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Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts  

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30 April, 2011

A great Royal occasion

Detractors often speak of the fragility of the British monarchy and predict its demise but on every great Royal occasion we see the falsity of that. The huge enthusiasm with which Prince William and his bride were greeted by a million onlookers in London would surely be the envy of any politician.

Winston Churchill once said: "Not for a thousand years has Britain seen the campfires of an invader". One consequence is that the British army has retained its traditions. And the splendid uniforms are part of that. We see in the picture above the particularly splendid dress uniform of the Blues & Royals worn by Prince Harry.

It might almost be a comic opera uniform but there is nothing comic about the regiment concerned. It sees active service in war zones and in fact traces its origins all the way back to Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army. And Prince Harry is no chocolate soldier. Both he and William are members of the British armed forces and Harry is particularly devoted to the army. He loved his posting to the dirt and dust of Afghanistan. And the Blues and Royals is the regiment he joined when he enlisted in the British army.

Prince William, heir in due course to the throne of 16 countries, also enlisted initially in the Blues and Royals but now serves in the Royal Air Force. In the picture above he wears the uniform of the Irish Guards, of which he is honorary Colonel. By wearing that uniform he honours the regiment concerned. Guardsmen will be proud to see THEIR Colonel so prominently honoured.

And also above we see the rather splendid 1902 State Landau in which the couple left Westminster Abbey. I gather that it is not the most comfortable of rides but it gives admirers a good view of those in the carriage and enables them to be clearly seen when they wave back.

It all does my old monarchist heart good. And I was pleased to see the Queen looking well after her recent minor health scare -- JR.


The Entrepreneurs' Princess

From across the pond, I have watched with interest the debate and speculation on the significance of Prince William's wedding to longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton.

Much has been made of the fact that Kate is a "commoner"; her mother and father started out their careers working as a flight attendant and flight dispatcher for British Airways, respectively. Yet she has known many of the privileges of aristocracy, because her parents built a multimillion-dollar business that supported elite educations for her siblings and her.

Some have asked if Kate will be a "people's princess," in the mold of Prince William's late mother, Diana. But Kate and her family actually embody a noble, if relatively modern, tradition of their own, a tradition of bettering oneself and one's family while improving the lot of society at the same time.

The tradition that Kate and her parents and siblings embody so well is that of entrepreneurship. For centuries in Britain, commercial activities were looked down upon by many in the aristocracy, whose wealth lay in landownership and who would not deign to dabble in trade. This week's wedding can be seen as the culmination of a long process of elevating the social status of entrepreneurship itself.

The story of the Middletons' rise to wealth has been told, but its significance and its implications for British culture and public policy have been little explored.

When Kate was five, her mother, like many aspiring entrepreneurs, saw a niche that could be filled to help others in her situation. As described on the website of the family business, PartyPieces.co.uk, "Carole Middleton founded Party Pieces in 1987 after finding it difficult to source fun, simple party products for her children's parties."

Somewhat like successful American firms from Microsoft to Google that had their beginnings in residential garages, Party Pieces started out in a shed in the Middletons' garden. There, mail orders were taken for boxes with pre-selected party favors to fit a certain theme.

The Middleton's business really took off with the advent of the Internet, and today, one can go on the web site and order plates, cups and napkins themed from Barbie to the Transformers. If one of the royal duties is to ensure the happiness of subjects, Kate's family has given her a head start by bringing joy to so many British parents and children.

And happiness through individual initiative is something Kate could encourage once she joins the royal family, by pointing to her family's entrepreneurial background and championing Britain's innovative firms, many of which have origins similar to that of Party Pieces. Margaret Thatcher has written that "however pervasive an enterprise culture is, most people are not born entrepreneurs." But the Middletons, through the story of their success before Kate even met William, will serve as a constant reminder of what enterprising men and women can achieve.

Over the three decades that span the lifetimes of Kate and Prince William, the commercial classes have attained newfound respect in British culture. The idea of ordinary people building successful businesses—a concept often called the "American Dream"—is now idealized in British programs such as BBC's "Dragons' Den."

If the royal family were to utilize Kate's background to help encourage and spread this culture of entrepreneurship, the effects in Britain—and possibly much of the world—could be incredible. The people of the United Kingdom would be much richer, and not just in material terms. "Earned success gives people a sense of meaning about their lives," writes the social scientist Arthur Brooks, who is president of the American Enterprise Institute think tank.

Indeed, studies show that in both the U.S. and U.K., many blue- and white-collar workers prefer to have the opportunity to advance, even if this means a less equal income distribution. A study of thousands of British employees by Andrew Clark, associate chair of the Paris School of Economics, found that measures of these workers' happiness actually rose as their demographic group's average income increased relative to their own.

These findings suggests that as people see members of their peer group gain wealth—even surpassing them—it gives them hope that they can improve their lot as well. As Mr. Clark put it in his study of British workers, "income inequality . . . need not be harmful for economic growth" if it "contains an aspect of opportunity."

The Middletons symbolize the opportunity that exists in a free-market system for those who take advantage of it. It is worth noting that they founded Party Pieces during the Thatcher era, when the Conservative government focused on lifting barriers to entrepreneurs through lower taxation, less regulation and privatization. Coincidentally or not, the year Kate's parents started their business, 1987, was also the year that their longtime employer British Airways was sold off, with shares of stock going to its workers.

Even though Kate's family has long been in the spotlight due to her relationship with Prince William, recent comments by Carole Middleton show that she still sympathizes with the small entrepreneur. In an interview on the Party Pieces website, she says: "I still work through to the early hours to hit a deadline and never take our success for granted."

The union of Prince William and Kate has been called a modern royal marriage, and in many ways it is. But it will also fulfill the traditional function of merger of families in a new way. When this couple says their "I dos," the royal family will officially be wed to the dreams and aspirations of millions of entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom and throughout the world.



Americans depend more on federal aid than ever

Americans depended more on government assistance in 2010 than at any other time in the nation's history, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds. The trend shows few signs of easing, even though the economic recovery is nearly 2 years old.

A record 18.3% of the nation's total personal income was a payment from the government for Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits and other programs in 2010. Wages accounted for the lowest share of income — 51.0% — since the government began keeping track in 1929.

The income data show how fragile and government-dependent the recovery is after a recession that officially ended in June 2009.
The wage decline has continued this year. Wages slipped to another historic low of 50.5% of personal income in February. Another government effort — the Social Security payroll tax cut — has lifted income in 2011. The temporary tax cut puts more money in workers' pockets and counts as an income boost, even when wages stay the same.

From 1980 to 2000, government aid was roughly constant at 12.5%. The sharp increase since then — especially since the start of 2008 — reflects several changes: the expansion of health care and federal programs generally, the aging population and lingering economic problems.

Total benefit payments are holding steady so far this year at a $2.3 trillion annual rate. A drop in unemployment benefits has been offset by rises in retirement and health care programs.

"What's frightening is the Baby Boomers haven't really started to retire," says University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes of the 77 million people born from 1946 through 1964 whose oldest wave turns 65 this year. "That's when the cost of Medicare will start to explode."

Accounting for 80% of safety-net spending in 2010: Social Security, Medicare (health insurance for seniors), Medicaid (health insurance for the poor) and unemployment insurance.



"Progressives" are Reactionaries

Tibor R. Machan

The simple answer to why progressives are reactionaries is that they tend to want to empower governments to solve all of the problems that face people in their social lives and that is just the authority that kings, tsars, pharaohs, and other rulers have claimed for themselves throughout history.

The literally progressive position is that no one gets to rule anyone else without that other’s permission. So a football coach or physician or orchestra conductor may rule only because he or she is permitted by those being ruled. But no one else has such authority without such consent. Today’s pseudo-progressives, however, want to assign such authority to governments without anyone consenting to being ruled about a great many matters that their favored governments want imposed on the citizenry.

More generally, governments that rule people have been the norm throughout human political history. Here and there and now and then this practice hasn’t prevailed but mostly it has. In contemporary times the term “ruler” is still used in, say, Libya and Dubai. It was the American Founders, or the majority of them, who demoted the English king and along with him all monarchs–no longer were they deemed the sovereign but a servant of the citizenry.

It is true that American conservatives, often associated with traditional values, have embraced much of what the Founders installed here and this may make it appear that what the Founders believed was itself conservative or traditional. Not so. In American it is the distinctive tradition to champion limited government and not the bloated state. So that is why American conservatives are really more radical than their modern liberal, welfare statists opponents.

The confusion is understandable but foes of the fully free society like to engage in discrediting what they do not like instead of arguing about it. In any argument there is no question that the political vision of the American founders wins hands down. It is a superior system to all those that went before which have all been more or less statist, gripped by the governmental habit. It is just this habit that modern liberals have reaffirmed, what with their wish to make government the caretaker of society, the nanny and ruler of us all. That is the old idea of politics and there is nothing truly progressive about it at all. Let’s just get this straight.

Sure the statism embraced by contemporary liberals, socialists, fascists and the like is somewhat different from the older kind, from mercantilism, from monarchism, from the rule of Caesars and tsars. Not all statists are the same. But what is crucial about all of them is that they are statists. They do not favor certain particular version of statism such as monarchism that had been demoted, overturned by way of the American revolution.

The Founders were nearly libertarians except for some matters they probably didn’t know how to handle without some coercive laws, such as the funding of law enforcement and maintenance via taxation. But taxation is the feudal kin of serfdom–the treatment of those in a society as if they and their resources belonged to the government.

That idea is not knew at all, nothing progressive about it whatever. It is however the idea that is close to socialism in which system all the major means of production are publicly owned, belonging to government (which goes by the euphemism of “the public”). And what does socialism see as the major means of production in a society? Human labor. So human labor–which is to say every human being–is owned by the state. The hallmark of serfdom and slavery.

Progressive my foot. This is thoroughly reactionary, taking contemporary politics back to an era that was prominent before the American revolution challenged it good and hard. This is crucial not just for purposes of political rhetoric, which can delude people who are not all that well versed in political history, but also for dealing competently with public policy. Any such policy that treats the citizen as a subject–subject to the will of the government, that is–must be rejected without any compromise.




MA: Curb on use of welfare cash okayed: "House lawmakers voted unanimously last night to ban welfare recipients from spending their cash benefits on alcohol, tobacco, and lottery tickets, reigniting an issue that flared during Governor Deval Patrick’s reelection campaign last year. The House approved the ban, as part of a larger amendment to the state budget, on a 155-0 vote. The measure not only targets welfare recipients, it also bans store owners from accepting welfare debit cards for purchases of alcohol, tobacco, and lottery tickets."

Obamaflation arrives: "President Obama will not be re-elected. Period. Why? Obamaflation has arrived, and this is what it looks like: Milk. A gallon of skim. At the local Giant in Central Pennsylvania: January 11, 2011: $3.20; February 28, 2011: $3.24; March 6, 2011: $3.34; April 23. 2011: $3.48. That would be a 28 cent rise in a mere 102 days, from January to April of this year. The third year of the Obama misadventure. Then there's the celery. Same sized bag. Same store. January 11, 2011: $1.99 a bag; March 6, 2011: $2.49 a bag."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


29 April, 2011

Motivation and IQ among blacks

A critic has made an important point about my recent brief comment on motivation and IQ: That "acting white" is scorned among many American blacks and that presumably means that they are poorly motivated to do well on tests. And their poor motivation could account for their low average IQ scores. There is undoubtedly some truth in that but not enough to account for the evidence.

Tests are taken in many situations and motivation varies but many situations are ones where motivations are high and blacks do poorly there too. Blacks ALWAYS do poorly, regardless of the situation. Leftist psychologists have for decades now racked their brains trying to find some way to get black average IQ up to white levels and nothing works.

In one experiment, testees were given extra time after the allowed time. The amount of extra time taken was greatest among blacks -- suggesting that their motivation was high. They still did poorly of course.

Further, blacks in Africa and the Caribbean are in a very different situation from American blacks and are often very motivated to do well in any way that might help release them from their grinding poverty. Motivation is not their problem -- and those who manage to get to America or Britain do notably better educationally and otherwise than do blacks born in Britain or America. And in Africa particularly, the average black IQ score is abysmal, much lower even than the scores of American blacks -- presumably because there is around 20% white ancestry among American blacks overall. It is genes, not motivation that matters.

Finally, my critic was apparently unaware that his criticisms are not at all new. They are well-known and well-accounted for among psychometricians. It is in fact an old chestnut that blacks do poorly on IQ tests because of lack of motivation. Such claims have got progressively more weird, however. The latest version of the claim is what Leftist psychologists call "Stereotype threat". The claim is that blacks try less because they fear that their poor results will reflect badly on blacks generally. One would have thought that such fears would cause them to try HARDER but all that is brushed aside. A summary of that research points to large holes in it and concludes "Lack of evidence and grave methodological defects haven't prevented the stereotype threat industry from taking off. Distortions are now pervasive."

NOTE: I cover the above topics more comprehensively here.


I append below Chris Brand's comment on the original study that led to the above post. Chris Brand is a longtime student of IQ and related phenomena

In a mystificatory paper, including no references to Spearman, Burt or Jensen and a totally obscure version of g, published in a journal (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science,*) with no reputation for psychological sophistication and with ‘acknowledgment’ of statistical help to a U. Texas psychologist (Elliot Tucker-Drob), ‘researchers’ Angela Duckworth (U. Pennsylvania) et al. persuaded the ever-environmentally-gullible BBC to claim that IQ was substantially affected by ‘motivation.’

In fact, the authors’ minimally mentioned data did not specify which tests or age-groups were involved; their recordings of ‘test enthusiasm’ would merely have reflected the fact that higher-IQ subjects coped better with testing; their Table 1 clearly showed IQ four times as important as ‘non-intellective traits’ in predicting academic performance; and – despite the BBC’s adulation – the authors themselves concluded:
"It is important not to overstate our conclusions. For all measured outcomes in Study 2, the predictive validity of intelligence remained statistically significant when controlling for the nonintellective traits underlying test motivation. Moreover, the predictive validity of intelligence was significantly stronger than was the predictive validity of test motivation for academic achievement. In addition, both Studies 1 and 2 indicate that test motivation is higher and less variable among participants who are above-average in measured IQ. These findings imply that earning a high IQ score requires high intelligence in addition to high motivation".

A ‘Royal Wedding’ the Victorians might approve of

I am not sure how much interest the Royal wedding today is attracting in the USA but the TV audience is expected to be 2 billion so I thought the backgrounder from Australia below may be of some interest. Australia is a monarchy too, of course, and Prince William will be Australia's monarch in due course

The last princess whose wedding I watched on telly ended up dying in car crash in Paris. So for Catherine Middleton’s sake, I won’t be tuning in to the Royal Wedding in London tonight.

However, there is much to interest those who are concerned not with dresses and fairytales but with the future of an important institution. For on the fate of Prince William’s marriage could rest the future of the British Crown.

Whatever one’s feelings about the monarchy, for a long time the royal family was respected as a good role model. This is because since the mid-nineteenth century the House of Windsor, nee Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, self-consciously promoted itself as a typical, traditional British family.

When Victoria became Queen, the British Crown, together with the rest of aristocracy, had a reputation for excess to rival their counterparts in pre-revolutionary France. To build the esteem of the monarchy, Victoria and her politically astute husband, Prince Albert, tied its fortunes to the rising force in British society.

The royals won favour with the masses by aping the respectable social values of ‘moral middle class,’ which the Industrial Revolution and Protestant religion summoned into existence. Out went debauchery and in came ideals such as duty to family and nation.

Queen Elizabeth is rightly held in high regard (even among Australian republicans) because, in word and deed, she has continued to model the exemplary behaviour expected of royalty. However, the reputation of the monarchy has been tarnished in recent years, mainly due to the breakdown of the marriages of both the queen’s sons.

One hundred and fifty years of PR was destroyed when Diana gave an unprecedented television interview in the mid-1990s and told the world about confronting Charles over his straying ways. Charles’ insouciant response – ‘Do you seriously expect me to be the first Prince of Wales in history not to have a mistress?’ – was hardly the prerogative of a modern-day British king-in-waiting.

This might have sufficed in more deferential times when the media ignored royal indiscretions. But in this intrusive age, exposing the gap between private acts and the public image exposed the Crown to ridicule and charges of hypocrisy. This is ironic given the permissive attitudes to personal morality that otherwise prevail today. Contemporary society expects royalty to model values that the rest of society is free to disregard!

Nevertheless, one senses that Prince William has grasped the double standard and understands that the monarchy would struggle to survive another scandalous divorce.

Having realised he will be held to the high standards of the past (and keen not to repeat the heartache of his parents), William appears determined to have a ‘Royal Wedding’ in the conventional Victorian senses of both those terms. After a long courtship that included a shared university education, it seems he is marrying for life a woman he loves and respects.

I guess this is a fairytale of sorts. But if ‘Will and Kate’ can use their long and happy marriage to help shore up the foundations of the monarchy, their political achievement will rival that of their famous ancestors ‘Vicki and Bert.’

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 29 April. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.


A Critique of a New York Times Editorial Opinion about Obama

The article below is from my old friend Keith Burgess-Jackson. Keith always writes incisively -- JR

With sardonic resignation, President Obama, an eminently rational man, stared directly into political irrationality on Wednesday and released his birth certificate to history. More than halfway through his term, the president felt obliged to prove that he was a legitimate occupant of the Oval Office. It was a profoundly low and debasing moment in American political life.
KBJ: How rational can this man be if he waited three years to release his birth certificate? And why is it irrational to be skeptical about a president's (or presidential candidate's) place of birth when our Constitution clearly requires that the president be "a natural born Citizen"? One would think that what's irrational is dogmatism of the sort displayed by the New York Times and other journalistic organs, which did almost nothing to investigate the background of this strange man.
The disbelief fairly dripped from Mr. Obama as he stood at the West Wing lectern. People are out of work, American soldiers are dying overseas and here were cameras to record him stating that he was born in a Hawaii hospital. It was particularly galling to us that it was in answer to a baseless attack with heavy racial undertones.
KBJ: People are out of work because of Barack Obama. People are dying overseas because of Barack Obama. Had Obama released his birth certificate three years ago, when he began running for president, he wouldn't have had to take time from his busy (golf-playing, campaigning) schedule to discuss the matter. And why interject race into a discussion that has nothing to do with race, other than to impugn the character and motives of those who are (rightly) skeptical of the man's qualifications for office? By the way, how does Obama know where he was born? Does he remember his own birth? His evidence is the same as anyone else's.
Mr. Obama practically begged the public to set aside these distractions, expressing hope that his gesture would end the “silliness” and allow a national debate about budget priorities. It won’t, of course.
KBJ: If it's a distraction, it's self-imposed. Obama has nobody to blame but himself.
If there was ever any doubt about Mr. Obama’s citizenship, which there was not, the issue was settled years ago when Hawaii released his birth certificate. The fuller document that Mr. Obama had to request contains some extra information, including his mother’s signature and the name of the hospital where he was born, but it was unnecessary to show his legitimacy.
KBJ: Thank you, editorial board, for informing us that there was no doubt about Obama's citizenship. You are the arbiter of knowledge and justification. We look to you to tell us what attitude we should take (skeptical, gullible, dogmatic) toward the issues of the day. In fact, there was reasonable doubt about Obama's citizenship. The man has a checkered past. He lived in many different places around the globe, by his own admission. His parents were born on different continents. As for the claim that Hawaii released Obama's birth certificate "years ago," it did not. It released a computer printout containing some (but not all) of the information on the original birth certificate. Why are you misleading your readers? How did you know what the original birth certificate said, before it was released? Do you have extrasensory perception?
So it will not quiet the most avid attackers. Several quickly questioned its authenticity. That’s because the birther question was never really about citizenship; it was simply a proxy for those who never accepted the president’s legitimacy, for a toxic mix of reasons involving ideology, deep political anger and, most insidious of all, race. It was originally promulgated by fringe figures of the radical right, but mainstream Republican leaders allowed it to simmer to satisfy those who are inflamed by Mr. Obama’s presence in the White House.
KBJ: Nobody is "attacking," unless wanting the Constitution to be complied with constitutes attacking; in which case, let there be more attacking. Who (exactly) questioned the authenticity of the original birth certificate? How many is several? Did you ever complain about "several" people questioning whether the United States government was behind the attacks of 9-11? And when did you complain about those who "never accepted [George W. Bush's] legitimacy" after the 2000 election? I don't recall one peep from you about this. As for interjecting race into the discussion, there you go again. Why are you obsessed with race? Why do you see racism everywhere? Is it possible, in your view, to criticize the president without being racist? Do blacks get a pass, merely because they're black? How is that not racism? And you are flat-out wrong about the "attack" being "originally promulgated" by "fringe figures of the radical right," unless, of course, you consider Hillary Clinton to be on the radical right. Do you do research? Do you know how to use Google? Does the word "journalism" mean anything to you?
Sarah Palin said the birth certificate issue was “fair game,” and the public was “rightfully” making it an issue. The House speaker, John Boehner, grudgingly said in February that he would take Mr. Obama “at his word” that he was a citizen, a suggestion that the proof was insufficient. He said, however, that it was not his job to end the nonsensical attacks. “The American people have the right to think what they want to think,” he said at the time. That signal was clearly received. Lawmakers in nearly a dozen states introduced bills requiring presidential candidates to release their full birth certificates.
KBJ: Once again, skepticism about constitutional qualifications is a good thing, not a bad thing. We are lucky to have public officials and figures such as Sarah Palin and John Boehner who care about the Constitution.
It is inconceivable that this campaign to portray Mr. Obama as the insidious “other” would have been conducted against a white president.
KBJ: Will you let go of this race thing? Is that all you have? You are not only speculating about motives; you are imputing the very worst motives to those with whom you disagree. How would you like it if bad motives were imputed to you? I won't do it, but you deserve it. Okay, I will do it: You wouldn't be defending Obama if he were white. You are trying to protect a black man, simply because he is black. (Actually, he's only half black, but you know what I mean.)
There was a price to the party for keeping the issue alive; inevitably, it was picked up by a cartoon candidate, Donald Trump, who rode birtherism directly to the prime-time promontories of cable TV. The Republican establishment began to wince as it became increasingly tied to Mr. Trump’s flirtations with racial provocation, and Karl Rove told him to knock it off. Naturally, he did not.
KBJ: I carry no brief for Donald Trump, but he does get results. Why does that bother you so? Are you worried that he might defeat your darling president in 2012? As for Karl Rove, he does not speak for the American people. He is part of the Washington political establishment that the Tea Party seeks to overthrow. There you go with the racial thing again. Would you please get help with this affliction?
Finally, his taunting and the questions of television correspondents obliging Mr. Trump got on the president’s nerves. Mr. Obama was tactically smart to release the certificate and marginalize those who continue to keep the matter alive. It is tragic that American politics is fueled by such poisonous fire. Mr. Trump quickly moved on to a new fixation, questioning Mr. Obama’s academic credentials. Mr. Boehner, and other party leaders, have a new reason to call a halt to the politics of paranoia and intolerance.
KBJ: Poor Obama! Little ol' Donald Trump "got on [his] nerves"! If Obama can't handle Trump, how is he going to handle third-world dictators? Come to think of it, he hasn't. He's a wimp. As for your writing, do you realize that you're mixing three metaphors in one sentence when you say "fueled by such poisonous fire"? How much time did you put into this editorial, anyway? It appears to have been written in 10 minutes in a fit of rage. As for "paranoia" and "intolerance," what you really mean is "skepticism." Americans are a skeptical lot. They do not take kindly to dogmatic, partisan journalists who refuse to do their job of investigating the backgrounds of those who would govern them. Perhaps, come to think of it, that's why you're so angry: You were caught out. You've only been pretending to be journalists.



Trump gets the usual Leftist kneejerk attack

Take "racist" and "Nazi" out of a Leftist's vocabulary and he would be struck dumb in political debate

A senior CBS news anchor today labelled Donald Trump's campaign to raise doubts about President Obama's school grades as an 'ugly strain of racism'. Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer made the comments in the wake of Mr Trump's calls yesterday for Mr Obama to release college transcripts 'proving' he had the grades to enter Columbia and Harvard.

The attack came as new research suggested viewers for Celebrity Apprentice - some of the most liberal for any TV show - were deserting the program due to Mr Trump's outspoken rants against Mr Obama. [They can't handle anything that challenges their shallow beliefs]

Yesterday Mr Trump called on the President to release his college transcripts. Reacting to the call, Mr Schieffer said: 'That's just code for saying he got into law school because he's black. [He probably did] 'This is an ugly strain of racism that's running through this whole thing.'

Earlier in the day Mr Trump had hinted that the President did not earn the grades at his first college Occidental to allow him to enter the two prestigious Ivy league schools. He said: 'I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can't get into Harvard.

More HERE.

Pat Buchanan covers this issue in more detail -- noting, rather amusingly, that Obama has ADMITTED benefiting from "affirmative action"

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


28 April, 2011

This really is a win for The Donald

And it will be a total triumph if it turns out to be a forgery. What sort of copy is it anyway? Is the copy certified by a notary? If it were a straight photocopy it would be black and white so why is it green?

Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump took credit for pressuring President Barack Obama into releasing the long-form version of his birth certificate. "I've accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish," Trump, a prominent investor and possible White House contender, told a New Hampshire press conference.

He was speaking after the White House released the full version of Obama's birth certificate in a bid to scotch allegations that the president was not born in the United States.

Trump said the newly-released document still had to be vetted for authenticity, but acknowledged it may finally show that Obama is indeed a natural-born American. Under the US Constitution only natural-born citizens can hold the nation's highest office.

"We have to see is it real, is it proper, what's on it," Trump said. "I want it look at it, but I hope it's true, so that we can get on to much more important matters," he said, adding the president "should have done it a long time ago."

"I am really honored frankly to have played such a big role in getting rid of this issue," Trump said in New Hampshire, a key state for contenders planning to launch a presidential bid.

In an extraordinary political moment, Obama told reporters at the White House that he was bemused over the conspiracy about his birthplace and chastised Republican opponents for their continued focus on the issue. "We don't have time for this kind of silliness," Obama said, adding that he was puzzled that the controversy had rumbled on for two-and-a-half years.

Trump, who is flirting with a White House run, has been one of the chief fomenters of the speculation over Obama's birth certificate.

Just last week, Trump proposed on ABC television that he and Obama swap disclosures, suggesting he would release documents on the financial viability of his ventures and his overall wealth, if Obama released his birth records.

Obama's 2008 presidential campaign had previously released a shorter regular birth certificate issued by Hawaii authorities after conservative critics and pundits fanned rumors that he was not American born.

The version released by the White House on Wednesday was a copy of a long-form, original document made at the time of his birth and kept since in official records in Obama's native state. The document lists Obama's birthplace and birthdate as "Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii" on August 4, 1961 at 7:24 pm.



Trump Strikes Chord with America Because He Exposes Anti-Americanism at the Top

So, dear readers, what's the matter with Donald Trump? Well, apparently, just about everything. According to everyone who's anyone in the entire Country, on every stage, from both sides of the aisle, in every news outlet, from every prominent mouth this side of Timbuktu, Donald Trump has no business whatsoever even considering a presidential run.

Why, the nerve of this Donald Trump! It's positively galling. It's The Audacity of Hope on steroids. It's a national embarrassment, I tell you. So there.

As President Eloquent himself might opine -- with drooling faux sophistication, no doubt -- Donald Trump certainly has the whole commentariat class all "wee-weed up." Honestly, I don't think I've seen this many oh-so-prestigious people wet their pants since Romper Room went off the air.

Trump's a "clown," a "joke candidate," a "vulgarity," and the "Al Sharpton of the Republican Party." Trump's just throwing a "publicity stunt." Trump is a "sideshow." Trump is making everyone who's anyone "somewhat uncomfortable."

But, wait, it gets better. According to Glenn Beck's new author sidekick, Dr. Head-Shrink Albow, Trump's candidacy could be "psychologically debilitating for the American people." Now folks, even the most sophisticated among you must admit that's rich. That's pushing the we-prominent-people-know-what's-good-for-you envelope just a bit far for me to stomach without a barf bag.

So, please allow me to enlighten the oh-so-sophisticated crowd. Donald Trump is striking all-American chords during an anti-American presidency, and the supposedly very smart people don't get that? Oh, I think they do get it, but are scared down to their little woolies over what national calamities might ensue if The Donald is "allowed" to continue rattling the presidential goal posts.

Sentient observers have known since Election Day 2008 that Barack Obama is the pinnacle affirmative-action statement. Mickey Kaus finally came right out and said this in the Daily Caller, while parrying Jay Cost's column on Obama's outright failure at American politics:

"Cost doesn't go into why Obama managed to get to the top of politics without being all that good at it. The answer is distressingly obvious: Obama's the biggest affirmative action baby in history. When other pols are trying, failing, learning, while climbing up the middle rungs of the ladder, he got a pass."

Well, of course, he got a pass. Actually Obama got far more than a pass. He was allowed by an ideologically-driven, white-guilt-motivated media to hop, skip, and jump his way to the pinnacle of world power without ever producing one single shred of verifiable evidence that he could do anything whatsoever but run his full-of-utter-BS mouth -- even that, constantly enabled by a teleprompter. And Republicans winked and nodded and permitted the whole Orwellian spectacle due to their fear of being forever outcast as racists.

Now, in any real world, that is not just affirmative action, folks. That's rolling the dice on the future of civilization, which is exactly what Bill Clinton told them it would be. Clinton made this prescient observation in 2007, long before the current die was cast.

The whole 2008 election is being experienced by the vast American middle-class as a huge, cruel joke, one that has dire consequences to our standard of living and our standing in the world. But the media elites on both sides of the aisle seem to believe that having turned American politics into a joke of a fools' parade, they can now somehow bring the whole thing back to a level of respectability by circling the wagons around Barack Obama and uniformly denouncing the guy now rattling the cage with increasing popularity.

One thing the political class seems to have forgotten is that there are few living white Americans who have not had some personal experience with an affirmative-action co-worker and/or collegiate peer. For decades now, we Mainstreet dwellers have borne the brunt of this liberal two-wrongs-really-can-make-a-right folderol, and now we stand, mouths agape at those who still pretend this isn't what happened in 2008.

Awarding the pinnacle of world power to a guy on the basis of eternally-aggrieved skin color is quintessentially anti-American and the people know it. It was playing with fire and we're getting burned. The people know this. The people are saying it in private.

Black voters are saying it, too. They own small businesses and pay income taxes and raise families and go to church every Sunday and are not the one-size-fits-all underclass herd imagined by the condescendingly-racist liberal media. Congressman Allen West says it best.

Those who honestly believe they can squelch the people's demand to know all the things hidden until now by this cosmic-joke president are just whistling Dixie and whizzing in the wind -- which does not really strike me as intelligent.

The truth will out eventually. And mounting this wholly anti-American gambit of shaming those seeking the verification, which was so childishly foregone by the media "verifiers" in 2008, is itself anti-American. Trump strikes this chord among the people with pure aplomb.

Secondly, there is Trump's unabashed America-first barrage. Trump's resonance has far less to do with his actual ideas than with his stand-up-straight pride of our Country, and his willingness to say "America First!" loudly, proudly, and without an ounce of apology.

At the very least, Trump does seem to realize that our Republic is genuinely on the line. He seems to understand that the affirmative-action presidency may have temporarily made Americans feel better about themselves, but that it has been very destructive for our economy and for the overall safety of the entire world. Trump may have outside-the-box ideas for how to reestablish America's preeminence after the American-apology presidency, but people have the sense that outlying bad guys would be really scared of what Trump might do if his crazy finger were on the nuke buttons. And they know that bad guys scared of you are better than bad guys running roughshod over you.

Trump has done one thing that no other presidential contender has, in my oh-so-humble opinion. He has tapped into decades of pent-up frustration among the vast middle-class of the taxpaying public.

Among the businessmen I know -- most of them socially liberal, but fiscally conservative -- Trump's willingness to talk straight is striking a genuine chord. These men identify with Donald Trump on what seems a quite visceral level. They, too, have forged similar, albeit smaller, paths through America's growing quagmire of federal regulations and strangleholds on entrepreneurs. These men have grown sick and tired of seeing metrosexual foreign policy (Peter Schweizer's brilliant phrase) that leaves them holding the bag on expense, but getting sucker-punched by nations they've financed. They are fed up with hearing how greedy and unfair they are, after giving so much of their incomes to alleviate the pain of the lower classes.

As those who actually pay the government bills and create more than half of all the jobs in this country, small-business owners hear Donald Trump's willingness to declare that our mealy-mouthed politicians have made us the "laughingstock" of the world and cheer him on. They've believed this for ages now, but have been denied the public platform to say so.

Which brings us to another all-American chord Trump is striking with pure agility. Trump is in-your-face, unapologetically and aggressively manly. Even the ridiculous, vanity-inspired comb-over seems to shout "I couldn't care less what you think of me." This itself strikes a welcome off-tune macho chord in a political-class orchestra playing in pure metrosexual harmony.

Trump is giving voice to the all-male side of our collective American psyche. Our John-Wayne genes have been shoved into an outlying corner of socially-unacceptable shame for a long time now. Despite G.W. Bush's being labeled the "cowboy," his collegiate style was anything but pure macho.

Trump has brought one heck-of-a-lot of yang into this all-yin modern political class. And believe it or not, most Americans prefer their presidents to be somewhat more pit-bull or mama grizzly than likeable lapdog -- especially in perilous times. General Patton is still beloved in the heartland.

Love him or hate him, Trump's style is hitting a huge nerve among a had-it-up-to-here public. Those who refuse to read the angry American tea leaves, at this point, ought be called anything but "smart."

Ignore this reality to your peril, Republican and Democrat hot-shots. You're starting to look like King George, and we all know how that one unfolded.



Is China Preparing to Dump its $1 Trillion of U.S. bonds?

China may be preparing to cut its foreign exchange reserves by about two-thirds, down to about $1 trillion from its current $3.04 trillion level, according to Chinese news service Xinhua.

Why? China simply has too much money, according to Zhou Xiaochuan, the head of the People’s Bank of China. “Foreign-exchange reserves have exceeded the reasonable level that our country actually needs,” he recently said.

Zhou noted that China’s stockpiling cash is “feeding inflation and becoming difficult to manage”. To be certain, China is suffering from an inflation problem, already up over 5 percent, not to mention a tremendous real estate bubble that threatens its very financial system. It needs to figure out a way to restore price stability.

So, Zhou wants to diversify the country’s assets of foreign exchange holdings, an obvious target.

Zhou’s sentiments were echoed on April 23 by Tang Shuangning, chairman of China Everbright Group, who wants the reserves be restricted to between $800 billion to $1.3 trillion and the rest of the money reinvested.

Tang “suggested five channels for using the reserves, including replenishing state-owned capital in key sectors and enterprises, purchasing strategic resources, expanding overseas investment, issuing foreign bonds and improving national welfare in areas like education and health,” writes Xinhua.

Zhou and Tang were not alone. Xia Bin, another Chinese central banker suggested that $1 trillion of foreign exchange reserves would be sufficient. He too called for the reserves to be used more “strategically” to acquire hard resources and technology for the Chinese economy.

This would be a marked change in Chinese policy, which has been to stockpile these reserves, in particular dollar-denominated assets. It currently holds about $1.154 trillion of U.S. treasuries — the debt securities that constitute U.S. debt.

Now it may be planning to dump those U.S. treasuries on the market. If China wants to diversify its holdings by reducing its gross reserves by two-thirds, that would necessarily mean a drastic reduction of its share of the $14.3 trillion U.S. national debt.

This would have severe consequences, mostly for the American people.

Because the U.S. has racked up so much debt among foreign creditors like China, we have become increasingly vulnerable to their whims. China dumping a significant portion of its U.S. treasuries could spark a run on the dollar, uprooting it as the world’s reserve currency. How?

It would cause a rush to the exits on the treasuries market, robbing the ability of the U.S. to borrow from other creditors, who would not want to risk having the value of their assets devalued. Suddenly, a frenzy would occur by financial institutions to cash in dollars for something — anything — of value.

A dollar run would in turn cause hyperinflation here at home, super-high interest rates, and a complete default on U.S. debt. Without borrowing, we lack the ability to repay principal and interest owed on the national debt. We really are that vulnerable.

But, wouldn’t China be devaluing its own assets? Zhou does not seem to think so. He thinks his country needs to stop stockpiling money to get domestic inflation under control. But even if the Chinese were not looking to dump current holdings — they may still be signaling that they won’t be looking to buy any more.

With the Fed supposedly out of the Treasury market come June and with them now buying 70 percent of the issues, who will buy this junk? Barack Obama sees trillion dollar deficits for the next decade. At best, China can just sit back and do nothing and seriously injure us.

At worst, China may want to get out while the getting’s good from what amounts to nothing more than a useless paper trade.

After all, the alternative may be to wait for somebody else to start cashing in their dollars first. In this high stakes game of musical chairs, China may not want to be left without a chair when the music stops.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


27 April, 2011

IQ is as much a measure of motivation as intelligence?

This is a rather silly study. Of course people who are not motivated to solve a puzzle will be unlikely to do so. And IQ tests are composed of puzzles. The only thing that is interesting is whether or not anything can be done to increase the scores of highly motivated people -- and there has been very little success at that

Scientists have shown that offering a financial reward for doing well can increase their score by up to 20 points on the scale where the average is 100 and Mensa membership is around 150.

The team at the University of Pennsylvania made the findings after setting out to prove [That alone makes their conclusions very dubious] that scores in the test were not just related to intelligence but also to motivation.

They looked at 46 previous studies of more than 2,000 children to see if monetary incentives had any bearing on the result. They found that on average a financial reward improved the score by 10 points but that higher values – above $10 (about £7) – could be rewarded with a 20 point increase. The size of the increase seemed to be proportional to the amount of reward offered.

A second study of 500 boys found that those who showed signs of boredom and lack of motivation – for example yawning or looking around during the test – scored lower test marks. [What a surprise!]

Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist who led the study, said: "IQ scores may predict various outcomes in life, but in part for reasons that intelligence tests weren't designed for. "I hope that social scientists, educators, and policy-makers turn a more critical eye to any kind of measure, intelligence or otherwise as how hard people try could be as important to success in life as intellectual ability itself."



What Trump gets right


The boomlet for Donald Trump as a Republican nominee for president of the United States ought to be a wake-up call for Republican candidates and Republican Party leaders alike. Why has Trump surged ahead of other Republican candidates and potential candidates in the polls? It is not likely that his resurrection of the issue of Barack Obama's birth certificate has aroused all this support.

The birth certificate issue does more political damage to Obama's critics than to the president himself, because it enables the media to paint those critics as kooks. Nor are Donald Trump's political positions such as to create a stampede to his cause. Radio talk show host Mark Levin has rebroadcast Trump's varied and mutually contradictory statements on political issues and personalities over the years. It was a devastating revelation of Trump's "versatility of convictions," to use a phrase coined long ago by Thorstein Veblen.

What then is Donald Trump's appeal -- and why should it concern Republican leaders in general?

What Trump has that so many other Republicans are so painfully lacking is the ability and the willingness to articulate his positions clearly, forcefully and in plain English. Too many Republicans talk like the actor of whom a critic once said, "He played the king like he was afraid that someone else was going to play the ace."

What electrified so many Republicans about Sarah Palin in the 2008 election campaign was that she was such a contrast to the usual mealy-mouth talk that was more common among other Republican candidates, including Senator John McCain. Whether you agreed or disagreed with her position on the issues, you didn't have to wave your hand in front of her eyes to see if she was awake.

Donald Trump is dangerous in at least two senses. If, by some tragic miracle, he should become the Republicans' candidate for president in 2012, that would be the closest thing to an iron-clad guarantee of a second term in the White House for Barack Obama. That would be a huge setback for the Republicans -- and, far more important -- a historic catastrophe for this country.

What seems more likely is that Donald Trump as a candidate for the Republican nomination would use his superior articulation skills -- not to mention brash irresponsibility -- to trash all the other Republican candidates for that nomination, leaving them damaged goods in the eyes of the public, and therefore less able to gather the votes needed to prevent the reelection of Obama.

Why Republicans seem not to understand the crucial importance of putting the same time and attention into articulating their positions as the Democrats do is one of the enduring mysteries of American politics.

It was obvious that the Democrats coordinated their talking points and catch-phrases -- "social justice," "tax cuts for the rich," etc. -- even before the overheard and recorded statements of Senator Chuck Schumer about Democrats' plans to repeatedly use the word "extreme" to characterize Republicans. But how many Republican catch-phrases can you remember? Republican rhetoric tends to range from low key to no key.

Nor is there much evidence that Republicans have asked themselves how the left-wing of the Democratic Party gained such ascendancy in recent years, in a country where millions more people identify themselves as conservative than identify themselves as liberals.

In short, there is little or no evidence that most Republicans see any need to fundamentally change their approach to the public. But if they think that they can rely on Obama's declining popularity to win the 2012 election, they may be in for a rude shock. Worse yet, the whole future of this country and of western civilization will be in jeopardy, in a world where the likes of Iran and North Korea become nuclear powers, while we engage in empty talk at the U.N.

Barack Obama's declining support in public opinion polls make some conservatives feel that his reelection hopes are doomed. But Donald Trump can be Barack Obama's secret weapon in his fight to remain in the White House. The Donald can be his Trump card.



The Welfare State and the Selfish Society

Capitalism teaches people to work harder; the welfare state teaches people to want harder. Which is better?

In the contemporary world, where left-wing attitudes are regarded as normative, it is a given that capitalism, with its free market and profit motive, emanates from and creates selfishness, while socialism, the welfare state, and the “social compact” as it is increasingly referred to, emanate from and produce selflessness.

Whatever its intentions, the entitlement state produces far more selfish people — and therefore a far more selfish society — than a free-market economy. And we have little evidence that this widespread selfishness can be undone once it catches on.
Here’s an illustration: Last year, President Obama addressed a large audience of college students on the subject of health care. At one point in his speech, he announced that the students will now be able to remain on their parents’ health-insurance plan until age 26. I do not ever recall hearing a louder, more thunderous, and more sustained applause than I did then. I do not believe that if the president had announced that a cure for cancer had been discovered that the applause would have been louder or longer.

It is depressing to listen to that applause. To be told that one can be dependent on one’s parents until age 26 should strike a young person who wants to grow up as demeaning, not as something to celebrate.

Throughout American history, the natural — or at least hoped-for — inclination of a young person was to become a mature adult, independent of Mom and Dad, and to become a grown-up. But in the welfare state, this is no longer the case.

In various European countries, it is increasingly common for young men to live with their parents into their 30s and even longer. Why not? In the welfare state, there is no shame in doing so.

The welfare state enables — and thereby produces — people whose preoccupations become more and more self-centered as time goes on:

How many benefits will I receive from the state?

How much will the state pay for my education?

How much will the state pay for my health care and retirement?

What is the youngest age at which I can retire?

How much vacation time can I get each year?

How many days can I call in sick and get paid?

How many months can I claim paternity- or maternity-care money?

The list gets longer with each election of a left-wing party. And each entitlement becomes a “right,” as the Left transforms entitlements into the language of “rights” as quickly as possible.

What handouts do, and what the transformation of handouts into rights does, is create a citizenry that increasingly lacks the most important character trait — gratitude. Of all the characteristics needed for both a happy and morally decent life, none surpasses gratitude. Grateful people are happier, and grateful people are more morally decent. That is why we teach our children to say “thank you.” But the welfare state undoes that. One does not express thanks for a right. So, instead of “thank you,” the citizen of the welfare state is taught to say, “What more can I get?”

Yet, while producing increasingly selfish people, the mantra of the Left, and therefore of the universities and the media, has been for generations that capitalism and the free market, not the welfare state, produces selfish people.

They succeed in part because demonizing conservatives and their values is a left-wing art. But the truth is that capitalism and the free market produce less selfish people. Teaching people to work hard and take care of themselves (and others) produces a less, not a more, selfish citizen.

Capitalism teaches people to work harder; the welfare state teaches people to want harder. Which is better?




When dictators fall, who rises?: "The secular despot Saddam Hussein protected the Christians. But the U.S. liberation brought on their greatest calamity since the time of Christ. Scores of thousands of those Iraqi Christians fleeing terrorism and persecution after 2003 made their way to Syria, where they received sanctuary from President Bashar Assad. Now, as the FT and Washington Post report, the Christians of Syria, whose forebears have lived there since the time of Christ, are facing a pogrom should the Damascus regime fall."

Don’t raise the debt ceiling: "The people running this government are never going to deal with this untenable situation unless and until it becomes untenable for them. The only way that will happen is if Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling and forces the administration to prioritize payment of those obligations that must be paid to maintain our full faith and credit — for as Kevin and Veronique point out, this already perilous situation could be blown sky high if the interest rate we must pay to borrow spikes. Only when there is no way around it will we get serious consideration of what government should and should not do, and what kind of welfare state the public is willing to pay for."

The debt ceiling charade: "With respect to the debt ceiling, let me issue an easy prediction: The Republicans are going to cave. They are going to vote to raise the debt ceiling. Oh sure, there will be plenty of posturing. There will be expressions of anger and outrage over out-of-control federal spending, borrowing, and debt. There will be political tactics to gain electoral advantage, including threats to 'shut down' the government."

Governor moonbeam still spending: "After years of deficit financing, my state, California, is currently hurtling toward bankruptcy, the revenue from its savage personal income tax having been consumed, and over-consumed, by government employees' salaries and benefits. Yet in the midst of the budget turmoil, Governor Jerry Brown has just negotiated yet another Rolls Royce contract with one of the biggest beneficiaries of state government, the prison guards' union. The deal was so friendly that even the state's mainstream media began to criticize it."

MA: Insurers’ ambulance bill practice protested: "Cities and towns could be forced to sue their own residents, eliminate life support services, and pay higher health care bills unless the Legislature reins in an attempt by health insurers to slash ambulance costs, said lawmakers, fire chiefs, and municipal officials yesterday. ... At issue is a practice recently implemented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts intended to cajole ambulance providers to join the company’s contracted network: Rather than pay for ambulance services provided by out-of-network companies, Blue Cross will cut a check to patients for the cost of their ambulance ride. That would leave it up to the ambulance companies to seek out their patients and collect the check."

ME: Three bills propose smaller legislature: "Sponsors of three bills to cut back the size of the Maine Legislature say it's time for the state to economize as lawmakers ask others to do the same. Republican and Democratic lawmakers say Maine has one of the smallest state populations, but the 10th largest legislature. ... Maine's Legislature now has 186 members, and the bills would reduce its size by different amounts."

SCOTUS: No to expedited healthcare hearing: "The US Supreme Court declined on Monday to immediately take up Virginia’s challenge to the constitutionality of the new health-care reform law. Virginia’s Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli had asked the court to bypass the usual appeals process by allowing the case to proceed directly from a district-court ruling to the nation’s highest court. The justices, without comment, refused the request. "

RomneyCare’s unhappy anniversary: "Higher costs and less accessible medical care has been the Massachusetts experience -- and will soon be the nation's. Earlier this month, the landmark Massachusetts health care reform law turned five years old. Democrats were quick to applaud the anniversary, as the Bay State law is the model for the federal health care reform package that passed last year. The anniversary has proved especially inconvenient for former Massachusetts Governor and probable Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who argued forcefully for his state's reforms."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


26 April, 2011

Hate, immigration and the NYT

I would normally put up the piece below on my IMMIGRATION WATCH blog but I think the story here is the NYT rather than immigration. It is of course zero suprise that an NYT article would make Dr. Goebbels proud but the article would seem to require some reply nonetheless. That reply has been provided by Jerry Kammer of CIS, one of the organizations smeared by the NYT. I put up a slightly abridged version of that reply below.

The main point to note is that Jason DeParle, the NYT journalist concerned, could find so little to pin on the anti-illegal crowd that he concentrated his spleen on just one man -- a Greenie! Greenies don't like people of any kind much and John Tanton appears to have been no exception. So he did make some fairly contentious utterances in his latter years.

It is of course true that Tanton was influential in founding several anti-immigration groups but he is now elderly, ill and not giving interviews so he is quite irrelevant to the present-day anti-illegal movement.

Jerry Kammer picks up the story, pointing out that there are many "Tantons" (unbalanced voices) on the other side of the debate too -- and that the other side is where the hate is to be found in the immigration debate of today:

The take-home message is that the three major organizations that seek to reduce immigration--the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, and the Center for Immigration Studies--are tainted by their association with nativist John Tanton.

DeParle describes Tanton's mounting frustration with the failure of 1986 immigration reform legislation. Congressional sponsors had touted the Immigration Reform and Control Act as a compromise that would impose order on the immigration chaos by combining amnesty for illegal immigrants with firm measures to stop future waves. It made the hiring of unauthorized workers a crime.

But, as DeParle notes, "the penalties proved ineffective and the amnesty was marred by fraud."

His story spills pools of ink detailing Tanton statements--most of them decades old--that demonstrate a shrill and tone-deaf dismay at the effects of uninterrupted mass immigration. Some are unfortunate. Some are disgraceful.

DeParle quotes a CIS report that criticized Tanton's "tin ear for the sensitivities of immigration." The report's next sentence, which DeParle does not quote, laments Tanton's "tendency to be unnecessarily provocative, a tendency that some have seized upon to change the topic from immigration to Tanton himself."

Therein lies the fundamental, journalistically fatal flaw of DeParle's story. His focus is so constricted that he produces a lopsided examination of extremism in the immigration debate.

It is one thing for DeParle to highlight Tanton's politically poisonous indiscretions. Tanton, who did more than anyone else to establish the modern movement to restrict immigration, has indeed done more than anyone else to undermine that movement.

But it is quite another thing for DeParle to fail to broaden his field of vision to observe the politically poisonous evolution on the other side of the immigration policy divide. DeParle's story is willfully blind.

Over the past several years, advocates of illegal immigration and ethnic organizations like the National Council of La Raza have taken as their battle cry the Southern Poverty Law Center's kangaroo-court, made-to-order 2007 designation of FAIR as a "hate group."

We at CIS issued a report that exposed the SPLC's multi-layered fraud and the "stop the hate" campaign it spawned. It is a vehement campaign of smear and character assassination directed against FAIR, NumbersUSA, and the Center for Immigration Studies.

As our report noted, the campaign sought to have all three organizations "shunned by the press, civil society, and elected officials. It is an effort to destroy the reputations of its targets. It also seeks to intimidate and coerce others into silence. It undermines basic principles of civil society and democratic discussion."

But who is DeParle's go-to guy for his only quote about the campaign? It's the campaign's principal spokesman, Frank Sharry.

Sharry's organization, America's Voice, is funded with millions of dollars from the Carnegie Corporation, the liberal, New York-based philanthropic foundation that righteously--and in this case ironically--touts its mission to "promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding."

During DeParle's visit to the CIS office, I provided him with our report. We spoke about it at length. It describes the Carnegie network and its own brand of extremism, which grew out of frustration at the 2007 collapse of "comprehensive" reform legislation.

In addition to America's Voice, the Carnegie funded participants include the Center for American Progress, Center for New Community, Center for Community Change, and the National Council of La Raza.

Last Saturday, in an email notifying me that the story was about to run, DeParle wrote this: "I used the Carnegie stuff, but it got cut. Maybe I can come back to it."

I think I can expect to see the Times' report on the Carnegie network about the time I see Porky Pig flying down Pennsylvania Avenue.

No reporter should allow his byline to sit atop a 2,900 word story about a highly controversial topic if that story has no room for an essential element of balance. Not when the void results in a story that is egregiously one-sided and indifferent to ongoing excesses. Not when those excesses are at least as poisonous to the national immigration debate as 20-year-old quotes from a 77-year-old man who has Parkinson's disease and is quietly fading from the scene.

Here are three more criticisms of the Times' story:

1) Shabby treatment of Roy Beck

DeParle feigns fair treatment by giving Beck the chance to deny that he's racist. He should have gone to the ample record that establishes his integrity. For example, in 1996 Francis Fukuyama observed that Beck had presented his restrictionist case "in a way that fosters serious debate rather than name-calling." He also wrote that Beck's arguments "are presented carefully and dispassionately and deserve serious answers." Fukuyama wrote that for the New York Times. I can't imagine that a Times staffer would dare such heresy.

2) Fudging the Record on Barbara Jordan

DeParle notes that Beck's website includes a picture of Barbara Jordan. He identifies Jordan only as "a black civil rights leader and politician that (Beck) considered an ally." He fails to include the relevant contextual information that would illustrate the progressivism underlying Beck's concerns. In the 1990s, when Jordan directed a presidential commission on immigration policy, Jordan did not see immigration as such an undiluted blessing that only a bigoted, nativist fringe would want to restrict it. Indeed, she believed that immigration must be restricted in order to provide the civic and economic space for it to be successful. Said Jordan, "If we are to preserve our immigration tradition and our ability to say yes to so many of those who seek entry, we must also have the strength to say no where we must."

3) Fact-Free Zone

The story is stuffed with innuendo and thick with suggestions of bigotry on the part of anyone connected to any of the organizations that has ever been connected to Tanton. DeParle makes a quick pass at objectivity, acknowledging that there are "serious liberal arguments for lower immigration." Yet, he provides none of the easily available and plentiful evidence for that fact. He could easily have noted that legal immigration has steadily expanded since the 1970s, when an average of 449,000 immigrants were admitted into the country each year, to the just-completed decade, when the annual average was nearly one million.



Some more exegesis

Exegesis is the detailed examination of a text in its context -- usually a scriptural text. I became an exegete of a sort when I was about 13. It was then that I first read the Sermon on the Mount. I was thunderstruck to find that what Jesus taught was nothing like what Christians actually do. Where is the ambiguity in:
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away."

Can you get plainer than that? I can't imagine it. And I am still nearly as thunderstruck to this day about the gap between what the Bible says on the one hand and what Christians and Jews do, say and believe on the other hand. One would think that they would long ago have found a book that suited them better.

I still like Christianity as we have it today, however. I attended the Good Friday service at my old Presbyeterian church, for instance. See here. But it is a very poor reflection of the original faith.

I have continued to find exegesis fascinating, however, so I long ago started looking closely at what the rest of the scriptures actually say -- even delving into the original languages in which they were written where that seemed crucial. And over the years I have put up on this blog and on my scripture blog my findings about key doctrines -- including hellfire.

Rather to my amusement, however, I see that the NYT has just weighed in on hellfire. When the NYT is preaching the reality of hell, I feel that I should say a little more about some of the key scriptural texts involved.

Quick background: The word translated as "hell" in many Bibles is in the original Greek "hades", which simply means death or the grave. Translating it as "hell" is a theological statement, not a linguistic one. And knowing that wipes out most of the texts that are usually cited in support of the hellfire doctrine.

A couple of interesting texts remain, however, and today I thought I should look at one of Jesus's prophetic utterances in Matthew 25. An excerpt:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world ...

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal"

The "everlasting fire" into which the "goats" are cast certainly does sound like a clear formulation of a hellfire doctrine but that impression is partly an effect of a poor translation. The word translated as "punishment" is in Greek "kolasin" and it simply means "cutting off". It is the word a Greek gardener might use to describe the pruning of a tree. So it would be a defensible translation to say that the goats would be cut off and thrown away like the unwanted branch of a tree

So, when properly translated, we see that Christ was, as usual, offering the alternatives of life and death, not heaven and hell -- exactly as he does in the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16. The sheep get eternal life and the goats get eternal death. I guess I am a goat!

But where does the "everlasting fire" come in? To see that we have to note that Jesus was speaking figuratively for most of the passage, as he often did. His parables are famous. So is he really going to sit on a throne and muster billions of people on either side of him? If so, he would need to locate himself somewhere around Iran and even then the billions of goats would be crowded for room and many could well fall into the Mediterranean (presuming the throne was facing North).

And Jesus in fact makes it clear that he is aiming at vividness rather than precision when he notes: "as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats".

So we have to decipher what is behind the figurative language. We get a clue when we note another passage where he used the same expression. Matthew 18:
"Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire."

Again, however, we risk being misled by a quite mendacious translation. This is one occasion when the original Greek underlying the translation "hell" is NOT "hades". It is "Gehenna". And Gehenna was simply the municipal incinerator outside Jerusalem where the bodies of criminals were thrown.

So: Bingo! We now have it. We know what image of everlasting fire Jesus had in mind. He had in mind the continuously burning fire of Jerusalem's garbage incinerator. And, needless to say, the bodies thrown into Gehenna don't feel anything. They have simply died and been disposed of in an ignominious way. So both goats and the Devil are simply going to die -- but die in disgrace.

Jesus is however a careful teacher so makes sure we don't get him wrong by adding a plain language summary at the end of the Matthew 25 passage:
"And these shall go away into everlasting cutting off: but the righteous into everlasting life"

So the hellfire doctrine is another pagan borrowing. It is not Biblical.

A couple more points: Note that in the Matthew 25 passage Jesus speaks only of judging the "nations". There is no mention of the dead. So what about the resurrection of the dead and the judgment of them? Resurrection is the hope of an afterlife that is held out in both the Old and New Testaments but it is not mentioned there at all. That again tells us that Jesus was concerned to paint a vivid mental picture rather than make a precise doctrinal statement.

So, although the Bible is in general a very plainspoken book, we have to make sure that the translation is right and be careful not to take the figurative literally. And reading the whole passage is the usual key to that

Finally, the goats are on the LEFT! Did Jesus foresee the world today? (Just joking).

There is an interesting article here which describes some of the divisions in contemporary Christian thought about the nature of heaven and hell.

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


25 April, 2011

There is no limit to Democrat and media dishonesty


Obama's Regulatory Tsunami More Destructive than Taxes

As Obama travels about the country, speaking of the need for “shared sacrifice” and the need to increase taxes, he doesn’t say a word about the tsunami of new Obama regulations ranging from light bulbs to ozone pollution to painkillers to foreign travel to vending machines that is about to hit America. Their impact will be huge and do serious damage to our economy.

Obama's regulatory tsunami began during his first month in office and has continued relentlessly since. Each week, new, more intrusive rules are rolled out, some through Executive Order, but many issued from federal agencies, often without any fanfare or publicity. In every month since his inauguration, President Obama has heaped regulations on unsuspecting Americans, non-profit organizations, large and small businesses.

You can argue that some of these new regulations are not destructive to our economy, but just look at the number of regulations. Their range, their grasp and their intrusiveness into American life is staggering. And to think, several thousand new pages of new regulatory guidelines and added bureaucracy are still being drafted by the Obama Administration as required by healthcare, recovery act, financial reform, small business and TARP legislation. These new regulations will be piled atop the Mt. Everest pile of regulations Obama has already produced.



Slacker America

America’s work ethic comes from our Puritan past. When we were an agrarian country, you either worked or starved. In the 19th and 20th Centuries, we developed into an industrialized nation, led by men with a solid work ethic, that became the strongest economy in the world. This attitude was essential to our victory in two world wars and our transformation into the globe’s sole superpower.

Regrettably, cultural attitudes have changed substantially, and we now often see derision of our traditional principles. Puritanism is now equated to a 1950’s society in which men were the breadwinners and women were stay-at-home moms. Whether that is true or not, working hard has nothing to do with anything other than the desire to become successful. Work equals money, and money comes from work. It is a simple, yet elegant, concept.

Today, however, we often see a different reality. And while it’s easy to recognize how rapidly-advancing technology has made our lives easier both at home and in the workplace, the change in the American work ethic has many causes and has not taken place overnight.

Many people have observed how this new generation is different from its predecessors, and much has been written about the rules under which they now wish to live. The most dismaying aspect is how pervasive this attitude has become. Not only is the average worker or college graduate unwilling to put forth the effort of prior generations, but so are the elite educated classes.

Several attorneys tell me how difficult it is to get young lawyers to work today. The young ones want what the older ones have, but don’t want to make the requisite sacrifices. This might be an aberration – if it weren’t for so many people telling me the same story!

One of my clients proudly told me about his son and daughter-in-law – newly-graduated attorneys working their way up the ladder at big, reputable firms. The next time we spoke, he informed me that they had resigned their positions to go on a worldwide vacation. And last month, he called to let me know that they were now both working for the government – with 9-5 jobs and built-in benefits.

22.5 million Americans – an utterly staggering number – now work for federal, state, and local government. Stephen Moore, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, wrote that there are now twice as many people working for government than for manufacturers, and that more people now work for government than for several basic industries combined. Unfortunately, his excellent column failed to identify the most prominent reasons for this dismal situation.

Why do college graduates now seek jobs in government instead of private industry? It has largely to do with lack of ambition. Why take the risks inherent in the private sector when you can have a position that is virtually immune from layoffs, and for which you get vacations, sick days, health insurance, pensions, and every holiday on the calendar including imagined ones? Why accept a job requiring effort and productivity when you can get a government job in which your compensation and benefits have absolutely nothing to do with your performance? In fact, you may actually be discouraged from working too hard because it would embarrass your colleagues. Additionally, there is almost nothing that can cause you to be fired! So why take any risks in the private sector?

Ironically, the government then tries to force these same preposterous work rules onto the private sector – so that government doesn’t appear out of step with private industry.

The fact is that there is just too much government. Government now employs 16% of the current work force, amounting to 138.9 million people. That means that 116.4 million private- sector workers support this country of 308 million people. Government workers don’t help support the rest of us because the taxes they pay are just a reduction of the amount we pay them. They are just a drag on the private economy that needs to support them.

This economic model cannot sustain itself – especially with the current work ethic. When an ever smaller group of people is asked to support the rest of us, while the government hands out lavish employee benefits that far outstrip those found in the private sector, it’s no wonder that young people quickly conclude that a public-sector job is the perfect fit for their slacker attitudes.

While there are certainly exceptions, it seems that the generation now entering the workforce has been raised on the idea that hard work should take a back seat to lifestyle. They have seen – and sheepishly accepted – an ever-growing government sector making decisions for them. At this rate, there will soon not be enough private sector employees to support the government workers, the retired people, and the children of this society.

If we don’t change our current trajectory – and quickly! – then the next time my young Colombian friend comes to America, he will ask: “What the heck happened to this country?”



But Seriously, Folks

After the Republican presidential field in 2008 spent a year trying to agree with each other, this year's GOP contenders are showing early signs that they have real policy differences, and they're not afraid to debate them. And yet much of the media is too obsessed with vanity candidates and nonissues to cover the serious debate.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has begun his presidential campaign by questioning the necessity of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, a break with Republican policy over the last decade. And, while seeking the nomination of a party that largely denies man's impact on climate change, Barbour told a crowd in Iowa in March that it is "prudent" to "proceed as if global warming is an issue."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney used his inaugural trip to New Hampshire last month to offer a defense of the state's health care plan, rather than backing away from an issue his opponents will certainly use against him. Jon Huntsman, who will explore a race once he returns from serving as ambassador to China at the end of the month, took stands on immigration, gay rights, and the environment that will set him apart from the field. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said frequently that entitlements should be examined in an effort to rein in spending.

The 2008 campaign hardly presented these sorts of policy differences. In countless debates, Republican contenders used their 60 seconds to agree with each other and offer soundbites in hopes of distinguishing themselves from an ideologically homogenous field. Even former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose record offered the clearest opportunities for contrast, did his best to appear just like one of the guys. Only Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, stood out, and the rest of the field used him as a punching bag.

Refreshingly, serious candidates among the 2012 field are showing signs of substantive policy debates. Moderators at each of the early candidate gatherings have a chance to contrast Barbour's views on Afghanistan with Romney's, or with Pawlenty's, or with Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. Journalists can ask serious questions about Commonwealth Care, its successes and failures, and the role it plays in Romney's legacy. Every candidate will be asked to respond to Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal, and to weigh in on whether and how entitlements should be cut to solve the debt crisis.

And yet it is the sideshows that dominate media coverage. Whether it's the pseudo-candidacy of Donald Trump, the fascination over Sarah Palin, or the obsession with anyone who wrongly believes President Obama was not born in the United States, the bulk of the presidential coverage in recent weeks has been profoundly unserious.

Perhaps, in an age of fragmented and increasingly partisan media, that is to be expected. After all, many outlets judge a story based on the clicks it drives to websites, rather than the content of the story itself. Birtherism has proven a popular traffic driver; on Wednesday, Matt Drudge led his site with a preview of a book authored by notorious anti-Obama conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. Palin drives so much traffic that several national and Beltway publications devote staff time to writing up every television interview, Facebook post, and tweet emanating from her lakeside home in Wasilla, Alaska (For all her protestations that she despises the "lame-stream media," Palin has been very good for business. The worst thing she could do to harm the media is to stop being so popular among her conservative fans).

Trump is the most egregious case of a sideshow borne of the Washington-New York echo chamber. The bombastic businessman and shameless self-promoter has, at one time or another, espoused conflicting opinions on myriad issues, from the stimulus package to abortion. His ego is a source of great humor, as are his widely varying estimates of his own wealth (The only thing that doesn't vary about his bank balance is the trend line: He's always worth more than he was a few days ago, truly a financial feat of Lehman-esque accounting proportions).

And yet Trump is a near-daily fixture on cable television. In the past week, he has sat for extended interviews that aired both on ABC and NBC, and he appears weekly on Fox News. Trump is ratings gold, especially for NBC, which hosts The Apprentice and stands to benefit from any buzz Trump attracts.

Trump is also the source of a different kind of media attention, from exasperated columnists incredulous at the notion that Americans would pay attention to such an obvious blowhard. Just this week, columnists Charlie Cook, Jonah Goldberg, David Brooks, Richard Cohen, Matthew Continetti, Kathleen Parker, and Eugene Robinson have all devoted their time to The Donald. Unlike The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, who successfully went a month without writing about Palin, this column has had no such success in swearing off Trump-apalooza 2011.

Trump winning the Republican nomination, or even competing seriously, is beyond a remote possibility. Palin's hopes of winning aren't much better, and her absence from the national spotlight suggests she's not likely to try. And while rumors that Obama was born somewhere other than on Oahu, Hawaii, may drive traffic, facts, as John Adams lamented, are stubborn things.

There are serious and substantive differences between candidates seeking the presidency for reasons beyond personal gain and publicity. Sadly, the silly season means that's all being missed.



No security anywhere anymore

Congressman Paul Ryan, one of the least insane men in Washington, has a ten-year plan. President Obama, one of the most insane spenders in Washington, has a twelve-year plan.

At the world’s first “Presidential Facebook town hall meeting” on Wednesday, even Obama had a hard time taking his “plan” seriously. Sometimes he referred to it as a twelve-year plan, sometimes ten years, sometimes saving four trillion, sometimes saving two trillion. So will the Obama plan save four trillion over twelve years or two trillion over ten?

The president’s plan is to balance the budget by climbing into his Little Orphan Obammie costume and singing: “The sun’ll come out tomorrow / Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun.” We’ve already bet our bottom dollar and it’s looking like total eclipse. But Obammie figures if we can only bet Daddy Warbucks’s bottom dollar, the sun will shine.

That’s 2023. Go back 12 years. That’s 1999. Which, if any, politicians in that year correctly identified the prevailing conditions in the America of 2011?

Most of our problems arise from the political class’s blithe assumptions about the future. European welfare systems assumed a mid-20th-century fertility rate to sustain them. They failed to foresee that welfare would become a substitute for family and that Continentals would simply cease breeding. Bismarckian-Rooseveltian pension plans assumed you’d be living off them for the last couple of years of your life. Instead, citizens of developed nations expect to spend the final third of their adult lives enjoying a prolonged taxpayer-funded holiday weekend.

What plans have you made for 2023? The average individual attempts to insure against future uncertainty in a relatively small number of ways: You buy a house because that’s the surest way to preserve and increase wealth. “Safe as houses,” right? But Fannie/Freddie subprime mumbo-jumbo and other government interventions clobbered the housing market. You get an education because that way you’ll always have “something to fall back on.” But massive government-encouraged expansion of “college” led Americans to run up a trillion dollars’ worth of student debt to acquire ever more devalued ersatz sheepskin in worthless pseudo-disciplines.

We’re not talking about the wilder shores of the stock market — Internet start-ups and South Sea bubbles and tulip mania — but two of the safest, dullest investments a modestly prudent person might make to protect himself against the vicissitudes of an unknown future. And we profoundly damaged both of them in pursuit of fictions.




The midnight ride of Standard & Poor’s: "Three cheers for Standard & Poor’s. On Monday, the rating agency issued a critical warning that America’s debt burden is growing too great. By doing so, it has helped make it less likely for the Washington budget debate to keep going down the path to national bankruptcy. We are now faced with a clear choice between a big-government, high-tax welfare state and a small-government, low-tax republic, such as the founders envisioned."

What are public sector unions for?: "If government, politicians, are indeed those wise and benevolent beings, then why should those who are employed by them need protecting from them? And if those who work for government need protection, shouldn't those of us subject to government also be protected?"

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

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


24 April, 2011

A message for Easter Sunday

There are moments in time and space when transitory issues fade in significance as things that seem to matter so much are trumped by what really matters most.

Today, as people around the globe gather to remember, honor, and reflect on events that happened some 2,000 years ago in a micro-spot on the world map, it is fitting, I think, to take a departure from the relentless, and at times tedious debate about politics and policies big and small. Let us, for a moment at least (hopefully a life-long moment), focus on a simple, yet profound scenario. One that can be described succinctly and received joyously—it is something called the Gospel.

The word itself comes from the idea of “good news” or “glad tidings,” and is intended to be a divinely directed message of hope. It is a reminder that there is hope, now and in the future. And though we get worked up into a regular lather over issues that polarize people—and I am not suggesting that these issues lack importance—as I read the Biblical record I find it endlessly fascinating that a small group of people, from ordinary backgrounds, and with few natural gifts, could make such a difference in their world and history itself.

They were the first to experience The Easter Effect. They lived, worked, and later died with a sense of fulfillment and joy because they never got over what they knew to be true, having seen it with their own eyes. They were dramatically changed people. We could use the word “converted” to describe it, completely transformed by an encounter with that aforementioned simple scenario involved in the Gospel. The Apostle Paul put it this way:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” (I Corinthians 15:1-8 NIV)

When he wrote this, and as first century Christians migrated and ministered en route to the uttermost parts of the earth, it was against the backdrop of the rule of Rome. Social, political, and cultural dynamics were arguably a bit more challenging than what we see in America today, but those pioneers of the faith once for all delivered were largely unmoved by what would seem to be a daunting challenge. This was because they grasped the concept that the message of the Gospel was more about redemption than reformation, more about individual salvation than solving social problems, more about a world to come than the world that was—or is.

This is not to say that these souls on fire were indifferent to cultural or political matters, but they knew that ultimate hope and change were never really possible via human means and methods. And when they did pray for those in authority—even those with tyrannical tendencies in Rome—they did so with the seemingly singular goal of desiring to be left alone in a sort of libertarian way:
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” – (I Timothy 2:1-5 NIV)

Like the prayer for the Tsar in Fiddler on the Roof—that he may stay far away—this was a plea for freedom. But it was also a plea for a particular kind of freedom, to be able to live right and model and share the hope of the Gospel.

They were a generation under the influence of The Easter Effect—people who were changed from the inside out and who eventually turned the world upside down (See: Acts 17:6).

Happy Easter—He Is Risen!



US economy just a notch above Greece

US finances are in almost as troubled a state as the worst-hit members of the euro zone, economists say, underscoring the pressing need for Washington to reach agreement on how to reduce the deficit. A gauge of "sovereign risk" from economists at Deutsche Bank placed the United States just behind Greece, Ireland and Portugal among 14 advanced economies.

The report, from economists led by Peter Hooper, warned that a failure to make substantial political progress on deficit reduction "would substantially raise the risk of a bond market crisis".

The warning comes days after Standard & Poor's said that it may lower its AAA assessment of the US, amid a political log jam over debt reduction in Washington, and will intensify market concerns about Western governments' debts.

Last night George Papandreou, the Greek Prime Minister, strongly criticised credit rating agencies, saying that they were "seeking to shape our destiny and determine the future of our children".

The Finance Ministry in Athens has asked prosecutors to look into an e-mail sent by a London-based Citigroup trader that referred to market rumours of a restructuring of Greek debt as soon as this weekend. Citigroup has denied any wrongdoing.

Insurance contracts linked to Greek bond swaps suggest that the country has a 67 per cent chance of defaulting within five years, even after accepting a 110 billion euros ($149bn) emergency loan.

This week the implied cost of borrowing on its ten-year bonds rose to 15 per cent, while yields on Irish ten-year government bonds hit 9.8 per cent and yields on their Portuguese equivalents rose to 9.22 per cent.

Greece is one small element of wider sovereign debt concerns that have begun to encompass the US, the world's biggest economy. Capitol Hill has been consumed with political wrangling over whether to increase a $US14.3 trillion ($13.3 trillion) debt ceiling that is due to be breached next month.

If the US national debt hits that level, it would trigger a default.

Deutsche Bank's analysis acknowledged that the risk attached by financial markets to US debt remained very low, as demonstrated by the country's modest borrowing rates. That was in part due to the US dollar remaining the premier reserve currency for world governments.

However, the report noted: "Reputation and reserve currency status can be lost, and failure to move US fiscal policy off its currently unsustainable path would certainly increase the risk."

For the time being, though, Democrats and Republicans have been mired in mudslinging over the debt ceiling.

The White House yesterday accused Republican congressmen of risking a global recession by refusing to agree to raise the debt ceiling unless the move was paired with deep spending cuts.

Even if a deal is struck on time, that will not eradicate the risk of political deadlock over longer-term fiscal problems, such as spiralling healthcare spending.

Projections from the Congressional Budget Office suggest that the national debt could rise from 62 per cent of GDP to 100 per cent in 2025 and 200 per cent by 2040, compared with its 1946 high of 122 per cent.



The Kennedy Curve

For years, I have puzzled over the mystery of the liberal mindset. I have concluded that it makes no sense to ascribe the capacity of deductive reasoning to an adult American leftist.

The most distinctive display of this phenomenon that I have witnessed in my 55 years of life happened about seven years ago when I had the occasion to speak directly with Senator Ted Kennedy.

I had long wondered why Democrats did not act more strategically with tax rates in order to optimize their collection of revenues. I was about to meet the Democratic Party’s “Lion of the Senate” and I did not want to miss this opportunity. I had studied Arthur Laffer’s theory of the relationship between tax rates and economic behavior, famously coined the Laffer Curve. Dr. Laffer reasons that, once taxes exceed a particular rate, say 18%, revenue producers begin to pay more attention to protecting their earnings and less attention to growing their businesses. At some point, the burden of this defensive behavior results in larger pieces of much smaller pies and a net loss for the tax collector.

So, I began by citing the Laffer Curve and asked Senator Kennedy, “How do you calculate what would be an appropriate level of taxation?”

I recall him shaking his head positively at the words “Laffer Curve” as if to acknowledge that he knew just what I was getting at and he was ready to teach me before I could even finish asking the question.

Quoting directly from my video of the conversation, the Senator began his answer with, “I think the question is, do you have in balance a… Let me put it this way; I wish we had the same review of tax expenditures that we have in terms of spending. We add all kinds of incentives to the tax code. We rarely, if ever, review them or repeal them. … We ought to look at the spending and find out what are going to be the results of that spending. … I think it’s a fair question to ask. …. With this spending, what are we getting for it? … What the percentage is, whether its 16 or 18 percent, whatever … I think it really more has to do with what are we spending it on.”

I marveled at watching Ted Kennedy transform my engagement into a conversation that he would prefer to have.



Another Leftist fraud

He is clearly a psychopath. A lot of Leftists are but he is so bad that only a fellow-Leftist could believe him

The first tip-off that Greg Mortenson's memoir "Three Cups of Tea" has some credibility issues comes in the book's introduction. Co-author David Oliver Relin writes that as Mortenson is flying over Pakistan, the helicopter pilot marvels to Mortenson, "I've been flying in northern Pakistan for 40 years. How is it you know the terrain better than me?"

The pilot also confides, "Flying with President Musharraf, I've become acquainted with many world leaders, many outstanding gentlemen and ladies. But I think Greg Mortenson is the most remarkable person I've ever met." People don't talk like that. Books don't lead with that level of self-aggrandizement. Unless they want to induct you into a cult.

Last Sunday, "60 Minutes" reporter Steve Kroft ripped into Mortenson's claim of stumbling years ago into a Pakistani village as he descended from a K2 climb and meeting a young girl who asked him to build a school. While he refused Kroft's request for an on-camera interview, in a statement, Mortenson admitted his version of events was "condensed."

It seems Mortenson also fabricated a story of being kidnapped by the Taliban. Kroft interviewed Mansur Khan Mahsud, the research director of an Islamabad think tank, who was surprised to see himself in a photo that Mortenson had claimed showed his 1996 captors. In the statement, Mortenson explained that "Talib" means student of Arabic. And Khan wants to sue him for defamation.

The worst part: "60 Minutes" checked out 30 of the 141 schools that Mortenson's charity, Central Asia Institute, claimed to have built in Afghanistan and Pakistan "mostly for girls." Kroft reported, "Roughly half were empty, built by someone else or not receiving any support at all."

American Institute of Philanthropy President Daniel Borochoff found that in 2009, CAI spent more on "domestic outreach" -- largely advertising and travel promoting Mortenson's books, "like a book tour" -- than it spent overseas.

"Into Thin Air" author Jon Krakauer, who is mentioned in "Three Cups" as a CAI supporter, charged that Mortenson, who has made millions in book sales, used the charity "as his private ATM."

That revelation must have hit "Three Cups" fans in the gut. The memoir asserts that Mortenson made repeated sacrifices -- such as living in his car rather than pay rent -- because "every wasted dollar stole bricks or books from the school."

But there were so many other signals that the book was problematic.

In "Three Cups," Mortenson charmed his Taliban kidnappers by asking for a Quran and showing his devotion -- and so they let him go. Which is amazing.

More amazing was the claim that they gave him money, saying, "For your schools. So, Inshallah, you'll build many more." (It helps if you forget how bad the Taliban take on education for girls is.)

There were other signals. Writer Ann Marlowe questioned some of the "anti-military nonsense" in a 2008 Forbes commentary. Mortenson claimed that during his stint as an Army medic in Germany, Vietnam veterans were hooked on heroin and died "in their bunks and we'd have to go and collect their bodies." Marlowe suggested that readers take his tales with "three grains of salt."

Instead, he sold 3 million books. Why? Through the pouring of "Three Cups," Mortenson came to personify every liberal conceit. He pushed books, not bombs. He had a nuanced take on Islamic extremism. He's not afraid of terrorism; for him, "the enemy is ignorance."

Marlowe observed, "The implication is that this solitary do-gooder's work is a better model for helping the rural poor in areas that are a breeding ground for Islamic extremism." While to the contrary, the U.S. Army built more schools in just one Afghan province in 15 months than CAI built in a decade.

Listeners of KQED-FM's "Forum" last week were outraged and perplexed. On the one hand, Mortenson has done a lot of good for a lot of children. On the other hand, the "60 Minutes" story makes his fans look gullible.

A caller asked: How are we supposed to know a book is a phony? Hmmmm. If the cash-giving girls-school-loving Taliban tale doesn't ring a bell, if the constant reminders of Mortenson's greatness -- and modesty -- don't do the trick, maybe there is another warning sign. Global Fund for Women Vice President Shalini Nataraj warned about any memoir that hails "the white savior who's going to come in and save the local people."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


23 April, 2011

Reagan's Legacy and the Current Malaise: Lower taxes and a strong dollar could spur growth once again

Retired tax accountant Dick McDonald adds: "I suggest that the Revenue Act of 1981 that lowered the top marginal rate from 70% to 28% was a teaser but not the closer. It wasn't until his Revenue Act of 1986 when we closed down all the mainstream tax shelters and instead incorporated and used the ultimate in tax shelters -- the non-taxability of the appreciation in stock -- that we took off"

Reagan came into the White House facing an economy as troubled as ours-one that had even higher unemployment, catastrophic interest rates (18% for mortgages) and a stock market that in real terms had fallen 60% from its mid-1960s levels. When he left office eight years later, the U.S. had become an economic miracle: 18 million new jobs had been created; Silicon Valley had blossomed, becoming a global symbol for innovation; and the stock market was experiencing a bull run that, despite dramatic ups and downs, didn't end until the turn of the 21st century, after the Dow had expanded 15-fold. The expansion of the U.S. economy exceeded the entire size of West Germany's economy, then the world's third-largest.

How did this happen? You could make the case that Reagan's economic miracle had its origins at a Washington, D.C., restaurant in 1974. That December night, 34-year-old University of Chicago professor, Art Laffer, scribbled a single-and now legendary-curve on a cocktail napkin to illustrate to a group of President Ford's advisers why a proposed plan to raise taxes would not increase government revenues. Mr. Laffer posited that deep cuts in existing tax rates would stimulate the economy and ultimately lead to far higher government revenues. Conversely, increase the tax burden and government receipts would fall below expectations because of a weaker economy.

Mr. Laffer's curve headed off the tax boost, but the Ford people did not accept the conclusion that big reductions in tax rates were just what the anemic U.S. economy needed. However, when Reagan met with Mr. Laffer and other like-minded thinkers several years later, he quickly grasped the Laffer Curve's fundamental message.

The concept that a free market unencumbered by barriers, government regulation and taxation will create the most growth-friendly economic environment was simple but radical. After taking the oath of office, Reagan went to work to convince the American people of the benefits of supply-side economics: lower taxes, less regulation, and less government spending, as well as a monetary policy focused on ridding us of the seemingly incurable disease of ever-rising inflation.

Reagan's program was a resounding success. Its centerpiece was the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, which dramatically cut income tax rates for everyone. He managed to pass the bill during his first eight months in office, with bipartisan support in a divided Congress.

Critics howled that Reagan was being financially irresponsible, but the president pressed on. Once his cuts were fully phased-in and the hard fight against inflation was won, the economy took off like a rocket. Reagan's achievements set up a great, long boom in the U.S. and the world that didn't end until the economic crash in 2007. (Yes, there were periods of slower growth rates before that year, but none can be compared to the crash of 2007.)

At the same time, Reagan's British counterpart, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was accomplishing similar feats by taking an axe to Britain's draconian tax system. Almost overnight, Britain went from being Europe's economic weak link to being the continent's most vibrant large economy.

Unfortunately, Reagan was unable to permanently rein in domestic spending and many of his reforms were undone by his successors. Washington politicians slid back into their bad habits, cluttering the tax code with new brackets, exemptions, deductions, phase-ins, carve-outs and special breaks for special interests. And the crucial importance of a strong dollar has been forgotten during the last decade, with terrible results. Today we are once again beset by a Carter-esque malaise, wherein we must accept abnormally high unemployment and the notion that printing more dollars is the way to recovery.

Yet Barack Obama's 2011 State of the Union address was sprinkled with Reagan-like phrases, full of the 40th president's trademark confidence. "The future is ours to win," Mr. Obama said. "But to go there, we can't just stand still." He pledged to "knock down barriers that stand in the way of [American companies'] success." We were told that the president had held meetings with Reagan administration officials, and that he'd even read Lou Cannon's biography of Reagan during his winter vacation.

It's true that both men came into office facing turbulent economies. But there the similarities end.

Reagan aggressively embraced free-market, supply-side principles that empowered the American people to rebuild and creatively expand our economy and standard of living. In contrast, the Obama administration has expanded the powers of government over us and our economy on a scale never before seen in peacetime American history. President Reagan understood, and fervently believed in, the American spirit of free enterprise. So far, President Obama hasn't shown that he does. Mr. Obama still has time to learn the real lessons of Reagan's success. Will he?



Obama desperate to protect thug unions

National Labor Relations Board says Boeing can't build plant in South Carolina

By Rick Manning - In a stunning move well beyond the scope of their legal mandate, the Obama Administration appointee controlled National Labor Relations Board is suing Boeing Corporation for, get this, building a second production line for their new Dreamliner passenger plane in South Carolina rather than in Washington state.

At a time when corporations like General Electric are busily shutting down U.S. production facilities that manufacture items like light bulbs, in favor of Chinese made products, Boeing had the audacity to decide to create jobs in America. Although maybe the Obama appointed NLRB members missed the part of U.S. history class where the Confederacy lost, and South Carolina remained a part of the U.S.?

Rightfully, Boeing is going to fight the NLRB decision to sue them. One irony of the case is that Obama's recently appointed Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, served as a member of Boeing's Board of Directors when the company decided to create jobs in South Carolina by building a production line in the right to work state.

And that is the heart of the matter. South Carolina is a right to work state whose voters this past November overwhelmingly amended their state's constitution to ensure that a worker has the right to vote on whether they want to be represented by a labor union. The workers at the Boeing plant in South Carolina have also taken the bold step of booting out the union that represented them, effectively ending the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers stranglehold on Boeing production.

Now, Obama's NLRB is attacking Boeing's job creation in South Carolina as "union retaliation" directly related to a 2008 labor strike which crippled Boeing's production in Washington state.

This isn't the first time that the NLRB has targeted South Carolina, as earlier this year they had threatened to use taxpayer dollars to sue the state, along with the states of Utah, South Dakota and Arizona, because their citizens had the audacity to put a workers right to a secret ballot vote in union elections into their respective state constitutions. In direct response to the NLRB lawsuit threat, Congressman Jeff Duncan of South Carolina has introduced legislation prohibiting the NLRB from proceeding with the lawsuit, and has already been joined by 30 co-sponsors.

On top of the dramatic overreach on behalf of the labor union directed board, which was designed by Congress to be a neutral arbiter in labor/management disputes, an astounding 176 members of the U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to completely defund the agency in an amendment offered by Rep. Tom Price of Georgia this past February.

The ultimate irony of the NLRB decision is that this government agency is attempting to tell a company where they can locate a plant in the United States. If successful, other U.S. companies will take note, and not make the mistake of building plants in right to work states, instead opting for more desirable overseas locations that are beyond the reach of Obama's union zealots.

Can anyone wonder why U.S. job creation has been virtually non-existent?



An example of how high tax rates work

At 35 percent, America's corporate tax rates are among the world's highest -- but such rates may well collect the least

General Electric, the nation's largest corporation, paid no federal taxes in 2010. The profitable company, which shaved 20 percent of its U.S. work force in less than a decade, should inspire a hard look at corporate tax rates and how taxes are collected and avoided. Cash-strapped working Americans are paying GE's bill.

OUTRAGE and envy still ripple from a report in The New York Times that General Electric, the nation's largest corporation, paid no U.S. corporate taxes in 2010.

Zero. Zip. Nada. Indeed, the company, with $14.2 billion in worldwide profits, claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion from Uncle Sam.

GE did not break the law, but the bill it successfully avoided was picked up by the rest of us, or put on the national credit card.

The top U.S. corporate rate is 35 percent, but virtually no one pays that. GE's tax rate is about a third of what other companies pay, and that the company is vulnerable to pay any taxes is hypothetical. GE would have to return profits to these shores from places it set up to avoid taxes.

Policymakers in Washington, D.C., need to reassess rates to bring them into line with the financial realities of the nation and basic equity. Set lower, unavoidable rates that do not complicate job creation, and have a statutory imperative to collect them. As it is now, the higher the rate, the more creative the credits, shelters and loopholes to avoid compliance.

GE has a team of 975 gilded tax-avoidance professionals in a department working to ensure that the rest of America picks up its tab. Oh, and that default jobs-creation rationale? The Times report also noted that since 2002, GE has eliminated a fifth of its work force in the U.S.

Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson, a veteran financial journalist, would cut corporate tax rates, not increase them, and make up the difference by increasing individual tax rates on corporate dividends and capital gains, which he sees as a giveaway to the rich.

U.S. corporate rates are chasing profits offshore, and the only jobs created are for tax lawyers. Set and collect realistic rates.



Progressive Media and the War on the Unborn

A pathetic blogger at the left-wing blog Wonkette made fun of Sarah Palin's son Trig, who has Down syndrome. Dana Loesch of Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism website has exposed this whole sordid affair, noting, "This is what happens when a little-known blogger who edits the literary equivalent of the bathroom wall in Walmart isn't clever enough to either write satire or convey why he doesn't like the Palins. And this is considered acceptable by progressives."

What drives a left-wing blogger to mock a little boy with a disability? Is it just hatred for Sarah Palin, a pro-life mother who exposes what is at stake in the battle over the "right to choose?" Or is it that a mother would bring a child with Down syndrome into the world?

This controversy is important because of what it says about the progressive mentality. The progressives, who like to think of themselves as guardians of the most vulnerable and defenseless among us, do not have any sympathy for people they believe should not exist or be born. They believe that a mother should terminate the life of a baby with potential defects. This is not only because of their belief that women's rights always trump the rights of the unborn, but because it is too costly to take care of them, once they come into the world. They support Big Government and higher spending, except on babies whose visible and active lives would make left-wing feminists, a key part of their constituency, feel uncomfortable.

The Wonkette controversy goes far beyond a blogger with bad taste and no conscience. It tells us a lot about the mentality of the progressives in charge of the federal government who are moving ahead with implementation of Obamacare.

It is a fact that when government takes more and more control over the health care of the people, the government will inevitably take over more and more decisions about who lives and who dies. This is the obvious danger that confronts us as Obamacare unfolds. However, in the U.S., at least for the time being, we can make most of those decisions for ourselves. The news is breaking that "Baby Joseph" has returned to Canada, after receiving medical treatment from U.S. hospitals that he couldn't get in his native country, which has socialized medicine. The costs of the medical operation, which left the child free from tubes and machines, were borne by Priests for Life.

In New Zealand, which also has socialized medicine, the situation is even more dire, as the government promotes the screening and killing of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome. As I noted in a previous column, "The new government policy in New Zealand was preceded by the completion of a report on the `cost effectiveness' of aborting Down syndrome babies. It was determined that it was just too expensive to allow these babies to live."

However, it appears that "60 Minutes"-the version that airs in New Zealand-may be turning a critical eye on what the government has been doing.

Mike Sullivan, a professional engineer in New Zealand, is the father of an almost-three-year-old girl with Down syndrome and an advocate for the rights of the handicapped. He says the upcoming New Zealand "60 Minutes" show covers the government's "quality improvement" program that was introduced last year and targets unborn babies with Down syndrome for eradication through preventing births. "For those who are not aware of this issue," he says, "the government's screening program is preventing the births of 75 percent of people with Down syndrome and is a gross form of discrimination against this group of people, treating these people as less human than others."

He says the documentary will cover these areas:

* The legal action that is being taken out by 23 parents and Right to Life of New Zealand against the government of New Zealand for crimes against humanity.

* Evidence that the government deliberately avoided public consultation on the new program and has excluded people with Down syndrome in their decision making.

* Evidence that the government understood the consequences of the program would be to reduce the number of births of people with Down syndrome.

* Presenting the everyday lives of people with Down syndrome, who are just "getting on with life like the rest of us."

Sullivan says that while it is not entirely confirmed, it looks like "60 Minutes" of New Zealand will air the story next Wednesday, April 27. While the audience is in New Zealand, the program could be a warning of what could happen to America's most vulnerable under Obamacare.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


22 April, 2011

The Rich Aren’t Getting Richer

Actual super-wealthy households saw their income decline

Are the rich really getting richer? That’s a pretty standard line from the Left. This is not true.

The numbers generally cited in support of this argument do not actually tell us much about what has happened to the incomes of wealthy households over time. That’s because the people who are in the top bracket today are not the people who were in the top bracket last year. There’s a good deal of socioeconomic mobility in the United States — more than you’d think. Our dear, dear friends at the IRS keep track of actual households (boy, do they ever!), and sometimes the Treasury publishes data about what has happened to them. For instance, among those who in 1996 were in the very highest income group isolated for study — the top 0.01 percent — 75 percent were in a lower income group by 2005. The median real income of super-rich households went down, not up. The rich got poorer. Among actual households, income grew proportionally more for those who started off in the low-income groups than those that began in high-income groups.

That wasn’t even an unusually good decade in terms of mobility. During the horrible, horrible Reagan years, as National Review noted back in 1991, the average income growth for actual households in the lowest income bracket was 77 percent over the course of a decade; income growth for actual households in the top group was only 5 percent during those same years. Of those who were in the poorest fifth in 1979, 85.8 percent had moved to a higher bracket by 1988, and 14.7 percent of them moved to the top bracket — which is to say, the poor of 1979 were more likely to be the rich of 1988 than to be the poor of 1988. The poor got richer, and some of them got a lot richer. Reagan’s record has not been matched — Ronald Reagan was the champion of the poor, as it turns out — but economic mobility has been pretty stable for the past 20 years: About 50 percent of U.S. households move from one income group to a different one every decade, and actual households initially in the low-income groups see proportionally more income growth than do actual households initially in the high-income groups.

When somebody says that that top 1 percent saw its income go up by X in the last decade, they are not really talking about what happened to actual households in the top 1 percent. Rather, they are talking about how much money one has to make to qualify for the top 1 percent. All that really means is that the 3 million highest-paid Americans in 2010 made more money than did the 3 million highest-paid Americans in 2000, the 100,000 highest-paid Americans this year made more money than did the 100,000 highest-paid Americans made in 2000, that the 50,000 highest-paid Americans made more money this year than did the 50,000 highest-paid Americans made in 2000, that the 1,000 highest-paid Americans this year made more money than did the 1,000 highest-paid Americans made in 2000, etc., which is not shocking. But, as the Treasury data show: They are not the same people.

* Income mobility of individuals was considerable in the U.S. economy during the 1996 through 2005 period with roughly half of taxpayers who began in the bottom quintile moving up to a higher income group within ten years.

* About 55 percent of taxpayers moved to a different income quintile within ten years.

* Among those with the very highest incomes in 1996 — the top 1/100 of one percent — only 25 percent remained in the group in 2005. Moreover, the median real income of these taxpayers declined over the study period.

* The degree of mobility among income groups is unchanged from the prior decade (1987 through 1996).

* Economic growth resulted in rising incomes for most taxpayers over the study period: Median real incomes of all taxpayers increased by 24 percent after adjusting for inflation; real incomes of two-thirds of all taxpayers increased over this period; and median incomes of those initially in the lower income groups increased more than the median incomes of those initially in the high income groups.

Or, as the authors of the study put it: “While the share of income of the top 1 percent is higher than in prior years, it is not a fixed group of households receiving this larger share of income"



Poverty Is Easy to Explain

There is very little either complicated or interesting about poverty. Poverty has been man’s condition throughout his history. The causes of poverty are quite simple and straightforward. Generally, individual people or entire nations are poor for one or more of the following reasons: (1) they cannot produce many things highly valued by others; (2) they can produce things valued by others but they are prevented from doing so; or (3) they volunteer to be poor.

The true mystery is why there is any affluence at all. That is, how did a tiny proportion of man’s population (mostly in the West) for only a tiny part of man’s history (mainly in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries) manage to escape the fate of their fellow men?

Sometimes, in reference to the United States, people point to its rich endowment of natural resources. This explanation is unsatisfactory. Were abundant natural resources the cause of affluence, Africa and South America would stand out as the richest continents, instead of being home to some of the world’s most miserably poor people. By contrast, that explanation would suggest that resource-poor countries like Japan, Hong Kong, and Great Britain should be poor instead of ranking among the world’s richest places.

Another unsatisfactory explanation of poverty is colonialism. This argument suggests that third-world poverty is a legacy of having been colonized, exploited, and robbed of its riches by the mother country. But it turns out that countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand were colonies; yet they are among the world’s richest countries. Hong Kong was a colony of Great Britain until 1997, when China regained sovereignty, but it managed to become the second richest political jurisdiction in the Far East. On the other hand, Ethiopia, Liberia, Tibet, and Nepal were never colonies, or were so for only a few years, and they rank among the world’s poorest and most backward countries.

Despite the many justified criticisms of colonialism and, I might add, multinationals, both served as a means of transferring Western technology and institutions, bringing backward peoples into greater contact with a more-developed Western world. A tragic fact is that many African countries have suffered significant decline since independence. In many of those countries the average citizen can boast that he ate more regularly and enjoyed greater human-rights protections under colonial rule. The colonial powers never perpetrated the unspeakable human rights abuses, including genocide, that we have seen in post-independence Burundi, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Central African Empire, Somalia, and elsewhere.

Any economist who suggests he has a complete answer to the causes of affluence should be viewed with suspicion. We do not know fully what makes some societies richer than others. However, we can make guesses based on correlations. Start out by ranking countries according to their economic systems. Conceptually we could arrange them from more capitalistic (having a larger free-market sector) to more communistic (with extensive State intervention and planning). Then consult Amnesty International’s ranking of countries according to human-rights abuses. Then get World Bank income statistics and rank countries from highest to lowest per capita income.

Compiling the three lists, one would observe a very strong, though imperfect, correlation: Those countries with greater economic liberty tend also to have stronger protections of human rights. And their people are wealthier. That finding is not a coincidence, so let us speculate on the relationship.

Rights and Prosperity

One way to gauge human-rights protection is to ask to what extent the State protects voluntary exchange and private property. These signify the rights to acquire, keep, and dispose of property in any fashion so long as one does not violate the rights of others. The difference between private property rights and collectively held rights is not simply philosophical. Private property produces systemically different incentives and results from collective property.

Since collectivists often trivialize private property rights, they are worth elaborating. When property rights are held privately the costs and benefits of decisions are concentrated in the individual decision maker; with collectively held property rights they are dispersed across society. For example, private property forces homeowners to take into account the effect of their current decisions on the future value of their homes, because that value depends, among other things, on how long the property will provide housing services. Thus privately owned property holds one’s personal wealth hostage to doing the socially responsible thing—economizing scarce resources.

Contrast these incentives to those of collective ownership. When the government owns the house, the individual has less incentive to take care of it simply because he does not capture the full benefit of his efforts. It is dispersed across society instead. The costs of neglecting the house are similarly spread. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to predict that under these circumstances, less care will be taken.

Nor is nominal collective ownership the only force that weakens social responsibility. When government taxes property, it changes the ownership characteristics. If government were to impose a 75 percent tax on a person selling his house, it would reduce his incentive to use the house wisely.

This argument applies to all activities, including work and investment. Whatever lowers the return from or raises the cost of an investment reduces incentives to make that investment in the first place. This applies to investment in human as well as physical capital—that is, those activities that raise the productive capacity of individuals.

To a significant degree the wealth of nations is embodied in their people. The starkest example of this is the experience of the Germans and Japanese after World War II. During the war, Allied bombing missions destroyed nearly the entire physical stock of each country. What was not destroyed was the human capital of the people: their skills and education. In two or three decades, both countries reemerged as formidable economic forces. The Marshall Plan and other U.S. subsidies to Europe and Japan cannot begin to explain their recovery.

Proper identification of the causes of poverty is critical. If it is seen, as is too often the case, as a result of exploitation, the policy recommendation that naturally emerges is income redistribution—that is, government confiscation of some people’s “ill-gotten” gains and “restoration” to their “rightful” owners. This is the politics of envy: bigger and bigger welfare programs domestically and bigger and bigger foreign-aid programs internationally.

If poverty is correctly seen as a result of the unwise government intervention and lack of productive capacity, more effective policy recommendations emerge.



Obama vs. Palin

The contrast between the speeches they gave last week suggests that when the 2012 presidential campaign begins in earnest, the news media will have difficulty maintaining the story lines they've been pushing about Barack Obama and Sarah Palin.

Mr. Obama is "a great leader in the mold of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt," we were told during the last presidential campaign.

The journalists who assured us of this based their assessment on Mr. Obama's oratorical skills rather than upon his actual accomplishments, which were meager.

His opponents agree Mr. Obama is a better speaker than he is a president. But the fiscal policy speech he made at George Washington University last Wednesday (4/13) -- during which Vice President Joe Biden nodded off -- indicates he's not that terrific an orator, either.

The speech "was not just weak, but pitiful,' a "waste of breath," said Clive Crook, editor of the Atlantic magazine.

Comedian Stephen Colbert thought the speech was "boring." Comedian Jon Stewart mocked the tortured manner in which Mr. Obama tried to avoid describing the tax increases he was proposing as tax increases.

And these are supporters of the president.

Mr. Obama went to GWU to make up for an earlier failure of leadership. In February, he submitted a proposed budget so frivolous no one paid attention to it. This permitted House Republicans to capture the initiative in the debate with the very substantial budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan.

The president invited Rep. Ryan to attend the speech, which he did, expecting to hear a serious counterproposal. What he heard instead was "the sort of harangue one would expect from a rabidly devoted partisan hack, with no relation whatever to the thoughtful appeals to reason and common values that historically have characterized presidential leadership," said the Washington Examiner.

Mr. Obama grossly misrepresented Mr. Ryan's plan and called him names, but offered no real plan of his own to reduce our $14 trillion national debt.

The president's speech was "dishonest even by modern political standards," said the Wall Street Journal.

It was churlish of the president to invite Rep. Ryan to the speech, and then to attack him from the podium. It was also cowardly to attack a political opponent in a forum in which he could not respond.

Barack Obama these days speaks only before friendly audiences. On Saturday (4/16), Sarah Palin journeyed to Madison, Wisconsin where she braved snow, cold, and union protesters who tried to disrupt her Game On! speech by beating drums and blowing whistles.

"Sarah Palin rides to the sound of the guns," noted Reuters columnist James Pethokoukis.

After her surprise selection as John McCain's running mate and subsequently, many in the news media have described the former Alaska governor as an ignorant bumpkin with extreme views.

Ms. Palin sure didn't sound that way in Madison. In a 15-minute speech Mr. Pethokoukis described as "powerful, pugnacious and presidential," Ms. Palin vigorously defended Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in his battle with public employee unions; slammed President Obama for his attack on Paul Ryan, and criticized Congressional Republicans for being too timid in opposing Mr. Obama's spending.

"She was feisty. She was bold. She was gutsy," said Jedediah Bila in the Daily Caller.

Ms. Palin was also concise and funny. Of President Obama's budget, she said: "We're flat broke and he thinks these solar shingles and really fast trains will save us. So now he's shouting ‘all aboard' his bullet train to bankruptcy. Win the Future? WTF is about right."

"If Sarah Palin's not running for president, what a terrible waste that would be of the best stump speech I've heard since, well, Palin's ‘08 convention speech," said John Nolte of Big Government.

Ms. Palin scores low in polls today, chiefly because of how thoroughly the news media have maligned her. But the Sarah Palin on display in Madison was nothing like the media caricature. As more Americans see that Sarah, her numbers will change.

Barack Obama also is nothing like the news media's description of him. As Americans see more of the detached, petulant, clueless and spiteful little man on display at George Washington University, his numbers will change, too.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


21 April, 2011

Where the Tax Money Is

Obama targets the middle class while pretending to tax only the rich

A dominant theme of President Obama's budget speech last Wednesday was that our fiscal problems would vanish if only the wealthiest Americans were asked "to pay a little more." Since he's asking, imagine that instead of proposing to raise the top income tax rate well north of 40%, the President decided to go all the way to 100%.

Let's stipulate that this is a thought experiment, because Democrats don't need any more ideas. But it's still a useful experiment because it exposes the fiscal futility of raising rates on the top 2%, or even the top 5% or 10%, of taxpayers to close the deficit. The mathematical reality is that in the absence of entitlement reform on the Paul Ryan model, Washington will need to soak the middle class—because that's where the big money is.

Consider the Internal Revenue Service's income tax statistics for 2008, the latest year for which data are available. The top 1% of taxpayers—those with salaries, dividends and capital gains roughly above about $380,000—paid 38% of taxes. But assume that tax policy confiscated all the taxable income of all the "millionaires and billionaires" Mr. Obama singled out. That yields merely about $938 billion, which is sand on the beach amid the $4 trillion White House budget, a $1.65 trillion deficit, and spending at 25% as a share of the economy, a post-World War II record.

Say we take it up to the top 10%, or everyone with income over $114,000, including joint filers. That's five times Mr. Obama's 2% promise. The IRS data are broken down at $100,000, yet taxing all income above that level throws up only $3.4 trillion. And remember, the top 10% already pay 69% of all total income taxes, while the top 5% pay more than all of the other 95%.

We recognize that 2008 was a bad year for the economy and thus for tax receipts, as payments by the rich fell along with their income. So let's perform the same exercise in 2005, a boom year and among the best ever for federal revenue. (Ahem, 2005 comes after the Bush tax cuts that Mr. Obama holds responsible for all the world's problems.)

In 2005 the top 5% earned over $145,000. If you took all the income of people over $200,000, it would yield about $1.89 trillion, enough revenue to cover the 2012 bill for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—but not the same bill in 2016, as the costs of those entitlements are expected to grow rapidly. The rich, in short, aren't nearly rich enough to finance Mr. Obama's entitlement state ambitions—even before his health-care plan kicks in.

So who else is there to tax? Well, in 2008, there was about $5.65 trillion in total taxable income from all individual taxpayers, and most of that came from middle income earners. The nearby chart shows the distribution, and the big hump in the center is where Democrats are inevitably headed for the same reason that Willie Sutton robbed banks.

This is politically risky, however, so Mr. Obama's game has always been to pretend not to increase taxes for middle class voters while looking for sneaky ways to do it. His first budget in 2009 included a "climate revenues" section from the indirect carbon tax of cap and trade, which of course would be passed down to all consumers. Such Democratic luminaries as Nancy Pelosi have often chattered about a European-style value-added tax, or VAT, which from a liberal perspective has the virtue of applying to every level of production or service and therefore is largely hidden from the people who pay it.

Now that those two ideas have failed politically, Mr. Obama is turning as he did last week to limiting tax deductions and other "loopholes," such as for mortgage interest payments. We support doing away with these distortions too, and so does Mr. Ryan, but in return for lower tax rates. Mr. Obama just wants the extra money, which he says will reduce the deficit but in practice will merely enable more spending.

Keep in mind that the most expensive tax deductions, in terms of lost tax revenue, go mainly to the middle class. These include the deductions for state and local tax payments (especially property taxes), mortgage interest, employer-sponsored health insurance, 401(k) contributions and charitable donations. The irony is that even as Mr. Obama says he merely wants the rich to pay a little bit more, his proposals would make the tax code less progressive than it is today.

Mr. Ryan isn't proposing controversial entitlement reforms because he likes pointless political risk, or because he likes being berated to his face from a front row seat, as he was on Wednesday. Medicare and Medicaid spending are consistently growing two to three times faster than the rest of the economy, while Medicare's cash-in-cash-out financing model means that seniors collect far more in benefits than they paid in taxes over their working lifetime. The entitlement state was designed for another era.

Mr. Obama's speech was disgraceful for its demagoguery but also because it contained nothing remotely commensurate to the scale of the problem. If the President had come out for a large tax on the middle class, like a VAT, then at least the country could have debated the choice of paying for the government we have or modernizing it a la Mr. Ryan so it is affordable.

Instead the President will continue targeting the middle class for tax increases to pay for an entitlement state on autopilot, while claiming he only wants to tax the rich.



Trump won't release tax info unless Obama provides birth certificate

If Donald Trump runs for president, he says he won't release his tax returns unless President Obama releases his birth certificate.
The latest attention-grabbing sound bite from the media mogul came in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos Tuesday, during which Trump was decidedly non-committal on what his policy toward tax disclosure will be. A presidential candidate is not required by election law to disclose tax returns, though most voluntarily do.

"I think I may tie mine into his birth certificate. But I've built a great company," Trump said. "It's a strong company. It's an under-levered company. I've got a lot of cash and a tremendous net worth, far greater than even numbers that you've read."
But Trump added that he will disclose his financial entanglements and net worth - a figure that few have been able to estimate with any confidence.

"I have a great company. I've done a great job. Which if I run, you'll see what a great job. Because I'll do a full disclosure of finances," he said.



Statists and the Racial 'Health Gap'

I often speculate that deep in the bowels of the Obama administration there exists an obscure office charged with inventing egalitarian schemes to increase American dependency on government. Ignore the high-sounding "fairness" and "equality" rhetoric. The President's minions just cannot stop pushing, even boldly lying until the last vestiges of limited government and individual initiative are history.

The latest eruption of this endeavor was recently announced by Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services: the federal government would close the health gap between "minorities" and whites. These health disparities, he added, have burdened our country for too long (go here for the official statement).

This is a remarkably slapdash proposal that would make a hardcore Stalinist blush. It will probably never fully get off the ground, but as a window to what passes as "policy" in the statist Obama administration, it is invaluable.

The proposal makes race/ethnic differences central. This is unlike Marxist egalitarianism that stressed economic inequalities. Now, however, race and ethnicity trump economics, so rich African Americans, but not poor whites, are "disadvantaged." This is tribalism and, pray tell, how do racial/ethnic differences, not the actual level of illness, "burden" the US? What if all whites were struck with a plague? Would this lessen our "burden"? Would health care now be more "fair"? Might liberal whites volunteer to become sick so as to reduce inequality? Moreover, given the murkiness of racial and ethnic distinctions, proper implementation will require Nazi-style Nuremburg-like laws to certify racial/ethnic identity.

Second, how will this venture be financed in today's tough economic times? No problem, according to program advocates since: (a) we don't know how much the program will cost; and (b) the money is already there and not subject to congressional review. So, a program lacking a price tag is being proposed but whatever the cost, no congressional approval is needed. The need for compulsory remedial Political Science 101 is obvious.

Let's consider the actual crusade. Minorities are clearly less healthy than whites as indicated by incidences of heart disease, diabetes, infant mortality, certain cancers, asthma, and kidney disease (see here). But, disentangling this race/ethnicity/income/health relationship is a nightmare and entails some awkward unspeakable PC issues that warrant attention (see here). For example, certain racial groups may be genetically pre-disposed toward some illnesses (e.g., Hispanics and asthma, blacks and hypertension). Perhaps only genetic engineering can close these gaps so why waste millions better spent elsewhere? And, how do we address health problems like osteoporosis that disproportionally afflict whites?

Even more awkward, some minority group members may prefer shopping to annual checkups, even low-cost insurance, and why should government dictate these personal priorities? Surely the risks of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (both of which affect minorities) are known and perhaps these illnesses just reflect poor judgment, not equal access to health care. Alas, all these complicated issues are swept aside to level healthiness.

Nevertheless, how can gaps be closed? Proposed measures are a grab bag of half-baked ideas that all rest on the supposition that those disproportionally prone to illness really want to be healthy but, for some inexplicable reasons, just cannot secure the required medical benefits. There is the predictable call for recruiting more "under-represented populations" to the health profession (i.e., affirmative action). In fact, a 2009 Report on this health gap made diversifying the health profession central to improving minority health, as if black doctors could better treat black patients. The government will also collect more health data sub-divided according to race and ethnicity, a tactic that guarantees uncovering even more "unfairness."

The solution also includes hiring armies of busy-body scolds. For example, since Hispanic youngsters fail to get adequate dental care, the government will employ Spanish-speaking promotoras to "guide" their neighbors to regular dental check-ups. Similarly, local community health workers will be paid to teach neighbors about diabetes and the importance of following doctor recommendations, while Head Start programs will now also target parents needing medically-related prodding. Add an incentive program to entice minorities to seek better medical treatment, increased funding for asthma care, a national registry of interpreters to help non-English speakers when visiting doctors and hospitals, more research funds for studies on illness that unequally affect minorities and more community meetings to solicit advice on how to help minorities be healthier. How all of this can be accomplished with already available funds remains to be seen.

The tip-off to the underlying paternalism is the assumption that poor health reflects a lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables plus barriers to physical activity. This is a familiar refrain from America's egalitarian Mandarins -- without government intercession broccoli and apples are beyond reach, and so minorities will naturally (and foolishly) choose double bacon cheeseburgers. Similarly, without Washington's counsel, minorities are incapable of walking, jogging, or doing sit-ups in their living room. In a sense, minorities are viewed as young children unable to help themselves, and, furthermore, capitalist markets just refuse to satisfy minority customer demand for fresh produce or gyms. Where is capitalist greed when we need it?

But, mere foolishness disguises the real agenda. If one digs a little deeper than upbeat media news accounts the program's real purpose emerges -- promoting statism (see here). The aim is not just helping African Americans get cheaper, more convenient colonoscopies. In particular, since all this haranguing to eat better, stop smoking, have safe sex, etc., etc. will probably not reduce the healthcare gap (consider all the past failed public health PR campaigns), the only sure outcome is more bloated government as efforts are multiplied. HHS openly links the initiative to ObamaCare and explicitly hopes to "transform" health care, hardly the type of program that could be funded without recourse to congressional approval.

This will be a gigantic make-work boondoggle and highly invasive, to boot. I can already visualize the federal food police raiding local "snack houses" where obese teenagers secretly devour Ho-Hos and Ding Dongs. Tens of thousands of promotoras will have to hired (and trained) to pester fellow Hispanics to get annual check-ups and good luck to all those community organizers going door-to-door waging war on Kentucky Fried Chicken. Expand the definition of "health" to include some criminal behaviors and parental neglect of children and this "modest" program may soon rival Medicaid.

Unfortunately, this latest Obama state-expanding scheme is not unique. Michelle Obama's effort to cut childhood obesity is just as bad if one peeks behind the curtain (see Meghan Clyne, "Michelle's Machine," The Weekly Standard, April 11, 2011). Working through the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnership the Obama administration has enlisted churches to snarl millions more into state dependency. For example, congregations are now implored to push as many parishioner children as possible into government subsidized school meal programs, and if that option is unavailable, get their meals and snacks reimbursed through Washington's Child Adult Care Food Program. Meanwhile, the churches themselves are encouraged to serve as feeding sites for the Summer Food Service Program, among other government-funded social welfare programs. In sum, religion and "improved childhood nutrition" are being twisted into bloating the deficit while building habits of dependency. This "faith-based" initiative is nothing more than re-packaging the infamous late 1960s Cloward-Piven strategy of sharply expanding the welfare rolls to bankrupt government so as to usher in socialism.

No doubt, these particular state-expanding programs will soon expire from fiscal starvation and, hopefully, a regime change. Nevertheless, it is critical to sound the clarion call about what's occurring, sometimes almost invisibly, deep within the Obama administration. This is more than fiscal wastefulness or inept policy-making; these programs are deeply antithetical to limited government and individualism and thus deserve an appellation not lightly applied in today's policy debates -- they are evil.

SOURCE (See the original for links)



Does economic growth reduce poverty?: "It’s quite misleading to claim that Irish economic growth didn’t reduce poverty. The OECD uses a relative definition of poverty -- the 'percentage of persons living with less than 50% of median equivalised household income.' Poor people in Ireland (and Belgium) are a lot less poor than they were thirty years ago with regard to the options they have available to them. The gap between them and the rich might be wider, but this matters less to most people than their life expectancies, economic security levels, and other absolute values."

Ending farm welfare as we know it: "Just about everything in Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's budget blueprint has caught unshirted hell from critics: the tax rates, the Medicare vouchers, the safety-net cuts. The one thing that hasn't? The cuts to farm subsidies. If past is prologue, that means the subsidies are probably safe."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


20 April, 2011

Obama's agenda of hate

Barack Obama’s budget address last week ranks among the most dishonest and dishonorable presidential speeches in generations. It contained an avalanche of false and misleading statements. It was shallow and bitterly partisan. Yet the speech served a useful purpose: It provided the American people in general, and Republicans in particular, with the basic line of attack President Obama will use between now and the 2012 election.

The White House strategy is clear: argue that Obama wants to restore fiscal balance by raising taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” while those who don’t favor higher taxes on the wealthy are fundamentally unserious. As a political matter, of course, class warfare does not have a particularly successful track record. But, to keep it that way, Republicans need to provide a compelling response to the Obama strategy. Fortunately such a response exists.

Obama’s argument is built on sand. A tax increase on the wealthy would fall far short of the revenues needed to reverse our fiscal trajectory. Our budget problems are significantly worse today than they were in the 1990s. There are not nearly enough wealthy people in the nation to tax in order to tame our debt. If the president wants higher taxes to improve our fiscal imbalance, he will need to embrace a massive middle-class tax increase and/or a value added tax (VAT). But Obama hasn’t shown the slightest preference for that option. It’s pure fiction to pretend that higher taxes on those making more than $200,000 will make much of a dent in our debt, given the size of our long-term spending problem. Obama’s argument isn’t with Republicans. It’s with basic arithmetic.

Republicans need to unmask the philosophy guiding modern liberalism when it comes to taxes. What liberals are interested in isn’t growth so much as egalitarianism and redistribution for its own sake. For many on the left, increasing taxes isn’t about economics as much as morality. They believe taxing the wealthy is a virtue, to the point that they would penalize “the rich” even if that has harmful economic consequences. Recall that during a campaign debate, when asked by Charles Gibson about his support for raising capital gains taxes even if that caused a net revenue loss to the Treasury, Obama sided with tax increases “for purposes of fairness.”

Higher taxes would keep our current welfare state in place for only a little while longer. The entitlement apparatus would remain unsustainable. Tax increases might slightly delay, but could not forestall, a fiscal crack-up. The only thing that can is reconfiguring and restructuring our entitlement programs, most especially Medicare. That is what Paul Ryan’s plan does—and what President Obama’s budget avoids doing.

The point cannot be made often enough: Modern liberalism, as embodied in the Obama presidency, is the defender of the status quo. And the status quo is a road to economic ruin.

It is important for Republicans to put this debate in the right frame. Left unaddressed, our crushing burden of debt will cripple the American economy. Yet the aim of conservatism isn’t simply lower deficits and debt. It’s also limited government and a thriving society. A leviathan state is injurious because of its effect on civic character, because it undermines self-reliance and creates dependency. And this, in turn, results in an enervation of the entrepreneurial spirit that is necessary for innovation and prosperity.

Barack Obama has amassed a dismal economic record as president. (Former senator Phil Gramm points out that if Barack Obama had matched Ronald Reagan’s post-recession recovery rate, 15.7 million more Americans would have jobs.) Obama can’t campaign on his record—so he’s betting his reelection chances on stoking embers of anger and resentment. That’s about all that’s left of hope and change.



Some more food for thought for The Donald

According to the typical liberal media narrative, those of us who have questioned President Obama's life documents are kooks. Nuts. Creeps. "Birthers." When Donald Trump raises issues with the birth certificate, members of the left, right, and center assume that he's doing so for political reasons and that there's no real story. They use the Old Jedi Mind Trick: "nothing to see here ... move along."

There's only one problem. There's something to see here.

There has been an enormous amount of misinformation with regard to Obama's life documents from well-meaning grassroots activists (some of whom are too trusting or inexperienced to know how to vet information properly) to media personalities (who are often sloppy and/or ignorant of the facts involved) to agenda-driven snake oil salesmen (who are using grassroots ire to fundraise or sell their books) to outright disinformation supplied by the Obama Administration itself. But just because there are many people who confuse the life documents issue doesn't mean there isn't one.

In fact, there are two.

For over two years, I have been privy to private investigators' files, have seen private investigations of other private investigations, have done my own research -- and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are two crucial problems with President Obama's life documents. First, the registration number on Obama's "Certification of Live Birth" (which, as Trump recently explained to an incredulous Meredith Vieira, is not a long form birth certificate) is out of sequence to other birth certificates issued on the very next day in Hawaii to a pair of twins named Nordyke (certifications of live birth and birth certificates carry the same registration number).

Second, according to a private investigator, Susan Daniels, whose work was validated by at least two other investigators I'm aware of, the Social Security number that Obama used for approximately 25 years was issued with a Connecticut-based number, though neither Obama nor anyone in his family lived in that state at any point during their lifetimes. Bill O'Reilly claimed on his April 14, 2011, show that Obama's father, Barack Obama Sr., lived in Connecticut "for several years", but when I called O'Reilly for verification of his source(s), I was put into a voicemail and received no return call. As of this writing, it appears that O'Reilly's Mailbag Segment on Obama's Social Security number has been scrubbed by Fox News from the podcast of the show, along with some viewer mail on the subject.

Contrary to Mr. O'Reilly's claim and according to private investigations, after Obama Sr. left Hawaii, he lived in Cambridge, Mass, which he left for Africa in 1965. Obama Sr. never worked or took classes in Connecticut, and no one has ever proven or even given a reason for his living in that state. We know that 1977-79 was the period when Obama's Connecticut-based Social Security number was issued because private investigators have tracked down the dates when the Social Security numbers directly above and below Obama's number were issued. Both of these numbers were issued to Connecticut residents. But from 1972 until his death in a car crash in 1982, Barack Obama Sr. was in Kenya. During this period he was never in America. We reach this conclusion because Obama Sr.'s addresses have been tracked and can be seen in several private investigator data bases.

So it appears Obama Sr. had nothing to do with the application for Obama's Social Security number, as Mr. O'Reilly suggested. But then again, this is the same O'Reilly who also announced on his April 14th show that, although Obama's birth certificate has not been made public, Hawaii officials have it on file. This about-face conflicts with his 2008 statement that he'd actually seen the birth certificate and that's how he knows Obama is legitimate. "We have a copy of it," he said at the time. (NB: such a possession would have been illegal.)

Not only have these issues been ignored or derided by the press, any attempt to answer these questions has been stymied at the state level. Obscured by countless charges and counter-charges, and under the cover of stealth legislation, Hawaii has changed the law and the language with regard to the release of birth certificates, making it very difficult if not impossible to establish the veracity of any charges with regard to Obama's. One can only surmise that if fraud has indeed occurred, a cover-up of that fraud was the goal -- and accomplishment -- here.

But we need not allow state governments, or anyone, to cover up the Obama birth certificate conundrum. There is something we can do. We can ask states to adopt legislation that requires candidates to make public their long form birth certificates in order to be placed on the presidential ballot, and in accordance with Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution. Arizona has already attempted something along these lines, but Arizona's law doesn't go far enough: it permits forensics testing only on secondary documents -- which is to say, if a long form birth certificate is not submitted, there will be no forensics testing on it. Instead, states must pass bills requiring forensics testing of any and all life documents submitted to them, if questions arise about them.

In order to push for such legislation, we all must shift into second gear. Instead of asking "where is the birth certificate?," we must now demand that whatever documents are released on a candidate's life, such documents must be subjected to forensic testing. Anyone who's concealed his documents (and hired lawyers to fight efforts in court to reveal his place of birth), as Mr. Obama has, appears not trustworthy; his actions alone demand forensics testing for any document he produces as proof of his "natural born" status. As Ronald Reagan famously put it, "Trust, but verify."

To date, no such total verification has taken place and thus secrets remain hidden. Instead, sloppy reporting and careless statements, including one made by the Republican National Committee (whom I also called to verify their sources and have received no return call), have been based on second-hand reporting rather than on investigative fact checking. And Obama has something to hide. If he didn't, Obama's attorney, Bob Bauer, would not be sending bullying letters to other attorneys promising sanctions, court costs, etc., if the birth certificate case were pursued against them (see threatening letter here). Obama wouldn't be spending money to defend against these lawsuits if there were no problems -- he'd be releasing his documentation pronto. For his trouble, Bob Bauer has been promoted to White House Counsel. Clearly, Obama's life documents -- which remain sealed from public view -- pose a problem for him, and the behavior of his inner circle proves it.

This is something that Mr. Trump seems to know instinctively. He has been unafraid in his pursuit of Obama's birth certificate. He has suggested an investigation of Hawaiian Governor Neil Abercrombie, who brashly promised that he would release Obama's birth certificate when he took office, only to say -- after having dug into the birth records -- that he didn't know he wasn't allowed to release such a thing. After Mr. Trump's perfectly reasonable suggestion, Abercrombie has been quiet.

Trump has stated that he has investigators on the ground in Hawaii checking on the birth certificate firsthand, and has stated that they "can't believe" what they are finding. Trump may understand that deception has already occurred here -- when Obama released his "Certification of Live Birth" in 2007 as if it were a valid birth certificate, it appears he meant to deceive the public. Trump's refusal to back off the birth certificate issue has the elites frowning, the base in an uproar, and Obama on his heels.

Meanwhile, the Republican establishment continues to shrink from the once-in-a-lifetime political opportunity Obama has handed them by his concealments. Frightened to attack Obama's "character," they instead insist on attacking his policies -- the same failed strategy that McCain (and they) have already tried. The Obama campaign and presidency, day after day, assassinated Bush's character (and now others) and lied continually, full of guile, about Obama's policies and political beliefs at the same time, and they continue this practice even today.

Why? Because it's effective. The vast majority of Americans already agree with Republicans on the major issues -- health care, "don't ask, don't tell," the stimulus package, the deficit -- policy arguments which Republicans have lost to Obama because they refuse to pull out the big guns. Were the Democrats thinking about beating Nixon on policy when they went after him on Watergate? The Republicans seem willing to allow Obama to waltz to a second term, unchallenged in this terribly important Constitutional issue, and Americans care deeply about their Constitution, simply out of spinelessness.

Trump has a spine, which is why he is gaining momentum and has pulled way ahead of the pack. Now we must convert that momentum into action. Instead of passing judgment about who is crazy or sane on the issues of the birth certificate and the Social Security number, we must ask Obama to show his hand, and we then must forensically test whatever he has, or he must fold. Forensics testing is not an outlandish idea; as distasteful as this analogy might be -- a sordid affair vs. a serious Constitutional issue -- forensics testing of a blue dress a few years ago revealed another set of lies of a young U.S. president, also attempting to defraud the public.

Because of the irregularities and unanswered questions outlined above, certainly the American people have a right to know whether the birth record that supposedly establishes the eligibility of their president is un-tampered with. And they also have a right to know whether the social security number that he has been using is genuinely his or stolen. Use of another person's social security number is a felony.

In the interests of full transparency and disclosure, in the interests of protecting the Constitution and the integrity of our elections, we need to force Obama and all other presidential candidates to show us their birth certificates before they join any presidential campaign and demonstrate they are eligible to serve us. Anything less is a deep betrayal of our most basic democratic ideals.




Hungary: Pols okay conservative constitution: "Hungarian lawmakers approved a socially and fiscally conservative new constitution yesterday that was blasted by rights groups and the political opposition for measures including a ban on gay marriage and protection of the life of a fetus from conception. Conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban says the constitution will allow the former communist country to complete a transition to democracy and move to an era of sound finances and clean government after years of mismanagement"

Why we must freeze the debt limit: "A failure to increase the debt limit now would just create an ersatz 'crisis.' For too long, analysts and politicians have balked at the massive political impediments to reforming the federal budget — especially entitlement programs. Many now concede, actually, that no prudential reforms are likely unless there is an imminent 'crisis.' On the other hand, political liberals argue that there is no real 'crisis' — and so no need for real reforms. Well, here's the opportunity for a 'crisis' that 'should not be wasted.'"

Closing social distance: "Along with many of my fellow economists, I am drawn to the study of the nonmarket foundations of the market process. We find that examining the nature and significance of social capital, norms of trust and reciprocity, and conventions of fair play — combined with the traditional concerns of private property, the rule of law, and free trade — greatly improves our understanding of how social cooperation works or doesn’t work."

Welcome budget-cut talk: "Finally. A serious budget plan. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's proposal has the head-in-the-sand crowd horrified . A Washington Post columnist called it 'radical ... irresponsible ... extreme.' Ryan's plan offers some great things: less spending than President Obama wants; a path to a balanced budget; repeal of Obamacare; an end to corporate welfare. And it would make the social safety net sustainable rather than open-ended and going broke."

Are we allied to a corpse?: "The Post story about Britain and France, the leading military powers of NATO Europe, depleting their smart-bomb supply in a one-month clash with an African nation of 6 million, and begging the Yanks to come back and win the war for them, raises a major question. Is the most successful alliance in history, which kept the Red Army of Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev from smashing through the Fulda Gap and reaching the Channel, a hollow shell?"

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


19 April, 2011

The debt debacle and the destruction of U.S. dollar savings now underway

A near-worthless dollar is a real possibility -- unless drastic steps are taken

Martin Hutchinson comments:

Fiscally, it is now clear that the United States’ record has been uniquely profligate. According to IMF figures, the U.S. bank bailout has cost only 3.4% of GDP, compared with Germany’s 10.7% of GDP, yet the U.S. budget deficit for calendar 2011 is estimated at 10.9% of GDP compared to Germany’s 2.3%. (Given that the principal asset problem lay in U.S. housing, and that Germany had no comparable housing bubble, it can also be concluded that German banks were uniquely stupid!)

Outside the Civil War and World War II, the United States has never run deficits of anything like this size. The 1979-82 recession was comparable to this one in length and severity, yet the budget deficit peaked at 6.3% of GDP in 1983, by which time the U.S. economy was growing rapidly.

U.S. monetary policy has however been even more extreme than fiscal policy. The zero Federal Funds rate, prolonged now for 2½ years, is not as negative in real terms as short term rates became on a number of occasions in the 1970s. Yet the psychological effect of a zero nominal interest rate is incalculable. It prevents savers from receiving any return on their money, unlike in the 1970s when their nominal returns were quite substantial.

You can argue all you like that the more negative real returns of the 1970s represented easier money, yet the effect on savers of receiving no return on their savings, or on borrowers of having to pay almost nothing for their money is huge. Savings are depressed as simple folk give up altogether...

The effects of ultra-easy money are everywhere. Notoriously, it has reduced the U.S. savings rate close to zero, while shrinking capital cost differentials between the U.S. and emerging markets, thus effectively de-capitalizing the U.S. economy.

At this point, it is becoming clear that the period of “debt deflation” which Reinhart and Rogoff forecast would be needed before the U.S. and global economies could expand again on a healthy basis has been nothing of the kind.

Rather than deflation, we are currently experiencing a rapid increase in inflation. Each month’s statistics show an acceleration in the pace of inflation. Producer prices have been increasing at an annual rate of 10.9% over the last six months, which suggests pretty strongly that we shall soon see a similar rate of increase in consumer price statistics. However this time, unlike in the gentlemanly 1970s, the excessive expansionism of fiscal and monetary policy will prevent inflation from being halted at or just above the 10% level, but will instead produce inflation rates much higher than that.

In today’s world economy, the losers from an unexpected burst of inflation are not primarily the banks – fortunately for the world’s taxpayers, who would have to bail them out again. Instead the losers are the major investors in dollar debt – hedge funds, Middle Eastern potentates and Asian central banks. There could not be an economically less damaging collection of losers – except that Middle Eastern and Asian losers who have been scammed through wild dollar inflation and currency depreciation will find some doubtless unpleasant way of obtaining their revenge.

The blissful phase in which interest rates in the U.S. and elsewhere are far below the inflation rate will not however be long-lived, although doubtless a desperate Bernanke and his hangers-on will try and prolong it as far as possible. At some point, probably around the time reported inflation passes 20% per annum, the Treasury bond markets, the politicians and the public as a whole will panic, seeing the possibility of a Weimar-style collapse.

If this happens at an inconvenient point in the 2012 electoral cycle (or if the present incumbents are encouraged by unexpected electoral victory) little will be done and hyperinflation will set in. That would solve the debt problem, all right, but wipe out the U.S. capital base altogether.

Since the United States is, like Australia, a lucky country, it is however more probable than not that steps will be taken to avoid this ghastly fate. They will involve a Federal Funds rate that is far above the rapidly accelerating level of inflation – say 50% -- and long-term bond rates also above the inflation rate, at about 25% or so. Any benefit the U.S. government and individual borrowers had gained from the preceding inflation would be quickly wiped out, except for those thrifty souls who had prudently taken out fixed rate mortgages.

The U.S. government would be forced to cut back spending not by a third, as is currently necessary, but by more than half, financing the remaining deficit offshore in yen, renminbi and Singapore dollars, the currencies of the thrifty and provident Asians. The squeals of the electorate subjected to this usurious brutality would be deafening, but they would be drowned fairly quickly by the roar of job creation, as desperate companies scrambled to sell their cripplingly costly capital assets and reinvest in suddenly cheaper labor.

In the long run, the United States will probably arrive at the place predicted by Reinhart and Rogoff: a long-delayed recovery, with living standards depressed by the costs of eliminating debt. However it will have chosen a bizarre and excessively painful way of getting there.



Righteous Indignation: Andrew Breitbart is out to save the world (and he just might)

You won’t find too many people who are indifferent toward Andrew Breitbart. But love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him. With his ever-growing collection of “Big” websites (Big Government, Big Hollywood, Big Journalism and Big Peace so far), Andrew has redefined how the political right views and uses the Internet. He makes no apologies for his “in your face” style, nor should he. That style has won him many victories and many enemies. He seems to occupy the time of a disproportionate number of left-wingers, including many employees of the ultra-left-wing censorship factory called Media Matters. Those “senior fellows” are about to have their weekends ruined as Breitbart moves from the virtual world to the book world with today’s release of Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World (2011 Grand Central Publishing).

Righteous is three books in one, each self-contained. Together, they weave a narrative that will remind many readers of their own lives. Even if you don’t share all of Andrew’s political beliefs, you will find yourself identifying with at least some of his story and conclusions. The book is part biography, part history lesson, and part manifesto, and it flows with clarity of purpose from one page to the next. It subtly draws you into a narrative, strung through the whole book, where he meticulously makes the case against the media and pop culture, which, he argues, help spread and normalize the liberal agenda. He also explains how to combat that agenda.

The first third of the book reads like a biography, but with a purpose. He writes about his first foray into the Internet, a place that would eventually become his home, in a way most of us who were late adapters missed. He touches on his discovery of Matt Drudge and his working relationship with a then-conservative firebrand named Arianna Huffington. But “touches” is the right word — both of those relationships deserve a book of their own, but he has a different purpose in Righteous, and he doesn’t get distracted from it.

The second part of the book is a history lesson on the progressive/liberal movement in America. It’s not nearly as detailed as Jonah Goldberg’s amazing Liberal Fascism, but it doesn’t need to be, and doesn’t aspire to be. This isn’t a history book; it has a different mission.

Nevertheless, this section plainly and calmly lays out the basic facts of how the progressive left-wing agenda first came to these shores with the help of many establishment people such as the vaunted Edward R. Murrow. Breitbart tells the history of how the Frankfurt School spread their radical ideals throughout the country.

But Andrew’s real praise is reserved for radical Saul Alinsky. Breitbart loathes Alinsky’s ends, but the genius of his means is hard to dispute. The story of how this Chicago radical took the dry teachings of the Frankfurt School elites and sold it to the masses is often told as a cautionary tale, but Breitbart sees it as an opportunity, which leads perfectly to the final third of the book.

The last part of the book reads like a manifesto, a call to arms. So much of establishment Washington, and more specifically the conservative movement, is predicated on niceties. This “go along to get along” is perfect if all you want to do is get along. Andrew Breitbart does not want to get along, he wants to win.

The manifesto section stops short of inspiring the reader to pick up a pitchfork and a torch, but just barely. What it does do is inspire those of us who have been afraid to speak out about our deeply held beliefs for fear of rejection or attack. Breitbart lays it on the table. “It is not just a political war, it is a cultural war, and our audacious goal is to change the big narrative,” he writes.

Righteous isn’t meant to simply inform; it’s meant to inspire. Andrew tells the story of his first appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher.” He thought he’d done well, until he started to hear from friends who wondered why he hadn’t stood up for his beliefs. He was much more assertive the next time he appeared on Maher’s show. Passivity only leads to appeasement. Sharp elbows are needed if victory is truly your goal.

Of all the things Righteous Indignation does, perhaps its most important function is to pull back the curtain on the unholy alliance between all the cultural and media institutions and the left-wing industrial complex and expose how they fit together like puzzle pieces to advance an agenda. If you trusted the media or the entertainment industry before reading this book, your eyes will be opened. If you didn’t, you will know you are not alone.



Sarah Palin rocks Madison

She was feisty. She was bold. And she was gutsy. At a Tea Party rally in Madison, Wis., on Saturday, Sarah Palin pulled no punches.

The former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential candidate credited the Tea Party with winning “an electoral victory of historic proportions last November.” She praised Scott Walker’s efforts toward fiscal discipline. She stood up to the GOP establishment. And she had a strong message for Barack Obama as we approach 2012: “Mr. President, game on!”

Palin, who stems from “a family of schoolteachers,” reached out to Wisconsin’s union members: “I’m here today as a patriot, as a taxpayer, as a former union member, and as the wife of a union member … A pension is a promise that must be kept. Now your Governor, Scott Walker, understands this. He understands that states must be solvent in order to keep their promises. And that’s what he’s trying to do. He’s not trying to hurt union members. Hey, folks — he’s trying to save your jobs and your pensions.”

She talked tough with respect to the watered-down budget compromise reached by President Obama, John Boehner, and Harry Reid, affirming, “That is not courage. That’s capitulation.” She added, “Now there is a lesson here — in the Beltway politico, something that they need to understand — the lesson comes from here in Madison. So, our lesson is to the GOP establishment first … if you stand on the platform, if you stand by your pledges, we will stand with you. We will fight with you, GOP. We have your back. Together we will win because America will win.”

“We didn’t elect you just to re-arrange the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic,” Palin continued. “We didn’t elect you just to stand back and watch Obama redistribute those deck chairs. What we need is for you to stand up, GOP, and fight.” She added, “Maybe I should ask some of the Badger women’s hockey team — those champions — maybe I should ask them if we should be suggesting to GOP leaders, they need to learn how to fight like a girl!”

Palin called out President Obama on his unsuccessful stimulus, big-government promoting SOTU address, and proclivity toward ignoring the will of the people via Obamacare, reckless spending, and proposals for tax increases on the middle class and job creators. She challenged his tendency to “apologize for America while you bow and kowtow to our enemies and you snub our allies like Israel,” as well as the manner in which “you [Barack Obama] cut off oil development here and then you hypocritically praise foreign countries for their drilling.”

“We the people, we rose up, and we decisively rejected the Left’s big-government agenda,” Palin asserted. “We don’t want it. We can’t afford it. And we are unwilling to pay for it.”

Palin’s distinctive humor emerged through such statements as “We’re flat broke, but he [Barack Obama] thinks these solar shingles and really fast trains will magically save us” and “Win the Future? WTF is about right.”




Debt agency cuts US outlook to “negative”: "The Standard & Poor’s credit rating service Monday downgraded the U.S. sovereign long-term national debt from 'stable' to 'negative,' citing the failure of Congress to agree on a plan to 'reverse recent fiscal deterioration or address longer-term fiscal pressures.'"

NATO short on bombs, planes for Libya war: "Less than a month into the Libyan conflict, NATO is running short of precision bombs, highlighting the limitations of Britain, France and other European countries in sustaining even a relatively small military action over an extended period of time, according to senior NATO and U.S. officials. The shortage of European munitions, along with the limited number of aircraft available, has raised doubts among some officials about whether the United States can continue to avoid returning to the air campaign if Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi hangs onto power for several more months."

Finland: Election could derail bailouts in Europe: "A huge surge in support for a Finnish nationalist party that opposes eurozone bailouts is complicating Europe’s plans to rescue Portugal and other debt-ridden economies. The sharp rise of the True Finns in Sunday’s nation election represents a watershed moment in Finnish politics, which have traditionally been dominated by the Social Democrats, the Center Party and the conservative National Coalition party."

TSA security looks at people who complain about … TSA security: "Arrogant complaining about airport security is one indicator TSA officers consider when looking for possible criminals and terrorists,when combined with other behavioral indicators, it could result in a traveler facing additional scrutiny."

Ryan’s way is the better way: "Medicare cannot simply continue to promise paying for everything for everyone when it doesn't have the money to do so. The question isn't whether future seniors will have to pay more or get less. It is whether those choices will be imposed on them from above or whether they will be empowered to make those decisions for themselves."

Public safety hypocrisy: "South Carolina is up against an $800 million budget shortage these days. State lawmakers there need to raise more cash. So they cooked up a bright idea to get it from small time speeders, caught driving less than 10 mph over the limits, who want to avoid DMV points on their drivers’ licenses. Here’s how it works: A low-level speeder would be pulled over by the cops and given the option of paying a normal $15 to $25 fine, to be reported to DMV for the assessment of points; or a $150 fine, which is 10 times the current minimum, but no report to the DMV, and no assessment of points."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


18 April, 2011

You can't fix stupid

How stupid is President Barack Hussein Obama? Let me count the ways.

Judging from the philosophical pose he struck during Wednesday's "debt-reduction" address, the president is so stupid as to believe that the "rugged individualism," "self-reliance" and "healthy skepticism of too much government" - all qualities he attributed to the American people in that speech - can survive in the shadow of his government.

During his two years in office, Mr. Obama has accrued more debt than any president in American history. Why, in the month of March alone, his souped-up civil servants spent eight times what they collected in tax receipts and revenues.

For every year their honcho has been in office, the Obama officials have devoured over a trillion dollars, and will put Americans in hock to the tune of $1 trillion in interest payments alone by the end of this decade, if not sooner.

How stupid is our president? So stupid as to believe that the governmental juggernaut over which he presides is what connects us as a nation, and ensures that "we . do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves."

How stupid is Obama? So stupid as to believe that America became a great country in 1935, which is when the earliest of the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security entitlements was signed into law. Dummy did, after all, declare yesterday that, "We would not be a great country without [these programs]."

How stupid is the president of the United States? So stupid as to think that "the rich" are rich because their "country," by which he means the ruling clique, "has done so much for them," and that they must, therefore, be compelled "to give back a little bit more."

That's like claiming the tick created the dog! Production predates government predation. Government doesn't produce wealth - it only consumes riches created by others, Mr. President.

Besides, the individual is the basic unit of society, without whom there would be no collective. A cleverer man would know that ACORN is the creation of community agitators like himself, not the other way around.

Indeed, backward is our president for reasoning backwards. To wit, if B, then A: if "rich," then exploitative, but if poor, then exploited. That's a bad mistake.

Just how backward is Barack? Such an intellectual laggard is the country's commander in chief as to frame the massive spending he is directing as a "key investment in our future." The wherewithal for the largess exhibited by Mr. Obama's menagerie of moron has been siphoned off from the private economy (and from China).

How studiously dumb is our president? So stupid as to claim that the real "damage . caused to our nation's checkbook," a checking account he controls and we and our Chinese enablers keep in funds, is caused by tax cuts for the rich.

In other words, returning some stolen property ? that's what taxes are ? to its rightful owners is causing America to go under. That, and not the debt our overweening overlords have accumulated in the course of expanding their jurisdiction stateside and overseas.

A note to anyone who is as gormless as the president: Government is doomed to fail because it is bereft of the constraints private property imposes. The more funds funneled into an insolvent system, in which property is communally "owned" - the greater the squandering of these scarce, precious, appropriated resources.

Most of what the government currently does is financed by borrowing. President Obama spoke at length about his "vision for America." But if he must beg or steal to keep his vision alive, then there is something wrong with this "vision," and not with its victims.

But, as Ron White, that great satirist from the great state of Texas, teaches, "You can't fix stupid." "There is not a pill you can take, not a class you can go to. Stupid is forever."



US budget "showdown"

For all the attempts to talk up the budget clash as a great historical drama, in truth it revealed the pathetic state of American politics. It looked like money for US government agencies would run out at midnight. But an hour before that deadline, congressional leaders and President Obama reached a budget deal that prevented a government shutdown and massive job lay-offs. The compromise cuts about $39 billion from federal spending this year.

Listening to the media coverage, it seemed like a great political drama was taking place. CNN showed a countdown clock, with the minutes ticking away ominously towards the shutdown at midnight. In reality, though, the whole thing was an example of the pathetic state of American politics. The Financial Times was right to refer to the shambolic last-minute deal-making as 'banana republic machinations'.

Despite what the breathless news reporters said, this was not a battle over political principle. Yes, the US federal deficit is large, but this agreement was never intended to put even a small dent in it. Both parties had agreed to reduce spending, and the differences between them towards the end had boiled down to $1 billion or $2 billion, out of a total budget of $3,700 billion.

Following the deal, a beaming Obama said: 'Today, Americans of different beliefs came together.' Based on his enthusiasm, you could be forgiven for thinking that the agreement marked a landmark in American history. Of course it was simply the mundane business of government: passing a budget, something the federal government does every year. Not only that, but amid all the celebrations it is easy to miss the fact that the budget deal was well overdue, coming some six months into the fiscal year, and therefore this supposedly great achievement only sees them through another six months.

Rather than getting caught up in the 'high-stakes drama' of the 'countdown to shutdown', most Americans watched with bemusement and dismay. How could such a serious step - shutting down the basic institution of government, with significant implications for jobs and services - be risked when there was so little separating the two sides? The reality was that the brinkmanship was intended to sway both parties' respective members of Congress, not the public at large. John Boehner, Republican majority leader in the House, wanted to prove to his Tea Party caucus that he was going down to the wire to obtain the maximum spending concessions; Harry Reid, Democrat majority leader in the Senate, wanted to cover his tracks by reassuring his liberal wing that he was not going to give in to Republican social policy issues, like the bid to defund Planned Parenthood.

That the politicians would subject the public to such a circus, just to bring their own members in line, shows how self-absorbed they are. Before the budget showdown, both parties in Congress were held in low esteem, with approval ratings of less than 20 per cent. The latest spectacle of politicians acting like juveniles will certainly not improve perceptions of Congress's stature.

Of the two parties, the Republicans retained some semblance of coherence. Mostly united behind a push for spending cuts, they managed to set the agenda. But for all of Boehner's self-congratulation afterwards, the cuts represented only a tiny percentage of the total budget. At the same time, because they were heavily focused on so-called 'discretionary' welfare spending, the reductions will disproportionately affect the poor and working class. In addition, the Republicans' pursuit of issues that had nothing to do with the budget - like the ban on the financing of abortions in Washington, DC - made it appear that they were simply using the occasion to advance their pet project

The most ludicrous of Boehner's claims was that the deal would help the economy. 'We fought to keep government spending down because it really will in fact help create a better environment for job creators in our country', he said. To date, businesses have not been holding back from hiring more because of government spending, and the relatively small cuts in the latest budget deal will have little or no influence on whether to create more jobs. While the Republicans are obsessed with cuts, they have no answer for economic growth; and if the economy doesn't grow, even cuts in spending won't come fast enough to reduce the deficit.

On the other side, the Democrats appear aimless and adrift. The fact that the 2011 budget took this long is a poor reflection on them: they had majorities in both Houses of Congress when this process should have been completed six months ago, so they only have themselves to blame for failing to come to agreement within their own party.

It is hard to know where Obama stands on these issues. At times he calls for 'investments in the future', but he also stresses that cuts are necessary, using the analogy of a family tightening its belt when times are tough. His initially proposed budget called for a $40 billion increase in spending, and then he ended up agreeing to a $39 billion decrease - a swing of $79 billion. To an objective observer, that would appear to be a defeat. And yet afterwards Obama pretended he had won. He called the deal 'good news for the American people' and boasted about 'making the largest annual spending cut in our history'.

What is clear coming out of the budget agreement is that the Democrats are allowing the Republicans to set the agenda. No longer is there any talk about stimulus, even though Obama previously said the stimulus would be necessary until the economy fully recovered and unemployment came down to pre-recession levels. (Indeed, most economists think the US economy is not out of the woods, and have marked down growth forecasts as a result of the budget deal, because the economy has been so reliant on state spending.) Nor is anyone really talking seriously about Obama's 'investments', like his half-hearted proposals to increase spending on infrastructure, high-speed rail and green-energy technology.

Instead, all the talk is about where to cut next. Obama and the Democrats have managed an incredible feat: they have made the Republican scaremongering bean-counters appear like courageous truth-tellers who are willing to tackle unsustainable deficits.

It now looks like there will be other occasions for 'drama' in the near future. First, there will be a vote on raising the national debt limit, which will probably occur sometime between mid-May and early July. Boehner is insisting that they will go down to the wire again unless 'there is something really, really big attached' to raising the cap - meaning further spending cuts. The White House is warning that not raising the debt limit would have 'Armageddon-like' consequences for the economy.

Second, a debate has started about the 2012 budget. Last week, Republican Paul Ryan unveiled the House proposal, and on Wednesday night Obama is expected to announce his counter-proposal. The 2012 process looks likely to drag on like the 2011 did, especially given that neither party will want to be seen to be conceding too much in the run-up to the 2012 election (which is a presidential one).

While disagreeing on the means, it is clear that both parties agree on the end: austerity. Even though the costs of Social Security and Medicare are structural contributors to government deficits, a focus on them (and deficits generally) is myopic. At the moment, there is no fiscal crisis. The real issue that is neglected amid all the deficit discussion is whether the US economy can generate growth. With growth, the current deficits will be taken care of; without growth, the doomsday scenario that fearmongers peddle today could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Neither major party has anything of substance to say about creating growth in productive industries. Their consensus on austerity is mind-numbing and uninspiring. To be subjected to the spectacle of recurring pantomimes over budgets only adds insult to injury.




A cancerous government: "Cancer cells grow and multiply like normal human tissue cells, but unlike normal cells, cancer cells suck up body resources without doing anything beneficial for the body. They eventually kill the body. The abnormal growth of government and government spending does exactly the same to civilizations. In the United States, government growth and spending has multiplied to the point where the draw down on productive contributors is starting to kill the host. There is little incentive to contribute values in the market place when the federal, state, and local governments are taking more than 50% of a taxpayer's income in many instances. Why work hard to create if the value will be confiscated?

AZ: Bill requires candidates to prove birth in US: "Arizona, which has shown little reluctance in bucking the federal government, is again plowing controversial ground, this time as its Legislature passed a bill to require President Obama and other presidential candidates to prove they were born in the United States before their names can appear on the state's ballot. If Governor Jan Brewer signs the proposal into law, Arizona would be the first state to pass such a requirement - potentially forcing a court to decide whether the president's birth certificate is enough to prove he can legally run for reelection. Hawaii officials have certified Obama was born in that state, but so-called birthers have demanded more proof"

Senate "Gang of Six" seeks accord on debt: "Days after President Obama called for forming a bipartisan group in Congress to begin negotiating a $4 trillion debt-reduction package, the parties have not even agreed to its membership. Yet six senators - three Democrats, three Republicans - say they are nearing consensus on just such a plan. Whether the so-called Gang of Six can actually deliver something when Congress returns from a recess in May could determine whether Democrats and Republicans can come together to resolve the nation's fiscal problems before the 2012 elections."

Obama tries to obstruct executions: "President Obama well may have begun another undeclared war -- this time on states that try to enforce their own death penalty laws -- on the dubious grounds that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved drugs intended to kill convicted killers. On March 15, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized Georgia's supply of sodium thiopental, the first drug given under the three-drug lethal injection protocol used in most of the country's 34 death-penalty states. The DEA also asked Kentucky and Tennessee for their sodium thiopental to aid its investigation."

The richer we get the more markets we need: "We can regard economic gr[ow]th as coming in two forms. There's catch up growth, such as what China is doing now and Japan did 50 years ago. What to do is largely known, for there are the examples of the richer, more advanced, economies that can be followed. ... However, once a place has got rich the problem changes. Catch up growth is no longer possible, for there's no one to catch up with. The economy has arrived at the technological frontier so there's no one to copy. Any further growth is going to come from innovation, new ways of doing things, rather than mobilising extant resources to simply do more. At which point governments can't do that planning and directing thing"

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

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


17 April, 2011

Pastrami on rye

A recent posting on my personal blog is concerned with how best to serve Pastrami on rye. If anybody reading here has strong views on the matter, I would be delighted to hear from them.


HMS Sausage returns to port for the last time

Wait for it

To stop the video, click the bottom left-hand corner


Cumberland sausage is well known in Britain -- hence the nickname of the ship


Are the good times really over for good?

An excerpt below from a book review in which both the author and the reviewer express optimism about America's economic future. Rather surprisingly, both overlook the role of an ever-expanding government. They acknowledge that the average American stopped getting richer decades ago but really have no explanation for it.

That all the gains from technological progress and innovation have been swallowed up by an ever-expanding bureaucracy they do not consider. You can't take more and more people out of the productive workforce and expect the supply of goods and services to grow. Sure, the bureaucracy does provide "services" of a kind but not ones most people value or would willingly pay for.

And the destruction of savings held in American dollars brought about by Obama's money-printing binge is mostly still to be felt. It is hard to see how the Obama legacy of a greatly expanded government and people with destroyed savings is going to allow for much bounce-back any time soon.

Unless of course America gets a President who abolishes all federal departments that cover matters already covered by the States. Abolishing the Federal Depts. of Health and Education would hurt no-one and the DEA, OSHA, EPA (etc.) also overlap and could readily go too

Cowen, a George Mason University economist, argues that since colonial times the American economy has benefited from "low-hanging fruit"—i.e., bountiful opportunities for growth. He singles out three in particular: free land, technological breakthroughs, and "smart but uneducated kids."

"Yet during the last forty years," Cowen writes, "that low-hanging fruit started disappearing, and we started pretending it was still there. We have failed to recognize that we are at a technological plateau and the trees are more bare than we would like to think. That's it. That is what has gone wrong." Cowen identifies the exhaustion of that low-hanging fruit as the main culprit behind the slowdown in growth during recent decades, rising inequality, the nastiness of present-day politics, and even the recent global financial meltdown. Looking forward, he admits the possibility that innovation and growth will pick up again, perhaps catalyzed by the rise of China and India. Cultural change would help, he argues. Specifically, his chief prescription is that we somehow raise the social status of scientists.

Cowen is hardly the first boy to cry wolf. In previous periods of deep economic distress, other prognosticators have grabbed attention by claiming that innovation and growth are at long last winding down. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the "secular stagnationists," led by Keynesian economist Alvin Hansen, argued that falling population growth and dwindling prospects for technological progress meant that "mature" economies could combat chronic underinvestment and unemployment only through massive government spending. And during the stagflation of the 1970s, the Club of Rome and many others warned that ecological constraints were finally imposing "limits to growth." So here we are: another macroeconomic crisis, another gloomy prophet.

We should remember, however, that at the end of this story the wolf actually does come. So could Cowen be right this time?

He certainly is correct in identifying a poorly understood phenomenon of fundamental importance: Innovation and economic growth are getting harder. During the last few decades, rapid growth in the number of scientists, engineers, and researchers has not resulted in a corresponding acceleration of economic growth or new inventions. Indeed, the number of patents per researcher has been falling steadily. "In each industry the most obvious ideas are discovered first," explained Paul Segerstrom of the Stockholm School of Economics in a 1998 American Economic Review article, "making it harder to find new ideas subsequently."

Cowen is also right that a big source of relatively easy growth during the 20th century—investment in education—has been exhausted. In 1900 only 6 percent of American kids graduated high school, and only 0.25 percent went to college. The high school graduation rate peaked at roughly 80 percent in the late 1960s and has slipped a bit since, while some 40 percent of college-age kids are now in college. Moving these numbers upward without cutting standards further may be possible, but it certainly won't be easy, and in any event the biggest gains in improving educational attainment are likely behind us.

But there is another side of the coin. Yes, pursuing any particular avenue of scientific research or technological development yields diminishing returns. But it is often the case that advances in one area open up entirely new avenues of progress in others. To put it another way, we keep discovering previously hidden orchards of low-hanging fruit. The microelectronics revolution of the last half-century is a spectacular case in point: Continuing exponential growth in information processing capacity has made possible sweeping innovations in a host of industries unrelated to silicon chips. Looking ahead, exciting developments in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence promise future waves of revolutionary innovation.

Furthermore, even as growth gets harder, our institutions of wealth creation have improved. The number of scientists and researchers has grown, and their tools keep getting better. American corporations have undergone wrenching restructuring in recent decades to make them more innovative and responsive to change. On the whole, government policies today are much more favorable to entrepreneurship and innovation than they were a half-century ago. And continued progress on all these fronts remains possible.

How do these countervailing forces balance out? My reading of the evidence doesn't support Cowen's sweeping historical narrative that centuries of easy progress are now behind us. Much of the force of his argument comes from contrasting America's glittering economic performance in the decades following World War II with the decidedly less impressive record in recent decades. But if you zoom out and look at the larger historical record, Cowen's "Great Stagnation" more or less disappears. And if you zoom in and examine recent trends in detail, the numbers likewise belie the claim that we have hit a "technological plateau."

Cowen correctly points out that median family income rose smartly after World War II, only to fall off sharply in the 1970s. Per capita GDP figures reveal the same trend, albeit a little less dramatically (because of the rise in income inequality, which means most of the income gains have come among higher earners). Between 1950 and 1973, the average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita was 2.5 percent; for the period between 1973 and 2007, the corresponding figure was only 1.9 percent.



Leftist haters don't know what "depleted" means

Read the bit of paranoia below and you can see how hatred of the world you live in can anaesthetize your powers of thought. "Depeleted" uranium is of course uranium from which the radioactive component has been removed. But the sad souls below still refer to it as "radioactive"

By most accounts, the U.S. has embarked on another humanitarian war, and its fifth one, using depleted uranium. In this compelling 2004 study, geoscientist and radiation expert Leuren Moret paints a bold picture of the pervasive and devastating effects of this "silent killer that will not go away". However, beyond its much-touted military advantages, Moret suggests that depleted uranium serves as a deadly instrument for furthering Washington’s unavowed geo-strategic agenda, as in Libya today.

The use of depleted uranium weaponry by the United States, defying all international treaties, will slowly annihilate all species on earth including the human species, and yet this country continues to do so with full knowledge of its destructive potential.

Since 1991, the United States has staged four wars using depleted uranium weaponry, illegal under all international treaties, conventions and agreements, as well as under the US military law. The continued use of this illegal radioactive weaponry, which has already contaminated vast regions with low level radiation and will contaminate other parts of the world over time, is indeed a world affair and an international issue. The deeper purpose is revealed by comparing regions now contaminated with depleted uranium — from Egypt, the Middle East, Central Asia and the northern half of India — to the US geostrategic imperatives described in Zbigniew Brzezinski’s 1997 book The Grand Chessboard.

The fact is that the United States and its military partners have staged four nuclear wars, "slipping nukes under the wire" by using dirty bombs and dirty weapons in countries the US needs to control. Depleted uranium aerosols will permanently contaminate vast regions and slowly destroy the genetic future of populations living in those regions, where there are resources which the US must control, in order to establish and maintain American primacy


There is a tiny element of radioactivity left in DU but there is is a tiny element of radioactivity in lots of things -- granite, for instance. If the nutters above were in the real world they might perhaps have pointed to the fact that U-238 is a heavy metal and heavy metals have some health concerns surrounding them. But even the WHO (a UN body) has said that there is no evidence of adverse health effects from DU -- JR


Obama's dismal assumptions

President Obama’s speech on the fiscal crisis was not merely political. It was also highly ideological. Despite how counterintuitive it may seem to pursue an expansion of government spending while a good bit of the world is seeking a government “downsizing” (including much of Europe), President Obama’s proposals fit with what we know about him.

The governing philosophy that leads our President to these sorts of proposals has been identified by many different names. Statism, Marxism, Socialism – the Obama agenda arguably contains elements of all of these philosophies, and more.

But rather than trying to connect President Barack Obama to somebody else’s pre-established political philosophy, it’s useful to examine what appear to be the philosophical assumptions with which the President operates. Here are just a couple of the assumptions that currently seem to have engulfed the President:

“Government always know best” – President Barack Obama seems to have very little confidence in the abilities of private individuals and groups to solve problems, and seems to view individual liberty as a problem to be “managed.” Thus, no matter what the dilemma – the rising cost of healthcare, the collapse of American automobile companies, or a proliferation of “bullying” on school campuses – the President’s instinctive responses are almost always the same.

Form a commission. Convene a summit. Appoint a Czar. Set-up a new “department.” The President seems to assume that with more oversight and control, government will always act benevolently and in the “collective interests” of all, whereas private individuals and organizations are almost always suspected of acting selfishly and destructively.

This philosophical assumption was absolutely entailed in the President’s remarks about our fiscal crisis. While Congressman Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee Chairman proposed to expand competition in the healthcare markets as a means of reducing Medicare costs, an indignant President Obama would have nothing to do with the idea (as the Wall Street Journal pointed out the President stopped short of calling this idea “murderous”).

The only means by which entitlement spending on Medicare can be controlled, so far as President Obama is concerned, is to have all Medicare coverage decisions routed through an un-elected commission in Washington so as to eliminate “unnecessary” Medicare payments (this approach also re-affirms his previously stated belief that greedy medical doctors have a proclivity to bill Medicare for unnecessary procedures, simply because they want the money).

“Private resources ultimately belong to the government” – President Obama is well known for his “spread- the-wealth-around inclinations, given his now famous run-in with the “Joe the Plummer” character during the 2008 presidential campaign. What often goes unnoticed, however, is that he frequently speaks not merely of government’s “right” to re-distribute private wealth, but of government’s ultimate ownership of it.

This philosophical assumption was apparent in the President’s fiscal crisis speech as well. When discussing the taxation rates imposed upon America’s top income earners, President Obama insisted that America “can’t afford” to leave these rates in place. Both explicitly, and implicitly, the President was saying that our government incurs a cost, when it does NOT take money away from private individuals.

How can this be? The government “loses” money, when it does not take money away from private citizens? President Obama has been using this line of reasoning for nearly all of the twenty-eight months of his presidency. It ultimately points towards a belief that your money, at the end of the day, belongs to the government, and it’s up to agents of government to determine how much you’re permitted to “keep.”

The President’s philosophical assumptions are not merely a matter of politics. They are a part of who he is. Can America withstand this?



Krauthammer on the budget

The most serious charge against Rep. Paul Ryan's budget is not the risible claim, made most prominently by President Obama in his George Washington University address, that it would "sacrifice the America we believe in." The serious charge is that the Ryan plan fails by its own standards: Because it only cuts spending without raising taxes, it accumulates trillions of debt and doesn't balance the budget until the 2030s. If the debt is such a national emergency, they say, Ryan never really gets you there from here.

But the critics miss the point. You can't get there from here without Ryan's plan. It's the essential element. Of course Ryan is not going to propose tax increases. You don't need Republicans for that. That's what Democrats do. The president's speech was a prose poem to higher taxes – with every allusion to spending cuts guarded by a phalanx of impenetrable caveats.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


16 April, 2011

Budget Battle, Budget Prattle

Jonah Goldberg

I cannot remember a more depressing week in Washington. The Republicans boasted a heroic accomplishment: slashing $38.5 billion from the budget, purportedly the largest cuts in history. But the cake was made from sawdust. Strip away the gimmicks and shine a light on the shadows, and it turns out the real cuts amounted to $352 million, or less than 1 percent of what was promised.

America borrows $4 billion a day. So we likely borrowed more than we cut in the amount of time the GOP leadership spent bragging about its "victory."

It is a dismal, dreary, mope-inducing performance that makes one wonder what the point of the 2010 elections were. If this was the best deal possible, fine. Republicans control only one house of Congress, and you can only achieve what is achievable. But they should have said so, admitted it frankly, and sworn to do better. Instead, the leadership touted their salt cracker of a budget cut as a feast, causing many to doubt they really grasp what their own voters want.

But as depressing as the Republicans' performance was, at least they're fighting for the right cause, their sails pointed in the right direction. What can be said of President Obama's speech this week?

Vice President Joe Biden reportedly fell asleep during the president's address. It would speak better of the man if he closed his eyes not out of weariness but as part of a prolonged wince as he listened to his boss spew a farrago of distortions, self-righteous non sequiturs and ideological fatwas in the cause of extending his presidency at the expense of both the country and his honor.

Just two months ago, Obama introduced a $3.73 trillion budget that did nothing to address America's long-term fiscal problems and added $1.6 trillion in debt (an amount roughly equal to Bill Clinton's annual budgets). It was a great and glorious punt, a rhetorical can-kicking of historic proportions. But now the president throws his budget away, concedes the scope of our fiscal wound and then proposes applying a quack's poultice to heal it.

Entitlements, he admits, are gobbling up the budget; they must be "on the table." But even as he puts the plates on the table with one hand, he removes them with the other, insisting his cooks can save the meal with price controls and rationing.

And if that doesn't work, 12 years and three presidential terms from now, a series of fictional "failsafes" will kick in and some magical commission will genie-blink even more fictional cuts.

Obama prefers this to the Republican approach, which would introduce market forces into health care in order to save a calcified system from collapsing under the weight of state controls. Indeed, he couldn't even acknowledge this is the intent of Republican plan, preferring instead to recycle ancient barbs and insults about conservative cruelty and class warfare.

In a speech billed as being full of specifics, it had precious few save the president's passionate desire to raise taxes on "the wealthy." Rhetorically, Obama defines the "rich" as millionaires like himself or billionaires like Warren Buffet. But in reality he sets his sights considerably lower: households (and small businesses) that make more than $250,000 a year.

As for shared sacrifice, it is hard to find any in his proposal. Six out of 10 U.S. households receive more from the government than they pay in taxes. If "shared sacrifice" is the standing order of the day, where is theirs? The president suggests that repealing Bush's tax cuts will save the day. But the vast bulk of those cuts go to people making less than $250,000 a year. The president wants to keep those cuts as his idea while talking about shared sacrifice. Meanwhile, as The Wall Street Journal notes, if you taxed everyone who makes over $100,000 at a rate of 100 percent, you still wouldn't raise enough to balance president Obama's budget, never mind pay off any debt.

The only good news to come from all of this is that the battle is now joined. The president has staked his banner in the soil of reactionary liberalism. Good. By setting his fortifications so far to the left of the middle ground, he gives the forces of reform room to advance far.

The rank and file are ready for battle, with the tea parties at the forefront. The only question is whether the GOP's generals have the stomach for the fight. And that question raises as much dread as hope.



Obama Blows up the Bridge

"Rather than building bridges, he's poisoning wells," said Rep. Paul Ryan, after listening to Barack Obama's scathing attack on his deficit reduction plan as a shredding of America's social contract with the elderly and poor. Ryan is right. Yet, with Obama's partisan savagery, virtually calling the GOP plan immoral, we have clarity.

There will be no grand bipartisan bargain on taxes and spending. The two parties on Capitol Hill and the president will not be coming together to solve the gravest financial and fiscal crisis America has faced since the Great Depression. Between them today is a high wall and a deep ditch.

The heart of the Ryan plan is to turn Medicaid into block grants to the states, so each can decide for itself how best to use the funds, and to convert Medicare into a program where the U.S. government would provide citizens with the funds and freedom to chose whatever health insurance they wished to buy. Obama denounced both.

But if the Republican Medicare and Medicaid proposals are dead on arrival in Harry Reid's Senate and Obama's White House, Obama's plan to raise taxes is equally lifeless.

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe," this writer asked Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform exactly how many GOP members of the House had taken his pledge not to raise taxes. His response: "The commitment that 235 Republican members of the House and 40 Republicans in the Senate have signed is the Taxpayer Protection Pledge -- it says no raising taxes. So, taxes are off the table."

Seems clear. But if virtually every GOP member of the House and 40 GOP senators have signed a pledge not to raise taxes, how can they dishonor that pledge? How could they agree to raise the top U.S. income tax rate back up to the 40 percent of the Bill Clinton era, as Obama demands, then go home and tell voters they had no choice, that to get a deal with Reid and Obama they had to let the government take a larger share of the income of American citizens?

They cannot. Put bluntly, a vote by a Republican House to raise taxes as part of a big budget deal would be an act of collective suicide by the party of Speaker John Boehner.

And the Democrats? With the exception of the civil rights acts of the 1960s, no programs are more hallowed in party mythology than Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Are Democrats, after the "shellacking" of 2010, going to go home and tell their constituents they voted to cut Medicaid benefits?

Are they going to tell the old folks of the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation and the retiring baby boomers that Medicare in the future will not be as generous as it has been in the past, that we are going to have to start rationing their health care?

The new Republican governors -- Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio, Chris Christie in New Jersey, Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania -- all have resisted raising taxes, as has Andrew Cuomo, Democrat of New York, who enjoys remarkably high poll numbers for the times we live in.

The praise these governors are receiving, even when embattled, has also steeled the spine of congressional Republicans against any tax increase.

But if Democrats are not going to do even minor surgery on Medicare and Medicaid and Republicans are not going to raise taxes, there is no hope of big budget deal to cut a deficit now running at 11 percent of gross domestic product.

And that raises another question. How long can the Federal Reserve continue financing these deficits? China, choking on U.S. debt, is reportedly beginning to divest itself of U.S. bonds. Japan will need to sell U.S. bonds to get hard currency to repair the damage from the earthquake and tsunami. And the Fed is about to end its QE2 monthly purchases of $100 billion in U.S. bonds.

Where is the Fed going to borrow the $125 billion a month to finance this year's deficit of $1.65 trillion, and another of comparable size in 2012? Bill Gross' Pimco, the world's largest bond fund, has sold all his U.S. bonds and begun to short U.S. debt. Pimco is betting that the value of U.S. Treasury bonds will begin to fall.

We may be about to enter a maelstrom. No big budget deal is brokered. The deficit endures, and another looms in 2012. To finance them, the Fed borrows at the rate of $30 billion a week wherever it can. But as countries begin to choke on U.S. debt, the market starts to dry up. To attract investors, the Fed must raise interest rates, which sends bond prices sinking and forces interest rates up across the economy.

With interest rates rising, gas prices rising and inflation rising, the squeeze is on, and there is talk of a double-dip recession. And if that happens, Obama is toast. But, then, so are we.



The New Health Law: Bad for Doctors, Awful for Patients

While much has been said about the recently passed health care overhaul law and a multitude of cogent arguments have been made as to why the legislation must be repealed, lengthy debates have failed to adequately address how the 2,800 pages will prevent patients from receiving the medical care that they need and want. In fact, in some ways the federal government already hinders the ability of doctors to provide their patients with good care. These trends will no doubt worsen under PPACA. In addition, new regulations and mandates will place unaccountable regulators in between physicians and their patients.

Medicare’s physician reimbursement regimen is fraught with underpayments and perverse incentives. During the health care debate, supporters of PPACA praised Medicare’s ability to exploit its size to obtain lower fees with providers. While it is true that Medicare can bludgeon down physician fees, this is not one of the program’s greatest strengths, but actually one of its greatest weaknesses. These underpayments are ultimately shifted to patients in the form of shorter visits, less doctor face time, quick hospital discharges, and compromised care. Rather than reforming the government’s flawed reimbursement regimen, PPACA merely expands its scope to more people.

PPACA establishes the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to conduct research comparing the efficacy of medical and surgical interventions. The potential harm from this depends how it is used.

Federal regulators could easily use this research to ration care by financially punishing physicians prescribing these “less effective” treatments. This research coupled with reimbursement changes could easily pave the way for the government dictating to patients the medicines, tests, and procedures that they can and cannot have, regardless of willingness to pay and personal preference. This would replace the professional judgment of physicians with rigid rules set by regulators in Washington DC. This one-size-fits-all approach will limit choice and result in poor quality care.

The soon-to-be established health insurance exchanges will also give the federal government vast new control over physician practices. PPACA states that starting January 1, 2015, a qualified health plan can contract with a provider “only if such provider implements such mechanisms to improve health care quality as the Secretary may by regulation require.” Depending on the guidelines, this gives the federal government unprecedented new authority over not just those physicians accepting Medicare and Medicaid, but any provider accepting any third party payer offered through the exchange. Of course quality care is a good thing, but who should determine the definition of “quality?’ Who knows best? This regulation seems to be based on the notion that bureaucrats at HHS from afar know better than the doctor actually talking to and examining the patient. This will coerce physicians to practice medicine not the way they were taught, but the way the government tells them. Ultimately, this too will lead to poor quality, standardized care and restrict choice.

PPACA will strip away physician autonomy, drown doctors in bureaucracy, and drain job satisfaction. As the profession deteriorates, older doctors will retire while younger doctors will look to switch careers. Many young people considering a career in medicine will pursue other opportunities. The supply of providers will dwindle as demand for services reaches an all-time high. Ultimately, the consequences of the health overhaul law will be passed along to patients through restricted access, long wait for appointments, and rationed care.

The United States boasts the world’s premier health care system. With that said, of course there is room for improvement and efforts must be implemented to control spiraling costs. A better prescription for reform would be to build off the success of the current system while targeting its inevitable shortcomings.

Ultimately, there are only two ways to lower costs. One approach empowers bureaucrats to make tough decisions for doctors and patients. This has grave ramifications on quality of care and choice.

Unfortunately, the administration chose to pursue this route. Yet, patients would be better served if doctors were held more accountable by transparency and choice, rather than bureaucratic fiat. A more practical approach to lowering costs empowers and incentivizes patients to be smarter health care consumers. This entails solutions such as expanding health savings accounts, creating a national market for health insurance, and leveling the tax playing field. These could bend the cost curve down while simultaneously strengthening the patient-doctor relationship.

The time has come for a long-overdue, honest discussion on not just the impact that government will have on patients, doctors, and the practice of medicine, but the impact it already has had over the past forty-five years. The importance cannot be undersold as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is indeed bad for doctors, but it is always the patient that suffers the most.




End the war on dying cancer patients: "Stopping all war is not just something we need to do in the Middle East. It is something we need just as badly here at home. When I say 'stop all war,' I’m not just talking about the bombing and fighting overseas; I’m talking about the wars that the U.S. Government wages against its very own citizens. I am talking about how bureaucrats kill Americans, not with guns and bombs, but with laws and regulations."

UN: More than thirty killed in Iraqi raid on Iranian Communists: "An Iraqi army raid last week on Camp Ashraf left 34 Iranian exiles dead, according to a U.N. spokesman who on Thursday offered the first independent death toll for the attack that drew sharp rebukes from Baghdad's Western allies. The April 8 raid targeted the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, which seeks to overthrow Iran's clerical leaders"

Class warfare: "In his speech yesterday, Obama brought up income inequality to justify higher taxes on the rich: 'In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working Americans actually declined. The top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. And that’s who needs to pay less taxes?' But even if the numbers are accurate, Obama portrays a much more divided America that really exists, because ... today’s top income earners today are often completely different people from yesterday’s top income earners."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


15 April, 2011

Do the Scriptures need interpreting?

As an atheist I of course have no religious interest in the scriptures but I was for many years paid a lot of money by a leading Australian university to teach sociology so I hope I may be excused for taking a sociological interest in them.

My interest is very much motivated by the historic power of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. They have been enormously influentual and I like to look at why. And in looking at why it seems important to see exactly what they say. So for a while I ran a daily Scripture blog which pointed out what they actually say -- and observed that what they say is a long way from what Christians generally believe today.

It was the Christianity of the first century that gave the huge initial impetus to the worldwide spead of Chistianity in subsequent centuries so it would seem to be that version of Christianity which is of greatest interest -- rather that the watered-down and paganized version we encounter today. And it is first century Christianity that is recorded in the Bible.

And my Scripture blog gave chapter and verse (as it were) in showing exactly where current Christianity is paganized and watered down from the first century original. And the fact that Christianity still has great influence despite being paganized and watered down is surely further testimony to the great power of the original. Even a little bit of the original Gospel is still helpful to many people.

Something that I have so far neglected to do, however, is to look at the claim made by the Catholic Church and some orthodox Jews (such as the aggressive Mr Kelley) to the effect that the Bible is THEIR book and only they can interpret it correctly. The Protestant Reformation was of course built around rejection of that claim. Most of the early Protestants said that they could read the Bible for themselves perfectly adequately and rejected any need for authoritative or learned interpretation.

I am a product of fundamentalist Protestant culture so that basic Protestant idea seems instinctively right to me. I am however a little saddened when I note that most Protestants talk the talk but don't walk the walk. Most Protestants still accept, for instance the quite mad doctrine of the triune God, which has absolutely no basis in scripture but which revives the doctrines of ancient Egypt rather well. The first person of influence to advocate it was Athanasius, an Egyptian. So I like to see what we find when we do walk the walk.

And it is my contention that the Bible is in fact very straightforward most of the time and that it therefore CAN easily be read and understood by almost everyone -- without any need for guidance from special authorities. But my asserting that is of little consequence unless I can give evidence of it. And I thought that I might today make a small start in that direction by comparing two historic pieces of religious expression. The first:
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.... Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest

The second:
Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.

As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's Predestination, is a most dangerous downfal, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.

Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.

It is my submission that the first is as clear as crystal and the second is as clear as mud. So what are those passages? The first is from the Bible (Ecclesiastes 9) and the second is from the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of England. The Bible beats theology any day.

But the Bible is TOO clear for most people. Ecclesiastes could hardly have expressed more plainly and emphatically that when you are dead you are dead: No mention of immortal souls flitting about. So that is when people start scrabbling for "interpretations". They say (for instance) that the Ecclesisstes passage is only talking about the body and that there is some mystical "soul" that lives on as well.

And if people need the comfort of that belief so be it. But the original teaching is clear. The Hebrews of Old Testament times were earth-oriented and the only aferlife they looked forward to was resurrection to life on earth at the time of the coming of the Messiah. And Jesus believed that too: "Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done ON EARTH, as it is in heaven".

So it's not the Bible that needs interpretation; it is the reluctance of people to accept its teachings that gives rise to the need for interpretation.

And the passage above from the 39 articles is an example of that too. It is an attempt to reject the plain words of Ephesians chapter 1 while appearing to accept them. Ephesians says quite plainly that being one of God's chosen ones was "predestined" from "before the foundation of the world", which no doubt seems rather unfair. At the time the Calvinists (mostly Scottish Presbyterians) accepted that but the Anglicans didn't like it, presumably because it made their sacraments look rather superfluous.

And that applies equally well to Jews and Christians. The following command in the Torah (Leviticus 20:13) is crystal clear: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." But Rabbinical teachings have "interpreted" that out of existence too.


Those heartless Israelis

Wait for it

Is there anything lower than a Palestinian?


Leftist pro-Palestinian activist finally gets a lesson in reality that he can't ignore

A SALAFIST group of radical Islamists killed an Italian activist after kidnapping him in Gaza, a Hamas security official said today. "The Italian was killed by suffocation and his body was found in a street of the city of Gaza," a spokesman for the Islamist movement which controls the Gaza Strip said.

Foreign aid workers in the enclave earlier named the man as Vittorio Arrigoni and said he was an activist with a pro-Palestinian group called the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who was also working as a journalist and writer.



Vocal critic of the US intervention in Iraq convicted of sex offense

He always seemed like a weak character. Now we know

A FORMER UN weapons inspector has been convicted of having unlawful contact with a minor, after being nabbed in an online sex sting. Scott Ritter, 49, exchanged explicit messages with a detective posing as a 15-year-old girl and masturbated even after the undercover officer stressed during the chat that he was a minor, prosecutors said.

A jury in the US state of Pennsylvania found Ritter guilty on six counts today, with sentencing set for next month.

Mr Kohlman acknowledged in his closing argument that jurors were likely "troubled and offended" by the graphic chat and video of Ritter that prosecutors played to the court, but said they were required to put aside their personal distaste because "this is not a referendum on whether anybody in the courtroom approves of adult chat rooms".

After the verdict, Assistant District Attorney Michael Rakaczewski said the jury reached the right decision. "They saw the case for what it is and the defendant for what he is and what he did," he said.

Ritter was one of the UN's chief weapons inspectors in Iraq from 1991 to 1998.



Meet My Benefactor

By pure luck, I happened to sit down next to a man last week who has been my benefactor for my entire life and the large part of his, and yet we had never met. In fact, though he has been serving me faithfully for three decades, looking after my well-being and trying to improve my standard of living, he didn't even know my name. Actually he still doesn't, because it is slightly odd to get too personal with the guy in the next seat on a plane. We all know this. And yet I did tell him of my deep gratitude for all he has done.

This man is in charge of marketing for one of six manufacturing plants in North America that makes oriented polypropylene for packaging materials. This substance is called OPP for short. He goes around to companies that make stuff like drinks and candies and other products and explains to them the advantages of OPP — about which more in a bit.

This man is on the road constantly and has a stack of airline-rewards cards to prove it. He is like the George Clooney character in the movie Up in the Air — a seasoned traveler married to his work. His work is to be the eyes and ears of the company as it deals with its product purchasers. His life is lived in the B2B — the business-to-business transactions that are invisible to the consuming public.

His vocabulary is industry specific, filled with neologisms that no one outside of the packaging world could understand. He can tell you the chemical properties of a bag from five feet away. He can explain why a bag is easier to tear one way and harder the other. He knows the history, the process, the competition, plus the name of every large-scale bag-purchasing manager in North America, and he is happy to talk about it all.

What is his function? He is the man who makes the inventions and the productions part of our lives. Without the person on the front lines actually selling the product, everything that went into the invention and production is pointless. He is the interface between the raw materials and the final product, the man who has to have all the answers that link the great chain of the structure of production from first to last.

As for his product, you and I both know OPP well, though we probably didn't know what it is called. It is the stuff that is used to make potato-chip bags. It is the reason that the contents stay crisp no matter what the temperature outside. You can dip the bag in water and it changes nothing. The air can be hot or cold, and still the chips inside are unchanged. The same material wraps candy like Snickers and the effect is the same.

It is also the reason that these bags can be so beautiful. OPP loves printing. It is a perfect template for designers. The results never rub off on your fingers. Nor does the printing fade in the sun. It can accept even the most subtle gradations in color. You could print a work of Michelangelo on OPP and hang it in a museum.

It turns out that potatoes fried in oil are super vulnerable to becoming rancid. Maybe you thought it was chemical preservatives (up with those too!) that prevented this. That is part of the answer but not the whole answer. The real reason is OPP. This is what stops the degenerative process. This is not a problem for other fried items, like pork rinds, which is why they often come in see-through bags. OPP is not see-through, and that is good. The product inside doesn't like the light. OPP keeps that out too.

OPP has other nice features. It has a very low "dead-fold" capacity, which is why, when you wad up a potato chip bag, it bounces right back to its original shape. This is to protect the contents inside. That's why, in the 1960s, potato chips came with crumbled contents but today they are mostly intact and perfect. You thought it was just because it was filled with air? Well, ask yourself why the air doesn't escape. The answer again: OPP. It seals perfectly. This stuff is impenetrable.

And get this: this is a petroleum product. That's right, it is made of a material derived from oil. So the price of the stuff fluctuates according to the price of oil. When the price of oil goes up, your chips become more expensive, due mainly to the packaging, which is also why the OPP industry is firmly attached to the idea of liberalizing the regulations on the discovery and refining of oil. My benefactor marketing manager is very interested in this.

Now, all of this is pretty cool and wonderful. But let's get down to the core rationale here. What is all the fuss about? Why was OPP invented, and why is it marketed, and why it is used so much around the world? Why does this man spend his life on the road and follow every bit of industry news? What is the point of all of this?

It is for one reason: my well-being. Yours too. It is to please us and make our lives that much better. It is for the consumer that the producer produces, and it is for the consumer that everyone in all stages of production strives to make an ever-better product. It all comes down to that bag of chips you pick up with your submarine sandwich. This is why millions of people in the OPP industry around the world dance the dance. It is why the potatoes are grown, chopped, fried, bagged, and shipped to millions and millions of places.

The heck of it is that these people get no credit. No bag of chips says: this bag is made by Joe's OPP factory. No, they are anonymous benefactors of society. Hardly anyone thinks of them. And yet, if you bought a bag of chips that is full of rancid crumbs, you would know the difference. You would be annoyed at the store that sold them, at the company that made them, and maybe even at the economic system that allows people to profit from selling bad stuff. Private OPP producers prevent this from happening, millions and millions of times per day.

You and I are running this show, and we didn't even know it. The producers of these bags are serving us slavishly every day, and we don't know or care. And somehow it all happens without a central planner, without government mandates, and without state-owned factories or smart people at the top directing the process from beginning to end. All that needs to take place to bring about this complex and brilliant system is that we have to have a desire: a desire for a good potato chip. The rest happens on its own — a self-managing system that responds to the tiniest of signals.

So, I would like to send a message to my benefactor who has devoted his life to explaining to food producers the merits of OPP. My message is, thank you. I suspect that I might be the first consumer who has ever said so, but in my ideal world, billions of people would be giving thanks to you and everyone else like you. You are all servants of the great cause of making the world a better place to live.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


14 April, 2011

The myth of 'Herbert Hoover economics'

Leftist dishonesty knows no bounds. They reverse history

by Jeff Jacoby

TO CONVEY THEIR DISDAIN for the ongoing Republican pressure to reduce federal spending -- pressure that led to the recent agreement with President Obama for $38 billion in cuts in the current fiscal year -- critics have been reaching back eight decades for what they seem to regard as the ultimate in fiscal put-downs.

"Watching the debate in Washington," write Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift in a recent column, "it's like Herbert Hoover versus John Maynard Keynes, and sadly Hoover is winning." Hoover, they explain, "was curiously passive" in the face of the Great Depression and "he responded with a renewed focus on balancing the budget."

Populist Jim Hightower blasts Republicans for enabling Hoover to make "what looks to be a full comeback to power," complete with a return to Hoover's economic prescription: "Insist on reducing the size and spending of governments. . . . 'The deficit is the devil,' cry the New Hooverites, as they wildly slash spending and try to kill federal programs."

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof asserts that "one of the most basic principles of economics is that when an economy is anemic, governments should use deficit spending as a fiscal stimulus." A lawmaker who "believes that the response to a weak economy is to slash spending," he says, "is embracing the approach that Herbert Hoover discredited 80 years ago." Last month, Kristof's colleague Paul Krugman scorned House Speaker John Boehner "for declaring that since families were suffering, the government should tighten its own belt." That, Krugman snorted, is "Herbert Hoover economics."

If there is one thing most people have learned about Herbert Hoover, it is that his timid response to the financial crisis of 1929 brought on the Great Depression. Instead of slashing federal spending and clinging to laissez-faire economics, the received wisdom goes, Hoover should have done just the opposite: plowed more money into the economy, relying on deficit spending to stimulate growth.

The only thing wrong with that narrative is that federal spending under Hoover didn't plummet. It went through the roof.

Hoover was sworn in as the 31st president of the United States on March 4, 1929. By the time his term ended four years later, federal outlays had climbed more than 50 percent in dollar terms; they had almost doubled when measured in purchasing power; and they had tripled as a fraction of national income. "If stimulus is the solution to high unemployment," remarks Santa Clara University economist and law professor David Friedman, "the Great Depression should have ended almost before it began."

Following the Wall Street crash of 1929, the Hoover administration went into spending overdrive. Real federal expenditures climbed by 4.7 percent between 1928 and 1929, but over the next three years they rose, respectively, 8 percent, 17.2 percent, and 15.7 percent. Exclude military outlays, and spending under Hoover exploded by a phenomenal 259 percent. Looking back at the federal government's growth during the 1920s, economist Randall Holcombe points out that in percentage terms, expenditures grew more in the four Hoover years than they would during the first seven years of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency.

FDR is remembered today, of course, for the vast expansions of the New Deal. But as the Democratic standard-bearer in 1932, he lacerated Hoover as a big-spending Republican. "For three long years," Roosevelt said in accepting his party's nomination, "I have been going up and down this country preaching that government . . . costs too much. I shall not stop that preaching."

Stop that preaching he didn't. He accused Hoover of presiding over "the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all our history . . . an administration that has piled bureau on bureau, commission on commission." He slammed the Republican's record of "reckless and extravagant" spending, and of thinking "that we ought to center control of everything in Washington as rapidly as possible." He mocked those who thought "a huge expenditure of public funds" was the best way to grow the economy of succumbing "to the illusions of economic magic." His running mate, Texas Congressman John Nance Garner, even warned that Hoover was "leading the country down the path of socialism."

For his own part, said FDR, "I ask you very simply to assign to me the task of reducing the annual operating expenses of your national government." Indeed, he promised to enforce "absolute loyalty to the Democratic platform and especially to its economy plank." That plank called for "an immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures by . . . not less than 25 per cent."

In its zeal to cut today's multi-trillion-dollar budgets, the GOP is certainly fair game for critics. But those critics might want to think twice before blasting contemporary Republicans for their Hooverian impulses. Herbert Hoover can be fairly faulted for many things, but rolling back the federal budget isn't one of them.



The hot air administration

On 12.3.2009 Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that "revving up the economy and get companies to start creating jobs again was Job No.1" The article can be found here. During the ensuing 2 years the federal government was the primary creator of jobs and those jobs, due to the project centric nature of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act were transitory in nature. In other words the job only existed during the duration of the project. Now that most of those projects are winding down, it should be expected that those jobs will be eliminated. Once that occurs, unemployment will revert to an essentially unchanged level at the mid 9% range or higher.

On 3.10.11 Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that President Obama's administration was "focused like a laser beam" on gas prices. The article can be found here. The article goes on to say that in Thursday of that week gas was at $3.59. In February it had been $3.17 and in March of 2010 the price had been $2.76. As I write this 4/12 the price is $4.00. Three months before the last election, then Senator Obama called for release of fuel from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which had recently reached $4.11. The source can be found here. So I don't get it, if he is focused like a laser beam, he makes several speeches over a two week period that have no effect, he doesn't take the action that he advocated a previous President take and then he moves on with no effect to show for the effort.

To some extent President Obama is our creation. We as a people, and here I am stereotyping, have attention spans comparable to gerbils. Our ADD President was hired by us primarily because of his ability to entertain us not because of his track record of doing anything. Did we really expect that a Senator whose major accomplishment during his tenure in Illinois was to vote "present" was going to suddenly learn to roll up his sleeves and stick with problems until they are resolved?

If past behavior is indicative of future behavior, what behavior and results should we expect from this President? I think today's announcement by Michelle Obama is a good case in point. The template seems to be that a close advisor (Treasury Secretary, Transportation Secretary, First Lady) makes an announcement that some issue pressing to the populace has risen to the President's attention (Unemployment, Oil Prices, The state of military families). The President then makes a speech or speeches indicating that 1) He feels our pain 2) He will make it a high priority (Job No.1, Focus like a laser etc.). The "focus" and by this I mean speeches, last for about two weeks and then he moves on to NOT solve another problem.

I've given you examples from the past, I gave you an example from the present, now let me predict the future. In the next few days some close advisor to the President will announce that it has come to the attention of the President that the Federal Debt, associated interest payments and tax burden are strapping middle-class and poor people. That the President will focus like a laser on this problem. For two weeks (until the Federal Debt Ceiling is raising by another Trillion dollars) we will hear speeches indicating his knowledge and caring on the problem, how he is "rolling up his sleeves" and "locking arms with Republicans" and other such crap and then our attention will wane and he will move on.



The Fed Obliterates the Savings Ethic

Depression babies learned early that "saving for a rainy day" was not something one hopes to do but a requirement. The saying originated when most people worked on the farm. And when it rained, the fields were too wet to plow, and the farmer — not to mention the hired hands — made no money.

Of course, my grandfather was the diligent sort who would use rainy days to do required maintenance on his implements, noting with derision other farmers who spent rainy days at the bar in town. He believed they would surely end up with broken equipment when the sun would reappear, keeping them from making hay.

So the idea of savings is not necessarily the return one receives on the money that's socked away, but the piece of mind that, when the weather doesn't cooperate, the saver has a little stash to tide him over. Of course, the vast majority of us don't have to worry about the weather.

But an economic storm hit a couple years ago and plenty of people have not had work, rain or shine. Those who took heed of that old saw have no doubt weathered the storm better than those who didn't. Most financial advisors recommend that a person have three month's worth of living expenses saved — and some say six months worth, just in case. But how many people heed that advice?

There is no caveat to the counsel that says, "Keep six months of savings around if the money is earning at least six percent." Even if the money sits there all shiny, not earning a thing, it's the liquidity and insurance against the unknown that's the issue.

Unfortunately, a central bank's debauchery of the currency serves to raise people's time preferences and impair their judgment. In a blog post recently, I highlighted the advice of life coach and author John P. Strelecky, who advises people to spend their tax refunds on an experience they will remember forever, rather than saving the few hundred or thousand dollars that the IRS may be giving back.

Live your life for today, says the life coach — a couple thousand bucks isn't going to matter anyway. I posted to the Mises Blog to point out how ludicrous this advice is. But most who commented sided with Strelecky:
I think his advice is spot-on, at least given the constraints of the times in which we live. What's the point in saving if inflation will ravage whatever you manage to accumulate?

You play by the rules of the game. Your savings growth will be puny due to pathetic interest rates, erased by inflation, and confiscated by a rapacious state. So go ahead, enjoy the "money" now, while it still has some value.

Most people don't really have a better place to put the money than into a pleasurable experience, which is all you will want in the end.

Gotta agree with the comments. Maybe not trips or other "experiences." But I feel safer with stuff than I do with Federal Reserve notes going forward.

That's just what central bankers like to hear. They are worried about deflation. A few months ago, the Chicago Fed's Charles Evans said,
It seems to me if we could somehow get lower real interest rates so that the amount of excess savings that is taking place relative to investment is lowered, that would be one channel for stimulating the economy.

Lord Keynes was constantly worried that people were saving too much and consuming too little — thus the need for more and cheaper money to stimulate the economy. Mr. Bernanke is nothing if not a good Keynesian, and his low rates make even the savviest question whether to forgo consumption.

And likely no retiree, when contemplating leaving the workforce, figured 1 percent interest rates (or less) into their retirement cash-flow planning. In a front-page article, the Wall Street Journal took a look at "retirees who find themselves on the wrong end of the Federal Reserve's epic attempt to rescue the economy with cheap money."

The WSJ rightly points out that the Fed's low rates have been a windfall for banks and borrowers, but a problem for those needing income from their savings to live on. People who thought they played the game right, worked hard, saved money, and now want to take it easy, are panicked that money-market funds are throwing off but 24 basis points. "That's one-tenth the level of late 2007 and the lowest on records dating back to 1959," the Journal reports.

As bad as the Fed-engineered low rates are for those trying to live off past savings, reporter Mark Whitehouse makes the point that the low rates keep young people from building up funds for the future — whether it's for emergencies or retirement. Working Americans put less money into financial assets last year than at anytime on record — except 2009, when people pulled money out. And while the Department of Commerce says the personal savings rate has risen to 5.8 percent, Whitehouse explains, "That's in large part because it counts reductions in personal debt, such as mortgages and credit-card balances, as savings." But most debt reduction, Whitehouse writes, has been driven by defaults, rather than saving.

The Fed's interest-rate policy also leads people into taking more risk with their savings than they should. "That's why most of us are in the stock market, because there's no place else to go," says 70-year-old John Lehman, who would rather have his money in bank certificates of deposit but must resort to speculating. "I hope my assets don't run out before I die."

Many retire with next to nothing as it is. According to AARP, 16 percent of Americans have not saved a dime for retirement, and nearly half have saved less than $50,000.

Those with no savings are more dependent on government and others when the unexpected occurs, whether it's job loss or the washing machine quits. Professor Paul Cantor reminds us in his article, "Hyperinflation and Hyperreality: Mann's 'Disorder and Early Sorrow,'" that "money is a central source of stability, continuity, and coherence in any community. Hence to tamper with the basic money supply is to tamper with a community's sense of value."

When the Fed makes saving seem futile and immediate pleasure seem rational, the world has been diabolically turned upside down. Just one step away from hyperinflation, the central banks' actions are threatening "to undermine and dissolve all sense of value in a society."

"Thus inflation serves to heighten the already frantic pace of modern life, further disorienting people and undermining whatever sense of stability they may still have," Cantor explains.

The social order is upended in Mann's story as wealth is transferred from those who diligently saved all of their lives to speculators. As it was in the Weimar Germany that Mann describes, so it is today, as people believe it futile to sock away a little money here and there, and instead feel compelled to either speculate or just blow what they have on good times.

And while the retirees mentioned in the WSJ article are being crippled financially, Cantor points out that Mann's portrayal of hyperinflation uncovers "something psychologically more debilitating happening to the older generation." Impetuous, high-time-preference behavior displayed by the young appears rational in an inflationary period, while prudence and conservatism appear to be not even quaint but downright silly.

As Mann described so long ago, the world of inflation is the illusion of wealth, created by the government's printing press, distorting everything we see and perverting our judgment. Meanwhile the cry for stimulus continues, while our culture and values are buried under a pile of paper.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


13 April, 2011

Obama admin. won’t interrogate top Al Qaeda terrorist

Late last month I asked, who will interrogate top al Qaeda terrorist Umar Patek? Patek, who was captured in Pakistan, is wanted for his role in the 2002 Bali bombings, among other attacks and plots. He is easily one of the most important international terrorists captured in the past few years. Indeed, Marc Thiessen argued that Patek is the “biggest terrorist catch of the Obama era.”

The problem is that the U.S. has no clear policy for detaining and interrogating terrorists such as Patek. President Obama ordered Guantanamo shuttered as one of his first acts in office. That hasn’t happened, but the administration isn’t going to send any new detainees to Cuba any way. And Obama closed down the CIA’s interrogation program, with little concern for what would replace it.

Ken Dilanian of the Los Angeles Times reports on the result of Obama’s new detention and interrogation policies, or lack thereof
He's considered one of world's most dangerous terrorism suspects, and the U.S. offered a $1-million reward for his capture in 2005. Intelligence experts say he's a master bomb maker and extremist leader who possesses a wealth of information about Al Qaeda-linked groups in Southeast Asia.

Yet the U.S. has made no move to interrogate or seek custody of Indonesian militant Umar Patek since he was apprehended this year by officials in Pakistan with the help of a CIA tip, U.S. and Pakistani officials say.

Patek undoubtedly has vital information on al Qaeda’s operations in Southeast Asia. He was in Pakistan for a reason, too. Patek was likely meeting with senior al Qaeda leaders there. And, as Thiessen pointed out, there are reports that Patek visited Yemen, where he may have met with al Qaeda’s most prolific branch of late – al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

In other words, Patek is just the sort of terrorist American officials should be questioning. He has worked with terrorists around the globe and can provide unique insights into the current state of the terror network. But instead of questioning Patek ourselves, the Obama administration is outsourcing the job.

The Los Angeles Times report continues:
Pakistani officials say they plan to deliver Patek to authorities in Indonesia, where he is wanted in the Bali case. Although seven Americans were among those killed in the bombings, no U.S. criminal charges are pending against him, a senior Justice Department official said.

A Pakistani intelligence source said no one from the CIA or any other U.S. agency had asked to question Patek.

U.S. officials say they expect the CIA will be given access to intelligence gleaned from Indonesia's interrogations of Patek, and may even be allowed to sit in and provide guidance, given the close ties between U.S. and Indonesian counter-terrorism officials.



Raising tax rates on the rich will NOT get the government more money

I've often said that I wish there were some humane way to get rid of the rich. If you asked why, I'd answer that getting rid of the rich would save us from distraction by leftist hustlers promoting the politics of envy. Not having the rich to fret over might enable us to better focus our energies on what's in the best interest of the 99.99 percent of the rest of us. Let's look at some facts about the rich laid out by Bill Whittle citing statistics on his RealClearPolitics video "Eat the Rich."

This year, Congress will spend $3.7 trillion dollars. That turns out to be about $10 billion per day. Can we prey upon the rich to cough up the money? According to IRS statistics, roughly 2 percent of U.S. households have an income of $250,000 and above. By the way, $250,000 per year hardly qualifies one as being rich. It's not even yacht and Learjet money. All told, households earning $250,000 and above account for 25 percent, or $1.97 trillion, of the nearly $8 trillion of total household income. If Congress imposed a 100 percent tax, taking all earnings above $250,000 per year, it would yield the princely sum of $1.4 trillion. That would keep the government running for 141 days, but there's a problem because there are 224 more days left in the year.

How about corporate profits to fill the gap? Fortune 500 companies earn nearly $400 billion in profits. Since leftists think profits are little less than theft and greed, Congress might confiscate these ill-gotten gains so that they can be returned to their rightful owners. Taking corporate profits would keep the government running for another 40 days, but that along with confiscating all income above $250,000 would only get us to the end of June. Congress must search elsewhere.

According to Forbes 400, America has 400 billionaires with a combined net worth of $1.3 trillion. Congress could confiscate their stocks and bonds, and force them to sell their businesses, yachts, airplanes, mansions and jewelry. The problem is that after fleecing the rich of their income and net worth, and the Fortune 500 corporations of their profits, it would only get us to mid-August. The fact of the matter is there are not enough rich people to come anywhere close to satisfying Congress' voracious spending appetite. They're going to have to go after the non-rich.

But let's stick with the rich and ask a few questions. Politicians, news media people and leftists in general entertain what economists call a zero elasticity view of the world. That's just fancy economic jargon for a view that government can impose a tax and people will behave after the tax just as they behaved before the tax, and the only change is more government revenue. One example of that vision, at the state and local levels of government, is the disappointing results of confiscatory tobacco taxes. Confiscatory tobacco taxes have often led to less state and local revenue because those taxes encouraged smuggling.

Similarly, when government taxes profits, corporations report fewer profits and greater costs. When individuals face higher income taxes, they report less income, buy tax shelters and hide their money. It's not just rich people who try to avoid taxes, but all of us -- liberals, conservatives and libertarians.

What's the evidence? Federal tax collections have been between 15 and 20 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product every year since 1960. However, between 1960 and today, the top marginal tax rate has varied between 91 percent and 35 percent. That means whether taxes are high or low, people make adjustments in their economic behavior so as to keep the government tax take at 15 to 20 percent of the GDP. Differences in tax rates have a far greater impact on economic growth than federal revenues.

So far as Congress' ability to prey on the rich, we must keep in mind that rich people didn't become rich by being stupid.



Get politics out of tax policy

Someone once said that taxes are the price we pay for civilization. That may have been true when he said it, but today taxes are mostly the price we pay so that politicians can play Santa Claus and get reelected.

That's not the worst of it. We may think of taxes as just a source of government revenue. But tax rates are a big political statement on the Left, whether they bring in any revenue or not.

For more than 80 years, the political left has opposed what they call "tax cuts for the rich." But big cuts in very high tax rates ended up bringing in MORE revenue to the government in the Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan and Bush 43 administrations. This included more – repeat, more – tax revenue from people in the highest income brackets than before.

That was because high-income people took their money out of tax shelters like municipal bonds and invested where they could get a higher rate of return, after these returns were not being taxed as much. This has happened repeatedly, over so many decades, in administrations of both parties, that you might think this would put an end to the "tax cuts for the rich" demagoguery.

But the same rhetoric that "progressives" like Senator Bob La Follette used against tax cuts in the 1920s is still going strong in the 21st century. When you point out to today's "progressives" that "the rich" paid more total tax revenue to the government after what were called "tax cuts for the rich," that doesn't make a dent.

After all, "the rich" paid that larger sum of taxes only because their incomes had risen. Their paying a higher share of all taxes doesn't matter to the "progressives," who see high tax rates as a way to take a bigger bite out of the incomes of higher-income people, not just provide more revenue to the government.

Tax rates are meant to make an ideological statement and promote class-warfare politics, not just bring in revenue.

There has been much indignation on the left over the recent news that General Electric paid no taxes, despite its large amounts of profit. But another way of looking at this is that high tax rates on paper do not mean high tax revenues for the government.
The liberal answer to budget deficits is almost always to raise tax rates on "the rich," to bring in more revenue. The fact that higher tax rates have often brought in less revenue than before is simply ignored.

Our corporate tax rates are higher than in many other countries. That may have something to do with the fact that many American corporations (including General Electric) expand their operations in many other countries, providing jobs – and tax revenues – in those other countries.

But high-tax ideologues don't see it that way. They would be horrified at the idea that we ought to lower our corporate tax rates, just so that more American businesses would do more of their business at home, providing more Americans with much-needed jobs.

To ideologues, that is just a cop-out from the class-warfare battle. It is far more important to them to score their political points against "the rich" or "Wall Street" than that a few million more Americans out of work would be able to find jobs.

The idealism of the Left is a very selfish idealism. In their war against "the rich" and big business, they don't care how much collateral damage there is to workers who end up unemployed.

It so happens that many – if not most – of those called "the rich" are not rich and many, if not most, of those called "the poor" are not poor. They are people who happen to be in a particular part of the income stream as of a given moment in their lives when statistics are collected.

Internal Revenue Service data show that the income of people who were in the lowest income tax bracket in 1996 rose by 91 percent by 2005. But people in the "top one percent" had their incomes drop by 26 percent in those same years.

There is nothing complicated about this. Most people simply start at the bottom when they are young and their pay rises as they get more experience. Most people in the top one percent are there for only a single year when they happen to have a spike in income. They too are not an enduring class.

The time is long overdue to start thinking about taxes as sources of revenue, not as ways of making political statements.



Boehner Wins Vital Concessions

Speaker John Boehner extracted more budget concessions from President Obama and the Democrats than was at first evident when the deal was announced last week.

Not only did he squeeze nearly $40 billion out of this fiscal year's remaining budget, but also another $40 billion in increases Obama had proposed for agency budgets that Congress never agreed to accept.

The deal Boehner negotiated for fiscal 2011 means that spending this year will be $78.5 billion less than what Obama requested last year from the Democratic-run Congress, which failed to enact any budget. In one key respect, Boehner and the Republicans did what the Democrats irresponsibly refused to do -- cut spending.

While these sums pale in the face of a $3.7 trillion annual budget, that is running a record $1.6 trillion deficit and $14 trillion in debt, the GOP's interim victory has thrown Obama and the Democrats on the defensive as they enter a critical two-year presidential election cycle, with Obama's job approval scores falling dangerously into the mid-40s, and 23 Senate Democrats -- a number of whom are vulnerable -- up for re-election next year.

Obama, who proudly called Boehner's budget deal "the largest spending cut in our history," is turning himself into what Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz called "a born-again budget cutter."

In the aftermath of the deal, the White House was scrambling to reposition the president on spending and soaring debt that their own polls show is fast turning into a Mount Everest-size political issue that endangers his re-election prospects.

Suddenly, Obama was more tightly embracing the proposals of his presidential budget reform commission that he had kept at arm's length -- speaking warmly about its provisions to scuttle a raft of tax breaks and other loopholes in exchange for lowering the corporate and individual tax rates. He was practically sending love letters to the bipartisan "Gang of Six" senators who were working behind the scenes to come up with a compromise 2012 budget based on the commission's report.Trouble is, though, they have not been able to reach an agreement.

"It's pretty hard for (Obama) to hitch himself to something that doesn't exist yet," said Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, a waste-fighting Republican member of the gang. "There's nothing I've agreed to that could be announced this week," Coburn told the Washington Post.

Obama was expected to lay out his latest budget plans in a major speech here Wednesday, but, as is his style, he wasn't going to get his hands dirty on any specifics. Instead, he will speak only in broad themes, his advisers said. Such is "leadership" in the age of Obama.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


12 April, 2011

Wow! Some very welcome and overdue straight talk from Israel

Major Adraee returns!

He speaks to Hamas both in the language they understand [Arabic] and in the vocabulary they understand.

Maj. Adraee, of course, was last seen laying down the law to Hamas back in Jan. 2009 (he was a captain back then), right about the time some 1,000 Hamas cadres were mysteriously incinerated. Or maybe not so mysteriously. In any event, Maj. Adraee has been a favorite here ever since. (See here and here.)

It's funny, the day the Arab League is crying to the UN to enforce a "no-fly zone" over Gaza, the IDF airs this video based on its flights over Gaza, talk about flipping them the bird!

Could it be that the Fakestinian provocations have become so despicable and overt that they have awakened even Bibi and Ehud from their comas? The IDF doesn't usually make a broadcast like this, check that, NEVER MAKES A BROADCAST LIKE THIS unless it is a part of a major strategic operation.

Especially when the IDF highlights that the Arabs have just "crossed all red lines." That is a clear and obvious code in this conflict.



Why the Obamas were omitted from the guest list to the Royal wedding

"Let me be clear: I'm not normally in favor of boycotts, and I love the American people. I holiday in their country regularly, and hate the tedious snobby sneers against the United States . But the American people chose to elect an idiot who seems hell bent on insulting their allies, and something must be done to stop Obama's reckless foreign policy, before he does the dirty on his allies on every issue."

One of the most poorly kept secrets in Washington is President Obama's animosity toward Great Britain , presumably because of what he regards as its sins while ruling Kenya (1895-1963).

One of Barack Hussein Obama's first acts as president was to return to Britain a bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office since 9/11. He followed this up by denying Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on his first state visit, the usual joint press conference with flags.

The president was "too tired" to grant the leader of America 's closest ally a proper welcome, his aides told British journalists.

Mr. Obama followed this up with cheesy gifts for Mr. Brown and the Queen. Columnist Ian Martin described his behavior as "rudeness personified." There was more rudeness in store for Mr. Brown at the opening session of the United Nations in September. "The prime minister was forced to dash through the kitchens of the UN in New York to secure five minutes of face time with President Obama after five requests for a sit down meeting were rejected by the White House," said London Telegraph columnist David Hughes. Mr. Obama's "churlishness is unforgivable," Mr. Hughes said.

The administration went beyond snubs and slights last week when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed the demand of Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, a Hugo Chavez ally, for mediation of Argentina 's specious claim to the Falkland Islands , a British dependency since 1833. The people who live in the Falklands, who speak English, want nothing to do with Argentina . When, in 1982, an earlier Argentine dictatorship tried to seize the Falklands by force, the British -- with strong support from President Ronald Reagan -- expelled them.

"It is truly shocking that Barack Obama has decided to disregard our shared history," wrote Telegraph columnist Toby Young. "Does Britain 's friendship really mean so little to him?" One could ask, does the friendship of anyone in the entire world mean anything to him?

"I recently asked several senior administration officials, separately, to name a foreign leader with whom Barack Obama has forged a strong personal relationship during his first year in office," wrote Jackson Diehl, deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Post, on Monday. " A lot of hemming and hawing ensued." One official named French President Nicolas Sarkozy, but his contempt for Mr. Obama is an open secret. Another named German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But, said Mr. Diehl, "Merkel too has been conspicuously cool toward Obama."

Mr. Obama certainly doesn't care about the Poles and Czechs, whom he has betrayed on missile defense. Honduras and Israel also can attest that he's been an unreliable ally and an unfaithful friend. Ironically, our relations with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority have never been worse. Russia has offered nothing in exchange for Mr. Obama's abandonment of missile defense. Russia and China won't support serious sanctions on Iran . Syria 's support for terrorism has not diminished despite efforts to normalize diplomatic relations. The reclusive military dictatorship that runs Burma has responded to our efforts at "engagement" by deepening its ties to North Korea .

And the Chinese make little effort to disguise their contempt for him.

For the first time in a long time, the President of the United States is actually distrusted by its allies and not in the least feared by its adversaries. Nor is Mr. Obama now respected by the majority of Americans. Understandably focused on the dismal economy and Mr. Obama's relentless efforts to nationalize and socialize health care, Americans apparently have yet to notice his dismal performance and lack of respect in the world community.
They soon will.

The above is an expanded version (expander unknown) of a blog post by Alex Singleton of the London Daily Telegraph. The expansions are factual as far as I can see


Britain needs to end its love affair with the world stage

I rarely agree with anything in "The Guardian" but the points below seem reasonable. Britain is in too big a mess for foreign adventures

While we pull in our belts at home, our leaders get carried away abroad. It's time we turned our backs on our imperial past

There are three ways to respond when the going gets tough: head in the sand, try to sort things out, or suddenly get very busy elsewhere. Which perhaps explains why David Cameron has been focusing so much on "abroad" recently, and I don't just mean his bargain break in Spain.

With his government's two flagship policies in crisis, Cameron has decided to apologise for Britain's role in world conflicts. This will do nothing to sort out the chaos of tuition fees - with most universities now declaring themselves the exception and charging the full whack of œ9,000. Nor will it help the unnecessary revolution in the NHS, which has at least been "paused" in the light of howls of fury from the professionals.

Yes, the British are pulling in their belts and bracing themselves for some sparse years ahead - except apparently abroad, where the union flag flutters high as ever. Look at the pilots over Libya, the troops in Afghanistan, the diplomats and the aid workers. From the mountains to the deserts, the demands seem endless for Britain to "step in", and today's politicians clearly enjoy the international spotlight just as much as yesterday's. Yet the mismatch between the bulldog's growl and the reality of its kennel has never been greater.

It's often said that prime ministers arrive determined to push through a domestic agenda until they eventually get distracted by the glamour of overseas crises. This happened with Margaret Thatcher three years in, when the Falklands crisis was forced on her; and with Tony Blair as the Balkans blazed, long before Iraq. Blair's focus on domestic policy never really returned; had it done so, maybe he would have wrestled control back from his chancellor.

Cameron's whirlwind romance with the international spotlight has happened even faster. He arrived as a man bent on dealing with the deficit and promising his "big society" as a cure for socialist statism. Yet the crises at home now include not only health and higher education, but the cost of petrol, problems over pension reform and now, we hear, a row with the Lib Dems over banking reform. You would think, given all this, that the prime minister had no time for anything else. Far from it. The bugle has sounded, calling him to high-level talks in London; summits across Europe; confabulations with Barack and Hillary; more emergency statements in the Commons, with furrowed brows and much backbench applause. I am not particularly blaming Cameron. We have seen it all before; remember how Blair suddenly ascended into heaven on Blairforce One and spent most of his time pop-eyed with history-making grandeur?

Part of the problem, of course, is that it is simply more exciting to make peace and war, than to struggle with the details of welfare reform or how to cut civil service budgets without a vote-destroying loss of service. It's more exciting for the ministers but also for their advisers and for the media pack watching; bangs and clouds of smoke seem to sell front pages and news bulletins too.

Yet I would argue that something happens in particular to British prime ministers, in the here and now, which is a problem and is correctable. Few other countries, bar France, have an equivalently grand post-imperial, military-state set up. I don't mean the buildings, though these play their part, but more the whole panoply of mysterious secret service chiefs, chiefs of staff, UN security council membership, nuclear buttons and telephone hotlines. You want to speak to the White House? No problem. You need to visit our boys? Helicopters and jets are waiting. For a young politician who had only had a job as a PR man before Westminster it must have been particularly head-turning.

And once upon a time it might even have been reasonable, as Britain continued to gently adjust to new realities. But we have a big debt, dwindling military capabilities and far bigger problems to confront as a country. We don't know how we are going to pay our way in the world any more. We are still unsure of how, if at all, we fit into the rest of the European project. It is no longer appropriate that it is Britain who, when some part of the world goes up in smoke, rides first toward the sound of gunfire.

We should do our bit, but no more. We should learn our lesson after Iraq. Why should richer, bigger Germany do so little in Afghanistan? Why was Libya not an Italian problem before it was a British one? Now that India and Brazil bulk so large on the world stage, why aren't these two democracies doing more for the democratic cause?

If our gung-ho attitude to foreign intervention is a displacement activity, distracting us from economic and industrial decline, then we need to wake up. If we do it because we think it makes a little of America's lustre rub off on its most loyal ally, we should take a good look in the mirror and around the world. If we carry on because "that's what we're good at" (fighting) then we need to ask ourselves if this is really the national specialism we want, given how many people it kills and maims, how much anger it causes abroad and how we do it for no payment at all.

It's time, after Cameron's apology, to turn our backs on our imperial-military past and become a different kind of country again - harder working, better educated, readier to bring aid and medicine than warplanes. It would be a hard adjustment for parts of the London establishment but it would be better for our long-term security.




Had enough yet?: "It’s hard to be optimistic that the mountebanks running the government will do anything sensible in the near future. Until there is a deep rethinking about government, the public will not accept the near-term drastic budget cutting required to head off a fiscal crisis, much less the longer-term structural steps needed to prevent a repetition of what we’ve been through. People will need to understand that while the wish for 'social security' in an uncertain world is entirely reasonable, the route to it is not Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security -- which tether people to the political class -- but freed markets and voluntary mutual aid."

Hollow Obama talk about trade: "Pres. Obama has made expanding U.S. exports a centerpiece of his economic plan. In his January State of the Union Address, he noted that '95% of the world’s customers and fastest-growing markets are beyond our borders' and that export-related jobs 'pay 15% more than average.' At a time when jobs are in short supply, he later said, 'building exports is an imperative.' So naturally, he’s done everything possible to ease passage of the Colombia Free Trade Pact, which the Bush Administration negotiated and the then-Democrat controlled Congress battled up. Right? Wrong."

Lindsey Graham’s war on freedom: "Certainly the Founding Fathers considered free speech more than just a mere 'great idea' but one of the bedrock principles of our republic, even enshrining it in the first amendment to our Constitution. That Graham would be willing to capitulate to radical Islamists by curtailing this precious freedom is particularly astounding when you consider that the Senator consistently and adamantly opposes curtailing the one policy that unquestionably 'inspires the enemy' more than any other. In fact, when it comes to looking out for America’s proper defense and actual security — Lindsey Graham is arguably the most ass-backward politician alive today."

Mexicans fed up: "Yesterday, multitudes took to the streets in more than 40 Mexican cities -- and in protests by Mexicans and their friends at consulates and embassies in Europe, North America and South America -- to demand an end to the violence wrought by the US-imposed 'war on drugs.' What? You haven't heard about this? Or if you have heard something about it, did you know that it is the biggest news story in the Mexican media, on the front page of virtually every daily newspaper in the country?"

A tale of two bridges: "What do you do if you lose 25 percent of your population in a decade, bringing your city to a 100-year low, and you have a perfectly good private bridge? Well, why not have the taxpayers build a new $5.3 billion bridge using public money! It may sound strange but that is exactly what a combination of unions, government officials, and businesses are trying to do in Michigan."

Medicare CPR: "Faced with a budget deficit of $1.65 trillion this year, an on-the-books national debt of $14.3 trillion, and a real debt (including the future liabilities of Medicare and Social Security) of as much as $119.5 trillion, Ryan (R-Wis.) proposes cutting spending by $6.2 trillion over the next 10 years. It is a sign of how deep a hole we are really in that despite cuts of this magnitude, the national debt will increase by $6 trillion over the next decade even under Ryan's plan. The most important part of Ryan's proposal, however, is not the budget cuts; it is the idea of restructuring two of the government's biggest entitlement programs: Medicare and Medicaid."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


11 April, 2011

Individualists least likely to offer bribes

Bribery is condemned in most cultures; but it is more common in some countries than in others. Is poverty, political instability, or lax regulation to blame? A new study published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests a surprising contributor: Collectivism—a culture that downplays individual self-determination and stresses interdependence and shared responsibility.

“Collectivism may promote bribery by diffusing responsibility,” says Professor Nina Mazar, who conducted the study with Professor Pankaj Aggarwal, also at the University of Toronto’s Joseph L. Rotman School of Management. Collectivism may allow individuals to sidestep their personal morality and do business in ways they know to be wrong.

To test this hypothesis, the authors conducted both a cross-national study and a lab experiment.

The cross-national study looked at 21 of the world’s most economically influential countries for correlations between collectivism and bribery in international business. Collectivism was rated using an established international survey of some 17,000 corporate managers, who rated the “degree to which individuals express pride, loyalty, and cohesiveness in their organizations or families” in their countries. Another instrument tallied national rates of bribery by asking executives how often firms from various foreign countries offered illicit incentives when doing business in the executives’ countries. The researchers factored in the nations’ wealth as well as the extent to which they valued prosocial and ethical considerations.

The findings: The poorer and more collectivist a country, the more likely it was to turn to bribery. Controlling for wealth and also for moral standards, collectivism still correlated “fairly strongly” with the willingness to offer payments under the table.

To test causal relationships, not just correlations, the researchers conducted a laboratory experiment. In it, 140 business students were divided into two groups and primed with either an individualist or collectivist mindset using well-established manipulations.

Then participants were asked to assume the role of a sales agent competing against two other firms for a contract with an international buyer, and a commission. Would they bribe the buyer? Having answered that question, they rated the degree of responsibility they felt for their actions, their desire for the contract, inappropriateness of the bribe, likelihood the competitors would bribe or that a bribe would win the contract. Finally, participants were tested for mood and arousal.

As expected, the collectivists felt less personally accountable and more prone to grease the buyer’s palm. Collectivist mindset affected neither mood, moral judgment, assessment of a bribe’s effectiveness, motivation, nor any other factor.

Even when the choice to bribe or not was directly assessed — in a second experiment with 47 participants—the collectivist group felt less personal responsibility.

The study suggests that the motivations for corrupt business practices may be viewed too narrowly. Bribery is “not just about the economic costs or benefits, says Mazar. “‘Soft factors’ like cultural values might be quite important.” If we can understand them, “we may be able to design more effective and efficient measures of prevention.”



Europe slides further into economic darkness

Some people are never going to get back the money they lent to spendthrift Southern European countries

Tim Hughes

IF YOU count all 27 members of the European Union together as one economic unit, then Europe is the world's largest economy.

In short, Europe is incredibly important to the world economy, and also in unbelievably severe financial difficulty.

Europe's financial system is held together by nothing more than temporary Band-Aids. And the only solution that anyone seems to have is to apply even more dressings to the wounds without treating the systemic failures at the root of the disease.

I have spent the past week talking to European pension funds, investment managers and economic experts. It has been a sobering experience of hope without foundations, of faith without real belief, and of despair without solutions.

The few things that everyone agrees on are that: the problem is very serious; that it would be economic suicide for any member of the Euro zone to seek to exit the Euro; and that much of the huge debt accumulated by some southern European countries can never be repaid.

Countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal have basically passed the point of no return on their public debt. The sheer interest bill on the debt is so large that it can only be paid by borrowing more. In other words, without default they face a spiral into the financial abyss.

The problem here is that any default would have an almost fatal impact on the German and French banks who own much of the debt.

But the only Europeans with the financial resources to bail out the big debtors are Germany and France.

So far not a single Euro of German or French money has actually gone to the failed nations. Rather all of the support is in the form of paper guarantees on new borrowings.

The reality here is that taxpayer anger at the thought of bailing out profligate, indolent, undisciplined southern Europeans is absolutely enormous. An actual bailout would spell absolute electoral disaster for any government that did it.

The only other option for the debtors appears to be to leave the Euro and suffer a massive devaluation of their new currencies. But with their debt all in Euros, this would increase their actual debt burden and make default inescapable.



Kill Crony Capitalism

Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, was recently appointed by President Obama to chair the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. So it was no surprise when Immelt published a column in the Washington Post in which he applauded Obama for completing a free-trade agreement with South Korea – leaving completely unmentioned the fact that the agreement was actually negotiated five years ago, and was approved by Obama and Congressional Democrats only after it was changed to include costly giveaways to their union buddies.

Immelt somehow also failed to write about the thousands of American jobs lost purely because Obama and his Democratic posse have failed to affirm similar agreements with Panama and Colombia. This whole episode just illustrates how Big Business is beholden to Big Government, and why ”Crony Capitalism,” a huge tax on the vast majority of Americans, has got to be eliminated ASAP.

The left likes to attack Crony Capitalism because they only see it as the underhanded machinations of Big Business, Big Oil, or some other imagined Big. While these are indeed valid observations – even a stopped clock is right twice a day – Crony Capitalism comes in many forms and is a surefire sign of government run amok, which is why Republicans, prompted by the Tea Party, have begun to focus on the issue.

There are, regrettably, many styles of Crony Capitalism, each of which saps the federal government, states and municipal governments, as well as every taxpayer along for the ride:

Big Business – The sheer size of the federal government makes it conducive to large entities or consortiums sucking the life out of it for their own purposes. 80% of agriculture subsidies go to large agri-businesses. Big Steel was protected from competition for years. Billions were poured into the auto industry, much of which we’ll never get back. Insurance companies receive special dispensation in the tax code to enhance their profits. And, of course, there’s the AARP, whose Medi-Gap coverage was granted a waiver by Obama – conveniently placing every one of their competitors at a substantial disadvantage. These businesses are either feeding at the trough of government or manipulating regulation for their own devious purposes, and it’s why almost half of the political donations from large businesses go to liberal Democrats.

Big Business also uses its muscle to influence public policy. Walmart – along with the major drug companies – sold us out on the health care bill to get a competitive advantage. Now Wal-mart is teaming up with the government to coerce Amazon into collecting sales taxes for interstate sales – every dime of which will come out of our pockets. In both cases, Big Business is actively working to expand Big Government – and always at the cost of the little guy.

Walmart moves into a new market area and there are major protests. The protests are not because Walmart has tremendous advantage over local retailers with confronting government regulations such as OSHA. Although the argument centers on the ability of small retailers to survive with Walmart as a competitor, the campaign to stop the big box retailer is funded by Big Unions and other Big Businesses such as Safeway and Costco who hire those unionized workers. These entities use Crony Capitalism to achieve their goals to protect their own interests.

Business Licenses – We often complain about government intervention in our lives, but then we run to the government, usually at the State level, to protect our businesses from competition. The expansion of unwarranted licensing requirements is completely out of control, and just drives up the cost of government and the related licensed services.

No one will ever dispute that certain professions need to be licensed. From my standpoint as a CPA, I believe that it’s actually good that the Feds have stepped in to demand minimal testing for tax preparers – a requirement instituted in response to multiple instances of charlatans using the tax preparer role to defraud the government through the abuse of refundable credits.

Yet the list of “professions” lining up in state capitals to protect themselves under the guise of protecting the public boggles the mind. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal identified cat groomers, music therapists (whatever that is), tattoo “artists,” and tree trimmers as examples of “professionals” attempting to enhance their own revenue through Crony Capitalism. In New York State, you need a license to be an interior decorator. To be fair, some of the houses I’ve seen there clearly warrant criminal charges against their designers, but a license? Thankfully, there are no licenses required for movie makers, because most of Hollywood would be in Leavenworth.

These ridiculous requests by private citizens to have government safeguard them and protect their income are no less offensive than the policy and regulatory manipulations by big businesses.

Government Workers – Yes, this is also Crony Capitalism and it’s no better – and often much worse – than the categories above.

Many government workers are members of unions, which extract excessive dues through payroll deductions. The union then uses those dues to elect council members, school board members and state representatives who are beholden to them. The elected officials then rubber stamp their benefactors’ salary and benefit requests. If this isn’t Crony Capitalism, then I don’t know what would qualify as such.

The common thread here is that Crony Capitalism is a symptom of too much government. Business owners are often forced to make a tough decision: do I stay true to my free-market convictions, or do I play the game. Sadly, too many executives – like Jeffery Immelt – become whores to government and sell their principles for short-term benefits. Is there any surprise that GE announced it made over $14 billion in 2010 and made no American taxes? Unfortunately, those short-term benefits turn into long-term losses of freedom that may never be regained, and for which we all pay a very steep price.



You Can Slaughter Christians, But You Can't Burn a Koran

After Pastor Terry Jones, Yosemite Sam’s cousin from Light-A-Fart Fellowship in Shag-Your-Cousin, Florida, fired up a Koran, the Muslim community of Afghanistan responded by lovingly praying for their enemy and asking to meet with Rev. Fuego for an interfaith pow-wow over a peach cobbler at the Ground Zero Mosque.

What’s that, you say? The Muslims didn’t turn the other cheek? I’m misinformed? The Afghani Muslims instead started killing people … as in, a lot of their own people? Well, hell, that ain’t right. I thought Islam was a religion of peace and that opium was a sedative!

I know, maybe it was just a few rogue adherents who acted, how would Obama say, unbecomingly. Yeah, that’s it. Yep, if we’re to believe the media it was probably just a few misguided congregants (with scimitars, of course) who went a tad too far and … uh … um, beheaded some folks.

That’s kind of like how the well-meaning ACORN employees overstepped boundaries and accidentally aided and abetted illegal home loans for whorehouses running 13-year-old sex slaves from El Salvador, or the other ACORNers who have now pleaded guilty to massive voter fraud in the 2008 presidential election. It was what we call in the south a “whoopsy-daisy.”

According to the main stream media, when dealing with Islam and the likes of ACORN (who I’ve heard changed their name to FCORN) we must remember the immortal words of Donny Osmond: When they do commit a misstep, “One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, girl.” Indeed, when Muslims decapitate their own people because Mark Twain lit his still with a Koran, it doesn’t mean that Muslims endorse or allow that kind of behavior. At least that’s what CAIR and Eric Holder tell us to believe. Anyway …

General David Petraeus, faithfully serving his Commander-in-Chief in Afghanistan, trotted out and condemned Minister Match’s actions this past week after the Afghani Muslims found out, via Karzai, what Pastor Pyro had done and thus took understandable kinetic action after their book was barbequed. What was strangely missing from Petraeus’ rebuke was the good General’s denunciation of Karzai for inciting the flammable of this quaint faith and the murder of a couple dozen innocent U.N. workers and many Muslims. Hello. I’d say, not to be unkind, that on the grand scale of things, killing people is more damnable than roasting a special paperback book.

I had a guy ask me the other day after this incident while I was shopping at Victoria’s Secret, “How would you feel if someone burned a Bible?” And I was like, “Dude, I’m trying to choose between getting my wife the lace-panel bustier versus the point d'esprit apron baby doll, and you’re fouling up my mojo decision-making process with your book burning questions.” I quickly realized I was being intemperate and told him I really wouldn’t care if they burned a Christian Bible or not. That’s between them and God, and they better hope that God thinks that’s hilarious because I hear His paybacks suck.

That said, I told my friend that I’m more concerned about the unreported, virtually uncondemned mass slaughter of Christians in Iraq—at the hands of Muslims—and the thousand or so who were slaughtered just this week on the Ivory Coast of Africa and the fact that they had nada to do with TJ flash grillin’ Mohammed’s bestseller. It’s just how Islam rolls when it comes to interfacing with other faiths; they kill them or oppress them, and thus it seems (at least to stupid ol’ me) a wee bit of an imbalance to sharply denounce uncle Jed’s cousin for morphing Allah’s book into ashes and not vehemently denouncing, in the strongest of terms and with deadly action, Muslims who are killing Christians worldwide.


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

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


10 April, 2011

Abuse as a response to threat

As most conservative bloggers can attest, the comments we get on our blogs or via email from Leftists consist almost entirely of a tirade of abuse. I have always thought that the abuse is a sign of a hostile or hating character but perhaps I have underestimated their awareness of their own situation. They know that the facts and logic are against them but cannot let go of their beliefs so rage is their only possible response.

I am moved to that thought by a comment put up in response to my recent post "Is God a racist"?. In the post I addressed once again the contentious question: "Who is a Jew?". The title would, however, I hope, alert anybody to the fact that I was offering a not-very-serious tease. And, to make sure I was not misunderstood, I stated that at the foot of the piece.

Most of the comments I got about it conceded that the piece was thought-provoking but that is all. In one of the places where I posted it, however, I got the following enraged response which consisted of nothing but extended abuse. It said in effect: "I know more than you do so you are wrong" A less persuasive argument would be hard to imagine:
I'm not sure how you got this bee in your bonnet or why this is on an anti-ACLU blog.

You are not dealing with Torah in the original Hebrew or the accompanying Oral Law. There is SO much you don't know about or understand, and are filtering through your X-tian (albeit now atheist) viewpoint. Your sources are from the original via Greek, via Latin, and then into English. You lose a *lot*-- and you don't even know what you don't have. Each of those translations had its own agenda and is probelmatic when compared with the original-- why don't you discuss that?

Give it a rest. Go ahead & do this to the stuff of your tradition (X-tian). You have no idea your lack of foundation to be able to discuss Torah, and you do indeed come off as an anti-semite, despite your rationalizations and protestations.

That is of course exactly the sort of non-argument one would expect of a Leftist. He says nothing to support his assertion that he knows more and gives no detail about where my post might be mistaken. It is pure assertion.

And it is not even good assertion. He asserts that I bypass the original languages of the Bible when in fact I specifically refer to the original Hebrew in discussing the divine name. Readers of my scripture blog will know that I pay great attention to the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible -- though I must confess that I am more at ease with Greek than I am with Hebrew.

So who wrote such a sad effusion? A conservative Jew who uses the rather Portuguese-sounding nickname of "dahozho" [dahozho@yahoo.com] but whose real name is the very Irish-sounding J. Kelley.

My arguments obviously threatened him to the point where he was unable to give an intellectual reply. Why? From the name, I would guess that he is a Jewish convert. Real Jews have a perspective going back a long way so keep their cool with relative ease.

So the polemical incompetence of Mr Kelley suggests to me that maybe Leftists too know that they are on shaky ground when they respond to challenges with abuse.


You're kidding, right?

With due respect, I think those who are praising the budget deal are deluding themselves. Under circumstances where we are trillions of dollars in debt, the GOP just caved on its promise to cut the relative pittance of $61 billion in spending because it's just not worth fighting for more than the half-pittance of $40 billion Democrats claimed was their drop-dead number. "Drop dead" meant daring Republicans to shut the government down (which, as we know, doesn't actually shut the government down). The Republicans blinked.

For me, this is no surprise - as I've said several times (see, e.g., here and here), I don't think they're serious. But I want to make a point about how strange this praise of Boehner & Co. is. A mere four months ago, the big controversy in conservative and Republican circles was whether the GOP had reneged on their vaunted pledge to cut $100B in spending in the current fiscal year because they had seemingly come down to $61B. As I noted at the time, there was no question that, if you looked at the fine print of the pledge, the commitment was $61B - but that if you looked at reality, both $61B and $100B were laughably unserious. No matter. Folks around here pooh-poohed my criticism and insisted that a $61B pledge was a sober first step, showing real fortitude about getting our fiscal house in order.

So now they've stopped short, significantly short, of that purportedly serious step, and the reaction is, "We won!" You've got to be kidding me. The only thing Boehner won is future assurance that GOP leadership can safely promise the moon but then settle for crums because their rah-rah corner will spin any paltry accomplishment, no matter how empty it shows the promise to have been, as a tremendous victory.

And what's the rationale for settling? Why, that these numbers are so piddling - that the $21 billion difference is so meaningless in the context of $14 trillion - that it's best just to settle, make believe the promise was never made, make believe we didn't flinch, and put this episode behind us so we can begin the "real work" of the next promise, the Ryan Plan.

Regarding that plan, you're to believe that the captains courageous who caved on $21 billion - and who got elected because of Obamacare but don't even want to discuss holding out for a cancellation of $105 billion in Obamacare funding - are somehow going to fight to the death for $6 trillion in cuts. Right.

I look forward to next year, though, when the commentariat will no doubt be swooning over the just announced Ryan Plan 2.0. That will be an even more fantabulous, intellectually serious proposal to cut, oh, say $12 trillion (of course, if promises don't mean anything, why stop at 12?). By then, the same pundits will be warning that the Republicans must not shut down the government to hold out for Ryan 1.0?s trifling $6 trillion. After all, we'll have the real serious business of Ryan 2.0 to attend to, and the Obama Democrats will be offering to meet Boehner halfway with a swell, good faith counter-offer of $27.50 in spending cuts.

$27.50? Why, of course. Why should Democrats go to $30, or $30,000, or $30 billion? After all, when you're swimming in a multi-trillion dollar sea of red ink, you'll always be able to say it's all chump change, not worth squabbling over. And when the GOP is always promising to fight next time, it will seem so rightwing whack-jobby of us to demand that they fight this time.

So three cheers for the GOP's steely resolve in achieving a whopping $40 billion in spending cuts. Better yet, ten cheers: one for each of the ten days it will take Leviathan to borrow more than this budget deal cuts.



The Price of Government Employees

One of the world's more pressing problems is sovereign debt. From Japan to Greece to America, the debts run up by governments are forcing painful choices. But some think we needn't make hard choices. They think things can go on as before and that government can take on even more debt and start up even more public programs. Some are unwilling to make any sacrifices; they don't want to give up anything.

In America as in Europe, those most averse to change are government employees. The evidence for this has been seen recently in states trying to get control of their deficits. Wisconsin is the prime example, where protesting government employees, teachers, students, unionists, and a few anarchists occupied the state Capitol for weeks.

The big issue for state employees in Wisconsin was the loss of collective bargaining. Wisconsin needed to scale back collective bargaining so that it can control runaway benefit costs and so that bad employees can be fired without incurring huge legal bills. States wanting to cut their deficits must address spending; they can't just raise taxes, as residents and businesses will decamp for other states.

To see what the states are up against, watch the video of filmmaker Michael Moore on March 5 in Madison, where he delivered a speech (transcript) to thousands of protesters, inflaming their passions and class resentments, telling them that America is "awash" in cash -- "It's just that it's not in your hands."

The cost of personnel is one of the biggest expenses for a state (or for any enterprise). If a state can't control what it pays for employees, it's unlikely to get control of its budget. In his April 1 article "We've Become a Nation of Takers, Not Makers" for The Wall Street Journal, Stephen Moore relates that the annual cost of employees to state and local governments is $1 trillion, almost half their budgets. Here's more Moore:
If you want to understand better why so many states -- from New York to Wisconsin to California -- are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

The mushrooming number of government employees isn't the only problem, however; government employees have higher average compensation than private sector workers. Some contend that this is false. But a recent study from The Heritage Foundation by Jason Richwine and Andrew Biggs confirms it. And on April 4 in a related article at NRO, they write:
Sadly, it's easier to put out a dozen poor studies than to get a single analysis right. But many fights on public-sector pay are yet to come in states around the country. Taxpayers and their advocates need to be ready to counter false claims about government pay.

The dollar impact of employee costs on government deficits isn't the only issue -- there's the issue of equity:

Borrowing money to pay for current government spending involves deferred taxation. And when elected officials make contracts with unions to pay for open-ended pensions and benefits, they are again kicking taxation off to the future. The problem is that one of the parties to these decisions -- the party that will fulfill such government promises -- was not represented: the future taxpayer. So deficit spending and open-ended benefits for government employees are a form of "taxation without representation."

In postponing taxation, politicians make a claim on the earnings of the future taxpayer for the purpose of handing out free goodies to the current taxpayer. Government contracts with government employees should only extend for the term of those officials approving such contracts, or two years. The next electorate may vote in officials who wouldn't sign such agreements. This is why "defined benefit" pensions have got to go. Such pensions are neither fair for the future taxpayer nor for the public employees who may lose their pensions. Better to own your pension than to rely on the willingness of future taxpayers to fulfill promises to which they didn't agree. Better to take the money and run.

If it is true that no Congress can bind a future Congress, then how can any Congress bind a future electorate or the future taxpayer? For that matter, how binding is any contract made for someone who didn't agree to it? Not even Congress should presume to sign agreements that others must fulfill -- except for the voters that gave them power.

If current taxpayers are unwilling to pay the price for current government, then scale back current spending. But don't make future generations into tax slaves.

Change may be OK for the rest of America, but not for government employees. They don't appreciate the gravity of the sovereign debt crisis, or that bankruptcy looms, or that ruin is at hand. If money is short, that's your problem.

So as The Judge so elegantly puts it on Freedom Watch: "Does the government work for us or do we work for the government?"



Creepy Moonbats Apologize on Behalf of Men

It's a mystery why moonbats feel guilty about the sinfulness of masculinity. That's the one area where they are innocent.

Careful - it can be dangerous to laugh and throw up at the same time:

If you managed to sit through that, you now understand why moonbattery isn't something to be reasoned with - it is something to be eradicated, like a horrifically repulsive fungus.


I don't think any normal woman would have anything much to do with those guys either - JR


You think tea partiers use crazy rhetoric?

Think Tea Partiers are crazy? They've got nothing on Democratic members of Congress defending federal abortion subsidies.

If you wonder why the traditional media ignored the rally for abortion on the National Mall yesterday, here's your answer:
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said today that the new Republicans elected to the House of Representatives last November came to Congress "to kill women." She also likened Republican efforts to prohibit federal funding of abortion except in cases of rape, incest or where the life of the mother is endangered to actions taken by Nazis.

“This is probably one of the worst times we’ve seen because the numbers of people elected to Congress. I went through this as co-chair of the arts caucus," Slaughter said. "In ’94 people were elected simply to come here to kill the National Endowment for the Arts. Now they’re here to kill women.”

Her ridiculous reference to the Nazis follows in the linked article from CNS News.



Another Obama deception

Or is he just dumb?

President Obama talks about respecting science. He doesn't respect it so well when he says things like this:
We have about 2, maybe 3 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves; we use 25 percent of the world’s oil. So think about it. Even if we doubled the amount of oil that we produce, we’d still be short by a factor of five.

Obama is conflating two very different ratios here. One represents the amount of oil we use as a share of what the world uses; the other has to do with proven reserves. Obama's sleight of hand is to use the two interchangeably, and he's just wrong to do so.

By using faulty math, Obama implies that we produce less than 20 percent of the oil we use. In fact, the number is 49 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


9 April, 2011

Trump is Right, Obama is Hiding Something Big

Story originating from an anonymous email below. I have no idea how much of it is accurate but I know some is. I am putting it up as a possible motivator for anybody with time to investigate the matter

Incidentally, the 1950s picture here of Obama's mother should remind us that his mother was no normal modest Midwestern girl of the times -- so his genetics are not the best either from his mother's or his philandering father's side. Snopes has done an unusually poor job (even for it) of saying the photo of Mrs Soetoro mentioned above is in fact of someone else but have a look at the lady they think is in the photo. Most unconvincing. Genetics are a powerful determinant of behavior so, although scandalous, the suggestion about Obama's sexuality below is not implausible

As an IRS tax examiner,one of many former federal jobs, I have seen what it appears Barry Soetoro has done, mostly by illegal aliens attempting to acquire a new identity in the U.S and/or criminals looking to acquire a new ID.

Barry, AKA Obama, was lawfully adopted by a foreign national, Lolo Soetoro, and Barry's name was legally changed to "Barry Soetoro". (Barry’s own admission) Barry Soetoro was also made an official legal Indonesian citizen. (again Barry’s own admission) The adoption would be noted in Barry's vital statistics record in Hawaii on his original birth certificate...

OR Lolo Soetoro may have always been Barry's legal birth farther. The public does not know for sure at this point who Barry's father really was and Barry himself may not know.

Barry was raised as a Muslim in Indonesia and attended a Catholic funded school that permitted all faiths to attend.

Barry's mother dropped him as a dependant for some reason, maybe even when Barry was adopted by Lolo Soetoro. His mother's passport records dropped Barry as a dependent indicating Barry was no longer a legal dependent of his mothers. (The passport records of his mother have been produced showing Barry was no longer a dependent when Barry was permanently residing in Indonesia.) Barry went to Hawaii to live with his alleged grand parents after Lolo Soetoro and Barry's mother divorced.

A "certificate of live birth" can have names changed on it including a child's birth name, and birth parent’s names. Even a modified date of birth can be on a "certificate of live birth". This occurs frequently for adopted children where the birth parent does not want the child to know who they are. The public has no idea who Barry’s real birth father is or who Barry’s real birth mother is. (Barry could have been adopted by his mother) The original birth certificate is the only legal vital statistics record of a person’s birth parents, birth location, birth date, etc… I can get a “certificate of live birth” for a dead person; I cannot get a birth certificate of a dead person without “Deceased” on it. (I’ve tried)

There is no evidence Barry Soetoro ever lawfully changed his name to “Barrack Hussein Obama”. There is no proof Barry Soetoro was born with the name "Barrack Hussein Obama". I’m willing to bet the name “Barrack Hussein Obama” is not present on the real birth certificate as Barry’s birth name or as Barry’s birth father. I have pictures of me with my mother and Jimmy Buffet… that doesn’t make him my father even if I start using the name Jimmy Buffet.

The public knows Barry Soetoro finished high school in Hawaii as Barry Soetoro and attended Occidental as Barry Soetoro where he did drugs and flunked out of school. After dropping out of Occidental, Barry showed up in New York, homeless and on drugs. (Barry’s own admission) Barry then hooked up with a Pakistani to live with and traveled back to Indonesia on his new boyfriend’s dime to renew his Indonesian passport and traveled to Pakistan with him.

Ask any law enforcement officer in a large city or detective and they will tell you homeless young men on drugs in large cities usually end up as male prostitutes. Barry ended up as a world traveler with a degree… (Not likely)

Barry Soetoro returned to New York from Pakistan and began using the fictitious name “Obama” for some reason. (again Barry Soetoro’s own admission) One could only suspect that a person addicted to drugs returning from Pakistan to New York, the main route for Afghan heroin into the U.S., maybe Barry had a reason to start using a new name. There are literally over 1 million open warrants on file in New York… maybe Barry is one of them?....

After spending some time in New York allegedly working under the name “Obama”, It appears Barry used the fictitious name "Barrack Hussein Obama" for the first time to file his federal taxes in Connecticut at a Post Office Box for the purpose of evading paying taxes in New York and /or to establish a new identity. (This is a felony with no statute of limitation.)

When the IRS received Barry Soetoro’s federal tax filing, the IRS could not attach the name Barrack Hussein Obama to the SSI number provided or the address provided. So the IRS assigned the fictitious name "Barrack Hussein Obama" a tax ID number for a person from Connecticut (Where Barry unlawfully filed a federal tax form using a false name). Barry Soetoro began using the tax ID number as his SSI number when using the fictitious name Barrack Obama. This is why Barry Soetoro has a Connecticut SSI number. When I worked for the IRS, I saw this occur more than once and yes, it is a felony to knowingly file a fraudulent federal tax forms. Most of the politicians that cheat on their taxes claim it was an accident. That is how they get away with their tax cheat crimes. Using a fake name is no accident.

It appears Barry fled New York to Chicago using his new identity to get a job . He likely ordered a fake diploma to bolster his new identity as "Obama". Fake Diploma's were very big in the 80's and diploma mills were even being used by federal workers to get promotions. There is evidence his alleged attendance at Columbia was faked (Barry never attended Columbia) and Barry lied his way into Harvard (he had no transcripts to get in)... Including telling the Saudi royal family he was fighting in Afghanistan with the Muslim Jihad against the Russians, so they would help him get into a law school.

The Saudi's apparently loved Barry's story of Jihad in Pakistan/Afghanistan and paid for Barry to attend Harvard under the name "Obama". The Saudi family has admitted to paying for Obama to attend Harvard and gave Harvard a gift of $20 million dollars. Harvard in turn made their special attendy President of the law review a person that never wrote a single law review.... I guess that is what $20 million buys at Harvard.

It is unlikely Barry was a Jihadist and was most likely a drug mule if anything, maybe even a CIA street hire to haul Afghan heroin back to New York, so the Afghans could buy U.S. made stinger missiles with U.S. dollars to shoot down Russian helicopters?... I hired people over seas to do work below my pay grade all the time, even foreign nationals... I think this is the story Barry told the Saudi's, but he was most likely really just a drug mule/dealer and probably still wanted on an outstanding warrant in New York.

Barry’s selective service registration is not normal either.

After I looked at Barry’s selective service filing I noticed it was most likely fraudulent too based on the name he used. Barry did not start using the name "Obama" until he returned from Pakistan (long after he flunked out of school in California) His selective service record (maintained in Chicago coincidentally) shows he registered at a Hawaiian post office as “Obama” in Sept 1980... Problem, Barry was getting high in California at Occidental in Sept 1980 (Barry's own admission) and was not using the fictitious name "Obama" at that time. Barry began using the fictitious name "Obama" only after he returned from Pakistan. The selective service filing is fraudulent.

Barry returned to Chicago and attend a semi-christian radical black church with his first female love Michelle. Barry admits keeping in touch with Phil Boener, who traveled to New York from Occidental to be with Barry and was most likely Barry's first love.

Barry still could not get a real job, because he was still a fraud, even with his Harvard degree in hand he could lie and take the Bar exam, but he could not work as a lawyer for a major law firm without a back ground investigation and he would never pass one. So, Michelle got Barry a job at her law firm. Barry never filed a case alone and never filed a motion. He wrote lost of memos according to the law firm where Barry worked. (I think they know Barry is a fraud and don't want to be sued by previous clients) Barry rescinded his law licenses, so as not to be disbarred for fraud. The Bar knows Barry lied on his application. Michelle also had to turn over her law license for her involvement in corruption with the Chicago mayors office.



Miserable bureaucrats: The Leftist anti-liberty drive is now everywhere

Who needs the human tapeworms behind these restrictions? St. Louis-Area Girls Told to Close Cookie Stand

Each February and March for the past six years, Caitlin Mills, 16, and Abigail Mills, 14, have put a card table in front of their home in Hazelwood, Mo., and sold Girl Scout cookies to drivers passing by. This year, however, the city of Hazelwood notified their mother, Carolyn Mills, that the girls’ cookie stand violated city ordinances and must be shut down.

Today, according to a news release from Freedom Center of Missouri, the Mills family — but not the Girl Scouts of America as they are not involved in the case — filed suit in state court to ensure that children in Hazelwood and all over the state will be free to set up similar stands in their own front yards.

“It is a time-honored tradition for American children to set up a stand in the front yard and sell lemonade or baked goods to people passing by,” said Dave Roland, Freedom Center of Missouri director of litigation. “These stands are not only a fun way to pass a summer afternoon, they are frequently children’s first encounter with the basics of entrepreneurship, customer service, and money management.”

Notice of the city’s move to shut down the cookie-selling stand came as a surprise to Mrs. Mills. “It never even crossed my mind that my girls might need to get permission from the city before setting up their cookie stand,” she said. “I was even more shocked when city officials told me that you couldn’t even get a permit for it.”

Caitlin Mills was diplomatic about the situation. “We know that our city officials are working hard to make sure that Hazelwood is a nice place to live,” she explained. “But even good city officials sometimes make mistakes. All we are asking is for the court to say it was a mistake for the city to tell us to shut down our cookie stand.”

The implications of this case, however, reach far beyond Hazelwood’s city limits, according to Roland:

For more than a century, American courts adhered to the principle that people could use their property almost any way they saw fit as long as they were not harming anyone else. Despite this general rule, courts allowed governments to use the “police power” to create laws carefully designed to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. Over time, however, courts shifted from the presumption that citizens should be able to make use of their property to a presumption that government should be able to restrict its use. The issue in this case is whether state and local governments still face any constitutional limitations on their ability to control the use of private property.

“Courts have already held that cities can control what citizens can build on their property, where they can build it… even what color they can paint it,” Roland said. “If Hazelwood and other cities can prohibit kids from setting up a harmless, temporary cookie stand in their own front yard, it is hard to say that our constitutions still offer any significant protection for private property rights. The Freedom Center of Missouri hopes to remind the courts that vigorous protection of property rights is vital to the American constitutional system and way of life.”



Is America Becoming The Land Of The Part-Time Job?

Most Of The Jobs That Are Being Created Are Part-Time Jobs And Some Companies Are Going To A “Part-Time Only Policy”

Do you need a good job? If so, there are millions of other Americans that are just like you. Unfortunately, most of the jobs that are available in America today are either part-time jobs, temp jobs or are "independent contractor" jobs. The "full-time job with benefits" is a dying breed. There are so many desperate unemployed workers in America today that companies don't have to roll out the red carpet anymore. Instead, they can just hire a horde of inexpensive part-timers and temps that they don't have to give any benefits to.

But isn't the employment situation supposed to be getting better? No, it really is not. Yes, the U.S. economy added 216,000 jobs in March. However, the truth is that approximately 290,000 part-time jobs were created and about 80,000 full-time jobs were actually lost. This is all part of a long-term trend in America. Good jobs are rapidly disappearing and they are being replaced by low paying service jobs that do not pay a living wage. In many American households today, both parents have multiple jobs. Yet a large percentage of those same households can't even pay the mortgage and are drowning in debt.

Whenever a new government jobs report comes out from now on, try to find out how many of the jobs that were created were actually part-time jobs. Most Americans that only have part-time jobs are living around or below the poverty line. The truth is that it is really hard to get by if you are only making a couple hundred bucks a week.

As mentioned above, the U.S. economy added 216,000 jobs last month. The Obama administration and the mainstream media heralded that figure as evidence that the U.S. economy is recovering nicely. But is that really accurate?

Rebel Cole, a professor at DePaul University's Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, says that when you take the time to do a closer examination of the employment numbers they don't look so good....

"If you look deeper in the report, there were 290,000 new part-time workers, which means that there were 80,000 fewer full-time workers, that's not a good sign. Things are getting worse, not getting better."

Unless you are a teen or a college student or a retired person, most likely you would prefer to be working a full-time job. Most people do not actually have the goal of working part-time. Most part-time jobs pay very poorly and offer very few benefits.

Unfortunately, that is why so many big companies like part-time workers and temp workers. There are so many more rules, regulations and laws that pertain to full-time workers.

Hiring a bunch of part-time workers is so much easier and so much cheaper. Without a doubt it is definitely more profitable in most situations.

Today, there are millions of Americans that have part-time jobs that would love to have full-time jobs. In fact, the government says that there are about 8 million Americans that are currently working part-time jobs for "economic reasons"....

Right now America is rapidly losing high paying jobs and they are being replaced by low paying jobs. According to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project, higher wage industries accounted for 40 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months but only 14 percent of the job growth. Lower wage industries accounted for just 23 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months and a whopping 49 percent of the job growth.

So yes, jobs are being created, but most of them are jobs that none of us would really want under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, times are not normal and millions of desperate people are having to take whatever they can get.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


8 April, 2011

Brains differ in liberals, conservatives

There is little doubt that liberal and conservative brains do systematically differ. Liberals seem to have a bit missing where caution should be and an extra large bit where hatred resides. But proving that is another matter. The human brain is very complex and even particular parts of it seem to have many functions. The findings below do show that Left/Right brains differ but the detailed interpretation put on the results is just word-play. When does "fear" become "caution", for instance.

And the brain area said to drive "fear" is the amygdala. And associating the amygdala with "fear" is ludicrously simplistic. Other research has been interpreted as showing the same area to be associated with greater "sociability", for instance. So it would be equally logical to say that conservatives are more sociable rather than more fearful.

And the anterior cingulate cortex, which is said to be bigger in Leftists, is usually associated with emotion. So Leftists are more emotional! I won't quarrel with that!

The research below is interesting but hopelessly over-interpreted. All that the interpretations tell you is the politics of those who did the interpreting

EVERYONE knows that liberals and conservatives butt heads when it comes to world views, but scientists have now shown that their brains are actually built differently.

Liberals have more grey matter in a part of the brain associated with understanding complexity, while the conservative brain is bigger in the section related to processing fear, said the study today in Current Biology.

"We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased grey matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala," the study said.

Other research has shown greater brain activity in those areas, according to which political views a person holds, but this is the first study to show a physical difference in size in the same regions.

"Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual's political orientation," said Ryota Kanai of the University College London, where the research took place. "Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure."

The study was based on 90 "healthy young adults" who reported their political views on a scale of one to five from very liberal to very conservative, then agreed to have their brains scanned.

People with a large amygdala are "more sensitive to disgust" and tend to "respond to threatening situations with more aggression than do liberals and are more sensitive to threatening facial expressions", the study said.

Liberals are linked to larger anterior cingulate cortexes, a region that "monitor(s) uncertainty and conflicts", it said.

"Thus, it is conceivable that individuals with a larger ACC have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts, allowing them to accept more liberal views."

It remains unclear whether the structural differences cause the divergence in political views, or are the effect of them.

But the central issue in determining political views appears to revolve around fear and how it affects a person.

"Our findings are consistent with the proposal that political orientation is associated with psychological processes for managing fear and uncertainty," the study said.


The original journal article is here. It regurgitates a lot of other old myths too. But I have already written on them in the journals (e.g. here) so I will not repeat myself here.


Government Shutdown 2011? – Things You Need To Know

Both sides are attempting to play political hardball. During the 2010 campaign, the Republicans promised to cut $100 billion from the budget for 2011 and they know that Tea Party activists are going to hold them accountable. The Democrats control the Senate and the presidency and they probably figure that when push comes to shove that many of the new, inexperienced Republicans in the House can be intimidated into giving in.

But in the end it really doesn't matter that much who wins this battle. The Republicans are proposing $61 billion in budget cuts which would cut the budget deficit for 2011 by only 3.8 percent. The Democrats are proposing $33 billion in budget cuts which would cut the budget deficit for 2011 by just 2.1 percent. Is that extra 1.7 percent really going to make a massive difference over the long run? Of course not.

But right now Republicans and Democrats are both in the mood for a fight, so we really might actually see a government shutdown.

If the government does shut down, it probably won't be for too long. The longest government shutdown of all time ended in early January 1996 and it lasted just 21 days.

So exactly what would happen if there is a government shutdown in 2011? If it does actually happen, the following are 16 things you will need to know....

#1 Hundreds of thousands of "non-essential" federal workers will be told to stay home during a government shutdown.

#2 Those in the military will not receive paychecks during a government shutdown but they will be required to keep performing their duties.

#3 The Obama administration is anticipating "significantly lower staffing levels" at the White House if a shutdown happens.

#4 Barack Obama will continue to be paid during a government shutdown.

#5 Congress will also be paid and will continue to operate at close to normal levels during a government shutdown.

#6 The Federal Reserve will continue to operate normally during a government shutdown. The Federal Reserve is not part of the U.S. government.

#7 In all probability, all government employees will eventually receive any pay that is missed during a government shutdown. During the 5 day U.S. government shutdown back in 1995, approximately 800,000 "non-essential" government employees were told not to come in to work. But eventually they all got paid retroactively anyway.

#8 During a government shutdown, the Department of Homeland Security will suspend operation of its e-Verify system. Employers will be unable to verify the immigration status of job applicants and that could have a substantial negative impact on hiring.

#9 The processing of small business loans and FHA mortgages will be delayed during a government shutdown.

#10 The U.S. Postal Service will not be affected by a government shutdown. You will continue to get your mail.

#11 According to the Social Security Administration, everyone that is currently receiving Social Security benefits will continue to receive those benefits during a shutdown. New applications will be delayed however.

#12 Medicare payments will continue during a government shutdown, but there will be a delay in processing new applications.

#13 During a government shutdown, the processing of paper tax returns by the IRS would be delayed.

#14 If there is a government shutdown, the processing of passport and visa applications could be seriously delayed. This could have a negative impact on the tourism industry.

#15 National parks, museums and tourist attractions will be shut down. According to the Washington Post, "about 500,000 visitors could be turned away this weekend alone from the National Zoo and the major Smithsonian museums on the Mall".

#16 The annual Cherry Blossom Festival parade in Washington D.C. that is scheduled for this weekend would be cancelled.

So why don't the two sides just compromise on a figure and get it over with? Well, it is just not that simple.

Barack Obama is pledging that he will not sign any budget bill that cuts funding for Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Protection Agency.

But to Republicans those are very important things. Many Republicans are sick and tired of large amounts of money going to the Planned Parenthood abortion mills and many Republicans are determined to take away the EPA’s authority to regulate the "greenhouse gases" that many Democrats believe are causing "global warming".

If the Republicans back down they risk alienating their Tea Party supporters. And we have already seen what happens to Republican politicians that cross the Tea Party. The truth is that many Tea Party activists are already upset with the compromises that Republican leaders have been making.

Originally, Republicans had pledged to slash $100 billion from the budget for this year. Then, they said that $61 billion was good enough because a large portion of the fiscal year was already gone.

Now that there are rumors that Boehner may be willing to reduce that figure even further, some Tea Party activists are becoming extremely upset. Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips posted the following message on his organization's website about a month ago.... "The Tea Party movement should find a candidate to run against John Boehner in 2012 and should set as a goal, to defeat in a primary, the sitting Speaker of the House of Representatives."

The truth is that this entire controversy shows how divided America is right now. The Democrat base is simply not going to accept cuts to Planned Parenthood or the EPA. The Tea Party base is simply not going to accept the small budget cuts that the Democrats are offering.

So who is going to give in? Whichever party does give in is going to have a lot of explaining to do to their base. But if neither side gives in we could be in for an extended government shutdown. It is certainly a fascinating game of "chicken" we have got going on. It is going to be extremely interesting to see who blinks first.

Personally I think it is going to be Boehner that is going to cave. If he can get the Democrats to agree to a budget cut figure in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 billion dollars I think he is going to grab it and try to "spin" it as a great victory for fiscal conservatives.

Unfortunately, the truth is that no matter who "wins" this current battle government debt is going to continue to soar. The Obama administration is projecting that the deficit for this year will be 1.6 trillion dollars. Even if we were to cut $100 billion from that number it would barely make a dent. The U.S. financial system is dying, and nothing that the Republicans or the Democrats are doing right now is going to change that.



Your government will protect you

Air traffic controllers have been catching a lot of grief for sleeping on the job lately. But do you know what Transportation Security Administration officials have been doing -- or rather, not doing -- lately? A federal watchdog revealed this week that TSA's counterterrorism specialists failed to detect 16 separate jihad operatives who moved through target airports "on at least 23 different occasions." The name of the TSA monitoring program paying for all this flying-blind failure, I kid you not: SPOT.

Under the "Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques" plan, TSA's designated behavior detection officers are supposed to closely watch travelers who pose potential security risks and who exhibit any number of appearances or activities "indicative of stress, fear, or deception." But long-entrenched, bipartisan American political correctness hampers the kind of effective, efficient national security profiling that Israeli airline security officials practice so well.

The result? TSA's snoozing SPOT-ters catch nobody -- for fear of being accused by the grievance lobby of singling anybody out.

Stephen Lord, who specializes in homeland security issues at the Government Accountability Office, reviewed Justice Department documents showing that "in December 2007 an individual who later pleaded guilty to providing material support to Somali terrorists boarded a plane at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport en route to Somalia. Similarly, in August 2008, an individual who later pleaded guilty to providing material support to al Qaeda boarded a plane at Newark Liberty International Airport en route to Pakistan to receive terrorist training to support his efforts to attack the New York subway system."

Other terror suspect travelers who slipped through the cracks have been subsequently tied to the 2008 Mumbai bombings; the plots to attack a Quantico, Va., Marine base and New York City infrastructure; and an attack by a Pakistani-trained American jihadi on an Afghanistan base.

Young. Male. Muslim. Traveling to al-Qaida friendly hot spots. How did these at-risk terror tourists escape scrutiny?




WI: Prosser gains 7,500 votes, reversing unoffical election result: "In a political bombshell, the clerk in a Republican stronghold released new vote totals adding a net total of 7,582 new votes in the tight state Supreme Court race to Justice David Prosser, swinging the race significantly in his favor. Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said Thursday that she failed to save in her computer and consequently report 14,315 votes cast in the city of Brookfield, omitting them entirely in an unofficial tally released after Tuesday's election. The new totals give 10,859 more votes to Prosser from Brookfield and 3,456 more to Kloppenburg, she said."

Israel shells Gaza after anti-tank missile deliberately fired at school bus: "Israeli artillery and attack helicopters retaliated on Thursday after an anti-tank missile fired from the Gaza Strip hit an Israeli school bus, seriously wounding a teenage boy and injuring several others. Israeli forces immediately struck back, shelling various locations across the Gaza Strip, killing a 50-year-old man and wounding at least eight people including a 4-year-old girl, Palestinian medics said"

Shutdown can’t come soon enough: "In anticipation of the possibility that Congress will fail to 'reach a compromise' on a spending bill, CNNMoney reports that 'a shutdown is looking ever more likely.' Even in the event of a 'shutdown,' reminds the article, the federal government’s essential services, those 'operations necessary for the safety of human life and protection of property,' would carry on. It is perhaps telling, though, that government employees 'who protect … elements of the money and banking system' are among those 'essential' workers. In light of a potential 'shutdown,' the last of which came in 1995, we might take some time out to consider what the essence of the state really is, that is, what it is inherently designed to do in society."

Double standards on impeachment: "So The Nation was in favor of impeachment when the war was Bush's and it was useful to win votes for Dems in the 2006 elections. The Nation's editor was delighted with Holtzmann's article featured on the cover. But The Nation and the same editor now stand mute when the war and the violation of the Constitution are Obama's."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


7 April, 2011

Paul Ryan's Budget Proposal is Half the Answer

This morning, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) unveiled a bold proposal to trim trillions off America's bloated budget. It represents the only serious proposal out there to get America's finances back in order, and as such he is to be congratulated for his courage and foresight.

However, as Margaret Thatcher found in the UK during the 1980s, spending is only half the battle. The nature of the bureaucratic beast is that it will expand again. That's why President Reagan's simplification of the Tax Code wore off, and we now have a far more complex tax code than we did before tax reform.

We therefore need a similarly comprehensive reform of the federal government that will address what might be termed the "supply side" of the federal bureaucracy, to prevent it getting in the way of an entrepreneur-led recovery.

This reform should include:

* Abolition of whole government departments that have no valid constitutional purpose, such as the Department of Education and the Department of Labor

* The rechartering of valid existing agencies as performance-based agencies that exist to serve the public, not hinder them

* Reform of federal pay and working conditions

* A reduction in the use of federal contracts and grants, to tackle the "shadow" public sector

* Introduction of a single, fair tax system and a new Taxpayers' Bill of Rights

* End labor unions' privileges that put them above the law

* Privatization of appropriate government functions

* and, above all: Genuine regulatory reform as proposed by Wayne Crews and Ryan Young.

A genuine public sector reform package must be as sweeping and comprehensive as Rep. Ryan's spending reform package. Only then will America be on the road to genuine, sustainable recovery.



The Swift Death of the New Tone

Mary Katharine Ham

A child's handwritten sign that reads "We hate Scott Wacre" is seen taped to a wall in the rotunda during protests against budget cuts proposed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, R, at the state Capitol in Madison. The "new tone" the Left has been demanding from conservatives was nowhere to be seen during the union protests

Remember the days, in August of 2009, when conservatives merely raising their voices at health care town halls portended the sure destruction of the Republic? There were large numbers of conservatives gathering peacefully (and, yes, sometimes angrily) to express their discontent with Obama's health care law. The media decided these protests were threatening and dangerous on their face.

The mere gathering together of conservatives critical of the president caused Chris Matthews to sputter and Rachel Maddow to whine about the closed-minded, racist and surely violent crowds that would be the undoing of the Union. The only problem was there wasn't much violence to speak of.

During the most heated month of the health care uprising, when more than 500 town halls took place over one month across the country, there were exactly 10 instances of documented violence. Most of them were confined to the ripping of signs and minor tussles (though there were a handful of punches thrown), and seven of 10 incidents were perpetrated by ObamaCare supporters on protesters, according to photos, police reports and witnesses.

Nonetheless, the media kept up its "Climate of Hate" narrative through 2010, tsk-tsking over the tone of protest posters, often erroneously blaming tea partiers for Lyndon Larouche activists' Hitler signs and generally making a giant, scary deal out of the least errant word from any right-leaning protester in any place at any time.

There was evidence in 2009 that the stringent requirements for polite protest were not going to apply to everyone. Concurrent with the health care protests that made the media to tremble with their ferocity, the international community held the G20 gathering in Pittsburgh. There, a collection of liberal and anarchist protesters did approximately $50,000 of damage to local businesses, and 190 of them were arrested for blocking traffic and rolling trash bins and throwing rocks at police.

The CBS headline for that story? "Police fire gas on G20 protesters."

By 2011, the "violent right-wingers" narrative took its most irresponsible turn yet and blamed Sarah Palin's political speech for the shooting of Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz. Giffords is recovering, praise God, after being shot in the head by a mentally ill man who had been fixated on her since at least 2007. To this day, there is no evidence that he was motivated by anyone's political rhetoric, martial words or imagery. The 28-page federal indictment of Jared Lee Loughner does not mention Palin's now-infamous crosshairs map as a cause of the incident because it wasn't.

Nonetheless, the country was called by all of national media to a time of soul-searching about our "tone." There should be a new tone, they said, and President Barack Obama echoed that in his Tucson speech saying our rhetoric should "honor" those who had been killed while engaging in our democratic process in that Safeway parking lot.

Several right-leaning pundits joined the call to civility, giving credence to the idea that rhetoric and Loughner's crime were somehow connected -- among them David Frum, Joe Scarborough and Jeb Bush.

But the new tone didn't last long. After all, it could last only until it was necessary for liberals to protest again, at which point all the rules imposed on conservative activists would be swiftly jettisoned.

Excerpt from the print edition of Townhall magazine


Pelosi: The GOP's getting ready to starve six million seniors or something

I don't know which budget bill she's talking about, the 2011 one or Ryan's new one, but if it's the former than she's actually complaining here about a GOP budget that she could have prevented by passing a budget herself last year when she was Speaker. (Of course, with Democrats in control in the Senate and White House, any Mass Senior Starvation Program would require bipartisan support to pass now anyway.)

Anyway, get used to this: Warnings about grandma being forced to eat styrofoam peanuts and Fancy Feast because of heartless Republicans and their insane crusade for solvency will be a staple of Democratic talking points by next November, especially with the White House desperate to win back seniors alienated by ObamaCare.

Last week it was the GOP wanting kids abroad to die of malaria, this week it's our nation's elderly being made to eat out of garbage cans or else waste away, next week it'll be something to do with puppies. So let me repeat the question posed last week: If they're this worried about important programs falling through the cracks, shouldn't they want to come to the table and make some sort of deal on a long-term sustainable budget that protects welfare programs to some extent?

How does letting the country collapse fiscally, which would prompt truly draconian cuts under an austerity plan to rebalance the books, put more food on seniors' tables?

In fact, that's one of my core complaints with the GOP's "messaging" thus far, as bold as it's otherwise been. Thanks to Obama's appalling, irresponsible budget, the public is still under the illusion that we're debating whether to reform entitlements. We aren't. We're debating when to reform them - now, when we have the luxury of lengthy debate, or later under extreme duress.

I know how Nancy would solve this problem, but her answer is no more realistic politically than wanting to abolish Social Security and Medicare. So what's the magic Pelosi plan for keeping those seniors - and everyone else - fed and insured and averting a fiscal catastrophe, the part of the equation that somehow always gets lost in these heartbreaking tales of woe? She's the House leader for the Party Of Ideas, right? Let's hear some ideas.



Time Magazine Moonbat Explains Why Koran Is More Sacred Than Bible

According to the liberal creed of moral relativism, all religions are the same, except that Christianity is bad because of the Crusades, and Islam is good because Arabs have slightly darker skin. Also, it's okay to burn Bibles, but burning the Koran is an affront to God. Time Magazine, the liberal establishment's outpost in the dentist's office, explains through "World Editor" Bobby Gauche to Hardball bench player Chuck Clod:
GHOSH: The thing to keep in mind that's very important here is that the Koran to Muslims, it is not - it is not the same as the Bible to Christians. The Bible is a book written by men. It is acknowledged by Christians that it is written by men. It's the story of Jesus.

TODD: Yes.

GHOSH: But the Koran, if you are a believer, if you're a Muslim, the Koran is directly the word of God, not written by man. It is transcribed, is directly the word of God. That makes it sacred in a way that it's hard to understand if you're not Muslim. So the act of burning a Koran is much more - potentially much, much more inflammatory than -

TODD: Directly attacking - directly attacking God.

GHOSH: - than if you were to burn a - burn a Bible.

TODD: Directly attacking God.

No doubt that received a hearty "Amen!" from the dhimmified moonbats in MSNBC's odious audience.

Hopey Change and "fundamental transformation" aside, this is still America. We can burn any book we like - even the one book our liberal overlords least want us to burn. If Muslims don't use it as a pretext to murder people, they'll find some other pretext, because violent intimidation is the only thing that keeps their evil cult alive.


A pretty poor understanding of Christian doctrine there. Many Christians believe that every word of the Bible is inspired by God and is hence unerring. Muslims believe exactly the same about the Koran. The different responses of Christians and Muslims to desecration of their sacred book is in the religions concerned. Christians preach a God of Love. Muslims preach a God of jihad and world domination

May I make a small linguistic point in that connection? Some people (mostly non-Christians, I think) say that fundamentalist Christians believe in an "inerrant" Bible. They do not. "Inerrant" means "not wandering about". An "errant" knight is not a knight who makes a lot of mistakes but simply a wandering knight. "Errant" is ultimately derived from the Latin "iter", a walk or a journey. Compare "itinerant". The Christian belief is in an "unerring" Bible, a Bible that makes no mistakes.

Dictionaries report the mistaken usage these days but it is still a mistake -- JR



NV: ACORN pleads guilty in voter fraud case: "The defunct political advocacy group ACORN has pleaded guilty in a case alleging that canvassers were illegally paid to register Nevada voters during the 2008 presidential campaign. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Wednesday that ACORN defense attorney Lisa Rasmussen entered the guilty plea to one count of felony compensation for registration of voters."

Obama's first 2012 campaign event: Facebook "meeting" on Hitler's birthday, Columbine anniversary: "In 2008 thousands of Americans turned out to mass rallies in support of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. And the President has just announced plans for his first big rally of his re-election bid as he launches his run for a second term of office in 2012. But this time the first major gathering of the campaign is being held online as President Obama invites his Facebook friends to attend a '`virtual meeting.'"

How can anyone take this seriously?: "Republican fiscal conservatism is akin to a 500-pound-man declaring aloud in January that he is determined to lose weight, and so he promises to forgo exactly half a glass of eggnog on Thanksgiving - and if you protest, and insist he drink the whole glass, he will have none of it, because he has made up his mind to lose weight and refuses to compromise. This is the state of modern American politics."

Solis's pro-union bias: "Speaking to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., Labor Secretary Hilda Solis admitted she was biased toward unions. Unions only account for 11.9 percent of the workforce, but Solis' favoritism puts them ahead of the other 88 percent of the American workers."

What if the government shut down... and nobody cared?: "Everyone keeps talking about a possible government shut down on Friday, April 8 as though it is a bad thing. Someone will get the blame. The president or the Republicans or Democrats will suffer at the polls. The planets will fall out of alignment. Reporters might run out of things to pontificate upon. Listening to pundits one gets the impression that there will be a federal tsunami washing away life as we know it; chaos in the streets; weeping and gnashing of teeth for all. But one wonders, how bad would it really be for government to call in sick for a few days?"

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


6 April, 2011

Is God a racist?

Orthodox Jews seem to claim that God made a covenant with them as a nation, as a particular genetic group or race. I doubt that. From Moses on right through the Hebrew prophets, Yahveh (the name of God in the Hebrew Bible, sometimes translated as "Jehovah" in English Bibles) poured out imprecations and condemnations on the Israelites if they strayed from the true religion. It would seem clear that Yahveh defined his people by their RELIGION rather than by their race.

So how does that leave modern Jews in the eyes of Yahveh? As an atheist, I am in a poor position to say but if we assume his existence and read his words in the Bible, it does not look too good. They obey the Torah only selectively (they no longer put homosexuals to death, for instance) and they have not rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem despite being in a good position to do so.

Additionally they have done the exact opposite of what he intended regarding his name. We read in Psalm 83:18 "That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth" (KJV). Yahveh clearly had big ambitions for his name and regarded himself as ruling not only the Israelites but all the earth. And even in the Ten Commandments, he stressed the importance and dignity of his name -- forbidding disrespectful use of it.

Yet what did Israelites, starting from around 200 AD or earlier, do? Far from proclaiming Yahveh's mighty name worldwide, they stopped using it altogether! And modern Jews do the same. I can't see Yahveh being pleased with that! No wonder he let the Romans boot them out of Israel.

So has Yahveh transferred his support to the Christians? It's possible. On numbers alone it would seem so. The descendants (spiritual descendants?) of Abraham were promised that they would be a multitude throughout the earth. "Abraham" means "father of a multitude" and we read: "And he brought him [Abraham] forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be". (Gen 15:5).

The Christians are that multitude but Jews are not. On best estimates there are even 200 million Christians in China these days. So whom does this text best fit? Jews or Christians: "I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:2-3)". It's a matter of opinion, of course but it is Christians who have both the numbers and the influence. And has not Christian civilization been a great blessing to the whole world? And "Jew" is much more often a curse than a blessing.

And remember that respect for his law was what Yahveh cared about. He even provided a nifty executive summary of it (or what scientists would call an "Abstract"). I refer of course to the Ten Commandments. And Christians are very zealous about teaching the Ten Commandments. And they distribute Bibles worldwide that contain the Torah in full.

What would I know? Nothing, perhaps. But that is what I see in the Hebrew scriptures. I probably should give theology up.


A rather good news roundup from Fred Meekins

David Frum has mocked Glenn Beck from the standpoint of the 295 million Americans that don’t watch Beck. Wonder if Frum realizes that the number having no idea who David Frum is surpasses even that figure?

Al Sharpton held a rally against the Congressional investigation into radical Islam. Amazing dupes such as him fail to realize he will be among the first eliminated should an Islamist revolution (or any kind of leftist revolution for that matter) ever takes place.

Even if the government gave every ghetto youth a laptop and an IPOD as Jesse Jackson Jr. suggests, they wouldn’t use the devices for educational purposes.

Obama is having his own beer brewed at the White House. Guess it is revealed after all that the thing wrong with homebrewing is not so much the health concerns but rather that the government might not get its cut if you sell it to some friends or neighbors. You let it out that you brew your own beer and see if they don’t torch your place like the Waco compound in the name of public safety.

A true cowboy wouldn’t want the federal government to finance their poetry festival.

If you think it is mean spirited to cut Public Broadcasting, just think how mean spirited it will be when Americans are forced to live in conditions reminiscent of Mel Gibson’s “Mad Max” or Kevin Costner’s “The Postman”.

Castro’s Twitter account breaks 100,000 followers. His regime heralds it as the first Cuban themed account to reach that plateau. Most Cubans probably don’t even have access to electricity and any with Twitter accounts are probably sent to labor camps or executed before being allowed to attract such a following.

A state park has celebrated Pancho Villa’s attack. Only in America are those out to destroy us lavished with government funds and public accolades.

Representative Keith Ellison broke down during Congressional hearings into radical Islam in recounting the plight of a Muslim rescue worker that perished in the attack on the World Trade Center. Wonder if Rep. Keith Ellison shed any tears for any non-Mulsims that perished on 9/11. Rep. Ellison notes 29 Muslims died in New York on 9/11. I guess adherents of other creeds perishing that day aren’t worthy of this esteemed legislator’s mention. With the name “Keith Ellison”, it’s doubtful the Minnesota representative was born a Muslim. Wonder if a Muslim converting to Christianity would even be allowed to remain alive in an Islamist society much less serve in its legislature. Wonder how many tears Keith Ellison has shed over Muslims killed for converting to Christianity. How come its an emotional act of courage for Ellison to weep but a lack of manhood when the Speaker of the House sheds tears?

Religious fanatics have already categorized the Japanese earthquake as God’s judgment and insinuated the victims got what they deserved. Unless one of the victims was conducting seismic warfare experiments that got the best of them, isn’t such a conclusion a bit presumptuous? It’s not like the Almighty promptly issued a press release as to why this particular tragedy was allowed to occur.

A British mother claims her premature baby was tossed into a room to die. Struggling in his mother’s arms as life slipped from his one-pound body, hospital staff did nothing (as stipulated by hospital policy) to save his life. Apparently there is no money to save you if you have a solid English name like “Godwin” as did this child. However, no doubt bags of cash will be tossed your way if your name is “Akmed” or “Hasan” and intend to defecate all over the Union Jack.

A Florida school has implemented a virtual police state, including gastronomical prohibitions and low tech breathalyzer checks, over the peanut allergy of a single student. Wouldn’t responsible parents instead simply homeschool the child, acquire a tutor, or send their offspring to a special facility? So if a school can ban peanuts because even the aroma of this particular legume might send a single student into fatal apoplexy, if American students are sickened by the stench of the swill eaten by foreigners, will these kinds of victuals be banned as well?

Wasn’t aware votive candles could be eaten. If not, why are they in the aisle listed as “Hispanic Food”? I don’t remember there being an aisle demarcated as “Redneck Food” dedicated to Anglo dietary peculiarities.

On the 3/24/11 episode of “Radio Liberty with Stan Montieth”, privacy advocate Katherine Albrecht warned that electricity rates could go as high as $1,000 per month for those not upgrading their appliances and utilities to “smart grid” technologies.

Farrakhan explicitly insists that Americans (especially the White ones which his sect believes are the result of an ancient experiment in genetic engineering) are beasts and not human. This is so when his minions start killing, in their eyes it won’t be construed as murder since that is a crime committed against human beings and not animals.

Scientists from Harvard and MIT are developing instruments to confirm their preconceived hypothesis that life on Earth actually began on Mars. Yet if one believes the Genesis account as literal, they are laughed out of academia. This is being done for no other reason than to lay the foundation for declaring humanity the greatest invasive species of them all and to justify what will become history’s most notorious campaign of genocide. Mark 13:20 reads, “And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.”



View of U.S. Shapes Lib/Con Divide

Michael Medved

An indignant Democrat of my acquaintance accuses conservatives of hypocrisy when they criticize President Obama for acting with caution and restraint in response to crisis. He accurately points out that caution and restraint represent core conservative virtues, and that most leaders on the right ripped the president during his first two years for pushing too fast for transformational change. How, then, can they attack him now for reacting too modestly, too slowly to Libya, Egypt, Japan, oil prices, or anything else?

Beyond fleeting politics of the moment, this challenge brings into focus a single explanation to two persistent mysteries:

First, how can conservatives passionately demand a smaller role for the federal government in every aspect of American life, while simultaneously insisting that Washington should play a more activist part in world affairs?

Second, why should liberals who trust the federal bureaucracy to address nearly all our domestic problems feel such powerful, palpable reluctance for that same government to assume a leadership role in the international community?

The answer to both questions centers on contrasting notions of American exceptionalism.

Nearly all citizens of the U.S. believe that our country counts as unparalleled and set apart from the rest of the world. The right views America as exceptionally blessed and righteous — chosen by God (or fate, if you prefer) to inspire humanity with distinctive ideals of liberty, self rule and free markets. The left, on the other hand, expresses an intensifying tendency to see the U.S. as exceptionally guilty (for slavery, "genocide" against Native Americans and arrogant imperialism) and exceptionally backward when it comes to "social justice." Progressives never tire of reminding us that the United States lacks the welfare state guarantees that characterize other wealthy nations, and that it tolerates a vast gap between rich and poor.

These sharply conflicting world views (or nation views, at least) inform dramatically different approaches to domestic and foreign challenges.

For conservatives, sweeping federal action is unnecessary and counterproductive when it comes to economic or social problems here in the USA. On the economy, they argue that normal business cycles would bring recovery if only government got out of the way. They point to more than a dozen downturns, all of which quickly gave way to powerful spurts of growth — except for the Great Depression which, according to the right, FDR needlessly extended with his wasteful New Deal. Republicans maintain an almost mystical faith in the American people and the powers of the market. That's why the only federal reform programs they promote with a true sense of urgency involve tax cuts, allowing more resources to remain in control of enlightened private citizens who can use those assets to repair problems more effectively than bumbling bureaucrats.

When it comes to the rest of the world, however, the right maintains far greater skepticism. The so-called community of nations (a musty euphemism that seems almost laughable today) can't heal itself without American direction and assistance. We tried leaving the world alone to solve its own problems in the isolationist 1920s and '30s, but then had to face Hitlerism and Stalinism, along with 60 million corpses in World War II.

Conservatives passionately embrace the idea that the United States is better than the rest of the world, so the American people need a strong hand from Washington far less than do beleaguered hordes in less fortunate societies around the world.

Progressives also believe that the U.S. stands out from other nations, but they tacitly or explicitly assume that we distinguish ourselves in a negative sense — encouraging greed, environmental pillage, materialism and neocolonialism. This vision of the United States gives rise to the claim that long-suffering citizens of this republic need decisive, reformist leadership from the nation's capital in order to drag the benighted USA into the 21st century, at the same time that the nation will fare better in the international arena by following the lead of multilateral organizations (as in dealing with Libya) and learning from governments with more advanced ideas.

These radically contrasting attitudes toward America and its position in the world shape the polarization at the center of today's politics. The fundamental questions that divide left and right nearly everywhere concern assessments of the United States. It's those questions that determine the point on the spectrum where individuals locate themselves:

•Is America a gift or a threat to the rest of humanity?

•Do American values count as nobler — or more dysfunctional — than, say, European values?

•Should the United States continue to lead the world or would the planet benefit from swaggering Americans learning from more civilized societies of Europe and elsewhere?

Given the sharp disagreements about the very nature of our distinctive national identity, it's not surprising that conservatives want less Washington interference at home and more Washington determination abroad, while liberals hope for less influence by the American government overseas along with a more muscular federal role in reshaping dysfunctional realities of the homeland.

In this context, Barack Obama is perfectly consistent in demonstrating aggressive leadership in stateside politics but a timorous, reluctant role in foreign affairs. His conservative critics also apply their own philosophy with unassailable coherence by demanding more American power abroad but less meddling with citizens here at home.




A good reason to learn English: "When an elderly patient asked Isabela to hand her three tablets, the home health attendant froze. The patient had read the label, which had been translated from English to Spanish, and it instructed her to take three tablets every time she took the medicine. Isabela, who did not want her last name used, knew from experience -- and a phone call to the doctor confirmed her hunch -- that the correct instruction should have been to take one tablet three times a day. The medication label, it turns out, had been wrongly translated."

Ryan budget: A huge opportunity to improve healthcare: "On Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will release a budget blueprint that tackles the three big health care challenges facing the federal budget — ObamaCare, Medicare and Medicaid — with a strategy of repeal, vouchers and block grants. Done properly, those steps would simultaneously improve health care and help balance the budget within a decade."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


5 April, 2011

Leftist psychopathy on display

They have no human fellow feelings at all. They just pretend they do

Are you old enough to remember the polio-era line: "funny as an iron lung"? After all, what kind of person would find funny the notion of someone fighting to breathe?

Answer: Mika Brzezinski.

Today's Morning Joe played a Letterman clip of a faux-promo for an imaginary TV show called "The Dick Cheney Story." As the title song from the Mary Tyler Moore Show plays merrily in the background, we're treated to images of Cheney wielding a gun, in a wheelchair and undergoing open-heart surgery. The clip closes with video of Cheney fighting to get a breath of air.

Cut to Mika, doubled-over, laughing hysterically, literally to the point of tears.



Saving America From Greedy Politicians

"Sadly, we could end up with a generation of Americans who want to work at the Department of Motor Vehicles."

Without explanation, that quote may seem like the ramp-up to a joke. It might be part of a Jay Leno monolog. Or you could follow it up with the famous Jerry Seinfeld ".not that there's anything wrong with that" line.

But that analysis actually appeared in last Friday's edition of the Wall Street Journal. In an editorial entitled "We've Become A Nation Of Takers, Not Makers," Senior Economics Writer Stephen Moore noted that among a large portion of America's college students and recent graduates, government employment is viewed as superior to private sector enterprise because of the "near lifetime security" that government agencies offer their workers.

"When 23-year-olds aren't willing to take career risks" Moore noted, "we have a real problem on our hands."

To help make the case of our "real problem," Moore noted that there are presently more Americans working for their government than there are Americans working in the private sector construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities industries combined. And when you compile this bit of information with the reality that government agencies don't produce wealth at all - they merely "collect" portions of the wealth that is produced in the private sector as tax revenue and then spend it to produce government services - then, yes, one can see a bit more clearly why Moore concludes that we have moved decisively from a "nation of makers to a nation of takers."

The "takers" and "makers" analysis is powerful, and hopefully makes sense to lots of Americans. One doesn't have to think too deeply to understand that if an insufficient number of us are "making" things and producing economic value, and too many of us are merely "taking" and consuming the insufficient amount of "things" that are made, well, then, eventually a nation runs out of things to "take."

Yet understanding the vicious cycle that keeps our nation on this very destructive path is quite challenging for some. It requires one to understand some very basic things about economics, yes, but also requires one to care enough to understand a few things about our nation's politics - and "politics" and "economics" are two subjects that many Americans find distasteful.

But consider this: many of the politicians that set policy regarding government employment have a personal self-interest in continuing the trend of creating more government employee "takers" - even if to do so is, in the long run, bad for the country. Mayors, County Supervisors, Governors - and yes even our President - can generally count on grass-roots volunteerism, campaign contributions, and votes from large blocks of government employees, as long as they protect and enhance the ranks of government employment and shelter government workers from the ups and downs that the private sector experiences.

President Barack Obama leads the way with this destructive and self-serving politics. He has made it a central theme of his presidency to speak often of the need for "shared sacifice," noting that we all must be willing to "give a little" in order for our nation to fully recover from the "great recession."

Yet when the government of Wisconsin sought to let their state employees "share" in the sacrifice, President Obama intervened and insisted that government employees were being "maligned." In reality, state taxpayers in Wisconsin pay nearly 100% of the costs of government employee retirement pensions, and well over 90% of government employee's healthcare insurance costs. The uproar in that state was never about Wisconsin indiscriminately firing government workers or cutting the workers' benefits, but about the necessity of government employees taking more financial responsibility for their own retirement and healthcare.

But President Obama will have nothing to do with government employees being made to sacrifice. The more lavish their employment, the more they will vote for Mr. Obama and his party. And so our President, instead, maligned the Government officials of Wisconsin that were trying to save their state from insolvency.

A similar situation is unfolding in California. Governor Jerry Brown presides over the absolute worst statewide fiscal mess in the history of our country. He prides himself in "cutting government spending" his first ninety days in office, yet most of the "cuts" came from the elimination of taxpayer funded mobile telephone and vehicle privileges for government workers (most of us in the private sector don't get "free" mobile phones and cars anyway, but this had apparently become the norm for a good many California state employees).

But Governor Brown absolutely must cut state spending further, and to do so requires that he reduce California employee retirement and healthcare benefits. Yet government employee labor unions bankrolled Brown's campaign last year, and they now "own" him. Thus, Governor Brown has chosen to treat his fiscal mess as a "revenue" issue, rather than a "spending" issue, and is now pursuing a "raise taxes on the rich" solution.

Will America reverse course, and move away from being a nation of mere takers? We must first reject the self-serving politicians who are the greatest benefactors of the "taking."



Political Statistics

Thomas Sowell

When someone gives you a check and the bank informs you that there are insufficient funds, who do you get mad at? In your own life, you get mad at the guy who gave you a check that bounced, not at the bank. But, in politics, you get mad at whoever tells you that there is no money.

One of the secrets of the growth of the welfare state is that politicians get a lot of mileage out of making promises, without setting aside enough money to fulfill those promises.

When Congress votes for all sorts of benefits, without voting for enough taxes to pay for them, they get the support of those who have been promised the benefits, without getting grief from the taxpayers. It's strictly win-win as far as the welfare-state politicians are concerned. But it is strictly lose-lose, big-time, for the country, as deficits skyrocket.

Anyone who says that we don't have the money to pay what was promised is accused of trying to destroy Social Security, Medicare or Obamacare-- or whatever other unfunded promises have been made. It is like blaming the bank for saying that the check bounced.

It is the same story at the state level as in Washington. The lavish pensions promised to members of public sector unions cannot continue to be paid because the money is just not there. But who are the unions mad at? Those who say that the money is not there.

How far short are the states? It varies from one state to another. It also varies with how large a rate of return the state gets on its investments with the inadequate amount of money that has been set aside to cover its promised pensions.

A front page story on the March 28th issue of Investor's Business Daily showed plainly, with bar graphs, how big Florida's shortfall is under various rates of return on that state's investments. Florida's own estimate of its pension fund's shortfall is based on assuming that they will receive a rate of return of 7.75 percent. But what if it turns out that they don't get that high a return?

A 6 percent rate of return would more than triple the size of Florida's unfunded liability for its employees' pension. The actual rate of return that Florida has received over the past decade has been only 2.6 percent. In other words, by simply assuming a far higher future rate of return on their investments than they have received in the past, Florida politicians can deceive the public as to how deep a hole the state's finances are in.

Political games like this are not confined to Florida. State budgets and federal budgets are not records of facts. They are projections based on assumptions. Just by manipulating a few assumptions, politicians can create a scenario that bears no resemblance to reality.

The "savings" to be made by instituting Obamacare is a product of this kind of manipulation of assumptions. Even when the people who turn out the budget projections do an honest job, they are working with the assumptions given to them by the politicians.

The fact that the end results carry the imprimatur of the Congressional Budget Office-- or of some comparable state agency or reputable private accounting firm-- means absolutely nothing.

When Florida arbitrarily assumes that it is going to get a future rate of return on its pension fund investment that is roughly three times what its past returns have been, that is the same nonsense as when the feds assume that Congress will cut half a billion dollars out of Medicare to finance ObamaCare.

We would probably be better off if there were no Congressional Budget Office to lend its credibility to data based on hopelessly unrealistic assumptions fed to them by politicians.

One of the reasons why a federal "balanced budget" amendment is unlikely to do what many of its advocates claim is that a budget is just a plan for the future. It does not have to bear any resemblance to the realities of either the past or the future.

We do not need reassurances that do not reassure, whether these reassurances are in numbers or in words. No small part of the reason for the economic collapse we have been through is that federally designated rating agencies reassured investors that many mortgage-backed securities were safe, when they were not.

Not only investors, but the whole economy, would have been better off without these reassurances. "Caveat emptor" would be better advice for both investors and voters.



Democrats Not Governing, But Lying in Wait

David Limbaugh

Do you believe Rep. Paul Ryan when he says we only have a few years left to get our fiscal house in order, or we're going to face European-type austerity? How about the co-chairmen of the bipartisan deficit commission, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who have essentially issued the same warning?

Have you taken a hard look at President Obama's 10-year budget with a view to whether it would marginally address the crisis? Are you aware of the gargantuan deficits it projects -- averaging some $1 trillion per year -- and that this is before considering the Congressional Budget Office's scoring that revealed that its projected cumulative deficits were understated by a staggering $2.3 trillion?

Did you know that entitlements -- mainly Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- are the primary drivers of these deficits but that Obama has yet to come to the table with a genuine entitlement reform proposal? Or that congressional Democrats, for the first time since 1974, did not pass a budget and all of the current wrangling over continuing resolutions and government shutdowns is a direct result of their dereliction?

Can you explain why President Obama, touted as the finest orator in the modern era, didn't exercise leadership over his Democratic lieutenants in Congress to quit playing fiscal Russian roulette? Or why those Democrats proposed just $6 billion in further budget cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year -- and then, only under GOP pressure -- when the budget is $3.8 trillion? Or why they are characterizing the GOP's proposal of $61 billion in cuts (1.6 percent of the budget) as "Draconian"?

You surely know that President Obama has ceaselessly dodged his fiscal responsibilities by blaming his budgets on the $1.3 trillion deficit he "inherited." But how about that he was instrumental in ensuring the passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which contributed heavily to that then-extraordinary deficit number, and that even so, the actual number is substantially lower when you factor in the TARP repayments?

Regardless, don't you think it's fair that we hold him accountable for what he's done since he assumed office? Or should we just let him run against President Bush's record again in 2012, blithely pretending he's been an impotent bystander for four years?

Consider Obama's audacity in scapegoating Bush for deficits that he was instrumental in creating and then proposing, as a solution, an $800 billion pork-laden stimulus bill and trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.

You'll remember his boastful promises that if we would just indulge his "stimulus" idea, he would jump-start the economy and ensure that unemployment would not exceed 8 percent. Despite getting his way, he has managed to achieve the worst of both worlds: He'll double the national debt in five years and triple it in 10, yet unemployment is just now -- after two years of hovering between 9 and 10 percent -- dipping below 9 percent.

So Obama came into office during very difficult economic times and, instead of implementing policies to truly stimulate economic growth, further smothered the private sector by ratcheting up government spending and onerous regulations, and he has deliberately compounded our national deficits and debt at a time when we are on the brink of a financial catastrophe. Though his own bipartisan deficit commission told him entitlement reform is imperative, he continues to kick the ball farther down the road without so much as an overture toward a nod of a pretense of a good faith effort to tackle it.

This very week, he and his Democratic colleagues are lying in wait for congressional Republicans to refuse to approve the Democrats' reckless budget for the remainder of the year so they can blame the mean GOP for another government shutdown. They'll pretend they have no role in such a shutdown and hope this fraudulent narrative turns the political tide in their favor -- all while the fiscal crisis remains unattended. They'll doubtlessly employ a similar strategy to ambush Republicans as heartless scrooges when Rep. Ryan unveils his long-term budget and proposes real economic growth and authentic entitlement reform.

When you take politics out of the equation, there is a consensus that we are on a collision course with national financial disaster. When you put politics back into the equation, only one party is trying to do something about it.

But here's the rub. Some Republican congressmen are horrified that if they stick to their guns in the upcoming budget battles, they'll lose the PR war, just as Republicans supposedly did in 1995-96. For reasons I'll address next time, 2011 is not 1995 (we have a nation-threatening emergency, folks), and Republicans must remain strong. Honor your mandate, ladies and gentlemen. We've got your back.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


4 April, 2011

A defense of "Anti-intellectualism"

The following is via Instapundit and I agree with it. I would however like to place a broader perspective on it.

"Intellectuals" have overwhelmingly been Leftists. Smart people of a conservative bent have generally gone into business and used their brains to make a lot of money (I did so myself) whereas Leftists just sit around and whine. And that counts as intellectualism. And sadly, people have sometimes listened to them uncritically and sometimes given them power. And THAT is the disaster: Letting people who couldn't run a chicken coop run a country. Barack Obama is a prime example.

But there are of course SOME smart conservative people who go into academe (I did that too) and they really do tend to follow the ideals that Leftist intellectuals give lip-service to. I see it in global warming commentary. Warmist "scientists" and supporters are full of abuse and opportunistic reasoning, while the skeptics are aways posting facts, figures and lots of graphs.

So it is Leftists who have destroyed respect for intellectual endeavour and they are still hard at it with their global warming hoax -- JR

Part of the problem is that the American distrust of intellectualism is itself not the irrational thing that those sympathetic to intellectuals would like to think. Intellectuals killed by the millions in the 20th century, and it actually takes the sophisticated training of "education" to work yourself up into a state where you refuse to count that in the books.

Intellectuals routinely declared things that aren't true; catastrophically wrong predictions about the economy, catastrophically wrong pronouncements about foreign policy, and just generally numerous times where they've been wrong. Again, it takes a lot of training to ignore this fact.

"Scientists" collectively were witnessed by the public flipflopping at a relatively high frequency on numerous topics; how many times did eggs go back and forth between being deadly and beneficial? Sure the media gets some blame here but the scientists played into it, each time confidently pronouncing that this time they had it for sure and it is imperative that everyone live the way they are saying (until tomorrow).

Scientists have failed to resist politicization across the board, and the standards of what constitutes science continues to shift from a living, vibrant, thoughtful understanding of the purposes and ways of science to a scelerotic hide-bound form-over-substance version of science where papers are too often written to either explicitly attract grants or to confirm someone's political beliefs. and regardless of whether this is 2% or 80% of the papers written today it's nearly 100% of the papers that people hear about.

I simplify for rhetorical effect; my point is not that this is a literal description of the current state of the world but that it is far more true than it should be. Any accounting of "anti-intellectualism" that fails to take this into account and lays all the blame on "Americans" is too incomplete to formulate an action plan that will have any chance of success. It's not a one-sided problem.

If you want to fix anti-intellectualism, you first need to fix intellectualism and return it to its roots of dispassionate exploration, commitment to truth over all else and bending processes to find truth rather than bending truth to fit (politicized) processes.



Beware of feds bearing R&D gifts

President Barack Obama, soon after releasing his federal budget proposal for fiscal year 2012, flew to California to dine with some of the biggest names from America's high-tech business sector, including Steve Jobs of Apple, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Eric Schmidt and Yahoo's Carol Bartz.

The president visited Silicon Valley to promote his "competitiveness agenda," backed by billions of dollars in new federal spending, which, according to the White House, is meant to finance investments "in research and development and to expand incentives for companies to grow and hire."

Obama apparently did not see the irony in extolling the virtues of more federal money for science and technology before a group of people who, by and large, had founded and grown their businesses into stunning success stories without government handouts.

If Congress approves billions of dollars in new federal spending for corporate R&D, don't be surprised if Silicon Valley's executives lobby for a share of the loot. But they should be careful about what they ask for.

While public "investments" in technological innovation sound like a good idea, the danger is that the funds will be directed toward politically popular projects rather than those with the highest economic value. Remember Jimmy Carter's quest for a new synthetic fuel or Bill Clinton's dream of getting Detroit to produce a car that would go 100 miles on a gallon of gas? Untold federal treasure was wasted chasing those wills of the wisp.

The notion that technological innovation requires government subsidies is not modern. During and after the Civil War, for example, the U.S. government provided the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads incentives to build the first transcontinental railway link. The two companies received grants of 20 square miles of land for each mile of track they laid and taxpayer-financed loans of up to $48,000 per track mile, depending on the terrain.

Those who think that that engineering feat could not have borne fruit without federal subvention must never have heard of the Great Northern Railway. That line (now part of the Burlington Northern system) connected St. Paul, Minn., to Seattle -- a distance of 1,700 miles over the Northern Rockies. It was completed in January 1893. Built entirely with private funds, the Great Northern was the work of James J. Hill, not Uncle Sam. There were no federal land grants; no loans.

Hill and his colleagues began by purchasing the assets of the bankrupt St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, whose owners, despite government subsidies, had laid only 10 miles of unconnected track. The new team completed the original line, put it on a sound financial footing, and then extended it into North Dakota, ensuring adequate traffic by promoting the development of agriculture along the route. They even gave livestock and feed away to help get farmers and ranchers get started.

The Great Northern also built branch lines that served farms off the main track. Congress, in contrast, prohibited the subsidized railroads from doing so, fearing that the additional cost would jeopardize repayment of their federal loans.

There are two lessons here. The first should be obvious: bureaucrats have no incentive to invest in the most commercially promising ventures. Indeed, federal subsidies prompt businesses to take risks they would not take otherwise. The Union Pacific and Central Pacific went bankrupt eventually.

The second is that if Washington funds Silicon Valley's R&D efforts, politicians and bureaucrats, not the techies, will be calling the shots. Had government been looking over Steve Jobs' shoulders, I don't think the iPhone or iPad would be on the market today.



Some Hayekian thoughts on recent Congressional follies

Friedrich Hayek, the Nobel-prize-winning Austrian economist (and now YouTube sensation), upheld economic competition and opposed government policies that reduced it. In his surprise bestseller, The Road to Serfdom, he argued that central planning would undermine competition, hamper the economy, and lead to pressures for more and more measures that would enhance the power of the government at the expense of individual liberty. Competition, he wrote, "is the only method by which our activities can be adjusted to each other without coercive or arbitrary intervention of authority."

What would Hayek, who died in 1992, have said about last year's legislative overhaul of the healthcare and financial sectors? In a nicely done recent paper, Peter J. Wallison, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, makes a good case that the great economist would have opposed both measures as anti-competitive.

The regulatory overhaul of the financial sector-the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act-would enable the government to directly control financial companies it deems "systematically important" because their failure could destabilize the US financial system. Wallison describes several ways in which this provision of the Dodd-Frank Act would undermine competition in the financial sector, but I found this passage of his especially helpful:
"In return for the Fed's protection against failure and competition, the largest financial firms in the US economy will be inclined to follow the government's directions on how to conduct their business. For example, if a smaller financial firm is failing, the Fed will be able to induce one of the larger firms to acquire it; if a country is having difficulty selling its bonds, the Fed will be able to get some of the firms it is regulating to invest in those securities. These are not fantasies. In the past, when the Fed was regulating only bank holding companies, it induced them-in the interest of stability in financial markets-to lend to countries that were having difficulty meeting their international payment obligations."

By contrast, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("colloquially known as ObamaCare, even though the president never submitted his own plan") would impair competition in a different way-namely, by hampering an effective price system, Wallison argues.

Wallison mentions several provisions of ObamaCare that would undermine competitive prices. One, for example, would require health insurers to "spend at least 85 percent of premiums on `activities that improve health care quality' (the Medical Loss Ratio, or MLR) for large-group insurance," he writes. Here I found Wallison's analysis particularly illuminating, if a bit dry:
"With the MLR, for example, the government's rules on what goes into the numerator and denominator of this ratio will determine the profitability of individual companies and whether they will be able to participate at all in a competitive system. Speaking generally, the numerator of the MLR will be only what the government considers as "activities that improve health care quality."

Immediately we see that price competition is impaired because consumers have no choice on this issue; the services they want may not be available simply because the government has determined that they do not "improve health care quality." In addition, companies will have to price their services to ensure that they meet the minimum MLR in any year or be forced to rebate premiums.

This immediately distorts the pricing system by introducing an element that has nothing to do with what consumers are willing to pay for insurance services. Finally, many companies that offer specialized services that do not fall into this category may have to abandon the services entirely, thus restricting not only competition for those services specifically, but also-if those firms sell out to competitors or otherwise leave the business-the competition that comes from the number of competitors in a market.

Say, for example, that an insurer offers a doctor-referral service, and that service is not included among the items that the government considers an activity "that improves health care quality." The insurer, then, would likely abandon that service because its cost would then have to be paid out of its 15 percent of premium revenue that is available for both administration and profits. Abandoning that service would reduce competition among insurers for the most effective referral services."

Both ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank Act were touted as measures that would give consumers greater "protection" and "affordability." But if Wallison's analysis is correct, each of these legislative landmarks will undermine economic competition and thereby act against the interests of consumers




US Justice Department appeals ruling striking down ObamaCare: "The Justice Department has appealed a judge's ruling that struck down the federal overhaul of the health care system, the Obama administration's signature legislation. In its appeal, the Justice Department said the federal health care overhaul's core requirement to make virtually all citizens buy health insurance or face tax penalties is constitutional because Congress has the authority to regulate interstate business."

Chechen leader: Iron rule, Moscow's blessing: "The capital of Chechnya, left in rubble at the end of two savage wars with Moscow, has been remarkably rebuilt with new apartment buildings, a gold-leafed museum, an enormous mosque -- and heavily armed men posted throughout the city who hint at the unspoken bargain that holds the peace. The armed men answer not to Moscow but to Ramzan Kadyrov, the former warlord whom Vladimir Putin appointed president of the Chechen Republic in Russia's North Caucasus Mountains four years ago, letting him do as he wished in return for subduing his rebellious people."

Budget crunched, states push for more lenient sentencing: "As costs to house state inmates have soared, many conservatives are reconsidering a tough-on-crime era that has led to stiffer sentences, overcrowded prisons, and bloated correctional budgets. Budget deficits and steep drops in tax revenues in most states are forcing the issue, with law-and-order Republican governors and state legislators beginning to overhaul years of policies that were designed to lock up more criminals and put them away for longer periods of time." [Could well release everyone doing time for non-violent, non-theft crimes]

We've become a nation of takers, not makers: "More Americans work for the government than in manufacturing, farming, fishing, forestry, mining and utilities combined .... Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government." (

Unionization through regulation: "Changing election rules to favor one side is something we usually associate with dictatorships. Yet a U.S. federal agency did just that recently, as part of the Obama administration's efforts to impose policy changes favorable to organized labor without the consent of Congress. And, as in a dictatorship, the result is very difficult to undo."

To save lives, lift the long ban on paying money for bone marrow donors: "For those in need of a bone marrow transplant, finding a suitable donor is considerably more difficult and time-consuming than finding a blood or plasma donor. The New York Blood Center reports that it receives 10 to 15 new requests for donor matches every day. One reason for this tragic shortage is a quirk in an almost 30-year-old law, the National Organ Transplant Act, that prohibits paying people to donate a life-saving bodily substance like bone marrow."

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

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


3 April, 2011

Jews as a race

My recent posts about the Jewish religion questioned its antiquity. My submission was that modern-day Judaism and modern-day Christianity both arose at the same time as ways of adapting the ancient Hebrew religion to the destruction of the the Jerusalem temple by the Romans and the expulsion of most Israelites from Israel -- with Judaism being, if you like, the more conservative solution and Christianity the more radical solution.

Neither religion does things that the ancient Israelites did -- such as killing homosexuals or burning animals on altars -- but both have remained close to the major ethical teachings of the Torah, with Jews remaining true to more minor teachings too. So both religions are only about 2,000 years old rather than the 3,000 years or thereabouts that some Jews claim for their religion.

I may not have convinced anyone of all that but it seems to me that I should complete the picture as I see it by looking at another important Jewish claim: That they are indeed the same people as the ancient Israelites; that they are the modern-day descendants of the exiles from Israel. And I will jump the gun a little by saying that I do see some substance in that claim.

And that claim is a central one for orthodox Jews. They really do believe that Jewish Israelis are the same people in the same land speaking the same language as of old. And some of my Jewish correspondents are so strongly attached to such a view that they see no difficulty in the fact that Jews from Lithuania mostly look like Lithuanians while Jews from Egypt mostly look like Egyptians.

And that is the central difficulty for the orthodox claim: As we see in the famous story of Ruth, Israelites have never been wholly endogamous. The marrying out that is the despair of many a Yiddisher Momma in NYC today has been going on for a long time. So Jews from Lithuania are largely Lithuanians and Jews from Arab lands are largely Arab. Any genetic connection to the Israelites of old would appear to be tenuous indeed.

A second difficulty is that there is a very clear sense in which Judaism is a religion -- and that was the starting point of my posts of a few days ago. You can BECOME a Jew, just as you can BECOME a Christian. The requirements are more severe in some ways for Jews than for Christians but both conversions do happen. You cannot change your race but you can change your religion so is not Judaism simply a religion?

The answer lies, of course, in abandoning two-value logic. Jewry could be BOTH a religion and a race. And it seems that it is. The last I saw of the genetic findings, about half of Ashkenazi Jews do show some distinctively Middle-Eastern genes. So despite the exogamy, some genetic connection to ancient Israel would appear to remain among modern-day Jews. So many or maybe most Ashkenazim who make aliyah are indeed returning to what is at least partly their genetic home. And the fact that their religion is partly that of ancient Israel makes it their home too.

The situation with the Sephardim is harder to disentangle and may require further developments in genetic research to progress. But that the Ashkenazim have hung on to their original ancestry to some degree for so long is obviously encouraging.

So the holiest of holy cities has indeed regathered to itself its people.


Jewish humor is of course legendary and I am a great devotee of it. I was probably started off by being taken to see Marx Bros. movies as a kid. It often has tragic undertones, as one might expect. A totally mad example of that which I can never get out of my mind is the crack by Milton Berle: "Anytime a person goes into a delicatessen and orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies". So let me end up my comments on endogamy/exogamy with an equally mad cartoon on the subject


Confirmation that Goldstone is really soapstone

You can easily carve soapstone into any shape you like. Jewish judge Richard Goldstone has now done a stunning re-evaluation of his own anti-Israel report. The Arabs must have stiffed him (i.e. not given him his expected reward)

In a stunning and unexpected turn of events, Judge Richard Goldstone has essentially reversed himself on the findings of the Goldstone Report. He does, of course, qualify his remarks to make it appear that he has not reversed himself. What he does, in effect, is to say that if only Israel had cooperated with his investigation from the start, he would not have reached the incorrect conclusions of the now famous and highly influential report. Israel, of course, had quite good reasons to distrust Goldstone, as his report did major damage. But one would rather have Judge Goldstone now blame Israel for his original damaging conclusions than to have him blame Israel for intentionally being the major human rights violator in the Middle East.

Now, Goldstone asserts, “We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding commission.” Poppycock! As Goldstone’s numerous critics pointed out as soon as the report was issued, its many vulnerabilities were known at that very moment. One could look no further than the lengthy and devastating critique by Moshe Halbertal that appeared in The New Republic, or the many commentaries on it by Alan Dershowitz.

As Dershowitz wrote at the time: “It is far more accusatory of Israel, far less balanced in its criticism of Hamas, far less honest in its evaluation of the evidence, far less responsible in drawing its conclusion, far more biased against Israeli than Palestinian witnesses, and far more willing to draw adverse inferences of intentionality from Israeli conduct and statements than from comparable Palestinian conduct and statements.”

Mr. Goldstone may prefer that we forget all this, but savvy readers will have no problem finding many sources that pointed to the report’s many flaws in 2009. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to find today that Goldstone now says: “That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying – its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.” As for serious crimes against civilians that resulted from Israeli defensive action, Goldstone now writes that “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy” by Israel.

The moral equivalence, thankfully, has now disappeared in the judge’s new conclusions. Moreover, where possible violations of human rights were committed by Israel, Goldstone now writes that in one case if an Israeli officer was found to have acted inappropriately, and is “found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly.”

He now argues, perhaps out of guilt or perhaps he decided his critics were correct, that “the purpose of the Goldstone Report was never to prove a foregone conclusion against Israel,” and that the original mandate of the UN Human Rights Council “was skewed against Israel.” Score yet another point for his critics.

And, Goldstone adds, Israel “has the right and obligation to defends itself and its citizens against attacks from abroad and within.” He also stresses, although one would be hard pressed to find this in all the press reports about it, that “our report marked the first time illegal acts of terrorism from Hamas were being investigated and condemned by the United Nations.” Rather strange, then, that all the coverage emphasized Israel as the sole villain, and few could find any emphasis in the Report about Hamas and its war crimes.

If they were at all lax, and here again is Goldstone’s attempt to pass the buck, it was because they were not able to “include any evidence provided by the Israeli government,” which did not cooperate with them. Now, he says, Israel has in fact carried out investigations of rights violations in “good faith,” and yes — “Hamas has done nothing.” Surprise, surprise!

As Goldstone admits underhandedly, saying that his critics were correct: "Some have suggested that it was absurd to expect Hamas, an organization that has a policy to destroy the state of Israel, to investigate what we said were serious war crimes. It was my hope, even if unrealistic, that Hamas would do so, especially if Israel conducted its own investigations. At minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. Sadly, that has not been the case. Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel. That comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality. The U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms."

And later on, he writes that “there has been no effort by Hamas in Gaza to investigate the allegations of its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.”

Goldstone indeed writes: “In the end, asking Hamas to investigate may have been a mistaken enterprise.” No kidding. It seems it has just occurred to the judge that a terrorist organization committed to destroying Israel cannot, unlike democratic Israel, have any stake in investigating its own human rights violations. Did the judge really not comprehend this in 2009?

And as for right now, Judge Goldstone adds that “the Human Rights Council should condemn the inexcusable and cold-blooded recent slaughter of a young Israeli couple and three of their small children in their beds.” Yes, Yes, Yes! What the judge does not say, of course, is that we all know that this will simply not happen. A Council that until recently had Col. Qadaffi’s Libya as a member is not about to do this, despite Goldstone’s recommendation.



A type of medical care that delivers real value -- so may be attacked by the levellers

And $1500 a year seems cheap to me -- compared to the cost of normal private insurance

Every year, thousands of people make a deal with their doctor: I'll pay you a fixed annual fee, whether or not I need your services, and in return you'll see me the day I call, remember who I am and what ails me, and give me your undivided attention.

But this arrangement potentially poses a big threat to Medicare and to the new world of medical care envisioned under President Barack Obama's health overhaul.

The spread of "concierge medicine," where doctors limit their practice to patients who pay a fee of about $1,500 a year, could drive a wedge among the insured. Eventually, people unable to afford the retainer might find themselves stuck on a lower tier, facing less time with doctors and longer waits.

Medicare recipients, who account for a big share of patients in doctors' offices, are the most vulnerable. The program's financial troubles are causing doctors to reassess their participation. But the impact could be broader because primary care doctors are in short supply and the health law will bring in more than 30 million newly insured patients.

If concierge medicine goes beyond just a thriving niche, it could lead to a kind of insurance caste system.

"What we are looking at is the prospect of a more explicitly tiered system where people with money have a different kind of insurance relationship than most of the middle class, and where Medicare is no longer as universal as we would like it to be," said John Rother, policy director for AARP.

Concierge doctors say they're not out to exclude anyone, but are trying to recapture the personal connection shredded by modern medicine. Instead of juggling 2,000 or more patients, they can concentrate on a few hundred, stressing prevention and acting as advocates with specialists and hospitals.

"I don't have to be looking at patient mix and how many are booked per hour," said Dr. Lewis Weiner, a primary care physician in Providence, R.I., who's been in a concierge practice since 2005.

"I get to know the individual," Weiner said. "I see their color. I see their moods. I pick up changes in their lives, new stressors that I would not have found as easily before. It's been a very positive shift."

Making the switch can also be economically rewarding. If 500 patients pay $1,500 apiece, that's gross revenue of $750,000 for the practice. Many concierge doctors also bill Medicare and private insurance for services not covered by their retainer.

MDVIP marketing executive Mark Murrison says its doctors do not sell access, but a level of clinical services above what Medicare or private insurance cover. The cornerstone is an intensive annual physical focused on prevention. About half the patients are Medicare beneficiaries.

Retainer fees range from $1,500 to $1,800 a year, and MDVIP collects $500 of that for legal, regulatory and other support services.

Murrison said the fee is affordable for middle-class households when compared with the cost of many consumer goods and services. "One of our goals is to democratize concierge medicine," he said.

For now, there may be fewer than 2,000 doctors in all types of retainer practice nationally. Most are primary care physicians, a sliver of the estimated 300,000 generalists.

The trend caught the eye of MedPAC, a commission created by Congress that advises lawmakers on Medicare and watches for problems with access. It hired consultants to investigate.

Their report, delivered last fall, found listings for 756 concierge doctors nationally, a five-fold increase from the number identified in a 2005 survey by the Government Accountability Office.

The transcript of a meeting last September at which the report was discussed reveals concerns among commission members that Medicare beneficiaries could face sharply reduced access if the trend accelerates.

"My worst fear _ and I don't know how realistic it is _ is that this is a harbinger of our approaching a tipping point," said MedPAC chairman Glenn Hackbarth, noting that "there's too much money" for doctors to pass up.

Hackbarth continued: "The nightmare I have _ and, again, I don't know how realistic it is _ is that a couple of these things come together, and you could have a quite dramatic erosion in access in a very short time."

John Goodman, a conservative health policy expert, predicts the health care law will drive more patients to try concierge medicine. "Seniors who can pay for it will go outside the system," he said.

MedPAC's Hackbarth declined to be interviewed. But Berenson, a physician and policy expert, said "the fact that excellent doctors are doing this suggests we've got a problem." "The lesson is, if we don't attend to what is now a relatively small phenomenon, it's going to blow up," he added.

When a primary care doctor switches to concierge practice, it means several hundred Medicare beneficiaries must find another provider. Medicare declined an interview on potential consequences. "There are no policy changes in the works at this time," said spokeswoman Ellen Griffith.

More here


Excerpt from an email I received from a Democrat operative:

Sounds good to me

Twenty-three is how many Senate seats Democrats have to defend in 2012. That’s a boatload. Ten is how many Republicans have – less than half.

Four. This number really gives me heartburn. The GOP gains four seats, and they’ll have the votes in the Senate to pass anything coming from the House


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


2 April, 2011

Racism in Muslim Pakistan

By a Pakistani woman

In recent European debates, one can detect palpable tension when the issue of racism comes up. The topic arises in connection with a wide spectrum of phenomena: it’s one thing, after all, to deny young people of Asian origin entry into a hip nightclub in Copenhagen, and it’s entirely another to murder one’s daughter because she married a Kashmiri Muslim instead of a Punjabi Muslim. My opinion is that it’s very important for us here in Pakistan to address racism in our own society before we start railing at Europeans for being racist.

The first cry that goes up from the Muslim side when the issue of niqab or hijab is raised in Europe is that Europeans are racists, and that their criticism of certain aspects of Muslim “culture” amounts to a blatant swipe at a Muslim woman’s identity and religion. Yet when you actually look at the history of these pieces of cloth, it becomes clear that they originated as a symbol of class. Reference needs to be made to the fact that the veil was worn in pre-Islamic Arab society as a way of differentiating women of high social standing from slaves and prostitutes.

This brings me to one of the main problems which lead to violence and oppression in the Muslim world – racism. Yes, we Muslims are certainly not devoid of racism towards those we deem “lower” than us.

Growing up in Pakistan and being dark-skinned, I have experienced racism on the part of my peers. Even if they express it in a joking way, it’s there; it’s real. I’ve even been told by a close friend (a male who is Pathan in origin, hence very pale) that my features are beautiful – if only I were fair-skinned! I’m lucky enough to live in a subculture in which such things don’t matter. But the masses are constantly being fed with the idea that the lighter your skin colour, the more beautiful you are.

On any given day, one need only browse the Pakistani television channels for 30 minutes or so to get an idea of how deep-rooted this notion is. Because you’ll run across (for example) an advertisement showing you how a certain beauty crème entirely changed some girl’s life because it lightened her skin! In some cases the crème helped the girl to bag a husband; in other cases it snagged her the ideal job.

My own beautiful mother was told time and again by my father that she was lucky he married her, because she was dark-skinned. Racism, in short, is a stark reality of day-to-day life in Pakistan. It’s always there, in everything that goes on. If it isn’t about how light-skinned or dark-skinned you are, it’s about your actual racial origins.

Most honour killings of young couples are carried out because the victims married ‘out of the caste’. Syyeds (people who claim to be the direct descendants of the Prophet) are at the top of the hierarchy here. The bottom rung in Pakistan seems to be occupied by the Christians. They’re openly discriminated against, and are often referred to as “Chooras” – a disgusting term that is at once a slur against dark-skinned people and against Christians.

I remember clearly one time when a friend, who was also unlucky enough to be born brown in Pakistan, walked over to me at a party in tears. The reason? Her boyfriend had introduced her to his aunt, who was inebriated, and who said, “This is the girl you’re madly in love with? She looks like a Choori!” In one fell swoop the girl’s self-image was reduced to nothing. It didn’t matter that she was so beautiful that she could have been walking the ramp at international fashion shows, or that she had done brilliantly at school. No, what mattered was that she was dark, period.

Similarly, talking to an Arab of Jordanian origin once, I was blown away by the blatant racism in his interaction with anyone who was non-Arab. He proudly stated: “We’re brought up in an atmosphere in which we’re told that anyone who isn’t an Arab just isn’t as good as us.” The same individual had an American girlfriend for years. Then one day he came back from a visit to his country married to a young Arab girl. What was his explanation to our mutual friend, his girlfriend? “I always told you how I felt; I could never have children with a woman who isn’t an Arab!”

The problem is that racism prevails in our society. It’s ingrained. We feel that we’re better than anyone. It’s something we’re raised to believe. The racism doesn’t just pertain to skin colour. I’ve even heard mothers shout at their children for eating too fast with the admonition, “Stop eating like a bhooka [starving] Bengali!” Because we don’t even think that the Bengalis are as good as us, and clearly it’s okay to make your children feel the same way and to teach them that it’s a lowly thing to be poverty- stricken.

Someone once said that the prevailing problems in a society can easily be deciphered by analyzing the worst of the worst insults in its native languages. In Pakistan the worst insults are either misogynistic or racist, because nothing can be as bad as being “different”. This mentality coming from a nation of (mostly) converts! Yet most Pakistanis will proudly proclaim that they’re of divine decent – that they’re the children of the first Muslim armies that came to the subcontinent in A.D. 712. Of course, it’s not possible that that “pure” blood has been diluted since!

I’ve heard people in Pakistan – people with educated and wealthy backgrounds – refer to people of African origins as “Kalay”, meaning black in a derogatory way; to people of oriental origins as “Chaptay”, meaning flat-faced; and the list goes on. Sitting at the Norwegian embassy once, waiting for my turn to submit my visa papers, I heard one old man say to another, “I’m just going to visit my son. You can’t expect me to go and live forever in this suuar khanay walee qaum (pig-eating nation).” A young woman I know who recently returned from a holiday in Thailand said, “It was a nice place, but I just couldn’t stand it after a while – all Thai people have a particular stink!”

Take a look at the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who is on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy. The whole argument began when she offered a few Muslim women a glass of water from which she had been drinking while they worked. The Muslim women refused to drink from the same glass, which angered Asia. What she said after that no one knows, since you cannot repeat blasphemy in Pakistani courts to prove or disprove it, but she was given the death sentence for it.

At this point I must bring up the fact that the most racist white person could not make me feel as bad for being a Muslim or Asian as a number of people have in Pakistan for being brown. It’s ironic to me that there’s so much hue and cry about racism supposedly taking over Europe. I don’t see it. What I do see is a lot of people using the word racism to derail important debates about rising crime statistics and about the abuse and oppression of women in Muslim communities. One thing I know from living in Pakistan is that there’s enough real racism in the world – especially in the Muslim world – to invent it where it doesn’t exist.



Corrupt Elections are Undermining Governance

One of the most surreal experiences of our lives was watching an unelected bureaucrat pick and choose what ballots she wanted to count in the closely contested election featuring pseudo-Republican Lisa Murkowski and Tea Party Favorite Republican Joe Miller in Alaska. Having spent decades watching ballots be counted in hundreds of elections, and never once have we seen a situation with such outrageous manipulation of the vote.

But I guess we weren't in Colorado. Hot off the presses is a report that documents 5,000 non-citizens voting in that states highly contested elections. According to a report in The Hill, the "Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, told the panel that his department's study identified nearly 12,000 people who were not citizens but were still registered to vote in Colorado.Of those non-citizen registered voters, nearly 5,000 took part in the 2010 general election in which Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet narrowly defeated Republican John Buck. Colorado conducted the study by comparing the state's voter registration database with driver's license records."

In state after state corruption is beginning to undermine the credibility of the fairness of elections. We all remember the election officials in Florida holding up ballots looking for hanging chads in the Presidential race between Al Gore and George W Bush. The presidential race in 2000 was sadly decided in the US Supreme Court, and it undermined the credibility of President Bush until his more convincing re-election victory in 2004. To his day, we still see bumper stickers that say re-elect Gore in 2008.

In Washington State Dino Rossi lost a Governor's race in 2004 only after the ballots were counted three times. Every new count featured the Liberal King County election officials discovering votes that were not counted the first time. These votes just appeared from nowhere weeks after the election was over.

All citizens left, right, center, Republican, Green, Democrat, and Libertarian should be able to have confidence in the integrity of the voting process. Without faith in the process, the illegitimate election results undermine the ability to govern.

Let us suggest some reforms.

1. Identification should be required to vote. No American should be offended for having to produce identification to prove residency and citizenship. This will give us all confidence in the outcome, and we will be confident that some activists are not attempting to vote in multiple jurisdictions.

2. Every time someone votes it should produce a paper record of the votes cast. Machine tabulation is open to hacking and manipulation by the individuals running the election. If every vote produces a paper ballot, it leaves an audit trail that will insure integrity. A laser printer could be attached to voting machines and the print out could be reviewed by the voter for errors. Every ballot could feature a control number to keep it from being miscounted.

3. Write in voting should be eliminated in this era of instant information. Instead of write in candidates, the actual ballots should adjust to allow additional candidates on the ballot. Filing deadlines could be extended to accommodate multiple participants and parties. Systems that limit the number of candidates in any race should be eliminated. A wide open process with maximum participation is best.

4. Ballots not entered into the counting process during a pre-approved voting period would not me counted. Officials could say if a ballot is not found within a week of the election it would not be valid.



An overview of the Great Depression

In Depression, War, and Cold War, Robert Higgs divides the Great Depression into three phases. The Great Contraction occurred during the Hoover years and went from 1929 to 1933. During this period private investment fell by about 84 percent. This set the stage for the Great Duration, 1933–1945. As Higgs shows, GDP and private investment increased during the early years of the New Deal, but as the 1930s wore on, President Franklin Roosevelt became ever bolder about undermining property rights. This delayed complete recovery. Finally, there was the Great Escape, which occurred after and in spite of World War II, not because of it. Higgs argues that the Great Escape occurred as a result of a partial dismantling of the regulatory infrastructure that had grown up during the Depression and the war; in effect, it was a rediscovery of the market and a new birth of freedom for entrepreneurs and workers.

In discussing the Great Duration, Higgs introduces the term "regime uncertainty" to argue that the Roosevelt administration's aggressive interventions produced considerable uncertainty in the entrepreneurial environment. Investors did not know whether they would enjoy the fruits of their investments. One of my mentors in graduate school, a Keynesian, pointed out once that firms will not produce what they do not expect to sell. I would generalize this to say that they will not invest in what they do not expect to control. The possibility of incurring the costs of an investment without enjoying any of the benefits made private investment much less attractive.

How do we know that regime uncertainty was responsible for the lack of recovery? Higgs brings several types of evidence to bear on the issue. First, business leaders who were polled expressed uncertainty about the entrepreneurial climate. Second, and more convincingly, Higgs shows that the risk premiums on long-term corporate bonds were substantial, suggesting fear of expropriation. A firm that wanted to borrow long-term had to pay much higher interest rates than firms that wanted to borrow short-term. This spread increased dramatically during the Roosevelt years.

The Great Depression did more than chill the investment climate. In Crisis and Leviathan, Higgs argues that during a crisis a "ratchet effect" produces net increases in government discretion that are not completely reversed after the crisis. Two things happen when government intervenes. First, the bureaucracy naturally tends to expand beyond its stated goals — mission creep. Second, intervention alters incentives; that is, the creation of a bureaucracy to address some problem also spawns a rent-seeking pressure group with interests that will prevent reversion to the status quo ante.

Roosevelt's advisers saw in his program not merely a road to recovery but the opportunity to remake society. In FDR's Folly, Jim Powell, echoing an idea advanced by Milton Friedman, suggests that they "never appear to have considered the possibility that more power would magnify the harm done by human error or corruption."

Their intellectual approach was to contrast "actual capitalism with ideal government," with intervention judged not on the basis of its effects but of its intentions. Further, the intellectual program of the New Deal was inconsistent and often contradictory. Powell argues that pragmatism and political expediency ruled the day:

"It didn't bother [Roosevelt] that New Deal policies contradicted one another. When an adviser gave FDR two different drafts of a speech, one defending high tariffs and the other urging low tariffs, FDR told the adviser: "Weave the two together." The Agricultural Adjustment Act forced food prices above market levels, in an effort to help farmers, but higher food prices hurt everybody who wasn't a farmer. The National Recovery Administration forced up prices of manufactured goods, hurting farmers who had to buy farm tools and equipment. Agricultural allotment policies cut cultivated acreage, while the Bureau of Reclamation increased cultivated acreage. Relief spending helped the unemployed, while corporate income taxes, undistributed profits taxes, Social Security taxes, minimum wage laws, and compulsory unionism led to higher unemployment rates. New Deal spending was supposed to stimulate the economy, but New Deal taxing depressed the economy."



Chartist says the Dollar Will Collapse Within 3-4 Months

(Charts are commonly used in attempts to predict share prices)

The US Dollar's inflationary death spiral continues. We've now taken out the 2010 low leaving only two more lines of support before we're in completely uncharted territory.

At its current rate of collapse, the US Dollar will do this within the next 3-4 months. This means the greenback will break into a new all-time lows by 2H11, which will precipitate the coming inflationary collapse.

Small wonder then that both Gold and Silver recently hit new highs for their current bull markets. With the greenback dropping like a rock, and rumors of QE 3 swirling around the financial community, what sane investor would bet against inflation?

On that note, now is the time to be shifting capital into inflation hedges.

More here

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


1 April, 2011

The ADL hearts the enemies of Israel

Proving that its Leftism trumps its mission to Jewry. The latest caper? A furious article defending the extension of Sharia law to America! Excerpt follows:

One of the driving forces behind Shari'a-related conspiracy theories and growing efforts to ban or restrict the use of Shari'a law in American courts is David Yerushalmi, an Arizona attorney with a record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry.

In recent years, Yerushalmi has created a characterization of Shari'a law (i.e., Islamic law) that declares there are "hundreds of millions" of Muslims who are either "fully committed mujahideen" or "still dangerous but lesser committed jihad sympathizers" who, because of Shari'a law, would be willing to murder all non-believers unwilling to convert, in order to "impose a worldwide political hegemony." Meanwhile, Yerushalmi asserts, the U.S. government itself has consciously chosen to turn a blind eye to this threat.

To combat this alleged threat, Yerushalmi has vigorously opposed all perceived "inroads" of Shari'a law in the United States, even entirely innocuous measures such as American financial institutions creating financing packages designed to be compatible with Islamic restrictions against loaning money at interest.

"American Laws for American Courts"

Yerushalmi's latest weapon is model anti-Shari'a legislation he has titled "American Laws for American Courts," developed for a group called the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA). The group claims that "one of the greatest threats to American values and liberties today" comes from "foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines," including "Islamic Shari'ah law," that have been "infiltrating our court system."

Yerushalmi's proposed legislation, which claims to "protect American citizens' constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Shari'ah Law," has been the basis for anti-Shari'a measures introduced by state lawmakers in several states in recent years.

For example, a bill introduced by Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Larry Metz in Florida to outlaw Shari'a (and other non-secular or foreign laws) in March 2011 is strikingly similar to Yerushalmi's model legislation. Both Tennessee and Louisiana actually passed variations of Yerushalmi's legislation in 2010.

On its Web site, the APPA cites 17 cases where it claims that Shari'a has been introduced in state courts; this is its evidence of "creeping" Shari'a law within the United States.

Yerushalmi has testified in support of the anti-Shari'a legislative efforts based on his proposal. For example, in a hearing before the Alaska House State Affairs Committee in March 2011, Yerushalmi claimed that "today, we are far more likely than ever before to have foreign laws in American courts…There are plenty of occasions in which foreign law informs what Alaskan law could be."

More HERE. Yerushalmi's "anti-black" statements appear to be mentions of the high rate of black crime, which DOES exist. See here for a defense of Yerushalmi and mention of some of the inconvenient facts about Islam in America that the ADL "overlooks".


Quisling is still alive and well in Norway

Vidkun Quisling was chief Nazi collaborator in Norway during WWII

"People told me when I came to Norway that the country has a long tradition of anti-Semitism. They were wrong. It is not history. It is happening here and now.” Top Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz had excellent reasons to make this statement when he visited Norway last week. He had offered free lectures on Israel and international law to the universities of Oslo and Trondheim (NTNU). Both schools turned him down.

This refusal by the University of Trondheim is an example of the profound anti-Israel feelings at its top.In 2009, its Rector Torbjørn Digernes financed a number of lectures given by anti-Israelis such as Stephen Walt and Ilan Pappe. This series was organized by university teachers in order to lay the groundwork for a campaign to have NTNU boycott Israeli universities. The campaign failed at board level due to significant foreign pressure.

A third university, Bergen, answered that it was only willing to host Dershowitz provided he change his topic to an analysis of the O. J. Simpson trial, the American star football player who became a criminal. They did not want him to speak about Israel. Dershowitz rightly refused. The student unions of the three universities then quickly organized lectures by him, thus saving a little bit of the country’s honor.

Dershowitz told the small Christian daily Dagen that the refusals by the Norwegian universities to let him speak reminded him of his visits to the Soviet Union, and South Africa under the apartheid regime. He called the Norwegian universities propaganda tools, with leaders who are smart yet ignorant. Dershowitz added that Norwegian government policies were a hindrance to the peace process, as their double standards helped Hamas.

One should never focus on a single case of anti-Israelism or anti-Semitism in Norway, as one risks ignoring many others. They come to the fore with great regularity. The state owned TV NRK is highly biased against Israel. It has now announced that it will screen the movie “Tears over Gaza.” The film’s director, Vibeke Løkkeberg, said in an interview, “I cannot see any difference between the Israeli warfare in Gaza and the massacres Gaddafi is conducting against Libyan insurgents.” She expressed the hope that the West would intervene in Israel like it did in Libya.

Also in March, Sidsel Wold, NRK’s former correspondent in Israel, received the Best Journalist’s prize from the Norwegian Refugee Council. This is particularly interesting considering that in 2010, the Media Watch organization Honest Reporting selected Wold for a special dishonorable mention among journalists all over the globe. She had once broadcast an interview with me, the content of which she had invented. It was full of remarks attributed to me, I never said.

Norway hurting Israel

There are many examples of anti-Israel hate mongering, anti-Semitism and unethical journalism in Norway in recent years. The pioneering of anti-Semitism in Norway has a long tradition. Typically, it was the last country in Europe to admit Jews, which happened in 1851. In 1929 its parliament forbade by great majority, ritual slaughter - well before Germany did so when the Nazis came to power in 1933. Yet up until this day, the cruel hunting of whales is still permitted in Norway.

In Norway during the war, the Jews to be murdered were arrested and robbed by Norwegians and not by the Germans. It is not by chance that the name of wartime Prime Minister Quisling became a generic international term for traitor.

Nowadays, Norway is also a leader in initiating anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic actions. One example among many: Norwegian trade union LO was, together with the Danish one, the first in Europe to propose a boycott of Israel in 2002. Such boycotts have slow spillover effects elsewhere. A few weeks ago one major Norwegian member union of LO accepted the most far-reaching boycott resolution against Israel anywhere.

Norwegian society is dominated by a left of center elite group of politicians, journalists, academics, NGOs and some bishops. Among these elites one finds many anti-Israeli hate mongers, obsessed with a small country thousands of kilometers away. One among many examples of how distorted the views of this elite group is that 9% of Norwegian journalists voted for the minute extreme left Red party. Almost none however, support the pro-Israeli Progress party, one of the two major opposition parties, or the smaller Christian Democrats.

Jay Nordlinger of the National Review is the only foreign journalist who is occasionally interested in Norway. He captured the country’s mood well when he wrote about Progress party leader Siv Jensen: “There are two items of particular interest in Jensen’s office: a little Israeli flag and a bust of Reagan. It would be hard to convey how extraordinary these symbols are in the traditional Norwegian political culture. An American politician might be less scandalous for having kiddie porn in his office.”reaction is: “Why bother? What is this country’s influence? Norway is not even a member of the European Union. Hardly anyone can read their papers. Even Swedes and Danes who understand the language don’t care about Norway. And how much impact can anti-Semitism have in a country where the organized Jewish community has at most 800 members?”

This neglectful attitude has already cost Israel dearly. In a global environment, even thinly populated Norway - a country with a far too favorable international public image - causes substantial damage to Israel. While the overall atmosphere in Norway is hostile to Israel, it is not as if it has no allies there. One finds them mainly in the Progress party, the smaller Christian Democrat party and among a certain number of Christians, mainly Christian Zionists. Seeking ways to make their sympathy more effective in combating the elitist hate propagandists would be a very worthwhile effort for Israel.



Don't discredit Israel

March has become a month when Israel's enemies are most visible, especially in academia and in the political arena. It is a period that includes two weeks of lie-filled, anti-Israel events on university campuses throughout the United States, Canada and the world.

Named "Israeli Apartheid Week," this offensive against Israel culminates on March 30 with a planned international boycott of all things Israel.

This "BDS campaign" stands for "Boycott, Divest, Sanction" -- three separate prongs of attack against Israel. These three combined are a deliberate, concentrated effort to isolate Israel, tarnish its world standing, discredit and hobble its people, and cause economic harm.

Those who love and support Israel have an opportunity to cancel out some of the boycotters' harm -- not only on their targeted day, but each and every day, by buying items from Israel. There are a host of available goods from Israel to enjoy. Some are readily available on grocery shelves while others take a little effort to find, but all are worth it not only for their taste and quality, but also to help Israelis (www.buyisraelgoods.org).

Israel's strong economy is important to the nation's overall health and status. Her enemies are all too aware of this and so attack it relentlessly. We can each do our part to neutralize some of their damage by spreading the word to others and encouraging them to "Buy Israel."

The boycott, divestment and sanctions instigators persistently spread false accusations against Israel -- claiming it is oppressing or harming Palestinian Arabs. Anti-Israel boycotters send letters to government officials, actors, musicians and authors labeling Israel an apartheid society that commits war crimes and steals "Palestinian" land.

These false claims harm Israelis of every profession. Many Israelis have been barred from international events open to others. Many performers have canceled their bookings in Israel because of anti-Israel inflammatory lies.

Anti-Israel boycotters lobby businesses not to carry Israeli items. In some stores, boycotters have gone in and pulled Israeli products off the shelves. In our area, at Trader Joe's in Center City and in the Fresh Grocer in West Philadelphia, they gave out leaflets to shoppers urging them not to buy anything from Israel.

These anti-Israel activists urge large banks and pension-fund managers to divest financially from Israel, not to buy Israel Bonds or make investments in Israeli companies. By claiming that Israel violates international laws, companies are told that investing there violates ethical business practices.

Then there are the attempts to sanction Israel, decrying actions taken in self-defense as deliberate aggression and "war crimes."

Boycotters are pushing to get the U.N.'s Security Council to implement sanctions against Israel and embargo important items. Their aim is to prevent Israel from acquiring necessary weapons and other goods -- to wreak enormous economic damage.

We cannot sit on the sidelines and let these anti-Israel activities go unopposed. We must check the Internet regularly to see who Israel's foes are targeting, and send e-mails or make calls to those firms, institutions, local governments or embassies and tell them not to divest or to implement sanctions. Our voices in support of Israel are counted, too.

Earlier this month, Philadelphia's Zionist Organization of America chapter hosted an event to introduce people to different wines and cheeses from Israel. This was part of an ongoing "Buy Israel" project that was first started in November 2009.

Organizations and individuals can host similar events or find other ways to promote the purchase of goods from Israel. Some refer to this as a "buycott" to fight the boycott. Whenever you can, look for the Israeli label. It is the least we can do.



Former British Health System Director Dies After Hospital Delays Life-Saving Operation Four Times

A tragic story and a cautionary tale regarding government-run healthcare and the rationing it inevitably requires. A chilling preview of things to come under Obamacare:
A former NHS director died after waiting for nine months for an operation - at her own hospital. Margaret Hutchon, a former mayor, had been waiting since last June for a follow-up stomach operation at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex.

But her appointments to go under the knife were cancelled four times and she barely regained consciousness after finally having surgery. Her devastated husband, Jim, is now demanding answers from Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust - the organisation where his wife had served as a non-executive member of the board of directors.

He said: 'I don't really know why she died. I did not get a reason from the hospital. We all want to know for closure. She got weaker and weaker as she waited and operations were put off.'




Biden resigns; Obama appoints Paul to vice-presidency: "US Vice-President Joseph Biden resigned Thursday on grounds of permanent incapacity after being rushed to George Washington University hospital with symptoms of adult onset anencephaly, a condition in which a vacuum between the oral and brain cavities causes the cerebrum to be swallowed and digested. President Barack Obama nominated US Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) to fill the vice-presidential vacancy "because he'll probably beat my ass in 2012 anyway and continuity is a good thing." Paul's appointment was approved unanimously by an emergency session of the US Senate"

Federal plan would streamline Medicare: "Health and Human Services proposed new regulations Thursday that it hopes will reduce Medicare costs and improve care by focusing funds on prevention and quality, rather than the number of times a patient sees a doctor. Affordable care organizations could save Medicare $960 million over the next three years, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said." [I wish this were an April fool's joke too. Despite the urban legend to the contrary, preventive health measures are expensive and the payoff is small]

Food inflation is here!: "Next time someone tells you that only the left side of the aisle cares about feeding hungry Americans, remind them that it’s green special interests and Michelle Obama’s size-awareness campaign that’s making it harder for Americans to feed their families. Food inflation is here, folks. Food costs the same; there’s just less of it."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among people who should know better, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted.

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"