe [detainee Abu] Zubaydah has and the high level of threat you believe now exists, you wish to move the interrogations into what you have described as an 'increased pressure phase.'"

So the CIA requests a legal review at a moment of heightened danger, the Justice Department obliges with an exceedingly detailed analysis of the law and interrogation practices -- and, seven years later, Mr. Obama says only the legal advisers who are no longer in government should be investigated. The political convenience of this distinction for Mr. Obama betrays its basic injustice. And by the way, everyone agrees that senior officials, including President Bush, approved these interrogations. Is this President going to put his predecessor in the dock too?

Mr. Obama seemed to understand the peril of such an exercise when he said, before his inauguration, that he wanted to "look forward" and beyond the antiterror debates of the Bush years. As recently as Sunday, Rahm Emanuel said no prosecutions were contemplated and now is not a time for "anger and retribution." Two days later the President disavowed his own chief of staff. Yet nothing had changed except that Mr. Obama's decision last week to release the interrogation memos unleashed a revenge lust on the political left that he refuses to resist.

Just as with the AIG bonuses, he is trying to co-opt his left-wing base by playing to it -- only to encourage it more. Within hours of Mr. Obama's Tuesday comments, Senator Carl Levin piled on with his own accusatory Intelligence Committee report. The demands for a "special counsel" at Justice and a Congressional show trial are louder than ever, and both Europe's left and the U.N. are signaling their desire to file their own charges against former U.S. officials.

Those officials won't be the only ones who suffer if all of this goes forward. Congress will face questions about what the Members knew and when, especially Nancy Pelosi when she was on the House Intelligence Committee in 2002. The Speaker now says she remembers hearing about waterboarding, though not that it would actually be used. Does anyone believe that? Porter Goss, her GOP counterpart at the time, says he knew exactly what he was hearing and that, if anything, Ms. Pelosi worried the CIA wasn't doing enough to stop another attack. By all means, put her under oath.

Mr. Obama may think he can soar above all of this, but he'll soon learn otherwise. The Beltway's political energy will focus more on the spectacle of revenge, and less on his agenda. The CIA will have its reputation smeared, and its agents second-guessing themselves. And if there is another terror attack against Americans, Mr. Obama will have set himself up for the argument that his campaign against the Bush policies is partly to blame.

Above all, the exercise will only embitter Republicans, including the moderates and national-security hawks Mr. Obama may need in the next four years. As patriotic officials who acted in good faith are indicted, smeared, impeached from judgeships or stripped of their academic tenure, the partisan anger and backlash will grow. And speaking of which, when will the GOP Members of Congress begin to denounce this partisan scapegoating? Senior Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Richard Lugar, John McCain, Orrin Hatch, Pat Roberts and Arlen Specter have hardly been profiles in courage.

Mr. Obama is more popular than his policies, due in part to his personal charm and his seeming goodwill. By indulging his party's desire to criminalize policy advice, he has unleashed furies that will haunt his Presidency.



A budget worthy of Mr Bean

Britain is making large financial mistakes too -- driving out its most productive industries via the usual destructiveness of kneejerk Leftist ideas. High British taxes have already driven a lot of large firms out of Britain so what has the Labour government just done? Put up taxes even more! "Give more British jobs to foreigners" seems to be the motto

Alistair Darling has saved the economy. Unfortunately the economy he has saved is the wrong one. In true Mr Bean fashion, yesterday’s Budget saved the economies of Switzerland, Luxembourg, Jersey, Hong Kong and other low-tax jurisdictions (polite society no longer describes them as tax havens), which only three weeks ago his boss Gordon Brown had boasted of closing down. As for the British economy, one can only sigh in disbelief. To cram so much bad news and so many policy blunders into an hour-long speech was quite an achievement.

To understand all these statements, let us start by focusing on just one figure, the only figure that really meant anything in the Budget speech and the only one that Mr Cameron studiously failed to mention amid all his ritual fulmination against zillions of pounds in borrowing and scandalously inaccurate Treasury forecasts. This figure was 50 per cent, the new tax rate on the rich....

First, the announcement of any significant tax increase, at a time when the Chancellor was trying to restore business confidence and boost housing and consumption, went completely against the logic of efforts of the Government’s faith in fiscal stimulus. Mr Darling’s biggest mistake in the PreBudget Report (PBR) was to negate the benefits of his VAT cut by preannouncing a big increase in income tax and national insurance, but instead of learning from this mistake he decided to repeat it....

In different circumstances, when global finance was booming, when Britain boasted of its light-touch business-friendly regulation, when law firms and multinational companies were willing to pay telephone-number salaries to retain London staff, a Labour government might have been able to impose a 63 per cent tax on senior employees (which is what the marginal tax rate will amount to once income tax and national insurance are combined) without displacing significant amounts of business....

But this is no longer the case. Global finance and multinational businesses are in a period of ruthless restructuring and cost reduction. The same is true of all the ancillary activities such as law, accountancy, architecture, advertising, management consultancy, design and so on, which ultimately depend on their proximity to the decision makers in globalised business and finance.

In the past few years, the difference between the 50 per cent of income left after tax and national insurance in Britain and the 70 per cent left to most residents in Switzerland might not have been enough to motivate many corporate relocations. But in today’s more cost-conscious environment, banks and multinational companies will be sorely tempted by the near-doubling of net pay that they can achieve for their employees simply by moving out of Britain before Mr Darling’s new taxes and national insurance charges are imposed.

The result is likely to be a substantial shift of global businesses from Britain, at precisely the time when London needs to restore its credentials as the leading global centre for finance and business services.... Moreover, it appears on the basis of postwar experience that most of the industries in which Britain has comparative advantage – not just banking and business services, but also pharmaceuticals, energy, electronic technology, entertainment and design – are dependent on workers who are both highly paid and internationally mobile.

It is likely, therefore, that banks and hedge funds will not be the only businesses encouraged to move out of Britain – pharmaceutical and oil companies, architects and designers may be just as motivated by the prospect of paying much lower tax in other business centres, whether in Europe, America or the Far East.




Ann Coulter's mother has just passed away and Ann has written a beautiful eulogy to her here.

Obama intelligence official says interrogation provided 'high value information': "President Barack Obama's top intelligence official sent a memo to his staff saying "high value information" was obtained during interrogations using controversial techniques. The document from Admiral Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, was issued last week on the same day as the White House released secret Bush administration legal memos authorising the use of methods that Mr Obama has described as torture. But a condensed version provided to the press omitted the detail about the value of the information – a move that has incensed Mr Obama's critics and opened him up to accusations of manipulation for political purposes. Adml Blair's original note to his staff last Thursday said "high value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organisation that was attacking this country". The memo is an embarrassment for Mr Obama because the conclusion reached by Adml Blair, who oversees the CIA and 15 other US intelligence agencies or departments, undermines a central plank of the White House argument – that the harsh techniques did not work."

We've got it all wrong on fishing strategy, says EU: "Europe’s fishing industry is on the brink of suicide and several species are in danger of extinction after 25 years of policy failure,the European Commission said yesterday. Officials admitted five key failings in the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy as they prepared to tear up the idea of a centrally dictated strategy. They launched the search for an alternative, saying that much of the responsibility for fishing must be returned to EU member states. One key failing that has led to the near-extinction of stocks of cod, bluefin tuna and anchovy is the “deep-rooted problem” of fleet overcapacity, with campaign groups arguing for a 40 per cent cut in the EU’s 90,000 vessels. Its admission that Europe’s controversial fisheries policy had failed was broadly welcomed by the fishing industry. The Commission said that 88 per cent of EU stocks were overfished, compared with only 25 per cent worldwide."

Right on! "Police officers should wear name tags on their uniforms and those who deliberately hide their identity could be sacked, Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said today. The police has come under severe criticism for its handling of the G20 protests and Sir Paul, Britain's most senior policeman, said he wants officers to be more easily identifiable to the public. He also made it clear though that he wanted his senior officers to take a more robust approach in supervising the rank and file officers to ensure they could both be praised and have problem areas identified."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Thursday, April 23, 2009

For St. George and merrie England!

Today is St. George's day, the national day of England (not Britain. Britain includes Scotland and Wales) so I have just hoisted the flag of St George from my flagpole. It has mostly in the past not been much celebrated in England but, thanks in part to Boris Johnson, the "Turkish" Mayor of London, it will be this year. Boris is a great joker. He does have some distant Turkish ancestry (Turkish Jewish if I remember rightly) but even his grandfather was an RAF bomber pilot in WWII and he himself went to Eton and Oxford.

CIA Waterboarding Produced Intel That Stopped Attack on Los Angeles

Anybody who thinks that torture is a simple problem in moral philosophy hasn't thought about it at any length

"Soon, you will know." That is the ominous statement an uncooperative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, told his Central Intelligence Agency interrogators when they initially asked him, after he had been captured, about additional planned al-Qaida attacks on the United States. In March 2003, KSM became the third and final terrorist ever waterboarded by the CIA. The other two were Abu Zubaydah and Rahim Al-Nashiri.

So few were waterboarded because the CIA was so strict in the criteria for deciding when the technique could be used.... Before they were waterboarded, both KSM and Abu Zubaydah did not believe Americans had the will to stop al-Qaida, the 2005 Justice Department memo says, citing information from the CIA. "Both KSM and Zubaydah had 'expressed their belief that the general U.S. population was 'weak,' lacked resilience and would be unable to 'do what was necessary' to prevent the terrorists from succeeding in their goals,'" said the memo. "Indeed, before the CIA used enhanced techniques in its interrogation of KSM, KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, 'Soon, you will know.'"

After he was waterboarded, KSM provided the CIA with information that allowed the U.S. government to close down a terror cell already "tasked" with flying a jet into a building in Los Angeles. "You have informed us that the interrogation of KSM -- once enhanced techniques were employed -- led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the 'Second Wave,' 'to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into' a building in Los Angeles," says the memo, referring to information CIA provided to Justice. "You have informed us that information obtained from KSM also led to the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discovery of the Guraba Cell, a 17-member Jemaah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the 'Second Wave,'" said the memo.

"More specifically, we understand that KSM admitted that he had (redaction) large sum of money to an al-Qaida associate (redaction) ... . Khan subsequently identified the associate (Zubair), who was then captured," said the memo. "Zubair, in turn, provided information that led to the arrest of Hambali. The information acquired from these captures allowed CIA interrogators to pose more specific questions to KSM, which led the CIA (to) Hambali's brother, al-Hadi. Using information obtained from multiple sources, al-Hadi was captured, and he subsequently identified the Garuba cell. With the aid of this additional information, interrogations of Hambali confirmed much of what was learned from KSM."



Spengler comes out

There has been much speculation about the identity of the insightful "Spengler". It had always seemed to me that he was an elderly German Jew. It turns out that I was nearly right. He is a not so elderly Jewish Germanist. See below. It is a small surprise that he is a RELIGIOUS Jew, though. He seemed too cynical for that. But that does undoubtedly underpin his basic premise: That only Israel will survive the cultural decay that seems to be besetting most nations. Given that Leftist insanity is at least as prevalent in Israel as it is anywhere, I wish I could be as optimistic

During the too-brief run of the Asia Times print edition in the 1990s, the newspaper asked me to write a humor column, and I chose the name "Spengler" as a joke - a columnist for an Asian daily using the name of the author of The Decline of the West.

Barely a dozen "Spengler" items appeared before the print edition went down in the 1997 Asian financial crisis. A malicious thought crossed my mind in 1999, though, as the Internet euphoria engulfed world markets: was it really possible for a medium whose premise was the rise of a homogeneous global youth culture to drive world economic growth? Youth culture, I argued, was an oxymoron, for culture itself was a bridge across generations, a means of cheating mortality. The old and angry cultures of the world, fighting for room to breath against the onset of globalization, would not go quietly into the homogenizer. Many of them would fight to survive, but fight in vain, for the tide of modernity could not be rolled back.

As in the great extinction of the tribes in late antiquity, individuals might save themselves from the incurable necrosis of their own ethnicity through adoption into the eternal people, that is, Israel. The great German-Jewish theologian and student of the existential angst of dying nations, Franz Rosenzweig, had commanded undivided attention during the 1990s, and I had a pair of essays about him for the Jewish-Christian Relations website. Rosenzweig's theology, it occurred to me, had broader applications.

The end of the old ethnicities, I believed, would dominate the cultural and strategic agenda of the next several decades. Great countries were failing of their will to live, and it was easy to imagine a world in which Japanese, German, Italian and Russian would turn into dying languages only a century hence. Modernity taxed the Muslim world even more severely, although the results sometimes were less obvious.

The 300 or so essays that I have published in this space since 1999 all proceeded from the theme formulated by Rosenzweig: the mortality of nations and its causes, Western secularism, Asian anomie, and unadaptable Islam.

Why raise these issues under a pseudonym? There is a simple answer, and a less simple one. To inform a culture that it is going to die does not necessarily win friends, and what I needed to say would be hurtful to many readers. I needed to tell the Europeans that their post-national, secular dystopia was a death-trap whence no-one would get out alive.

I needed to tell the Muslims that nothing would alleviate the unbearable sense of humiliation and loss that globalization inflicted on a civilization that once had pretensions to world dominance. I needed to tell Asians that materialism leads only to despair. And I needed to tell the Americans that their smugness would be their undoing.

In this world of accelerated mortality, in which the prospect of national extinction hung visibly over most of the peoples of the world, Jew-hatred was stripped of its mask, and revealed as the jealousy of the merely undead toward living Israel. And it was not hard to show that the remnants of the tribal world lurking under the cover of Islam were not living, but only undead, incapable of withstanding the onslaught of modernity, throwing a tantrum against their inevitable end.

I have been an equal-opportunity offender, with no natural constituency. My academic training, strewn over two doctoral programs, was in music theory and German, as well as economics. I have have published a number of peer-reviewed papers on philosophy, music and mathematics in the Renaissance. But I came to believe that there are things even more important than the high art of the West and its most characteristic endeavor, classical music, the passion and consolation of my youth. Western classical music expresses goal-oriented motion, a teleology, as it were - but where did humankind learn of teleology? I no longer quite belonged with my friends and colleagues, the artists.

G K Chesterton said that if you don't believe in God, you'll believe in anything, and I was living proof of that as a young man, wandering in the fever-swamps of left-wing politics. I found my way thanks to the first Ronald Reagan administration. The righting of America after it nearly capsized during the dark years of Jimmy Carter was a defining experience for me. I owe much to several mentors, starting with Dr Norman A. Bailey, special assistant to President Reagan and director of plans at the National Security Council from 1981-1984. My political education began in his lair at the old Executive Office Building in 1981, when he explained to me that the US would destroy the Soviet Empire by the end of the 1980s. I thought him a dangerous lunatic, and immediately signed on.

I worked for Bailey's consulting firm after he left government, simultaneously pursuing a doctorate (never quite finished) in music theory. I owe most of all to the music theorists in the school of Heinrich Schenker with whom I studied in the doctoral program at City University.

Another mentor was Professor Robert Mundell, the creator of supply-side economics, among his other contributions. As an economist for the supply-side consulting firm Polyconomics in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I had dozens of conversations with Mundell, who won the Nobel Prize in 1999. I can't claim to be a Mundell student, but he graciously allowed me to acknowledge his help in a 1994 article I published in Journal of Applied Corporate Finance. What I gleaned from Mundell allowed me to begin a successful career on Wall Street at an age when most of its denizens already are over the hill.

By the late 1990s, I no longer believed that solving problems of economic stability and growth was sufficient to resolve problems that manifested themselves in economic form. Working in the inside of the financial world, ultimately as a member of the executive committee for fixed income of America's largest bank, I saw how easy it was to prejudice the efficiency of markets and to introduce distortions that eventually would have awful consequences.

I no longer quite belonged with my old friends the economists. I had left economics for music, and left music for finance, eventually working in senior research positions at Bear Stearns, Credit Suisse and Bank of America. At Bank of America, I created from scratch a highly rated fixed income research department between 2002 to 2005, with 120 professionals and mid-nine-figure compensation budget. By 2005, it was no longer clear how the financial industry would play a helpful role in fostering prosperity, and philosophical differences prompted me to take my leave.

Exile among the fleshpots of Wall Street had its benefits, but I had other ambitions. My commitment to Judaism came relatively late in life, in my mid-thirties, but was all the more passionate for its tardiness. The things I had been raised to love were disappearing from the world, or changing beyond recognition. The language of Goethe and Heine would die out, along with the languages of Dante and Pushkin.

Europe's high culture and its capacity to train universal minds had deteriorated beyond repair; one of the last truly universal European minds belongs to the octogenarian Pope Benedict XVI. In 1996, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had said in an interview published as Das Salz der Erde, "Perhaps we have to abandon the idea of the popular Church. Possibly, we stand before a new epoch of Church history with quite different conditions, in which Christianity will stand under the sign of the mustard seed, in small and apparently insignificant groups, which nonetheless oppose evil intensively and bring the Good into the world." The best mind in the Catholic Church squarely considered the possibility that Christianity itself might shrink into seeming insignificance.

Renewal could not come from music, nor literature, nor the social sciences. The wells of culture had run dry, because they derived from faith to begin with. I was raised in the Enlightenment pseudo-religion of art and beauty. Initially I looked at faith instrumentally, as a means of regenerating the high culture of the West. Art doesn't exist for art's sake.

The high culture of the West had its own Achilles' heel. Even its greatest cultivators often suffered from the sin of pride, and worshiped their own powers rather than the source of their powers. Painfully and slowly, I began to learn the classic Jewish sources. My guide back to Judaism was the great German-Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig, and my first essay on these subjects was published by the Jewish-Christian Relations website in 1999 under the title, "Has Franz Rosenzweig's Time Come?"

The intersection point in the Venn diagram of my background had shrunk to the point of vanishing. As a returning religious Jew, I had less and less to discuss with the secular Zionists who shared my passion and partisanship for Israel, but could not see a divine dimension in Jewish nationhood. So-called cultural Judaism repelled me; most of what passes for Jewish culture comes down to the mud that stuck to our boots as we fled one country after another. The Hebrew Bible and its commentaries over the centuries are the core of Jewish culture, with a handful of odd adjuncts, such as the novels of S Y Agnon or the last, devotional poems of Heine.

Both as classical musician and as a Germanist, I had better insight than most Jews into the lofty character of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI. His writings on the spiritual riches of Western classical music were an inspiration to me almost thirty years ago, when it seemed possible that this most sublime of Western arts would die out for lack of interest. Ratzinger was kind enough to review and comment on the draft of one of my articles on music theory in the 1980s. There is a connection between Ratzinger's insider's grasp of music and his Fingerspitzengefuhl for Jewish theology - something I tried to express in an essay entitled "The Pope, the Musicians and the Jews."

I was in, but not of, the world of rabbinical Judaism, of classical music, of cultural history, of conservative economics, of practical finance - I belonged everywhere and nowhere. I could address each of these spheres only ironically and aphoristically, in a voice that only could be anonymous - for anonymity allowed me to be in but not of all of them. As First Things editor Joseph Bottum observed to me, "Spengler's" voice freed my style. Why not openly identify myself? Because my readers then would have jammed my thinking into the Procrustean bed of their prejudice.

In 2000, there was nothing to do but to cast my thoughts upon the waters. When the first of these essays appeared I had no expectation that they might interest a wide public. To my astonishment, they were read, and read extensively. Then came 9/11, and my tale of the existential angst of nations was borne up by the Zeitgeist. The Spengler forum at Asia Times Online grew to nearly five thousand registered members. The essays often reached a million readers a month.

As I wrote pseudonymously for Asia Times Online, new friends announced themselves - journalists, academics, clergy, and people of faith from many walks of life, not least the indefatigable group of good friends that manages the Spengler Forum. The editors of First Things asked me for an essay on Franz Rosenzweig and Islam, which I published in 2007, and later a piece entitled "Zionism for Christians", which appeared in 2008 under the pseudonym "David Shushon". That was a milestone for me.

I had subscribed to the journal not long after its inception in 1990, the year I finished my PhD coursework in music. To write for First Things was an unanticipated honor. I came to know the magazine's editor Joseph Bottum, as well as such regular contributors as George Weigel, Russell Hittinger and R R Reno. On January 8, 2009, the magazine's founder Richard John Neuhaus died. A few weeks later Jody Bottum asked me to join the staff of First Things as an editor and writer. It seems only heartbeats ago that I was in dark seas, looking up at this beacon; now it is my turn to help keep the lighthouse.

As for Asia Times Online - this scrappy, virtual expat bar - I was there at the founding, and will contribute to it as long it continues to upload, if somewhat less frequently than before.

"Spengler" is channeled by David P. Goldman, associate editor of First Things (




Domestic Terrorist Added to FBI Most-Wanted Terrorists List is NOT a Veteran! "In what must be a huge surprise to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the first domestic terrorist named to the FBI’s list of Most-Wanted Terrorists appears to have no military experience. In other words, he’s not what Napolitano would describe as a “right-wing extremist” who needs to be watched by law enforcement. The FBI added Daniel Andreas San Diego, a 31-year-old American animal rights activist, to its list of Most-Wanted Terrorists this morning."

Why do "progressives" love trains?: “AMTRAK lives on subsidies; always has, always will. Americans have limited demand for passenger-train services. Nearly everyone prefers to use a personal automobile, for all sorts of good reasons, including privacy, flexibility, and convenience. None of this is news. Transportation economists have been documenting it in study after study for decades. Yet the leftists of this country at some point — I’m not sure exactly when it happened — fell head over heels in ideological love with trains. I lived for many years in the Seattle area, where traditional religion does not rank very high with the bulk of the population, but devotion to ‘light rail’ serves as a perfect substitute for belief in a higher power.”

Hooray! "The New York Times Co. reported a quarterly net loss of $US74.5 million ($104 million) overnight, a day after its flagship newspaper scooped up five Pulitzer prizes, the highest awards in US journalism. Times Co. shares plunged 15.56 per cent to $US4.94 on Wall Street as the company, which also owns The Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune and other papers, reported a drop in advertising revenue of nearly 30 per cent. Revenue for the Times Co. declined 18.6 per cent to $US609 million in the first quarter from $US747.9 million in the same quarter last year. The Times Co., which posted a net loss of $US335,000 in the first quarter of 2008, said advertising revenue at its publishing segment dropped 28.4 per cent in the first three months of 2009, including an 8 per cent decline in online advertising revenue at its News Media Group. The New England Media Group, which includes the Boston Globe and, saw a 31.4 per cent decline in advertising revenue."

US Supreme Court limits police search powers during arrests: “A divided U.S. Supreme Court limited police powers, ruling that officers violated the Constitution when they searched the car of an Arizona man who had already been handcuffed and put in a patrol car. Voting 5-4, the justices today overturned Rodney Gant’s three-year prison sentence for possessing the cocaine officers found in his car. The majority said police needed a warrant because Gant had already parked the car and walked away from it when police arrested him for driving with a suspended license. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said the search didn’t fall within an exception to the warrant requirement the court has carved out for searches that take place at the time of arrest. Stevens said that exception existed to ensure an arrested person didn’t grab a weapon or destroy evidence.”

Clueless Obama: “If President Obama doesn’t understand why the economy tanked, he surely won’t know what recovery requires. And if he doesn’t know that, he’s surely part of the problem, not the solution. In his speech on the economy at Georgetown University this week, Obama again showed that he hasn’t a clue what caused the economic calamity. He spent a few paragraphs of his speech ‘explaining’ to the students what happened — but he got it wrong. Had this been a class, he should have gotten an F.”

The apologists: “For 50 minutes, Obama sat mute, as a Marxist thug from Nicaragua delivered his diatribe, charging America with a century of terrorist aggression in Central America. After Daniel Ortega finished spitting in our face, accusing us of inhumanity toward Fidel Castro’s Cuba, Obama was asked his thoughts. ‘I thought it was 50 minutes long. That’s what I thought.’ Hillary Clinton was asked to comment: ‘I thought the cultural performance was fascinating,’ she cooed. … Thus the nation that won the Cold War, contained the cancer of Castroism in Cuba, liberated Grenada, blocked communist takeovers of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, and poured scores of billions in aid into this region was left undefended by its own leaders at the Summit of the Americas.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Obama and Friedman

I think Obama is dumb, an emptyhead who knows nothing. And I think he sometimes half-realizes that himself. Because of his profound ignorance, it seems that Obama has heeded his advisers on what to do about the economic crisis, and, whatever one thinks of them, they are NOT dumb. And what they are doing through Obama is not as silly as most conservative commentators make out. Conservative commentators routinely brand the Obama policies as "Keynesian", which they undoubtedly are. But they fail to look at the alternative. And Milton Friedman's analysis is of course the alternative.

Keynes correctly identified the major problem of the Great Depression as being a demand deficit. He thought that deficit could be made up by a large program of government spending on public works. Friedman, however, looked deeper and asked WHY there was a demand deficit. And the answer to that was almost childishly simple -- far too simple for intellectuals. Friedman pointed out that the rash of bank failures created by the incompetent Federal Reserve system of the day after the 1929 crash was the culprit. As banks failed, the savings invested in them vanished. People lost their money and they could not spend money they did not have. THAT was the reason for the demand deficit.

So both Keynes and Friedman agree that spending power has to be restored. Friedman was certainly very emphatic about the importance of a stable money suppy. From Friedman's analysis, the obvious priority is to protect people's savings -- and the FDIC was set up to do just that. And the FDIC has indeed had some role recently. But, however we do it, in the end we have this time not made the mistake of the Great Depression. Spending power is being restored even if it is being done in a very slow and sub-optimal way. So I expect that there will be substantial recovery by the 2010 mid-terms -- which is a very mixed blessing from my point of view.

How about that! I am venturing a prophecy. Since 99% of all prophecies are wrong, I am offering a stringent test of my understanding indeed.

The very best way of restoring liquidity to the economy would probably have been to cancel all company tax for one year. That would certainly have done more to preserve and create jobs than handing out trillions to the prestidigitators of Wall St.


Federal Lawsuit Filed Over DHS ‘Rightwing Extremist’ Report

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced last week that it filed a federal lawsuit against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The lawsuit claims that her Department’s “Rightwing Extremism Policy, ” as reflected in the recently publicized Intelligence Assessment, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment, ” violates the civil liberties of combat veterans as well as American citizens by targeting them for disfavored treatment on account of their political beliefs. Click here to read the complaint filed by the Thomas More Law Center.

Napolitano tried to blunt the public furor over the Report by a half-hearted apology to veterans, but she left out of her apology all of the other Americans her Department has targeted because of their political beliefs. In fact, officials in DHS now admit that their internal office of civil liberties objected to the language in the extremism report, but the Department issued it anyway.

Janet Napolitano is lying to the American people when she says the Report is not based on ideology or political beliefs. In fact, her report would have the admiration of the Gestapo and any current or past dictator in the way it targets political opponents. This incompetently written intelligence assessment, which directs law enforcement officials across the country to target and report on American citizens who have the political beliefs mentioned in the report, will be used as a tool to stifle political opposition and opinions. It will give a pretext for opponents of those Americans to report them to police as rightwing extremists and terrorists. You can imagine what happens then.



Vive la France!

In what may mark the first ever occurrence of its kind, France is right. Additionally, its leader is refusing to surrender. And that's no joke.

At a recent lunch with members of the French parliament, President Nicolas Sarkozy dove headfirst into one of the three forbidden table conversation topics: politics. Although the menu options are unclear, the French President made kabobs of his fellow world leaders by skewering them through and through.

Angela Merkel, he said, was confused at the G-20 summit. He likewise charged that José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain is not “very clever” and Italy's Silvio Berlusconi is a power-hungry narcissist.

Some of his harshest words, however, were reserved for Barack Obama. Referring to him as “weak and inexperienced”, President Sarkozy said that his American counterpart:

“has a subtle mind…was elected two months ago and never ran a ministry in his life. He doesn't have a position on a number of things…[Mr. Obama] is not always operating at a level of decision-making and efficiency.”

Wait a second. Was that criticism? Of Barack Obama? Couldn't be! If you're an establishment member of the mainstream media, now would be a good time to shout “stop the presses!”—that is, of course, if the presses weren't already going out of business thanks in part to their utter abandonment of unbiased, journalistic accountability.

Granted, somewhat thorny relations between the American and French heads-of-state have been a recurring trend over the years. But this is entirely different. Mr. Obama is, of course, the self-proclaimed “citizen of the world,” a transcendental leader who's come to put America back in the good faith of its neighbors. Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for freedom-loving societies worldwide), that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why poor countries stay poor

Many economists think corruption is a rational response to irrational incentives. The World Bank’s “Doing Business” database lists 40 countries, from Iraq to Ethiopia, in which legally acquiring the necessary permissions to export a single standard cargo container takes more than one month. The more difficult it is to do something legally, the larger the temptation to do it illegally. Small wonder that in developing countries, few people make more money than customs officials.

If perverse incentives create corruption, that suggests a simple solution to an age-old problem. Hence for the last decade or so the mantra of aid agencies has been “institutions matter”—even if it is not clear what humanitarians are supposed to do with this insight.

There is a popular alternative view that says corrupt countries are corrupt not because the incentives are perverse but because they’re stuffed full of crooks, born and bred. In this view, corruption is cultural, and poor countries are poor because their citizens are dishonest (or lazy, or fools).

Into this controversy strode two economists, Raymond Fisman of Columbia and Edward Miguel of Berkeley, with a 2006 research paper that was brilliant and trivial in roughly equal measure. Fisman and Miguel realized that to test the two theories about corruption, you would ideally need to pluck people from all over the world, place them into a community whose laws they could ignore with impunity, then see who cheated and who was honest.

Impossible? Not at all. The United Nations in Manhattan kindly provided guinea pigs for just such an experiment. Diplomatic immunity meant that parking tickets issued to diplomats could not be enforced. The decision to park legally or not, therefore, was a matter of each person’s conscience.

Fisman and Miguel found that countries with endemic corruption at home, as measured by the anti-corruption organization Transparency International, were represented by habitual illegal parkers. Chad and Bangladesh, so often near the top of “perceptions of corruption” rankings, produced more than 2,500 violations between them from 1997 to 2005. Squeaky clean Scandinavians, on the other hand, committed only 12 unpaid parking violations, and most of those involved a single criminal mastermind from Finland. On the face of it, this evidence supports the view that poor countries are corrupt because they’re full of corrupt people.

Yet incentives clearly matter, too. In 2002, after decades of playing cat and mouse with the United Nations, New York City won much greater power to punish deadbeat diplomats. (The former New York senator and new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, gets some of the credit for this change. Let’s hope the world’s diplomats don’t hold it against the State Department moving forward.) The city began to tow cars and the State Department deducted fines from the relevant foreign aid budgets. Almost overnight, unpaid violations fell dramatically.



How Each Nation Sinks or Swims

Alan Beattie's "False Economy" finds that countries' choices, not the luck of the draw, largely determine their fates. He is undoubtedly right about that but it sounds like he gives a poor account of what the important decisions are. The key drag on prosperity is socialism and socialistic instincts are overwhelmingly influential among many populations -- such as in Latin America -- with Argentina's Peron regime being a prime example of socialism's destructiveness

BOOK REVIEW of "False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World" By Alan Beattie:

The U.S. is the world's largest economy while Argentina is a serial debt defaulter with a history of dictatorship. Things could have gone the other way. Both countries had ample land, natural resources, and a flood of immigrants, Alan Beattie argues in False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World. But Argentina was cursed with huge landholdings bestowed on Spanish colonizers. Instead of entrepreneurial farmers, Argentina's estates bred an indolent ruling class with little interest in taking the sorts of risks that modernize an economy.

Beattie, world trade editor for the Financial Times, aims to confront the idea that "our economic future is predestined and that we are helplessly borne along by huge, uncontrollable, impersonal forces." The way countries develop is as much a function of the choices made by ruling elites as it is of markets or natural resources, he says.

Beattie, who studied history at Oxford University and economics at Cambridge, draws on both disciplines to overturn assumptions about the evolution of the global economy. For example, the data do not support the belief that Islamic societies inherently perform worse than other nations, or for that matter that there is any correlation between religion and growth. Malaysia has both a strong Islamic identity and a modern economy [And a large non-Muslim Chinese minority who do all the work]. Religion is an obstacle only when development is blocked in God's name, often in self-defense by those who hold power, Beattie argues.

And corruption isn't necessarily a barrier to growth, in Beattie's eyes. The late Indonesian strongman Suharto oversaw rapid development even as he and his cronies grew rich on bribes and preferential deals. China's growth has taken place amid pervasive corruption. As long as the officials taking bribes can deliver what they promise, "it simply becomes a tax."

False Economy is full of insightful nuggets, such as Beattie's account of how the profligate ways of the Portuguese in India opened the door for the British. But it's not always clear how these digressions fit into his central argument; sometimes they even punch holes in it. We can be masters of our own fate, he seems to say, except when we're prisoners of history. Beattie sees Russia stuck in a tradition of authoritarianism and state property ownership that dates to the Mongolian conquest in the 13th century—and he has little faith that it can ever break free.




Obama’s Revenue Plans Hit Resistance in Congress: "President Obama is running into stiff Congressional resistance to his plans to raise money for his ambitious agenda, and the resulting hole in the budget is threatening a major health care overhaul and other policy initiatives. The administration’s central revenue proposal — limiting the value of affluent Americans’ itemized deductions, including the one for charitable giving — fell flat in Congress, leaving the White House, at least for now, without $318 billion that it wants to set aside to help cover uninsured Americans. At the same time, lawmakers of both parties have warned against moving too quickly on a plan to auction carbon emission permits to produce more than $600 billion. The unwillingness to embrace some of the major White House tax and revenue proposals has frustrated administration officials. They note that lawmakers, many of them supporters of the president’s ambitious agenda, clamor to hold down the deficit while balking at the proposals to finance his program. Clint Stretch, a top tax policy analyst for the consulting firm Deloitte Tax, said, “The president and the budget committees have set very ambitious targets for revenue raising, and they did it against a set of proposals that are going to be very hard to enact.”

Homeland Security leaders still defending memo on veterans: “Top Department of Homeland Security officials on Sunday defended an agency intelligence assessment warning that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could be susceptible to recruitment by right-wing extremists, though one said it should have been ‘more tightly written and presented.’ Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano said on CNN’s State of the Union that she regrets that some people took offense over the report, but added that ‘a number of groups far too numerous to mention’ were targeting returning veterans to carry out domestic terrorism attacks.” [How about mentioning just one? The Obama regime are scared shitless by the military. They know that only the military stands between them and a complete Fascist takeover]

Turkey: Thousands march to protest Muslim government actions: “Thousands of people marched to the mausoleum of secular Turkey’s founder on Saturday to protest the arrests of university professors and others accused of involvement in an alleged plot to topple the Islamic-rooted government. More than 5,000 people waved Turkish flags, carried posters of Turkey’s late leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and chanted: ‘Turkey is secular and will remain secular!’”

UK: Market forces must make way for interventionism, says British minister: “New Labour will today abandon 12 years of support for market forces by unveiling an interventionist strategy under which the Government will subsidise the growth industries of the future. In an interview with The Independent, Lord Mandelson said the drive could create hundreds of thousands of jobs in hi-tech and low-carbon industries over the next 10 years, to compensate for the smaller financial services sector that will emerge from the current recession. The new strategy marks a reversal of the Government’s free-market approach since Labour won power in 1997, as ministers follow the bailout of Britain’s ailing banks by intervening in other key areas of industry.” [So Britain is about to head back to pre-Thatcher poverty]

The Waco butchers are back : “Sixteen years ago we were reminded of the deadly danger of having the left-liberals in charge of the police state. The largest massacre of American civilians by the US government since Wounded Knee climaxed on April 19, 1993. The siege that had begun on February 28 with a botched ATF publicity stunt ended when the Branch Davidian church and home went up in flames, after an FBI-operated tank on lease from the military was driven through the building, pumping flammable CS gas for six hours into the place where women and children were cowering in fear. Chemistry professor George Uhlig later testified that the high concentration of the gas combined with poor ventilation subjected the women and children to conditions ’similar to … the gas chambers used by the Nazis in Auschwitz.’”

If you want war, work for justice: “I think it is a more plausible slogan than the usual version. If you and I disagree because I want an outcome more favorable to me and you want an outcome more favorable to you, there is room for compromise — as we see whenever people bargain over the price of a house. But if we disagree because I see what I want as just and the alternative as unjust and you see it the other way around, compromise looks to both of us like moral treason.”

Who would be hurt by ending the drug war: “Momentum is growing to legalize some drugs, which is good. So what will it mean if drugs are legalized? In terms of abuse, it is unlikely that matters will change significantly in terms of general usage. The ending of prohibition provides an object lesson in that as consumption of alcohol changed very little once prohibition was repealed. If anything the damage will be lessened the way the damage of alcohol was lessened due to the introduction of quality and price competition. But the real area of focus is in how the economy will be impacted by the ending of drug prohibition.”

FDR and compulsory unionism destroyed jobs: “For decades, labor unions struggled for power, but until the 1930s they had made little headway. Unions were based on force and violence, which repelled a substantial number of employees as well as employers. The aim had been to raise the wages of members above market levels, but this was only possible if they went on strike, forcibly prevented employers from hiring other employees, shut down businesses, and ultimately forced employers to accept union demands.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Monday, April 20, 2009

The real story of Obama's decision making with the hostages off Somalia

AH, now it comes out: Having spoken to some SEAL pals here in Virginia Beach yesterday and asking why this thing dragged out for 4 days, I got the following:

1. BHO wouldn't authorize the DEVGRU/NSWC SEAL teams to the scene for 36 hours going against OSC (on scene commander) recommendation.
2. Once they arrived, BHO imposed restrictions on their ROE that they couldn't do anything unless the hostage's life was in "imminent" danger
3. The first time the hostage jumped, the SEALS had the raggies all sighted in, but could not fire due to ROE restriction
4. When the navy RIB came under fire as it approached with supplies, no fire was returned due to ROE restrictions. As the raggies were shooting at the RIB, they were exposed and the SEALS had them all dialed in.
5. BHO specifically denied two rescue plans developed by the Bainbridge CPN and SEAL teams
6. Bainbridge CPN and SEAL team CDR finally decide they have the OpArea and OSC authority to solely determine risk to hostage. 4 hours later, 3 dead raggies
7. BHO immediately claims credit for his "daring and decisive" behaviour. As usual with him, it's BS.

Read the following accurate account.

Philips’ first leap into the warm, dark water of the Indian Ocean hadn’t worked out as well. With the Bainbridge in range and a rescue by his country’s Navy possible, Philips threw himself off of his lifeboat prison, enabling Navy shooters onboard the destroyer a clear shot at his captors — and none was taken.

The guidance from National Command Authority — the president of the United States, Barack Obama — had been clear: a peaceful solution was the only acceptable outcome to this standoff unless the hostage’s life was in clear, extreme danger.

The next day, a small Navy boat approaching the floating raft was fired on by the Somali pirates — and again no fire was returned and no pirates killed. This was again due to the cautious stance assumed by Navy personnel thanks to the combination of a lack of clear guidance from Washington and a mandate from the commander in chief’s staff not to act until Obama, a man with no background of dealing with such issues and no track record of decisiveness, decided that any outcome other than a “peaceful solution” would be acceptable.

After taking fire from the Somali kidnappers again Saturday night, the on-scene-commander decided he’d had enough.

Keeping his authority to act in the case of a clear and present danger to the hostage’s life and having heard nothing from Washington since yet another request to mount a rescue operation had been denied the day before, the Navy officer — unnamed in all media reports to date — decided the AK47 one captor had leveled at Philips’ back was a threat to the hostage’s life and ordered the NSWC team to take their shots.

Three rounds downrange later, all three brigands became enemy KIA and Philips was safe.

There is upside, downside, and spinside to the series of events over the last week that culminated in yesterday’s dramatic rescue of an American hostage.

Almost immediately following word of the rescue, the Obama administration and its supporters claimed victory against pirates in the Indian Ocean and [1] declared that the dramatic end to the standoff put paid to questions of the inexperienced president’s toughness and decisiveness.

Despite the Obama administration’s (and its sycophants’) attempt to spin yesterday’s success as a result of bold, decisive leadership by the inexperienced president, the reality is nothing of the sort. What should have been a standoff lasting only hours — as long as it took the USS Bainbridge and its team of NSWC operators to steam to the location — became an embarrassing four day and counting standoff between a ragtag handful of criminals with rifles and a U.S. Navy warship.



The Obama Democrats: By the Numbers

$34,000: the amount of federal taxes Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner (D) failed to pay during his employment at the International Monetary Fund despite receiving extra compensation and explanatory brochures that described his tax liabilities.

$75,000: the amount of money that the head of the powerful tax-writing committee, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), was forced to report on his taxes after the discovery that he had not reported income from a Costa Rican rental property. His excuses for the failure started with blaming his wife, then his accountant and finally the fact that he didn't speak Spanish.

$93,000: the amount of petty cash each Congressional representative voted to give themselves in January 2009 during the height of an economic meltdown..

$133,900: the amount Fannie Mae "invested" in Chris Dodd (D-CT), head of the powerful Senate Banking Committee, presumably to repel oversight of the GSE prior to its meltdown. Said meltdown helped touch off the current economic crisis. In only a few years time, Fannie also "invested" over $105,000 in then-Senator Barack Obama.

$140,000: the amount of back taxes and interest that Cabinet nominee Tom Daschle (D-SD) was forced to cough up after the vetting process revealed significant, unexplained tax liabilities.

$356,000: the approximate amount of income and deductions that Daschle (D-SD) was forced to report on his amended 2005 and 2007 tax returns after being caught cheating on his taxes. This includes $255,256 for the use of a car service, $83,333 in unreported income, and $14,963 in charitable contributions.

$800,000: the amount of "sweetheart" mortgages Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) received from Countrywide Financial, the details for which he has refused to release despite months of promises to do so. Countrywide was once the nation's largest mortgage lender and linked to Government-Sponsored Entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Their meltdown precipitated the current financial crisis. Just days ago in Pennsylvania, Countrywide was forced to pay $150,000,000 in mortgage assistance following "a state investigation that concluded that Countrywide relaxed its underwriting standards to sell risky loans to consumers who did not understand them and could not afford them."

$12,000,000: the amount of TARP money provided to community bank OneUnited despite the fact that it did not qualify for funds, and was "under attack from its regulators for allegations of poor lending practices and executive-pay abuses." It turns out that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), a key contributor to the Fannie Mae meltdown, just happens to be married to one of the bank's ex-directors.

$23,500,000: The upper range of net worth Rep. Allan Mollohan (D-WV) accumulated in four years time according to The Washington Post through earmarks of "tens of millions of dollars to groups associated with his own business partners."

$2,000,000,000: ($2 billion) the approximate amount of money that House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) is earmarking related to his son's lobbying efforts. Craig Obey is "a top lobbyist for the nonprofit group" that would receive a roughly $2 billion component of the "Stimulus" package.

$3,700,000,000: ($3.7 billion) not to be outdone, this is the estimated value of various defense contracts awarded to a company controlled by the husband of Rep. Diane Feinstein (D-CA). Despite an obvious conflict-of-interest as "a member of the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee, Sen. Feinstein voted for appropriations worth billions to her husband's firms ."

$4,190,000,000: ($4.19 billion) the amount of money in the so-called "Stimulus" package devoted to fraudulent voter registration ACORN group under the auspices of "Community Stabilization Activities". ACORN is currently the subject of a RICO suit in Ohio.

It's not just a culture of corruption. It's a culture of corruption and stupidity. All of the aforementioned clowns are still in office, ruling like the royalty they've become.



The latest NYT editorial

The Somali pirate “crisis” has triggered many of the responses one would expect. People are angry, demanding action and often violence against pirates. Even the usually peaceful — some might even say Christ-like — President Obama didn’t put a stop to the siege against the pirates, and now he has pirate blood on his well-manicured hands. And Americans are happy about this! Perhaps all the anger is because we think we’ve been victimized, like the pirates just randomly decided to try and loot our ships and take our people hostage for ransom. But there is nothing random about this. It’s time to stop and really ask ourselves the hard question: Why do they plunder us?

...what’s the real solution? Instead of harming the pirates, we need to learn to work with them. All they want is to take people hostage and get ransom money to feed their pirate families. This is money we can easily afford, so what is the problem? Hostage-taking does delay a shipping schedule, but that’s something we can easily work around. Maybe we can devise a system to instantly wire pirates the ransom money as soon as they board, allowing them to leave victorious and with little delay. That allows them to keep feeling like they are in control while minimizing the harm to us. We can also develop a program to teach pirates necessary 21st century skills that will help move them from piracy on the high seas to the more modern and less violent software piracy. Finally, we can start using “pirate” as a term of respect instead of mockery. That way, they can maybe see us not just as targets for plunder but perhaps also as friends.

More HERE (Satire)


LGF has changed sides

A second Andrew Sullivan. That hunger for approval CAN overwhelm facts and logic

I hadn’t followed LGF for a while, and then I finally started using an RSS reader recently and began adding all the big blogs including one of the first blogs I had ever read: Little Green Footballs. I missed what led to it, but Charles Johnson seemed to be on a anti-Creationism kick now… which is okay. Some of them can be quite annoying and a little obtuse at times. It seemed like half his posts were on the subject, though, and something about that seemed well… a bit off, I guess. I basically agreed with him, it’s just the intensity that was disturbing. I’m not even sure most biologist care to get in that debate that much. Then he started getting on what he saw as extremism anywhere in the right-wing. Okay, extremism is bad, so I guess that’s okay. But then it seemed like every post was on some conservative idiocy he wanted to expose. Eventually I was like, “Am I remembering wrong, or didn’t he used to go after liberals too?”

So yesterday I saw he had a headline with Napolitano in the title, and I thought, “This should be good. It will be neat to go after her idiocy.” But no, it was Judge Andrew Napolitano from FOX News of course, because why talk about the Obama administration when someone on FOX News said something or other. And maybe he had a good point about Andrew Napolitano, but I just didn’t care. There are already plenty of blogs focused on constantly exposing bad things about the right-wing — they’re called liberal blogs. If you are a friend of the right and are one day critical, everyone will sit up and pay attention. If that’s all you do, eventually to conservatives you become as tiresome and predictable as any kneejerk liberal.

Which is only an issue if you care whether conservatives want to read you.

Look at his post on the tea parties. If that appeared in the comments section of Hot Air, we would have called him a concern troll. The dude is gone. Sullivan gone. BTW, if I ever start posting hate mail from right-wing idiots to show how brave I am for saying the hard truth and to get my ego assuaged by my sycophants, please get me professional help.



An interesting comment from a reader:

"While reading through China's government website, I came across an interesting statement on their "Economic system" page. According to the government's web site, a policy "encouraging certain lead groups and areas to become rich first, enabling them to help others towards prosperity too" was adopted. Isn't that Ronald Reagan's trickle-down economics? Today's reported Obama's response to Tea Party protestors: "Americans need a "government that is working to create jobs and opportunity for them, rather than simply giving more and more to those at the very top in the false hope that wealth will trickle down." While China is moving away from a centralized government toward trick-down economics, America is moving towards centralized government".


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Stiglitz Says Ties to Wall Street Doom Bank Rescue

Stiglitz is Left-leaning but is a very distinguished economist. Most of what he says seems obviously true to me. Savers deserved protection under existing FDIC guarantees but the insolvent banks should have been allowed to fail -- as any badly managed business should be -- JR

The Obama administration’s bank- rescue efforts will probably fail because the programs have been designed to help Wall Street rather than create a viable financial system, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said. “All the ingredients they have so far are weak, and there are several missing ingredients,” Stiglitz said in an interview yesterday. The people who designed the plans are “either in the pocket of the banks or they’re incompetent.”

The Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, isn’t large enough to recapitalize the banking system, and the administration hasn’t been direct in addressing that shortfall, he said. Stiglitz said there are conflicts of interest at the White House because some of Obama’s advisers have close ties to Wall Street. “We don’t have enough money, they don’t want to go back to Congress, and they don’t want to do it in an open way and they don’t want to get control” of the banks, a set of constraints that will guarantee failure, Stiglitz said.

The return to taxpayers from the TARP is as low as 25 cents on the dollar, he said. “The bank restructuring has been an absolute mess.” Rather than continually buying small stakes in banks, the government should put weaker banks through a receivership where the shareholders of the banks are wiped out and the bondholders become the shareholders, using taxpayer money to keep the institutions functioning, he said.

Stiglitz, 66, won the Nobel in 2001 for showing that markets are inefficient when all parties in a transaction don’t have equal access to critical information, which is most of the time. His work is cited in more economic papers than that of any of his peers, according to a February ranking by Research Papers in Economics, an international database.

Financial shares have rallied in the past month as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. all reported better-than-expected earnings in the first quarter. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Financials Index has soared 91 percent from its low of 78.45 on March 6.

The Public-Private Investment Program, PPIP, designed to buy bad assets from banks, “is a really bad program,” Stiglitz said. It won’t accomplish the administration’s goal of establishing a price for illiquid assets clogging banks’ balance sheets, and instead will enrich investors while sticking taxpayers with huge losses, he said.

“You’re really bailing out the shareholders and the bondholders,” he said. “Some of the people likely to be involved in this, like Pimco, are big bondholders,” he said, referring to Pacific Investment Management Co., a bond investment firm in Newport Beach, California.

Stiglitz said taxpayer losses are likely to be much larger than bank profits from the PPIP program even though Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair has said the agency expects no losses. “The statement from Sheila Bair that there’s no risk is absurd,” he said, because losses from the PPIP will be borne by the FDIC, which is funded by member banks. Andrew Gray, an FDIC spokesman, said Bair never said there would be no risk, only that the agency had “zero expected cost” from the program.

“We’re going to be asking all the banks, including presumably some healthy banks, to pay for the losses of the bad banks,” Stiglitz said. “It’s a real redistribution and a tax on all American savers.”

Stiglitz was also concerned about the links between White House advisers and Wall Street. Hedge fund D.E. Shaw & Co. paid National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers, a managing director of the firm, more than $5 million in salary and other compensation in the 16 months before he joined the administration. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. “America has had a revolving door. People go from Wall Street to Treasury and back to Wall Street,” he said. “Even if there is no quid pro quo, that is not the issue. The issue is the mindset.” ...

Stiglitz was also critical of Obama’s other economic rescue programs. He called the $787 billion stimulus program necessary but “flawed” because too much spending comes after 2009, and because it devotes too much of the money to tax cuts “which aren’t likely to work very effectively.” “It’s really a peculiar policy, I think,” he said.

The $75 billion mortgage relief program, meanwhile, doesn’t do enough to help Americans who can’t afford to make their monthly payments, he said. It doesn’t reduce principal, doesn’t make changes in bankruptcy law that would help people work out debts, and doesn’t change the incentive to simply stop making payments once a mortgage is greater than the value of a house.

Stiglitz said the Fed, while it’s done almost all it can to bring the country back from the worst recession since 1982, can’t revive the economy on its own. Relying on low interest rates to help put a floor under housing prices is a variation on the policies that created the housing bubble in the first place, Stiglitz said.




During a White House press briefing yesterday, ABC's Jake Tapper pointed out that unemployment is right about where an Obama economic adviser predicted it would be without the stimulus.

Tapper also noted that Obama had announced the 2,000th stimulus project the day before, but it turns out that this is the 2,000th planned project. Tapper asks Gibbs: How many projects have actually been started?

Gibbs will, uh, look into it: "I can certainly look for a number. I think what we highlighted was the fact that you've got bids that are coming in. You've got the acceptance of a bid. But I can get exact numbers in terms of how much ground has actually been broken."
Oh, and about that very worthwhile 2,000th project, the Christian Science Monitor reports:
[I]t seems almost churlish to question whether Kalamazoo County really needs three east- and three west-bound lanes on I-94, especially at a cost of $68 million to federal taxpayers. While the population of the western Michigan county has grown 3 percent since 2000, it’s not exactly congested. “We’ve got a lot of things to deal with out here, but traffic isn’t one of them,” said Monitor correspondent and Kalamazoo resident Yvonne Zipp in an interview. Rush hour lasts 10 minutes, maybe 15 on a Friday, she added.




Stock market corrections are beautiful — and necessary: “Every correction is different, the result of various economic and/or political circumstances that create the need for adjustments in the financial markets. While everything is down in price, as it is now, there is actually less to worry about. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. In this case, an overheated real estate market, an overdose of financial bad judgment, and a damn the torpedoes stock market, propelled by demand for speculative derivative securities and Hedge Funds, finally came unglued. But it is the reality of corrections that is one of the few certainties of the financial world, one that separates the men from the boys, if you will. If you fixate on your portfolio market value during a correction, you will just give yourself a headache, or worse.”

Wiretaps OK if the Obama regime does it: "The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews. Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic."

Tea parties widespread: "Wednesday’s deadline for filing income tax returns offered some Americans a timely excuse to vent their frustrations as demonstrators attended more than 750 Tax Day tea parties in cities like Boston, Washington, East Hampton, N.Y., and Yakima, Wash. The events were meant to protest government spending, particularly the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus package and its $3.5 trillion budget. Fox News covered the events all day with reporters and hosts at the scenes. Neil Cavuto, a Fox host, and Michelle Malkin, a conservative contributor, headlined the protests in Sacramento while Sean Hannity broadcast his show from the protests in Atlanta. The Web site listed its sponsors, including FreedomWorks, a group founded by Dick Armey, the former House majority leader; Top Conservatives on Twitter; and The idea for the demonstrations grew in part out of a blast from Rick Santelli, a CNBC commentator who on Feb. 19 at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange said that the Obama administration was promoting “bad behavior”.

Swedish Canutes trying to hold back the tide: "A court last night found four men guilty of promoting copyright infringement by running The Pirate Bay, one of the world's top websites for illegal file-sharing, and sentenced them to a year in prison. The court also ordered the four - Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundstroem - to pay damages of 30 million kronor ($4.9million) to the recording industry, which hailed the ruling as a symbolic victory. "The Stockholm district court has today convicted the four people charged with promoting other people's infringement of copyright laws," the court said in a statement. Representatives of the film, music and video games industry had sought 117 million kronor in damages and interest for losses incurred from millions of illegal downloads facilitated by the site. Founded in 2003, The Pirate Bay makes it possible to skirt copyright fees and share music, film and computer game files using bit torrent technology, or peer-to-peer links offered on the site. None of the material can thus be found on The Pirate Bay server itself. The four, who denied any wrongdoing, are expected to appeal against the verdict and had previously vowed to take the case as high as the Supreme Court."

The fox put in charge of the henhouse: "The White House turned to an experienced former investment banker Friday to run the federal government's $700 billion bank rescue effort, selecting the head of mortgage giant Fannie Mae as an assistant treasury secretary. Herbert Allison Jr., Fannie Mae's president and CEO, will replace Neel Kashkari, a holdover from the Bush administration. Allison, who must be confirmed by the Senate, would bear the title of assistant treasury secretary for financial stability and counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. He would be in charge of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the fund that has injected billions of dollars into banks in hopes of unclogging credit. He would inherit a program that has been sharply criticized in Congress and which banks have come to view warily because of the restrictions attached to receipt of its funds".

Old dreams are new again: “Faster, more frequent Amtrak trains could be running on Texas tracks in just a few years — and someday soon, bullet trains may zoom across the prairie from a Dallas-Fort Worth hub — after President Barack Obama announced a major commitment Thursday to high-speed rail. An infusion totaling $8 billion in federal stimulus money and $5 billion from the federal budget over five years will be spent on track upgrades and other improvements in up to 10 corridors across the U.S. beginning this year.”

Obama’s opiate: “Let’s cut through all of Barack Obama’s baloney. His speech on the economy at Georgetown University on Tuesday was a testament to the massive ego of a callow leader with grandiose pretensions bordering on megalomania. Everything he outlined in his vision for a near-Utopian economic future is designed to come about through the intervention of a government central planner — his own Oneself — combined with the coercive force of government to make it happen. It’s a promise of economic growth at the point of a gun, at least tacit if not explicit — and all as if some genius in the Oval Office or elsewhere in Washington has the wherewithal to know exactly how and where to ‘invest’ and to ‘regulate’ and to ’stimulate’ and to ‘reform’ (the latter meaning, in most cases, to have government either take over something or else kill something it currently considers politically incorrect).”

And they call US paranoid … : "The federal government’s latest warning to police agencies about ‘rightwing extremists’ is an outrage and adds fuel to an increasingly troubling situation. The report, titled, ‘Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment’ was produced by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division of the Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the FBI. It consists of 8 pages of what can only be described as paranoid ranting and conflation.” [Michelle Malkin has more details]


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kristof of the NYT thinks he has made a great discovery

He thinks he has found a book that undermines the heritability of IQ. As I said a couple of weeks ago:

"There are always books and articles coming out that purport to show that IQ is unimportant, not hereditary and uniform across races. The research findings show the opposite but that offends against the "all men are equal" credo of the Left so the facts have to be got rid of somehow. Another such treatise has just arrived. I have not read the book and nothing in the review encourages me to do so but I assume that some of my colleagues who specialize in IQ studies will read it and dissect it in due course. Meanwhile, I just offer a few comments (In italics) that occur to me. The book is INTELLIGENCE AND HOW TO GET IT. Why Schools and Culture Count by Richard E. Nisbett. The book is actually better than most in that it is largely research-based so concedes the two major facts that always stick in Leftist craws: That IQ is important and is largely hereditary"

A point to note is that NOBODY denies that environment has SOME influence on final measured adult IQ but environment can only work within the limits set by heredity. No environment in all the world will make everybody into an Einstein. So there SHOULD be various things you can do which will raise that final adult IQ substantially. They seem very hard to find, however -- which suggests that we tend to UNDERestimate the limits set by genetics.

See my previous comments on the Nisbett work but I also do a bit of fisking of Kristoff's article below
Poor people have I.Q.’s significantly lower than those of rich people, and the awkward conventional wisdom has been that this is in large part a function of genetics. After all, a series of studies seemed to indicate that I.Q. is largely inherited. Identical twins raised apart, for example, have I.Q.’s that are remarkably similar. They are even closer on average than those of fraternal twins who grow up together.

If intelligence were deeply encoded in our genes, that would lead to the depressing conclusion that neither schooling nor antipoverty programs can accomplish much. Yet while this view of I.Q. as overwhelmingly inherited has been widely held, the evidence is growing that it is, at a practical level, profoundly wrong. Richard Nisbett, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, has just demolished this view in a superb new book, “Intelligence and How to Get It,” which also offers terrific advice for addressing poverty and inequality in America.

Professor Nisbett provides suggestions for transforming your own urchins into geniuses — praise effort more than achievement, teach delayed gratification, limit reprimands and use praise to stimulate curiosity — but focuses on how to raise America’s collective I.Q. That’s important, because while I.Q. doesn’t measure pure intellect — we’re not certain exactly what it does measure [There is not the slightest mystery about what it measures. It measures general problem-solving ability] — differences do matter, and a higher I.Q. correlates to greater success in life.

Intelligence does seem to be highly inherited in middle-class households, and that’s the reason for the findings of the twins studies: very few impoverished kids were included in those studies. But Eric Turkheimer of the University of Virginia has conducted further research demonstrating that in poor and chaotic [black] households, I.Q. is minimally the result of genetics — because everybody is held back. [Possibly true and not unreasonable but comparable British studies do not confirm that conclusion]. “Bad environments suppress children’s [measured] I.Q.’s,” Professor Turkheimer said.

One gauge of that is that when poor children are adopted into upper-middle-class households, their I.Q.’s rise by 12 to 18 points, depending on the study. For example, a French study showed that children from poor households adopted into upper-middle-class homes averaged an I.Q. of 107 by one test and 111 by another. Their siblings who were not adopted averaged 95 on both tests. [Adoption studies suffer from the problem that only the most attractive children tend to be adopted and I doubt that the French study included many blacks. Even so, the Minnesota adoption study, which DID feature blacks, found a continuing long-term IQ deficit in black children adopted into white households]

Another indication of malleability is that I.Q. has risen sharply over time. Indeed, the average I.Q. of a person in 1917 would amount to only 73 on today’s I.Q. test. Half the population of 1917 would be considered mentally retarded by today’s measurements, Professor Nisbett says. [An old chestnut. This is the "Flynn effect". The short point to note is that BOTH black and white IQs rose. The gap did not close]

Good schooling correlates particularly closely to higher I.Q.’s. One indication of the importance of school is that children’s I.Q.’s drop or stagnate over the summer months when they are on vacation (particularly for kids whose parents don’t inflict books or summer programs on them). [mainly a motivational deficit]

Professor Nisbett strongly advocates intensive early childhood education because of its proven ability to raise I.Q. and improve long-term outcomes. The Milwaukee Project, for example, took African-American children considered at risk for mental retardation and assigned them randomly either to a control group that received no help or to a group that enjoyed intensive day care and education from 6 months of age until they left to enter first grade. By age 5, the children in the program averaged an I.Q. of 110, compared with 83 for children in the control group. Even years later in adolescence, those children were still 10 points ahead in I.Q. [I don't know that study but gains from programs like that do not last into adulthood -- as even the post below this one admits]

Professor Nisbett suggests putting less money into Head Start, which has a mixed record [to put it kindly], and more into these intensive childhood programs. He also notes that schools in the Knowledge Is Power Program (better known as KIPP) have tested exceptionally well and favors experiments to see if they can be scaled up. [KIPP is undoubtedly good at getting the best out of what potential is there]

Another proven intervention is to tell junior-high-school students that I.Q. is expandable, and that their intelligence is something they can help shape. Students exposed to that idea work harder and get better grades. That’s particularly true of girls and math, apparently because some girls assume that they are genetically disadvantaged at numbers; deprived of an excuse for failure, they excel. [Yes. Motivation is a factor -- a small one] “Some of the things that work are very cheap,” Professor Nisbett noted. “Convincing junior-high kids that intelligence is under their control — you could argue that that should be in the junior-high curriculum right now.”

The implication of this new research on intelligence is that the economic-stimulus package should also be an intellectual-stimulus program. By my calculation, if we were to push early childhood education [There is now quite a lot of evidence that early childhood education is harmful to most children in institutional settings such as kindergarten and preschool] and bolster schools in poor neighborhoods, we just might be able to raise the United States collective I.Q. by as much as one billion points. That should be a no-brainer.



More optimistic psychology from the NYT

Some seventh graders who were struggling in class did significantly better after performing a series of brief confidence-building writing exercises, and the improvements continued through eighth grade, researchers reported Thursday. The students who benefited most were blacks who were doing poorly, the study found; the exercises made no difference for white students, or for black ones who were already doing well. Experts cautioned that the writing was hardly transforming. Those who benefited were still barely getting C’s, on average, by the end of middle school.

Yet the results were surprising, because interventions to improve school performance tend to have short-term benefits, and the writing assignments were simple 15-minute efforts. By the end of eighth grade, the students who benefited had nearly a half-point higher grade point average than struggling peers who completed a different writing exercise. The study was published in the journal Science.

“A difference of a third or more on G.P.A. is a large effect, and what’s surprising is that there was apparently no fadeout of the effect,” said Greg Duncan, an economist at the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in the research. “Fadeout is the coin of the realm in school intervention studies.” [Nisbett, take note!]


Motivation does have some effect for both good and ill but studies wherein blacks have been highly motivated to do well on tests have shown very little difference in final scores


BrookesNews Update

Can Bernanke's loose monetary policy save the US economy? : Assuming that the American economy is following the usual path of recovery this cannot last. Not just because a great number of financial imbalances have not been liquidated but because it is entirely monetary driven. The Kennedy, Reagan and Bush tax cuts added real savings to the monetary mix which deepened recovery. Now this can only end with accelerating inflation, current account problems and a depreciating dollar
Obama's union policy is poison for the US economy : Obama's defence of union demands is based an appalling ignorance of basic economics and economic history. "Any properly informed person would know that giving in to union demands is the equivalent of economic hemlock. But it's becoming clear that the Democrats' prime directive is to hang on to power whatever the cost to the economy. And if that means caving in to unions - so be it A Castro-supporting
Spanish goes after Bush administration officials with the corrupt media's tacit support : A Spanish socialist judge goes on a witch-hunt - with the encouragement of garbage like Senator Leahy - while the media carry the pitchforks. But the same judge and media went out of their way to protect Castro against prosecution for his crimes
Much Ado (Undue) about the Palins of Alaska : Elements of an elitist, leftist, mostly Eastern-based MSM fear and loathe Governor Sarah Palin - all 5' 7, 125 pounds of her traditional values, anathema to them. She threatens their collectivist goals, shared by most serious liberal Dems. And that is why these political bigots launched their hate machine against her in one of the most crooked and disgusting election campaigns in living memory. But what else does one expect from Democrats
Obama ready to give away the store, meaning the country : Obama apologized to the world for the role America played in the international financial crisis because of inadequate regulation so in his best sack cloth and ashes costume Obama has deliberately subverted our countries interests to a group of countries who don't give a whit about us and that include many that would like to take America down to their level. This is one way Obama can achieve his goal of establishing European Socialism in the United States
CNN is still libelling Israel : The anti-Semitic CNN is at it again. Israelis exercise the right to march in their own town and CNN bigots call them thugs. Why does the CNN hate Jews but loves Islamic terrorists?
Obama's alternate reality : Obama's latest complete disregard of reality is not an isolated incident. The left are adept at crafting their own reality. And any challenge to their reality is met with immediate deflection and scorn for the one who is so utterly naive that they haven't recognized that the rules, along with words, have changed


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Friday, April 17, 2009

Obama's recipe for change not my cup of tea

Excerpt from Ann Coulter

I had no idea how important this week's nationwide anti-tax tea parties were until hearing liberals denounce them with such ferocity. The New York Times' Paul Krugman wrote a column attacking the tea parties, apologizing for making fun of "crazy people." It's OK, Paul, you're allowed to do that for the same reason Jews can make fun of Jews.

The point of the tea parties is to note the fact that the Democrats' modus operandi is to lead voters to believe they are no more likely to raise taxes than Republicans, get elected and immediately raise taxes. Apparently, the people who actually pay taxes consider this a bad idea.

Obama's biggest shortcoming is that he believes the things believed by all Democrats, which have had devastating consequences every time they are put into effect. Among these is the Democrats' admiration for raising taxes on the productive. All Democrats for the last 30 years have tried to stimulate the economy by giving "tax cuts" to people who don't pay taxes. Evidently, offering to expand welfare payments isn't a big vote-getter.

Even Bush had a "stimulus" bill that sent government checks to lots of people last year. Guess what happened? It didn't stimulate the economy. Obama's stimulus bill is the mother of all pork bills for friends of O and of Congressional Democrats. ("O" stands for Obama, not Oprah, but there's probably a lot of overlap.)

The lie at the heart of liberals' mantra on taxes – "tax increases only for the rich" – is the ineluctable fact that unless taxes are raised across the board, the government won't get its money to fund layers and layers of useless government bureaucrats, none of whom can possibly be laid off.

How much would you have to raise taxes before any of Obama's constituents noticed? They don't pay taxes, they engage in "tax-reduction" strategies, they work for the government, or they're too rich to care. (Or they have offshore tax shelters, like George Soros.)

California tried the Obama soak-the-productive "stimulus" plan years ago and was hailed as the perfect exemplar of Democratic governance. In June 2002, the liberal American Prospect magazine called California a "laboratory" for Democratic policies, noting that "California is the only one of the nation's 10 largest states that is uniformly under Democratic control." They said this, mind you, as if it were a good thing. In California, the article proclaimed, "the next new deal is in tryouts." As they say in show biz: "Thanks, we'll call you. Next!"

In just a few years, Democrats had turned California into a state – or as it's now known, a "job-free zone" – with a $41 billion deficit, a credit rating that was slashed to junk-bond status and a middle class now located in Arizona.

Democrats governed California the way Democrats always govern. They bought the votes of government workers with taxpayer-funded jobs, salaries and benefits – and then turned around and accused the productive class of "greed" for wanting not to have their taxes raised through the roof.



Huge flood of newly-created "bailout" money undermines democracy

The wise men of Washington keep finding more core beliefs that we have to give up. First it was free markets. Now it’s democracy. The financial rescue may be the least popular big-ticket government program in history. If the U.S. Treasury decides it needs more money to keep the bailout going, it is anybody’s guess whether Congress would provide it. As a result, Treasury and the Federal Reserve have been running what feels to this lifelong student of fiscal policy like a scam.

Many economists believe that helping financial institutions turn their less liquid assets into hard cash is a key step toward returning them to good footing. The best way to achieve that in a democracy would be for Congress to appropriate the funds to acquire the assets and for Treasury to borrow the money that it needs. But Congress is unwilling to appropriate enough money, so Treasury and the Fed have cooked up a work-around: the Fed buys the assets instead. Since the Fed exists outside of the normal budget process, no permission from elected officials is required.

Here’s a sketch of how it works. Many financial institutions have reserve accounts with the Fed. If one of them shows up with an asset it wants to ditch, the Fed takes it and ratchets up the balance in the reserve account. This means that the Fed is effectively summoning cash out of thin air to purchase the assets. In isolation, such a move might be inconsequential. But the scale of this end-around is enormous. The Fed’s balance sheet is closing in on $2 trillion and stands ready to skyrocket above that. Last month, for example, the Fed committed to buy more than $1 trillion in mortgage-backed securities.

This means that the Fed is printing cash at a rate that, while not threatening historic records set in Weimar Germany, promises to create substantial inflationary pressures once the economy revives. Therein lies the problem. At some point, when the economy begins to pick up again, the Fed will have to withdraw some of those reserves from the system before they ignite an inflation bonfire.

Traditionally, the Fed might withdraw reserves by selling some of the Treasuries it owns. But the scale of the money creation is so grand this time that the Fed might not be able to sell enough Treasuries to meaningfully affect inflation without running up against the debt limit that Congress sets when it gives Treasury the authority to borrow money. The Fed could, in principle, sell some of the assets it has been buying -- but if these assets were liquid, the Fed wouldn’t have been buying them in the first place. Which means it may be extremely difficult to get the cash out of the economy before it is too late.

The Fed has cooked up a solution, though. Vice Chairman Donald Kohn, told an audience at the College of Wooster in Ohio that a possible solution would be for the Fed to issue its own securities, which might be called “Fed bills.” Kohn argued that a key attraction of these bills is that they wouldn’t be subject to the debt ceiling set by Congress. In other words, the Fed wants to have unbounded authority to borrow money and buy assets without the inconvenience of having to explain itself on Capitol Hill.

The actions that have been taken already may indeed necessitate granting the Fed that authority. The cash is out the door, and at some point, the Fed will have to rake it back in. Congress may have to choose between giving the Fed the authority it wants, or having the mother of all inflation episodes.

While fully legal, the steps that have been taken by Treasury and the Fed have clearly been designed to insulate those institutions from the will of Americans’ elected representatives. In that regard, the damage from these actions probably exceeds the benefits. If we accept the view that we can be democratic in some areas but not others, then democracy will wither and die.




French navy capture Somali pirate 'mother ship', US just talks: "The French navy on Wednesday intercepted a pirate "mother ship" in the Gulf of Aden and detained 11 fighters, officials said as the United States called for tougher global action against sea bandits. After Somali pirates attacked an American freighter with rocket grenades, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled a four-point plan that targets pirate assets and more prosecutions in countries that have been the victims of sea hijackings. A French warship caught a "mother ship" 500 nautical miles (925 kilometres) off the Kenyan coast after tracking them from a failed attack on a Liberian-registered vessel, a French Defence Ministry spokesman said. The 10-metre (33-foot) mother ship was carrying two assault skiffs for attacks, the spokesman said, adding that the captives were being held on the warship, the Nivose. "The frigate spotted the pirates on the evening of April 14 when its helicopter intervened to thwart an attack on the merchant ship Safmarine Asia. It followed their boats overnight and intervened at dawn,'' he said. The Nivose is part of an eight-ship anti-piracy task force from France, Germany, Spain and Italy sailing under the EU banner." [Shameful to be shown up by the French. Who are the cheese-eating surrender monkeys now?]

Sarko disses the hot-air man: "France has been cooing along with everyone else over the arrival of Bo Obama at the White House, but the master of America's new First Dog is no longer in good odour with President Sarkozy. Mr Sarkozy is pouring cold water on President Obama's efforts to recast American leadership on the world stage, depicting them as unoriginal, unsubstantial and overrated. Behind leaks and briefings from the Elysée Palace lies Mr Sarkozy's irritation at the rock-star welcome that Europe gave Mr Obama on his Europan tour earlier this month. The American President's call "to free the world of the menace of a nuclear nightmare" was hot air, Mr Sarkozy's diplomatic staff told him in a report. "It was rhetoric – not a speech on American security policy but an export model aimed at improving the image of the United States," they said. Most of Mr Obama's proposals had already been made by the Bush administration and Washington was dragging its feet on disarmament and treaties against nuclear proliferation, the leaked report said".

America’s red sea : “America is diving into a Marianas Trench of red ink. There is barely a digit of black anywhere on the balance sheet, and spendthrift lawmakers are closing off numerous sources of positive revenue. On the spending side of the ledger, the White House and Congress enacted a $700-billion financial bailout, followed by an earmark-laden $787-billion ’stimulus’ law and plans to ladle out $1.6 billion in federal government bonuses in 2009. Then came a $3.5 trillion ‘red sea’ FY 2010 budget, and the prospect of $9.3 trillion in total indebtedness over the coming decade. A March 31 Bloomberg study found that the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, FDIC and HUD have thus far obligated generations of Americans to $12.8 TRILLION in debt.”

Batty Britain: Teachers told to use TV show tactics in class : “Teachers should liven up their lessons by bringing game shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? into the classroom to stop children being disruptive, according to the Government’s behaviour ‘tsar.’ Games based on shows like ITV’s Blockbuster and the Radio 4 panel game Just A Minute could be used to make learning more interesting, Sir Alan Steer says in the final report of a four-year government inquiry into behaviour. Other suggestions include introducing bingo sessions, where pupils mark their cards when the teacher speaks a particular word, and Taboo, which involves describing a word or concept without mentioning certain forbidden words.”

Bishop: Demonstrate but don't disrupt: "Bishop John D'Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, whose diocese includes the University of Notre Dame, has issued a statement urging pro-life protesters to host only peaceful and respectful demonstrations against the school's honoring of President Obama. Obama is scheduled to give the university's commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate of law May 17. A spokesman from the diocese told LifeSiteNews that, contrary to news reports that misinterpreted the bishop's statement by saying that the bishop was discouraging all public protests, the bishop has no problem with peaceful and prayerful protests against the Notre Dame scandal. "I urge all Catholics and others of good will to stay away from unseemly and unhelpful demonstrations against our nation's president or Notre Dame or Father John I. Jenkins, CSC," said the bishop in the April 10 statement. Bishop D'Arcy has repeatedly condemned the honor, saying that Notre Dame "has alienated itself from the Catholic community." He has said that he will boycott the ceremony."

Drunken Nation: Russia’s Depopulation Bomb: "A specter is haunting Russia today. It is not the specter of Communism—that ghost has been chained in the attic of the past—but rather of depopulation—a relentless, unremitting, and perhaps unstoppable depopulation. The mass deaths associated with the Communist era may be history, but another sort of mass death may have only just begun, as Russians practice what amounts to an ethnic self-cleansing. Since 1992, Russia’s human numbers have been progressively dwindling.... The current Russian depopulation—which began in 1992 and shows no signs of abating—was, like the previous episodes, also precipitated by events of momentous political significance: the final dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of Communist Party rule... Unlike drinking patterns prevalent in, say, Mediterranean regions—where wine is regarded as an elixir for enhancing conversation over meals and other social gatherings, and where public drunkenness carries an embarrassing stigma—mind-numbing, stupefying binge drinking of hard spirits is an accepted norm in Russia and greatly increases the danger of fatal injury through falls, traffic accidents, violent confrontations, homicide, suicide, and so on. Further, extreme binge drinking (especially of hard spirits) is associated with stress on the cardiovascular system and heightened risk of CVD [heart disease] mortality".


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Thursday, April 16, 2009


The usual attitude of contempt that Leftists have for members of the military (See e.g. here) fills me with disgust. The risks and sacrifices that are routine for the military mean nothing to sneering Leftists. I guess the military remind the Leftist of his own weakness and cowardice. The ego of a Leftist is too big to admit that the Leftist depends on the hated normal people for his safety. He has to disparage what he cannot emulate.



Shortly after class, an economics student approaches his economics professor and says, "I don't understand this stimulus bill. Can you explain it to me?" The professor replied, "I don't have any time to explain it at my office, but if you come over to my house on Saturday and help me with my weekend project, I'll be glad to explain it to you." The student agreed.

At the agreed-upon time, the student showed up at the professor's house. The professor stated that the weekend project involved his backyard pool. They both went out back to the pool, and the professor handed the student a bucket. Demonstrating with his own bucket, the professor said, "First, go over to the deep end, and fill your bucket with as much water as you can." The student did as he was instructed. The professor then continued, "Follow me over to the shallow end, and then dump all the water from your bucket into it." The student was naturally confused, but did as he was told. The professor then explained they were going to do this many more times, and began walking back to the deep end of the pool.

The confused student asked, "Excuse me, but why are we doing this?" The professor matter-of-factly stated that he was trying to make the shallow end much deeper. The student didn't think the economics professor was serious, but figured that he would find out the real story soon enough. However, after the 6th trip between the shallow end and the deep end, the student began to become worried that his economics professor had gone mad.

The student finally replied, "All we're doing is wasting valuable time and effort on unproductive pursuits. Even worse, when this process is all over, everything will be at the same level it was before, so all you'll really have accomplished is the destruction of what could have been truly productive action!" The professor put down his bucket and replied with a smile, "Congratulations. You now understand the stimulus bill."


So much for IE8

In bright-eyed hopefulness, I have just tried to install Microsoft's IE8 browser. What a clunker! I didn't even get past the install. I have a Hewlett Packard printer/scanner/copier and the IE8 program is not compatible with it! You can see that Bill Gates is no longer in charge. Anyone with half a brain would have provided a patch to the HP software that the IE8 install program could have downloaded and applied. Since 3-in-1 machines are getting pretty common, Microsoft is for no obvious reason locking itself out of a big market. How come Firefox and Chrome have no such problems? IE8 is actually worse than IE7! Since Vista has also been a failure, I think we might be seeing the beginning of the end of Microsoft's dominance. Will Microsoft be another GM?


Obama's DHS Targets Tea Parties? Really!?!

Seriously? The Department of Homeland Security? The guys with the multi-billion dollar budget who are supposed to protect us from terrorists and other bad people are targeting the conservative grassroots tea parties? Really!?! They have nothing better to do? Really!?!

So when you think terror, you think Edmund Burke admiring, tea wasting, tax hike loathing, free speech upholding, constitution loving protestors who took the day to symbolize their opposition to the current statist agenda. Really DHS? Really?!

They even commissioned a study: The "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment." No seriously, this is real, really real! So our tax dollars aren't just going to bankruptcy bound auto companies and irresponsibile banks, they're going to fight the principles America was founded on! Really DHS? Really?!

Don't you have some pirates or something to worry about...




Obama's tax reckoning coming: "The Obama administration will be hard-pressed to avoid raising taxes on the middle class, according to economists crunching federal budget numbers in the lead-up to tax return day - today, April 15. In coming years, almost all households will receive hundreds of dollars in tax cuts under proposals highlighted in Obama's first budget, but the top 0.1 percent of the population would see an average increased tax burden of $371,675, according to calculations by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Much of that revenue would pay for the tax cuts going to others. Many economists, including some who voted for Obama, do not believe that he can indefinitely avoid imposing tax increases much further down the income scale - on the middle class. "You just simply can't tax the rich enough to make this all up," said Martin A. Sullivan, a former economic aide in the Reagan administration who said he backed Obama last fall. "Especially just for getting the budget to a sustainable level, there needs to be a broad-based tax increase," said Sullivan, now a contributing editor at Tax Analysts publications. "If you want to do healthcare on top of that, almost certainly, it just makes [a middle-class tax increase] all the more certain."

Bank bailouts: Necessary? Effective? : "Call it bailout remorse. With economic signs beginning to point upward and banks returning federal rescue funds, analysts are now debating whether the government's $700 billion bailout program, known as the troubled assets relief program, or TARP, was ever necessary. Some say a normal business cycle and Federal Reserve policy, not TARP, accounts for the strong profit forecast from Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs, a drop in unemployment benefit filings and several retailers predicting solid April sales. `I think there's little evidence that the TARP money that has been disbursed so far has had any measurable effect on the economy, especially when you talk about what the Fed has been doing,' said Josh Bivens, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute."

Government bonds and the inflation bomb: "China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. government bonds. But, instead of buying more of those bonds as our skyrocketing national debt leads to more bonds being issued, China has been selling some of its U.S. government bonds this year. The Chinese are no fools. They know that all this unbridled spending - even when it is called `investment' - means that inflation is coming. That in turn means that the dollars with which U.S. government bonds will be paid off will be worth a lot less than the dollars with which the bonds were bought."

Auto accidents, AIDS, contraception and the Pope: "Suppose you make cars safer by requiring seat belts, collapsible stearing columns, and other changes that make it less likely that an auto accident will kill the car's occupants. The obvious conclusion, and the one many people reach, is that the highway death rate will go down. Sam Peltzman, in a classic article, pointed out that there was no good theoretical reason to expect that to happen. Auto accidents do not simply happen; they are the result of decisions made by drivers, such as how fast to drive, how much attention to pay to driving and how much to conversations with your passengers or listening to the radio, whether to drive home or take a cab after drinking a little too much. Making cars safer lowers the cost of dangerous driving; on the margin, drivers are more willing to risk accidents the less likely accidents are to kill them. So making cars safer results in fewer deaths per accident but more accidents."

TARP the life insurers? This is nuts: "Is bailout nation about to strike again? Sure looks like it. According to a bunch of front-page news stories, life-insurance companies are about to get TARPed. This is nuts. The public is clamoring for an end to TARP and bailout nation. That's a key message coming from the heartland tea parties that are cropping up spontaneously around the country. This is turning into a real populist uprising against rising taxes (especially state, local, and property taxes), TARP, and all the federal bailouts - and the trillions of dollars of deficits and debt being used for financing. If Team Obama ignores this uprising, it has a political tin ear."

U.N. spent U.S. funds on shoddy projects: "Two United Nations agencies spent millions in U.S. money on substandard Afghanistan construction projects, including a central bank without electricity and a bridge at risk of "life threatening" collapse, according to an investigation by U.S. federal agents. The U.N. ran a "quick impact" infrastructure program from 2003 to 2006 under a $25 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The U.N. delivered shoddy work, diverted money to other countries and then stonewalled U.S. efforts to figure out what happened, according to a report by USAID's inspector general obtained by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act".


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax revolt a recipe for tea parties

Jenny Beth Martin remembers the day she became a protester. Her husband's business had gone under, and the two were cleaning houses in Atlanta to stay afloat. That was when they heard about a tirade against President Obama's mortgage bailout scheme by a financial news analyst calling for a modern-day Boston Tea Party revolt. "We had just lost our house and had ... moved into the rental house," says Martin, 38, whose husband Lee's temporary-employee firm had 5,000 workers before it went down in the recession. "I didn't want other people paying for my mortgage, and I wanted to prevent that in other places," she says.

What started out as a handful of people blogging about their anger over federal spending — the bailouts, the $787 billion stimulus package and Obama's budget — has grown into scores of so-called tea parties across the country. The biggest demonstration so far drew 6,000 people in Cincinnati. A nationwide protest in 500 cities and towns is scheduled for Wednesday, the deadline for filing federal income tax returns. The goal is to pressure Congress and states to reject government spending as a way out of the recession and build an anti-spending coalition around regular taxpayers. "The tea parties are a means, not an end," says lawyer Mark Meckler of Grass Valley, Calif.

The events have largely been gatherings of people venting frustration over a variety of tax issues, carrying signs such as "Tar and feather Washington" and "Spread my work ethic, not my wealth."

Reuven Avi-Yonah, a tax historian at the University of Michigan, notes that the United States was born out of a tax revolt by British colonists, but little happened in the two centuries that followed until the California property-tax revolts of the 1970s. "I don't know how much this represents popular sentiment," he says of today's tea parties. "I'm not sure that the majority of the middle class agrees or that this is going to be politically effective."

Where the tea-party protesters see irresponsible borrowers and politicians heedless of the growing federal budget deficit, others see downtrodden homeowners and public officials making tough choices. Brendan Daly, spokesman for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, says concern over the deficit is justified, but "we need to have this budget bill ... to grow our economy."

The inspiration for the tea parties was an on-air rant Feb. 19 by Rick Santelli of CNBC, who complained that Obama's $75 billion bailout of mortgage defaulters "rewarded bad behavior." As traders at the Chicago Board of Trade behind him cheered, Santelli said it was time for a new Tea Party, referring to the tax protest in 1773 by colonists who dumped chests of tea into Boston Harbor. The remarks spread quickly through e-mail and websites such as Facebook and YouTube, which has recorded more than a million views of the Santelli video clip. Organized parties soon popped up in Atlanta, Denver and St. Louis. Some attracted no more than a few dozen people. Others drew thousands.

Organizers say they were not pleased by former president George W. Bush's performance on spending, either, but what moved them from yelling at the TV to rallying in the streets was Obama's proposed $3.6 trillion budget, a package the Congressional Budget Office says would produce record-breaking deficits of $9.3 trillion over 10 years.

Bridgett Wagner, director of coalition relations at the conservative Heritage Foundation, sees a possible reprise of the tax revolt of the 1970s and '80s, when a California movement to slash and cap property taxes led to successful ballot measures from the West Coast to Michigan and Massachusetts. "These movements in the past have shown that when people have finally had enough, even the politicians at some point have to listen," says Wagner, calling it a "bottom-up" phenomenon.

The Information Age has given people the ability to network as never before, she says. In that sense, the Tea Party movement resembles the early days of, which began in 1998 as a small, tech-savvy liberal group and became a behemoth in Internet fundraising and rallying. "They're catching up on the tools," says Ilyse Hogue,'s spokeswoman. Hogue was dismissive of the several hundred events the Tea Party organizers plan for Wednesday, saying her group routinely mobilizes many more.

Nevertheless, Jenny Beth Martin, a former paid consultant for local Republican candidates, says the strength of the Tea Party movement is the emergence of people not known for street action. "It's not your hippie protesters," she says. "It's people who are working hard for their families and they don't want their money taken away from them to be given to people who aren't working hard."

Meckler agrees. He says, "They're supposed to energize a group of new activists, show them there are people much like themselves." Dawn Wildman of San Diego, who is organizing four tea parties, says lawmakers should not be dismissive. "We're seeing how you vote," she says. "You're not paying attention to your constituency. We put you there, and we can take you out."


Info here for those who wish to take part



Google wins one and loses one. Some hours ago, Google blocked my AUSTRALIAN POLITICS blog, allegedly for violating their "Terms of Service". But it unblocked the blog only about an hour later. That is surprisingly fast. They have blocked most of my blogs over the years and it usually takes a couple of days to lift the blocking. The economic downturn must have made them more eager to please their "customers".

But I have just noticed that Google's "Chrome" browser truncates my side column in this blog. Firefox does too, but at a different point. IE7 truncates nothing. It confirms what I have always found: That IE7 is the best browser for just reading stuff. For other things Chrome is best and for different things again Firefox is best. It's rather tedious to have to use 3 browsers to get the best results so I think I will upgrade to IE8 as soon as I get the time. Hopefully, it has the good features of all the other three browsers all in one. I can dream, can't I?

Curiously, I have in recent times been posting an extra copy of this blog using a more modern template here. It's partly paranoia about Google blocking this blog and partly the fact that it takes me only a few seconds extra to do so. And THAT copy of this blog is correctly read by all 3 browsers! Strange are the ways of the internet!



Muslim daughter killed over mini-skirt: "An Azeri immigrant in Russia's northern city of Saint Petersburg has been charged with hiring hit men to kill his 21-year-old daughter for wearing a mini-skirt, police said today. The man's arrest follows the detention last week of two other citizens of Azerbaijan, a majority Muslim state in the Caucasus, who confessed to murdering the girl, a university medical student. “They admitted to being paid 100,000 rubles ($4140) by the girl's father. They said he wanted to punish his daughter for flouting national traditions and wearing a mini-skirt,” a police source told said today. The girl was abducted on the street in Russia's second city on March 8, taken to the outskirts of Saint Petersburg and then shot twice in the head, the source said."

Clever lawyers could not get this garbage off: Music producer Phil Spector was today found guilty of second degree murder in the shooting death of an actress at his Hollywood mansion in 2003. A Los Angeles jury returned the verdict against Spector, 69, after a five-month retrial. Spector could spend the rest of his life behind bars after he is sentenced on May 29. The first trial ended in a jury deadlock in September 2007. Lana Clarkson, 40, a B-movie actress, died from a shot through the mouth fired from Spector's gun in the foyer of the his fake castle home on February 3, 2003 in the Alhambra community of Los Angeles. The two had met only hours earlier at a Hollywood nightclub. In the second trial, the jury was given the option of finding Spector guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter. Under California law, a decision to convict or acquit must be unanimous". [But they'll probably keep appealing it until the day he dies]

A criminally stupid war on drugs : “How much misery can a policy cause before it is acknowledged as a failure and reversed? The US ‘war on drugs’ suggests there is no upper limit. The country’s implacable blend of prohibition and punitive criminal justice is wrong-headed in every way: immoral in principle, since it prosecutes victimless crimes, and in practice a disaster of remarkable proportions. Yet for a US politician to suggest wholesale reform of this brainless regime is still seen as an act of reckless self-harm.”

A new leaf? “Back in the 1980s, I pored through hundreds of pages of microfiche, the compact storage method for written material before the digital age, to research the Register’s opinions about drug laws through the decades. I found any number of editorials and columns written during the 1970s that confidently predicted that the laws against marijuana possession, cultivation and use would be repealed within a matter of years. This was in the years, remember, immediately following public release of the 1972 Shafer Commission report, headed by the former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, that found that the dangers of marijuana were vastly overestimated and that attempts to prohibit its use had not only failed but had inflicted serious social harms on the country — harms far greater than the use of marijuana itself, including financing of criminal gangs and widespread disrespect for laws that were obviously unenforceable. It didn’t exactly turn out that way, did it? That’s something to remember in a period when serious discussion of the possibility of repealing or reforming America’s drug laws is at a level higher than almost anybody can remember.”

Politicians’ false health care promises: “Washington politicians are gearing up again to bring us health care reform. But as has happened so often before, the debate will be truncated and no really tough choices will be made, in order to hold together a political coalition to get a law enacted. For the politicians, passing a law is the goal. They don’t worry themselves with whether it can actually be implemented or achieve what they have promised. Most likely, they won’t even read it before voting on it.”

FDR’s anti-business crusade : “In 1938, after having spent many New Deal years signing laws that banned discounting and established cartels, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt denounced ‘the concentration of economic control’ that many of his laws promoted. He went on the attack against big employers, even though, with unemployment still in double digits, surely the top priority should have been to encourage the creation of private-sector jobs.”

Are you ruled by your cultural rulebook? : “If you’re a good Catholic you don’t eat meat on Friday. If you’re a practicing Pentecostal you might speak in tongues. If you’re a regulation issue American woman you don’t like spiders and snakes. If you’re a traditional John Wayne manly man you don’t say ‘That’s fabulous’ or wear bright pink shirts. If you really are a libertarian you don’t advocate initiation of force or the threat of force or fraud against others. These things are in the rulebooks. Once you settle on your identity you also adopt the rulebook, knowingly or not, that comes packaged with that identity. Some of these rules are perfectly reasonable. Some of these rules are merely arbitrary. Some of these rules are outright irrational. So the surmising of the rational layman comes down to this: Marxist socialist left liberal progressives fear and hate guns because the Marxist socialist left liberal progressive rulebook says they should. There is a word for people who harbor an irrational fear of guns. The word is hoplophobe. The problem here is that nobody forces Friday fish-eating on others, or arrests Glossolalia speakers, or outlaws spiders and snakes, or dictates what manly men may say or wear, or conscripts anyone into the libertarian movement. The exception to all of this is the Marxist socialist left liberal progressive, who insists that everyone must be forced to abide by the Marxist socialist left liberal progressive rulebook.”

When jurors talk back: “Jurors occupy an unusual position: They are expected to make vital decisions without being allowed to ask questions. While a trial is going on, courtroom spectators may hear from lawyers, judges, witnesses, aggrieved parties, defendants, and even court stenographers. But the people in the jury box, who hold the final power over the outcome, are required to sit as mute as the furniture. In the past few years, some courts have tried a novel idea: letting jurors actively participate instead of serving as courtroom ornamentation. The federal courts in the 7th Circuit, encompassing Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, conducted an experiment in which members of the jury sitting in civil trials were allowed to submit questions for anyone testifying. From all the evidence, justice was well served.”

What is fascism? : “Fascism, as I tell my students in my political philosophy classes, endorses absolute and arbitrary rule by a charismatic figure — Eva Peron comes to mind as the female of the species. And what these rulers promote differs, although quite a few capitalize on nationalist and racists sentiments so as to gather support from the local population. The United States of America is what is best described a mixed system, with democratic, fascist, socialist and other elements — not surprisingly, considering the incredible diverse citizenry who send representatives of a great variety of viewpoints to centers of power. Just now the fascist element is strong in Washington, especially where government’s relationship to economic affairs across the country is concerned. The signs are not difficult to spot.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Obama Did Not Order the Kill That Freed Capt. Phillips

Sorry libs. Obama did not give the direct order to kill the Somali pirates. You'll have to wait another day for the cut-and-runner to earn his hero badge.
Blackfive has the real story:
I just finished listening to the press conference w/ ADM Gortney about the rescue of Captain Phillips. At the time it happened the USS Bainbridge was towing the lifeboat to calmer waters as the sea state was deteriorating. One of the pirates was on board the Bainbridge as the talks about obtaining Phillip's release continued. The lifeboat was approx. 25 m behind the Bainbridge when snipers on the fantail observed one of the pirates in the pilot house of the lifeboat pointing an AK-47 at the back of a tied up Phillips and the other two pirates on board were visible (at least shoulders and heads). The standing authority gave them clearance to engage the pirates if the life of the captain was in imminent danger. The on scene commander deemed this to be true and gave the order to fire. All three bad guys were taken out and then a rigid inflatable boat went to the lifeboat to retrieve Phillips. It is unknown at this point whether the shooters were SEALs or Marine Scout Snipers as both would have been available.

This was not a rescue attempt ordered by National Command Authority i.e. the President. It was a reaction by the on scene commander under standard authority to safeguard the life of a hostage.

The AP is reporting that President Obama gave the order to use military force to rescue the hostage, that is misleading.
They want so desperately for the community organizer to become a real hero.



Obama's welcome in Iraq was staged

"Cheered wildly by U.S. troops", begins Jennifer Democratic Operative Loven’s AP report on Obama’s surprise visit to Iraq on Tuesday.

Quite a contrast to the silent treatment Marines gave Obama at his Camp LeJeune speech in late February. Just how did Obama manage to fix that little problem? According to a sergeant in Iraq :
We were pre-screened, asked by officials “Who voted for Obama?”, and then those who raised their hands were shuffled to the front of the receiving line. They even handed out digital cameras and asked them to hold them up. [Via Macsmind.]

As supporting evidence for the digital-cameras part of the story, the sergeant (or Mac, can’t tell which), suggests that the identical cameras can be verified in the AP photos. Looks right:

Charles Dharapak/associated press

So will the press cover this evidence of a staged and unrepresentative show of military affection for our anti-military president? The reporters were there. Did they actually see the troops being sorted by whether they voted for Obama, which the sergeant describes as happening on the spot?

Stephen Hurst’s AP report is upfront about Obama’s fervent desire for a hero’s welcome:
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama went for the defining television shot by capping his first extended foreign tour with a surprise visit to Iraq.
He got it – pictures of hundreds of U.S. troops cheering wildly as he told them it was time for the Iraqis to take charge of their own future.

Just no mention of HOW Obama managed to fake this response: Obama lovers to the front!



US government statistics about the economy are "fiddled"

All economic indicators since the Depression era—many developed using Keynes' models—have been modified over the years. Like Ptolemy's retrograde “loops” of centuries' past, the net effect is to obfuscate—the ill, real economic consequences of errant, Keynesian government policies. The rationale for these modifications has ranged from academic to economic to political. But without question, the impact of economic phenomena has increasingly been made to look “less bad” over the years.

Take for example the manner in which Consumer Price Index inflation has been modified over the years: in 1983, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' measurement was changed to exclude the cost of owning a house; in 1995, it was changed per the Boskin Commission's recommendations to remove what the body viewed as “biases” inherent in prior indicators; in 2006 the Federal Reserve Board of Governors stop measuring M3 because the figure was no longer deemed relevant.

The net result is that inflation as reported today bears little resemblance to inflation as it was reported in the rightly maligned Carter era, when inflation was in the double digits. But as reported by Joshua Holland in Dollars and Sense, under the older metrics, CPI inflation has actually averaged about 9.5 percent from 2001-2008, much higher than the 2.4 percent average reported.

Other objections to today's manufactured figures include the fact that food, energy and other commodities—deemed too volatile to accurately plot inflation trends—are excluded from “core” inflation numbers reported by the government, and thus the media. To settle all of these theoretical arguments is not the purpose of this piece, rather it is to consider the real-world implications of the manipulators' contentions.

What if the data was flawed? What would that mean, for the economy, for the government, for the markets, and for the American people? The trouble here is that government data carries with it a weight of authenticity that other data do not. If it were flawed, either somewhat or severely, the consequences would ripple economy-wide, wreaking havoc and causing distortions. Like bubbles.

Economic analyses are based on that data. Financial decisions are made based on that data. Certainly, monetary policy judgments have been made based upon that data, as noted by Gjerstad and Smith in their Wall Street Journal piece describing how manipulation of the interest rates accommodated and perpetuated the housing bubble to critical levels.

All of which affects—and harms—the American people, who just watched the value of their retirements wiped out because of that bubble, watched energy and other commodities soar last year to unaffordable levels, and watched the very solvency of the financial and credit systems tested. All as a direct result of monetary, fiscal, and other policies pursued by government.

Americans were hurt badly in the process: with their investments, at the gas pump, and by the ability of their employers to hold on to them as employees, or to even stay in business....

Modifications to economic data as reported by the government are not contained to the CPI, unfortunately. Take for example the measure of unemployment: today, unemployment (U3) as reported by the government is 8.5 percent; but under older reporting methods, the actual unemployment figures ranges anywhere from 15.6 percent to 19.8 percent depending on the method.

As noted by Dr. Martin Weiss, unemployment during the Great Depression reached 25 percent. But if current methods for reporting were used then, it would have appeared to be far less. So, it would be grossly inaccurate for anybody to suggest that today's unemployment is not nearly as bad as the Great Depression, when today's reporting method in no way resembles reporting back then.

Now, due to the—very likely deliberate—distortion the manipulators have built into the system, comparing today's data to that of years past is an apples-to-oranges contrast. For example, comparing today's inflation to Carter-era hyperinflation. The public may believe that so long as inflation is single-digit, that inflation is not a problem. Meanwhile, an apples-to-apples comparison would show something far worse than is reported.

The numbers therefore also have a propaganda value, and are often used politically to help or damage presidential administrations. And they do indeed have an impact. If inflation and unemployment are “low,” if the budget is “balanced”, or if the Gross Domestic Product “increases”, the incumbents have an advantage. In the very least, there is an incentive for the numbers to be skewed.

But now, with unemployment spiraling upward and the inflation bug almost ready to bite again, the fatal cracks in the actual economy will soon be so apparent that no amount of hiding the numbers by bureaucrats will prevent the stark realization that a catastrophe has occurred. And no amount of the orthodox Keynesian punditry declaring the patriotism of government spending, investing, paying taxes, and “talking up” the economy will be enough to convince the people that sun revolves around the Earth—or that the government creates any wealth at all.




MA: Ex-lawmaker scores state job AND full pension check : “They were just 84 words of dense, technical language buried deep in a 556-page budget bill. But each ‘pursuant,’ ’shall’ and ‘provided’ was pure gold for former state representative Timothy A. Bassett. The obscure provision passed by the Legislature in 1999 enabled Bassett to accept a high-paying job as the chairman and executive director of the Essex Regional Retirement Board without giving up a dime of his $41,000-a-year state pension from a previous job. In effect, lawmakers decreed Bassett could receive a retiree’s pension without being retired.”

Big government is the biggest business of all: “Of all the ‘big businesses’ you deal with, the federal government is the biggest. Unless you have an exceptionally large mortgage payment, your taxes (open and hidden, direct and indirect, immediate and deferred) are probably your single greatest annual personal expense. You are the ‘customer.’ Are you getting your money’s worth? Would you do business with these people at all if you had a choice? Are they offering you something you can’t live without … or just making you an offer you can’t refuse?”

Wrong to breed pedigree dogs?: “Criticizing other people who do nothing but exercise their own rights is something all of us have a right to do. But I’m becoming less and less reluctant to do so. My feeling is, if they are exercising their rights, why should I let their actions bother me? Don’t I have better things to do than be angry about what other people do with their own lives? It also seems to me we would have greater civility throughout society if people just respected each other’s rights rather than condemn and criticize each other all the time. From pointing out fashion disasters of celebrities, to mocking earnest and well-intentioned movies, to condemning people with odd lifestyles but who don’t harm anyone else, it seems to me all this negativity makes us more ill-mannered toward each other and more depressed internally. But when rights are violated, by either private criminals or State agents, I think it’s appropriate to stand up and condemn the guilty — such as death-threateners and government agents who harrass and steal from the innocent.”

The war on home-based businesses: “Many potential businesses are already forbidden to entrants without extensive resources due to prohibitive licensing requirements, a subject much examined by the Institute for Justice as they try to remedy the various laws that prohibit people from working their way out of poverty. But it is impossible to license every single field. It is impossible to prohibit home businesses. While certain fields can be forbidden or strictly regulated, the realm of human endeavor is too broad for piece-meal laws to restrict. In order to inhibit home based businesses it is necessary for there to be very broad laws to catch any endeavor not already covered by existing licensure laws. Two such bills have recently been in the congress. One has been signed into law and one is in committee.”

Get government out of the marriage business: “Polygamists have refused to acknowledge the state and its intrusion into their private affairs, and so they should. There’s no legitimate reason for the government to dispense morality edicts on what is properly the private sphere.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Monday, April 13, 2009

Barack Obama: President Pantywaist - new surrender monkey on the block

President Barack Obama has recently completed the most successful foreign policy tour since Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. You name it, he blew it. What was his big deal economic programme that he was determined to drive through the G20 summit? Another massive stimulus package, globally funded and co-ordinated. Did he achieve it? Not so as you'd notice.

Barack is not the first New World ingenue to discover that European leaders will load him with praise, struggle sycophantically to be photographed with him and outdo him in Utopian rhetoric. But when it comes to the critical moment of opening their wallets - suddenly it is flag-day in Aberdeen. Okay, put the G20 down to inexperience, beginner's nerves, what you will.

On to Nato and the next big objective: to persuade the same European evasion experts that America, Britain and Canada should no longer bear the brunt of the Afghan struggle virtually unassisted. The Old World sucked through its teeth, said that was asking a lot - but, seeing it was Barack, to whom they could refuse nothing, they would graciously accede to his wishes.

So The One retired triumphant, having secured a massive contribution of 5,000 extra troops - all of them non-combatant, of course - which must really have put the wind up the Taliban, at the prospect of 5,000 more infidel cooks and bottle-washers swarming into the less hazardous regions of Afghanistan.

Then came the dramatic bit, the authentic West Wing script, with the President wakened in the middle of the night in Prague to be told that Kim Jong-il had just launched a Taepodong-2 missile. America had Aegis destroyers tracking the missile and could have shot it down. But Uncle Sam had a sterner reprisal in store for l'il ole Kim (as Dame Edna might call him): a multi-megaton strike of Obama hot air.

"Rules must be binding," declared Obama, referring to the fact that Kim had just breached UN Resolutions 1695 and 1718. "Violations must be punished." (Sounds ominous.) "Words must mean something." (Why, Barack? They never did before, for you - as a cursory glance at your many speeches will show.)

President Pantywaist is hopping mad and he has a strategy to cut Kim down to size: he is going to slice $1.4bn off America's missile defence programme, presumably on the calculation that Kim would feel it unsporting to hit a sitting duck, so that will spoil his fun.

Watch out, France and Co, there is a new surrender monkey on the block and, over the next four years, he will spectacularly sell out the interests of the West with every kind of liberal-delusionist initiative on nuclear disarmament and sitting down to negotiate with any power freak who wants to buy time to get a good ICBM fix on San Francisco, or wherever. If you thought the world was a tad unsafe with Dubya around, just wait until President Pantywaist gets into his stride.



Bare-faced lies and sheer abuse from Leftists! How unsurprising

A senior British Leftist shows the form

DOWNING STREET e-mails setting out plans for a vicious smear campaign against the Tories, which last night forced the resignation of one of the prime minister’s most senior aides, are revealed today.

The e-mails, seen by The Sunday Times, expose how Gordon Brown’s head of strategy and planning wrote to a Labour spin doctor proposing a campaign of unfounded personal slurs against senior Tories. The smears, many of a sexual nature, were planned as part of a strategy to “destabilise” the opposition in the run-up to the general election.

The operation was designed to target David Cameron, the Conservative leader, George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, and three other Tory MPs. The messages from Damian McBride, a long-standing Labour aide, were sent from an official No 10 e-mail address. The unfounded smears suggested: “Putting the fear of God” into Osborne by spreading rumours that he took drugs and had sex with a prostitute. Spreading rumours about the mental health of Osborne’s wife. Challenging Cameron to reveal details of an “embarrassing illness”. Accusing a gay Tory MP of promoting his partner’s business interests in the Commons.

McBride’s e-mails were sent to Derek Draper, a former aide to Lord Mandelson and prominent Labour blogger. In an indication of how serious the plan was, McBride wrote about how to “sequence” the stories for maximum impact. The messages discuss “timing and technology” for placing the rumours on the web and contain suggested links to websites and photographs that could make the allegations appear more credible.

The contents of the e-mails, which fell into the hands of Paul Staines, a political blogger, shatter Labour claims yesterday that McBride and Draper were “knocking around ideas” that were merely “juvenile and inappropriate”. At least one of the e-mails was copied to other Labour activists, including Charlie Whelan, who used to work as Brown’s spin doctor.

McBride, who was paid a six-figure salary by the taxpayer, resigned from his post last night as the attempted smear campaign was condemned by politicians from all sides. Labour MPs accused him of disgracing the party. Charles Clarke, the former home secretary, said: “Damian McBride has no place in 10 Downing Street. His actions bring shame to the Labour party.”

The e-mails were sent on January 13. The proposed slurs about Cameron, Osborne, Osborne’s wife Frances and three other Tory MPs, were designed to appear on a website called Red Rag, which McBride suggested should be advertised on LabourList, a website officially backed by the party.

Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said the proposed smear campaign “beggared belief” and demanded an urgent explanation from the prime minister.



U.S. budget deficit triples to $957 billion for year

March deficit hits $192 billion has receipts drop 28%, outlays rise 41%

The U.S. federal budget deficit rose to a record $956.8 billion in the first six months of the fiscal year after the government stepped up spending to cope with a recession that has depressed tax receipts, the Treasury Department reported Friday.

The deficit is well on its way to the $1.75 trillion -- or 12.3% of gross domestic product -- that the White House has estimated for the full fiscal year, which ends in September.

The deficit through the first six months is more than three times higher than it was at this time last year. The government has borrowed $1 trillion from the public so far this fiscal year.

In March, the deficit widened to $192.3 billion from $48.2 billion in March 2008. Outlays rose 41% to $321.2 billion from $227 billion, while receipts dropped 28% to $129 billion from $178.8 billion.

Receipts from individual income taxes fell 27% in March, versus year-earlier figures. Individual refunds are up 14% so far this year. Compared with a year earlier, corporate income tax receipts fell 90% to $3.4 billion.

Much of the increase in outlays in March came from extraordinary investments by the government in banks and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, loans to credit unions, and increased spending from the stimulus package for unemployment insurance and Medicaid. Some of those investments should be repaid over time, but the government is booking them as cash expenses for now.

In March, Fannie Mae received $15.2 billion, Freddie Mac received $30.8 billion, and unemployment benefits totaled $10.6 billion.

Through the first six months of the fiscal year, outlays are up 33% to $1.95 trillion. Receipts are down 14% to $989.8 billion. Corporate income taxes are down 57% to $56.2 billion, while individual income taxes are down 15% to $429.7 billion. Payroll taxes are up 0.3% to $430 billion.




What the University of Notre Dame conveniently forgot: "Arizona State University has decided not to award President Barack Obama an honorary degree when he delivers the commencement address there on May 13, citing his lack of “lifetime achievement.” An honorary degree is “normally awarded to someone who has been in their field for some time,” university spokeswoman Sharon Keeler told Politico. “Considering that the president is at the beginning of his presidency, his body of work is just beginning.” Obama will receive an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame when he speaks at the Catholic school’s commencement on May 17. On April 5, hundreds of anti-abortion advocates protested on the Notre Dame campus against the school's decision to award the degree to Obama. Speakers at the rally called for the honorary degree to be rescinded because Obama's stances on abortion and stem cell research are counter to Roman Catholic teachings".

The American can-do spirit is still there: "There is a state park on Hawaii's Kauai island. And this Polihale State Park has been closed since December after suffering severe flooding. In fact, the flooding was so bad that it destroyed an access road to the park. So even if you wanted to get to the Polihale State Park, you couldn't. Local residents and business owners started to get nervous. Months went by and our wonderful, all-knowing, all-powerful government did not come to the rescue. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources estimated that it would cost $4 million to fix the damages, including the access road to the park. They also said it would take two years before it would be fixed. And that was if .. in these economic times .. there was money in the budget to do so. So rather than sit around and wait for the government to do something, the people of Kauai came together and did the repairs themselves. It only took them eight days to finish all the repairs. Eight days .. compared to two years. And it didn't cost the taxpayers a dime. One volunteer said, "We can wait around for the state or federal government to make this move, or we can go out and do our part ... Just like everyone's sitting around waiting for a stimulus check, we were waiting for this but decided we couldn't wait anymore." Good for them! The truly amazing of this story is that the government didn't step in and prevent these people from handling the situation themselves."

CBC: Congressional Boot-Lickers for Castro: "Congressional Black Caucus Democrats went to Cuba to see what they wanted to see. Not since New York Times reporter Walter Duranty traipsed around Stalin’s Russia, filing cheery travelogues whitewashing Communist-engineered famine, has America witnessed such disgraceful propaganda tourism. Led around by the nose by the Castro brothers, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver declared “if there is repression in Cuba we didn’t see it.” Somehow, the gulags and slums got left off the itinerary. Go figure. The CBC members saw, instead, a land of milk and honey. Fresh air and freedom. Shiny, happy people cared for by a kindly, benevolent leader"

Internet surveillance is OK when the Left do it: "The terrorist surveillance program initiated by the Bush administration was limited to international communications that involved a terrorist on at least one end. As such, as I argued here, it was well within the President's constitutional powers as delineated by the federal courts. Nevertheless, disclosure of the program drew howls of protest from the Left. For some reason, however, the Obama administration's continuation of the program has drawn no similar protests. Now we have the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, which goes far beyond anything ever contemplated by the Bush administration. The most controversial provisions are Sec. 18 (2), which gives the President authority to shut down all or any portions of the internet that he may designate as "critical infrastructure information systems and networks," and Sec. 14 (b)(1), which gives the Secretary of Commerce access to "all relevant data concerning such networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access." Critics have interpreted this clause as giving the Secretary the ability to access, without any sort of search warrant, any internet communication. That looks like a reasonable interpretation, as long as the President has designated the network "critical infrastructure," which he has unfettered (and unguided) discretion to do."

Gasp! The Episcopal church believes in something other than the wonders of homosexuality!: "The Episcopal Church has defrocked Ann Holmes Redding, the Seattle Episcopal priest who announced in 2007 that she is both Christian and Muslim. Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, who has disciplinary authority over Redding, informed the priest of her decision in a letter today. Wolf found Redding to be "a woman of utmost integrity and their conversations over the past two years have been open, honest and respectful," according to a press release from the Diocese of Rhode Island. "However, Bishop Wolf believes that a priest of the Church cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim." "I am very sad," Redding had said Tuesday. "I'm sad at the loss of this cherished honor of having served as a priest." She also said she was sad at what seems to her to be a narrow vision of what the church accepts."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Sunday, April 12, 2009

The weakling who weakens America

As Obama bows in supplication before a Saudi King then tries to spin his way out of his own actions, America is being humiliated by whelps at sea. He was just leaning, we're told, not bowing. It was because the Saudi King is short or so goes the White House spin. But the Queen of England is even shorter than the Saudi King and there was no royal navel gazing from Obama in England! Obama failed that test, indeed.

To be sure, Barack Obama is being tested just like Joe Biden said he would. But those testing him are not the sort of big state actors that Biden imagined would task the new president. They are low-tech, low-rent, unorganized pirates, not heads of state of great and dangerous nations. And this fact, that it is mere pirates testing him, is an even bigger slap in the face than it would be if it were a powerful nation or two testing President Obama.

And worse, these skinny, underfed, unorganized and ill-equipped pirates are making a fool of what is ostensibly the most powerful man in the world. And it is about to get worse if Obama allows the U.S. Navy to stand idly by as more pirates come to the scene of the standoff to float in solidarity with the four fellows holding captain Philips in that disabled power boat.

Obama has already allowed the Navy to miss one opportunity to end this standoff. Captain Richard Phillips made an escape attempt by jumping overboard and trying to make a swim for the U.S. Navy ship floating nearby. This was an ideal time for the Navy to blast the boat to pieces while the captain was in the water. The Navy could then have scooped up all five with ease. But instead, the Navy sat and did nothing as the pirates jumped into the water and dragged the captain back aboard.

Now reports have it that another pirate ship is headed to the scene to aid their four stranded comrades. Word also has it that they have other hostages in the ship with them. As it stands right now, the U.S. Navy has one hostage under its watchful eye. But soon it may have dozens to worry about.

If Obama does not task the Navy to end this situation before more pirate ships filled with more hostages get to the scene, it will be a tangle impossible to end without the loss of many hostage's lives. The French already ended one such stand off and it did cost the life of one hostage, though others were freed. But end it they did, nonetheless.

But isn’t that the worst part of it? While Obama idly sits at the picnic table watching his kids play in the White House yard the French Navy has acted. Here we have what is supposed to be the most powerful man in the world doing nothing while the French... THE FRENCH... use proper military force against these criminal pirates.

Obama is being tested from the most unlikely of sources. He is failing that test and showing the world that his "America Sucks" tour of Europe was not mere glad-handing boilerplate. Obama is proving that he means to defang the most powerful nation in the world. Obama apparently intends to hobble the United States of America. If this is not the case, he'd better step up to the plate and end this pirate outrage quickly.



Peter Schiff: The man who saw the financial ruin ahead over 2 years ago


The banks are being slowly taken over by the Obama regime

If you think privately run banks are bad, wait until you get a government-run one. Several of Australia's State Banks went bust or got into big trouble in the '80s and '90s so don't kid yourself that state-run bans are safer

Didn't Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner say that it was not the administration's intent to control private companies? Then why is it reportedly reluctant to accept TARP repayments from some banks? If it has indeed declined to accept $340 million in payments from banks in Louisiana, New York, Indiana and California, the administration is tacitly admitting that it wants to control those banks as well as others that will try to pay back the taxpayers' money they took in the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

By refusing repayment, the government can keep the leverage it bought with the bailouts. Banks that still "owe" would not be in position to reject the administration as a "partner." This reminds us of mobsters making a small "investment" in a family-owned shop, which is not always wanted by the owners, and then using it to justify taking over the business.

Joseph DePaolo, president and CEO of Signature Bank in New York, one of the four banks making TARP repayments last week, said his company wanted to return $120 million it received because, in part, it wasn't comfortable with legislation passed that would limit compensation for salespeople. Those limits, he explained, would make it hard to recruit top professionals.

And then there's the fact that the bank didn't actually need the money. But, as we have learned, need is not relevant in the era of the bailout. Andrew Napolitano reported last week on Fox News that he had spoken to the head of a $250-billion bank the night before who said Washington forced him to take TARP funds last September.

Napolitano said this bank "has no subprime loans, it has no bad debts, wasn't involved in credit default swaps. It didn't need any money. It didn't ask for the money and didn't want it. . . . officials from both the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Treasury said if you don't take this money, we will conduct a multi-year public audit of you." The Fox News analyst said the bank's "board was forced to issue a class of stock just for the federal government. The federal government owns 2% of this huge bank."

That was done under the Bush administration. Enter the Obama White House. Last month, Napolitano said, Treasury told the bank "we own 2%, we're going to tell you how to run the place." "As a result of that minority ownership, they now want to control salaries. They want to see his books, and they want to tell him who he can do business with," Napolitano reported.

Before his trip to Europe, President Obama, according to Politico, told a group of financial institution CEOs who were unhappy with the federal war on executive salaries and bonuses, "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks." At the time, that sounded like nothing more than exaggeration.

An incident at the same meeting in which Geithner declined to take a fake $25 billion TARP repayment check from JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon also seemed to be meaningful.

Later, says Politico, "Dimon also insisted that he'd like to give the government's TARP money back as soon as practical . . . But Obama didn't like that idea — arguing that the system still needs government capital."

Looking back, these are small signs that reveal the administration's desire to seize command of the nation's financial system. The bigger, unmistakable sign is the reluctance — or is it outright refusal? — to take $340 million from four banks trying to be responsible and operate on their own. This shouldn't be happening in this country. The private sector and the state are not to be mixed. The American financial system is best directed by markets, not politics. Prosperity and liberty suffer when the latter excludes the former.




Only politics can save GM: "Last week, in an unenthralled summary of GM's "viability" plan, Obama's administration said: "GM earns a large share of its profits from high-margin trucks and SUVs, which are vulnerable to a continuing shift in consumer preference to smaller vehicles. Additionally, while the Chevy Volt holds promise, it will likely be too expensive to be commercially successful in the short term." The stunning shift in consumer preferences that should make the White House's freshly minted auto experts feel vulnerable has been reported under headlines such as "Like a Rock: Hybrid Car Sales Plummet" (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 9) and "Hybrid Car Sales Go from 60 to 0 at Breakneck Speed" (Los Angeles Times, March 17). Absent $4 gasoline, customers, those nuisances with their insufferable preferences, do not want the vehicles the politicians want them to want, even with manufacturers now offering large rebates and other incentives. The two best-selling vehicles in America this year are large pickup trucks (Ford F-Series and Chevy Silverado). In February, Toyota sold 13,600 Tundra and Tacoma pickups and 7,232 Priuses. It sells the Prius at a loss, which it can afford to do because it makes pots of money selling pickups. Has the Car Designer in Chief, aka the president, considered the possibility that what he calls "the cars of tomorrow" will forever be that?"

A British Catch 22: "As the divide between a burgeoning public sector and struggling private sector widens, former private sector workers are being turned away from Civil Service roles without being granted an interview. One IT business analyst, who has worked for big corporations including IBM, said that he had spent months trying to find work in the public sector. Despite being told by employment agencies that he was suitable for roles, he was denied an interview because “the relevant [local or central government] department required someone with security clearance”. He said: “On asking what I had to do to secure that clearance, I was told I could only obtain it when I had been accepted for an appointment. In other words, until I have a public sector appointment I could not obtain clearance and yet was not able to obtain clearance until I had a public sector appointment."

Housing agencies faulted in audits to get $300M of stimulus: "The federal government will soon send more than $300 million in stimulus funds to 61 housing agencies that have been repeatedly faulted by auditors for mishandling government aid, a USA TODAY review has found. The money is part of a $4 billion effort to create jobs by fixing public housing projects that have fallen into disrepair. Recipients include housing authorities in 26 states that auditors have cited for problems ranging from poor bookkeeping to money that was spent improperly, according to the review of summaries the agencies must file with the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The government has promised to closely monitor how the agencies spend the money. Still, some watchdog groups are concerned. "I think taxpayers are going to have to steel themselves to hear that a lot of this money has gone down the tubes," says Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste."

Congress gave the Obama administration permission to withhold stimulus aid from housing authorities that the Department of Housing and Urban Development lists as "troubled" because of factors such as poor maintenance and financial management. But HUD decided to release the money to these authorities because they "should have the opportunity to improve their housing," spokeswoman Donna White said.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Short Economics Lesson

An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student before but had, once, failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said ok, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism.

All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A. After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too; so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame, name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great; but when government takes all the reward away; no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that....


Obama Reaches Out to 'Moderate' Pirate Community

After maintaining his silence for two days, President Obama will soon make his first public statement about the pirate attack upon an U.S.-flagged vessel off the Horn of Africa. After several inquiries and a few well-placed bribes, Exurban League has received an early transcript of the President's remarks:
Good evening. As you know, early yesterday, Somali-based pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama, a freighter carrying relief supplies to Kenya. While we do not yet know all the details, the Alabama's crew re-took control of the vessel and forced the pirates off the ship.

Since the pirates are still holding the captain, I have sent FBI negotiators to facilitate his safe and speedy release. I assure his friends and family that I will not stop until this man-made disaster is resolved in a peaceful, tolerant and ecologically-sound manner.

Obviously, this incident has raised many concerns among Americans. There have been calls for justice and even violence against the misguided perpetrators. But such an emotional reaction has led to the disparagement of entire groups with which we are unfamiliar. We have seen this throughout history.

For too long, America has been too dismissive of the proud culture and invaluable contributions of the Pirate Community. Whether it is their pioneering work with prosthetics, husbandry of tropical birds or fanciful fashion sense, America owes a deep debt to Pirates.

The past eight years have shown a failure to appreciate the historic role of these noble seafarers. Instead of celebrating their entreprenuerial spirit and seeking to partner with them to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.

Some of us wonder if our current Overseas Contingency Operation would even be needed had the last administration not been so quick to label Pirates as "thieves," "terrorists" and worse. Such swashbucklaphobia can lead to tragic results, as we have seen this week.

To address this issue, I have instructed Vice President Joe Biden to create a cabinet-level Czar of Pirate Outreach and Buccaneer Interrelation. In addition, June 1-7 has been designated as Pirate Awareness Week, during which all federal buildings will fly the Jolly Roger and sponsor sensitivity training. Thankfully, my American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will fund free grog and hard tack for all attendees.

Finally, to all pirates listening to international broadcasts, shortwave services and ship-to-shore radio, let me say this:

Ahoy, me regret arr relationship has set sail in a scurvy manner. Arr people share many mutual 'alues and concerns on t' raging main. Perchance, could ye handsomely release the cap'n o' the ship and I assure that no harm will come t' ye or ye hearties. Let us smite t' reset button and launch our seabond on a new pegleg. Savvy? Godspeed t' ye and t' ye beauties. Aye, me parrot concurs.



Now for something more serious

Read the excerpt below:

“Bigots have problems with their theories. Bigots will argue that the targets of their hatred share some collective trait that makes them bad in some way thus justifying their own hatreds. They will rant about ‘Kikes,’ ‘Niggers,’ ‘Faggots,’ etc. Yet, they are plagued by the ‘exceptions’ that they have to make to their hatred. Blacks are bad news, except for the blacks they know. Gays are evil, except for a few friends, or family members they don’t want to talk about. Jews are an evil conspiracy except for the nice Jewish doctor who cared for mother. A small band of hard-core fanatical bigots will, of course, make no exceptions. But the average, run-of-the-mill bigot constantly finds exceptions to his stereotype. Yet he seems capable of compartmentalizing his irrational bigotry to take this into account. He tells himself that the collective he hates is evil and that the individual he likes is the exception. Amazingly bigots around the world happen to find these ‘exceptions’ in their lives. All the others are evil, just not the ones they know.”


Does that attack on "bigots" sound logical? It's not remotely. There are exceptions to every rule but that doesn't make the rule useless or wrong. Most correlations in the social sciences are far from perfect. But they may still be useful. How about the statement: "Cats have fur". That's a pretty safe and reliable statement but there are one or two breeds that have no fur. Does that mean we should stop expecting cats to have fur or that belief in the furriness of cats is wrong?

One expects brainlessness from Leftist "anti-racists" but the above quote, sadly, is from a libertarian site. Libertarians can get as fanatical as Leftists sometimes. And anti-racists are regularly just as addled as racists are. When the word "race" is mentioned, logic usually flies out the window.



Stranded on a plane? Grin and bear it, says court: “A court has thrown out a lawsuit brought against American Airlines by a woman who was stranded for 9-1/2 hours on the tarmac in Austin, Texas, in 2006. In dismissing the case, US District Judge Robert Dawson said airlines are not legally bound to provide a ’stress-free environment’ when such a delay occurs. But Catherine Ray, who brought the lawsuit that charged false imprisonment, isn’t giving up the fight. She’s filing a motion for the judge to reconsider the case, and if that fails, she plans to appeal. ‘It’s just unjust — the thought that an airline can do that to a person and get away with it,’ says the Fayetteville, Ark., woman.”

Making the trains run on time : “Proponents of a bigger, stronger state often claim that the result of their proposed interventions will be an increase in efficiency. Centralized planning will produce a high-quality, standardized product or service. Economies of scale will reduce costs and ease access to services. ‘Say what you will about Mussolini,’ they tell us — ‘he made the trains run on time.’ In point of fact, Italian trains seem to have been no more or less punctual under fascism than they were in the period immediately prior to Mussolini’s ascent in 1922. The claim of increased efficiency through bigger government, however, is worth examining. Does the state improve our lives by more efficiently delivering certain goods and services than we could expect from unregulated market? The market’s answer to that question — in areas where the claim can be put to the test, at any rate — is an unqualified ‘no.’”

Obama’s bid for nuke-free world: Bad idea : “During his trip to Europe last week, President Obama announced that the US will host a global meeting this year to address the threat of nuclear weapons. The president called for reinvigorated international institutions to combat the prospect of nuclear terrorism and reverse nuclear weapons proliferation. He agreed to new negotiations with Russia to reduce both countries’ nuclear arsenals. These efforts should be made. However, Mr. Obama also announced that the US must ’seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.’ This is a goal that will undermine global nuclear security.”

Dear supporters of Barack Obama: “Obama supporters, you got everything you wanted on Election Night. Obama won big, the Democrats won big in Congress, the Democrats cleaned up at the state level. But the only change you got was even more of what you hate. An escalation in our wars overseas, blatant, disgusting government windfalls for the wealthiest Americans, and an overwhelming sense that a group of oligarchs have partnered with the President to enrich themselves at everyone else’s expense.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday today

Well. I made it to the service at my old church: Ann St Presbyterian. Good Friday is a major religious occasion for Christians in Australia, with Easter Sunday secondary. I gather that it is the other way around in some countries. So I got up at 8am and managed to be at the 9am commencement of the service with time to spare. The church is only 10 minutes drive from where I live so that helps. Anne came along too as it happens to be her old church too. It was a communion service so went on a bit longer than usual. It felt good to be back among the sort of people "from whence I sprang". And it was good to hear a Scottish accent from the pulpit too. I feel sorry for Leftists who don't appreciate such things. It must be very unpleasant to be angry with the world about you all the time. I certainly don't think the world is perfect but I don't hate it. I just enjoy getting on with my own life in my own way.

The congregation was mostly Caucasian with only a few Asians present. The Koreans who used to attend have now built their own church. The pews at Ann St were still pretty full though. The minister, Archie McNicol, is one of the old school who is not afraid to mention "The machinations of the Devil" and such things so it is real religion that gets preached there and not conventional bromides. I noticed that the long prayer included a supplication for the conversion of the Jews. Traditional of course. But I would have been happier if it had also included a prayer for the safety of the Jews.

The reading was from John Chapter 19 and I was struck by the great lengths Pilate went to NOT to crucify Jesus, but the Pharisees were relentless and finally accused him of disloyalty to Caesar -- which Pilate of course could not risk. Many of the claimants on righteousness today -- Warmists, Leftists, obesity warriors etc. -- are just as nasty and hostile in my view.

The service ended with the hymn "Rugged Cross" -- one of my top favourites.

There is occasionally a furore when secularists or Anglicans (but I repeat myself) remove the crucifix from some church or chapel. We had an example of that very recently in Australia. They would be perplexed how to attack Ann St. Presbyterian, though -- because it has neither cross nor crucifix in it. That is because it is an old "Wee Free" church and its Scottish builders weren't going to have any "graven images" in it. With all the polished wood in it, the interior is still a beautiful one, though. See below:


Israeli leaders mislabelled by media foes

Comment from Australia

OVER the next year or two, probably for as long as it stays in office, there will be a sustained effort to demonise the Israeli Government of Benjamin Netanyahu. The speech last week by Netanyahu's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in which he explicitly supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute but was reported as if he had said the opposite, is a case in point.

But even the way Netanyahu and Lieberman are typically described is entirely misleading. Netanyahu, not least in the Australian media, is almost always called "hardline right-wing". This would be the equivalent of calling the government of John Howard or Malcolm Fraser hardline right-wing, or calling the recently defeated government of Helen Clark in New Zealand hardline left-wing.

Netanyahu leads the Likud Party, which has been Israel's main centre-right party for decades. Under Menachem Begin in the 1970s, a Likud government gave up the whole of the Sinai desert in a land-for-peace deal with Egypt. Netanyahu, who has held many portoflios in previous governments, has as part of his coalition the left-of-centre Israeli Labour Party.

It would be much more honest to label Netanyahu's Government centre-right. This question of language is of the first order of importance. The ancient Chinese sage Confucius, when asked what would be the main political reform he would carry out if he achieved state power, replied: "It would certainly be to rectify the names." Israel's enemies, heirs to ancient anti-Semitism, are on a relentless quest to delegitimise and demonise it at every point. Mislabelling a democratic government of mainstream, democratic politicians as hardline right-wing is an important part of that quest.

What about Lieberman's speech? Lieberman is the leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Lieberman too has previously been a cabinet minister. His party is mainly supported by Russian immigrants. It is fair to say he is to the right of Netanyahu but not fair to say he is an extremist. His policies mix a hard line on national security with social liberalism.

Russian Israelis often have a somewhat attenuated connection to Orthodox Judaism and can therefore be disadvantaged in rulings concerning conversion, marriage and other family matters, where religious parties have considerable influence. There is nothing sinister about this. It is the sort of debate Ireland had in recent years about allowing divorce. Lieberman wants to secularise these matters.

On security issues his sharp language marks him out as a polarising figure. But there is no doubt he is a democrat and, by broader Middle East standards, an extremely mild politician. He is most famous for wanting all Israelis to take a loyalty oath. This is seen as insulting to Israel's Arab citizens. I think it is an unhelpful and unnecessarily polarising proposal, but it is not the black hand of fascism.

Similarly, Lieberman wants all Israelis to be forced to undertake military or other national service. This is also seen as hitting at Israeli Arabs, as they may not want to serve in the Israeli Defence Forces. But Lieberman also wants this provision enforced on Orthodox Jews, who do not do military service either.

Further, in Lieberman's vision of a two-state solution he is keen to transfer Israeli Arab towns into a Palestinian state. Some territorial swap is inevitable if a two-state solution is to work, but presumably no Israeli citizen would be forced to give up their citizenship, whatever happened to the land underneath them. So Lieberman's proposal cannot remotely be classed as ethnic cleansing or anything like it.

I think Lieberman's rhetoric is often unhelpful to Israel and exacerbates problems, but it is certainly not unreasonable for Lieberman to want to debate the civic identity of Israel's Arab citizens.

In his initial speech as Foreign Minister on March 30, Lieberman said the Annapolis peace process, which has been running for the past couple of years, is dead. But Lieberman fully committed himself to the road map negotiated and endorsed in 2002 by the US, the European Union, the UN and Russia, which also involves commitment to a two-state solution.

There is only one difference between the road map and Annapolis. Annapolis was based on the idea that the Israelis and Palestinians negotiate a final status agreement now on who would have what territory, and then one day the Palestinians will be able to form a government that can rule its own territories and provide proper security.

The road map, on the other hand, provided for reciprocity: that both the Palestinians and the Israelis had to undertake certain obligations along the way. Israel had to dismantle illegal Jewish settlements (that is, illegal under Israeli law) and prevent any territorial expansion in the existing settlements. (Lieberman is at times even critical of the previous government for not doing this.) The Palestinians had to form a functioning government and suppress terrorism.

When the Israelis withdrew unilaterally from Gaza, this was a kind of road test for Annapolis. But all they got, after a temporary ceasefire, was a constant barrage of rocket attacks. The Netanyahu Government is now inclined to stress reciprocity.

Indeed, in responding to Lieberman's remarks US spokesmen did all stress reciprocity.

Netanyahu, when in office previously, made a number of agreements that involved Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian land and all of which had as their object a two-state solution. Like Lieberman, Netanyahu is committed to the road map, which has as its goal an independent Palestinian state. But this is dependent on the Palestinians forming an effective and sensible government and meaningfully renouncing terrorism.

This is completely out of the question at the moment because half the potential Palestinian state, Gaza, is ruled by the terrorist death cult Hamas. Despite the protestations of Hamas sympathisers in Australia, the Hamas leadership, the charter which it still upholds and all Hamas spokesmen say Hamas will never recognise Israel's right to exist or to occupy a single inch of territory. This is not the occupied territories we're talking about but Israel proper. Hamas has also said it will never give up terrorism. Hamas may one day change its mind on all this, but at the moment it is inconceivable that the Palestinians could meet their obligations under the road map. That rules out a Palestinian state for the moment.

It remains an ambition of the vast majority of Israelis that they can live in peace beside a peaceful neighbour, both behind agreed borders. In saying this is not available at the moment, neither Netanyahu nor Lieberman rules it out forever in the future. The international press might at least get this basic fact right.




Bob Quick should slow down: "British police arrested 12 people in anti-terror raids in northwest England overnight, a spokesman said, in what reports said was a major operation. The raids were mounted in locations including Liverpool John Moore University and Manchester, according to BBC television, adding that they were part of a long-planned operation brought forward by a security gaffe. Britain has been on high alerts since July 2005 suicide attacks in London killed 56, while car bomb attacks were foiled in London and Glasgow in June 2007. The operation was ordered hours after Britain's top counter-terrorism policeman, Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, was caught on camera clutching sensitive documents as he arrived in Downing Street. The documents, which included full details about planned operations, were legible on pictures taken by photographers and distributed around the world, the BBC said. Shortly after the raids were announced Scotland Yard said that Mr Quick apologised to his boss, Metropolitan Police chief Paul Stephenson, saying he "deeply regretted" leaving the document on show. "Assistant Commissioner Quick accepts he made a mistake on leaving a sensitive document on open view and deeply regrets it. He has apologised to the Commissioner and colleagues," said a Scotland Yard spokesman. [The speedy one was also the cop behind the controversial raid on the offices of a member of Parliament]

Who will stop the pirates? “The American merchant sailors who fought pirates to retake their US-flagged ship, which had been seized Wednesday in waters off Somalia, showed a stiff resolve against maritime piracy that the world community so far has not. Merchant vessels and the global economy will continue to be at risk from ransom-seeking pirates until the maritime powers adopt — and enforce — a zero-tolerance policy to stop the hijackings, say maritime security experts. With the ship’s captain reported to be in pirates’ hands, the unfinished drama casts a bright spotlight on increasingly insecure shipping lanes. The hijacking of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship -– which apparently involved the first hostage-taking of American merchant sailors in the pirate-infested waters off Somalia — at first appeared to end hours after the ordeal began, with the 20-member crew overpowering and detaining one pirate and others fleeing to the sea.”

Medical providers urge Obama to save “conscience” rule: “Doctors from across the country have come to Washington to try to save a federal regulation that gives added protection to medical workers who choose not to perform certain procedures, like abortion, that they morally object to. ‘It is open season on healthcare professionals of conscience,’ said David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association. ‘Discriminate at will.’ … Obama announced a month ago that he was reviewing the regulation.”

Holder tells prosecutors that justice is their only priority: "Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday warned federal prosecutors of increased scrutiny in the wake of mistakes in the corruption case against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. Holder told assistant U.S. attorneys for the District of Columbia that they must respond to negative perceptions of federal prosecutors by doing "the right thing." "Your job as assistant U.S. attorneys is not to convict people," Holder said. "Your job is not to win cases. Your job is to do justice. Your job is in every case, every decision that you make, to do the right thing. Anybody who asks you to do something other than that is to be ignored. Any policy that is at tension with that is to be questioned and brought to my attention. And I mean that."

A Fawning Frenzy For Michelle: "Imagine being Laura Bush and turning on the television and watching the absolute deluge of sticky-sweet syrup being poured all over Michelle Obama during her European debut as first lady. It is as if every TV reporter was handed a pamphlet of talking points and ordered to compare Mrs. Obama to Jackie Kennedy. NBC's Dawna Friesen gushed: "Though Harvard-educated Michelle Obama has substance, not just style, and that's what sets her apart." Apart from … whom? Unspoken, but unmistakeable, NBC's saying Michelle has more substance than Laura and more style than Hillary. Everyone expects the press to be polite and gentle with the First Lady, but this is ridiculous. The official "news" media line now is that Michelle is the most smashing and fashionable and intelligent first lady in recent history, maybe ever."

A Clintonesque lie: "The White House is denying that the president bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at a G-20 meeting in London, a scene that drew criticism on the right and praise from some Arab outlets. "It wasn't a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he's taller than King Abdullah," said an Obama aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Washington Times called the alleged bow a "shocking display of fealty to a foreign potentate" and said it violated centuries of American tradition of not deferring to royalty. The Weekly Standard, meanwhile, noted that American protocol apparently rules out bowing, or at least it reportedly did on the occasion of a Clinton "near-bow" to the emperor of Japan. Interestingly, a columnist in the Saudi-backed Arabic paper Asharq Alawsat also took the gesture as a bow and appreciated the move. Bald-faced lie and the world knows it."

The good old days: " I had a school friend whose father drove his family the length of Africa from Pretoria to Beirut in the early 1950s, and from the time they left South Africa (then a dominion like Canada)until they crossed the Sudanese - Egyptian frontier, travelled exclusively across British colonial territory. Apart from wear and tear on the vehicles they encountered no really bad roads, though they were mostly dirt, no malaria (largely eradicated), no crime, friendly people, and had a journey of their lives. I doubt whether you could drive around a street in Pretoria today without your car falling into a pothole or without being mugged, let alone cross Africa without serious incident."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Answer To Obama's Hand Of Friendship

As we all know, stupid politics involves defending ourselves militarily against those waging war upon us. Smart politics is reaching out a hand of friendship to our enemies instead, inviting them to unclench their fist. They know it makes sense. Who would not want the goodies that would flow from such a gesture, after all? This is Ahmadinejad's response to Obama's sustained charm offensive towards Iran:
Thanks to the steadfastness of the Iranian nation, which stands behind the dear leader [Khamenei], this nation continues in its glorious path and is known to the world as a nation that cannot be defeated. Today, thanks to great achievements, the threat to Iran has been lifted, and no power in the world entertains the notion of taking action against the Iranian nation. Even if someone were to entertain this notion and want to undertake any act of aggression against the nation. he should know that the Iranian nation is ready, and any hand outstretched in order to attack will be cut off.

And this is the Taleban's response to Obama's wish to reach out to the moderate elements of the Taleban:
According to a report in a Pashtu-language newspaper, the Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan has declared that the Taliban do not have hardliners and moderates in their party, and that they will not talk to the Afghan government and the U.S. unless the foreign troops leave Afghanistan.

... The Taliban fighters of the Mullah Dadullah Front in Afghanistan have rejected the offer of talks from U.S. President Barack Obama to moderate Taliban and have said they are not ready to hold negotiations with Obama, according to a March 9 report in a Pashtu-language newspaper in Pakistan. The report quoted a spokesman of Mulla Dadullah Front, Rahbarmal, as saying that the Taliban will continue jihad under the leadership of Mullah Omar...

Looks like Obama's hand of friendship is causing fists to clench even more. Smart.



The bowing Obama

He bowed twice on his recent trip to Britain... But he only meant it once

In his boyhood he would have learned that the guardian of the holy places of Islam is himself holy


A beautiful video that I think all parents will understand

If only we Anglos could express ourselves as well as Greeks and Italians can!


BrookesNews Update

Will cleansing the banks' "toxic assets" stimulate the US economy? : Since the heart of credit is real savings it is obvious that no government schemes such as cleansing banks balance sheets can boost fully backed up credit. All that various government plans can do is to redistribute a given pool of real savings. Wealth generators however cannot work efficiently in an environment of government controls and money and credit out of 'thin air'
Inflation, productivity and living standards : Once again we find that history provides us with a much better guide to monetary policy than that offered by the great majority of today's orthodox economists and media pundits
The Wizard of Oz or, the Man behind the Curtain… aka Obama: One of the first items on Obama's agenda was to give over a billion, with a B of our hard earned dollars to support Hamas terrorism under the guise of rebuilding Gaza. The translation to that is that Hamas will take that money and spend it to re-arm itself and build more tunnels in order to complete its stated mission: Israeli genocide
Our "Road to (financial) Hell" is paved with gold for the likes of George Soros: description" CONTENT="The bank bailout is a gigantic confidence trick. Although Geithner and Obama appear able to fool Americans with the aid of the Democrats' one-party media house organs, the rest of the world is not so gullible. And who benefits directly from this scheme? The likes of Goldman Sachs who backed Obama to the hilt
The Republican Party: lost in the wilderness: Much of the party leadership has become emotionally addicted to the placebo of political pragmatism, swallowing the media-driven misconception that, to voters, ideological 'moderation' is somehow the political gold standard. So, the Grand Old Party has become the Bland Old Party, suffering a largely self-inflicted electoral thumping at the ballot box two election cycles running
Someone tell Obama: Americans did not cause the financial crisis, the world's central banks did : It was not some sinister cabal of financiers that inflated share prices and wrecked retirement accounts but the lousy monetary economics that the Fed and its fellow central bankers practise. Even though history and sound monetary theory fingers central banks for the financial crisis politicians and journalists still insist on scapegoating the banks



Charlie Foxtrot is having a laugh at Obama's ignorance of the fact that Austrians speak German. It's just amazing how empty that Leftist head is. Obama must not even know anything about Hitler, who was, of course, an Austrian.

Israeli reservists want newspaper investigated: "IDF reservists have asked Israel's attorney general to investigate a major newspaper for publishing testimonies by soldiers alleging human rights violations. More than 46 reservists who served in Israel's recent military operation in Gaza sent a letter to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz asking him to launch a criminal investigation into the Hebrew-language daily Ha'aretz for publishing the claims of at least two soldiers without checking to make sure they were real. The soldiers said later that they did not actually witness the incidents. An IDF investigation determined that the events described never happened."

Don't laugh: "The Prime Minister hopes to make Britain "a world leader" in producing and exporting electric cars and hybrid petrol-electric vehicles. Trials for electric cars in two or three cities could be up and running as soon as next year, he said. As part of the plan, the Government will also open talks with power companies to ensure vehicles can have their batteries recharged at power points at the roadside." [If all their conventional cars fell apart all the time and sent their makers bust ...]

Bad-time bonuses: “People often complain about executive pay. I don’t. What other people get paid isn’t my business. But after we discovered that many of the major companies bailed out by our government went on to give their execs bonuses, I changed my tune, a bit. How did failed companies and failed businessmen deserve bailouts in the first place? After being bailed out of their mess, the failed execs earned bonuses how? For bringing home the bacon from politicians? This problem is not limited to private enterprise at the public nipple. Take DC Metro. This governmental organization, tasked with providing public transit in the District of Columbia and adjacent areas, is in deep financial woes, even worse than many businesses. The transit authority threatens deep cuts in service. And yet, somehow, they just managed to hike the salaries of management, not to mention the wages of hourly workers.”

Welcome to the new class warfare: “We are in the midst of a new class warfare and our constitutional rights are eroding before our very eyes. The government has an ideological predilection toward egalitarianism — or forced equality. … The Constitution, which guarantees freedom of contract and denies the power of the government to take life, liberty, or property without due process (suing for it), is an obstacle for the government. Freedom is an obstacle for all governments. Thus, the administration will trample whatever constitutionally-guaranteed liberties it can get away with in order to acquire the power to re-order our lives so as to bring about its egalitarian vision for America. Unfortunately, we will all suffer before the government realizes that our financial prosperity has come from private, uninhibited initiative, not from Soviet-style central planning.”

More Muslim arrogance: "Trevor Hill owns what was once a blighted, rundown building in Knoxville, Tennessee. Hill has upgraded and repaired the building and built a restaurant there that he’s christened The Hill restaurant. It’s a full service restaurant and that means it is to serve alcohol. And that last fact seems to be causing a conflict with the folks that own the neighboring building: the Anoor mosque. Apparently one of the mosque board members, Nadeem Sidiqqi, is upset that an American property owner could possibly serve alcohol in his own business. Sidiqqi thinks he should be able to tell the owner of The Hill restaurant that he shouldn’t be allowed to serve alcohol so close to his mosque. He thinks that the city should invent a law that would mandate a “buffer zone” so that his religious tenets can be enforced on his neighbors. Sidiqqi wants to prevent neighboring property owners from doing as they wish with their own property."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chag Kasher Vesameach!

In case that's a bit obscure, let me repeat the greeting using some Yiddish: May you have a kosher un freilachen pesach. There are of course two Hebrew words even in the Yiddish but the middle bit is plain German: und froelichen in High German. People sometimes grumble at me when I say that Yiddish is a German dialect with a few Hebrew words thrown in but you have just seen an example of that. Anyway, I am wishing my Jewish readers "a happy and kosher passover"

Curiously, Passover and Easter coincide closely this year. Passover is this Thursay and Good Friday is this Friday. The dating of Easter is loosely based on the Jewish custom but the two days can still fall quite a way apart.

It always amazes me what a hash Christians make of Christ's commandment: "This do in remembrance of me" (Luke 22: 19). They just don't do it. Easter is supposed to be the Christian remembrance of the Last Supper but no Christian service is anything like a Passover Seder. And, even more strangely, instead of the taking of the bread and the wine being an annual event, some Christians do it daily! Even Presbyterians do it once a quarter. And most services are in the morning instead of in the evening!

If there really are any Christians around who try to remain faithful to the Bible, they should be arranging with a local Jewish community to attend a seder this Thusday. I am not the one commanding it. Christ commanded it!

I have not this year made any arrangements to attend a seder myself but I may drop in to the Good Friday service at my old church if I wake up early enough. But I only go to church for sentimental reasons these days. I don't believe in any of it any more. And Good Friday is normally the one day of the year when I do like to renew my connections with the great Protestant traditions and thinking that remade our world. Getting out of bed in time for a 9am service is a bit of a challenge, though. That's normally when I wake up! Retirement has its advantages.


My Annual Visit to a Mainline Protestant Church

The following is from someone else who rarely goes to a mainstream church -- for reasons quite different from mine. I share his heartache, however. It is painful to have empty twaddle preached from the pulpits of a once great faith. The "ministers" concerned defile the religion they purport to represent. Fortunately, in my old church the old faith is still preached. I am as comfortable with that as I am uncomfortable with the theological prostitutes who have taken over many modern churches

I made my annual visit to a Sunday morning service in a "mainline Protestant church" a couple weeks ago. It is an eerie experience. Heart-wrenchingly eerie.

A magnificent building.

A magnificent choir singing, "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of he world, have mercy on us" (in Latin).

A closing hymn, "Lord, I want to be a Christian."

Three women pastors on the platform and two men.

Pews filled with well-to-do looking folks.

The reason I say it was eerie is that much of this religious language means something totally different in their minds from what I mean by it. There is a keeping of the language and a demythologizing of the original meaning.

On one of our earlier visits No. l recalls the pastor saying that when he was a child he used to read stories like the one about Jesus walking on the water as if they were literally true.

What made my visit heart-wrenching was that the children's choir sang these words-trust me, I am copying them from the bulletin-"Birds and trees, people and plants, dolphin and whale all lives are equal. . . . Sister Rain, Brother Stone bring us back to our true home."

So when I stand at my study window that looks out over the downtown cityscape of Minneapolis, I pray: "O God, have mercy on us. Send a shocking revival to the churches-and a great awakening to this city. In Jesus' mighty name. Amen."



Warnings on Iran

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the nuclear threat from Tehran

Benjamin Netanyahu formally became Israel's Prime Minister last week, and he could not have been blunter about the strategic challenge ahead: "It is a mark of disgrace for humanity that several decades after the Holocaust the world's response to the calls by Iran's leader to destroy the state of Israel is weak, there is no condemnation and decisive measures -- almost as if dismissed as routine." He added, "We cannot afford to take lightly megalomaniac tyrants who threaten to annihilate us."

Americans in key positions have noticed this Israeli message. In a meeting Thursday at the Journal, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told us that "there is a leadership in Israel that is not going to tolerate" a nuclear Iran. Tehran's atomic designs, he said, were a matter of "life or death" for the Jewish state. "The operative word is 'existential.'" When we asked him whether Israel was capable of inflicting meaningful damage to Iran's nuclear installations, his answer was a simple "Yes."

The Admiral was also clear about Iran's challenge to the U.S. "I think we've got a problem now. . . . I think the Iranians are on a path to building nuclear weapons." For the time being his counsel is diplomacy, noting that "Even in the darkest days of the Cold War we talked to the Soviets." But, he added, "we don't have a lot of time."

If Israel decides to strike Iran the consequences -- intended and unintended -- will be felt far and wide, including in Iraq where, Admiral Mullen says, Iran's ability to cause mayhem "has not maxed out at all." We thought readers might like to know how the Chairman sees the threat, and how well he appreciates Israel's peril.




Portugal's drug decriminalization success: "Champions of harsh drug criminalization laws as the best solution to curbing drug use will be chagrined to find that Portugal's eight year history of decriminalization has led to lower drug usage rates. According to a new report entitled, Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies, while drug use across the European Union has risen steadily since 2000, Portugal, which has the most liberal drug laws of any country, has actually seen its prevalence rates decrease in various age groups since it decriminalized all drugs in 2001. Prevalence rates measure how many people have consumed drugs over the course of their lifetime."

AP would "rein in" sites using its content : "Taking aim at the way news is spread across the Internet, The Associated Press said on Monday that websites that used the work of news organizations must obtain permission and share revenue with them, and that it would take legal action against those that did not. A.P. executives said they were concerned about a variety of news forums around the Web, including major search engines like Google and Yahoo and aggregators like the Drudge Report that link to news articles, smaller sites that sometimes reproduce articles whole, and companies that sell packaged news feeds. They said they did not want to stop the appearance of articles around the Web, but to exercise some control over the practice and to profit from it."[I would be delighted to give AP half of my revenue from my blogs. 50% of zero is still zero]

Don't leave the driving of GM to them : "Anyone who's a car buff ought to get a hearty laugh out of the Obama administration's insistence that Chrysler's ultimate survival is based on its willingness to merge in the next 30 days or so with Fiat, the maker of notoriously unreliable cars. The rumor is that Fiat is not really an Italian acronym for Italian Automobile Factory of Turin (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino), but is an English acronym for Fix It Again Tony. The president has told Chrysler that it must make nice with the Italians or lose its enormous taxpayer-funded allowance. . You have folks who can't master $50 tax software thinking they can solve the enormously complex financial problems of one of the world's most significant industries. Would you trust the Treasury secretary (or most anyone in this administration) to fill out your taxes correctly?"

The growing chorus against foreign aid: "She may be speaking of Latin America, but the problem is true everywhere Western donor nations ladle dollops of aid to poor countries. The notion that public policy problems cannot be solved by throwing money at them should not be controversial - yet when it comes to poverty in developing countries, that remains the largely dominant approach. Thankfully, however, Mary O'Grady's critique appears part of a growing chorus, as the media attention that Zambian author Dambisa Moyo is receiving for her new book Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and Why There is a Better Way for Africa."

Government stimulus packages are attempts to deny reality : "Government demand-management policies aimed at stimulating economic activity do not and cannot create any new wealth - economic stimulants will not succeed. Government stimulus proposals are illogical. The government cannot inject money into the economy without first removing it from the economy. The government can distribute funds only by collecting more taxes, borrowing from the private sector, or printing additional money. There can be no stimulus if the government increases the ability of some people to spend by decreasing other people's ability to spend. When a government taxes or borrows it simply transfers spending power from private owners to political spenders."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A news roundup I can't beat

First, take a look at the picture of the bear -- according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service office in Kalispell, Montana, that little fella has taken to sitting every day at the picnic table apparently waiting to be fed and to have his winter den dug by government employees. Although he once was self-sufficient, he now begs for a handout every day from our generous government. Because of this, residents have taken to calling him Bearack Obama!

Next, according to the Detroit News, a new industry is starting up in Detroit, and I suspect that it actually is the fast-growing industry in the city (other than working for the government). The new industry is urban hunting and skinning. Yes, like a scene out of I Am Legend, the wilderness is retaking the city of Detroit, and the animal population is moving into areas that were once inhabited by productive men. Years of Democrat control in action!

The story in the Detroit News is the story of a young 69-year old entrepreneur, who has to supplement his Social Security checks by hunting raccoons in the city of Detroit. Apparently this guy kills coons with the help of his rifle and coon dog, butchers the meat, and sells it to local residents, and he also sells the skins- but doesn't pay taxes on these sales (must be a Democrat). The meat is not USDA approved (probably something to do with rabies), but the video about the story (go to the link for the article to watch it and howl with laughter) shows coon meat being served with liver and onions and Faygo red pop- just the way mom made it!

In other news, Obama recently was in England, and since he had to talk to people over there, he brought with him 5 speech-writers and 12 teleprompters for the weekend. I don't think that was enough- I heard some of his stammering and stuttering in a press conference- but still- 12 teleprompters? Can't you just bring one and move it from place to place? Or do they have to put a separate one up everywhere he goes and load it with his thoughts?

Sadly the teleprompter didn't let his wife know that you aren't supposed to touch the Queen of England -- it's apparently a big no-no. Doesn't anyone on his staff do any research on this stuff? I guess not- Michelle put her arm around the Queen and gave her a noogie on national television- probably not a good idea, but at least her arms were fantastic!

Lastly, least we forget how low the bar was for Presidents (and yet Obama still gets under it), here is a hilarious clip from a George W. Bush press conference where he is talking about fighting the biggest threat to our lives- zombies. That's right- laugh if you want, but apparently zombies are a big threat, and I am glad our President did everything he could to wipe them out- click on the link if you don't believe me. Enjoy! [It's a mashup]



In Israel, a voice of realism

by Jeff Jacoby

IF AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN'S first speech as Israel's new foreign minister did nothing else, it certainly vexed the media. The Associated Press called it a "scathing critique of Mideast peace efforts" that had diplomats "cringing," while other reports said Lieberman had "dropped a political bombshell," "sparked an uproar," "repudiated a key accord," and "reinforced fears." The New York Times pronounced Lieberman's remarks "blunt and belligerent," describing the foreign minister as a "hawkish nationalist" who is "not known for diplomacy" and heads an "ultranationalist" party that is "seen by many as racist." Headlines summed up Lieberman's debut as an attack on peacemaking: "Lieberman dashes peace hopes," "Israeli official hits peace efforts," "Lieberman dumps peace deal."

But the headlines were wrong, as anyone can ascertain by reading Lieberman's short address. Far from disparaging peace, Israel's new foreign minister called for pursuing it with the respect and realism it deserves. And far from "dumping" agreements entered into by his predecessors, he explicitly committed himself to upholding the Roadmap -- a step-by-step blueprint to a "two-state solution" adopted by Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the international Quartet (the United States, the United Nations, Russia, and the European Union) in 2003.

"I voted against the Roadmap," Lieberman acknowledged, but it was "approved by the Cabinet and endorsed by the Security Council" and is therefore "a binding resolution and it binds this government as well." However, he insisted, it must be implemented "exactly as written" and "in full." The Road Map imposes specific obligations that the Palestinians must meet prior to achieving statehood -- above all, an unequivocal end to violence, terrorism, and incitement against the Jewish state -- and Israel will not agree to waive them in order to negotiate a final settlement.

If Lieberman is as good as his word -- and if he is backed up by Benjamin Netanyahu, the new prime minister -- we may finally see an end to Israel's fruitless attempts to buy peace with ever-more-desperate concessions and retreats. Under Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, Israel surrendered the entire Gaza Strip, released hundreds of terrorists from prison, expelled thousands of Jews from their homes, and even offered to divide Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority. "But none of these far-reaching measures have brought peace," said Lieberman. "To the contrary." The steeper the price Israel has been willing to pay for peace, the more it has been repaid with violence: suicide bombings, rocket attacks, kidnapped and murdered soldiers, and wars with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

It is time, Lieberman is saying, for Israel to stop genuflecting to a feckless and counterproductive "peace process" and to return instead to the pre-Oslo policy of deterrence...



Destroying The Integrity Of Nonprofits

The recently passed so-called stimulus law contains dire threats of which most Americans are unaware. The law, containing untold billions for nonprofits, vastly lubricates an already slippery slope that will destroy the independence and integrity of America's nonprofit sector. Under the legislation, our country's vast network of nonprofit organizations -- groups that serve our spiritual needs, help mitigate poverty, care for seniors and disabled veterans, and work to cure disease -- would become increasingly dependent on the government, and increasingly subject to the whims of the party in power. Unfortunately, this is neither the first nor the last step.

Two institutions historically have provided a check on abuses of power by politicians and government: nonprofits and the news media. Both have been imperfect but essential critics and watchdogs of political abuses for one reason: they have remained independent from the government.

Nonprofits such as churches, educational institutions, unions, and charities have been critical players in issues such as slavery, segregation, workplace issues, conservation, prison reform, protecting the Constitution, health and safety, life and death, and nearly every issue affecting our freedom from overzealous government.

One of the first steps of any dictatorial regime is to control the dissemination of information, especially about government. We certainly wouldn't trust the objectivity of news agencies if scores of them were to be financed even partly by the government. As a general rule, take government money, and you become an adjunct of government.

Nonprofits, which are important to the marketplace of ideas, are no different. Taxpayer funding of nonprofits not only increases their dependency on government, it buys the silence of nonprofits when they would otherwise criticize politicians, or creates a cheerleading squad for the agenda of those in power.

Easy money, i.e., taxpayer money, institutionally weakens nonprofits' desire and even ability to find other sources of funding. And like addicts, they become hooked to the point they are willing to sacrifice their principles and do whatever it takes to get the next fix.

The result has been that many so-called non-ideological charities have become sycophants to political power and the taxpayer money that flows from it. This should trouble anyone who understands and appreciates the importance of an independent nonprofit community.




Obama goes ahead with missile defence shield despite disarmament pledge: "The United States would continue to develop a missile defence shield until Iran abandoned its nuclear ambitions, President Barack Obama said in the Czech Republic. As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defence system that is cost-effective and proven," he told a crowd of about 20,000 gathered in Hradcany Square, next to Prague Castle. "Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran's neighbours and our allies." He hailed the "courageous" Czech Republic and Poland for "agreeing to host a defence against these missiles".

Brother, can you spare a decade? : “Not surprisingly, everyone from Wall Street to the halls of Congress is worried that the current recession will turn into the dreaded D, and has seized on desperate rescue measures. But was the Great Depression all bad? Did anything good come out of the 1930s? I started doing some research and was amazed to find a bright side to the gloomy ’30s — a lower cost of living, great new inventions and other technological advances, new forms of entertainment, more sports and reading, and a return to sober social behavior.”

The flat tax is not flat and the FairTax is not fair: “Our current income tax system, inaugurated in 1913 with the adoption of the 16th Amendment, began with a 1 percent tax on taxable income above $3,000 ($4,000 for married couples). A series of surcharges of up to 6 percent were applied to higher incomes, with the maximum rate being 7 percent on taxable income over $500,000. Less than 0.5 percent of the population ended up paying income tax.”

Prominent British black sabotaged by arrogant black wife: "When Paul Boateng became Britain's first black High Commissioner it was hailed as a major breakthrough in the white, middle class, pubic school dominated diplomatic service. The Daily Telegraph has now learnt that the former head of the Equalities and Human rights Commission has been lined up to replace him in the prize posting of South Africa. The disclosure that Mr Boateng, 58, is returning to Britain comes only months after the Daily Telegraph reported that the Foreign Office was investigating allegations that his wife Janet, 52, had bullied the black domestic staff. Ministers were alerted about the inquiry because of the sensitivity of the complaint against Mrs Boateng, a former Lambeth social worker, in post-apartheid South Africa. The complaints of verbal bullying against cooks, cleaners, gardeners and security staff poisoned the idyllic atmosphere at the High Commissioner's sumptuous residence in Cape Town. Saying goodbye will be a serious wrench for Mr Boateng who became Britain's first black Cabinet minister when he was made Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2002... When Mr Boateng was sent to Cape Town by Tony Blair after the 2005 general election senior foreign office officials were appalled as he had no experience of the diplomatic service or Africa."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Monday, April 6, 2009


I am going to try to explain where the word "Nazi" comes from. It is as plain as a pikestaff to a German-speaking person but I doubt if I have ever come across an English speaking person who "gets" it. Jonah Goldberg probably gets it but Yiddish is a German dialect so he has a head start.

OK: The first thing to note is that Hitler's political party was called (in English) the "National Socialist German Workers' Party". And the curious thing is that the word "National" is spelled exactly the same in German as in English. So in German the party was called the: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei. "National" is in fact a borrowing from English/French. It's spelled the same in French too. But it is PRONOUNCED differently in the three countries. Germans pronounce it (approximately) as "nartsionarl". But a German word pronounced that way would not be spelled that way. It would be spelled as "Nazional". German has strict spelling rules (unlike English) so that is obvious in German. So "Nazi" is simply the first two syllables of "National" -- where "national" is pronounced in the German way. Maybe that is as clear as mud but I hope it is not. If not, just take my word for it that "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National". Quite mundane, really. Much less exciting than you might expect.

But Nazis were not simply the "Nationalists". There was another German political party at the time called Nationalists. "Nazis" were "national socialists" because "National Socialists" is one word in German: Nationalsozialisten. So "Nazi" could be an abbreviation of both "Nationalists" and "National Socialists". It was of course normally applied to the latter. Hugenberg's Nationalists were a much more minor party.

Jamming two or more words together to make one longer word is very German. In English we do the same but use Latin and Greek words as the starting point. Perhaps the most curious example of that is the word "television" -- where the Greek word "tele" (meaning "afar") is combined with the Latin word "videre" (to see). In German, a TV set is a Fernsehgeraet, or "far-seeing-gadget". I think the German word is more straightforward.

Mixing Greek and Latin is considered rather crass in the making of English words so "television" should probably have been "teleskopia" if we had stuck to Greek. A bit too close to "telescope", maybe.

Tags: Nazi word meaning derivation origin


I reproduce below part of a report from 2007 about antisemitism in Germany today. The report repeatedly calls the antisemitic NPD party "far-Right" but at the same time keeps noting how Leftist it is. There are none so blind as those who will not see. Hitler was a Leftist who was also a nationalist and so are the NPD

Success of the Neo-Nazi NPD in East German Elections

In the last two parliamentary elections for East German federal states, the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD) achieved significant success. In 2004 in Saxony it won 9.2 percent of the votes; in 2006 in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, 7.3 percent. In some small municipalities it even became the strongest party. The NPD particularly attracts young people with a low level of education: in Saxony, 21 percent of voters aged eighteen to twenty-four voted NPD, and for those under thirty-five with only basic secondary education the figure was 26 percent.

This success for the NPD-for decades an unimportant party winning less than 1 percent of votes-also reflects the modernization and radicalization of its politics and propaganda. First, the NPD focuses its work on East Germany. Second, it has opened up toward explicitly neo-Nazi individuals and groups (such as the grassroots, unofficial Kameradschaften). Thus, the "left-wing"-voelkische, national-revolutionary tendency within the NPD has clearly gained in importance.

Third, the NPD cultivates the image of a "people-oriented" middle-class party. By cooperating with schools and citizens' groups, organizing children's events and leisure activities, and offering free private tuition for students, the NPD deepens its local roots. Fourth, it has successfully made contacts with the right-wing youth subculture. It distributes free right-wing rock CDs at schools, projects an activist-rebellious image for the NPD youth organization Junge Nationaldemokraten, and offers concerts by skinhead bands after NPD events.

Fifth, in the context of its increasingly national-revolutionary orientation the NPD also adopts current topics and increasingly uses anticapitalist and anti-imperialist terminology. In East Germany, in 2005, it joined massive protests against cuts in unemployment support, while adopting aggressive populist propaganda against "those at the top" who did nothing for the "ordinary German." The NPD also mobilized against the Iraq war of "U.S. imperialism," its fierce anti-Americanism finding much sympathy. The NPD agitates massively against "capitalist globalization." Employing slogans such as "Work for millions instead of profit for millionaires" or "Social instead of global," it calls instead for a national "people's economy" and for "Volksgemeinschaft" (people's community)."

Sixth, the NPD incites hatred against immigrants, declaring them to be the cause of unemployment, criminality, cuts in social security benefits, and the loss of "German identity." Under the slogan "Germany for Germans," the party demands an "ethnic reconquista." It describes the German government as "far-Left" and "bribed."

The NPD also seeks to rehabilitate National Socialism. Party chairman Udo Voigt considers Hitler "undoubtedly...a great German statesman." The NPD member of Saxony's federal-state parliament, Juergen Gansel, cites a "just economic order," "national sovereignty," and "internal pacification" as great achievements of National Socialism. At the same time the NPD vehemently denies, minimizes, and relativizes German crimes, and it agitated against the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin with slogans such as "Kindergartens and old-age homes instead of a Holocaust Memorial" and "Stop the memorial! Seventy-six million for the people!"

For the NPD, the Allies were the true warmongers and the Germans the real victims of World War II. In January 2005, on the anniversary of the Allied air raid on Dresden, the NPD members of the Saxony parliament spoke of the "bomb-Holocaust of Dresden" stemming from British "eliminatory anti-Germanism," of "industrial mass murder of the civilian population that was planned in cold blood." They said a memorial for German victims should be built instead of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial.

Anti-Semitism in NPD Propaganda

Although open anti-Semitism is prohibited in Germany, the NPD uses it in only slightly moderated form throughout its propaganda. Mostly the NPD presents Jews as the main obstacle to putting German crimes aside and building a proud "national identity." A member of the NPD executive stated:

We are not to be pseudo-morally blackmailed, politically treated like children, and financially squeezed dry by the Holocaust industry...sixty years after the end of the war.... No German needs to put up with the Jews constantly presenting themselves as victims and the cult of guilt that the Jewish side has exercised for sixty years. Similarly, the psychological warfare by Jewish power groups against the German people must be stopped immediately.

Again it is the Jews who blackmail and exploit the Germans, and again the "German people" must protect themselves. The NPD finds Jews to be the originators of dangerous "work undermining the foundations of German communal life." The "critical theory" of Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and others -"all of them the sons of rich Jewish fathers"- is said to be a "destructive program of undermining people, state, culture, and family," a "poisonous muck that was supposed to damage the internal organs and the brain of the body of the German people."

Anti-Semitism is also prominent in NPD propaganda against globalization and "U.S. imperialism." Even when not explicitly mentioning Jews, the NPD says the world is dominated by a conspiracy of "controllers of capital," "globalists," and "plutocrats." Characterizing the United States as a "decadent society of the West," "civilization of grocers," or "embodiment of the antination" also has clear anti-Semitic overtones. The NPD often conflates anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism: "Just like a squid, dollar-imperialism has the world in its stranglehold,...the global power of Jewish capital strategists...seems to have reached its world-historic climax." "Jewish-America" is said to be working to destroy all "peoples" throughout the world: "In Washington and New York-it may remain an open question if the tail called Israel wags the dog called the USA or not-there are the deadly enemies of all peoples."

Of course, the NPD is also hostile to the Jewish state. "Jews and Americans who are driven to the same extent by Old Testament hatred of other peoples and the belief in chosenness," "Jewish-America," and "USrael" are said to be foisting their "neoprimitive dollar civilization" on the world, with "the Jews" intending to "build up ‘Eretz Israel' through a campaign of extinction against the Arabs."

Notwithstanding the NPD's usual hostility to foreigners and Islam, all Arab and Muslim enemies of Israel are guaranteed its solidarity. The party particularly approves Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because of his threats to annihilate Israel and his recent Holocaust-denial conference. As for Iran's earlier Holocaust-cartoon contest, the NPD submitted a caricature showing the Berlin Holocaust Memorial as an Israeli missile launching site.

The NPD says German politicians are entirely "true to and in serfdom to USrael." Only the NPD, it claims, has the courage to stand up to the "impudent financial demands of the Zionist lobby,...the more and more unscrupulous lust for predominance over the world expressed by the American East Coast, [and] Israel's state terrorism."

The NPD's agitation against the "Israeli entity" features much anti-imperialist terminology and iconography that is typical of the Left. Neo-Nazis of the Kameradschaften and the Junge Nationaldemokraten demonstrate against Israel wearing keffiyehs, and the NPD youth organization flaunts posters of stone-throwing Palestinians. The NPD protested the summer 2006 war in Lebanon with slogans such as "No to war and repression," "For the freedom of peoples," and "Hurrah for international solidarity."

For the NPD, the Jews are the driving force behind every evil: globalization, immigration, "Wallstreet," "East Coast," "U.S. imperialism," the pluralization of values, the democratizing and dissolving of "people," the state, culture, and family. This classical anti-Semitism is supplemented by the specifically German accusation that the Jews seek to impose a guilt complex on the innocent Germans and destroy their national identity. This is the old, anti-Semitic principle: the Jews, now in combination with the United States, function as the global evil, the counterimage that is necessary for forming an integrated Volksgemeinschaft.



Obama Census Plan: No Illegal Alien Left Behind

I have seen the electoral future, and it is rigged. With fraud-prone, ideologically driven interest groups swarming the census-gathering process, the left is solidifying its chances of a permanent ruling majority. Lax immigration enforcement is the not-so-secret key to the Democrats' power grab. And the Obama administration is all too happy to aid and abet.

The volunteer groups Locke is entrusting to protect accuracy and fairness include the voter registration con artists of tax-subsidized ACORN, the amnesty activists of Voto Latino and the labor bosses of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The fate of $300 billion in federal funding -- and, most importantly, the apportionment of congressional seats -- rest in their hands.

As for "privacy rights," it's not your privacy rights they care about. It's the privacy rights of millions of illegal aliens, whose advocates have enshrined for them a sacred right never to be questioned about their immigration status. Obama's census partners are using the process to pressure homeland security agents to halt interior enforcement efforts and workplace raids so that illegal alien cooperation with the national survey is maximized. Inclusion of the massive illegal alien population has resulted in a radical redrawing of the electoral map.

The census is used to divvy up seats in the House as a proportion of their population based on the headcount. More people equals more seats. More illegal immigrants counted equals more power... Translation in plain English: Open borders have profound consequences. And they don't end with congressional apportionment. The redistribution of power extends to presidential elections because the Electoral College is pegged to the size of congressional delegations.




See here for an explanation of the present economic woes in terms of "Austrian" economics

Peta under fire over claim that it kills most animals left at its US headquarters: "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - is itself on the receiving end of angry words over its own treatment of animals after it emerged that the organisation put down 96 per cent of the animals handed into its American headquarters. Of 2,216 animals taken to its premises in Norfolk, Virginia, last year, 2,124 were put to sleep - almost six per day. Homes were found for just seven. The high-profile charity, famous for its "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaigns, has euthanised more than 20,000 pets in the last decade, according to figures it has supplied to Virginia state officials.

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Obama=Hitler (?)

The lack of results so far from the various "stimulus" plans seems to have got the American Left worried already. How else can one explain the appearance in the NYT of an article which declares that Obama's actions are similar to Hitler's and that Hitler was successful in his economic policies? I would never have predicted an article like that in the NYT in a million years!

Taranto writes at some length about the broader aspects of the comparison so I will confine myself to the economic argument in the article. Although I am a former High School Economics teacher, I am not fully engaged with economic statistics these days so I will speak in general terms and hope that a more detailed critique will emerge from elsewhere.

The Hitler comparison is in fact only one of the dubious comparisons used in the article. The writer declares successes where few others would. That the Hoover/FDR policies did not cure unemployment is, I think, undeniable but to our NYT writer they were a success -- as were the policies behind the Japanese doldrums of the 1990s. So one must suspect from the outset some flimsiness in the Hitler comparison too.

Much has been written about the German economic recovery of the 1930s but the first point that needs to be made is surely that Germany's position at that time was very different from that of the USA today. The twin impacts of a currency totally destroyed by inflation under the Weimar regime and a continuing demand for "reparations" were huge negative factors for the German economy at that time. And the large reductions in those problems were more the work of the brilliant Hjalmar Schacht at the Reichsbank than anyone else. Just relieving Germany of those problems was a very good "stimulus" to an economic recovery.

And it was also the manoeuvring of Schacht that enabled Hitler to finance his public works programmes. The programmes concerned did of course run up huge debts and it was only Schacht that kept Germany out of some form of bankruptcy. But Schacht could only do so much and by 1939 Germany was effectively "broke" and it is often contended that Hitler's march to war in that year was as much an economic necessity as an ideological imperative. Germany's generals certainly did not think that they were ready for war at that time. They felt that their buildup would not be complete until a couple of years further down the track. And the outbreak of war in 1939 in fact saw Germany facing French forces that were in most ways numerically superior to it.

So Hitler went to war to loot the gold in the Bank of France and elsewhere as much as for any other reason. Thanks to the brilliance of General von Manstein he initially succeeded in his objectives. One shudders to think what might have happened if he had put Manstein in charge of the Russian campaign.

Obama does not have to go to war to deal with the debt problem he is creating. Because America is the provider of the world's reserve currency, he can simply print all the greenbacks he likes to pay his government's bills. And he has already started doing that on a large scale. That is of course called "inflation" and there are plenty of commentaries from all sorts of sources on the evils of that. That it rewards debtors and penalizers savers has always been obvious but in the present case it has also started the process of snatching away from the world its reserve currency. And the consequences of discouraging saving (and hence capital formation) worldwide must indeed be grim.

The gold bugs are of course as happy as pigs in mud at the moment and gold exporting countries, such as Australia, are doing a roaring trade. But the net effect of that is to increase the Reserve Bank of Australia's holding of American paper -- and it is precisely that which now seems unwise. So from that alone one can see that the gold standard has its own problems -- which is why it was abandoned many years ago.



By Sheldon Richman

We expected little of sense to come out of the G-20 summit, and it met our expectations with flying colors.

When you don’t understand how the economy got into a mess, you are not likely to understand how it can get out. Politicians either can’t or won’t graps the key fact: “the free market” did not cause our problems. How do we know this? It’s logic: the nonexistent cannot be the cause of anything. I’d like someone to show me this free market that brought on all the current turmoil. Please. The banking industry gets most of the blame, but banking has been part of a formal government-sponsored cartel since 1914 and is regulated, as well as privileged, by multiple layers of authorities, among them the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Comptroller of the Currency. An international agreement among the major central bankers, the Basel Accord, controls capital requirements and related matters. (Before 1914 a patchwork of regulations existed.) And let’s not forget the regulators in the states. With perhaps a local or exception or two, there has never been an unregulated banking industry in America (or most anywhere else).

This only scratches the surface of the corporate state’s stewardship of the economy. But politicians, who wield power and spend coercively acquired money for a living, have no incentive to see this. How could they? That’s not how the game of politics is played. They have no reason to see things in a way that would counsel against their exercising authority.

So, with complete predictability, the Gang of 20 promised to spend over a trillion dollars they don’t have to “stimulate” the world economy, to help struggling countries through the IMF (its record is so good at that), and other noble purposes. The G-20 also endorsed worldwide inflation by central banks and promised—I love this one—to “take action against” tax havens.

“The era of banking secrecy is over,” said the communiqué, as though that were a good thing. “We stand ready to deploy sanctions to protect our public finances and financial systems.”

The Obama administration led us to believe it was standing firm against a world regulatory authority, which was pushed by French President Sarkozy. But you be the judge. Here’s what the communiqué says:

“We each agree to ensure our domestic regulatory systems are strong. But we also agree to establish the much greater consistency and systematic cooperation between countries, and the framework of internationally agreed high standards, that a global financial system requires…. In particular we agree: … to establish a new Financial Stability Board (FSB) with a strengthened mandate, as a successor to the Financial Stability Forum (FSF), including all G20 countries, FSF members, Spain, and the European Commission…; to reshape our regulatory systems so that our authorities are able to identify and take account of macro-prudential risks; to extend regulation and oversight to all systemically important financial institutions, instruments and markets. This will include, for the first time, systemically important hedge funds; to endorse and implement the FSF’s tough new principles on pay and compensation and to support sustainable compensation schemes and the corporate social responsibility of all firms….”

And more—as if the regulators could have the requisite knowledge to manage economic affairs. This is a regulatory cartel, and to the extent it squelches competition among jurisdictions, it will produce all the evils of a coercive monopoly. That of course is the point. There is to be no safe haven where people can protect their wealth from the grasping politicians.

Economies Aren’t Run

The presumptuous and undistinguished assembly in London—why are they regarded by the media as wise men and women of accomplishment?—aspire to run the world economy, and they know that out-and-out nationalization is not necessary to that end. Of course, they disclaim any such objective. The current White House occupant, Barack Obama, said in his post-conference news conference that he believes in the free market—he did say that!—but that government must set rules to keep it from running “off the rails.”

Well, of course, an economy is not a locomotive and there are no rails. It’s people engaging in exchanges. “Society is purely and solely a continual series of exchanges,” said the eighteenth-century French liberal economist Destutt de Tracy. So Obama’s idea translates into politicians regulating our peaceful, consensual conduct in order to bring about or to avoid certain outcomes. The current economic turmoil has politicians convinced that they must limit risk taken by financial firms. This, pardon me, is a bad joke. It is none other than government itself that has systematically socialized risk in the financial industry and therefore encouraged individuals and firms to undertake greater risks than they would have taken otherwise. The irony is that the more the politicians strive for a risk-free society, the greater the danger to us all. That’s moral hazard, the largest manufacturer of which is the state.

If banks, hedge funds, and other sorts of operations (including government-sponsored enterprises) assume the Federal Reserve or the Treasury will bail them out in a crisis, they will be less risk-averse than they would have been without that guarantee. If depositors see an FDIC sticker on every bank they encounter, they won’t be too particular about which one they entrust with their money. Safety will not be a competitive factor because deposit insurance makes them all appear equal. The bankers know this.

Full Market Discipline

If politicians were really interested in reducing reckless financial activity with the potential for external harm, they would want to see the full force of market discipline at work. The full force. But remember the point about political incentives. Letting market forces discipline banks, insurance companies, automakers, and other firms would leave politicians and bureaucrats little to do. Market discipline—the threat of loss and bankruptcy—is the product of laissez faire, and, loosely translated, that means: “Politicians, keep your cotton-picking hands off peaceful voluntary exchange.”

We face a serious challenge. On the one hand, people who understand markets realize that government regulation—which includes the corporate safety net—was the essential cause of the economic failure. Any seeming irrationality by bankers and financial managers must be grasped in the context of well-understood government guarantees, including the implied promise by the Federal Reserve—the Great Counterfeiter—to buy toxic assets and provide fiat liquidity in a crunch. This was the indispensable underpinning of the government housing policy that encouraged the making and securitizing of dubious mortgage loans (prime and subprime) and the underwriting of those who invested in them.

On the other hand, people who don’t understand markets or who dislike markets can always blame them for any problem that arises. After all, government regulators, no how much power they have, can’t be everywhere watching everything, can they? So as I’ve written elsewhere, “No matter how much the government controls the economic system, any problem will be blamed on whatever small zone of freedom that remains.” (I modestly acknowledge that Laurence Vance has dubbed this, Richman’s Law. I have no objection.) And the “solution” will be—of course—more regulation. Just ask Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Don’t think of regulation as being imposed. Think of it as the modest price for government privileges and protection.

So the market’s opponents can rely on demagogic sound bites and pervasive economic ignorance, while the market’s defenders must ask people to think. Sad to say, this puts the freedom philosophy at a disadvantage. And so we press on.




I have recently put a couple of things up on my personal blog -- for anybody outside family who takes an interest in my boring personal life. I like my life to be boring, mind you.

Unemployment rate hits 8.5%: "The nation's unemployment rate shot up to 8.5% in March as employers shed 663,000 jobs and cut workers' hours to a record low, the Labor Department said Friday in a report showing continued rapid deterioration in the job market. A record 13.2 million Americans were out of work last month. Firms have cut 5.1 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007, with nearly two-thirds of the cuts happening in the last five months. The unemployment rate was up from a seasonally adjusted 8.1% in February, and at 8.5% it is the highest since November 1983. A year ago the rate was 5.1%. For the first time since 1985, less than 60% of the U.S. population was working."

The O-man gets some things right: "US President Barack Obama has urged the NATO allies to boost their own military strengths, and has warned that Europe is more likely to fall victim to a terror attack than the US. In Europe on his first major overseas trip since becoming president in January, and seeking to drum up support for his new Afghan strategy, Mr Obama praised Washington's partners but said they should raise their game. "NATO is the most successful alliance in modern history. The basic premise of NATO was that Europe's security was the United States' security, and vice-versa," Mr Obama said in France ahead of NATO's 60th anniversary summit. "That is its central tenet, that is a pillar of American foreign policy that has been unchanging over the last 60 years. It is something that I am here to affirm," he added, standing alongside France's President Nicolas Sarkozy. "We would like to see Europe have much more robust defence capabilities. That is not something we discourage, we are not looking to be the patron of Europe, we are looking to be partners with Europe," he said. "The more capable they are defensively, the more we can act in concert on the shared challenges that we face."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Indonesia's Islamic forces full of hate, former president Abdurrahman Wahid says

Islamic extremists have infiltrated deep into Indonesia's government, businesses, schools and religious bodies, and are using cunning new tactics to seize control of mosques and preach radicalism, former president Abdurrahman Wahid has written in a new book. Mr Wahid, who was president of Indonesia from 1999 to 2001, said hardliners were transforming Indonesia's traditionally moderate brand of Islam into one that is "aggressive, furious, intolerant and full of hate".

Writing in The Illusion of an Islamic State, Mr Wahid said the extremists were systematically infiltrating Indonesian institutions in order to remake Indonesian society "in their own harsh and rigid likeness". Mr Wahid, also known as Gus Dur, said the hardliners were strongly influenced by transnational Islamic movements from the Middle East, such as Wahhabism and the Muslim Brotherhood, and many are financed by massive amounts of Wahhabi petro-dollars.

The 68-year-old wrote that the hardliners have penetrated to the heart of Indonesia's Government, and warned of opportunistic politicians who work with extremist political parties and groups. "They have joined the extremists in driving our nation towards a deep chasm, which threatens destruction and national disintegration," he wrote.

The book is based on more than two years of research by the LibForAll Foundation, a non-government organisation set up to promote religious tolerance and discredit extremism.

The Indonesian Council of Religious Scholars had largely fallen into the grip of radicals and is now dictating to - and in many ways controlling - the country's government, he wrote. As Mr Wahid noted in the introduction, researchers for the book uncovered evidence of several cunning schemes extremists use to seize control of mosques. Under one scheme, a group of youths offer a mosque a free cleaning service. Actually "extremist agents", the cleaners aim to impress a mosque's management with their piety, and eventually gain a spot on the mosque's board. Once on the board, they consolidate their power, stack it with other radicals and eventually come to control who can serve as imam, deliver sermons or give religious education.

The groups were also involved in strenuous efforts to seize control of Indonesia's mainstream Islamic organisations, particularly Muhammadiyah and the Nahdatul Ulama, in order to use them as vehicles to spread extremism, Mr Wahid said.

About 90 per cent of Indonesia's 240 million people are Muslims. Mr Wahid, Indonesia's fourth president, was kicked out of office and impeached in 2001 amid accusations of incompetence and corruption. [That last sentence is misleading. Allegations are cheap. In fact, he was too tolerant for the Jakarta establishment so they got rid of him. He is a very devout and sincere man]



The folly of estate taxes

In Australia, where I live, all estate taxes were abolished long ago

President Barack Obama has proposed prolonging the federal estate tax rather than ending it in 2010, as is scheduled under current law. The president's plan would extend this year's $3.5 million exemption level and the 45% top rate. But will this really help America recover from recession and reduce our growing deficits? In order to assess the pros and cons of the estate tax, we should focus on its impact on those who bequeath wealth, not on those who receive wealth.

Advocates of the estate tax argue that such a tax will reduce the concentrations of wealth in a few families, but there is little evidence to suggest that the estate tax has much, if any, impact on the distribution of wealth. To see the silliness of using the estate tax as a tool to redistribute wealth, realize that those who die and leave estates would be taxed just as much if they bequeathed their money to poor people as they would if they left their money to rich people. If the objective were to redistribute, surely, an inheritance tax (a tax on the recipients) would make far more sense than an estate tax.

Indeed, from a societal standpoint, inheritance is an unmitigated good. Passing on to successive generations greater health, wealth and wisdom is what society in general, and America specifically, is all about. Imagine what America would look like today if our forefathers had been selfish and had left us nothing. We have all benefited greatly from a history of intergenerational American generosity. But just being an American is as much an accident of birth as being the child of wealthy parents. If you are an American, it's likely because ancestors of yours chose to become Americans and also chose to have children.

In its most basic form, it's about as silly an idea as can be imagined that America in the aggregate can increase the standards of living of future generations by taxing individual Americans for passing on higher standards of living to future generations of Americans of their choice. Clearly, taxing estates at death will induce people who wish to leave estates to future generations to leave smaller estates and to find ways to avoid estate taxes. On a conceptual level, it makes no sense to tax estates at death.

Study after study finds that the estate tax significantly reduces the size of estates and, as an added consequence, reduces the nation's capital stock and income. This common sense finding is documented ad nauseam in the 2006 U.S. Joint Economic Committee Report on the Costs and Consequences of the Federal Estate Tax. The Joint Economic Committee estimates that the estate tax has reduced the capital stock by approximately $850 billion because it reduces incentives to save and invest, has excessively high compliance costs, and results in significant economic inefficiencies.

Today in America you can take your after-tax income and go to Las Vegas and carouse, gamble, drink and smoke, and as far as our government is concerned that's just fine. But if you take that same after-tax income and leave it to your children and grandchildren, the government will tax that after-tax income one additional time at rates up to 55%. I especially like an oft-quoted line from Joseph Stiglitz and David L. Bevan, who wrote in the Greek Economic Review, "Of course, prohibitively high inheritance tax rates generate no revenue; they simply force the individual to consume his income during his lifetime." Hurray for Vegas.

If you're rich enough, however, you can hire professionals who can, for a price, show you how to avoid estate taxes. Many of the very largest estates are so tax-sheltered that the inheritances go to their beneficiaries having paid little or no taxes at all. And all the costs associated with these tax shelters and tax avoidance schemes are pure wastes for the country as a whole and exist solely to circumvent the estate tax. The estate tax in and of itself causes people to waste resources.

Again, a number of studies suggest that the costs of sheltering estates from the tax man actually are about as high as the total tax revenues collected from the estate tax. And these estimates don't even take into account lost output, employment and production resulting from perverse incentives. This makes the estate tax one of the least efficient taxes. And yet for all the hardship and expense associated with the estate tax, the total monies collected in any one year account for only about 1% of federal tax receipts.

It is important to realize that less than half of the estates that must go through the burden of complying with the paperwork and reporting requirements of the tax actually pay even a nickel of the tax. And the largest estates that actually do pay taxes generally pay lower marginal tax rates than smaller estates because of tax shelters. The inmates really are running the asylum.

In 1982, Californians overwhelmingly voted to eliminate the state's estate tax. It seems that even in the highest taxed state in the nation there are some taxes voters cannot abide. It shouldn't surprise anyone that ultra-wealthy liberal Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, supporter of the estate tax and lifetime resident of Ohio, where there is a state estate tax, chose to die as a resident of Florida, where there is no state estate tax. Differential state estate-tax rates incentivize people to move from state to state. Global estate tax rates do the same thing, only the moves are from country to country. In 2005 the U.S., at a 47% marginal tax rate, had the third highest estate tax rate of the 50 countries covered in a 2005 report by Price Waterhouse Coopers, LLP. A full 26 countries had no "Inheritance/Death" tax rate at all.

In the summary of its 2006 report, the Joint Economic Committee wrote, "The detrimental effects of the estate tax are grossly disproportionate to the modest amount federal revenues it raises (if it raises any net revenue at all)." Even economists in favor of the estate tax concede that its current structure does not work. Henry Aaron and Alicia Munnell concluded, "In short, the estate and gift taxes in the United States have failed to achieve their intended purposes. They raise little revenue. They impose large excess burdens. They are unfair."

For all of these reasons, the estate tax needs to go, along with the step-up basis at death of capital gains (which values an asset not at the purchase price but at the price at the buyer's death). On purely a static basis, the Joint Tax Committee estimates that over the period 2011 through 2015, the static revenue losses from eliminating the estate tax would be $281 billion, while the additional capital gains tax receipts from repeal of the step-up basis would be $293 billion.




CO: Jury awards $1 to corrupt Ward Churchill: “A jury Thursday found that former college professor Ward Churchill, who referred to victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks as ‘little Eichmanns’ in an essay, was wrongfully terminated by the University of Colorado, according to a court official. But the jury, which deliberated for a day and a half after a trial that began March 9, awarded Churchill only $1, the minimum they could award while still finding in Churchill’s favor, according to Robert McCallum, pubic information officer for Colorado’s 2nd Judicial District Court. … Churchill argued during the trial that he was fired from his tenured position for expressing politically unpopular, but constitutionally protected, views. The university argued in the trial that he was not fired for his political views but rather for sloppy academic work.”

The mark-to-market relief rally: “The events leading to the Dow’s climbing over 8000 today can be properly called the Mark-to-Market Relief Rally. More than any expected action of the bureaucrats and politicians at the G20, the decision today of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to relax strict application of mark-to-market accounting mandates, urged on by members of Congress of both parties, it what’s giving investors something to cheer for.”

Obama: The hollow man: “Normally, I try not to think too much about presidents. The mainstream media focus excessively on them, cheapening the quality of political discourse. As a result, American citizens who are inclined to talk about politics regurgitate pointless trivia about the White House occupant and staff — things they’ve heard on National Public Radio or seen on TV. But we have a new occupant in the White House, one whom the popular media laud as a visionary and transformative figure. To anyone who loves liberty, this overwrought praise is by itself a cause for skepticism. And skepticism is surely warranted, on many grounds.”

A caricature of a riot: “Yesterday’s anti-capitalist protest in London was a half-hearted ritual of pretend-rage and pseudo-concern. ‘Concerned of Tunbridge Wells’ was elbowed aside by ‘Angry of Brighton’ in a shallow display of second-hand militancy. What was really striking about the G20-related demonstrations against ‘capitalism and climate chaos’ — which took place outside the Bank of England and elsewhere in London — was the extent to which the opportunistic coalition of protesting moral crusaders represented a going-through-the-motions activism; they weren’t so much representing a cause as searching for one. Predictably, the authorities faithfully played their part in this melodrama.”

Obama’s losing bet on Detroit : “If you had bought $1,000 worth of General Motors stock in 2000, your holdings would now be worth less than $40, for a loss of 96 percent. You could have made worse investments in that period — with Bernard Madoff, for one — but not many. So anyone looking to participate in a viable business would look a lot of other places before they would look there. But the United States government thinks GM might just be a really smart place to put its money.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Friday, April 3, 2009

G-20: Much Talk, Thankfully Little Action

The likelihood that this meeting will kick-start a recovery from the global economic downturn is about as high as your winning the jackpot with the next lottery ticket you buy. At the prior G-20 meeting in November all parties solemnly proclaimed their devotion to free trade and opposition to protectionist measures in the midst of recession. Since then, 17 of the 20 countries, including the United States, have imposed recovery-killing protectionist measures.

The world would be better off if the two major initiatives being pushed at this meeting were similarly ignored. The U.S. and Great Britain will try to persuade other countries to commit to the kind of large-scale domestic "stimulus" spending they have instituted. Meanwhile the continental European countries will try to persuade the U.S. to regulate its financial institutions more tightly, emulating the strict European regulation that failed to stave off imprudent exotic investments and a financial crisis there.

France, Germany, Japan and other countries are rightfully leery of too much deficit spending, convinced that it won't end the recession and concerned about subsequent inflation. Stricter U.S. regulation will be designed to prevent the previous round of excesses while failing to anticipate problems that have not yet materialized, accomplishing little at great cost.

All in all, then, the best news out of London would not be announcements of great decisions agreed upon, but flowery statements about "friendly discussions" and "frank exchanges," which when decoded translate to "we did nothing much."



G20 summit: Leaders target bankers

Totally trivial amid the present financial meltdown but that seems to be all that the blowhards have been able to agree on. Laughable, really

World leaders will agree unprecedented global restrictions on pay and bonuses for bankers at the G20 summit in London. In future, bankers will be prevented from receiving multi-million pound cash bonuses for speculating on the stock market. Their remuneration will instead be based on the risks they take over the long term. Bankers deemed to be making risky investment decisions will only be paid in shares that can be cashed in after several years.

The multi-million-pound bonuses paid to bankers have been blamed for encouraging them to take the "reckless" decisions that triggered the global financial crisis.

The Daily Telegraph has learnt that the remuneration deal was thrashed out over the past few days following intensive diplomatic efforts by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. The measure did not appear in a draft communiqué that was leaked at the weekend. The European leaders were understood to have pushed for an exact monetary limit on banking pay but were prepared to sign up to the new, strongly-worded agreement.

Regulators in each of the G20 countries will impose the new restrictions, which cover both private banks and those owned both wholly and partially by the state. The agreement will be the most eye-catching part of the communique, which is expected to be released by G20 leaders at the summit in London's Docklands on Thursday.



Good start for Netanyahu

By Ted Belman

The Netanyahu government is looking good to me. First, Netanyahu studiously avoided giving anything away upfront to the consternation of the EU and Livni. He offered negotiations on “three parallel tracks, economic, security and diplomatic” with the Palestinian Authority. As the NYT put it Netanyahu Offers Conciliation, but Not Concessions. His sole position on the peace process was that he would abide by all signed agreements.

As Min Lieberman made forcefully clear today, that didn’t include Annapolis. The International community was dying to make discussions under Annapolis binding on Israel but the Netanyahu government would have none of it and came out of the gate stressing this point.

In Understanding Netanyahu, I pointed out that Bibi intended to take Bush’s “vision speech” of 2002 as his point of reference. Even the Roadmap isn’t a signed agreement. Let’s look at it.
A two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be achieved through an end to violence and terrorism, when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror and willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty, and through Israel’s readiness to do what is necessary for a democratic Palestinian state to be established, and a clear, unambiguous acceptance by both parties of the goal of a negotiated settlement as described below.

The emphasis on a “negotiated settlement” precludes an imposed solution which is currently what the Obama Administration would like to do..
However, as a performance-based plan, progress will require and depend upon the good faith efforts of the parties, and their compliance with each of the obligations outlined below.

There is no way progress can be made under this roadmap so long as there is violence and the Arabs will never give up on the use of violence.
A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours.

Notice he word “sovereign” is left out.

Netanyahu has taken the position that he will not consider making Palestine a sovereign state. He is offering “limited sovereignty” otherwise known as autonomy.
The settlement will resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and end the occupation that began in 1967, based on the foundations of the Madrid Conference, the principle of land for peace, UNSCRs 242, 338 and 1397, agreements previously reached by the parties, and the initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah - endorsed by the Beirut Arab League Summit - calling for acceptance of Israel as a neighbour living in peace and security, in the context of a comprehensive settlement.



The Ted Stevens Scandal

After yesterday's dismissal, time to put rogue government prosecutors in the dock

Last fall, the senior Senator from Alaska was the poster octogenarian for political corruption. As of yesterday, Ted Stevens is merely another casualty of abusive prosecutors out to make a name for themselves.

The Justice Department yesterday moved to set aside an October conviction on ethics charges and forgo any future trials for Senator Stevens. He walks free, in other words, an innocent man. In the motion, Justice said it "recently discovered" that prosecutors withheld from the defense notes about an interview last April with the state's star witness, Bill Allen, that contradicted his subsequent testimony. Under the Brady Rule for evidence, Justice was obliged to share that with Senator Stevens's lawyers.

This was one of many prosecutorial missteps that came to light after Mr. Stevens was found guilty less than two weeks before Election Day. The Republican narrowly lost his bid for a seventh term. Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday promised a "thorough" probe into the conduct of prosecutors, which is the least the Department owes Mr. Stevens. The Obama Administration made the political calculation here to walk away from the original mistake made by Bush Justice rather than further embarrass the Department in post-trial hearings....

Evidence since the trial confirms suspicions that Justice lawyers were eager to bag such a prominent Senator before Election Day and before a new Administration brought in different political appointees. Perhaps they knew that a Republican Attorney General wouldn't dare overrule career lawyers prosecuting a GOP Senator, especially amid charges of "politicizing" Justice. They failed to share other documents with the defense and redacted exculpatory passages from witness transcripts. Chad Joy, an FBI "whistleblower," filed a complaint in early December, saying his partner, Mary Beth Kepner, had an unspecified "inappropriate relationship" with Mr. Allen, the prosecution witness.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in February called the behavior of Justice lawyers "outrageous," taking the rare step of holding them in contempt. The Department subsequently replaced the entire prosecutorial team, which had been led by the chief of its public integrity section, William Welch. The Justice internal probe will have a lot of ground to cover. The government's lawyers likely miscarried justice and should be held to account. All of this comes too late for Mr. Stevens's political career, but perhaps not for other politically tempting prosecutorial targets.



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Our Problem is Immorality

by Walter E. Williams

Most of our nation's great problems, including our economic problems, have as their root decaying moral values. Whether we have the stomach to own up to it or not, we have become an immoral people left with little more than the pretense of morality. You say, "That's a pretty heavy charge, Williams. You'd better be prepared to back it up with evidence!" I'll try with a few questions for you to answer

Do you believe that it is moral and just for one person to be forcibly used to serve the purposes of another? And, if that person does not peaceably submit to being so used, do you believe that there should be the initiation of some kind of force against him? Neither question is complex and can be answered by either a yes or no. For me the answer is no to both questions but I bet that your average college professor, politician or minister would not give a simple yes or no response. They would be evasive and probably say that it all depends.

In thinking about questions of morality, my initial premise is that I am my private property and you are your private property. That's simple. What's complex is what percentage of me belongs to someone else. If we accept the idea of self-ownership, then certain acts are readily revealed as moral or immoral. Acts such as rape and murder are immoral because they violate one's private property rights. Theft of the physical things that we own, such as cars, jewelry and money, also violates our ownership rights.

The reason why your college professor, politician or minister cannot give a simple yes or no answer to the question of whether one person should be used to serve the purposes of another is because they are sly enough to know that either answer would be troublesome for their agenda. A yes answer would put them firmly in the position of supporting some of mankind's most horrible injustices such as slavery. After all, what is slavery but the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another? A no answer would put them on the spot as well because that would mean they would have to come out against taking the earnings of one American to give to another in the forms of farm and business handouts, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and thousands of similar programs that account for more than two-thirds of the federal budget. There is neither moral justification nor constitutional authority for what amounts to legalized theft. This is not an argument against paying taxes. We all have a moral obligation to pay our share of the constitutionally mandated and enumerated functions of the federal government.

Unfortunately, there is no way out of our immoral quagmire. The reason is that now that the U.S. Congress has established the principle that one American has a right to live at the expense of another American, it no longer pays to be moral. People who choose to be moral and refuse congressional handouts will find themselves losers. They'll be paying higher and higher taxes to support increasing numbers of those paying lower and lower taxes. As it stands now, close to 50 percent of income earners have no federal income tax liability and as such, what do they care about rising income taxes? In other words, once legalized theft begins, it becomes too costly to remain moral and self-sufficient. You might as well join in the looting, including the current looting in the name of stimulating the economy.

I am all too afraid that a historian, a hundred years from now, will footnote America as a historical curiosity where people once enjoyed private property rights and limited government but it all returned to mankind's normal state of affairs -- arbitrary abuse and control by the powerful elite.



The Rise of ObamaCorps

As ALG News mentioned last week, Rep. Virginia Foxx's (R-NC) amendment banning so-called “volunteer” organizations from using taxpayer funds to political purposes was stripped from its parent bill in the Senate, and replaced by an amendment allowing those organizations to skirt the law and continue lobbying. This week, the House will approve the Senate version, and President Obama will no doubt sign it shortly thereafter.

The battle to kill this bill in Congress is very likely over. Unless the Blue Dogs can muster enough support to halt Speaker Pelosi's march to madness, the American taxpayer will have to pony up another $5 billion for paid “volunteers” (an oxymoron if there ever was one) to politically-oriented organizations, the aims of many of which they will invariably oppose.

So when groups like ACORN and the DNC come knocking at the government's door for taxpayer funds and “volunteers,” the only thing standing in their way will be a hollow “promise” to not use them for partisan purposes. Of course, strictly speaking, they can get around that by using the volunteers and funding to create and manage the 'non-partisan' infrastructure, thus enabling them to shift more non-government dollars into lobbying and partisan efforts. It's called “fungibility.” And the “volunteer” front groups know how to use it well.

In essence, a new army has been created—a civilian army, ready to do the will of those organizations that have the political shrewdness to hire them. By creating this massive influx of government-managed, taxpayer-funded positions, President Obama will enable any group (with the proper connections, of course) to access this talent pool and influence Washington—all at taxpayer expense.



BrookesNews Update

Dark clouds hover over US economy: Let us be clear, the Dow rally is not squaring Obama's economic circle. His policy of big government is - at best - guaranteed to retard economic growth. The bigger the government the more resources it commands and the more resources it commands the fewer resources there are for capital accumulation. Then there is the Fed's utterly reckless monetary policy that has created an inflationary time bomb
The economy tanks as politicians look the wrong way: Rudd, like Obama, is following in the destructive footsteps of Gordon Brown. Australia, the UK and the US are being led by economic and historical illiterates, men who are criminally ignorant of how free economies functions and the forces that destabilise them. Unfortunately our media commentators are every bit as bad
Israeli soldiers speak out against the slanders : To combat the many slanders and libels that are being perpetrated against them Israeli soldiers are now speaking up. They are highlighting their personal accounts of the IDF's moral code and their own combat experiences. Needless to say, this would not be necessary were it not for a corrupt media
The Fed created the bubble and Greenspan should admit it: A bubble cannot emerge without a loosening of monetary policy, which means it cannot occur without money pumping by the Fed. Hence, what matters for the economic boom, i.e., the emergence of bubbles, is the creation of money out of thin air and not the level of long-term interest rates as Greenspan argued
Will the US economy be able to keep the military strong? :America cannot retain a superpower status without a strong manufacturing base. Unfortunately the Fed's monetary policy has weakened that base, causing some manufacturers to invest overseas rather than in the US. Obama's policies will only worsen the situation
Marx and Keynes and Obama's primitive economics :Obama's primitive economic program and the support it is getting from the media is frightening evidence of just how far economic thinking has regressed. That his economic nostrums had been refuted many times before has been all but forgotten. I fear the consequences of this historical amnesia will be severe
The left's romance with Castro's Cuba: Western leftist intellectuals were greatly inspired by the persecution of intellectuals in Cuba, just as the earlier generation had been by the persecution of intellectuals in Stalin's Soviet Union. Charmed by the notion of a society in which their own talent - as well as their entire being - would be extinguished, they continued the practice of labelling the totalitarian
The coming loss of American sovereignty :The new war on sovereignty started slowly but will be accelerated in the next four years and from all appearances may be a war our country will lose unless the public realizes Obama in just a socialist idealist and not a messiah but one who has been under the tutelage of socialist and mentors



Netanyahu to Obama: Stop Iran—Or I Will: "In an interview conducted shortly before he was sworn in today as prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu laid down a challenge for Barack Obama. The American president, he said, must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons—and quickly—or an imperiled Israel may be forced to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities itself."

Sell the Roads!: "Under President Obama's stimulus plan, the government will spend billions of your dollars building new roads and fixing old ones. They say they'll do it efficiently. I say, bull; government has never before been efficient. It isn't going to start now. Need proof? How about rush hour? Rush hours from hell are not natural phenomena. They're manmade -- more precisely, politician-made. But what if commuting didn't have to be a horrendous experience? What if, for example, someone wanted to add some lanes to a road or build an entirely new road? It's happening. Private road builders are doing it. They built a double-decker underground highway in Paris. A 45-minute trip now takes 10 minutes. Three hundred-fifty cameras watch for traffic delays or accidents. Once the camera detects a problem, a crew rushes to tow the obstacle away so traffic keeps moving. They did a similar thing in California, too, on Highway 91. Instead of building a brand-new road, a private developer added two lanes in the median strip of an existing highway. The beauty of it: Unlike government work, the private highway is all voluntary. No driver or taxpayer was forced to pay for the extra lanes. Drivers can choose to use them or not. Those who want to go faster have to pay a toll -- from a buck fifty to $9 -- depending on traffic. By paying you save time. And for some people, time is money."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Conscription Law AKA The GIVE ACT Passes Senate

And, sadly, it's not an April Fool's joke: The Hitler Youth comes to America. Joining the Hitler Youth was "voluntary' too. The speech restrictions are routine Leftism but will probably not get past SCOTUS

The GIVE ACT has been rubber stamped by the Senate making a domestic draft that legislates mandatory national service and creates an “army” of at least 7 million civilian enforcers. Imagine that, 7 million members of this civilian “army” equates to about one member for every 50 Americans, a similar figure to the number of East Germans who collaborated with the Stasi and informed on their own citizens during the cold war.

Paul Watson reports " In an interview with Ben Smith of the New York Daily News, Emanuel outlined the agenda for military-style training, essentially a domestic draft, aimed at preparing Americans for a chemical or biological terrorist attack.

Asked by Smith about the universal service plan and whether people would have to live in military barracks, Emanuel laughed before responding, “We’re going to have universal civil defense training, somewhere between the ages of 18 to 25 you will do three months of training….but there can be nothing wrong with all Americans having a joint similar experience of what we call civil defense training or civil service in service of the country, in preparation, which will give people a sense of what it means to be an American.”

“It will be a common experience and we will be prepared, God forbid, God forbid that there is a chemical hit, another terrorist act or natural disaster becoming more frequent - there’ll be a body of citizens who are ready and capable and trained - that’s all you have to think about,” said Emanuel before smugly declaring, “We’re all here for you OK? It’s a circle of love.”

As Gary Wood writes, “Those in support of this legislation will argue this amendment is limited in scope and is not meant to interfere with the rights of citizens to protest, petition, boycott, or strike in resistance to government proposed laws. However, the people associated through service under the GIVE Act are considered volunteers, still free citizens, yet it will be unlawful for them to take part in any protests against any legislation. This is as close to a sedition act, a violation of 1st Amendment rights, as has been proposed in recent history. A basic right as a part of our natural, inalienable rights, is to resist government. Our founders not only knew it was a right but it was a responsibility. This legislation begins to break that down significantly.”

Within this legislation it contains language that takes away the first amendment rights of the so-called "volunteers".

‘(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:

‘(1) Attempting to influence legislation.

‘(2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.

‘(3) Assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing.

‘(4) Impairing existing contracts for services or collective bargaining agreements.

‘(5) Engaging in partisan political activities, or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to any public office.

‘(6) Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation, or elected officials.

‘(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.




ND: As river rose, volunteers stepped up: "In Fargo, a city of 90,000, 80,000 volunteers showed up -- men, women, children. Everyone who could help appeared in defense of the city. 'You've got to try and stay positive,' said one volunteer. ... a statement was made here that may be useful beyond the Great Plains. After weeks of national stories about cheats and schemers, the people of faraway Fargo showed what a sense of community really means ... and the rewards that sacrificing for a cause greater than oneself may bring." [Note: And just imagine, they did it themselves with no gov't mandate, no gov't funding, no FEMA, no foulups]

Stupid regulators Force insurer out of Florida: "On January 27, State Farm Florida Insurance Company, the largest provider of homeowners insurance in the Sunshine State, gave formal notice to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) that it intends to withdraw completely from the state. This action will leave more than one million policyholders, including many in the riskiest areas, searching for coverage... In the notice, the company blames regulatory price controls for its decision, saying they have created an “unacceptable probability of impairment or insolvency.” The notice followed a decision by state insurance regulators denying State Farm’s request for a rate-increase. The request did not rely fully on the threat of another bad storm season. While a catastrophic storm would accelerate the company’s financial woes, a combination of increasing small claims, increasing reinsurance costs, and excessive mandatory discounts would lead State Farm Florida into bankruptcy as soon as 2011 without a hurricane making landfall. State Farm Florida’s decision to exit the market should send two very clear signals to Floridians—and residents of other states facing similar problems. First, it shows that the company was not earning adequate returns to continue writing insurance in Florida, much less price gouging to generate excessive profits. Second, it confirms that market forces set terms firms cannot ignore."

Iranian official: No dialogue until we build a bomb: "A high-level Iranian official said that Iran will not dialogue with the United States until Iran has a nuclear bomb. Remarks by the secretary general of Iranian Hezbollah were reported in Berlin from a March 26 symposium on "Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah: Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial." Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Kharrazi reportedly told the Iranian state news agency Shabestan that Iran "will arrange contacts to America as soon as we build our own bomb." "If one is not allowed to build an atom bomb, then no contacts are allowed. And if there are to be contacts, then it will be necessary to build the atom bomb," Kharrazi said, according to a translation from the original Farsi, reported by Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, a senior research fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy. Officially, the Iranian government dismissed the recent Persian New Year greeting and overture from President Obama, insisting that the United States has to be the first to change its approach.

Europe won’t blacklist Israeli airlines: "Israeli airlines will not be blacklisted in Europe. The European Aviation Safety Agency, which last month sent the Israel Civil Aviation Authority an e-mail warning that if its flight safety record did not improve it would blacklist the country's national airlines, announced March 26 that it would not downgrade the security ratings of El Al, Arkia, Israir and Sun d'Or. The decision means the airlines can continue to land at European airports. The Israeli authority also presented the European agency with a plan to be reinstated to the American category 1 safety rating. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration downgraded Israel's air-safety system to a third-world level last December. The European warning came on the heels of the FAA's decision to downgrade. Meanwhile, Ben Gurion International Airport was named top Middle East airport for the second year in a row in an annual survey by the Geneva-based Airports Council International. The survey ranks airports based on more than 30 aspects of service voted on by travelers.

Murtha Award Sparks Vet Outrage: "In one of his last moves before leaving office March 13, then-Navy Secretary Donald Winter quietly awarded 19-term Democratic congressman John Murtha (Pa.) with the service's highest civilian honor. The award generated little publicity when it was given to Murtha in early March, but as news of the honor trickled out, some veterans groups ignited a firestorm of protest. The primary reason for their ire stems from the congressman's statements in May, 2006, that a squad of Marines who responded to an IED ambush and short firefight in Haditha, Iraq, rampaged through the village, murdering civilians "in cold blood." When the dust settled more than two years later, six of the eight Marines and Sailors accused of crimes in the Haditha incident had their cases dismissed, one was found not guilty and the last has been continued indefinitely. Murtha has refused to recant his accusations or apologize to the Marines he accused of war crimes".

Crazy: Gates sees sanctions as best bet on Iran: "The U.S. defense secretary said economic sanctions would be more successful than diplomacy in dealing with Iran. "I think frankly from my perspective, the opportunity for success is probably more in economic sanctions in both places than it is in diplomacy," said Robert Gates on the television program "Fox News Sunday," referring to both Iran and North Korea. "Diplomacy -- perhaps if there is enough economic pressure placed on Iran -- diplomacy can provide them an open door through which they can walk if they choose to change their policies, and so I think the two go hand in hand. But I think what gets them to the table is economic sanctions." Gates' remarks came a little more than a week after President Obama launched an effort to diplomatically engage Iran, sending a videotaped message to the Iranian people. The defense secretary also said on the program that Iran has "enough low-enriched uranium" to give it the capacity to make a weapon "should they enrich it more highly." But he said the United States does not believe that Iran has the capability yet.

US Army Confirms Israeli Nukes: "The Army has let slip one of the worst-kept secrets in the world -- that Israel has the bomb. Officially, the United States has a policy of "ambiguity" regarding Israel's nuclear capability. Essentially, it has played a game by which it neither acknowledges nor denies that Israel is a nuclear power. But a Defense Department study completed last year offers what may be the first time in a unclassified report that Israel is a nuclear power. On page 37 of the U.S. Joint Forces Command report, the Army includes Israel within "a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east... Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh published "The Samson Option," detailing Israel's strategy of massive nuclear retaliation against Arab states in the event it felt its very existence was threatened. Israel's nuclear arsenal has been estimated to range from 200 to 400 warheads."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)