Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence..

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

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30 April, 2012

Something of a puzzle to many commentators is that Obama's vast money printing binge has not produced rapid inflation. A greenback buys less than it used to -- particularly overseas -- but not spectacularly less.

Jerry Bowyer wisely remarks that it often takes a long time for an influence to work its way through the system and he is undoubtedly right so that is clearly part of the story.

But I think the major factor is a straightforward example of what economists call the "velocity of circulation" effect.  Price inflation is a product of the amount of money on issue multiplied by its velocity of circulation and the velocity of circulation has fallen  precipitously just as the money supply has increased  -- the one influence largely cancelling out the other.

My apologies for introuducing a bit of economic jargon into a general political blog but I have been puzzled that none of the discussions of the matter that I have seen have mentioned the role of the velocity of circulation.  Perhaps it is just that other writers have better manners than I do.

To make amends, let me put it less technically:  Most of the money Obama has issued is just sitting still in the reserves of banks, other financial institutions and  major companies.  It is not being spent or lent out.  Its velocity of circulation is nil.  It might as well not exist as far as the economy as a whole is concerned.

And because of general nervousness that is not going to change soon.  But if and when it does change the party will  really be on -- a party for everyone except people who have savings.

Let me suggest a scenario.  Suppose Romney is elected and fires all the Obama cronies running the EPA and other business-obstructing agencies.  That suddenly gives everybody more confidence in doing business.  So the banks start lending again and businesses with reserves start using their reserves to expand.  The money starts flowing again.  The velocity of circulation rises.  There is now a greater demand for resources:  both labour and capital goods.  People might even start building new houses again.   For a   little while that greater  demand for resources will be met from presently idled resources:  Unemployed people  will get employed and shuttered mines and manufacturing facilities will reopen.  So everyone will be having a party.

But parties like that tend to feed on themselves and breed yet more optimism -- and so the demand for resources will soon go beyond what can be met by reactivating idled resources.  With the money now flowing again, prices will be bid up as everybody wants a piece of the action.  And an expanded volume of money chasing a relatively fixed resource base can only lead in one direction  -- to price rises.  Inflation will be underway.  How far it will go is anybody's guess but with everybody now using the extra money  that Obama has created, it could be a whopper of an inflationary process.  What a greenback will buy  could easily drop to (say) half of what it will buy today.

So Romney will inherit Obama's inflation and will probably be blamed for it.  And savers will rightly feel utterly betrayed by the political system that has cut the value of their savings in half.  "Spend it while you can" will  become the new wisdom.  My personal  hint:  Put  most of your savings  into blue-chip company shares NOW.  I did so long ago.


The news from Havana:  The logic of capitalism is evil

Or so says a defrocked Nicaraguan priest who, funnily enough, is also the  UN General Assembly president

UN General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann said on Wednesday that the current global economic and financial crisis proves that the logic of capitalism is evil and suicidal.

During a ministerial meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Countries (NAM) hosted in Havana, d'Escoto said that the current world order promotes selfishness, usury as well as social and environmental irresponsibility.

"Those are the values of the capitalist culture, so bad is the situation that we take seriously our universal brotherhood and its consequences or we all die," d'Escoto said.

D'Escoto said the UN world conference in June is supposed to decide the design of a new global economic and financial architecture.



Anti-Bullying Crusader Bullies  Christian Teens

If you are aware  that "bullying" is the latest Leftist word for expressing views they disagree with, this begins to make sense

Dan Savage, the founder of an anti-bullying campaign that has reportedly reached more than 40 million viewers, and has contributors that include President Obama to Hollywood stars, dove into unexpected territory while giving a speech at a high school journalism conference Friday.

There, instead the planned discussion on the dangers of bullying, Savage seemingly turned into a “bully” himself, albeit a powerful, adult one.

Reports say Savage’s speech quickly turned from the subject of anti-bullying into an event in “Christian-bashing,” causing as many as 100 students to simply walk out of the event.

Savage noted that Americans disregard much of the “bulls*it” in the Bible, from laws about shellfish to those about slavery, and we just need to clear one more “hurdle” in disregarding writings about homosexuality.

“The Bible says that if your daughter’s not a virgin on her wedding night– if a woman is not a virgin on her wedding night– she shall be dragged to her father’s doorstep and stoned to death,” he says, yet “Callista Gingrich lives.”

One student in the audience, Rick Tuttle, remarked, “I thought this would be about anti-bullying…It turned into a pointed attack on Christian beliefs.”

He also reportedly told the students about how good his partner looks in a speedo, and called the students who walked out “pansy a*ses.”

The National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association, who co-sponsored the event, responded in a statement that they did not have a prior transcript of the speech, and wished he had stayed more “on target.”  However, they wrote optimistically: “We have already heard from some advisers who have turned this into a teachable moment for their students.”

One teacher was more condemnatory, saying the language and material was inappropriate for high school students, and if anything, Dan Savage was bully in this regard.

“If he was doing this with a bunch of college journalism kids, that would be a different story — that’s more rough and tumble. How many of the kids who didn’t walk out felt backed into a corner?  To me, that’s bullying behavior. It has all the symptoms, as far as I’m concerned.”

Candi Cushman, a CitizenLink blogger, concluded:  “Using profanity to deride the bible – and then mocking the Christian students after they left the room — is obviously a form of bullying and name-calling,” she wrote.  “This illustrates perfectly what we’ve been saying all along: Too many times in the name of ‘tolerance,’ Christian students find their faith being openly mocked and belittled in educational environments.”



Barack Obama attempts to intimidate contributors to Mitt Romney's campaign

Psychopathic amorality again:  "Free and fair" means nothing to Obama.  

Try this thought experiment: You decide to donate money to Mitt Romney. You want change in the Oval Office, so you engage in your democratic right to send a check.

Several days later, President Barack Obama, the most powerful man on the planet, singles you out by name. His campaign brands you a Romney donor, shames you for "betting against America," and accuses you of having a "less-than-reputable" record. The message from the man who controls the Justice Department (which can indict you), the SEC (which can fine you), and the IRS (which can audit you), is clear: You made a mistake donating that money.

Are you worried?

Richard Nixon's "enemies list" appalled the country for the simple reason that presidents hold a unique trust. Unlike senators or congressmen, presidents alone represent all Americans. Their powers—to jail, to fine, to bankrupt—are also so vast as to require restraint. Any president who targets a private citizen for his politics is de facto engaged in government intimidation and threats. This is why presidents since Nixon have carefully avoided the practice.

Save Mr. Obama, who acknowledges no rules. This past week, one of his campaign websites posted an item entitled "Behind the curtain: A brief history of Romney's donors." In the post, the Obama campaign named and shamed eight private citizens who had donated to his opponent. Describing the givers as all having "less-than-reputable records," the post went on to make the extraordinary accusations that "quite a few" have also been "on the wrong side of the law" and profiting at "the expense of so many Americans."

These are people like Paul Schorr and Sam and Jeffrey Fox, investors who the site outed for the crime of having "outsourced" jobs. T. Martin Fiorentino is scored for his work for a firm that forecloses on homes. Louis Bacon (a hedge-fund manager), Kent Burton (a "lobbyist") and Thomas O'Malley (an energy CEO) stand accused of profiting from oil. Frank VanderSloot, the CEO of a home-products firm, is slimed as a "bitter foe of the gay rights movement."

These are wealthy individuals, to be sure, but private citizens nonetheless. Not one holds elected office. Not one is a criminal. Not one has the barest fraction of the position or the power of the U.S. leader who is publicly assaulting them.

"We don't tolerate presidents or people of high power to do these things," says Theodore Olson, the former U.S. solicitor general. "When you have the power of the presidency—the power of the IRS, the INS, the Justice Department, the DEA, the SEC—what you have effectively done is put these guys' names up on 'Wanted' posters in government offices." Mr. Olson knows these tactics, having demanded that the 44th president cease publicly targeting Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, which he represents. He's been ignored.

The real crime of the men, as the website tacitly acknowledges, is that they have given money to Mr. Romney. This fundraiser of a president has shown an acute appreciation for the power of money to win elections, and a cutthroat approach to intimidating those who might give to his opponents.

He's targeted insurers, oil firms and Wall Street—letting it be known that those who oppose his policies might face political or legislative retribution. He lectured the Supreme Court for giving companies more free speech and (falsely) accused the Chamber of Commerce of using foreign money to bankroll U.S. elections. The White House even ginned up an executive order (yet to be released) to require companies to list political donations as a condition of bidding for government contracts. Companies could bid but lose out for donating to Republicans. Or they could quit donating to the GOP—Mr. Obama's real aim.

The White House has couched its attacks in the language of "disclosure" and the argument that corporations should not have the same speech rights as individuals. But now, says Rory Cooper of the Heritage Foundation, "he's doing the same at the individual level, for anyone who opposes his policies." Any giver, at any level, risks reprisal from the president of the United States.

It's getting worse because the money game is not going as Team Obama wants. Super PACs are helping the GOP to level the playing field against Democratic super-spenders. Prominent financial players are backing Mr. Romney. The White House's new strategy is thus to delegitimize Mr. Romney (by attacking his donors) as it seeks to frighten others out of giving.

The Obama campaign has justified any action on the grounds that it has a right to "hold the eventual Republican nominee accountable," but this is a dodge. Politics is rough, but a president has obligations that transcend those of a candidate. He swore an oath to protect and defend a Constitution that gives every American the right to partake in democracy, free of fear of government intimidation or disfavored treatment. If Mr. Obama isn't going to act like a president, he bolsters the argument that he doesn't deserve to be one.



Another return to Zion

During the 1990s, Israel's elite took a vacation from reality and history and they brought much of the public with them.

Then-foreign minister Shimon Peres said that history was overrated. The so-called "New Historians," who rummaged through David Ben-Gurion's closet looking for skeletons, were the toast of the academic world. Radicals like Yossi Beilin, Shulamit Aloni and Avrum Burg were dictating government policy.

The media, the entertainment establishment, and the Education Ministry embraced and massively promoted plays, movies, television shows, songs, dances, art and books that "slayed sacred cows." Everywhere you turned, post-Zionism was in. Post-Judaism was in. And Zionism and Judaism were both decidedly out.

To understand the distance Israel has traveled since then, consider Tuesday night's Memorial Day ceremony at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. None of the performers attacked their fellow Israelis. And the best-received artist and song was Mosh Ben-Ari and his rendition of Psalm 121 - A Song of Ascent.

The psalm, which praises God as the eternal guardian of Israel, became the unofficial anthem of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008-2009. And Ben-Ari's rendition of the song propelled the dreadlock bedecked, hoop earring wearing world music artist into super-stardom in Israel.

IT WAS impossible to imagine Pslam 121 or any other traditional Jewish poem or prayer being performed as anything other than an object of scorn in 1998. Back then, it would have been impossible to contemplate a crowd of tens of thousands of non-religious Israelis reverently singing along as Ben-Ari crooned, "My help is from God/ Maker of Heaven and Earth/ He will not allow your foot to falter/ Your Guardian will not slumber/ Behold he neither slumbers nor sleeps - the Guardian of Israel."

Israel's return to its Zionist roots is the greatest cultural event of the past decade. It is also an event that occurred under the radar screen of the rest of the world. No one outside the country seems to have noticed at all.

The outside world's failure to take note of Israel's cultural shift owes to its failure to recognize the significance of the failure of the peace process with the Palestinians on the one hand and the failure of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza on the other hand. The demise of the peace process at Camp David in July 2000 and the terror war that followed launched the Israeli public on its path away from its radical post-Zionist rebellion and back to its Zionist roots. The failure of the withdrawal from Gaza, and the international community's response to Operation Cast Lead, marked the conclusion of the journey.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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

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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, 2012

BOOK REVIEW of Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry into Islam's Obscure Origins, by Robert Spencer

Spencer performs a super detective service for the West in this book.   He examines virtually every aspect of the composition and history of Islam and its purported founder, Mohammad.  Let us begin with one of his summations:

A careful investigation makes at least one thing clear: The details of Muhammad's life that have been handed down as canonical - that he unified Arabs by the force of arms, concluded alliances, married wives, legislated for his community, and did so much else - are a creation of political ferments dating from long after the time he is supposed to have lived. Similarly, the records strongly indicate that the Qur'an did not exist until long after it was supposed to have been delivered to the prophet of Islam. [pp. 214-215]

The Qur'an, the Islamic canon alleges, was the eternal "perfect book," coexisting with Allah, who sent it to earth via the Angel Gabriel to whisper into Mohammad's ear on Mount Hira, and which he, an illiterate, was able to communicate to the world in its entirety, unalterable, unchanged, and untouchable.

Well, because he couldn't write, he had secretaries to whom he dictated the Qur'an. No, wait. Those secretaries began recording the good book after he had died. No, wait

As Spencer demonstrates, it did not come into existence until long after Mohammad's death (presuming he even existed) in 632. (Gabriel was the "Prophet Whisperer.") The Hadith, the companion to the Qur'an purportedly a collection of Mohammad's sayings and doings, did not begin to accumulate until a century after his death. As Spencer shows, the Hadith became a kind of cottage industry for caliphs, Islamic clerics, scholars and anonymous scribes to invent its contents over the centuries for reasons that can partly be explained, and that partly remain conjectural.

Islam, Mohammad, and even Muslims did not begin to enter anyone's consciousness until early in the 8th century following Arab conquests of the Mideast and North Africa. Spencer emphasizes, and demonstrates, that it was Arabs, and not necessarily Muslims, or Moslems, or Mohammadans who waged jihad on that part of the Dark Age world. And those Arabs, while they were monotheists, were not necessarily Muslims.

Spencer demonstrates that possibly it was the biblical and Judaic Abraham who was the "prophet," not the person Mohammad. Surviving commentaries by chroniclers were ambiguous on the point. Moreover, that monotheist creed regarded Christians and Jews in a far more tolerant light of fellowship than would the Islam that finally emerged centuries later. It would explain many of the contradictory verses in the Qur'an, especially the earlier, abrogated ones.

Up until the time the Qur'an was being diligently assembled by a succession of clerics, politicians, and charlatans, no mention is made in the earliest documents that can be linked to Islam of the Qur'an or to Mohammad.  What chroniclers referred to when writing about those events and those Arabs - which include fictive battles that Mohammad fought - were Hagarians, Saracens, or Taiyaye.

The invaders referred to themselves as Muhajirun, "emigrants" - a term that would eventually take on a particular significance within Islam but that at this time preceded any clear mention of Islam as such. Greek-speaking writers would sometimes term the invaders "Magaritai," which appears to be derived from Muhajirun. But conspicuously absent from the stock of terms that invaded and conquered people used to name the conquering Arabians was "Muslims." [p. 33]

"Allah," Spencer points out, was not the exclusive name for God of Muslims in this period, but a common term shared by Christians and Jews. "Muhammad" was not necessarily a proper name, but often an honorific title meaning "praised one," which could be appended to any random "prophet" or religious preacher.

As Spencer shows with meticulous attention to detail, Islam and the iconic Mohammad were too likely a consequence between feuding tribes, „ la the Hatfields and McCoys, in the prophet's alleged home base, Mecca, in this instance, the Quraysh and the Umayyads.

Spencer also points to the dubious role of Mecca itself in the history of Islam, and of the Kaaba, which was originally a shrine for a host of pagan and polytheistic deities, and not the sole spiritual property of Islam as is the common belief. It shared the fate of many churches in lands conquered by the invaders, which were turned into mosques. It was appropriated by Islam. That is, stolen by conquering Arabs of questionable religious color.

The original Qur'an, writes Spencer, had to have been in Syriac, not Arabic, as the Islamic canon asserts it was. Allah commanded it to appear in Arabic, and not in any other language. Spencer bursts that balloon, too. And every fifth verse in the Qur'an is literally incomprehensible, having no intelligible reference to what precedes or follows it.

Spencer devotes important attention to the likelihood that the Qur'an is founded on a substratum of early Christian and Judaic texts. The Qur'an possibly was based on an early Christian lectionary.

My first introduction to Islam was the epic Lawrence of Arabia in 1963. I was in high school when I first saw it on a big theater screen. From a directorial and cinematography standpoint, it is still one of my favorite films. Spencer's book clears up some of the dialogue and scenes in that film. For example, when Lawrence and his Bedouin army are nearing Damascus, an Arab rider offers Lawrence a stem of grapes. Lawrence tastes one and grimaces. "They are not ripe!" laughs the rider.

Spencer discusses the actual meaning of those grapes and their relationship to the seventy-two renewable virgins promised martyrs in Paradise. Citing the researches of Christoph Luxenberg, a contemporary investigator of Islam's origins, he notes:

"A closer philological analysis indicates that the Qur'an does not offer such a promise. After examining the rasm, the other contexts in which hur appears in the Qur'an, and the contemporary usage of the word houris, Luxenberg concludes that the famous passages refer not to virgins but instead to white raisins, or grapes."

Yes, fruit. Strange as that may seem, given all the attention paid to the Qur'an's supposed promises of virgins in Paradise, white raisins were a prized delicacy in that region. As such, Luxenberg suggests, they actually make a more fitting symbol of the reward of Paradise than the promise of sexual favors from virgins.

Luxenberg shows that the Arabic word for "Paradise" can be traced to the Syriac word for "garden," which stands to reason, given the common identification of the garden of Adam and Eve with Paradise. Luxenberg further demonstrates that metaphorical references to bunches of grapes are consonant with Christian homiletics expatiating on the refreshments that greeted the blessed in Heaven.

The fact that the Syriac word Ephraem used for "grapevine" was feminine, Luxenberg explains, "led the Arabic exegetes of the Koran to this fateful assumption" that the Qur'an text referred to sexual playthings in Paradise. [p. 169]

Luxenberg is one of the many pioneer investigators and examiners of Islam's origins to whom Spencer gives ample credit throughout his book. Luxenberg focused on the philological quirks and inconsistencies found in Islam's holy book in his 2000 The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran: A Contribution to the Decoding of the Language of the Qur'an.

A chief inconsistency of Islam for me is that the Qur'an is claimed to have been the "perfect book" that coexisted with Allah. Yet, no sooner had Mohammad died than his successors began to fiddle with its contents to conform to the expediency of the moment - surely a punishable offence in Islam. When this is pointed out to the faithful defenders of the Qur'an's inalterability, the pat answer is that Allah planned it that way, that is, implying that Allah had the Angel Gabriel whisper an incomplete and imperfect Qur'an into a delirious Mohammad's ear.

So, it's an either/or conundrum for which Islamists have no credible solution and no rationally comprehensible answer.

The Qur'an especially winds up being a kind of Rube Goldberg-like literary contraption that contains explanations for every unnecessary and obvious contradiction, and its defenders hardly blush.

Islam has swindled its faithful, its communicants, its followers, its believers. All the possible evidence points to the fact that Islam's substance and veracity comprise a theological and historical fraud. The walls of Allah's gold mine of salvation and his blessings were salted with glittering silicate from a shotgun, meant to dazzle and stun the gullible and irrational into buying into what is, at root and in purpose, a totalitarian ideology. Unfortunately, about a billion people are comfortable with being the playthings of that ideology. Which is why Islam is, root and branch, incompatible with America.

Spencer leaves few rocks unturned in his search for the truth about Islam and Mohammad. Beneath them he has found either nothing concrete, or another hand-buzzer of Islamic practical jokers. He posits at the end that Islam was knocked together as a political faith to anchor the Arab empire in the 8th century, and then began to acquire its contemporary character as sheer political circumstances demanded.

In this relatively short book, Spencer adds an invaluable resource to the growing and much needed corpus of literature that exposes, if not the peril posed by Islam, then its maleficent and felonious origins.



Will the young realize that their Messiah has shafted them?

They should

Anyone with a functioning brain and a TV knows the economy is disintegrating faster than a newspaper in the rain, and this counts double for those out scouting for a new job.

The recent college graduates, that sparkling, eager group of new additions to the workforce are finding it harder and harder to procure employment now that they have received their diplomas. And if by chance they do find someone to hire them, it is usually a job that falls far below their qualifications.

In fact, according to Associated Press, 50 percent of recent graduates are under- or unemployed.

Unfortunately, this statistic isn't very surprising. As a recent college graduate myself, I know that a lot of my friends have struggled to find jobs, and many are still searching.

It's quite disheartening to come out of the secluded world of college and fight tooth and nail trying to find a way to support yourself, and the times are only getting worse.

An astonishing amount of recent grads have even had to move back in with their parents because of the fact that they are unable to afford their own place without a stable job.

The majority of available jobs that are above the "Do you want fries with that?" category are being fought over by not just recent college graduates but masters and doctoral graduates who were fired or are looking to make more money, and so the pool of available work is getting smaller by the day.

The most interesting part of this situation is that the very people who were Obama's biggest supporters are the ones who are suffering the most from his mistakes.

The young adult demographic, who once held up our illustrious president in the highest of regards, now have started to lower their standards as their hearts, wallets and gas tanks are running on empty.

Maybe in the coming months, with the election hot on our heels, Americans can stand up for what we need and demand results. Hopefully they can find enough change to take the bus to the polling place on election day.



It looks like  the young may realize that their Messiah has shafted them

Looks like President Obama's college tour was all for naught: a new poll reveals that young people are unlikely to bother voting in 2012, despite the fact that they may prefer Obama to Mitt Romney.

A Gallup poll conducted earlier this week surveyed voter registration and likelihood to vote, broken down by age groups. Among the 18-29 set, 60 percent indicated that they are registered to vote. Obama enjoys a wide lead over Romney in this age group: 64 percent support Obama while only 29 percent support Romney. However, when asked if they definitely will vote in the general election, only 56 percent replied yes.

Comparatively, every other age group surveyed-30 to 49, 50 to 64 and 65 and over- had a yes response rate of 80 percent or more.

Obama ran away with the youth vote in 2008: Voters between the ages of 18 and 29 chose him over McCain 66 percent to 32 percent, exit polls showed.

The actual percentage of young voters who turned out in 2008 was not much higher than in previous years: In 2008, 18 percent of the electorate was comprised of voters between 18 and 29. In 2004 that age set made up 17 percent of the electorate. The same was true for 2000. John Kerry and Al Gore won the youth vote in those years as well, but their margins were nowhere near Obama's.

Still, as ABC's Amy Walter noted earlier this week, Obama's percentage of the youth vote in key swing states like North Carolina, Virginia and Florida grew substantially from that of John Kerry in 2004, no doubt helping him carry these important states and ultimately claim victory. If that group doesn't come out to support him this time around, that is definitely a concern.

Despite the fact that the president is doing his utmost to appeal to young voters, it looks like they're just not that excited. Obama said it himself, supporting him just isn't that hip anymore. Looks like the honeymoon is over, and the youth is heading back into its politically apathetic cave.



Oklahoma Democratic chairman says Timothy McVeigh would be member of tea party were he alive today

He overlooks the fact that conservatives generally and the Tea Partiers in particular are in fact IN FAVOR of government:  Constitutional government.  Unlike Obama and his ilk, conservatives have great reverence for the Constitution.  But there are  lawless murderers and terrorists by the millions on the Left.  Just look back on the regimes of some of the self-described "socialists" of the 20th century:  Stalin, Hitler, Mao etc.  

A more extensive comment on the identity of McVeigh here

The chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party is refusing to back down from comments he made that likened convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to tea party activists.

"I certainly stand by my remarks, because it's widely known that McVeigh was anti-government. I think that he was a right-winger, and I think the current tea party people, while I'm not saying that they're proposing violence, they're anti-government," Collins said Tuesday. "They dislike the government. I don't know if you'd call them a government hater, but I certainly see them in a similar vein. Maybe they're an offshoot or offspring or next generation."




Let's not worry about fake online drugs:  "Roger Bate has a curious op-ed in the NYT today. He's the lead author on a study which bought 370 drug samples from 41 online pharmacies around the world, and then tested their authenticity. The results? With the exception of Viagra bought from non-verified websites, every single drug was 100% authentic. But you'd never guess that from his op-ed."

Rick Perry was correct:  "When Texas Gov. Rick Perry, then in the early stages of his short-lived quest for the Republican presidential nomination, referred to Social Security as 'a Ponzi scheme,' he was excoriated by the press, left and right, and by his fellow Republicans, as well. Earlier this week, government actuaries revealed that Perry was correct."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


28 April, 2012

Europe's Phony Growth Debate

The austerity vs. spending fight ignores essential reforms

Growth or austerity? That's the choice facing Europe these days—or so the Keynesian consensus keeps saying. According to this view, which has dominated world economic councils since the 2008 crisis began, "growth" is mainly a function of government spending.

Spend more and you're for growth, even if a country raises taxes to pay for the spending. But dare to cut spending as the Germans suggest, and you're for austerity and thus opposed to growth.

This is a nonsense debate that misconstrues the real sources of economic prosperity and helps explain Europe's current mess. The real debate ought to be over which policies best produce growth.

In the 1980s, the world learned (or so we thought) that the way out of the malaise of the 1970s were reforms that encourage private investment and risk-taking, labor mobility and flexibility, an end to price controls, tax rates that encouraged capital formation, and what the World Bank now broadly calls "the ease of doing business." Amid this crisis, Europe has tried everything except these policies.

If Reagan or Margaret Thatcher are too déclassé for Europeans to invoke, how about Germany? Throughout the 1990s and the first years of the last decade, Germany was Europe's hobbled giant, with consistently subpar growth rates and unemployment that in 2005 hit 11.3%, nearly at the top of the OECD chart.

Then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a Social Democrat, surprised the world, to say nothing of his own voters, by pushing through the labor-market reforms that paved the way for the current relative prosperity. The changes cut welfare benefits and gave employers more flexibility in reaching agreement with their employees on working time and pay.

The Schröder government, and later the coalition under Angela Merkel, also cut federal corporate income taxes to 15% from 45% in 1998. Include state taxes, and the effective corporate rate today is close to 30%, down from 50% or more in the 1990s. These reforms made Germany more competitive, attracted investment and jobs, and paved the way for the country's economic resurgence and an unemployment rate currently at 5.7%.

Mrs. Merkel's government did the world an additional favor in 2009, amid the financial crisis, by rejecting calls from the International Monetary Fund, then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, President Obama, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and the same dominant Keynesian consensus to join the global spending party.

"They've already pumped endless amounts of money into the economy," said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in 2010 about U.S. policy. "The results are dismal." (See our March 12, 2009 editorial, "Old Europe Is Right on Stimulus.")

Germany's resurgence might have been even stronger if Mrs. Merkel and her coalition partners hadn't reneged on their tax-cutting campaign promises and raised VAT and other taxes in a bid to stay close to budget balance. Still, Europe is lucky that its largest economy remains strong and creditworthy.

Yet now Mrs. Merkel is widely berated for avoiding the policy errors that led to the debt crisis and for having the nerve to encourage other countries to emulate the reforms that worked in Germany. The Keynesians will never forgive the Germans for being right.

Another European spending spree is unsustainable in any case. As the nearby chart shows, debt levels have climbed dramatically across the developed world since the crisis began in 2008, and that debt and the current dreary recovery (or double-dip recessions) are all there is to show for the great Keynesian spending blowout.

Now bond yields are ticking back up in the euro zone's periphery economies, European stock indexes are stumbling, and much of the Continent is in recession. Adam Smith's bond vigilantes are telling European governments that without reforms that reduce spending and encourage more growth in the private economy, their countries are increasingly risky bets. As the smarter Germans understand, the bond markets may be the only lobby for genuine pro-growth reform that exists in most of Europe.

Other than an inflation that will create new problems and bring its own crisis, economic growth is the only way out of Europe's debt morass. But it has to be private growth driven by reforms in taxes, labor markets, regulation, pensions and more.

Europe's voters have already swept several governments from office, and they seem ready to sweep out more. But what really needs to be swept away is the dominant and debilitating consensus that government spending can conjure prosperity.



Spineless Texas??

As you may have guessed, I'm speaking of the new fascist program the TSA is carrying out in Houston, goose-stepping about on busses, randomly stopping and interrogating people, and searching bags without a warrant or probable cause. Come on, Texas! What happened to you? When did you become the land of the pansies and the home of the blindly obedient?

 At the very least, every time one of those jackbooted, fascist dumbasses searches a bag without a warrant, without probably cause, and without the consent of the owner, the victim should get the name of the state mercenary, make public that that person is an unthinking fascist thug, and immediately file a Bivens action against him, for the obvious, intentional violation of the victim's Fourth Amendment rights. Maybe if the federal parasites had to spend lots of time, effort and money defending against a Bivens action every time they do this, they might think twice. (And I really hope whoever already had his bags searched does this.)

Personally, I think relying on "lawsuits" is far too nice. Putting up with blatant injustice, and then begging "government" puppets--the dress-wearing megalomaniacs who call themselves "the courts"--generally sickens me. If you need some "court" to tell you whether randomly searching people's bags is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, then you might as well drive yourself to the nearest prison, and volunteer yourself into custody.

If the jackboots can get away with this in Texas, what hope is there for the rest of the country? Just how blatant does this police state garbage have to get, before the people stop echoing the blatant lie that this is a free country? Remember seeing those old movies about Nazi Germany, where the thugs randomly stop and interrogate people, and search through their stuff? Well, now you can see it in full color and 3D! Just go to Houston!



Leftist hate set to be hugely destructive

Fortunately, there is no chance of the proposal being enacted

US REPRESENTATIVE JIM MCGOVERN, a Worcester Democrat, generated some unwanted controversy two years ago when he publicly declared: "The Constitution is wrong."

The context was a discussion of campaign finance during a debate between McGovern and his Republican challenger, Marty Lamb. "A lot of the campaign-finance laws we've passed have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court," McGovern said. "I think the Constitution is wrong. I don't think money … equals free speech. I don't think corporations should have the same equality as a regular voter."

Critics pounced, a minor storm erupted, and a day later McGovern took his words back. A slip of the tongue, he explained -- he'd meant to say "court decision," not "Constitution." His problem wasn't with the Bill of Rights, it was with the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, which restored the right of corporations to engage in political free speech.

But McGovern's problem, it turns out, is with the Bill of Rights. He objects to the way it safeguards fundamental rights -- such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances -- not only when citizens act as lone individuals, but also when they unite as corporations in order to pool their assets and act more efficiently.

Like many on the left, McGovern has gone batty on the subject of "corporate personhood." This is a perfectly commonplace, centuries-old legal construct that makes it possible for individuals organized as a group to carry out their affairs effectively. Because corporations are legal "persons," for example, they can rent property without requiring the signature of every shareholder on every lease. They can be sued in court as single entities, without obliging plaintiffs to go after tens of thousands of individual defendants. They can be taxed. They can enter into contracts. They can register patents.

What infuriates many liberals is that corporations can also express political views, spending money to take sides in contested elections. "Corporations are not people," scowled McGovern at a Democratic forum last week. "They do not breathe. They do not have children. They do not die in war. They are artificial entities which we the people create and, as such, we govern them, not the other way around."

So the congressman proposes to strip corporations of all constitutional liberties and guarantees.

McGovern has introduced a "People's Rights Amendment," which would explicitly limit all rights protected by the Constitution to "natural persons." All "corporate entities," on the other hand, would be subject to any laws and regulations that lawmakers "deem reasonable." At last week's forum House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed the crusade to exclude corporations from the Constitution's safeguards.

It is hard to overstate how radical and dangerous the People's Rights Amendment would be. It would overturn Citizens United, all right -- along with much of the freedom Americans have always taken for granted.

Under McGovern's proposal, corporations -- for-profit and nonprofit alike -- would have no more rights than legislators chose to give them. Congress could ban ExxonMobil and R.J. Reynolds from commenting on any public issue, and they would have no recourse to the First Amendment. But it isn't only Big Oil and Big Tobacco that could be censored with impunity. So could Planned Parenthood and the National Rifle Association. So could the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and the Museum of Fine Arts. So could innumerable universities, charities, churches, small businesses, and government watchdogs. And so, of course, could most newspapers, magazines, TV networks, and book publishers. Corporations of every kind would lose their constitutional defenses. Vast swaths of American life would be permanently vulnerable to the whims and vendettas of politicians.

And what is true of First Amendment rights would be true of all the others: Protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, due process under law, the right to trial by jury -- corporations could be stripped of them all.

McGovern and Pelosi may honestly imagine that mutilating the Constitution in this way will make American democracy more wholesome and less corrupt. What it would really do is empower the political class to a degree never before seen in our history. Far from reinvigorating the dream of the Founding Fathers, the People's Rights Amendment would transform it into a nightmare.



Son of SOPA

I think the comments below do rightly point out a decline in privacy but it is only that.  And there's not much privacy in the internet age anyway. 

The information sharing will be voluntary so nobody would be obliged to hand over information to the government if they thought a refusal  would make them more trusted by their users.  

It has passed through the House anyway and is unlikely to be derailed in the Senate

Having failed earlier this year to foist an Orwellian kill switch on Internet free speech, Congress is now peddling a kinder, gentler piece of “cybersecurity legislation.” However, Washington’s latest attempt to play Big Brother on the Internet poses an equally clear and present danger to our fundamental liberties.

With the furor over the Stop Online Piracy Act having subsided, congressional leaders apparently are hoping that the ire of America’s burgeoning information freedom movement has been exhausted. They’re also hoping that the same coalition that successfully shot down the Piracy Act won’t notice the sinister outlines of its latest alphabet soup invasion - the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). In fact, they’ve enlisted the help of heavy hitters such as Facebook and Microsoft in an effort to convince us that the Web is somehow on-board with this latest example of unchecked government intrusion into our private lives.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The stated purpose of CISPA is to “allow elements of the intelligence community to share cyberthreat intelligence with private-sector entities and to encourage the sharing of such intelligence.” While the first part of that equation isn’t particularly problematic (law enforcement is a core function of government and should alert providers to criminal activity allegedly occurring within their networks), the “sharing” component of this legislation represents an insidiously expansive assault on liberty.

How expansive?

“CISPA would allow [Internet Service Providers], social networking sites, and anyone else handling Internet communications to monitor users and pass information to the government without any judicial oversight,” writes Rainey Reitman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In other words, concepts such as “probable cause” or even “reasonable suspicion” would no longer apply.

What sort of information are we talking about, though? And who would be reviewing it?

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, this legislation “would give the government, including military spy agencies, unprecedented powers to snoop through people’s personal information - medical records, private emails, financial information - all without a warrant, proper oversight or limits.”




Christie the prophet:  "New Jersey governor Chris Christie recently warned that America is in danger of becoming a country of 'people sitting on the couch waiting for their next government check.' Predictably, the Left was outraged, but Governor Christie wasn’t far off the mark."

A rare check on the ever-growing powers of law enforcement:  "
The Michigan Supreme Court says people can resist police officers who unlawfully enter their homes.  In a 5-2 decision, the court ordered that charges be dropped against Angel Moreno Junior, a western Michigan man who was accused of obstructing officers at his home in Holland. The officers were looking for someone and tried to enter the home without a warrant.  Lower courts had upheld charges of resisting police, based on a 2004 Supreme Court decision, but justices on Friday said that case was wrongly decided.  The opinion was written by Justice Diane Hathaway. She and two other Democrats on the court were joined by two Republican justices, a rare alliance."

Another triumph against bureaucracy:  "Labor Department withdraws farm child labor rule:  "Under pressure from farming advocates in rural communities, and following a report by The Daily Caller, the Obama administration withdrew a proposed rule Thursday that would have applied child labor laws to family farms. Critics complained that the regulation would have drastically changed the extent to which children could work on farms owned by family members. The U.S. Department of Labor cited public outcry as the reason for withdrawing the rule."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Fooling the elderly to get past November

"Re-electing President Obama is really important to President Obama, which isn't news. What is news are the out-of-liberal-character acts that his Administration is committing to serve this political goal. ... 

ObamaCare slashes about $145 billion from Medicare Advantage, the program that allows one of four seniors to escape the traditional entitlement and choose commercial plans. ... 

Medicare's budget counters estimate that ObamaCare's cuts in the Advantage program will result in enrollment falling by half. The cuts were scheduled to begin this year. ... 

So in November 2010 Mr. Obama's Medicare team announced a nationwide Medicare Advantage 'demonstration project' that would test if paying insurers bonus subsidies would improve quality over the next two years. Lo and behold, according to a new investigation by the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, the $8.35 billion pilot program is just enough to reverse 71% of the Advantage cuts that would have hit seniors in the run-up to November. And behold again, the demonstration project turns into a pumpkin in 2013. ... 

Obama's Health and Human Services Department is allowed to spend unlimited taxpayer dollars as long it claims the money is going to 'demonstration projects' to fine-tune Medicare Advantage. The real game here is purely political -- to give a program that is popular with seniors a temporary reprieve past Election Day. ... 

Given the pre-election timing of this short-term Medicare Advantage pardon, the Federal Election Commission should bill HHS for giving Mr. Obama's campaign what amounts to an $8.35 billion re-election contribution."



The  racist media

 Thomas Sowell 

Whatever the ultimate outcome of the case against George Zimmerman for his shooting of Trayvon Martin, what has happened already is enough to turn the stomach of anyone who believes in either truth or justice.

An amazing proportion of the media has given us a painful demonstration of the thinking -- and lack of thinking -- that prevailed back in the days of the old Jim Crow South, where complexion counted more than facts in determining how people were treated.

One of the first things presented in the media was a transcript of a conversation between George Zimmerman and a police dispatcher. The last line in most of the transcripts shown on TV was that of the police dispatcher telling Zimmerman not to continue following Trayvon Martin.

That became the basis of many media criticisms of Zimmerman for continuing to follow him. Only later did I see a transcript of that conversation on the Sean Hannity program that included Zimmerman's reply to the police dispatcher: "O.K."

That reply removed the only basis for assuming that Zimmerman did in fact continue to follow Trayvon Martin. At this point, neither I nor the people who assumed that he continued to follow the teenager have any basis in fact for believing that he did or didn't.

Why was that reply edited out by so many in the media? Because too many people in the media see their role as filtering and slanting the news to fit their own vision of the world. The issue is not one of being "fair" to "both sides" but, more fundamentally, of being honest with their audience.

NBC News carried the editing even further, removing one of the police dispatcher's questions, to which Zimmerman was responding, in order to feed the vision of Zimmerman as a racist.

In the same vein were the repeated references to Zimmerman as a "white Hispanic." Zimmerman is half-white. So is Barack Obama. But does anyone refer to Obama as a "white African"?

All these verbal games grow out of the notion that complexion tells you who is to be blamed and who is not. It is a dangerous game because race is no game. If the tragic history of the old Jim Crow South in this country is not enough to show that, the history of racial and ethnic tragedies is written in blood in countries around the world. Millions have lost their lives because they looked different, talked differently or belonged to a different religion.

In the midst of the Florida tragedy, there was a book published with the unwieldy title, "No Matter What ... They'll Call This Book Racist." Obviously it was written well before the shooting in Florida, but its message -- that there is rampant hypocrisy and irrationality in public discussions of race -- could not have been better timed.

Author Harry Stein, a self-described "reformed white liberal," raised by parents who were even further left, exposes the illogic and outright fraudulence that lies behind so much of what is said about race in the media, in politics and in our educational institutions.

He asks a very fundamental question: "Why, even after the Duke University rape fiasco, does the media continue to give credence to every charge of racism?"

Harry Stein credits Shelby Steele's book "White Guilt" with opening his eyes to one of the sources of many counterproductive things said and done about race today -- namely, guilt about what was done to blacks and other minorities in the past.

Let us talk sense, like adults. Nothing that is done to George Zimmerman -- justly or unjustly -- will unlynch a single black man who was tortured and killed in the Jim Crow South for a crime he didn't commit.

Letting hoodlums get away with hoodlumism today does not undo a single injustice of the past. It is not even a favor to the hoodlums, for many of whom hoodlumism is just the first step on a path that leads to the penitentiary, and maybe to the execution chamber.

Winston Churchill said, "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." He wasn't talking about racial issues, but what he said applies especially where race is involved.



If I wanted America to fail...

I’d cut off America’s supply of cheap, abundant energy.  Of course, I couldn’t take it by force.  So, I’d make Americans feel guilty for using the energy that heats their homes, fuels their cars, runs their businesses, and powers their economy.

I’d make cheap energy expensive, so that expensive energy would seem cheap.

I would empower unelected bureaucrats to all-but-outlaw America’s most abundant sources of energy.  And after banning its use in America, I’d make it illegal for American companies to ship it overseas.

If I wanted America to fail …

I’d use our schools to teach one generation of Americans that our factories and our cars will cause a new Ice Age, and I’d muster a straight face so I could teach the next generation that they’re causing Global Warming.

And when it’s cold out, I’d call it Climate Change instead.

I’d imply that America’s cities and factories could run on wind power and wishes.  I’d teach children how to ignore the hypocrisy of condemning logging, mining and farming — while having roofs over their heads, heat in their homes and food on their tables.

I would never teach children that the free market is the only force in human history to uplift the poor, establish the middle class and create lasting prosperity. Instead, I’d demonize prosperity itself, so that they will not miss what they will never have.

If I wanted America to fail …

I would create countless new regulations and seldom cancel old ones. They would be so complicated that only bureaucrats, lawyers and lobbyists could understand them.  That way small businesses with big ideas wouldn’t stand a chance — and I would never have to worry about another Thomas Edison, Henry Ford or Steve Jobs.

I would ridicule as “Flat Earthers” those who urge us to lower energy costs by increasing supply.  And when the evangelists of commonsense try to remind people about the law of supply and demand, I’d enlist a sympathetic media to drown them out.

If I wanted America to fail …

I would empower unaccountable bureaucracies seated in a distant capitol to bully Americans out of their dreams and their property rights.  I’d send federal agents to raid guitar factories for using the wrong kind of wood; I’d force homeowners to tear down the homes they built on their own land.

I’d make it almost impossible for farmers to farm, miners to mine, loggers to log, and builders to build.  And because I don’t believe in free markets, I’d invent false ones.  I’d devise fictitious products — like carbon credits — and trade them in imaginary markets.  I’d convince people that this would create jobs and be good for the economy.

If I wanted America to fail …

For every concern, I’d invent a crisis; and for every crisis, I’d invent the cause.

Like shutting down entire industries and killing tens of thousands of jobs in the name of saving spotted owls.  When everyone learned the stunning irony that the owls were victims of their larger cousins — and not people — it would already be decades too late.

If I wanted America to fail …

I’d make it easier to stop commerce than start it — easier to kill jobs than create them — more fashionable to resent success than to seek it.  When industries seek to create jobs, I’d file lawsuits to stop them.  And then I’d make taxpayers pay for my lawyers.

If I wanted America to fail …

I would transform the environmental agenda from a document of conservation to an economic suicide pact.  I would concede entire industries to our economic rivals by imposing regulations that cost trillions.

I would celebrate those who preach environmental austerity in public while indulging a lavish lifestyle in private.  I’d convince Americans that Europe has it right, and America has it wrong.

If I wanted America to fail …

I would prey on the goodness and decency of ordinary Americans.  I would only need to convince them … that all of this is for the greater good.

If I wanted America to fail, I suppose I wouldn’t change a thing.



Conservative Consumers: Stand Your Ground

Who is Rashad Robinson? And why has his fringe, race-baiting organization been able to pressure several major corporations into abandoning a pro-limited-government legislative association -- all for a few cheap social-justice brownie points?

Conservative consumers need to get informed, get active and stand their ground against free speech-squelching progressive activists who have demonized the American Legislative Exchange Council. This isn't just a battle over ALEC. It's a war against the left's shakedown artists taking aim at our freedoms of speech and association.

ALEC, as I reported last week, is the four-decade-old policy organization of state legislators and like-minded business people who believe in "the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty." They are under fire from a longstanding network of liberal groups -- tied to the Democratic Party -- that are unhappy with effective conservative opposition at the state and federal legislative levels.

Anti-ALEC hypocrites seized on the Trayvon Martin shooting case in Florida to blame ALEC and Republican lawmakers for their advocacy of Stand Your Ground self-defense legislation - even though the case does not implicate the policy and ALEC followed Florida's lead on the legislation. Moreover, eight of the 15 states that have adopted such polices were helmed by Democratic governors at the time of passage.

Robinson is spearheading the anti-ALEC campaign, along with Soros-backed Progress Now and a MoveOn.org/Big Labor political action committee, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). While they claim to oppose black "voter suppression" by working to undermine anti-voter fraud bills backed by ALEC, Color of Change's true agenda is to chill and suppress pro-capitalist, pro-Second Amendment, pro-low taxes and pro-law enforcement lobbying and legislating in the political marketplace.

Robinson is in charge of "Color of Change," a radical activist group founded by disgraced 9/11 Truther, anti-police agitator, Occupy movement promoter and former Obama green jobs czar Van Jones. The group used Hurricane Katrina to condemn America as institutionally racist. Most shamefully, Jones and his fledgling group helped perpetuate director Spike Lee and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan's wild conspiracy theories about government-engineered black genocide in New Orleans.

Before taking over Jones' demagogue duties, Robinson previously lobbied for felon voting rights at the left-wing Soros family-backed Fair Vote. The group has repeatedly fought common-sense efforts to rein in voter fraud. Unsurprisingly, Robinson is close to the community organizer in chief's administration. While media director at gay rights group GLAAD, Robinson traveled to Serbia in 2010 to officially represent the U.S. at a gay pride festival. He was invited by the Obama State Department, which sponsored the trip.

Robinson claims that his group has "more than 800,000 members" and "is the nation's largest online civil rights group." The numbers, however, don't add up. The Color of Change Twitter account has fewer than 14,600 followers. Robinson himself, acclaimed by leftists as a new media guru, has a measly 1,400 followers after three years on the premiere social networking platform.

But the foot soldiers of radical organizer Saul Alinsky know how to conjure up facades and false narratives. Over the past several weeks, Robinson has released a series of press releases claiming mass victories in the Color of Change campaign to boycott ALEC. The bulletins are being dutifully regurgitated by sympathetic journalists such as National Public Radio's Peter Overby -- a former staffer at the anti-ALEC group Common Cause, a fact that he failed to disclose to radio listeners in at least two recent hit pieces on ALEC.

Color of Change's corporate appeasers include McDonald's, Wendy's, Mars Inc., Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Intuit, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Reed Elsevier (owner of LexisNexis), American Traffic Solutions and Arizona Public Service. This week, Robinson also claimed that Yum Brands and Procter and Gamble had dropped their memberships as a result of "hundreds" of Color of Change phone calls.

On Tuesday, I called Procter and Gamble and asked them how many phone calls they received. Company spokeswoman Christine Wever refused to answer. I asked whether the company had met at any time over the past year with Color of Change or any other protest group regarding their specific complaints about ALEC. Wever refused to answer.

I also called the media office at Yum Brands several times with the same questions. No response by end of business Tuesday.

It's not enough for conservative consumers to avoid cowardly businesses that cave to Van Jones and company. Beating back the anti-ALEC mob means getting ahead of them. Color of Change and its "hundreds" of callers are now pressuring State Farm and Johnson and Johnson to join the spineless herd and cut ties to ALEC.

I'll say it again: Silence is complicity. Speak now or surrender your ground.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Mooney the spinner

Chris Mooney is a journalist who has popularized some hoary old Leftist theories about the psychology of politics. I was researching and writing about those theories when they were still "hot" so I know a bit about them. My most relevant academic journal articles on the subject are listed here. Needless to say, I found that the theories concerned did not stand up under rigorous testing.

Mooney's recent article "Liberals and conservatives don't just vote differently. They think differently" has attracted some attention so, although I have had a few laughs at Mooney's work before (See here and here), I thought I might add just a few more comments.

For a start, Mooney's work is actually more balanced than what Leftist psychologists themselves have usually said. Mooney can see that a trait ascribed to conservatives can be both a good and a bad thing, which many Leftist psychologists routinely ignored. So what Mooney does is to take a finding which could be read either way and "spin" it so that it makes Leftists look better than conservatives. So one of the things I do is to "unspin" such judgments.

But first a few excerpts from Mooney:

There's now a large body of evidence showing that those who opt for the political left and those who opt for the political right tend to process information in divergent ways and to differ on any number of psychological traits.

Perhaps most important, liberals consistently score higher on a personality measure called "openness to experience," one of the "Big Five" personality traits, which are easily assessed through standard questionnaires. That means liberals tend to be the kind of people who want to try new things, including new music, books, restaurants and vacation spots - and new ideas.

Conservatives, in contrast, tend to be less open - less exploratory, less in need of change - and more "conscientious," a trait that indicates they appreciate order and structure in their lives. This gels nicely with the standard definition of conservatism as resistance to change - in the famous words of William F. Buckley Jr., a desire to stand "athwart history, yelling `Stop!'?"

Now consider another related trait implicated in our divide over reality: the "need for cognitive closure." This describes discomfort with uncertainty and a desire to resolve it into a firm belief. Someone with a high need for closure tends to seize on a piece of information that dispels doubt or ambiguity, and then freeze, refusing to consider new information. Those who have this trait can also be expected to spend less time processing information than those who are driven by different motivations, such as achieving accuracy.

A number of studies show that conservatives tend to have a greater need for closure than do liberals, which is precisely what you would expect in light of the strong relationship between liberalism and openness. "The finding is very robust," explained Arie Kruglanski, a University of Maryland psychologist who has pioneered research in this area and worked to develop a scale for measuring the need for closure.

More here

I can't help laughing at Mooney's acceptance of the absurd Kruglanski work. You can read my close look at it here. I think I show pretty clearly that the Kruglanski questionnaire measures infantilism rather than need for closure, with Leftists being the infantile ones. And in the same paper I refer to the work of Van Hiel, one of the believers in "Openness". Van Hiel actually put some hard work into testing the theory that Leftists are more open. Rather embarrassingly, his findings were mostly the opposite of what his theory said. So the claim that Leftists are more "open" rests on sand.

And yet there may be something in it. I did some reseach using proper random sampling (a rarity among psychologists) that found Leftists to be "sensation seekers". That's not too different a concept from "openness" but just spins the opposite way. It makes Leftists look shallow rather than conservatives.

So the Mooney writings should not disturb conservatives in any way. The underlying facts are no discredit to conservatives at all.


America's REAL Inequalities

Increasingly, ordinary people get prosecuted for trifles, while politically connected people get a pass for the exact same crime, or far worse behavior.

A whale-watcher is being criminally prosecuted merely for lying about whistling at a whale. But former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, a big Obama booster who "stole" $1.2 billion, is not being prosecuted, despite his investment firm's massive diversion of funds from client trust accounts, a crime that Corzine "personally" ordered.

Meanwhile, a dairy-farming family in Maryland is getting prosecuted by the federal government for "structuring" - breaking up bank deposits into deposits of less than $10,000 at a time to avoid scrutiny. But former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer got a free pass for the very same offense, even though he (unlike the hapless dairy farmers) used the practice in order to hide criminal activity, making his actions much worse.

As Walter Olson notes, "structuring" is "the federal criminal offense of splitting up bank deposits so as to keep them under a threshold such as $10,000 above which banks have to report transactions to the government. Structuring is unlawful whether or not it occurs in conjunction with any other legal offense . . . Nor is there any requirement that the person be aware that there is a law banning structuring; someone who gets wind that transactions over $10,000 are reportable, and decides `What's up with that? I'll just make $9,000 deposits', has broken the Bank Secrecy Act."

Increasingly, the federal government persecutes the innocent and punishes whistleblowers, while turning a blind eye to the guilty.

In the auto bailouts, non-union retirees, pension funds, and bondholders got ripped off, while the powerful UAW union, which endorsed Obama, got special, preferential treatment and a big chunk of the automakers' stock.




We are stuck with an unemployment rate three points higher than the postwar average, and the percentage of working adult Americans is as low as it's been in almost thirty years. What's most troubling is that so much of this unemployment is long-term. Forty per cent of the unemployed have been without a job for six months or more-a much higher rate than in any recession since the Second World War-and the average length of unemployment is about forty weeks, a number that has changed very little since 2010. The economic recovery has now lasted nearly three years, but for millions of Americans it hasn't yet begun.

Unemployment doesn't hurt just the unemployed, though. It's bad for all of us. Jobless workers, having no income, aren't paying taxes, which adds to the budget deficit. More important, when a substantial portion of the workforce is sitting on its hands, the economy is going to grow more slowly than it could. After all, people doing something to create value, rather than nothing, is the fundamental driver of growth in any economy.

Most worrying, if high unemployment persists it could start to feed upon itself. Right now, unemployment is mainly the result of what economists call cyclical factors: during the recession, demand plummeted, and during the recovery consumer spending, government stimulus, and exports haven't been sufficient to make up the difference. But if high long-term unemployment continues there's a danger that, sooner or later, cyclical unemployment could become structural unemployment-that is, unemployment that won't go away once the good times return.

The longer people are unemployed, the harder it is for them to find a job (even after you control for skills, education, and so on). Being out of a job can erode people's confidence and their sense of possibility; and employers, often unfairly, tend to take long-term unemployment as a signal that something is wrong. A more insidious factor is that long-term unemployment can start to erode job skills, making people less employable. One extraordinary study of Swedish workers, for instance, found that there was a strong correlation between time out of work and declining skills: workers who had been out of work for a year saw their relative ability to do something as simple as process and use printed information drop by five percentile points.

The phenomenon in which a sizable chunk of the workforce gets stuck in place, and in effect becomes permanently unemployed, is known by economists as hysteresis in the job market. This is, arguably, what happened to many European countries in the nineteen-eighties-policymakers did little when joblessness soared, and their economies got stuck, leaving them with seemingly permanent unemployment rates of eight or nine per cent.

The good news is that there's not much evidence that hysteresis has set in here yet. The bad news is that we can ride our luck only for so long. If the ranks of America's long-term jobless don't start shrinking soon, it's less likely that they ever will, and we'll be looking at a new "natural" unemployment rate for the U.S. economy. This economy would be less productive as a whole (since there would be fewer workers), meaning that everyone would be less well off.

But the bigger obstacle may be psychological: the longer unemployment stays high, the likelier people are to get used to it. Five years ago, an unemployment rate of seven and a half per cent would have seemed outrageous, but it's possible that five years from now it will seem not so bad. A long-term crisis, after a certain point, no longer seems like a crisis. It seems like the way things are.

More here


Violence Against Women Act As a Political Talking Point

Left wingers need to preserve the talking point that the Right hates women. The Violence Against Women Act (WAWA), now pending reauthorization in the U.S. Senate, offers a great example of how liberals use political kabuki to keep the myth alive. The bill is fundamentally flawed and fully deserving of rejection. But senators who oppose it will be painted as women-haters.

As the Washington Post reports, "Democrats see the debate over the bill and potential amendments as an opening to continue accusing Republicans of `waging war' on women's rights. In recent weeks, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has used the issue - and the 11 Democratic women running in Senate races this year - to raise money from supporters."

Even some Republicans have fallen for the talking point. According to The New York Times, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has urged Republicans to surrender on the issue.

No one disputes that violence against women is a problem and one that needs to be addressed by law enforcement. But crimes of violence-against any person-are meat-and-potato issues for state and local law enforcement.

That's because state and local governments-not the feds-are the traditional reservoir of police power in the U.S. Our Founders set up the Republic with that idea in mind.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 45 that the powers of the federal government are limited and the powers remaining in the states are numerous.

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.

According to the Cato Handbook for Congress, "the Constitution specifically authorizes federal enforcement of only three types of laws, all of which involve uniquely federal concerns." Those three types of criminal laws are laws to prevent counterfeiting, piracy and treason. Combating violent crime of any kind is the purview of the many states and other territories.

The Heritage Foundation's David Muhlhausen and Christina Villegas note that "despite the fact that each state has statutes that punish domestic violence, the federal government intervened in 1994 with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)." Members of Congress and the President may feel better when they pass a law that goes after the perpetrators of violence against women, yet the federal government is not supposed to waste resources on issues more properly dealt with on the state and local level of governance.

The legislation pending before the Senate, S.1925, infringes on the rights of states and squanders federal resources. Moreover, it vastly expands the original VAWA and the power of the federal government in the domain of violence against women. And then, there's the politics. Liberals have loaded the bill with poison pill provisions meant to bait conservative politicians into a divisive fight.

Muhlhausen and Villegas note three major problems with the bill:

* It expands VAWA to men and prisoners, despite the lack of scientifically rigorous evaluations to determine the effectiveness of existing VAWA programs;

* It expands the already duplicative VAWA grant programs and

* Without precedent, it surrenders the rights of non-native Americans to racially exclusive tribal courts.

Another interesting twist: the pending legislation would offer VAWA protection and aid to victims of violence in same-sex couples. In other words, the Violence Against Women Act would protect a man harmed by another man, but only if they are in a sexual relationship.

This is classic special interest politics. Much like federal "Hate Crimes" laws, this legislation is designed to be used as political wedge issue. The aim is to make it appear as though liberals care about "women's issues," while conservatives couldn't care less. But all lawmakers are sworn to uphold the Constitution. What they should care about is upholding the will of our Founding Fathers-and pushing back against this ill conceived idea.




The Violence Against Women Act and the war on men: "Conceptually, VAWA is based on the false Duluth Power and Control Wheel model. VAWA falsely presumes that all Domestic Violence (DV) is perpetrated by evil patriarchal males against virtuously innocent female victims. This false gender ideology has no research support. By contrast, social science research, replicated across hundreds of studies, shows that: DV is initiated about equally by men and women; slightly more women than men are physically harmed by DV but men nonetheless still represent more than 40% of the physically harmed victims; the DV initiation rates for women, and especially young women, have been rising; and DV has nothing to do with an evil patriarchy because the DV rates for bisexuals, gays, and lesbians all are higher than for heterosexual couples."

California to vote on abolishing death penalty: "Voters in California are to be asked whether they want to abolish the state's death penalty law. The measure will appear on November's ballot after more than 500,000 people signed up to back the proposal. The measure would see death row inmates have their sentences commuted to life."

The week in regulation: "84 new final rules were published last week, up from 77 the previous week. That's the equivalent of a new regulation precisely every 2 hours -- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All in all, 1,114 final rules have been published in the Federal Register this year. If this keeps up, the total tally for 2012 will be 3,674 new rules"


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


25 April, 2012

The Tweede Kamer

For the whole of my adult life I   have had Dutch people around me in some way and  without exception I have thought highly of them.  A Dutchman once told me that I would make a good Dutchman and I regarded that as a high compliment

But I must admit that  for  no good reason I find the name of the Dutch parliament amusing.  "Tweede Kamer" sounds  like "the tweedy chamber".  "Tweedy" is most often used in a derisory way in English (with apologies to the good people of Harris and Lewis).

But  it is of course just  a routine example of low German:  "Zweite Kammer " (second chamber) would be the Hoch Deutsch  version of it

It just means the  "lower house" of the Dutch parliament.  And bicameral  parliaments  are  after all common in the Anglosphere too (though we don't have one in  Queensland, where I happily reside)

We hardly ever hear anything about the "Eerste Kamerlid" (the Dutch Senate or "first chamber") and I don't know enough Dutch to read easily what information about it that is available online.  I gather, however,  that a member of that august body is called a "volksvertegenwoordiger", which would blow anybody's mind.  I think it means something like "Worthy people's representative".


The French road to perdition?

by Martin Hutchinson

The French presidential election on April 22 and May 6 is important not only to France; on it rests the future of the euro. Spain, about which the markets have been agonizing for the last few weeks, is merely a sideshow; it has only moderate levels of international debt and could at a pinch be bailed out by its European partners if necessary. France is however both considerably larger and when looked at closely, in poorer shape. If it gets in trouble, it also leaves a rather small group of nations with the "duty" of supporting it. If Nicolas Sarkozy is re-elected, France will probably muddle through, but his opponents' policies are sufficiently bad that if one of them is elected the collapse of both French public finances and the euro system are very likely.

Historically, France has been even modestly committed to the free market only for brief periods. Even the U.S. Declaration of Independence, with its ringing but philosophically notorious "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" was polluted by foolish French ideas. John Locke, in his 1693 "Essay on Human Understanding" wrote "all mankind ... being equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty and possessions." He also wrote, very sensibly "Government has no other end, but the preservation of property." The man may have chosen his political associations unwisely in the vile Earl of Shaftesbury and the quasi-treasonous embryonic Whigs, but he knew what to fight for.

"Pursuit of happiness" was an amendment to Locke injected by the young and radical Thomas Jefferson, heavily influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "Contrat Social" (1762). This fatal amendment removed the protection to property given in Locke's admirable formulation and led to innumerable encroachments on property rights in the centuries ahead. Dislike for property rights was not universal among the Founding Fathers; James Madison's Bill of Rights, in the Fifth Amendment, prevents government from taking "life liberty or property, without due process of law." Eighty years later, the Radical Republicans' Fourteenth Amendment included the same protection.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in essence an extreme leftist (and a very unpleasant man) merely flawed the U.S. constitutional system through his misguided ideas. In France, where intellectuals are taken altogether too seriously, his ideas were far more powerful than those of John Locke, and hence once the Ancien Regime was overthrown in 1789 the moderates such as Mirabeau and Lafayette were helpless against the Rousseauesque force of the Jacobins. The result has been a political system in which, through two Empires, five Republics and a Directory, property rights have never been adequately safeguarded. Only under the two restored monarchies, of Louis XVIII/Charles X (1815-1830) and Louis-Philippe (1830-1848) were property rights largely secure. However the sensible admonition of Louis-Philippe's minister, the benign Adolphe Thiers: "Enrichissez-vous" proved helpless against the forces of renewed revolution in 1848.

France's civilization is among the great glories of mankind, its scientific advances are immense and its cuisine is superb, but economically even these great virtues have failed to make the place truly prosperous. The problem is the innate philosophical belief that free markets are an Anglo-Saxon abomination, to be regarded with deep suspicion and circumvented wherever possible by government intervention. Government spending of 56% of GDP (compared to Spain's 45%) leaves little room for the private sector to flourish, while budget deficits every year since 1974 have caused France's public debt to soar to 89% of GDP in 2012, substantially larger in relation to GDP than Spain's. The Ecole Nationale d'Administration has produced generations of superbly trained technocrats, far ahead of Britain's late-blooming business schools, but very few entrepreneurs.

According to Angus Maddison's data, France's GDP per capita, 64% of Britain's in 1900 and 76% of Britain's in 1950, had risen to 113% of Britain's GDP by 1974, its last year of budget surplus (and the year the capable rule of Georges Pompidou ended). That's not a surprise - Britain's economy in 1945-74 was very badly run while France's under the early Fifth Republic worked rather well. However by 2010 France's GDP was only 96% of Britain's; in the 1974-2010 period it also sank from 81% to 72% of US GDP per capita. That's a fairly modest relative decline, but against two countries that were also sub-optimally managed during the period; it thus suggests that there are deep flaws in the French economic system.

Those flaws have been demonstrated by French politicians' reaction to the euro crisis. Even a nominally center-right government, when austerity measures became unavoidable late last year,  proposed budget balancing measures of which in the first year 76% were represented by tax increases and 24% by spending cuts. As will be well known to readers of this column, while spending cuts, especially in a bloated public sector such as France's, can be economically stimulative, tax increases, by sucking money from the productive, inevitably deepen recessions. Naturally therefore, France's tax-centered austerity has resulted in a sharp decline in already anemic economic growth, with the Economist panel's growth forecast for 2012 declining from 1.1% to 0.1% since October, with growth forecast to continue below 1% in 2013. Meanwhile, the budget deficit continues to overshoot forecasts. To a lesser degree (so far) France has chosen the tax-raising-in-a-recession solution of Herbert Hoover in 1932, and it appears likely to be equally successful.

If Nicolas Sarkozy wins the presidency May 6, France will doubtless continue to muddle through. Sarkozy is committed to the European stabilization plan he has worked out with Angela Merkel, and while trader attention remains on Spain, France's deficits should continue to be financeable. However, Sarkozy's chance of winning is reckoned at below 50%

Francois Hollande, the most likely successor to Sarkozy, favors a 75% top rate of income tax, the reversal of Sarkozy's pension reforms, and a substantial increase in public spending. He also enthuses his followers by calling for the "Spirit of `81" referring to the first election of Francois Mitterrand. The policy of Mitterrand's first two years, socialism in a fairly pure form, resulted in three devaluations of the franc and a sharp increase in unemployment.  It also led to bank nationalization, after which Guy de Rothschild uttered the immortal line: "To be a Jew under Petain (the French Vichy Republic wartime leader) was bad enough, but to be a banker under Mitterrand, c'est insupportable."

If markets had full confidence in French credit, a Hollande victory would doubtless be manageable. However they don't, and nor should they. A run on French government debt would be inevitable, and would be accompanied by further attacks on Italian and Spanish debt.

At that point, the destruction of the euro would appear certain - there is simply not enough of a base of soundly run countries to bail out France, Italy and Spain simultaneously.  Once the euro had disappeared (or had become a "strong currency" bloc led by Germany) French debt default would not be inevitable - the country would simply suffer a moderate collapse in the currency, as it did initially under Mitterrand. Italy in that event would probably be closest to default, since the Monti government, imposed by the EU, would collapse and the Italian unions would then force policy leftwards. Spain, on the other hand, might well survive, since its current government is competent, its public debt is moderate and its problem is mainly one of the latter stages of a property collapse, concentrated in the banking sector.
All depends on France. But if French political developments cause the collapse of the euro and a major global recession, we will be able to blame the misguided eighteenth century philosophers whose teachings prevented France from ever truly adopting a free market economy.



Minorities a problem for conservatives in Britain too

The Prime Minister will today launch a major campaign to target ‘aspirational’ ethnic minority voters in the suburbs after warnings that he can’t win at the next election without them.

Tory Chairman Baroness Warsi has revealed the party aims to woo female and older Asian voters who share the party’s views but who have traditionally voted Labour.

She has told Conservative Cabinet ministers and MPs that they need to do more to win over non-white voters in key marginal constituencies.

They will be ordered to discuss core Tory values – hard work, good schools, the perils of welfare dependency – rather than ‘pandering’ to received Left-wing wisdom that Asian voters are only concerned with state handouts and foreign policy issues such as Afghanistan.

The PR drive comes after Tory pollsters warned that the party could fail to win a majority in 2015 unless they do better with ethnic minority voters.  The Tories won just 16 per cent of the non-white vote in 2010, and did just as badly among wealthy and poor ethnic minority communities.

Polls show that these groups predominantly share Tory values but 68 per cent of them vote for Labour.

Baroness Warsi said: ‘There are at least ten constituencies that we should have won at the last election, on the basis of the overall swing we achieved, but which we didn’t win purely because they were seats with a much larger than average black and minority ethnic population.  'The battleground for the next election is predominantly urban.’

Lady Warsi admitted that many of her colleagues have been surprised to discover that they have far larger migrant populations in their constituencies than they previously realised.

She added: ‘Somewhere like Solihull now has more than 5,000 British Muslims. These are upwardly mobile people.’

David Cameron will unveil a Conservative Friends of India group to woo Asian voters.  He will also launch a Conservative Friends of Pakistan and a third group for Bangladesh later in the year.

Tory supporters have recently written in the ethnic minority media stressing that welfare dependency runs in the face of their community’s values.

Baroness Warsi said: ‘My father came to Britain and he was hugely aspirational. He wanted to work hard and do the right thing.

'People from his generation wonder how being on benefits has become a lifestyle choice. Labour go round saying to these voters that the Tories will cut your benefits. But that’s the worst sort of patronising approach.’

Following the trouncing of Labour in the Bradford West by-election, Baroness Warsi said the party would capitalise on the malaise among young Asians with the way Labour used their elders to dictate how they should vote.

‘You can see in Bradford that a generation of younger Asian women are standing up and demanding to be heard,’ she said.



Unelected Bureaucrats Confiscate Your Property and Your Private Medical Records Without Your Consent

October 2011 brought an overlooked but devastating ruling by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), an unelected bureaucrat, to further damage your Constitutional rights. Kathleen Sebelius decreed that all private health insurance companies must turn over to the federal government their medical records on all patients insured by them to be included in the federal health information database without patients’ consent.

The traditional American view is that you, the patient, are the owner of the information in your medical records that reside with your personal physician. You control to whom your information is released. Under the new Sebelius ruling, the government will control your medical information on federal computers in a federal database. Thus, your personal medical information is open to anyone with access to the system.

Traditionally, doctors released information only with the patient’s specific consent, which was often given as a condition for getting an insurer to pay. Americans have always had the right to pay for medical care themselves and not allow the doctor to release their medical records and personal information to an insurance company.

The October ruling has not gotten the press attention that it deserves. Besides violating other fundamental liberty rights, it violates the 5th Amendment to the Constitution, which states that “No person…shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process…nor shall private property, be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

With the HHS new rules for medical records, your personal property of your medical information is simply being taken by the government to be used for “the collective, or public, good” without compensation to you for the use of your data.

Worse, your own data may be used to keep you from getting treatments you and your doctor think you need! The federally run Comparative Effectiveness Research bureaucracy and Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will use this data to decide how to allocate finite medical resources. The Progressive view is that medical decisions should be made by elite, unelected, politically-appointed “experts” whose focus is on “population health,” not your health or your life.

These bureaucrats’ job is to ration medical care, not based on individual needs, but on government criteria, such as: cost of treatment effectiveness as determined by government experts, not necessarily medical specialists, and your “quality life years” remaining, based on your age or your "value" to society.

Beyond privacy issues, there is major concern about the safety of your medical information. An expanded federal medical database makes millions more people vulnerable to loss of health information and medical identity. Hackers stole millions of medical records from the Veterans Administration and patients were at risk for identity theft. David Blumenthal, M.D., the former “health information czar,” admitted “No infrastructure exists in most areas of the country for secure exchange of health information exchange among providers and between providers and consumers.”

The federal government has now expanded beyond the capability of its employees to manage their responsibilities properly. Our Founders knew that if we allowed such vast expansion of federal authority, it would make eunuchs of state and local governments… which actually better met the needs of local communities. People would wait for Washington to satisfy our every need. We are already learning the wisdom of their concerns, for example, in the failure of the federal government

  *  to properly regulate our financial institutions,
*  to efficiently run the Postal Service without hemorrhaging red ink,

 *   to effectively administer programs such as veteran’s health care, Medicare, and Medicaid to keep costs under control,
* to improve quality and improve access to medical care, and
    to control Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

It is particularly dangerous to have government bureaucrats control our health information and treatment options. Do we really need to suffer more lives lost just to gain more proof that big government control and central planning does not work?

We have no voice in the regulation of our medical care by unelected bureaucrats. Instead of taxation without representation, wenow have medication without representation.

Confiscation of your medical records property is another example that when something is “free,” the real cost to you is staggering.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


24 April, 2012

Why Americans Should Hope that Nicolas Sarkozy Gets Re-Elected

This is a surprisingly realistic article from TNR.  I don't agree with it wholly but it makes some good points.  It seems to me that Sarko could well say: "Apres moi le deluge"

If the latest polls—and the accompanying press coverage—are to be believed, Nicolas Sarkozy's time as president of France will soon come to an end. In the all-important run-off election scheduled for May 6, most believe the incumbent will lose to his Socialist challenger, François Hollande. This is a prospect that no doubt worries Sarkozy and his supporters in France. But it should also worry people elsewhere in Europe, as well as here in the United States.

To be sure, Sarkozy’s unmaking has been a long time in coming. Early in his term, he allowed himself to be portrayed as a friend of France’s rich and powerful. He has also been repeatedly accused of tarnishing the dignity of his office on account of a messy divorce and the subsequent wedding to songwriter Carla Bruni. On a personal level, the French are simply not enamored with the man they have dubbed “President Bling-Bling.”

But those superficial problems have obscured Sarkozy’s many substantive successes. Sarkozy deserves particular praise for his EU diplomacy, where he has managed to steer (and sometimes cajole) German Chancellor Angela Merkel toward more holistic crisis management. Assuming that leadership role has allowed France to lobby for much-needed sweeteners to Germany’s austerity recipes; it's the positive incentives introduced at Paris' initiative that have been the key to convincing peripheral democracies to keep up the pace of structural reform.

In more general foreign policy terms, Sarkozy has been groundbreaking. As is traditional with French presidents, he continued to act as if France is the indispensable nation on the global stage. But, contrary to recent history, he has also delivered: Breaking with his own party’s outdated stance, Sarko brought France back to the NATO fold, he stopped opposing American policy in the Middle East, and, most crucially, he provided much of the fighting muscle—as well as the heart—to deliver the Libyan revolution from massacre in Benghazi and ultimately to victory. Even some of Sarko’s fiercest critics have had to concede his key role in the effort.

The twin dangers of a Sarkozy defeat, then, are withdrawal from effective transatlantic cooperation and the loss of a key partner for Germany in the solving of the Eurozone crisis. And while Franco-German politics may not matter much in Washington most years, 2012 is different. The Eurozone crisis remains the biggest threat to the performance of the still-stuttering American economy as well as the “animal spirits” of investors from Asia to Latin America.

To be fair, Hollande is no madman. He seems like a more reasonable Socialist than his former romantic partner and Sarkozy’s failed 2007 challenger, Ségolène Royal. But he is ultimately hostage to an unreformed Socialist Party: With France’s powerful and obstinate unions overrepresented in the party ranks, the Socialists have been consistently against necessary economic reform. Predictably, Hollande says he is eager to bring back the 35-hour week and roll back pension changes at a time when the whole region—and arguably the whole world—is swimming in the opposite direction. His proposal for a 75 percent marginal tax rate would be laughable, if it hadn’t been offered in earnest.

What is more, the rise of a charismatic, hard-left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon‬, threatens to push Hollande further to the left ahead of the second round. If Hollande wins the election after succumbing to the temptations of such populism, international investors are most likely to start asking uncomfortable questions about France’s sputtering growth, large debts, and twin deficits.

When it comes to Europe, Hollande had initially promised to rescind and now vows to significantly renegotiate the Fiscal Compact, which was the product of protracted negotiations among EU governments and a crucial stepping stone in Merkel’s vision for transforming the continent into a fiscal union. This is sure to cause a rift between Paris and Berlin, to the detriment of France’s influence over the direction of the EU—and, by extension, to the detriment of all of Europe. If Germany acquires sole possession of Europe’s driver seat, tensions will dramatically increase between core and periphery, benefitting essentially no one.

In other international affairs, there’s little to look forward to from a President Hollande. He has hinted at a decreased role in NATO and a more critical stance toward America. In other words, Washington can expect an unwelcome return to the Jacques Chirac years. (It should come as no surprise that Chirac is said to be casting his vote for the Socialist.)

Despite all these ill portents, Hollande has been reaping major endorsements, both international and domestic, in the last several days. But there is a silver lining: An upset by Sarkozy is still possible, as the incumbent’s most talented strategist, Patrick Buisson, has tirelessly argued. Televised debates in the final weeks could turn the tide. And there may even be a sort of Bradley effect at work in the current polling numbers: Because of Sarkozy’s low popularity, some have supposed that the French will be unlikely to reveal their support for him until they have the assurance of the ballot box’s utter anonymity.

We should not forget that before he became “President Bling-Bling,” Sarko was known to his close lieutenants as “the magician,” due to a knack for making unbelievable comebacks. Ahead of May 6, the French should remember he is more the latter than the former.



Tax Increase as Theater

In order to score rhetorical points, the Democrats are proposing raising taxes on the rich back up to Clinton-era levels. That means that the top tax rate will rise from 35% to 39.6%. That is an increase on one tax bracket of about 11%, and it shows not only that the Democrats are not interested in balancing the budget it shows that they believe the voters are idiots for thinking that 8% increase is what is needed to balance the budget.

Currently, approximately 66% of the government spending is paid for by taxation and 40% is paid for by borrowing. If the Democratic Party wants to balance the budget through tax increases, it would require approximately a 50% tax hike across the board, on all taxes and tax brackets. The top tax bracket would have to go from 35% to 52.5% which would not be displeasing to Democrats if they feel the voters wouldn’t react negatively. But that involves only taxing the rich, and a serious attempt to balance the budget through taxation will involve more than just taxing the rich.

That doesn’t include the other taxes, which must also be raised by a similar amount. The 7% employee contribution and 7% employer contribution to Social Security must go to 10.5%, and similar increases are needed to all other federal taxes. This includes, by the way, the very unrealistic assumption that this massive across-the-board tax increase will not result in a severe and nearly immediate economic downturn.

Some Democrats will protest that tax increases on the wealthy would be enough if they were high enough, but that argument is absurd. There aren’t enough people in the top two brackets and their combined incomes are not enough to cover the 33% of the budget that is in deficit. Only by taxing the rest of the population as well, including the 42% of the public that doesn’t pay taxes at all, can the budget be balanced. The taxes have to be on everyone, which is a proposal the Democrats are not courageous enough to make.

There are two ways to balance the budget, and they are through either tax increases or spending cuts. The Democrats clearly prefer the idea of using tax increases, but if their proposal is only a mild tax increase on the top brackets, their proposal is as much about balancing the budget as the Ryan Plan is about spending cuts – theater designed to give the illusion and appearance of doing something without any of the hard work of doing something.

If the Democrats in office are serious about using tax increases to balance the budget, and do without any spending cuts, then there is only one proposal that shows they are serious. It would be the Democratic Party equivalent of the Randall Paul budget proposal which cut the budget by $500 billion and even Senator Paul admitted didn’t go far enough.

The real point of the current tax increase proposal isn’t to raise revenue or balance the budget, it is to encourage class jealousy in order to increase votes this coming November.



America as a prison

It has become dangerous to move overseas

By Ilana Mercer

If he can tolerate TSA assaults as he departs the country, an American who chooses to live and work overseas cannot escape the Internal Revenue Service. The United States is perhaps the only country “to tax its citizens on income earned while they’re living abroad.”

To loss of privacy and property, add the prospect of prison – and you get why, as Reuters has reported, droves of Americans are “renouncing their U.S. citizenship or handing in their Green Cards.”

On pain of criminal charges and “penalties of up to $100,000 or 50 percent of undeclared accounts, whichever is larger,” the expatriate must report his own bank accounts and all conjoint accounts – a spouse, a client, or business partners.

The victims of this shakedown are residents who have foreign bank accounts (the Canadian equivalent of a small USA 401(k), in this scribe’s case), in addition to “an estimated 6.3 million U.S. citizens living abroad.” The aims of their pursuers, the IRS, are control and compliance. The rogue agency’s source of revenue, in this context, is derived primarily from penalties for forgetfulness or faulty filing.  All fear bankrupting fines, even imprisonment.

Due to the onerous burdens imposed by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, foreign banks, as well as hedge and private equity funds, are closing American accounts. Barack Obama’s legislative baby (signed on March 18, 2010) is driving Americans abroad into banking under the mattress.

Swiss bankers, for instance, can no longer provide Americans with certain financial services, considered perfectly legal in Switzerland; American financial imperialism has insinuated itself into the financial hub that is Switzerland. While the USA hasn’t yet bombed Basel, American Über-bureaucrats have prosecuted the hell out of financial establishments such as UBS AG and its American clients, for flouting U.S. tax tyranny.

Writing in the April issue of Chronicles Magazine, Christopher Sandford, a naturalized American with investments abroad, describes his interactions with the Internal Revenue Service as akin to “dealing with a simultaneously incompetent and psychotically aggressive opponent … a chameleonic opponent of real cunning, which consistently kept [Sandford] off balance by conducting itself as a relentless and finely calibrated machine at one moment, and a barely coherent rabble at the next.”

“Think the IRS can’t send you to prison?” asks CBS’ “Survivor” winner Richard Hatch, in a timely television commercial. “The IRS sends people to prison, and they’re not celebrities. If you owe the IRS $10,000 or more, call for your free tax consultation NOW. Listen, I went to prison for over four years, and you don’t want to,” Hatch tells potential victims.

Befitting an arm of a highly evolved, technocratic, militarized Managerial State – a police state, by any other name – the IRS regularly criminalizes the actions of “non-compliant” victims, even though the alleged crime is, more often than not, unintentional. The “Rights of Englishmen,” bequeathed to the American Founders by their philosophical forbears, stipulated that there was to be no crime without intent.

Also unconstitutional is ex post facto (or retroactive) law. Yet the rogues at the IRS routinely change laws as they go and criminalize “actions that were legal when committed.”

Thomas Jefferson’s bar has been met. We live under tyranny, for as our father forewarned, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

I happen to know what living without freedom is like. I left South Africa with the proceeds from the sale of my apartment stashed in the soles of my shoes. Had I been apprehended smuggling private property – my own – out of that country, I’d have faced criminal prosecution together with my husband; we both stood taller on that trip.

Little did I know that my adopted home, the USA, had adopted similar practices. An American emigrant risks being fondled by TSA brutes, fleeced via an “exit tax,” and his name placed on a “name and shame” list.



Obama is a unifier? Hardly

by Jeff Jacoby

"I SAW MANY SIGNS in this campaign," said Richard Nixon the day after he was elected president in 1968. "But the one that touched me the most was one that I saw in Deshler, Ohio, at the end of a long day of whistle-stopping…. A teenager held up a sign, 'Bring Us Together.' And that will be the great objective of this administration at the outset: to bring the American people together."

Nixon had started using the phrase "Bring Us Together" a couple weeks earlier, after one of his aides spotted the youngster with the sign. Some of the campaign staff were so enamored of the slogan, William Safire later recalled, that they wanted to make it the Inauguration Day theme. The desire to see an incoming president as a unifier, a healer of the national breach, is an old American tradition, especially in times of acrimony and political conflict.

But Nixon, needless to say, didn't heal the breach. If anything, American life grew even more fractured on his watch. And looking back at his presidency today -- at the White House "plumbers" and enemies lists, at Spiro Agnew's ire and the campaign-trail dirty tricks -- who can regard his "Bring Us Together" pledge as anything but a cynical sham?

Will something similar be said of Barack Obama?

Unlike Nixon, Obama didn't wait until two weeks before his election to run on a platform of reconciliation. From the outset, his pledge to elevate the tone of public dialogue, to defuse the anger and rancor that have made modern politics so toxic, was a central theme of his presidential campaign.

"I don't want to pit red America against blue America," Obama assured an enthusiastic Iowa audience in November 2007. "I want to be the president of the United States of America." One reason he was running for the White House, he told Boston Globe editors and reporters in January 2008, was to repair a political system that had gotten "stuck in this deeply polarized pattern." He promised a new tone: "I'm not going to demonize you because you disagree with me… I don't think the Democrats have a monopoly on wisdom." In a vaunted speech about race that spring -- a speech titled "A More Perfect Union" -- Obama offered Americans a choice: "We can accept a politics that breeds division and conflict and cynicism…. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say: 'Not this time.'"

Time and again, Obama promised what Nixon promised: to bring Americans together. That pledge -- less animosity and partisanship, more cooperation and goodwill -- went to the essence of his candidacy. And on the night of his election, before a vast crowd in Chicago's Grant Park, he underscored it: "Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long."

Yet far from resisting that temptation, Obama has rarely bypassed any chance to indulge it. The would-be uniter whips up envy and resentment, demonizing those who disagree with him, and aggravating the nation's racial, class, and party tensions.

Granted, Obama has faced fierce political opposition. And the GOP is not without its cynics and zealots. Yet presidents have a unique role in American life; the tone they set affects the whole political culture. That is what makes it so unfortunate that the candidate who embodied hope and bipartisan civility is just a memory now. In his place we have a president who summarizes the Republicans' economic plan as: "Let's have dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance." The candidate who understood that his party had no monopoly on wisdom now smears those whose agenda differs from his for their "thinly veiled social Darwinism" that is "antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity."

From urging Latino voters to "punish our enemies and … reward our friends" to snidely telling voters "I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth" to rebuking the Cambridge police to bashing insurance and oil companies, Obama has repeatedly taken the low road. He has widened the fissures he promised to close, and lowered the political tone he promised to elevate. With Nixonian bile, he fans the flames of grievance. Nixon was re-elected; maybe Obama will be too. But Americans who imagined in 2008 that they were voting for a healer-in-chief aren't likely to make that mistake again.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Charity and Politics

Americans are being asked to decide many things this election year, but perhaps the most important is how the United States should take care of its poorest citizens. President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in general believe that income redistribution is the way to go. Since Obama has been in office, entitlement spending has risen 41 percent to about $1 trillion a year. There are currently an astounding 126 separate anti-poverty programs in place.

Mitt Romney and the Republicans reject the concept of "income inequality" and say that a rising economy should lift all households. The GOP wants the free marketplace to provide income opportunity, not a giant federal nanny state. With the nation more than $16 trillion in debt, the Republicans have economics on their side. Emotion is another matter.

Americans are a generous people. The group Giving USA says that last year we donated almost $300 billion to charity. That largesse was voluntary. When the government decides to take our money forcefully through taxation, things get dicey.

And so it is instructive to examine the charitable contributions of the politicians who are driving fiscal policy. In 2011, President and Mrs. Obama's adjusted gross income was $789,674. The first couple donated about 22 percent of that to charity. Very generous.

But Vice President Joe Biden is another story. He and his wife donated just 1.46 percent of their $379,035 income to charity. Paltry? You bet. And not unusual. Since Biden took office in 2009, he has made close to $1.1 million. His charitable donations: $16,710. Advice to kids: Don't go trick-or-treating at the Biden house.

During his time in office, President and Mrs. Clinton gave generously to charity despite big-time legal bills. So did George and Laura Bush. But Dick and Lynne Cheney topped all of them, giving a whopping 77 percent of their income to charity in 2005: a total of $6,800,000.

The all-time miser seems to be Al Gore. As vice president in 1997, Gore donated exactly $353 to charity from an income of close to $200,000. Plus, Gore has all that family trust fund money. Hey, Al, come on, man. That's just embarrassing.

A recent Google study shows that conservative Americans give twice as much to charity as liberals do. Some researchers believe that's because more conservatives than liberals go to church, and therefore, they are tithing. Romney gives a lot of money to the Mormon Church, so there may be something to that. By the way, Romney's campaign estimates that in 2011, the governor and his wife gave about 19 percent of their $21 million income to charity.

The bible says, "To whom much is given, much is expected." Obama has paraphrased that while urging higher taxation on the rich. But there is a huge difference between taking money away from folks under threat of imprisonment and charitable largesse. My tax dollars don't count toward my moral obligation, because I must render to Caesar. But otherwise, as Gore well knows, I am free to do as much or as little as I want.



"Progressives" Using Jesse Jackson Shakedown Tactics to destroy a conservative co-operative

The left’s latest target du jour is ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for state legislators. It promotes limited government, free markets and federalism. ALEC provides model legislation for legislators to copy for their states. More than 2000 Republican and Democrat legislators are members. Almost one thousand of ALEC’s bills are introduced every year and 20% become law. ALEC has been around for 40 years, but operated under the radar until conservatives started making record gains in state legislatures.

Funded by left wing billionaire George Soros, the left started an intimidation campaign against ALEC nine months ago, launching an “ALEC Exposed” website that lists 800 bills the organization has promoted. Obama’s former controversial green czar Van Jones, who co-founded the race-baiting organization Color of Change, is spearheading the shakedowns. Other progressive organizations involved include George Soros’s Common Cause, People for the American Way and Progress Now. The Occupy movement has made ALEC one of its top targets. Last fall, the left organized disruptive protests in Scottsdale, Arizona outside of ALEC’s annual meeting.

Color of Change recently began a shakedown campaign against corporations that are members of ALEC, meeting face to face with them to intimidate them. Color of Change used race-baiting to convince Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, PepsiCo, Mars, Intuit and Kraft to withdraw their membership over ALEC’s support for “stand your ground” gun legislation. Blue Cross Blue Shield will not be renewing its membership. The Gates Foundation said it will cease contributing to ALEC. Color of Change’s next targets are Walmart, State Farm, AT&T and Johnson & Johnson. The left is also targeting state legislators, inundating them with threatening emails demanding they resign their membership.

The “stand your ground” law allows someone to attack a perceived assailant if they believe they are in imminent danger. 24 states have adopted it. Florida’s version of that legislation initially provided protection from prosecution for George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting case. Even though the case has not yet been adjudicated in a court of law, and the evidence appears to exonerate Zimmerman, the left is exploiting the Trayvon Martin shooting case with race-baiting to drum up negative publicity against ALEC and other associated organizations on the right like the NRA. Color of Change has Martin’s photo featured prominently at the top of its website.

How is “stand your ground” legislation, also known as “shoot first” legislation, racist? Democrat Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan and former Democrat Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona both signed “stand your ground” legislation.

ALEC responded and clarified that it had not drafted Florida’s legislation, but merely copied it for its model legislation. If the left can convince enough corporations to withdraw their memberships, it could cripple ALEC. Over 98% of ALEC’s budget comes from corporations, not membership dues. ALEC has over 300 corporate members.

The left is also attacking ALEC’s support of voter ID legislation, claiming that these laws are racist. Liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote, “ALEC has played a key role in promoting bills that make it hard for the poor and ethnic minorities to vote.” The left chooses to ignore that the opposite is true. Earlier this month, a young white male, directed by video journalist James O’Keefe, asked for and was offered Attorney General Eric Holder’s ballot at a polling place without showing any identification. Even the liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that voter identification requirements are constitutional. Other ALEC-supported legislation which the left is attacking include school vouchers, border security, unions, private prisons and stopping Agenda 21.

The left demands that the Koch Brothers, conservative financial backers who support ALEC, resign from the organization. The Koch Brothers refuse to leave, saying that the left intends “not only to intimidate, but to silence supporters of free-market principles.” ALEC calls it a "campaign launched by a coalition of extreme liberal activists committed to silencing anyone who disagrees with their agenda."

The left is attempting to force the Koch Brothers to resign through a boycott of their products. Of course, those on the right will start their own “buycott” and urge Americans to go out of their way to buy their products; paper towels, napkins, plates and cups by Brawny, Dixie, Sparkle, Mardi Gras, Vanity Fair and Zee, and toilet paper by Angel Soft, Quilted Northern and Soft’n’Gentle.

ALEC finally retreated this week under pressure, and shut down its public safety and elections task forces in charge of gun and voting rights legislation. ALEC announced it would no longer be involved in socially conservative legislation, but would be sticking to economic issues. This is unfair because many of these corporations are members of ALEC for other kinds of legislative assistance. Now they will no longer receive help with legislation in their interests.

This is nothing less than legalized extortion. The left is using threats and the race card to stamp out conservative activism. Instead of fighting it out fairly in the battlefield of ideas, the left is blackmailing corporations into making irrational decisions they do not want to make, which are detrimental to their interests. Corporations are being threatened that they will be boycotted and branded as racist if they do not withdraw from ALEC. This is a repeat of the tactics Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have successfully used in the past to coerce corporations into contributing money to radical left wing causes and hiring their cronies.

It is no coincidence that this is occurring during Obama’s reelection year. It is part of an overall strategy by the left to stir up the race card in order to gin up support for Obama’s reelection. The left knows they cannot win fairly, so they are resorting to false accusations of racism to force a victory. They have taken one isolated shooting incident that most likely did not involve racism, and turned it into the reason why a perfectly harmless nonprofit organization must be destroyed, and why Obama should win reelection.



When is a distraction not a distraction?

An easy riddle, as it turns out

    Jonah Goldberg

It's going to be bait and switch for as far as the eye can see.

That's how it looks now that the smoke has cleared after the recent "Mommy War" skirmish over Democratic operative Hilary Rosen's comment that mother of five Ann Romney had "never worked a day in her life."

There's no need to re-litigate all of that again. If Rosen apologized any more she'd have to sever a digit Yakuza-style. And the White House couldn't distance itself more if they dispatched the Secret Service to burn down Rosen's house and salt the earth for good measure. Fortunately, the Secret Service is too busy with other things.

And besides, the whole episode was a "distraction." That was the quasi-official line almost the moment Rosen's comments caught fire. It was a "manufactured controversy." NBC's Chuck Todd, easily one of the best political analysts in the mainstream media, responded to the spat by proclaiming: "Welcome to the world of the shiny metal object. A person no one agrees with has ignited a manufactured controversy."

Way over on the left, the editor of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, said on ABC's "This Week": "I think this whole debate has been a distraction. The issues we should be talking about are equal pay, combating rising health-care costs for families, and sick payday leave for women. And these are issues that the Republicans oppose."

In fairness, Todd and vanden Heuvel are right, at least about the spat being manufactured. The Romney campaign smartly pounced on Rosen's comments as a way to turn the tables on the Obama campaign, which had been banging the war drums on the entirely phony "Republican war on women" ever since the entirely manufactured Sandra Fluke controversy.

Fluke, recall, was the Joan of Arc of free birth control who wasn't invited to testify at a congressional hearing about the Obama administration's effort to force religious institutions to pay for medical services that violate their religious teachings. A 30-year-old activist who picked Georgetown because she wanted to fight Catholic policies from the inside, Fluke was a ringer, and the Democrats wanted to use her to distract from their deeply unpopular plan to bulldoze religious liberty.

When Rush Limbaugh went overboard mocking Fluke's arguments to the point where he suggested she was a "slut," the Democrats leapt into action. So did the mainstream press. Fluke became a national martyr, treated with kid gloves by nearly every outlet. The same Katrina vanden Heuvel who mocked the "distraction" of Hilary Rosen anointed Fluke a "profile in courage" who "speaks for millions of women who won't allow Rush Limbaugh to silence their voice with his vile viciousness."

The Democratic Party raised millions off Fluke from the ginned-up controversy. Limbaugh was denounced in Congress. Allegedly pro-free speech left-wing celebrities started demanding the FCC permanently censor Limbaugh by revoking his broadcast license. After all, Limbaugh had tried to "silence people that are speaking out for women," in the words of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

Funny how all of the "distraction" and "manufactured controversy" talk starts when Republicans are benefiting from a distraction.

Now, you might complain that Limbaugh is a much bigger deal than Hilary Rosen -- and that's true. Limbaugh is vastly more influential and important than Rosen. But he's also not a professional Republican like Rosen is for Democrats (if you actually listened to Limbaugh's show you'd know that). She's visited the White House some 35 times and is a business partner with Anita Dunn, the former White House communications director.

Regardless, the point is that the controversy over Limbaugh's comments (for which he rightly apologized) was wholly and completely a distraction from the relevant issues. Heck, his Fluke comments were a distraction from the distraction from the relevant issues.

And let me say a word in defense of distractions. Elections are about what voters want them to be about. Rosen's comments, for instance, may have been hyped by the Romney campaign, but the hype wouldn't have mattered if the comments didn't resonate with the public.

My complaint isn't about distractions, it's about the press's tendency to treat controversies that help Republicans as "distractions" and ones that hurt Republicans as Very Serious Issues.

And the pattern continues. This week, the Romney campaign is rightly distancing itself from some idiotic comments by rocker Ted Nugent. On cue, Andrea Mitchell -- who seems to cover Republicans like they're from some foreign land, oddly fitting for NBC's "chief foreign affairs correspondent" -- is happily distracted by the story. When Bill Maher, HBO's criminally unfunny and obtuse jester (and million-dollar Obama super-PAC donor) says something idiotic, it's a meaningless distraction.

It's nothing new, of course. (Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers were preemptively deemed "distractions" by the media.) But it is annoying.




The war in Afghanistan is remote from most Americans -- as it is for most Australians, who also have troops there.  As it happens, however, it is a little closer to home for me than it is for most people.  For what interest that may have, I mention it in the most recent entry on my personal blog.

Russia to NATO: Stay in Afghanistan:  "Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov urged NATO to keep its forces in Afghanistan beyond President Barack Obama's 2014 deadline for withdrawing from the decade-old war. 'As long as Afghanistan is not able to ensure by itself the security in the country, the artificial timelines of withdrawal are not correct and they should not be set,' Mr. Lavrov said during a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels today. That appeal comes, ironically, just days after Lavrov's boss, President-elect Vladimir Putin, called NATO a 'relic of the cold war,' and suggested it be disbanded."

Obama to renominate Republican to nuclear panel (because she's a woman):  "President Barack Obama will renominate Republican Kristine Svinicki to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, defying opposition from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a White House official told Reuters on Thursday. Republicans want Svinicki, whose term as a commissioner expires in June, to stay on the panel and believe the process is being held up because she, along with three other commission members, accused the current NRC chairman, a Democrat, of bullying women."

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

Chris has surpassed himself in his tendency to speak the unspeakable this time by asking if Norway killer Breivik is a homosexual.  It turns out that there is surprisingly good  evidence that Breivik IS homosexual.  It might be noted that Pim Fortuyn, the leading Dutch anti-immigrant activist (until he was shot by a Leftist), was also homosexual.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Another episode in the long tradition of Leftist antisemitism

Even Karl Marx was a virulent antisemite, despite having Jewish ancestry himself

Occupy Wall Street has continuously been accused of anti-Semitism since the movement’s inception in September 2011. While some could argue that these instances are merely anecdotal, The Blaze has documented them and, at the least, they constitute a disturbing pattern that’s worth addressing.

This week, as The Algemeiner noted, there’s a new anti-Jewish Occupy story brewing after the group’s Facebook page hosted a curious image. The picture, which has now been removed, is a cartoon showing a Jewish man driving a car — but it’s not just any vehicle.

In his right hand, the man is holding a stick shift with President Barack Obama’s head on it. This is apparently an attempt to showcase that the Israeli state has complete control over the American government. Then, the steering wheel is the United Nations’ official symbol — again, an attempt to show Israel as having dominion over and “driving” the international community.

Here’s how The Algemeiner describes the situation surrounding the image that was posted on the Occupy Tampa Facebook page:

A community page claiming to be associated with Tampa Florida’s Occupy Wall Street chapter published a shocking photo on its Facebook page Thursday morning.  However, according to a member of Occupy Tampa’s communications department, the Facebook page is not officially sanctioned by the movement in Florida and the post was not made by Occupy Tampa.

“We’ve asked people to leave Occupy Tampa for doing the kinds of things that we are now being accused of doing as a movement,” a spokesman told The Algemeiner.  “This is not a post made by Occupy Tampa.”



Treating slackers like hackers

How a federal law can be used to prosecute almost anyone who uses a computer.  Once again:  Too much power to arrogant bureaucrats

If you are reading this column online at work, you may be committing a federal crime. Or so says the Justice Department, which reads the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) broadly enough to encompass personal use of company computers as well as violations of fine-print website rules that people routinely ignore.

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rightly rejected this view of the CFAA, which Chief Judge Alex Kozinski noted could make a criminal out of "everyone who uses a computer in violation of computer use restrictions—which may well include everyone who uses a computer." Unfortunately, other appeals courts have been more receptive to the Justice Department's interpretation, which gives U.S. attorneys the power to prosecute just about anyone who offends or annoys them.

Congress passed the original version of the CFAA in 1984, when the Internet was in its infancy and the World Wide Web did not exist, to protect government computer systems and financial databases from hackers. As a result of amendments and technological developments, George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr explains in a 2010 Minnesota Law Review article, "the law that began as narrow and specific has become breathtakingly broad," potentially regulating "every use of every computer in the United States."

The 9th Circuit case involved David Nosal, who left the executive search firm Korn/Ferry International in 2004 and allegedly enlisted two former colleagues to feed him proprietary client information with an eye toward starting a competing business. In addition to conspiracy, mail fraud, and trade secret theft, Nosal was charged with violating the CFAA, which criminalizes unauthorized computer access in various circumstances.

Although Nosal's confederates were authorized to use Korn/Ferry's database, federal prosecutors argued that improperly sharing information with him retroactively rendered their access unauthorized. As Judge Kozinski noted, "the government’s construction of the statute would expand its scope far beyond computer hacking to criminalize any unauthorized use of information obtained from a computer."

The felony Nosal was accused of committing involves unauthorized access "with intent to defraud." But the CFAA also makes someone guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, if he "intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access" and "thereby obtains…information."

Based on the government's definition of unauthorized access, Kozinski observed, that provision would apply to "large groups of people who would have little reason to suspect they are committing a federal crime," such as employees who violate company policy by using workplace computers to play games, answer personal email, read blogs, watch YouTube videos, or check sports scores. Even people using their own computers on their own time could be prosecuted for violating "terms of service" they have never read by fibbing about their age or weight on dating sites, posting photos of other people without their permission, or sharing content that Facebook deems offensive.

Kerr notes that terms of service "are written extremely broadly to give providers a right to cancel accounts and not face any liability." Hence "violating the TOS is the norm," and criminalizing such violations "would give the government the ability to arrest anyone who regularly uses the Internet."

That danger is not merely theoretical. Remember Lori Drew, the Missouri woman who was widely vilified in 2007 after she played a MySpace prank on a 13-year-old girl who later committed suicide? Although Missouri prosecutors concluded that Drew had broken no laws, Thomas O'Brien, then the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, took it upon himself to prosecute her for violating the CFAA by disregarding MySpace's terms of service.

In 2009 U.S. District Judge George Wu threw out Drew's conviction, ruling that O'Brien's reading of the CFAA would make the law unconstitutionally vague, giving grandstanding prosecutors like him unbridled discretion while leaving their potential targets—pretty much everyone—uncertain about how to comply with the law. As Kozinski put it, "we shouldn't have to live at the mercy of our local prosecutor."



The good ol' generous taxpayer again

Anybody who actually has to work for their money will boil at this

Congressional lawmakers grilled General Services Administration officials for a third straight day Wednesday about a rogue employee's penchant for lavish, taxpayer-funded junkets, unearthing evidence that the waste, fraud and abuse is more common and has been going on much longer than first indicated.

Over the last six years, the GSA, which is in charge of the federal government's real estate holdings, has been racked repeatedly by financial kickbacks, insider dealing and general incompetence, lawmakers said.

Just last year, seven GSA employees were found guilty of accepting bribes and defrauding the government in a scheme that cost taxpayers $750,000. Other GSA scandals date back to the Carter administration in the 1970s.

"It really shakes you up," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who chaired a Senate inquiry Wednesday. "The expression is fool me once, but again and again?"

Senators Wednesday marveled at the scope of the latest scandal. A regional commissioner, Jeff Neely, spent $823,000 on a conference for GSA employees in Las Vegas in October 2010 and appears to have a long history of freely spending taxpayers' money on leisure trips and perks and other questionable expenses.

The GSA's Inspector General, Brian Miller, who has been investigating Neely since November 2010, said he learns of new abuses nearly daily. He told the Senate committee he just discovered that Neely's wife, Deborah, "had a parking space throughout the year" at the federal building where Neely worked, even though she doesn't work for the government.

Wasteful spending was embedded in the culture of some GSA departments, in particular Neely's, where the management for years planned annual conferences with the chief goal of outdoing the previous year's event, Miller said.

The Las Vegas conference Neely planned included loft hotel suites, lavish parties, a mind reader and clown for entertainment and commemorative coins in velvet boxes for the 300 attendees.

While the Las Vegas event was described as "over the top," even by Neely, it was apparently nothing new, Miller said.

"Many of the witnesses we talked to said this conference was similar to previous Western Regional Conferences held in Oklahoma, New Orleans and Lake Tahoe," Miller said. "This was along the same lines. Each of the so-called hosts for the conference tried to outdo one another."

President Harry Truman created the GSA more than 60 years ago to oversee federal buildings and support federal government offices. One of the agency's missions was to streamline government and reduce costs.

"There has been abuse throughout the GSA over a number of decades," Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wy., said. "Would it not be fair to ask, has GSA outlived its usefulness as a federal agency?

Dan Tangherlini, who took over the GSA following this month's ouster of top management, assured lawmakers he has already canceled most GSA travel and is stepping up oversight.

But the pattern of abuse will likely continue, Tad DeHaven, budget analyst for the Cato Institute, told The Washington Examiner.

"You just don't have the incentives in place for people to be economical with money," DeHaven said. "There will be hearings. Everyone will express their outrage and indignation and will promise to fix it, and then five years from now, they'll have another scandal. It will never end. It will never stop."



Bishop Says Obama on Hitlerian Path

When I saw the headline, “Bishop Compares Obama Policies to Hitler, Stalin,” over an article on Newsmax.com, the conservative website, I thought at first it must be an error or exaggeration. Was a Catholic Bishop actually being this harsh? I have reported on the reaction of the Catholic Church to the Obama Administration’s birth control mandate affecting religious institutions. My local priest called it evil and demonic and has suggested the church will be persecuted and ministers jailed for resisting the federal onslaught. But comparing the President personally to Hitler and Stalin?

The Newsmax headline about the charge concerned a story from LifeSiteNews.com. The Daily Caller titled it: “Illinois Bishop: Obama ‘intent on following a similar path’ as Hitler, Stalin.”

I went to the www.LifeSiteNews.com and the headline over its story was only slightly different: “Obama taking ‘similar path’ as Hitler and Stalin: Illinois bishop.” The question then became—were these stories somehow exaggerating what the Catholic Bishop said?

The Catholic Post ran the full text of the homily of Bishop Daniel R. Jenky at the Mass during the April 14 “A Call to Catholic Men of Faith” in Peoria. The homily is also available on podcast. The headlines did indeed capture the essence of what he said. The Bishop goes by the title “Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., D.D.” CSC stands for the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the order that runs Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. D.D. stands for Doctor of Divinity. He is an educated man.

Taking aim at Obama, Hollywood and the media, the Bishop said:   “For 2,000 years the enemies of Christ have certainly tried their best. But think about it. The Church survived and even flourished during centuries of terrible persecution, during the days of the Roman Empire.

“The Church survived barbarian invasions. The Church survived wave after wave of Jihads. The Church survived the age of revolution. The Church survived Nazism and Communism.

“And in the power of the resurrection, the Church will survive the hatred of Hollywood, the malice of the media, and the mendacious wickedness of the abortion industry.

“The Church will survive the entrenched corruption and sheer incompetence of our Illinois state government, and even the calculated disdain of the President of the United States, his appointed bureaucrats in HHS [Health and Human Services], and of the current majority of the federal Senate.” (Applause)

It turns out that the Bishop was just getting warmed up.  He went on:  “Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like the first disciples locked up in the Upper Room.

“In the late 19th century, Bismarck waged his ‘Kulturkampf,’ a Culture War, against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany.

“Clemenceau, nicknamed ‘the priest eater,’ tried the same thing in France in the first decade of the 20th Century.

“Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.

“In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, President Obama—with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.”

“This fall,” said Bishop Jenky, “every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries—only excepting our church buildings—could easily be shut down. Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the intrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb.”

Whether you agree or disagree, these were extraordinary comments and certainly worthy of national media attention. But the story remains mostly in the conservative media.
The notion of Obama as an “extreme secularist,” if not a dictator wannabe, is widely shared within the Catholic Church. A Priest recently told me that the Catholic Bishops, who usually divide into liberal and conservative factions, are united against Obama in this controversy.



Food Stamp Rolls to Grow Through 2014, CBO Says

The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that 45 MILLION  people in 2011 received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, a 70% increase from 2007. It  said the number of people receiving the benefits, commonly known as food stamps, would continue growing until 2014.

Spending for the program, not including administrative costs, rose to $72 billion in 2011, up from $30 billion four years earlier. The CBO projected that one in seven U.S. residents received food stamps last year.

In a report, the CBO said roughly two-thirds of jump in spending was tied to an increase in the number of people participating in the program, which provides access to food for the poor, elderly, and disabled. It said another 20% “of the growth in spending can be attributed to temporarily higher benefit amounts enacted in the” 2009 stimulus law.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Australian case a victory for all internet users

The High Court of Australia has ruled that ISPs have no duty to control what use people make of their services.  Making ISPs into censors would be an unbelievable mess.  The Australian case could now be strongly argued as a precedent in other English-speaking jurisdictions.  To have the internet free of censorship in Australia only would make other countries look ridiculous.  

Copyright owners say that they will now seek legislation to overturn their defeat in the courts. Their hope is faint, however.  The defeat of SOPA and PIPA in America and the defeat of ACTA in Europe is against them.  There have in fact  already been  legislative proposals for internet censorship in Australia that died even before the American and European defeats

INTERNET service provider iiNet has won a major legal battle over whether it should be held responsible for its customers downloading content illegally.  An appeal by the world's largest film and television companies against iiNet was dismissed today by the High Court.

A group of 34 international and Australian companies, including Warner Bros, Disney and the Seven Network, had alleged that iiNet had authorised the infringement of their copyright when its customers downloaded movies and television programs.

The movie companies had argued that iiNet had the power to prevent its customers from infringing copyright by issuing warnings and suspending or terminating customer accounts. The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) appealed to the High Court after losing its first appeal to the federal court last year.

But today the High Court found that iiNet had no direct technical power to prevent its customers from using the BitTorrent file sharing system to infringe copyright.  "Rather, the extent of iiNet's power to prevent its customers from infringing ... copyright was limited to an indirect power to terminate its contractual relationship with its customers," the court said.

iiNet Chief Executive Officer, Michael Malone, said the judgment supported the company’s position and proved the claims made against it were unfounded.  "iiNet has never supported or encouraged unauthorised sharing or file downloading,” Mr Malone said.  "Today’s High Court five-nil ruling confirms that iiNet is not liable for ‘authorising’ the conduct of its customers who engaged in online copyright infringement.  "This marks the end of more than three years of legal argument and challenges."

Mr Malone said increasing the availability of lawful, online content in a more timely, affordable and reasonably priced manner, brought the focus back to customers and was the best method to protect content owners’ copyright.

He said there was strong evidence that content partnerships and agreements between ISPs, legal websites and copyright holders had done more to reduce piracy and to showcase copyright holders’ materials than this unproductive legal battle.

The High Court dismissed the appeal with costs. Legal costs of the case to date are approximately $9 million and have already been expensed.

SOURCE.  Extended commentary here


A warning to China

India and China have had border clashes

 India's successful test firing of its first intercontinental ballistic missile - the Agni-V - has been met with delirium inside the country, but consternation over its borders.

Indian TV yesterday showed scenes of hundreds of cheering scientists at Wheeler Island, where the missile was launched in the Bay of Bengal, after its successful flight.

At 8.06am, the 20-metre rocket, which has the theoretical capability to carry a nuclear warhead up to 5000 kilometres, was launched, taking 20 minutes to reach its target somewhere in the Indian Ocean near Indonesia.

The Indian Defence Minister, AK. Antony, heaped praise on India's Defence Research Development Organisation, which designed and built the missile.  "The nation stands tall today," he said. "We have joined the elite club of nations. The immaculate success of the Agni-V is a major milestone in the country's missile research and development program."

India joins the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Britain, China, Russia and France - as the only countries with intercontinental ballistic missiles. Fast emerging as an economic power, India is keen to play a larger role on the global stage and is campaigning strongly for a permanent seat on the Security Council.

It was recently declared the world's largest importer of arms and has raised its defence budget 17 per cent this year, to more than $38 billion.

As pointed out ad nauseum on Indian news channels, the Agni-V missile - it is named after the Hindu god of fire - has the capability to reach Beijing, from where most of the concern over yesterday's launch came.



Leftist racism

Yes, this is about race and racism. But no, it’s not about the Trayvon Martin case and how the media is pimping it.

It’s not even about the equally tragic black-on-white crimes some push to expose media bias in the Martin case. I don’t subscribe to the “Yeah, sure, but what about this!” game some play to expose leftist hypocrisy. A crime is a crime, regardless of the skin tone of the victims or the perps.

This is about how progressives continue to exploit race to keep us divided as a people and to manipulate voters.

This is about Rep. Allen West, R-Fla.  He loves his country, he’s a former military man, and he’s a black conservative. In other words, he drives progressives crazy. The only way they could hate him more is if he were a self-made millionaire or a married woman who carried a baby to term.

This week, Rep. West, a decorated military veteran, was in the news about a joke he made. Asked if there were any communists in Congress, he said yes, as many as 80. You’ll know them, he said, because they are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). Now, aside from what they call themselves, not much differentiates CPC members from communist on policy matters, but West clearly was joking.

The Left was not amused. What I call “Michael Stipe’s Disease” took over, wherein progressives channel the R.E.M lead singer in saying, “How can you joke when someone somewhere is suffering.” It’s a horrible affliction that impacts progressives at an alarming rate. I’d start a telethon but I just don’t care.

The outrage cascaded. Martin Bashir, the idiotic MSNBC host with a British accent (it’s the only way to differentiate hosts on that network since they’re all interchangeable, mindless Lego pieces) called the congressman “Joseph McCarthy” for the joke.

A spokesman for the Communist Party USA told Politico, “I just think it’s an absurd way to cast a shadow over his colleagues. It’s kind of a sad ploy … guilt by association, taken to an extreme.”

As someone who works in word, I couldn’t help but notice his comment infers there is an association and some guilt to be gleaned … but I digress.

Noah Rothman, an editor at the leftist Mediaite.com, chimed in with a column that essentially calls Rep. West an idiot – because, of course, Rep. West told a joke Rothman didn’t find funny and because he didn’t immediately give the “Washington” answer to whether or not he’d accept the VP nomination. A straight answer in Washington can be a most unsettling thing.

But the real criticism came from the black gossip site “Bossip.” Putting aside the weirdness behind the need for race-based websites on gossip or anything else, the staff at Bossip pulled the leftists’ favorite arrow from their quiver and called West an “Uncle Tom” and a “house slave”, both for his comments and for disagreeing with President Obama.

It’s quite common for black conservatives to endure such comments from liberals when they dare to think for themselves. And it’s equally common for the media to ignore such slurs.

That’s because most Leftists are racists, though not the traditional type you see in movies. Their beloved progressive movement was founded by noted racists and supporters of eugenics. They’ve known this all along. But now, they’ve realized they have to hide it.

There’s little difference between judging someone to be inferior to you based on skin color, and assuming they’re inferior because they don’t vote how you expect them to. That’s not to mention the racism involved in telling people they can’t succeed on their own, society is stacked against them so they shouldn’t even try. Telling them they need government’s help, doled out by Democrats exceedingly generous with other peoples’ money, just to get by. Or attacking successful people because, despite their skin color, they view the path to success differently.

Yet these are things in which progressives routinely engage. Even President Obama talks about the “unfairness” of America yet ignores the fact his own life story completely discredits his argument.

Americans used to celebrate success, regardless of race. We admired independence and self-reliance. We thought it better for people to thrive on their own than to survive on government handouts.

But the road to independence is paved with hard work and aspiration, and liberalism wants nothing of that. The generational death-spiral of government dependence has not led anyone out of poverty, but it has created reliably Democrat cities, districts and states – in other words: reliable voters.

The irony is that many liberals think they’re actually doing good for the people they’ve ensnared in poverty. They feel guilty because they’ve amassed a fortune they don’t think they deserve – perhaps in Hollywood, perhaps through inheritance, rarely through actual hard work. They don’t understand what real life is like. Then, there are people such as President Obama, who know the hard work it takes to succeed but embrace these policies for more cynical, less altruistic reasons.

You’d think all Americans would celebrate the life of a poor black child raised by his grandparents who worked his way up the ladder to the Supreme Court of the United States. Nothing is more “American” than that. But Clarence Thomas doesn’t subscribe to the notion government handouts are the only path from poverty. Therefore, he is despised and called unspeakable things by people who tell us to celebrate diversity. Because, to progressives, diversity means different colors but like minds – drones who think what they’re told.

Assuming things about a person based on their race is racist, even if it’s your own race. Hurling slurs and seeking to inspire hatred of someone because they don’t conform to your racist assumptions is disgusting. It’s also the cornerstone of the modern progressive ideology. And that cornerstone sits squarely on their chests, holding down Americans of all colors who wait, as generations before them did, for these promises of lightening their load to be fulfilled.

Creating government dependence in the name of compassion is anything but. It’s as close as we get in this country to eugenics. It’s modern slavery. And it’s the exact “next step” you’d expect from the people whose intellectual ancestors championed both. If you can’t eliminate those you deem unworthy, defeat them at the ballot box and demonize those who show them the only way to leave the plantation. It’s real, it’s happening, it’s progressivism, and it’s sick.



The Obamunist-Controlled Press Has a Job to Do on Jobs

This week’s jobless claims came in higher than expected tending to confirm that the recovery is: 1) still very slow; and 2) jobless, despite attempts by the Obamunist-controlled press to paint a different picture.

Politico headlined that unemployment applications “decline slightly” this week.  The Associated Press via the Chicago Sun Times- an Obamunist press if there ever was one- also reported that unemployment applications “decline slightly.” Reuters too skewed its headline: “US jobless claims edge down last week,” as did the New York Times: “US Jobless Claims Dip.”

By the end of the session, when the market finished down, it was agreed that, at least by the standards of the stock markets, the economy is swooning, not swimming and the jobs data was bad.

“The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits was higher than expected,: reported Dow Jones, “a sign of lost momentum in the labor market, as 386,000 initial claims were filed in the week ended April 14, more than the 375,000 economists expected in a Dow Jones Newswires poll.”

Even more ominous is that the number for last week was revised upward from 380,000 initial claims to 388, 000 initial claims.

As Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey notes:

Their economists had bet that last week’s results were an outlier, which wasn’t an unreasonable assumption.  This, however, looks like an upward movement in job churn, not a good sign for overall employment.  It’s interesting that we’re seeing that now rather than last month, where jobless reports ran in the mid-360Ks but job creation got stymied at only 120,000 for the month.  If this indicator continues at the mid-380K level or starts rising above it, April’s jobs report may make March look positively cheery.

Political Calculations mentioned the job market potentially slowing few weeks ago. “The March 2012 jobs data would seem to confirm that the U.S. economy has indeed begun to decelerate after growing strongly, as we have been expecting. We would be seeing a very different picture for jobs in the U.S. if the economy were genuinely gaining steam across the board.”

It’s too bad that the public is still served poorly by so-called journalist who really operate as an extension of the Obama campaign press office.  You’d think even as a matter of self-preservation, journalists would eventually worry just a tad about their own credibility.

But Obamunism has the same problem that most isms share.  People picked it based on emotion and have spent their lives- and their credibility- trying to justifying it based on logic.
And emotion, in these cases, always wins out.    




Another Obama gaffe quickly covered up:  "In an effort to ingratiate himself with Argentina’s leftist president and leading nut-case bimbo, Cristina de Fernandez (who walked out of the conference, anyway), Obama insulted our British allies by referring to the Falkland Islands by the revisionist Argentine name, the “Malvinas.” Well, he meant to, anyway. But in his speech, the president—never strong on geography—confused the Malvinas with the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, half a world away. Our Southern neighbors thought it was a hoot. But you didn’t hear about it, of course. Obama’s a genius, according to our journalists’ sacred dogma, and Thou Shalt Not Mock."

ND: Town would outlaw “man camps” in oil fields:  "One town smack in the middle of North Dakota's historic oil boom has a plan for getting rid of the 'man camps' that have sprung up as laborers pour in: Ban their campers. Williston, the state's ninth-largest city, is fed up with an estimated 400 RVs that are scattered throughout the city limits and house out-of-state workers who have flocked in to help oil companies tap the massive Bakken formation. ... If passed, the law would make living in a home on wheels a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine."

Helping Those With Disabilities Secure Employment:  "James Bovard rightly criticizes the Obama administration for seeking to force many businesses to adopt hiring quotas for disabled applicants. Such quotas not only raise costs and slash productivity, but also violate federal law.  The Supreme Court has said that the disabilities-rights laws aren't "affirmative action" statutes, in cases like Southeastern Community College v. Davis (1979). While these laws require employers to reasonably accommodate disabilities, they don't require a general preference for disabled applicants, much less quotas. Since these quotas harm taxpayers, undermine merit-based hiring and reduce efficiency, they are invalid under the Procurement Act and court rulings like Chamber of Commerce v. Reich (1996), which limit the president's power to dictate the hiring decisions of government contractors."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Obama's Big Government Liberalism

The hypocrisy of hope and change

Last November, President Obama stood before an audience and said government needs to be “responsive to the needs of people, not the needs of special interests.” He added, “That is probably the biggest piece of business that remains unfinished.”

He made these remarks, The New York Times reports, before a $17,900-a-plate fundraising dinner at the home of Dwight and Antoinette C. Bush, two heavy contributors to his reelection. But according to the Times, that wasn’t Antoinette Bush’s only contact with Obama. Six months earlier, she had visited the White House, bringing with her a “top entertainment industry lobbyist.” This was when a big brouhaha was erupting between that industry and Internet companies over online piracy.

The visit of a big political contributor and an industry lobbyist to the White House may not normally raise eyebrows, but this is the Obama White House. The Times notes,
Although Mr. Obama has made a point of not accepting contributions from registered lobbyists, a review of campaign donations and White House visitor logs shows that special interests have had little trouble making themselves heard. Many of the president’s biggest donors, while not lobbyists, took lobbyists with them to the White House, while others performed essentially the same function on their visits. …

[T]he regular appearance of big donors inside the White House underscores how political contributions continue to lubricate many of the interactions between officials and their guests, if for no other reason than that donors view the money as useful for getting a foot in the door.

Welcome to Obama’s new world. It looks a lot like the old.

And this is not the only way it resembles politics as usual.

Like his predecessors, Obama has been a good friend to big companies, especially banks. Take Bank of America. BoA is what you’d expect of a financial institution coddled by government subsidies and privilege: inefficient, corrupt (unjustly foreclosing on homeowners), and a frequent corporate-welfare recipient.

Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi reports that when BoA needs help, Obama is there. Taibbi writes that BoA is
a de facto ward of the state that depends heavily upon public support to stay in business. In fact, without the continued generosity of us taxpayers, and the extraordinary indulgence of our regulators and elected officials, this company long ago would have been swallowed up by scandal, mismanagement, prosecution and litigation, and gone out of business. It would have been liquidated and its component parts sold off, perhaps into a series of smaller regional businesses that would have more respect for the law, and be more responsive to their customers.

But Bank of America hasn’t gone out of business, for the simple reason that our government has decided to make it the poster child for the “Too Big To Fail” concept.

Who can we thank? In part, President Barack Obama, who’s planning to run a populist reelection campaign pitting the wealthy and well-connected against the rest of us. Hypocrisy lives—even in Obama’s allegedly post-political world.

According to Taibbi,
Bank of America … is perhaps the biggest welfare dependent in American history, with the $45 billion in bailout money and the $118 billion in state guarantees it’s received since 2008 representing just the crest of a veritable mountain of federal bailout support, most of it doled out by the Obama administration.

Revealingly, BoA soothed nervous creditors last year by shifting $73 trillion in derivatives to the part of the bank covered by federal deposit insurance—aka the taxpayers.



Good economists are awkward people

Walter Williams

It's difficult to be a good economist and simultaneously be perceived as compassionate. To be a good economist, one has to deal with reality. To appear compassionate, often one has to avoid unpleasant questions, use "caring" terminology and view reality as optional.

Affordable housing and health care costs are terms with considerable emotional appeal that politicians exploit but have absolutely no useful meaning or analytical worth. For example, can anyone tell me in actual dollars and cents the price of an affordable car, house or myomectomy? It's probably more pleasant to pretend that there is universal agreement about what is or is not affordable.

If you think my criticism of affordability is unpleasant, you'll hate my vision of harm. A good economist recognizes that harm is not a one-way street; it's reciprocal. For example, if I own a lot and erect a house in front of your house and block your view of a beautiful scene, I've harmed you; however, if I am prevented from building my house in front of yours, I'm harmed. Whose harm is more important? You say, "Williams, you can't tell." You can stop me from harming you by persuading some government thugs to stop me from building. It's the same thing with smoking. If I smoke a cigarette, you're harmed — or at least bothered. If I'm prevented from smoking a cigarette, I'm harmed by reduced pleasure. Whose harm is more important? Again, you can't tell. But as in the building example, the person who is harmed can use government thugs to have things his way.

How many times have we heard that "if it will save just one human life, it's worth it" or that "human life is priceless"? Both are nonsense statements. If either statement were true, we'd see lower speed limits, bans on auto racing and fewer airplanes in the sky. We can always be safer than we are. For example, cars could be produced such that occupants could survive unscathed in a 50-mph head-on collision, but how many of us could buy such a car? Don't get me wrong; I might think my life is priceless, but I don't view yours in the same light. I admire Greta Garbo's objectivity about her life. She said, "I'm a completely worthless woman, and no man should risk his life for me."

Speaking of worthlessness, I'd be worthless as an adviser to either the White House or Congress because if they asked me what they should do to get the economy going, I'd answer, "Do nothing!" Let's look at it. Between 1787 and 1930, our nation suffered both mild and severe economic downturns. There was no intervention to stimulate the economy, but the economy always recovered.

During the 1930s, there were massive interventions, starting with President Herbert Hoover and later with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Their actions turned what would have been a sharp three- or four-year economic downturn into a 10-year affair. In 1930, when Hoover began to "fix" the economy, unemployment was 6 percent. FDR did even more to "fix" the economy. As a result, unemployment remained in double digits throughout the decade and reached 20 percent in 1939. President Roosevelt blamed the high unemployment on his predecessor. Presidential blaming of predecessors is a practice that continues to this day.

You say, "Williams, the White House and Congress should do something." The track record of doing nothing is pretty good compared with doing something. None of our economic downturns in the century and a half prior to 1930 lasted as long as the Great Depression.

It would be political suicide for a politician to follow my counsel — and for good reason. Americans have been miseducated into thinking that Roosevelt's New Deal saved our economy. That miseducation extends to most academics, including economists, at our universities, who are arrogant enough to believe that it's possible for a few people in Washington to have the information and knowledge necessary to manage the economic lives of 313 million people. Good economists recognize our limitations, making us not nice people to be around.



Another Day, Another Administration Witch Hunt

So many imaginary villains and so little time

This week, President Barack Obama is taking the fight to "oil speculators" and "market manipulation" (nee "free enterprise"), demanding that traders put up more money for transactions and government ratchet up enforcement and monitoring. "None of these will bring gas prices down overnight," Obama helpfully explained in his news conference. "But they will prevent market manipulation and help protect consumers."

No, they won't. They'd probably hurt consumers, and they would doubtlessly raise the cost of doing business. So for a few hundred words, let's treat populist agitation as if it were earnest policy.

Let's start by being thankful for oil speculation—no matter what the motivation of those involved might be. To begin with, speculation allows companies with exposure to fluctuating commodity prices to hedge against rising costs by locking in. Sometimes the bet pays off; other times it doesn't. But risk and profit are not yet crimes.

Oil speculation also offers consumers and investors information about the future that can help them make informed long-term decisions. Speculators trade commodities based on the information available in the marketplace. They reflect reality; they don't create it.

But sometimes, unfortunate as it is, prices will rise. "Gouging," the close scaremongering cousin of "speculation," helps persuade consumers not to use what they don't need. It incentivizes to modify behavior—our driving habits or the size of our cars. We conserve more when prices are higher, so we avoid shortages, and producers intensify their production. (Funny how Democrats get this concept when writing energy policy designed to artificially spike fossil fuel prices.)

The president surely understands, as well. He knows that a fungible commodity's price is driven by demand and geopolitical events beyond the control of speculators or, for the most part, Washington. There are billions of people in China, India and elsewhere who are new consumers of oil—and they are better off for it. We are better off for it.

Or put it this way: Natural gas prices are trading so cheaply that it's no longer profitable to drill for most companies. According to Businessweek, there are only 624 operating drills in the United States, the fewest since April 2002. So I guess natural gas speculators forgot to manipulate the world market this month. Or do oil manipulators only work part time? Confusing.

Where, after all, is the president's evidence that oil speculation is driving up oil prices? The White House "Fact Sheet" on the matter offers plenty of solutions to a problem it hasn't even proved exists. Why are we going to spend another $52 million—and who-knows-what in political witch hunt trials—on a theory that plays on assumptions and flourishes in the progressive blogosphere?

Obviously, much of this is driven by political realities and accusations by Republicans that the president isn't doing enough to curb rising oil prices. George W. Bush also talked about manipulation nonsense, and I'm sure it's gone on forever.

So it's also worth noting that Washington, regrettably enough, already has the power to enact the counterproductive regulations the president is asking for. Nothing needs to be passed. It was only last year when Obama formed a special task force designed to find manipulation in the oil market and to ferret out incidents of gas gouging.

It is rare when Washington gives a topic what it deserves. But the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group has given the American people exactly what the topic deserves: zip.



Thank you, Argentina

You can always count on Argentina for abject lessons on how not to run a country. That’s always been painful for its citizens but useful for the rest of us to see how hair-brained, populist schemes just don’t work.

This week, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced the seizure of Spanish oil company Repsol’s stake in Argentine oil company YPF to give the government 51% control. Spain is outraged and has recalled its ambassador. The Argentine navy has been diverted from the Falklands and is now steaming towards the Canary Islands.

Ms Fernandez justified her move on the grounds that YPF has failed to invest sufficiently to prevent Argentina from importing ever greater quantities of fuel. The fact that Argentine oil reserves have been dwindling means the sector needs greater and increasingly sophisticated investment to reach more complex structures, just like in the North Sea. Expropriation isn’t going to attract that kind of high-risk investment.

Once in state hands, odds are high that YPF will be used by the government for other purposes, just like Venezuela’s PDVSA. It was no surprise that Hugo Chavez cheered the news from Ms Fernandez. Perhaps he hopes she can show PDVSA how to increase daily oil production which has fallen by 7% in the past five years.

The YPF seizure continues Argentina’s cavalier attitude towards other people’s money shown back in 2008 when Ms Fernandez grabbed some $24 billion of private pension funds and used central bank reserves to meet debt payments. More recently, the country has been in a spat with the IMF over the quality of its statistics. Argentina claims inflation is running at somewhere between 5% and 11% but private independent estimates put the number at somewhere around 25%. The Economist is refusing to publish official Argentine inflation data.

Disrespect for the law and wilful distortion of the facts are no way to manage an economy. Productive investment requires assurance that monies invested will be paid back and that investment decisions are based on reliable data.

Like many floundering politicians, Ms Fernandez confuses ownership with productivity. This is especially so when it comes to natural resources as if the mere existence of oil within a set of borders is wealth in itself. But wealth comes from finding, extracting, processing, shipping and selling the commodity, just like any other product. America, Canada, Britain, Australia and others benefit from the exploitation of their natural resources by private companies operating within clearly understood legal arrangements, not from state ownership of the entire production process and certainly not from expropriation.

With her latest move, Ms Fernandez continues the long, sad tradition of Argentina failing to live up to its potential. At least the rest of us get real-world case studies of bad policy-making.




It's important to know when to quit: "Forty-one years into a repeat of a prior failed experiment in controlling human behavior through asinine and ridiculous laws (alcohol), our 'War On Drugs' has long since become what many have called a 'war on people'. And, some people more than others. Now, decades later, with well over $1 TRILLION spent to literally no avail (unless you actually think making a country with 5% of the world’s population having 25% of the world’s prison population -- over a third of them non-violent drug possessors or users -- a sign of success)"

Rich bashing is unjust and vicious: "The casual manner in which President Obama proposes that various progressive tax measures be implemented against the so called rich -- ones who earn more than two million a year -- is indicative of just how deep seated and widespread is the prejudice against wealthy people in the United States of America. This is the country that had been hailed as the leader of the free world, as substantially capitalist, as mostly enjoying a free market place, etc. It seems however that the team now in charge of administering the laws and public policies of the country hasn’t a clue as to what human freedom or liberty really means."

Vatican orders crackdown on US nun association: "The Vatican orthodoxy watchdog announced Wednesday a full-scale overhaul of the largest umbrella group for nuns in the United States, accusing the group of taking positions that undermine Roman Catholic teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality while promoting 'certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.' An American archbishop was appointed to oversee reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which will include rewriting the group's statutes, reviewing all its plans and programs -- including approving speakers -- and ensuring the organization properly follows Catholic prayer and ritual."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Is Obama a right-wing extremist?

Norway killer Breivik's clenched-fist Communist salute is universally being described in the media as "Right wing".

Background on the clenched fist salute here

Note that Breivik began the third day of his trial the same way he began the previous two, with the clenched fist salute.


Tiny gene change affects brain size, IQ: scientists

One more piece of the jigsaw. There have now been several genetic changes found to be associated with higher IQ. The interest of this discovery is that the gene seems to work by increasing brain size. High IQ people do tend to have bigger brains, though the effect is not a strong one. So this finding confirms that the size effect is genetic

An international team of scientists said Sunday the largest brain study of its kind had found a gene linked to intelligence, a small piece in the puzzle as to why some people are smarter than others.

A variant of this gene “can tilt the scales in favour of a higher intelligence”, study leader Paul Thompson told AFP, stressing though that genetic blessings were not the only factor in brainpower.

Searching for a genetic explanation for brain disease, the scientists stumbled upon a minute variant in a gene called HMGA2 among people who had larger brains and scored higher on standardised IQ tests.

Thompson dubbed it “an intelligence gene” and said it was likely that many more such genes were yet to be discovered.

The variant occurs on HMGA2 where there is just a single change in the permutation of the four “letters” of the genetic code. DNA, the blueprint for life, comprises four basic chemicals called A (for adenine), C (cytosine), T (thymine) and G (guanine), strung together in different combinations along a double helix. In this case, the researchers found that people with a double “C” and no “T” in a specific section of the HMGA2 gene had bigger brains on average.

“It is a strange result, you wouldn’t think that something as simple as one small change in the genetic code could explain differences in intelligence worldwide,” said Thompson, a neurologist at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The discovery came in a study of brain scans and DNA samples from more than 20,000 people from North America, Europe and Australia, of European ancestry.

People who received two Cs from their parents, a quarter of the population, scored on average 1.3 points higher than the next group — half of the population with only one C in this section of the gene.

The last quarter of people, with no Cs, scored another 1.3 points lower. “The effect is small,” said Thompson, but “would be noticeable on a (IQ) test … (it) may mean you get a couple more questions correct. “It wouldn’t be an enormous change. Even so, it would help our brain resist cognitive decline later in life.”

The research, published in Nature Genetics, was conducted by more than 200 scientists from 100 institutions worldwide, working together on a project called Enigma.

Thompson said other studies have implicated some genes in IQ, but this was the first to link a common gene to brain size.

The team found that every T in place of a C represented a 0.6 percent smaller brain — equal to more than a year’s worth of brain loss through the normal ageing process.

Asked to comment on the research, Tom Hartley, a psychologist at Britain’s University of York said he was “a little wary of thinking in terms of a gene for intelligence.

“There are undoubtedly a lot of things that have to work properly in order to get a good score on an IQ test, if any of these go wrong the score will be worse.” But he said it was “fascinating” to find that such small genetic changes could affect the size of critical structures such as the hippocampus, the brain’s memory centre.

“Given the importance of the hippocampus in disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease these could turn out to be very significant findings,” said Hartley.



Can Wal-Mart Scale L.A.’s Great Wall of Regulation?

Opponents claim local Asian-Americans oppose the big-box store. Locals tell a different story.

Some of the most powerful unions in Los Angeles want to make sure that Wal-Mart doesn’t have a chance of opening anytime soon in Chinatown. Perhaps they should meet some of the Chinese senior citizens who support it. I did—and with the help of a translator and my own rusty Chinese, I learned that “fresh fruit,” “always low prices,” and “cheap stuff” sound good in Mandarin and Cantonese, too, especially to those immigrants and seniors living near the poverty line or in assisted living centers.

For decades, there’s been nothing on the vacant first floor of the apartment complex where Wal-Mart wants to open its Chinatown store—which it hopes will be the first of many “neighborhood marts” in Los Angeles County. Slightly smaller than a Whole Foods supermarket and only one-fifth the size of a typical Wal-Mart, the 33,000 square-foot store on West Cesar Chavez Avenue would offer fresh fruits and groceries, beauty products, and—most crucially for the seniors I spoke with—a pharmacy.

Right now, Chinatown has only one grocery store and a highly priced CVS drugstore to serve its nearly 50,000 residents. The lack of competition allows these stores to charge even more than the area’s high-priced small markets for what should be cheap products like aspirin.

In addition, many residents worry about the quality of the meat at some of the Chinese shops that Los Angeles city officials say a Wal-Mart will undercut. Indeed, all of the Chinatown residents I spoke with emphasized that at some of the Chinese markets, meats and other items are displayed on the sidewalk, exposed to the air and heat.

During a recent visit, Ming-Sheng and Lindsey Hu invited me into their home and offered “tea eggs,” a traditional Chinese delicacy, after I took off my shoes. The Hus, immigrants from China, are excited that a Wal-Mart may finally open up nearby. After showing me pictures of her grandchildren, Mrs. Hu—a lively 82 years old—proudly took me to her bathroom to see all of the Target and Wal-Mart products. Although inexpensive, they weren’t easy to buy. Mrs. Hu must be driven 30 minutes by car to the Target in Alhambra, or wait for her children to take her—more than 40 minutes by car—to Rosemead’s Wal-Mart. A new Wal-Mart in Chinatown would be more convenient, especially for her 86-year-old husband, who has limited mobility, and for the other residents of the Grand Plaza Senior Apartments, next to the planned Wal-Mart.

While Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) has decried Wal-Mart’s “ability to…drive all other competitors away” with rock-bottom prices, many Chinatown residents, suffering for years from gouging by the local markets, would probably say “good riddance.” In what must frustrate the unions most, the typical argument that products “Made in China” are inherently inferior doesn’t work in Chinatown. “I come from China, too!” one of the old Chinese ladies protesting in favor of Wal-Mart said. “We Chinese are cheap!” another pro-Wal-Mart elderly lady told me.

The neighborhood Chinese stores charge “whatever they think they can get,” another senior said. Another problem is that most Chinatown residents must cross a busy thoroughfare to get to these markets. The Wal-Mart, in contrast, would be on the same side of the avenue—a safer, more convenient trip, especially for those with limited mobility. A resident of the Grand Plaza apartments explains that having a Wal-Mart nearby might even help save taxpayer dollars. He notes that city social workers have to come and help many of the seniors buy groceries, taking time from their other duties. In addition, the man told me through a translator, “Nobody wants to be a drain on the public.”

To the Los Angeles City Council, size matters, and in this case large is bad. City Hall’s anti-business attitude comes at a cost. While the City of Angels’ deficit for next fiscal year is a whopping $220 million and counting, local politicians have ruled out so-called Big Box retailers.

So Wal-Mart’s proposed small neighborhood store actually complies with the city’s unrealistic anti-superstore ordinance. This law, enacted in 2004, forces big-box retailers who want to open a store larger than 100,000 square feet to provide a costly economic analysis showing whether it will depress wages or harm nearby businesses. (So much for Schumpeterian creative destruction!)

Despite the planned Chinatown store’s compliance with the strict size limit, the council in late March unanimously approved a motion that would block it—suggesting that sponsor Ed Reyes and his colleagues are really against Wal-Mart, not just large outlets. Wal-Mart, however, outmaneuvered the council by obtaining its needed building permits the day before the vote. Naturally the unions, allied with the left-wing Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), have vowed to appeal those permits. “They’ve got to review the permits to determine if any errors were made,” James Elmendorf, LAANE’s deputy director, told the Los Angeles Times.

LAANE and councilmembers Reyes and Eric Garcetti may search for “errors,” but the move is so transparently unfair that even the Times’ editorial page has come out against it. “Rather than presenting potential businesses with reliable rules and allowing those businesses to judge whether they can or will comply, every deal in the city is subject to negotiation,” the editorial board wrote. The paper might have added that unions and allies like LAANE get to decide the terms of these negotiations.

Part of LAANE’s opposition to Wal-Mart comes from its support of what it calls a “living wage,” but what they mean by that isn’t at all clear—and deliberately so. According to Charles Crumpley, editor of Los Angeles Business Journal, the starting wage for a non-managerial Wal-Mart worker is $12.69 an hour. In Long Beach, LAANE wants to force hotels to pay their staffs a “living wage” of just $13 an hour. The tiny difference suggests that the organization is nickel-and-diming companies it doesn’t like in the service of its union funders and allies, like the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 (whose members get $15.41 an hour—before dues).

To one Taiwan-born Chinatown resident I spoke with, the whole notion of a “living wage” is ridiculous. “Anyone can live, and live well, in America. Even the homeless here are fat,” the now retired restaurateur told me with a laugh, pointing to the homeless hangout spot on Cesar Chavez. To those who came to America with nothing or very little, the notion that you can’t get ahead here is offensive and false.



Why Tax Capital Gains at all?

Income tax time is an appropriate moment to go to the heart of President Obama’s complaint about the taxes Warren Buffett and other rich people pay, or don’t pay. What the president is really complaining about is that the tax rate on capital gains is too low.

But there is a more basic question to be asked: why tax capital gains at all?

Did you know that the term "capital gains" does not even appear in the official income accounts for the U.S. economy? That’s right. No matter how high stock prices climb, they do not affect the official reckoning of national income one iota.

"Capital losses" aren’t included either.

When stock prices soar, stock owners are wealthier — at least they feel wealthier. When stock prices plunge, owners of stocks feel less wealthy. But none of these ups and downs have any bearing whatsoever on the official calculation of the income for the economy as a whole.

So here is the policy question: If we are going to have an income tax, should we tax only income? Or should we tax activities, events and transactions that are not counted as part of our national income?

At the New York Times Economix Blog, Princeton University economist Uwe Reinhardt argues that capital gains should be taxed at the same rate as ordinary income (which is included as part of national income, by the way). I had a debate about all of this with Michael Kinsley at Slate some time back. Interested readers may want to refer to the text of that debate for more details than I plan to go into here. Also, don’t miss Steven Landsburg’s devastating critique of Uwe’s piece.

Imagine a poker game. At the end of the evening, some players walk away winners. Some are losers. No real income has been produced at this event. It’s strictly entertainment. The winnings of the winners are exactly equal to the losses of the losers. Should the IRS get involved? If your answer is "no" I like the way you think.

As it turns out, however, the IRS does get involved and it does so in a very unfair way. It taxes the winner’s gains but limits the ability of the losers to deduct their losses. (Gambling losses can only be deducted from gambling winnings, not from other income.) If the IRS treated everyone fairly (symmetrically) there would be no point to taxing gambling income. The deductions by the losers would offset the gains of the winners and there would be no net revenue for Uncle Sam.

Now let’s turn to stock prices. One way to view the stock market is to see it as a place where people also make bets. They are betting on the future income of corporations. Eventually the future will arrive, however. The companies will realize their actual income and they will pay taxes on it. If the firms return some of this income to investors (stockholders), the investors will pay a tax on their dividend income. If the firms pay interest to bondholders, they will be able to deduct the interest payments from their corporate taxable income, but the bondholders will pay taxes on their interest income.

Here is the bottom line: There is no need for the IRS to tax the bets that people make along the way — as stock prices gyrate up and down. Eventually all the income that is actually earned will be taxed when it is realized and those taxes will be paid by the people who actually earned the income.

But, as in the case of the poker game, let’s suppose the IRS decides to foolishly get involved anyway. What will be the outcome? Uncle Sam almost certainly won’t collect much money unless (as with gambling) it treats people asymmetrically. And that is exactly what it does. It taxes capital gains ferociously while limiting the ability of people to deduct their losses.

Moreover, unlike the poker game, I have complete discretion over when I choose to sell a share of stock. I can time my gains so they fit into this taxable period or the next. I can time my losses in the same way. It is because of this discretion that the federal government would get almost no net income from the taxation of capital gains if it treated losses the same way it treats gains. That’s why the government imposes so many arbitrary restrictions on how both losses and gains can be realized. But these restrictions interfere with the flexibility of the capital market. And they do so for no good reason — because eventually all corporate earnings will be realized and taxed anyway.



Australian economy leads the world

Australia is actively seeking skilled immigrants at the moment, particularly tradesmen -- JR

Australia has the strongest economy in the developed world and it is expected to outperform all comers for at least the next two years, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF - which issued its World Economic Outlook in Washington overnight - said it expected the Australian economy to expand by 3 per cent this year as fiscal tensions from Europe and the United States continue to ease.

The update said that it expects the Australian economy will outstrip growth over all other advanced economies over the next two years, noting we live in a region where exposure to troubled European banks was less than for other parts of the world.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

More media deception

I note that Norway killer Breivik's clenched-fist Communist salute is universally being described in the media as "Right wing". Right wing Communism? It has been the Communist salute for around a century and Leftist journalists would be well aware of that. They have probably even seen examples of it at Leftist rallies in the USA in recent times. But for the media white can be black if it can be used to attack conservatives

There is NO Right-wing salute. Both the Communist and the Fascist salutes are Leftist. The man who invented the Fasicist salute -- Mussolini -- was a prominent Marxist theoretician. And if Hitler's socialist worker's party (NSDAP) was Right wing, it sure was a strange socialist worker's party. More on that here

Breivik flashed the same salute on day 2 of his trial as well. An interesting excerpt from today's testimony:
Breivik has disclosed how much he admires al-Qaeda. He described them as the "most successful revolutionary force in the world" and praised their "cult of martyrdom". He also said that he expected his rampage last July to be ended by a bullet from the security forces. "22 July was a so-called suicide attack. I didn't expect to survive that day," he said.

It is becoming increasingly clear that he sees himself as a revolutionary or a martyr rather than as being subservient to any ideology. How else to explain that he hates Muslims but admires Al-Qaeda?

At the risk of being seen as knowing what I am talking about, perhaps I should mention that on July 25, 2011 I described Breivik's actions as "pure Al Qaida"


"Conservatives Have All the Best Stories"

But, we're not telling them. So says Ann McElhinney of Not Evil, Just Wrong and Mine Your Own Business fame.

She has a great conversion story. She was a typical European liberal living in Romania working as a freelance journalist. She came upon a story of an "evil" Canadian mining company which was planning to open a gold mine in Transylvania by first tearing down a village, and, of course, raping, pillaging, and plundering the villagers. At least, that was the story she presupposed while riding the train to the area. What she found when she got there was somewhat different. May I present the incomparable -- Ann McElhinney!

Unless you are used to rapid-fire Irish speech, you may need to listen to it twice!

Ms. McElhinney is a fabulous mess of a speaker (John Fund), which makes every one of her speeches a trove of riches for conversation. Just in this short clip there's the brain dead liberal story, the liberal media bias story, the DDT story, the environmentalist tyranny story, the CO2 as the new DDT story, the wrong versus evil story, and probably more that I missed.

However, this post is just about conservatives telling their conversion stories. Or, if you've always been conservative, what's the most potent story you tell which reinforces the conservative facts of life?



Australia: A triumph of faith and connectedness: Fundamentalist pastor saves little girl

In a society as atomized and as anonymous as ours, church connections can be very important

A TODDLER who survived up to five days alone in her home after her mother died was within hours of dying herself, paramedics said yesterday.

Lucy Keevers, 2, has spent three days under the intensive care of doctors after she was found severely dehydrated at the house in Wagga Wagga, in the state's southwest, on Friday.

Her 36-year-old mother Liz, a severe epileptic, is believed to have had a seizure and died in the lounge room up to five days before Lucy was found.

Ambulance Service Inspector Eamonn Purcell said Lucy was close to death when she was rescued from the death house by a local preacher.

He said the two-year-old - with blonde hair like her mother, and wearing a pink outfit - did not make a sound as she sat in the back of the ambulance.

Insp Purcell said her eyes were open wide and she was weak, with a rapid pulse and low blood pressure. "Even when they stuck a needle in her, she didn't blink. I think she was within hours of death herself," he said.

The mother and daughter moved to the suburb of Ashmont about 18 months ago, renting a house on Tarakan Ave and attending the local church with a neighbour.

Insp Purcell said paramedics were often confronted by distressing situations and had been touched by the brave little girl.

Relatives arrived in Wagga Wagga yesterday to begin the task of clearing out the death house.

Neighbour Kim Beaumont described Lucy as a happy, quiet girl who was very much loved by her mother.

Ms Beaumont said she last saw Liz as she hung out the washing on Tuesday, April 10.

"It was just awful," she said. "The washing was still on the line and I kept telling myself I must go over and see whether Liz was OK? "You just feel so guilty, I know you shouldn't blame yourself but you do."

Ms Beaumont said Liz was an active, full-time mum. "She was on medication and being seen by doctors but no one expected this. There were never any problems at the house," Ms Beaumont said.

Church of Christ Pastor Ross Brinkman said the mother was a much-loved member of the church and the girl regularly attended playgroup there. He found the young mother and daughter after becoming concerned and breaking into the house by the front window.

"I received a phone call from one of our parishioners alerting me that she had not turned up to events," Pastor Brinkman said. "I went around to investigate and that's when we made the discovery."

Pastor Brinkman said the woman's daughter would be well cared for within the Wagga community. "The concern we have is for the welfare of the daughter. We will continue to love and care for her," he said.



Shifting the range of what is politically possibile

Comment from a prominent British free-market group

Yes, it's wrapped up in unlovely jargon but this is what we exist to do: shift the Overton Window. Chris Dillow:

"But that's what half of me thinks. Another half remembers Richard Cockett's description of how libertarian think-tanks helped - over very many years - to shift the Overton window; within my lifetime, private ownership of utilities, for example, has gone from being unthinkable by the political class to taken for granted."

It's true that we're largely seen as being right wing but this is a serious mistake upon the part of those so viewing us. We actually want the poor to get richer, something that makes us rather leftie. That we advocate policies like markets, policies that actually do make the poor richer, makes us unique among lefties, this is true but in this sense we are indeed of the left. As we are in desiring to increase liberty, remove legal and economic privilege and so on.

But what is this Overton Window thing? That's the set of policies which at any one time can be plausibly taken as being politically realistic. Our job is to shift the perception of the various policies we propose so that, over time, they become part of that set of plausible, possible, political actions.

Madsen has his own way of describing this, that we start out saying something that by the standards of the times marks us out as being complete loons howling in the wilderness. By the time people are drinking the beer made today they'll be chuckling at the latest weirdness from those nutters. By the time today's production of good Scotch gets drunk it'll be a serious policy proposal that one or more political parties is including in a manifesto. And by the time this year's claret is ready to drink it'll be a settled part of the legislative landscape and no one at all can remember that we haven't always done it this way.

And we'll take such victories from any political party: Red Ken is associated with the Congestion Charge in London but it's us classically liberal think tanks that set that policy running. Privatising the utilities was enacted by the Tories and I know for certain that the current Lib Dem idea of sharing paternity and maternity leave was inserted into party policy as a result of someone reading this blog. From my pointing out that we don't in fact have a gender pay gap, we have a motherhood pay gap. And it really shouldn't be all that much of a surprise to anyone knowing my background that the UKIP flat tax policy has certain similarities to the flat tax ideas of this think tank.

In terms of the future my biggest ambition is to get drug legalisation through in just this manner. We've been saying it for years already, that it's the illegality that causes many of the problems. We're already seeing serious and sensible politicians running with the idea: heck, Portugal has essentially decriminalised even if not legalised drugs. That Overton Window has already shifted and it is possible to at least conceive now of a future government legalising and taxing appropriately all drugs. It won't be by the time today's Scotch is ready to drink, sadly, but I can see it happening by the time this year's claret is ready.



A matter of principles

By Prof. Donald J. Boudreaux

Soon after Lehman Brothers' 2008 bankruptcy, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke reportedly proclaimed that "there are no atheists in foxholes and no ideologues in financial crises."

Mr. Bernanke likely meant that, in a financial crisis, policymakers shouldn't be wedded to their pre-crisis understanding of what does and doesn't constitute sound economic policy. They should instead react to events as these unfold.

No one objects to policies changing to reflect an improved understanding of the economy. A financial crisis, however, is the worst situation for improving our understanding of the economy. And government officials are the last people to look to for such enlightenment. Panic, puzzlement and political pressures are all super-intense. The only reliable guides through this confusion are principles.

It's not as if we economists have no well-developed theories for understanding economic crises. We do. We also have principled policy recommendations based on these theories.

But in this crisis, Bernanke, panicking, tossed aside his principles.

I use the word "principles" here loosely. True principles aren't abandoned in a storm. The fact that Bernanke and many other government officials so readily pitched aside their alleged principles testifies to the fact that these officials simply aren't very principled.

Prior to 2008, Bernanke's economics was much closer to the free-market school of Milton Friedman than to the faith-in-government creed of John Maynard Keynes. Backed by sound logic and plenty of facts, the Friedman school teaches that markets are not naturally prone to huge downturns; such downturns typically result from unwise government meddling.

And so the cure for such crises is to stop the unwise government meddling. Sure, central bankers must take certain steps during each crisis to ensure that it doesn't get out of hand. These special steps, though, all turn upon ensuring that the money supply doesn't collapse. That's it. Nothing more.

Bernanke, though, went way beyond this prudent step. Blinded by panic (or eager to please the White House and Congress), Bernanke ignored what Carnegie Mellon economist Allan Meltzer calls "the powerful regenerative forces of the market."

Meltzer -- a pre-eminent scholar of monetary policy and the Fed -- understands that government meddling often causes unusually large numbers of people to make unusually bad investments. Although seemingly sensible when made, these investments are doomed because the information that guided these investments was distorted by unwise government meddling in the economy.

There's no way to get the economy back on the right track except to liquidate these lousy investments and allow the market to rediscover better, more sustainable ones.

And it's at this stage that sound principles are especially important.

Liquidating bad investments is painful. Real people suffer real financial losses. These people naturally wish to avoid these losses if they can. And politicians are eager to help them do so because that makes politicians appear to be powerful and good -- and worthy of re-election.

So politicians borrow and print money madly. Today's taxes don't rise and government spends the money, hoping to bolster the falling values of these bad investments.

For a time, this unprincipled policy might succeed -- but this "success" is only brief and illusory. Bad investments aren't turned into good investments simply because government "injects" new "demand" into the economy.

Had a principled economist been chairman of today's Fed, that person's principles would have led him or her to focus on the long-run health of the economy. He or she would therefore have argued against the massive "stimulus" package, knowing that the market economy would rejuvenate itself.




Print-on-demand aids book industry sales: "One of the book industry's largest print-on-demand operations has expanded to keep up with orders. The Nashville-based Ingram Content Group's Lightning Source division opened three new facilities last month -- two in the U.S., and one in Germany. Print-on-demand books are a bright spot for the traditional book industry, which has slumped as e-readers increase. According to research for IT Strategies, around a billion pages are being printed on demand each month -- driven by sales from Amazon."

Happiness is not an entitlement: "We ought to leave 'happiness' to novelists and philosophers -- and rescue it from the economists and psychologists who think it can be distilled into a 'science' and translated into pro-happiness policies. Fat chance. Government can often mitigate sources of unhappiness (starvation, unemployment, disease), but happiness is more than the absence of misery. If we could manufacture happiness, we could repeal the 'human condition.' Somehow this has escaped the social scientists who want to make happiness the goal of government."

Edgar the entrepreneur: "Edgar the Exploiter is a wonderful animated short by Tomasz Kaye that defends voluntary employer-employee relations and demonstrates the harm that policies like minimum-wage laws inflict on the very people they are supposed to help. Edgar is a capitalist who hires Simon as an unskilled laborer, until a minimum-wage law impels Edgar to lay Simon off."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Norway killer Anders Behring Breivik trial starts

His trial has just begun and the London Daily Telegraph is live-blogging it.

Once again he gave the Communist clenched-fist salute as he entered the courtroom. Breivik of all people would be aware that the Fascist salute is with an open hand. So he would appear to see himself as being primarily a revolutionary. Since the Fascist salute is generally these days associated with the political right, he would appear to be disclaiming that affiliation. He may well think conservatives are too gutless.


A Leftist government that does surplus budgeting!

Americans must find the Australian Left hard to comprehend -- one that tries to spend LESS than it raises in taxes. Obama borrows 40% of what he spends. But surplus budgeting is a tradition in Australia. At the time the GFC hit, Australia had ZERO Federal debt. It's one of a number of ways in which Australia is more conservative than the USA. We are in nothing like the mess that the USA is in

FINANCE Minister Penny Wong has rejected any suggestion that bringing the Budget back to surplus in 2012-13 could trigger a recession. "It's the right thing to do to bring the Budget back to surplus," she told Network Ten yesterday.

Senator Wong said November's mid-year economic review forecast growth of 3.5 per cent and it "assumed the fiscal policy the Government's got in place".

She has rejected a suggestion by her Opposition counterpart Andrew Robb that a surplus would be achieved by fiddling the books.

Mr Robb said one example was the energy security fund to help coal-fired generators adjust to the carbon tax, scheduled to start on July 1. Labor will spend $1 billion this financial year and in each of 2013-14 and 2014-15 on the fund, but only $1 million has been set aside for next financial year.

"You don't come back to surplus simply through accounting," Senator Wong said. "You come back to surplus because you make hard decisions."

But Mr Robb said he wasn't convinced. He said Senator Wong was caught out and unable to explain why the funding for generators wasn't anything other than a dodgy accounting trick.

More here


The unchecked menace of voter fraud

Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama White House are trying to stop new laws intended to protect the integrity of our electoral system. They have already blocked the implementation of new voter ID laws in South Carolina and Texas claiming there is not evidence of widespread voter fraud. They have also claimed that these new laws would place too heavy a burden on minority voters and would suppress their ability to vote.

To say that there is not widespread evidence of voter fraud is disingenuous at best. If you listen to Point of View on a regular basis, you have heard us cover dozens of stories of significant voter fraud all across the country over the past few years. Many of these have wound up in the courts, making it impossible for the Justice Department not to know about them.

To show just how easy it is to vote fraudulently, a man working for James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas went to Eric Holder’s voting place on Nebraska Avenue in Washington, D.C. and asked if they had a Holder registered. This scruffily dressed, young white man (Eric Holder is 61 and black) never actually claimed to be Holder but was offered his ballot anyway. You can see the amazing video of this exchange here.

As to suppressing minority voter turnout, after new voter ID laws were put in place in Georgia and Indiana, minority turnout increased. So why is the Obama Justice Department so intent on blocking the implementation these laws intended to protect the integrity of the vote?

Received by email from Kerby Anderson, Host of "Point of View"


How to reform the TSA

Air travel would be safer if we allowed knives, lighters and liquids and focused on disrupting new terror plots. A former head of the Transportation Security Administration, Kip Hawley says:

Airport security in America is broken. I should know. For 3½ years—from my confirmation in July 2005 to President Barack Obama's inauguration in January 2009—I served as the head of the Transportation Security Administration.

You know the TSA. We're the ones who make you take off your shoes before padding through a metal detector in your socks (hopefully without holes in them). We're the ones who make you throw out your water bottles. We're the ones who end up on the evening news when someone's grandma gets patted down or a child's toy gets confiscated as a security risk. If you're a frequent traveler, you probably hate us.

More than a decade after 9/11, it is a national embarrassment that our airport security system remains so hopelessly bureaucratic and disconnected from the people whom it is meant to protect. Preventing terrorist attacks on air travel demands flexibility and the constant reassessment of threats. It also demands strong public support, which the current system has plainly failed to achieve.

The crux of the problem, as I learned in my years at the helm, is our wrongheaded approach to risk. In attempting to eliminate all risk from flying, we have made air travel an unending nightmare for U.S. passengers and visitors from overseas, while at the same time creating a security system that is brittle where it needs to be supple.

Any effort to rebuild TSA and get airport security right in the U.S. has to start with two basic principles:

First, the TSA's mission is to prevent a catastrophic attack on the transportation system, not to ensure that every single passenger can avoid harm while traveling. Much of the friction in the system today results from rules that are direct responses to how we were attacked on 9/11. But it's simply no longer the case that killing a few people on board a plane could lead to a hijacking. Never again will a terrorist be able to breach the cockpit simply with a box cutter or a knife. The cockpit doors have been reinforced, and passengers, flight crews and air marshals would intervene.

Second, the TSA's job is to manage risk, not to enforce regulations. Terrorists are adaptive, and we need to be adaptive, too. Regulations are always playing catch-up, because terrorists design their plots around the loopholes.

I tried to follow these principles as the head of the TSA, and I believe that the agency made strides during my tenure. But I readily acknowledge my share of failures as well. I arrived in 2005 with naive notions of wrangling the organization into shape, only to discover the power of the TSA's bureaucratic momentum and political pressures.

There is a way out of this mess—below, I'll set out five specific ideas for reform—but it helps to understand how we got here in the first place.

The airport checkpoint as we know it today sprang into existence in spring 2002, over a month and a half at Baltimore/Washington International airport. New demands on the system after 9/11, like an exhaustive manual check of all carry-on bags, had left checkpoints overwhelmed by long lines and backlogs. A team of management consultants from Accenture delved into the minutiae of checkpoint activity at BWI: How long did it take to pass from one point to another? How did the behavior of travelers affect line speed? How were people interacting with the equipment?

The consultants had a million ideas for improvement, but with no infrastructure, acquiring even the most ordinary items became a quest. For example, before passengers walked through the metal detectors, they needed to place their keys, jewelry and change into a container. But the long, skinny plastic dishes in use at the time tipped over. So a team member went to PetSmart, bought a bunch of different dog bowls and tested each one. The result was the white bowl with a rubber bottom that's still in use at many airports. (Please, no jokes about the TSA treating passengers like dogs.)

One brilliant bit of streamlining from the consultants: It turned out that if the outline of two footprints was drawn on a mat in the area for using metal-detecting wands, most people stepped on the feet with no prompting and spread their legs in the most efficient stance. Every second counts when you're processing thousands of passengers a day.

Members of Congress, who often fly home to their districts for the weekend, had begun demanding wait times of no longer than 10 minutes. But security is always about trade-offs: A two-minute standard would delight passengers but cost billions more in staffing; ignoring wait times would choke the system.

After I was confirmed as TSA administrator in 2005, one of the first things I did in office was to attend screener training at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

I sat down at a computer with Gary, a solidly built guy in his 40s with a mustache and a shaved head. Gary pointed at a screen that simulated the carry-on bag monitors at checkpoints. "What do you see?" he asked, a half smile on his face.

I stared at the series of colorful, ghostly images that Gary froze on the screen and tried to pick an easy one. "Well, that's a computer or some electronic, there are wires, maybe a battery." The sharp edges were easy to pick out, and the recognizable pattern of a motherboard jumped out. "But I don't know about that big orange blob on top of it."

"Right," said Gary. "The orange-colored part…. That means it's organic. Anything made of organic material—clothes, shoes, food—it's all going to register orange here."

As a confidence boost, Gary gave me a series of images with guns and knives in various positions. Knives lying flat were giveaways, but when viewed lengthwise, they had very little visible surface. Explosives were a whole different story. A plastic explosive like C4 is organic and dense. It appears as a heavy orange mass. Unfortunately, a block of cheddar cheese looks roughly the same.

As we started testing with a moving scanner, Gary warned me that too many false positives would be a big problem. A "hair-trigger" strategy would get me flunked. Images with guns took about one second to identify. Clear bags took roughly five seconds to double check for blade edges. It was cluttered bags—with their multihued oranges, blues, greens and grays jumbled together—that were the killers.

I wish that more of our passengers could see the system from the perspective of a screener. It is here, at the front lines, where the conundrum of airport security is in sharpest relief: the fear of missing even the smallest thing, versus the likelihood that you'll miss the big picture when you're focused on the small stuff.

Clearly, things needed to change. By the time of my arrival, the agency was focused almost entirely on finding prohibited items. Constant positive reinforcement on finding items like lighters had turned our checkpoint operations into an Easter-egg hunt. When we ran a test, putting dummy bomb components near lighters in bags at checkpoints, officers caught the lighters, not the bomb parts.

I wanted to reduce the amount of time that officers spent searching for low-risk objects, but politics intervened at every turn. Lighters were untouchable, having been banned by an act of Congress. And despite the radically reduced risk that knives and box cutters presented in the post-9/11 world, allowing them back on board was considered too emotionally charged for the American public.

We did succeed in getting some items (small scissors, ice skates) off the list of prohibited items. And we had explosives experts retrain the entire work force in terrorist tradecraft and bomb-making. Most important, Charlie Allen, the chief of intelligence for the Department of Homeland Security, tied the TSA into the wider world of U.S. intelligence, arranging for our leadership to participate in the daily counterterrorism video conference chaired from the White House. With a constant stream of live threat reporting to start each day, I was done with playing defense.

But the frustrations outweighed the progress. I had hoped to advance the idea of a Registered Traveler program, but the second that you create a population of travelers who are considered "trusted," that category of fliers moves to the top of al Qaeda's training list, whether they are old, young, white, Asian, military, civilian, male or female. The men who bombed the London Underground in July 2005 would all have been eligible for the Registered Traveler cards we were developing at the time. No realistic amount of prescreening can alleviate this threat when al Qaeda is working to recruit "clean" agents. TSA dropped the idea on my watch—though new versions of it continue to pop up.

Taking your shoes off for security is probably your least favorite part of flying these days. Mine, too. I came into office dead set on allowing people to keep their shoes on during screening. But, contrary to popular belief, it isn't just Richard Reid's failed shoe-bomb attempt in December 2001 that is responsible for the shoe rule. For years, the TSA has received intelligence on the terrorists' footwear-related innovations. Some very capable engineer on the other side is spending a lot of time improving shoe bombs, which can now be completely nonmetallic and concealed in a normal street shoe. There's still no quick way to detect them without an X-ray.

I was initially against a ban on liquids as well, because I thought that, with proper briefing, TSA officers could stop al Qaeda's new liquid bombs. Unfortunately, al Qaeda's advancing skill with hydrogen-peroxide-based bombs made a total liquid ban necessary for a brief period and a restriction on the amount of liquid one could carry on a plane necessary thereafter.

Existing scanners could allow passengers to carry on any amount of liquid they want, so long as they put it in the gray bins. The scanners have yet to be used in this way because of concern for the large number of false alarms and delays that they could cause. When I left TSA in 2009, the plan was to designate "liquid lanes" where waits might be longer but passengers could board with snow globes, beauty products or booze. That plan is still sitting on someone's desk.

The hijackings of the 1960s gave us magnetometers, to keep guns off planes. After the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, a small amount of international checked baggage was scanned and people were required to fly with their luggage. After 9/11, the TSA was created and blades were banned.

Looking at the airport security system that we have today, each measure has a reason—and each one provides some security value. But taken together they tell the story of an agency that, while effective at stopping anticipated threats, is too reactive and always finds itself fighting the last war.

Airport security has to change. The relationship between the public and the TSA has become too poisonous to be sustained. And the way that we use TSA officers—as little more than human versions of our scanners—is a tremendous waste of well-trained, engaged brains that could be evaluating risk rather than looking for violations of the Standard Operating Procedure.

What would a better system look like? If politicians gave the TSA some political cover, the agency could institute the following changes before the start of the summer travel season:



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

No Obamacare Exchanges should be created by the States

Obamacare had a bad couple of days before the Supreme Court — so bad that President Obama made some ill-considered comments about the Court from which he still hasn't totally backpedaled. Though the oral arguments over the individual mandate and severability were encouraging, we cannot count on the Supremes to kill Obamacare. Opponents must keep fighting it on all fronts.

The most important front right now is to ensure that states do not create the health-insurance exchanges Obamacare needs in order to operate. Refusing to create exchanges is the most powerful thing states can do to take Obamacare down. Think of it as an insurance policy in case the Supreme Court whiffs.

Exchanges are the new government bureaucracies through which millions of Americans will be compelled to purchase Obamacare's overpriced and overregulated health insurance. Through these bureaucracies, insurance companies will receive hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. Without these bureaucracies, Obamacare cannot work.

Here are just a few reasons why states should refuse to create them.

Jobs. Refusing to create an exchange will block Obamacare from imposing a tax on employers whose health benefits do not meet the federal government's definition of "essential" coverage. That tax can run as high as $3,000 per employee. A state that refuses to create an exchange will spare its employers from that tax, and will therefore enable them to create more jobs.

Religious freedom. In blocking that employer tax, state officials would likewise block Obamacare's effort to force religious employers to provide coverage for services they find immoral — like contraception, pharmaceutical abortions, and sterilization.

The federal debt. Refusing to create exchanges would also reduce the federal debt, because it would prevent the Obama administration from doling out billions of dollars in subsidies to private insurance companies.

The U.S. Constitution. The Obama administration has indicated that it might try to tax employers and hand out those subsidies anyway — even in states that don't create an exchange, and even though neither Obamacare nor any other federal law gives it the power to do so. If that happens, the fact that a state has refused to create an exchange would give every large employer in the state — including the state government itself — the ability to go to court to block the administration's attempt to usurp Congress's legislative powers.

A lower state tax burden. States that opt to create an exchange can expect to pay anywhere from $10 million to $100 million per year to run it. But if states refuse, Obamacare says the federal government must pay to create one. Why should states pay for something that the federal government is giving away?

Bye-bye, Obamacare. That is, if the feds can create an exchange at all. The Obama administration has admitted it doesn't have the money — and good luck getting any such funding through the GOP-controlled House. Moreover, without state-run exchanges, the feds can't subsidize private insurance companies. That by itself could cause Obamacare to collapse.

Unfortunately, ever since Obamacare became law, lobbyists for the insurance companies and others who would financially benefit from it have been wooing state officials with the false promise that a state-run exchange would preserve state control over health care. If the Supreme Court fails to strike down the entire law, they'll say, "Aw, shucks. Now you have to create an exchange."

Nonsense. Obamacare does not and cannot mandate that states create exchanges. Moreover, state-run exchanges do not preserve local control. They will do Washington's bidding, or else they will be commandeered or swept aside.

Even if we assume the Obama administration figures out a way to impose a federal exchange on states, are there any atrocities a federal exchange might inflict that federal regulations could not require state-run exchanges to inflict? Of course not.

That's why every conservative and free-market group, including the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council, has advised states to refuse to create an exchange and to send all related grants back to Washington. Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wisconsin have already done so.

If the Court strikes Obamacare down, state officials who refused to create an exchange will look prescient. If not, they will be positioned to drive a stake through its heart.



Chris Christie: America becoming a nation of couch potatoes

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that the U.S. is turning into a “paternalistic entitlement society” that will bankrupt the country financially and morally because “we’ll have a bunch of people sittin’ on a couch waiting for their next government check.”

“I’ve never seen a less optimistic time in my lifetime in this country and people wonder why,” the first-term Republican governor said at the Bush Institute Conference on Taxes and Economic Growth in New York City.

“I think it’s really simple. It’s because government’s now telling them ‘stop dreaming, stop striving, we’ll take care of you.’ We’re turning into a paternalistic entitlement society,” he said.

“That will not just bankrupt us financially, it will bankrupt us morally because when the American people no longer believe that this a place where only their willingness to work hard … determines their success in life then we’ll have a bunch of people sittin’ on a couch waiting for their next government check,” Christie said.

Much of the blame, Christie said, falls at the feet of politicians at all levels of government who are too eager to please voters.

“I’m not looking to be loved. You see, I think politicians get themselves into the biggest trouble when they care more about being loved than being respected. That’s why we run up these deficits we run up. That’s why we can’t say ‘no’ to anything. Because we care too much about being loved. I’m loved enough at home, believe me — on occasion,” he said.



Obama Admin: Your Privacy and All Your Stuff Belong To Us

Did you know that the federal government claims that it can take away your constitutional rights any time that it wants to?

Over the past several decades, there have been an endless parade of laws and executive orders that have been slowly and methodically carving up our rights under the U.S. Constitution. Most Americans are not even aware of the "creeping totalitarianism" that is happening. Most Americans just trust the "authorities" when they tell us that certain things "must be done" in order to keep us all safe.

But even if we gave up all of our privacy, even if we gave up all of our liberties and our freedoms, and even if we gave the government all of our stuff, they still would not be able to keep us safe. It is inevitable that evil people are going to do evil things, and if you are counting on the Obama administration to keep you safe then you are being delusional. Obama is not going to save us from anything.

But Obama will gladly take away our rights and our freedoms if the American people allow him to. The Obama administration seems to have an endless lust for more power. Sadly, if we do give away our rights it will have some very serious consequences. If we freely give away all of the rights that we have been given under the U.S. Constitution it will be incredibly difficult to ever get them back. Giving up liberty for security never works, and if we want to be worthy of being called Americans then we need to start standing up for the republic that our forefathers worked so hard to build.

An executive order that Barack Obama signed recently made headlines all over the nation. The title of the executive order is "National Defense Resources Preparedness" and it is actually an update of a series of previous executive orders.

The original "National Defense Resources Preparedness" executive order (EO 8248) was issued back in 1939. This latest version is very similar to EO 12919 that was signed by Bill Clinton in June 1994. However, several very important changes have been made in this new version.

For example, in Section 201(b) the words "under both emergency and non-emergency conditions" have been added.

So now the federal government can take control of all food, all energy, all health resources, all transportation resources and "all other materials, services, and facilities" in the country even if the United States is not experiencing emergency conditions.
Not that the Obama administration really needed to put that in there. After all, the U.S. government has been operating under a constant state of national emergency since September 14, 2001.

So the Obama administration did not really need to include a new excuse for taking control of everything. The existing "state of emergency" would probably work just fine.
If Barack Obama woke up one day and decided to exercise the powers in this executive order, he would be able to do pretty much anything that he wanted. This executive order would essentially allow Obama to declare a state of martial law in the United States even during a time when no emergency was happening.

Much more HERE


The motives of "Deep Throat": Mark Felt

Felt was no. 2 in the FBI

As the 40th anniversary of Watergate impends, we are to be bathed again in the great myth and morality play about the finest hour in all of American journalism.

Woodward and Bernstein paint Deep Throat, writes Holland, as a “selfless high-ranking official intent on exposing the lawlessness of the Nixon White House.” But this is self-serving nonsense.

The truth was right in front of Woodward. His refusal to see it made him a willing or witless collaborator in the ruin of the reputation and career of an honorable pubic servant, Patrick Gray.

Felt was consumed by anger and ambition. When Hoover died, a month before the break-in, Felt, who had toadied to Hoover, saw himself as Hoover’s successor. But President Nixon went outside the bureau to name Gray from the Department of Justice acting director.

Concealing his rage and resentment, Felt wormed himself into Gray’s confidence, and then set out to destroy Gray. Felt’s method: Leak discoveries of the Watergate investigation to a cub reporter at the Post, which everybody in Washington read, rather than to veteran journalists known to be FBI outlets. This would cover Felt’s tracks.

Published in the Post, the leaks of what the FBI was uncovering would enrage Nixon and make Gray appear an incompetent unable to conduct a professional investigation. This would make it unlikely that Nixon would ever send Gray’s name to the Senate for confirmation as permanent director.

And if Gray, an outsider, fell because he couldn’t keep the FBI from leaking, Nixon might turn to Felt, the ranking insider who could button up the bureau like Hoover did.

By ingratiating himself with Gray as he set out to discredit and destroy him, Felt expected that when Gray was passed over by Nixon, he would recommend to Nixon that he appoint his loyal deputy, Felt, as director. Even if cynical and vicious, the scheme was clever.

Until Nixon found out Felt was the leaker in late 1972, he was considering Felt for the top job. Felt’s machinations and deceptions at the apex of the FBI make Nixon’s White House appear in retrospect to have been a cloistered convent of Carmelite nuns.

More revolting than the ruin of Gray’s reputation was what Felt did to the good name of the bureau he professed to love. By leaking what agents were learning about Watergate, he was discrediting the FBI.

Inside the government, he made the FBI look like an agency of bumblers who could not keep secrets. Outside the government, the FBI looked like a three-toed sloth, while a fleet-footed and fearless Washington Post was unearthing the truth.

The FBI appeared beaten at every turn by the brilliant Post, when it was the FBI’s homework Felt was stealing and the Post was cribbing. Woodward and Bernstein were glorified stenographers.

And though Deep Throat was portrayed as a man sickened by the wiretaps and break-ins by the White House, Felt himself, writes Holland, “authorized illegal surreptitious entries into the homes of people associated with the Weather Underground.”

Mark Felt was a snake. He used the Post to destroy his rivals and advance his ambitions, and the Post didn’t care what his motives were because Felt was assisting them in destroying their old enemy.



Breivik ‘has sympathizers’

As debate continues over whether confessed Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik is insane, an ideological warrior, simply evil or all of the above, chilling details continue to emerge about how he thinks. Among them, that he still has no regrets over killing 77 persons last summer, wishes he’d been able to carry his attacks further, and that he has sympathizers both in Norway and abroad.

Oslo-based newspaper Aftenposten has been publishing a steady stream of excerpts from records of lengthy conversations between Breivik and police investigators, court-appointed psychiatrists and prison officials during the past several months. On Friday came more details from the 310-page report written by a second team of court-appointed psychiatrists who reversed an earlier evaluation of Breivik by claiming he’s not insane after all.

They could find no evidence, for example, that Breivik’s ongoing references to “we” instead of “I” when discussing his attacks is a sign of any “identity disturbance.” Rather, they contend in their report, it’s because “he has sympathizers in Norway and other countries.” They wrote that Breivik has received many letters of support since he bombed Norway’s government headquarters on July 22 and then gunned down scores of people, mostly youth, at a Labour Party summer camp on the island of Utøya.

“While in custody he’s received a steady stream of sympathy declarations from like-minded persons,” the psychiatrists wrote, adding that they “therefore find no basis for interpreting his extreme and unrealistic political perceptions and goals as a sign of psychotic thought processes.”

Psychiatrists Agnar Aspaas and Terje Tørrissen also reported that they studied the right-wing extremist online milieu where Breivik was an active participant. “It’s well-known … that there are political subcultures that adhere to the extreme political ideas that (Breivik) has defended,” they wrote. They believe that Breivik has reason to believe he is not alone in his beliefs that Norway and Europe need to be protected from ongoing immigration by Muslims.

Breivik recently admitted that he fabricated the existence of the organization for which he initially claimed he was a commander, Knights Templar, but neither Aspaas nor Tørrissen believe that is a sign of psychosis either. “He has shown that the entire idea of Knights Templar sprang out of his own fantasy,” they wrote, according to Aftenposten. They believe he simply has wrapped himself into an “unrealistic future dream based on totalitarian and militant ideological svermeri (fanaticism).”

Geir Lippestad, Breivik’s defense attorney, won’t comment on the psychiatrists’ report but has told reporters that his client was satisfied with it.

While the psychiatrists found no psychosis, no suicidal tendencies, no paranoia nor any grand delusions, they claim he does have an extremely over-inflated opinion of himself and that he rejects society in general. In short, he believes he’s right and most everyone else is wrong.



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. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


15 April, 2012

The vast corruption of the "fairness" fraud

by Dr. Robert Owens

Benjamin Franklin told us, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

Socialism is a debilitating confidence game dressed up as an ideology used by demagogues and want-to-be dictators to fool its victims into believing it is possible to have your cake and eat it too. Those who fall under the spell of the charlatans singing this siren song actually come to believe it is fair and just to force some people to labor for the good of others. This is the same type of sophistry and rationalization that was used by the clergy and philosophers of the Antebellum South to justify unending human bondage for an entire race of people because it was for their own good.

This twisted tool of central planners and bureaucratic tyrants teaches those who have not that it is fair and just to take from those who have and re-distribute the plunder as the government decrees. This is not fair! This is not just! To teach that it is raises up generations of people who believe they have a birth-right to that which is not their own forfeiting their true birth-right: the opportunity to succeed through their own efforts. The products of such an educational system are citizens without virtue voting pawns without honor. Not because they have made a personal decision to live without these two attributes but because they have been programmed to believe taking the fruit of someone else’s labor is permissible as long as it will be given to someone else. Theodore Roosevelt said, “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”

Those who drank the Kool-Aid dispensed by the government schools learned that this type of theft is not only permissible it is laudable. They were told and they believe that this is what Robin Hood did: steal from the rich to give to the poor. However, in reality the legend of Robin Hood tells of a fighter for liberty and the sanctity of personal property who robbed the stolen wealth of corrupt government officials so that he could return it to its rightful owners: those who produced the wealth in the first place. However, the leaders of America today have turned the world upside down demanding that people objectified by the name “Millionaires and Billionaires” need to pay their fair share. Yet they never say what that fair share is or when enough will ever be enough. According to Noah Webster, “…if the citizens neglect their Duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the Laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizen will be violated or disregarded.”

We look around us and we watch as our beloved United States of America crumbles. Our elected leaders act as if it is their goal to spend us into oblivion. The only way to understand the pronouncements and actions of this administration is if we consider ourselves a conquered people and the Washington-centered oligarchy as an occupying power. We, the silent majority who labor, innovate, and produce are treated as subservient beasts of burden needed and appreciated more for what can be extorted from us than for who we are. Samuel Adams once said, “No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.”

It is no wonder that we see such a sorry collection of second-rate scoundrels prancing about on the stage of power. They sell their snake oil of class warfare indoctrinating their victims to be needy and then promising to fill their gnawing need with loot legally taken from others. This immoral process breeds a population without the virtue of self-reliance or the honor of being independent. The soul sapping addiction to eternal government support leads to a nation neither adapted to nor deserving of liberty. When a birthright has been sold for a bowl of stew it cannot be regained by demanding more. Thomas Jefferson said, “Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.”

We the present day guardians of America must stand before the tsunami of anti-education that leads our nation away from virtue and into unrighteousness. We must serve as examples working to earn what we receive and refusing to either play the victim or accept the self-imposed victim-hood of those who seek to expropriate the fruit of someone else’s labor. We must stand for righteousness or we will fall before the juggernaut of socialism’s final assault upon the land of the free and the home of the brave.

In the coming election we must choose wisely. We must find someone who is virtuous and who adheres to the principles of constitutionally limited government which alone can protect personal liberty, individual freedom, and economic opportunity. Samuel Adams instructed us in this basic truth, “Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend of the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen onto any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man.”

Douglas MacArthur warned us, “History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.”

Finally, looking to the ultimate source of wisdom Proverbs 14:34 tells us, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”



Another Leftist fraud

"Red" Ken Livingstone was the far-Left Mayor of London until he was defeated in the last (2008) election by the Conservative Boris Johnson. Ken is trying to get his job back at the next election. He was recently filmed crying while watching one of his own TV commercials. He said he was crying about how much London would lose if he was not re-elected

Ken Livingstone was accused by his own party of crying 'crocodile tears' after it emerged that a political broadcast that made him weep used paid 'supporters’ reading from a script.

The Labour mayoral candidate wept at a screening of his advert featuring 28 unnamed Londoners spelling out why the capital needed Mr Livingstone back in charge.

He had described the saccharine production as a 'real tearjerker'. Labour leader Ed Miliband even patted his shoulder to console the former mayor as he rubbed his eyes during the screening on Wednesday.

In reality, Mr Livingstone had seen the film the night before, raising questions about why he was apparently caught off-guard. Last night Labour admitted that the 'ordinary Londoners' had actually been reading from a script.

They were also paid expenses for their time after the advertising agency BETC hired people from the street. It is also believed one of the 'actors’ is a paid-up member of the Labour Party.

While political parties regularly use scripts for their advertisements, Labour supporters rebuked Mr Livingstone for apparently pretending to cry.

The grassroots website Labour Uncut concluded that either Mr Livingstone's tears were fake or 'he was moved to tears listening to sweet words of flattery that he had practically written himself'.

Labour Uncut's associate editor, Atul Hatwal, added: 'Whether it's tax avoidance, relations with the Jewish community or crocodile tears, this election has virtually become a referendum on Ken Livingstone. 'There's no space in the debate for policies or issues, just the one, overweening flawed personality.'

A spokesman for Mr Livingstone said those appearing in the 'party political broadcast are ordinary Londoners who are backing Ken on May 3'. He added: 'No actors were used in the broadcast.' The campaign team confirmed that those who took part were recruited by the advertising agency and paid expenses.

The 66-year-old's bid to win back the London mayoralty from Tory Boris Johnson has so far been buffeted by controversy. Mr Livingstone was plunged into a race row after saying 'rich Jews' would not vote for him.

The former MP was also damaged by revelations that he paid himself through a limited company, potentially reducing the tax on his income.

Research for Taxation Magazine by experts TolleyGuidance suggested Mr Livingstone paid nearly £78,000 less tax during the three years to June 2011 by putting his income through a private firm.



The TSA disgraces America again

What the Indians probably don't realize is that many ordinary Americans get treated just as badly by the TSA

The United States has apologised to Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan after he was stopped for an 90 minutes by homeland security agents at a New York airport.

Khan landed at the airport in White Plains, New York, via a private plane on Thursday en route to deliver a lecture at Yale University when he was stopped.

He recounted the experience in the lecture, which media reports said was delayed by several hours because of the incident. "Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself, I always make a trip to America," he said during the lecture. "The immigration guys kick the star out of stardom."

Khan joked: "They (immigration officials) always ask me how tall I am and I always lie and say 5 feet 10 inches. Next time, I am going to get more adventurous. (If they ask me) what colour are you, I am going to say white," he said.

US embassy spokesman Peter Vrooman apologised "for any inconvenience that Mr Shah Rukh Khan may have experienced".

The Indian Government reacted angrily to Khan's detention. This "policy of detention and apology by the US cannot continue", External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said. "We need an assurance that this won't happen again," Krishna said after US customs and border protection officials expressed 'profound' apologies for holding Khan.

In 2009 the actor was detained for two hours at Newark airport and was released after India's embassy in the US intervened. The actor said then that he was stopped because he had a Muslim name. US customs officials denied that Khan had been detained, saying he was questioned.

Reports from India said Mr Krishna has asked India's ambassador in the US, Nirupama Rao, to lodge a protest with Washington. Indian MP Rajeev Shukla said the detention was "totally uncalled for". The Bollywood film industry has also expressed outrage at the treatment of the actor.



A different "in memoriam" for Mike Wallace

Debbie Schlussel wishes for him to rot in hell

Count me out of the parade of morons mourning scumbag propagandist Mike Wallace.

He was no journalist. Just a smug, arrogant, agenda-driven fraud who said he admired mass-murderer Yasser Arafat and went out of his way to defame Israel and American patriots who served our country.

The man was a lying, bigoted, anti-Israel, America-hating piece of crap who compared Israel to Islamic terrorists, lionized the Palestinians, never asked tough questions to Yasser Arafat, and crucified Israeli leaders, like Menachem Begin. And that’s not to mention how this cretin deliberately defamed a real American patriot, General William Westmoreland, for his role in the Vietnam War, which Wallace and his fellow liberals were against. He attacked America while we were in Vietnam and helped us lose the war in the media while we were winning it on the ground. He attacked Ronald Reagan, the Shah of Iran, business owners, and every other force of stability and or good in America and the world, helping to usher them out.

I find it interesting that missing from the eulogies and beatifications for this schmuck, Wallace, are his jokes about how Blacks and Hispanics would easily get ripped off by the California banks because it’s hard to understand contracts “if you’re reading them over watermelon or tacos.” (This charlatan invoked his long-forgotten and self-despised Jewish heritage to get out of the flap over his dumb comments.) But liberals like him can–and did–get away with this stuff. Because, hey, he did years of sympathetic interviews with Yasser Arafat and other liberal pet figures, so anything goes. Read some excerpts of Wallace interviews with Arafat. They couldn’t have been more soft and uncritical.

Also missing from the remembrances of Wallace are that he usually got the facts wrong, in addition to skewing his reports to his agenda. For example, if you watch the sympathetic video, below, of Wallace describing the Palestinians “struggle,” and showing Israelis as morally equivalent to these bloody terrorists, you’ll note that Wallace reported Yasser Arafat’s birthplace as Jerusalem. Reality check: Arafat was born in Cairo, Egypt.

And he lied about numerous other things. In the video, Wallace shows his friend, Kamal Nasser, the late PLO spokesman, saying that “Zionists invented terrorism.” Wallace never questions it, and in fact, makes that his narrative, telling us about “Jewish terrorists,” as he grills late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and invokes the King David Hotel bombing. But he fails to note that the King David Hotel was only bombed after phone call warnings left by the Irgun seven days before that they were going to bomb it. There was ample warning to the British that it was a target. It was done because the British used the hotel as their command center, had arrested 2,500 Jews, killed several innocent Jews, some of them Holocaust survivors, for absolutely no reason, and helped prop up Arab terrorists against the Jews. The British had also seized documents from the Jewish Agency about its intelligence on Arab activities, turning it over the Arabs and sending many Jewish spies to certain death. It was war.

In contrast, Wallace praises Arafat in Lebanon (a country he destroyed, as his PLO/Fatah Fedayeen raped and mass murdered thousands, most of them Shi’ite Muslims). Wallace tells us, “Yasser Arafat drew back from confrontation, sought to hold his own hotheads in check . . . sought a ceasefire.” HUH?! As I’ve noted over the years, even the anti-Israel New York Times reported accurately on how Yasser Arafat sent his PLO terrorists to rape girls in front of their fathers, and murder sons in front of their families, then took over their homes en masse. But, instead of reporting any of this, Wallace reported on, “The Palestinians of the camps, yearning for their homeland.”




US jobless claims unexpectedly rise: "New claims for unemployment benefits rose last week to their highest level since January, a development that could raise fears the labor market recovery was stalling after job creation slowed in March. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 380,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week's figure was revised up to 367,000 from the previously reported 357,000."

The left resumes its war on history: "What does an Argentine-born Cuban Communist revolutionary executed in the Bolivian jungle 45 years ago have in common with a small town on Ireland's west coast? Apart from tenuous ancestral connections, the answer is nothing. Recent attempts, however, to manufacture such an association have provided yet another illustration of the left's on-going determination to whitewash history."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

Democrat contempt for the traditional family bubbles to the surface

Marx taught that the family was the chief obstacle to socialism

The Obama campaign is engaged in a frantic damage limitation exercise after a top Democratic strategist prompted a wave of indignation by claiming that Mitt Romney’s wife Ann had ‘never really worked a day in her life’.

Hilary Rosen, a lobbyist and party operative whose firm advises the Democratic National Committee, took aim at the mother of five and multiple sclerosis survivor during a discussion about the economy on CNN.

'What you have is, Mitt Romney running around the country saying, 'Well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues,’ she said. ‘And when I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing.

'Guess what: his wife has never really worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kind of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and why do we worry about their future.'

She continued: 'There's something much more fundamental about Mitt Romney. 'He seems so old-fashioned when it comes to women, and I think that comes across, and I think that that's going to hurt him over the long term. He just doesn't really see us as equal.'

The comments were a gift for the Romney campaign, which is struggling to close a sizeable gender gap and has been accused by Democrats of waging a ‘war on women’ by advocating de-funding of Planned Parenthood and restricting contraception rights.

Mrs Romney immediately entered the debate by joining twitter and sending out her first tweet, using the handle @AnnDRomney: ‘'I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.’

Rosen responded via Twitter: 'I am raising children too,' Rosen replied. 'But u do know that most young american women have to earn a living AND raise their kids don't u?'

But Obama campaign realised immediately that Rosen’s comments were politically disastrous because they fuelled a narrative that elitist liberal women have disdain for mothers who choose to look after their children.

Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, tweeted: ‘I could not disagree with Hilary Rosen any more strongly. Her comments were wrong and family should be off limits. She should apologize.’

David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, also took to twitter to brand Rosen's comments 'inappropriate and offensive'.


Bruce Hall comments:

[The Romney family] represent old thinking as far as the left is concerned... the notion of a nuclear family where the father earns an income and the mother is present to guide the development of their children. Much too 1950s and earlier. And definitely racist.

Now a family is any two people plus children. Or maybe it is just any one unwed mother and children. And if they are not the traditional family, then that is even better because they will be tied to the left who is giving them protection and validation.

This has nothing to do with the people who join together and who have children through adoption or artificial insemination. They can be wonderful people, too. This has everything to do with the what constitutes a loyal party member... a loyal voting block of victims.

If the left-controlled government offers perceived social validation and even funding for those outside of the million or so year notion of a family, then there are loyal party voters created. On the other hand, the Ward and June Cleaver prototypical family represents the outdated conservative values and responsibilities of marriage that stand in the way of "the government will make it all better" philosophy.

So, the Romneys are especially to be vilified because they not only have a decades long strong marriage despite Ann's serious illnesses, children who have grown to be responsible and productive adults, a strong faith and morals with a commitment to charity, and the individualism to make their own way in life without looking to the government for a handout in return for fealty to the emperor.

Why do you suppose Ann Romney was so vilified as someone who supposedly didn't understand how Americans had to struggle because she stayed home to raise five children? Why isn't the unwed mother of five children born outside of marriage condemned for not understanding how taxpayers have to struggle to pay their taxes that go to support her irresponsibility? No, it is the traditional mother who is to blame for society's ills. She doesn't understand work. She doesn't understand struggle. She just sits around the house watching soap operas.

Now, Ann Romney is certainly not the poster child for the struggling mother working two jobs to keep food on the table for her children. But neither is Rosen.

Rosen, a Washington power player and partner in a major communications firm, is the former chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America. The truth is, neither Ann Romney nor Hillary Rosen have lives that would look remotely familiar to 99 percent of the world’s women.

The idea that “women’s work” is indeed valuable to society has long been a contention of feminists, so it’s strange to see a prominent Democrat lash out a stay-at-home mother and wife in this fashion. Feminists have agitated for as long as I can remember for society to value and respect the “unpaid work” that women do in the home and society. The fact that Ann Romney doesn’t struggle financially doesn’t make what she does any less valuable. I suspect there is a lot about how she has contributed to her community that we don’t know.

Rosen, by the way, happens to be a lesbian feminist who adopted two children with her former partner before they chose to go in opposite directions. Perhaps she simply feels threatened by what Ann Romney represents... everything Rosen isn't.

Why did Rosen treat her "partnership" so cavalierly? Did her career come first? Well, that's to be admired! Mitt and Ann's faithfulness? That's simply beyond understanding. It's unreasonable in today's world.

But that's the problem with generalizing the way Rosen did. Sure Ann Romney enjoys a financial lifestyle that most people don't have. So, does Michelle Obama. Golly, gosh, gee whiz... so does Hilary Rosen. Well, then they all can't understand, eh?



An Adult Fairy Tale

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal by economist DON BOUDREAUX

Leon Mitrani believes that Canada’s recent sound economic performance is chiefly the result of that country’s “universal, single-payer, government-run health-care system” (Letters, April 12). According to Mr. Mitrani, that system “frees up Canadian corporations from paying that employee expense and boosts their profits and economy.”

Splendid! But if Canada’s economy is boosted by government relieving Canadian employers from having to pay a portion of their workers’ earnings (that is, the portion that would otherwise be paid as employer-provided health-insurance premiums), wouldn’t Canada’s economy be boosted even further if Ottawa relieved Canadian employers also from having to pay wages and salaries? With government picking up employers’ entire tab for hiring workers, the economic boost would be stupendous.

And why stop there? If Mr. Mitrani is correct, Canada’s economy would get a bigger boost yet if the government picked up not only the tab for hiring workers, but also the tab for any and all capital expenses. With government relieving Canadian companies of the need to pay for their own workers, factories, machines, IT, and all other costs of doing business, Canada’s economy would become the envy of the world!

Who knew that the secret of economic success is so simple?

And as my GMU colleague Tom Hazlett points out to me by e-mail,

And, of course, there seems to be about a 4-decade lag in Mr. Mitrani’s model. The Canadian economy underperformed the US regularly and substantially until the 1990s, when Conservative reforms were put in place. The correlations are interesting, including the lags.



President of the Twilight Zone

Deconstructing one of President Obama’s speeches can be a bit like taking a trip to an alternate universe. Take his remarks last week to the Associated Press, contrasting his budget vision with that of Paul Ryan and Republicans. All that was missing was a Rod Serling voice-over announcing, “You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.”

For instance, the president denounces the Ryan budget as “thinly veiled Social Darwinism.” One would think that Social Darwinism would mean actually cutting the budget. But in reality, Ryan’s budget increases federal spending by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

Ryan does spend roughly $352 billion less over 10 years on domestic discretionary spending than would the president. The president suggests that this means that children could no longer go to college, the weather service would be abolished, and roads and bridges would crumble into dust. In reality, the largest gap between the president’s spending plans and Ryan’s would occur in 2016, when Ryan would spend $43 billion less on domestic discretionary programs than the president. That amounts to roughly 1.1 percent of projected total federal spending that year. Ryan would, in fact, slightly increase discretionary domestic spending from $1.170 trillion in 2013 to $1.212 trillion in 2022. Social Darwinism should be made of sterner stuff.

And, of course, what presidential speech would be complete without a denunciation of Ryan for wanting to “end Medicare as we know it.” The president’s rhetoric raises the specter of seniors being wheeled out of their hospital beds tomorrow morning. But Ryan has not proposed any changes to the program for current recipients. It is true, of course, that Ryan would restructure Medicare for those under age 55 to give recipients a choice between the traditional program and a voucher that would allow them to purchase private insurance. But, his plan, drafted together with Democratic senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, hardly slashed Medicare spending — in 2022, it would spend just $21 billion less than the president’s budget.

The president manages to leave out his own proposal for Medicare, which is to have an unelected 15-member board further reduce payments to physicians. Even Medicare’s own actuaries warn that those cutbacks could lead to hospital closures and reductions in access to care or the quality of care.

Given that estimates of Medicare’s unfunded liabilities run from a low of $25 trillion to as much as $90 trillion, the program is clearly going to have to change. The president may believe his changes are better than Ryan’s, but to pretend that he would leave the program exactly as it is while Ryan would leave sick seniors in the streets to die is simply unstuck from reality.

All this is not to say that the president is not committed to deficit reduction — at least rhetorically. For instance, the president claims, “I’ve eliminated dozens of programs that weren’t working.” Well, maybe. But the total savings from those cuts amounts to less than $100 million. That’s million with an “M,” out of a $3.7 trillion budget. That’s trillion with a “T.”

Back here in the real world, President Obama’s proposed budget never actually achieves balance. The closest he would get is in 2018, when he projects a deficit of only $575 billion. After that, they begin rising again, reaching $704 billion by 2022. Overall, the president’s budget would add an additional $6.7 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years. And, this is despite the president’s call for $1.5 trillion in tax hikes.

Of course, taxes are another area where the president has difficulty squaring rhetoric with reality. For example, the president continues to sell his proposed tax hikes as being about people like him or Warren Buffet paying a little bit more. In reality, his proposed tax increases fall on families and small businesses earning as little as $250,000 per year. In fact, according to economists Kevin Hassett and Alan Viard, “fully 48% of the net income of sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations” would be subject to the president’s tax hike.”

At the same time, the president latest big idea for deficit reduction is the so-called Buffett Rule, a new 30 percent minimum tax on the rich, based on the misleading claim that Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Actually, the Buffett Rule would raise less than $3.2 billion per year on average according to the Congressional Budget Office, enough to pay for eight hours of federal spending. Alternatively, the revenue from the Buffett Rule could lower the budget for this month from $196 billion to just $193 billion. Obama truly is a deficit hawk.

Cue Mr. Serling: “We’ve moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. We’ve just crossed over into the Obama Zone.”




Widespread stimulus fraud? Say it ain’t so!: "I know this will likely come as a huge surprise, but it appears that the almost trillion dollar stimulus bill, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, has seen widespread fraud."

The cure for humanity’s natural state of abject poverty: "Humanity’s natural state is abject poverty. So how did some portion of the human race manage to escape this natural state? A remarkably insightful new book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, by Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Daron Acemoglu and Harvard University economist James Robinson provides an answer to that pressing question."

Barack Obama is no centrist: "President Obama chastised the media last week. ... [He] also claimed that he holds positions that 20 or 15 years ago 'would have been considered squarely centrist positions. What's changed is the center of the Republican Party.' ... Yet many in the media don't ask: Where are the moderate Democrats?"

One bit of loony bureaucracy defeated: "One of the more absurd legal consequences of the new rules is that Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s space tourism venture, had to consider non-U.S. nationals who flew to the edge of space from the American west as exports requiring a license from the State Department for each and every foreign passenger (presumably including Sir Richard himself, who is a British). But recently, in a rare fit of regulatory sanity, Virgin Galactic’s U.S. flight operations were removed from ITAR control ..."

US Catholic bishops plea against obeying “unjust laws”: "A panel of the nation’s Catholic bishops said Thursday that their flock 'must have the courage not to obey unjust laws' and called for Catholic political leaders, clergy and laity to pray, fast and speak out for religious liberty during a two-week period that ends on Independence Day."

Jury selection begins in Edwards trial: "Two-time U.S. presidential candidate and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards is about to learn his fate on charges he violated campaign finance rules to hide a mistress as the process to select a jury begins. ... The process of choosing a 12-member jury and four alternates is scheduled to be completed on April 23 followed by opening arguments in the case, according to court documents"


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, 2012

The genetics of politics

After my broad-ranging comments on the psychology of politics yesterday, I thought I might focus in a little more on the major factor behind one's political stance: genetics. I saw the ground-breaking 1986 article by Martin & Jardine on the heritability of politics as soon as it came out (I had a chapter in the same book) so ever since then I have been pointing out how strong is the genetic influence on political stance. What is not yet clear is WHICH genes are involved and exactly what is inherited.

One fairly straightforward study from a couple of years ago is worth a mention. It ties in nicely with something I found in 1984 -- that Leftists tend to be sensation seekers. They are restless people in search of anything new and different. This can of course lead directly to a desire for change -- which is of course a central feature of Leftist thinking. They are always wanting to change something.
People with left wing views may have their political opinions controlled by a "liberal gene", according to scientists.

The research suggests that some people have an inherent bias against conservative thinking, that is independent of their education or upbringing.

The effect is caused by a neurotransmitter in the brain called DRD4 which could be stimulated by the novelty value of left of centre opinions, say US researchers.

In people who are naturally outgoing, the feature encourages them to seek out companions with unconventional views as they grow up.

This in turn means they tend to form less conventional political viewpoints as adults, according to the study by the University of California and Harvard.

The research, based on 2,000 Americans, is published in the Journal of Politics. It found those with a strain of the DRD4 gene seek out "novelty" - such as people and lifestyles which are different to the ones they are used to. This leads them to have more liberal political opinions, it found.

The person's age, ethnicity, gender or culture appeared to make no difference - it was the gene which counts.

DRD4 is controlled by dopamine which affects the way the brain deals with emotions, pleasure and pain and can therefore influence personality traits.

UC Professor James Fowler said: "It is the crucial interaction of two factors - the genetic predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence - that is associated with being more liberal. "These findings suggest that political affiliation is not based solely on the kind of social environment people experience."


That study is of course far from the end of the story. There are indications of other genes being involved as well. But it clearly has some explanatory power.


Are conservatives lazy thinkers?

An article by Eidelman et al. claims that they are and it has predictably got a fair bit of attention from Left-leaning journalists.

I noted the article at the beginning of this month and dismissed it out of hand on the grounds that its taxonomy was wrong: Eidelman had no idea of what conservatives actually think.

Leftist psychologists generally seem to consider it beneath them to talk to such despised people as conservatives so form their impression of conservatism from some simplistic stereotype that has built up among them over the years, a stereotype which is almost wholly wrong. So when they think they are studying conservatism they are not.

I subsequently had a short correspondence with Eidelman but he simply stuck to his definition. I pointed him to my huge historical survey of what conservatism is but he offered no evidence for his view. Evidence is optional among Leftists.

And the more closely I look at his paper the more evident it becomes that my initial critique was correct. He relies, for instance, on the Kerlinger questionnaire about ideology. But what Kerlinger found was that Leftism and Rightism, far from being opposed, are actually unrelated to one-another. In other words, half of all conservatives are Leftists -- which makes no sense at all. Kerlinger had no idea of what conservatism is either.

To put my critique into psychometric terms the measures of conservatism used by Eidelman are simply not valid: They do not measure what they purport to measure.

I could go on with yet more swingeing criticisms (e.g. lack of sampling) but what's the point? Eidelman's work is clearly useless for proving anything.


Jonathan Haidt

I sent a link to my article yesterday under the heading "The psychology of politics" to Jonathan Haidt. The article was chiefly concerned with Haidt's understanding of ideology. Below is the gracious reply I received from him:
Dear Prof. Ray:

Thanks so much for appreciating that my motives are more honest. i fully agree with you on the unscientific partisan motives that sometimes distort research.

It is quite possible I've misunderstood leftists. But the love of imposing constraint that you mention is why I give them relatively low scores on liberty, in ch. 12 of my new book. It's not quite the same, psychologically, as deference to an authority, a boss, a leader. I think the left and right are still different here. But yes, the left is often anti-liberty, in service of other values, and I think this is a reason the American left does so poorly, and triggers such resentment.

With best wishes,
jon haidt

It would seem that he has not taken fully on board my contention that nothing Leftists say about themselves can be trusted but maybe his own experience will convince him of that in due course.


Media dishonesty and race hustlers


When NBC's "Today" show played the audio of George Zimmerman's call to a Sanford, Fla., police dispatcher about Trayvon Martin, the editors made him appear to be a racist who says: "This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black." What Zimmerman actually said was: "This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. It's raining, and he's just walking around, looking about." The 911 officer responded by asking, "OK, and this guy – is he black, white or Hispanic?" Zimmerman replied, "He looks black." NBC says it's investigating the doctoring of the audio, but there's nothing to investigate; its objective was to inflame passions.

In his Associated Press article titled "Old photos may be deceptive in Fla. shooting case," Matt Sedensky pointed out that the photos carried by the major media were several years old and showed Zimmerman looking fat and mean and Martin looking like a sweet young kid.

Jesse Jackson told the Los Angeles Times that "blacks are under attack" and that "targeting, arresting, convicting blacks and ultimately killing us is big business," adding that Martin is "a martyr." President Barack Obama chimed in by saying, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.
Let's look at some non-news cases. On March 14 in Tulsa, Okla., a white couple suffered a home invasion by Tyrone Woodfork, a 20-year-old black man. Ninety-year-old Bob Strait suffered a broken jaw and broken ribs in the attack. His 85-year-old wife, Nancy, was sexually assaulted and battered to death, ending their 65-year marriage.

On March 4, two black Kansas City, Mo., youths doused a 13-year-old boy in gasoline and set him on fire, telling him, "You get what you deserve, white boy." Last summer, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel ordered an emergency shutdown of the beaches in Chicago because mobs of blacks were terrorizing white families.

Several years ago, in Knoxville, Tenn., a young white couple was kidnapped by four blacks. The girl was forced to witness her boyfriend's rape, torture and subsequent murder before she was raped, tortured and murdered. Before disposing of her body, the three men and one woman poured bleach or some other cleaning agent down her throat in an effort to destroy DNA evidence. A jury found the four guilty, and they were sentenced, but because of the judge's drug use, a retrial is being considered.

None of those black-on-white atrocities made anywhere near the news that the Trayvon Martin case made, and it's deliberate. Editors for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune admitted to deliberately censoring information about black crime for political reasons, in an effort to "guard against subjecting an entire group of people to suspicion."

One doesn't have to be a liberal, conservative, Democrat or Republican to see the danger posed by America's race hustlers, who are stacking up piles of combustible racial kindling and ready for a racial arsonist to set it ablaze. Recruiters for white hate groups must love President Obama's demagoguery in saying that a son of his would look like Trayvon but not saying that Melissa Coon's 13-year-old son, who was set on fire, could have looked like a son of his. After all, the president is just as much white as he is black.

Even if the president and his liberal allies in the media and assorted civil rights hustlers don't care much about blacks murdering whites, what about blacks murdering blacks? During a mid-March weekend in Chicago, 49 people were shot, 10 fatally, including a 6-year-old black girl, making for more than 100 murders this year. Philadelphia isn't far behind, with murder clipping along at one a day since the beginning of 2012.

Have we heard Obama make a statement about this carnage or that most homicide victims are black and that their murderers are black? No, and we won't, because black-on-black crime, like black-on-white crime, does not fit the liberal narrative of the continuing problem of white racism.



Van Jones: Dishonest, intolerant slavery advocate

Obviously, the tyranny advocates of the world, like Obama and his collectivist buddies, are getting a little scared that the philosophy of freedom has been growing by leaps and bounds recently. So the megalomaniac brigade has ratcheted up its Orwellian propaganda, trying to tell everyone that freedom is slavery, peaceful coexistence is hateful and intolerant, and massive extortion and violent domination is compassionate and noble.

Van Jones, a collectivist state-worshiper comrade of Obama's, recently referred to libertarianism as a "despicable ideology," claiming that libertarians "hate" various groups of minorities, and generally trying to paint people like Ron Paul as Satan. Now, if the average couch potato had said these things, I would guess that he was merely an unthinking parrot of the usual statist propaganda. But in the case of Van Jones, he can't plead ignorance. He says what he says because what he desires above all else is to violently force others to be whatever he thinks they should be, and the idea of freedom interferes with that agenda. He is not alone in his megalomania; almost everyone in "high" public office, of any color, religion, or party affiliation, is there because he wants to dominate his fellow man. Despite being black, Van Jones is, just like Obama, an aspiring slave-master. If you think I exaggerate, read on.

If Mr. Jones was merely stupid, I could believe that he really can't tell the difference between right-wing statist control freaks, and those who believe in the non-aggression principle (libertarians). But he's not that stupid. He is intentionally trying to make his audience accept the idiotic lie that believing that everyone should be allowed to run his own life, make his own decisions, and spend his own money (a.k.a. libertarianism), is the same as hating everyone who isn't like you, and wanting to oppress and enslave everyone else.

Mr. Jones seems to be doing quite a bit of psychological projecting in his accusations. If you want to see an intolerant, hateful, pack-mentality control freak, look no further than Van Jones. Or Obama, for that matter. It is really sad that anyone would believe, based on the color of Obama's skin, that he actually cares about black people. Obama doesn't care about the average American black any more than George Bush cares about me. Despite the patently idiotic tripe we're all taught to the contrary, people don't seek positions of power and control in order to help and serve those whom they seek to control. Do you think Van Jones, or Obama, wanted to be where they are so they could leave you alone? They wanted the "Ring of Power" so they could USE it. And the only way anyone can use the power of "government" is to violently control people. That's all "laws" are: threats of violence.

Let's take an example Van Jones brought up, which even makes many pro-freedom advocates tread softly, for fear of offending anyone. (Don't expect any soft-treading here.) Many of the so-called "anti-discrimination" laws are unjustified and evil. People who grasp the principles of liberty and self-ownership understand this. Take the example Van Jones used, of some racist restaurant owner who refuses to serve blacks, or some other minority group. This makes a fine example of why the belief in "government" is such a horribly dangerous and destructive superstition. If you accept the notion that "government" has the right to violently impose "fairness" and "rightness" upon everyone, then the tyrants (like Obama and his collectivist buddies) can always find a way to trick you into advocating thuggery and oppression.

Imagine, for example, that some white guy went up to Van Jones, and said, "I'm going to follow you around for a few days, to make sure that you're spending enough money at white-owned establishments." How do you suppose he would react? I'm guessing he would have a temporary fit of righteous indignation and moral clarity, and say, "You have no right to tell me how to spend my money!" And he'd be right.

And, for the exact same reason, no one has the right to force some Aryan Nation member to hire a black man. Incidentally, there's a word for forcing someone to serve someone else--which is what Van Jones is advocating. That word is "slavery." I realize that in a country governed mainly by meaningless, emotional, rhetorical mush, that might sound strange to most people. But it's called a principle. Each person owns himself, and owns the fruits of his labors. No one owns anyone else, and no one has the right to take what anyone else has earned without his consent. Freedom means freedom. If someone wants to spend his own money in a way that I think is racist, rude, or economically idiotic, I have no right whatsoever to interfere.

If, for example, some black store owner refuses to serve me because I'm white, or because I have reddish hair, or because I said nasty things about Fuhrer Obama, it is his absolute right to choose not to trade with me. And being someone who actually understands and abides by principles, if anyone tried to force the store owner to serve me--whether via the state violence of "legislation" or by any other means--I would be first in line to defend the store owner's right to be a rude, racist dumbass, by not allowing me in his store.

Why? Because I have moral principles, and I value peaceful coexistence. And peaceful coexistence doesn't mean a giant love-in where everyone is the same. It doesn't mean everyone will like everyone else, or everyone will agree on everything. It doesn't mean everyone will approve of each other's choices or lifestyles. It doesn't mean everyone will say nice things about each other. It means only that people--whatever religious, racial, economic, philosophical, or any other differences they may have--will tolerate the existence of each other, and not initiate violence against each other. That's what it means to be civilized.

Despite how the collectivists have mangled the term, that is what "tolerance" actually means. It doesn't mean you like something, or approve of it--it means that you allow it to be, you don't attempt to violently eradicate it just because you don't like it. It means that, whatever you might think of it, you tolerate its existence. Libertarians do that. Obama and Van Jones do not. Instead, they seek to use the power of the state to violently impose their ideas of fairness and politeness upon the rest of humanity.

The real reason Van Jones hates libertarians--and yes, I do mean "hates"--is because if they get their way, he will become as irrelevant and powerless as he should be. Of course those who crave dominion over their fellow man hate libertarianism, and find it "despicable," because in a world where the principles of self-ownership and non-aggression are understood and embraced, there will be nothing for tyrants like Van Jones to do, no way for them to trick people into giving them power. Libertarianism will always pose a threat to megalomaniacs like Van Jones, because megalomaniacs will always pose a threat to peaceful coexistence, i.e., rational and moral civilization.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


12 April, 2012

The psychology of politics

Psychologists have been trying to explain why people have the political opinions they do since the 1930s at least, and that industry is still going strong.

Because psychologists are mainly Left-leaning, however, most of the explanations have been ludicrous. The psychologists concerned mostly seem to have been governed by a manic desire to prove that conservatives are deranged, and in their desperate attempts to prove that, they have thrown all plausibility and scientific caution to the winds. See here for a short and rather hilarious history of the main effort in that direction.

There has recently emerged however one psychologist who really does seem to want to understand. Proving conservatives mad is clearly not his dominating ambition. He actually studies real conservative thought instead of constructing a straw-man caricature of it -- which is what most psychologists do. And his discoveries seem to have had some influence on him. He even says that they have led him from being a liberal to being a centrist.

And you can see why when you look at his findings. He finds that conservatives are the ones who make complex moral judgments while Leftists make very simple ones -- which is the diametric opposite of what Leftists usually say about conservatives.

He is still learning, however, so has in my view missed a major point in his research. Much of what he says is reasonable but he has one large blind spot. His name is Jonathan Haidt and I reproduce below a few excerpts from a large essay by him which has just gone online. After the excerpts I will point out what I think he has failed to consider. I have myself had over 200 articles on political psychology published in the academic journals so it is possible that I have come across some things that he has not.
In the last 10 years we psychologists have discovered a great deal about the origins of ideology and why ideology makes it so hard for people to understand, respect, and accept each other. This research partly confirms what Gilbert and Sullivan said in the light opera Iolanthe: “Nature always does contrive / That every boy and every gal / That’s born into the world alive / Is either a little Liberal / Or else a little Conservative!” But the story is more interesting than that.

Political theorists since Marx had long assumed that people chose ideologies to further their self-interest. The rich and powerful want to preserve and conserve; the peasants and workers want to change things (or at least they would if their consciousness could be raised and they could see their self-interest properly, said the Marxists). But while social class may once have been a good predictor of ideology, that link has been largely broken in modern times, when the rich go both ways (industrialists mostly right, tech billionaires mostly left), and so do the poor (rural poor mostly right, urban poor mostly left). And when political scientists looked into it, they found that self-interest does a remarkably poor job of predicting political attitudes.

So for most of the late 20th century, political scientists embraced blank-slate theories in which people soaked up the ideology of their parents or the TV programs they watched. Some political scientists even said that most people were so confused about political issues that they had no real ideology at all.

But then came the studies of twins. In the 1980s, when scientists began analyzing large databases that allowed them to compare identical twins (who share all of the same genes, plus, usually, their prenatal and childhood environments) to same-sex fraternal twins (who share half of their genes, plus their prenatal and childhood environments), they found that the identical twins were more similar on just about everything. What’s more, identical twins reared in separate households (because of adoption) usually turn out to be very similar, whereas unrelated children reared together (because of adoption) rarely turn out similar to each other, or to their adoptive parents; they tend to be more similar to their genetic parents. Genes contribute, somehow, to just about every aspect of our personalities.

We’re not just talking about IQ, mental illness, and basic personality traits such as shyness. We’re talking about the degree to which you like jazz, spicy foods, and abstract art; your likelihood of getting a divorce or dying in a car crash; your religiosity; and your political orientation as an adult. Whether you end up on the right or the left of the political spectrum turns out to be just as heritable as most other traits: Genetics explains between one-third and one-half of the variability among people in their political attitudes. Being raised in a liberal or conservative household accounts for much less.

How can that be? How can there be a genetic basis for attitudes about nuclear power, progressive taxation, and foreign aid when these issues emerged only in the last century or two? And how can there be a genetic basis for ideology when people sometimes change their political parties as adults?

After analyzing the DNA of 13,000 Australians, 15 researchers, led by Penn State political scientist Peter K. Hatemi, found several genes that differed between liberals and conservatives. Most of them related to the functioning of neurotransmitters, particularly glutamate and serotonin, both of which are involved in the brain’s response to threat and fear. This finding, published in The Journal of Politics last October, fits well with many studies showing that conservatives react more strongly than liberals to signs of danger, including the threat of germs and contamination, and even low-level threats such as sudden blasts of white noise. Other studies have focused on genes related to receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine, which has long been tied to sensation seeking and openness to experience, among the best-established correlates of liberalism.

In the 2003 book Moral, Believing Animals, Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith writes about the moral webs or networks of meaning within which human life takes place. He agrees with French sociologist Emile Durkheim that every social order has at its core something sacred, and he shows how stories, particularly “grand narratives,” identify and reinforce the sacred core of each matrix. Smith is a master at extracting these grand narratives and condensing them into single paragraphs. Each narrative, he says, identifies a beginning (“once upon a time”), a middle (in which a threat or challenge arises), and an end (in which a resolution is achieved). Each narrative is designed to orient listeners morally—to draw their attention to a set of virtues and vices, or good and evil forces—and to impart lessons about what must be done now to protect, recover, or attain the sacred core of the vision.

One such narrative, which Smith calls the “liberal progress narrative,” organizes much of the moral matrix of the American academic left. It goes like this: “Once upon a time, the vast majority of human persons suffered in societies and social institutions that were unjust, unhealthy, repressive, and oppressive. These traditional societies were reprehensible because of their deep-rooted inequality, exploitation, and irrational traditionalism.…But the noble human aspiration for autonomy, equality, and prosperity struggled mightily against the forces of misery and oppression, and eventually succeeded in establishing modern, liberal, democratic, capitalist, welfare societies. While modern social conditions hold the potential to maximize the individual freedom and pleasure of all, there is much work to be done to dismantle the powerful vestiges of inequality, exploitation, and repression. This struggle for the good society in which individuals are equal and free to pursue their self-defined happiness is the one mission truly worth dedicating one’s life to achieving.”

In my own research, I have sought to describe the major elements of these narratives. With my colleagues at YourMorals.org, I have developed Moral Foundations Theory, which outlines six clusters of moral concerns—care/harm, fairness/cheating, liberty/oppression, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation—upon which all political cultures and movements base their moral appeals. Political liberals tend to rely primarily on the moral foundation of care/harm, followed by fairness/cheating and liberty/oppression. Social conservatives, in contrast, use all six foundations. They are less concerned than liberals about harm to innocent victims, but they are much more concerned about the moral foundations that bind groups and nations together, i.e., loyalty (patriotism), authority (law and order, traditional families), and sanctity (the Bible, God, the flag as a sacred object).

Smith wrote the “liberal progress” narrative before Moral Foundations Theory existed, but you can see that the narrative derives its moral force primarily from the care/harm foundation (concern for the suffering of victims) and the liberty/oppression foundation (a celebration of liberty as freedom from oppression, as well as freedom to pursue self-defined happiness). In this narrative, fairness is political equality (which is part of opposing oppression); there are only oblique hints of fairness as proportionality. Authority is mentioned only as an evil, and there is no mention of loyalty or sanctity.

Contrast that narrative to one for modern conservatism. Emory University clinical psychologist Drew Westen is another master of narrative analysis, and in his 2007 book The Political Brain he extracts the master narrative that was implicit, and sometimes explicit, in the major speeches of Ronald Reagan.

Reagan defeated incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1980, at a time when Americans were being held hostage in Iran, the inflation rate was over 10 percent, and America’s cities, industries, and self-confidence were declining. The Reagan narrative goes like this: “Once upon a time, America was a shining beacon. Then liberals came along and erected an enormous federal bureaucracy that handcuffed the invisible hand of the free market. They subverted our traditional American values and opposed God and faith at every step of the way.…Instead of requiring that people work for a living, they siphoned money from hardworking Americans and gave it to Cadillac-driving drug addicts and welfare queens. Instead of punishing criminals, they tried to ‘understand’ them. Instead of worrying about the victims of crime, they worried about the rights of criminals.…Instead of adhering to traditional American values of family, fidelity, and personal responsibility, they preached promiscuity, premarital sex, and the gay lifestyle…and they encouraged a feminist agenda that undermined traditional family roles.…Instead of projecting strength to those who would do evil around the world, they cut military budgets, disrespected our soldiers in uniform, burned our flag, and chose negotiation and multilateralism.…Then Americans decided to take their country back from those who sought to undermine it.”

The Reagan narrative is also visibly conservative in that it relies for its moral force on at least five of the six moral foundations. There’s only a hint of care (for the victims of crime), but there are very clear references to liberty (as freedom from government constraint), fairness (as proportionality, which means it’s wrong to take money from those who work hard and give it to welfare queens), loyalty (soldiers and the flag), authority (subversion of the family and of traditions), and sanctity (replacing God with the celebration of promiscuity).

The two narratives are as opposed as they could be. Can partisans even understand the story told by the other side? The obstacles to empathy are not symmetrical. There is no foundation used by the left that is not also used by the right. Even though conservatives score slightly lower on measures of empathy and may therefore be less moved by a story about suffering and oppression, they can still recognize that it is awful to be kept in chains. And even though many conservatives opposed some of the great liberations of the 20th century—of women, sweatshop workers, African Americans, and gay people—they have applauded others, such as the liberation of Eastern Europe from communist oppression.

But when liberals try to understand the Reagan narrative, they have a harder time. When I speak to liberal audiences about the three “binding” foundations—loyalty, authority, and sanctity—I find that many in the audience don’t just fail to resonate; they actively reject these concerns as immoral. Loyalty to a group shrinks the moral circle; it is the basis of racism and exclusion, they say. Authority is oppression. Sanctity is religious mumbo-jumbo whose only function is to suppress female sexuality and justify homophobia.

In a study I conducted with colleagues Jesse Graham and Brian Nosek, we tested how well liberals and con­servatives could understand each other. We asked more than 2,000 American visitors to fill out the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. One-third of the time they were asked to fill it out normally, answering as themselves. One-third of the time they were asked to fill it out as they think a “typical liberal” would respond. One-third of the time they were asked to fill it out as a “typical conservative” would respond. This design allowed us to examine the stereotypes that each side held about the other. More important, it allowed us to assess how accurate they were by comparing people’s expectations about “typical” partisans to the actual responses from partisans on the left and the right. Who was best able to pretend to be the other?

The results were clear and consistent. Moderates and conservatives were most accurate in their predictions, whether they were pretending to be liberals or conservatives. Liberals were the least accurate, especially those who described themselves as “very liberal.” The biggest errors in the whole study came when liberals answered the care and fairness questions while pretending to be conservatives. When faced with statements such as “one of the worst things a person could do is hurt a defenseless animal” or “justice is the most important requirement for a society,” liberals assumed that conservatives would disagree. If you have a moral matrix built primarily on intuitions about care and fairness (as equality), and you listen to the Reagan narrative, what else could you think? Reagan seems completely unconcerned about the welfare of drug addicts, poor people, and gay people. He is more interested in fighting wars and telling people how to run their sex lives.

If you don’t see that Reagan is pursuing positive values of loyalty, authority, and sanctity, you almost have to conclude that Republicans see no positive value in care and fairness. You might even go as far as Michael Feingold, a theater critic for the liberal weekly The Village Voice, when he wrote in 2004: “Republicans don’t believe in the imagination, partly because so few of them have one, but mostly because it gets in the way of their chosen work, which is to destroy the human race and the planet.…Which is why I personally think they should be exterminated before they cause any more harm.” One of the many ironies in this quotation is that it shows the inability of a theater critic—who skillfully enters fantastical imaginary worlds for a living—to imagine that Republicans act within a moral matrix that differs from his own.


That is all pretty interesting stuff even though some Leftist bias is still evident in it. The finding that conservatives are the insightful ones must be REALLY toxic to those on the Left!

Where I think Haidt goes wrong is that he believes what the Left say about themselves. He accepts that they report their attitudes accurately. They do not.

A major focus of my own research was attitude to authority. And I always found that Leftists describe themselves as great enemies of authority and as being contemptuous of it. They answer questions about authority almost as libertarians would. Yet in practice, they are unremitting in their attempt to impose authority on others. They are the ultimate authoritarians. Extreme socialists such as Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro and Pol Pot are of course a byword for authoritarianism but even in America today, liberals never cease in their attempts to fashion chains of law and regulation around the necks of their fellow citizens. Even what we eat has now come under scrutiny and regulation under the guise of a war on "Obesity". We no longer even own our own bodies.

Environmentalism has also been a godsend to the Left, with the global warming scare being an hugely useful excuse for imposing immense regulatory burdens on the population, most notably in California. The most recent example being here.

And Warmism is now as politically polarized as it could be. Practically all conservatives ridicule it and practically all liberals embrace it tenaciously. And how the two sides talk about it is itself revealing. Conservative generally present scientific facts to refute warming -- such as the trivial warming we have in fact experienced over the last 150 years (only tenths of one degree Celsius over that whole period) while Warmists appeal to what? AUTHORITY! "The experts say" is the typical defense that Warmists give for their beliefs. They talk vaguely about "The science" but almost never mention any. So sometimes their real authoritarianism does break the surface in words as well as in deeds. I have documented that difference many times on GREENIE WATCH.

So I cannot avoid the conclusion that Leftists are systematically dishonest about their own attitudes and motivations. They presumably know what their own attitudes and motivations really are but those attitudes and motivations are too dismal to be acknowledged. Instead they present a facade that they think will make them look good.

So Haidt's analysis of Leftist motivation is built on sand. What I think really motivates Leftism, I present at length elsewhere. It is not a pretty picture but it explains a great amount.



Norway killer not insane: "The right-wing extremist who confessed to killing 77 people in a bomb and shooting rampage in Norway is not criminally insane, a psychiatric assessment found Tuesday, contradicting an earlier assessment. The new conclusion comes just six days before Anders Behring Breivik is scheduled to go on trial on terror charges for the massacre on July 22. It conflicts with an earlier examination that diagnosed Breivik as psychotic and prompted prosecutors to say he should be committed to a mental institution instead of prison if convicted. The new assessment was made by psychiatrists Terje Toerrissen and Agnar Aspaas on a request from the court after widespread criticism against the first diagnosis." "The main conclusion of the experts is that Anders Behring Breivik is found to be not psychotic during the time of his actions on July 22, 2011," the Oslo court said in a statement.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


11 April, 2012

What Judicial Activism?

By Daniel Mandel

Last week, President Barack Obama warned the Supreme Court against the perils of judicial activism. Specifically, he warned against the Court ruling unconstitutional Obamacare.

"Ultimately," said the President, "I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."

If so, this would certainly run counter to President Obama's position in 2005, when, as one of only 22 senators opposing the confirmation of John G. Roberts as Chief Justice, he stated he would support the appointment of a judge "who upholds the Court's historic role as a check on the majoritarian impulses of the executive branch and the legislative branch."

In any case, the congressional majority for Obamacare was far from strong. True, the Senate vote was decisive enough -- 60 to 39 -- albeit along party lines, with no Republicans on board. But in the Congress, the majority was slim -- 219 to 212 -- again, with no Republicans voting in favor.

In any case, however, the extent of the majority is irrelevant. The Court's duty is to ascertain the constitutionality of the law and may strike it down if it finds it wanting. That duty is not attenuated by the size of the majority with which the law was passed.

"For years," continued President Obama, "what we've heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, there's a good example, and I'm pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step."

Yet President Obama, as a former constitutional law professor, knows better than most that judicial activism is not defined by judges striking down a law. It is defined by striking it down without constitutional warrant, on the basis of newly propounded rights or duties never approved by the legislature. In contrast, striking down a law that violates the Constitution is scarcely judicial activism.

But then it is typical for those favoring judicial activism to beseech conservatives, in the name of judicial restraint, to robotically confirm unconstitutional laws.

And the President is such an activist. His two nominees to the Supreme Court -- Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan -- have been judicial activists. As he put it in 2005, his preference was for someone who would give decisive weight, where legal clarity is lacking, to "what is in the judge's heart." One suspects that the President's best hope now is that Chief Justice Roberts sticks to the Constitution -- though even this may not save Obamacare -- rather than do any such thing.

The New York Times' Maureen Dowd has attacked the Court as "accountable to no one once they give the last word." Perhaps, but would she wish this altered in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, which ended segregation in schools and entailed overturning laws deemed to have violated the Constitution?



The Clash of Civilizations Has New Venues

When historian Samuel Huntington wrote Clash of Civilizations in 1997, our already politically-correct culture found him over the top at best, and bigoted at worst. Academics around the world weighed in at conferences and in reviews of this book, many of them uncomfortable over his picture of Islam.

Huntington recognized that the end of the Cold War did not mean the end of conflict in the world. The newest variety would be more difficult in some ways than that between the Soviets and the West, both of which were at least varieties of the same civilization. The rise of Islamic militarism, however, would be a different sort of war because such militants lived widely throughout the world, often embedded within other civilizations.

After the 9/11 attack on America, Huntington was given another look. He commented that everywhere Islam was and had been, the borders with other civilizations were bloody. We have focused on the hostilities between Palestinians and Israelis too much, whereas other border areas are in far more peril. We have also concentrated on the problems between Arabs and the West, whereas Islamists are just as hostile toward Buddhists and Hindus.

Thailand, a country known for its appeal to tourists, has been fighting Islamism for years in Muslim majority enclaves. Today, however, the conflict is escalating. On March 31, Muslim insurgents staged the most deadly coordinated attacks in years in Thailand's restive south (see Sumeth Panpetch, Associated Press), killing 134 people and injuring 340 with car bombs that targeted Saturday shoppers and a high-rise hotel frequented by foreign tourists.

Note what they are targeting: tourism, a mainstay industry for Thailand. The midday explosion at the 405-room Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel targeted Malaysian and Singaporean tourists enjoying their weekend getaway. This same hotel was targeted in 2006 as well. Last year, suspected militants staged coordinated attacks at more than 30 spots across Yala city, killing three people and injuring more than 50. A month earlier, a trio of bombs hidden in vehicles hit a busy section of Sungai Kolok, killing four people and wounding more than 60.

India has suffered from several appalling attacks such as the coordinated massacres in Mumbai, coordinated from Pakistan. The terrorists were going after not only secular Hindus, but secular Muslims as well, and even managed to find a lone Jewish family to murder.

Terrorists managed to explode a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, a tourist mecca for Australians and other westerners. There have been more attacks in Indonesia, which, although primarily Muslim, is “too western” for the insurgents.

These places are obviously Islam's Bloody Borders. But what happens when the insurgents are embedded in the west? Do we have bloody bordered neighborhoods? Apparently so. In Sweden's city of Malmo (population of 300,000), Muslims now comprise between 20% and 25% and have a virulently anti-Semitic Muslim mayor. Much of the increase in anti-Jewish violence in recent years is being attributed to shiftless Muslim immigrant youth. In recent months, the only synagogue serving Malmö's 700-strong Jewish community has been the focus of repeated attacks. The synagogue, which has previously been set on fire and been the target of bomb threats, now has guards stationed around it, while the Jewish kindergarten can only be reached through reinforced steel security doors. This is but one of many such enclaves throughout Europe.

Huntington knew bloody borders when he saw them.



How (and Why) Obama has Impeded Recovery

Alan Caruba

During and after his 2008 campaign, Barack Obama was hailed as the second coming of Franklin D. Roosevelt. History records that Roosevelt presided over the Great Depression, begun in the previous administration of Herbert Hoover who got most of the blame. Roosevelt’s policies extended it well beyond the normal recovery from a recession.

In his book, “Dupes”, historian Paul Kengor, wrote “Roosevelt won in a landslide in November 1932. To liberals and traditional Democrats everywhere, he was more than just a new face at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He was a kind of political savior at the most desperate time in their lives.”

Roosevelt was immediately assailed by the Communist Party USA as he launched his New Deal stew of programs intended to reverse the effects of the economic crisis. As Kengor notes, “No president had ever moved so far to the left, and so quickly, but it was not enough for the comrades.” They portrayed Roosevelt “as a warmonger bent on wreaking havoc on the poor USSR (Soviet Russia)” because they feared the U.S. might go to war against it.

As we now know, some of Roosevelt’s closest advisors were either Communists or extremely sympathetic to Communism. Harry Hopkins was one of them and was later exposed as a likely Soviet agent. The Venona transcripts of secret communications between U.S. Communists and their Soviet handlers revealed this.

Obama came into office following the 2008 financial crisis which, as we know, he blamed entirely on George W. Bush. Triggered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored enterprises, the crisis reflected the many “subprime” mortgages they had pressured banks to make. Bush’s efforts to rein them had fallen on deaf ears.

Like Roosevelt, Obama initiated a number of policies and legislation, not the least of which was his “stimulus” package to turn around the economy, but which has left it with a higher level of unemployment today than in 2009-10. His other initiative, stimulating Green energy has cost taxpayers billions.

In “New Deal or Raw Deal?” historian Burton Folsom, Jr., wrote of Roosevelt’s National Industrial Recovery Act (NRA) documenting that it and other measures did nothing more than balloon the federal government while interfering with the normal action of capitalism to recover—as it had many times before—from financial crises.

Oklahoma Senator Thomas Gore, first elected in 1907, summed up Roosevelt’s efforts saying at the time, “No depression can be ended by gifts, gratuities, doles, and alms handed out by the Federal Treasury, and extorted from taxpayers that are bleeding from every pore.”

Writing in the April 3rd Wall Street Journal, Edward P. Lazear, 2006-2009 chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, wrote about “The Worst Economic Recovery in History.” Assessing Obama’s policies, Lazear said that “our current recovery pales in comparison with most other recoveries, including the one following the Great Depression.”

“The Great Depression started with major economic contractions in 1930, ’31, ’32 and ’33. In the three following years, the economy rebounded with growth rates of 11%, 9%, and 13% respectively…According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recovery began in the second half of 2009. Since that time, the economy has grown at 2.4%, below our long-term trend by either measure. At this point, the economy is 12% smaller than it would have been had we stayed on trend growth since 2007.”
“It would be difficult to argue,” wrote Lazear, “that government policies over the past three years have enhanced confidence in the U.S. business environment. Threats of higher taxes, the constantly increasing regulatory burden, the failure to pursue an aggressive trade policy that will open U.S. exports and the enormous increase in government spending all are growth impediments.”

Like Roosevelt, Obama has impeded a rebound in the growth of the economy and he has done it by applying all the wrong Socialist “solutions” that extended the Great Depression from 1929 to 1941.

It would be naïve to think he did not know what he was doing. If one wanted to bring the United States of America to its knees, he would pursue Obama’s policies of the past four years.



The crooked TSA loses one

Reader Rob Carty has directed our attention to this week’s opinion by Judge Lynn N. Hughes of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in the forfeiture case of The United States of America v. $35,131.00 in United States Currency. Mr Carty briefly summarizes the decision:
Judge Hughes spanked Homeland Security for tricking an American family into “evading” their duty to report how much cash they were taking out of the country. It contains some very choice words. My favorite quote: “In addition to overreaching the people whom they are to serve, three officers wasted one-half day watching four others embarrass themselves.”

Here is my favorite quote:
A lack of leadership at the agency allowed this. Its mission statement – which none of the officers could recall at the trial – is to serve the American public with vigilance, integrity, and professionalism. They displayed none of these. The agency says that integrity is its cornerstone; that its officers are guided by the highest ethical and moral principles. A gang of armed security officers bullied this family – a family who cooperated with the officers to their detriment. Our homeland will not be secure by these rascals. They played agency games, abused the people they are to serve, and violated their oaths to support the Constitution.

For a short opinion, it is full of quotable quotes. Here it is in its entirety, without the section breaks or footnotes, under the heading Opinion on Void Seizure:
At the airport, federal officers confiscated $35,131 from a family flying to Ethiopia. They said that the couple intentionally attempted to evade the reporting requirements for taking money outside of the United States. The citizens clearly had no intention to violate the rules, and the government must return their money and pay for their attorney’s fees and costs of court.

On June 2, 2011, Kyle Jones and his wife Berekti Jones were at George Bush Intercontinental Airport with their daughter Soliyana. They were flying to Ethiopia through Dubai and planned to stay in Addis Ababa for two, months while visiting family and celebrating Soliyana’s second birthday.

The law requires that an international traveler declare on a form(a) that he has no more than $10,000 or (b) report the amount. When the couple reached the first check, officer Agustin Hernandez from the Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security asked Kyle how much currency and monetary instruments he had on him. Kyle responded that he did not know. Hernandez then asked how many dollars he was carrying; Kyle replied that he would guess around $20,200. Hernandez wrote $20,200 on the form. He told Kyle to sign it, and Kyle did.

Hernandez then took the family to another table where officer Charlesworth Clarke told them to put all of their currency on it. At that point, Kyle asked what counted as currency because he had traveler’s checks. From his six carry-on bags and jacket he retrieved everything – $20,000 in traveler’s checks and $11,131 in cash. Berekti, who had been tending to their daughter during the conversations, handed the officer her wallet. It had $q,ooo in cash. The officers then frisked the Joneses and searched their bags, and found no additional money – however described.

The officers seized the entire $31,131 that the Joneses had voluntarily given them and released them from custody. Having missed their flight, the Joneses spent $1,500 to replace the tickets plus having had to rent a hotel room.

Six officers appeared at the trial, four of whom testified. A “case agent” sat with the government’s counsel. He knew nothing. His sole contribution had been to enter data into a computer; he could not have assisted the United States attorney. In addition to overreaching the people whom they are to serve, three officers wasted one-half day watching four others embarrass themselves.

The government presented no evidence – none – that the Joneses intended to evade the reporting requirements. Kyle told Hernandez that he did not know the amount of money he was carrying. Saying “I do not know” is not a deliberate failure to report. After Hernandez insisted on an answer, Kyle said that he would have to guess.’ Guessing is not a material omission or a misstatement of fact – certainly not one the government can use to steal the money.

The agency’s official publications say that its officers can help travelers complete the form if they require assistance. Instead of ensuring that the Joneses understood the scope of “monetary instruments” and other reporting requirements, the officers took advantage of their guess. Hernandez instructed Kyle to complete the form before allowing him to count his money, and the others never let them correct it once their guess was shown to have been low.

These public servants sought to earn credit with their agency by collecting money. Some of it is returned to the agency – like justices of the peace whose pay is derived directly from the fines they impose. They focused on bureaucratic imperatives – not their duties to the public and law. [Here Judge Huges footnotes Leonard W. Levy, A License to Steal: The Forfeiture of Property (1996).]

The agencies that manage law officers create profiles of suspicious people. Ignoring for a moment that they include contradictions – like he rushed or he was very early, he looked the officer in the eye or he evaded looking him in the eye – the Joneses displayed no suspicious behavior. At every step they were candid if imprecise. They were traveling as a family, in normal dress, and remained polite and calm.

They were taking money for a two month stay in Addis Ababa, Berekti’s city of birth – a city that operates almost entirely in cash. It was reasonable that they would have cash and traveler’s checks, and it was a precaution to split it among their bags and each other. Nothing was hidden.

Hernandez never should have asked Kyle to sign the form on a guess; rather, he should have had him count it at the second station and report the exact amount. Hernandez, with the connivance of his fellows, showed the only deceit. It appears that the officer’s entire approach was to target the Joneses. They should have taken the family to the side and allowed them to count their money. They should have explained what constituted currency and given them adequate time to complete the form. Instead, they manipulated the Joneses’ confusion into a deliberate failure to report. The officers accepted a guess from Kyle. When it was wrong, they took all of their money – for no harm and no deceit. They had no interest in ensuring that the couple adhered to the law. They wanted a statistic for their supervisor, and they cudgeled the Joneses to get one.


NOTE: There are a couple of updates on my post of yesterday headed "What Jesus said about capitalism"


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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

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10 April, 2012

Was old Karl right?

Marx pointed out that communism could easily be presented as Christian and the mainstream churches are mostly Left-leaning. Even Papal encyclicals make some concessions to socialist thinking. See both "De rerum novarum" and "Centesimus annus".

In that context a recent report from Britain is not inherently surprising. The Guardian summarizes:
People with faith are far more likely to take left-of-centre positions on a range of issues, including immigration and equality. The research, revealed in a new report by the thinktank Demos, undermines the widely held view that members of religious groups are more likely to have conservative tendencies.

The Demos report suggests that the example of the outgoing archbishop of Canterbury, who combines deeply held progressive beliefs with his religious convictions, is not unusual.

"Rowan Williams may be far more representative of the religious community than many have suggested," said Jonathan Birdwell, the author of the report. "Progressives should sit up and take note. Their natural allies may look more like the archbishop of Canterbury than Richard Dawkins."

The report found that 55% of people with faith placed themselves on the left of politics, compared with 40% who placed themselves on the right. The report also suggests that people with faith are more likely to value equality over freedom than their non-religious counterparts. It discloses that 41% of people with religious views prioritise equality over freedom, compared with 36% of those without faith.

The report, based on an analysis of the European Values Study, also finds evidence that people who belong to a religious organisation are more likely to say they are very interested in politics, to have signed a petition and to have participated in a demonstration.

There are some large caveats to be attached to that report, however. England is generally an irreligious country and the survey was based on the 13% who report that they belong to a church. It did not ask which church, how often the respondents went to church, or how strong are their religious beliefs. Usual Sunday Attendance at church in England is less than one million out of a total population of about 55 million -- which is about 2% (to be generous) -- so we see some gap between the 13% and the 2%

And even that 2% is no indication of religiosity. Attendance at the Church of England in particular is often motivated by broadly social reasons rather than by any real religious convictions. And any influence the C of E had would be of a Leftist character -- as is shown by their totally unbiblical acceptance of homosexual and female clergy.

So what does the survey tell us about religion in Britain? Very little, I am afraid. It's entirely possible, though not probable, that all the genuinely religious people in England are conservative.


What Jesus said about capitalism

BOOK REVIEW of "The Biblical Vision of Sabbath Economics" by Ched Myers, a Californian theologian

The name sabbath (the seventh day) is a reference to the biblical injunction - mainly honoured in the breach - that the Jews practice "jubilee". Every 50th year (the year following the passing of seven times seven years), slaves were to be freed, people were to be released from their debts and land returned to its original owners.

So sabbath economics involves an "ethic of regular and systematic wealth and power redistribution". You can see why this is an uncomfortable topic (for me as much as anyone else).

Many Christians would argue this Old Testament stuff was superseded by the New Testament, but Myers counters that the New Testament reveals Jesus as preoccupied with jubilee ideas.

"There is no theme more common to Jesus's storytelling than sabbath economics," he says. "He promises poor sharecroppers abundance, but threatens absentee landowners and rich householders with judgment."

It's certainly true that Jesus was always blessing the poor, challenging the rich, mixing with despised tax-gatherers and speaking of a time when the social order is overturned and "the last shall be first".

It's also true, as Myers reminds us, that many of Jesus's parables deal with clearly economic concerns: farming, shepherding, being in debt, doing hard labour, being excluded from banquets and the houses of the rich.

Myers alleges that many churches handle the parables "timidly, and often not at all". "Perhaps we intuit that there is something so wild and subversive about these tales that they are better kept safely at the margins of our consciousness," he says.

"Most churches that do attend to gospel parables spiritualise them tirelessly, typically preaching them as 'earthly stories with heavenly meanings'. Stories about landless peasants and rich landowners, or lords and slaves, or lepers and lawyers are thus lifted out of their social and historical context and reshaped into theological or moralistic fables bereft of any political or economic edge - or consequence."

Myers devotes a chapter to the incident of Jesus meeting the rich man, who asks "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus neither welcomes him into the club nor outlines the things he must believe to gain admission.

Rather, he tells the man to go and sell everything he has, give the money to the poor and then come back and follow him. But the man, unwilling to give up his wealth, rejects discipleship and goes away.

Jesus responds, "how difficult it is for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God … It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

"The clarity of this text has somehow escaped the church through the ages, which instead has concocted a hundred ingenuous reasons why it cannot mean what it says," Myers says.

His interpretation? Jesus is simply saying the kingdom of God is a social condition in which there are no rich and poor. So, by definition, the rich cannot enter - not with their wealth intact.

Myers says that in first century Palestine, the basis of wealth wasn't possession of consumer durables, but land. And the primary means of acquiring land was through debt-default. Small agricultural landholders groaned under the burden of rent, tithes, taxes, tariffs and operating expenses.

"If they fell behind in payments, they were forced to take out loans secured by their land. When unable to service these loans, the land was lost to the lenders. These lenders were in most cases the large landowners," he says.

This is how socio-economic inequality had become so widespread in the time of Jesus. It's almost certainly how the rich man ended up with "many properties", according to Myers. And these are just the circumstances the jubilee is intended to correct.

"Jesus is not inviting this man to change his attitude towards his wealth, nor to treat his servants better, nor to reform his personal life," he says. "He is asserting the precondition for discipleship: economic justice."

Myers offers his explanation of a much-quoted saying from which today's prosperous Christians derive comfort: Jesus's observation that "the poor will always be with you".

This doesn't mean Christ accepted poverty as an inevitable characteristic of the economy, or part of the divine plan. Rather, he says, the divine vision is that poverty be abolished, but as long as it persists, God and God's people must always take the side of the poor - and be among them.

"Privately controlled wealth is the backbone of capitalism," Myers says, "and it is predicated upon the exploitation of natural resources and human labour. Profit maximisation renders socio-economic stratification, objectification and alienation inevitable.

"According to the gospel, however, those who are privileged within this system cannot enter the kingdom. This is not good news for first-world Christians - because we are the 'inheritors' of the rich man's legacy.

"So the unequivocal gospel invitation to repentance is addressed to us. To deconstruct our 'inheritance' and redistribute the wealth as preparation to the poor - that is what it means for us to follow Jesus.'


I think Myers reads more into the words of Jesus than is really there but his ideas are an interesting challenge. There is no doubt that Christian practice does differ in many ways from what the Bible commands. Matthew 5:39 made me a pacifist in my teens but most Christians seem to have no trouble with it. I comment on some of the issues involved in the latter part of my 2002 article here -- JR

Comment from a reader:

The biggest flaw in the Myers claims, at least according to my view, was the misuse by the author on the application of Jubilee. Aside from the fact that it was almost never, if ever, honored by the Hebrews, it ignores the major context of the command: Land was apportioned to Hebrews by family as a permanent possession. So when a Hebrew “sold” land, it was understood that the land was not being transferred, but the value of the crops until the year of Jubilee, when the land reverted back to the own. Far from fighting capitalism, God’s command to the Hebrews affirmed the importance of private property. Likewise, Hebrews were freed during the year of Jubilee but not foreigners. The land and the families were supposed to stay together.

As the Myers claims depend heavily on Jewish law, I was hoping that one of my Jewish readers would offer some perspective. I am therefore pleased to offer a comment received from one:

I was struck by this idea that capitalism has to be "exploitive" in terms of natural resources and labour. This is bunkum.

I don't remember seeing these things in any real definition of "capitalism". However, I will admit business people often did exploit in order to achieve wealth, but it's not a perquisite of obtaining wealth. The Torah and Talmud both speak of rules that obligate business owners as well as even customers to act in a moral fashion when doing business. There were formal rules that obligated the owners to treating their employees in certain fashion, including paying them in a timely fashion. Customers could not be cheated (and the Talmud relates that the first thing a business owner is asked when he dies is...were your weights honest?). Whether one really followed the rules, the point was to give a blueprint that could be used by business people in order to deal fairly. Oh, and there were even environmental rules (tanners couldn't be too close to a city because of the smell and pollutants!).

Ethics and morals can be part of a capitalist society. It takes TEACHING people to HAVE those morals and ethics, but capitalism need not be inherently exploitive. If anything, socialism and Marxism have turned out to be almost always evil. (The one exception I can think of. Kibbutzim. Why? Simple. They were VOLUNTARY and small, so if one didn't want to continue along with the socialist lifestyle...they simply signed out and left! No one shot them as they tried to leave. While even the kibbutzim have now at least picked up some aspects of free market capitalism; the socialism still doesn't inherently work-who cares if someone is nutty enough to go there, as long as the same garbage is not imposed on the rest of the denizens of the country (and in fact, Israel, a very socialist economy in its early years, has at least embraced more capitalism than ever).

The other problem with money and business...money ends up being POWER. And it is power that corrupts, not the money itself. But even then, it doesn't have to. I used to walk every week to synagogue with my dad and the scion of a family that had made enormous amounts in the dairy products business, cream cheese and sour cream and the like. This man was unassuming as could be, and while I later learned he was no one's patsy, in business, he gave enormous amounts of charity, without being asked, treated his workers fairly, without the need for union "persuasion" and was just an all-around decent human being, as was his wife. THEY were the model for me for what rich people could be like. Wealth did not corrupt them or make them inherently bad.

But this entire idea that capitalism and the acquisition of money makes one evil and exploitative is an old and immoral meme of the socialists and Left.


Big government is the real extremism

One of the most time-honored tricks in politics is the act of accusing your opponent of your own worst crime. Doing so confuses the mass of the population. It allows the trickster to assume the mantle of righteous indignation, wrapping their stern lectures in the aura of high morality. And, of course, it is all a lie, nothing more than a device to try to escape accountability.

This came to mind as I read the ravings of the hard-Left in the “main stream” press. From Krugman to Dionne, the arbiters of what is acceptable socialist thought in America have screamed their buzzword – “extremists.” What has them all worked-up is the possibility that the Supreme Court will follow the Constitution and as much as 69 percent of the American people and throw the Obama healthcare takeover into the trash where it so richly deserves to be.

“Extreme” they yell! Where are the “good Republicans” of the past, those quisling souls who always agreed with the underlying assumptions of the all-powerful centralized state, those “moderates” who were the first to concede to the demands of the Left, who only wanted to make the state “run efficiently”? Where are they? I can tell you – they’re hiding, worried about being defeated in primaries or run out before there were defeated. They never represented the conservative movement.

Dionne can try to rewrite history all he wants but the facts remain – the “good Republicans” he longs for were never more than a fraction of the GOP and today are far less.

For a generation or more, the Left has worked to spin the illusion that there was a consensus in America in favor of the all-powerful, unrestrained, ever-growing federal government. The only debate was a matter of degree, mere nuance. Any true alternative was by definition “extreme.” But this was the greatest lie perpetrated on the American people in the post-World War II era. There was no such consensus and there was in fact no constituency inside the GOP for it. The deep alienation of millions of Americans – Republicans, Independents and yes, Democrats – from their government is a direct result of government pushing the policies of the Big Government Illusion to the exclusion of policies that actually have the support of the people.

Krugman and company view a Supreme Court decision over-turning Obamacare as radical. Millions of Americans view the expansion and distortion of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution as radical bordering on a coup. If this Supreme Court pushes back against the obscenity of the Filber decision and returns the federal government to a limited role in commerce, that is just good common sense.

Likewise, the Left views the budget created by Paul Ryan and passed by the Republican House of Representatives as draconian, they look at a budget that doesn’t result in a balanced budget for more than 25 more years and shed oceans of crocodile tears. Most Americans think spending $1 trillion more than we take in every year as radical to the point of insane.

For most citizens, the size of our national debt is the very definition of extremism. So for Mr. Krugman and his pals, just so you know, the Ryan budget does not cut. The Tom Coburn “Back in Black” budget that cuts $1 trillion a year for the next decade – that’s a cut.

As the “moderates” Dionne and others on the Left so adore have been driven out of the GOP, what has been exposed is deep ideological divisions in America.

The mouthpieces of the status quo want to paper over those divisions, pretend they don’t exist. Failing that, they will engage in drive-by character assassination of the kind we have seen of late. But the divide is real and will continue to grow.

What really scares the Left is the knowledge, deep in their hearts, that the vast majority of Americans oppose and hate their agenda. America wants a truly limited government with harsh restrictions on its powers. America opposes the radical redistribution of resources from those that work to those that don’t. America is sick to death of the race-baiting and poverty pimping from the same people whose policies create poverty and further divide the races. And, America is adamantly opposed to the mutation and distortion of our Constitution for the ideological gain of a few at the price of lost liberties for the People.

So yes, there is extremism in the land. But it lies with the radicals from Harvard and the other elitist brainwashing factories and the self-appointed “experts” of the punditry, not with the American people or those in the GOP who have finally decided to listen to them.



Socialism and Social Darwinism

Posted by David Boaz

The arbiters of appropriate expression in America get very exercised when conservatives call Barack Obama a “socialist.” They treat the claim in the same way as calling Obama a Muslim, Kenyan, or “the anti-Christ.”

But headlines this week report that President Obama accused the Republicans of “social Darwinism,” and I don’t see anyone exercised about that. A New York Times editorial endorses the attack.

Is “social Darwinist” within some bound of propriety that “socialist” violates? I don’t think so. After all, plenty of people call themselves socialists — not President Obama, to be sure, but estimable figures such as Tony Blair and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Members of the British Labour Party have been known to sing the socialist anthem “The Red Flag” on the floor of Parliament.

But no one calls himself a social Darwinist. Not now, not ever. Not Herbert Spencer. The term is always used to label one’s opponents. In that sense it’s clearly a more abusive term than “socialist,” a term that millions of people have proudly claimed.

The Encyclopedia Britannica says that social Darwinism is"

"the theory that persons, groups, and races are subject to the same laws of natural selection as Charles Darwin had perceived in plants and animals in nature. According to the theory, which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the weak were diminished and their cultures delimited, while the strong grew in power and in cultural influence over the weak….The poor were the “unfit” and should not be aided; in the struggle for existence, wealth was a sign of success. At the societal level, social Darwinism was used as a philosophical rationalization for imperialist, colonialist, and racist policies, sustaining belief in Anglo-Saxon or Aryan cultural and biological superiority."

Not a pleasant idea. And a pretty nasty thing to accuse someone of. It’s always used as a smear of conservatives and libertarians — by the historian Richard Hofstadter, by the fabulist Robert Reich, and now even by the president of the United States. (Damon Root noted that the real eugenicists were not the laissez-faire advocates that Hofstadter accused but the “Progressive reformers” that he admired.)

As Dan Mitchell pointed out, Paul Ryan’s budget proposes to make the federal government substantially larger than it was under Bill Clinton. Does that make Clinton a social Darwinist?

Those who deploy the charge are, first, falsely implying that Republicans support radically smaller government, which neither Ryan’s budget nor any other Republican plan actually proposes. And second, they are accusing both Republicans and actual supporters of free markets of believing in “the survival of the fittest” and, as Wikipedia puts it, “the ideas of eugenics, scientific racism, imperialism, fascism, Nazism and struggle between national or racial groups.” “Social Darwinism” is nothing more than a nasty smear.

The president should be embarrassed, and those who call for civility in public discourse should admonish him.



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. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


9 April, 2012

Blacks Can Murder Whites, and It Won’t Make National News

Doug Giles

If you’re a 20-year-old black male, you can beat an 85-year-old white woman to death and pummel her 90-year-old white husband straight into ICU, and it won’t make the national news.

Yep. Tyrone Woodfork, a black male who -- much like Trayvon Martin -- looks like Obama’s son, allegedly killed Nancy Strait and broke her husband Bob’s jaw, several ribs and shot him in the face with a BB gun last month in Tulsa. 20-year-old Tyrone also raped the nearly blind 97-pound Mrs. Strait, a great-great-grandmother, before he murdered her.

Did the above monstrous crime make the national news? Are you kidding me? Why, hell no. Of course not, silly!

Why wasn’t it fit for primetime, you ask? Well, it starred the wrong races in the wrong roles, and it thus did not fit into the fairytale the Left’s trying to foist on us goobers of Obamaland.

For those of you who have not heard diddly squat about a black twentysomething’s senseless, atrocious burglary, rape, battery and murder of an elderly white couple, here are the details regarding the couple, the crime and the culprit(s):

-Bob and Nancy Strait, the victims, grew up in rural Oklahoma during the Great Depression.

-Bob and Nancy met on a blind date in 1946 and married a month later. They had 6 kids, 18 grandkids and about 50 great- and great-great grandchildren.

-The Straits just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

-Bob served in the 101st Airborne Division in WWII.

-Bob loved woodworking, and Nancy loved quilting.

-The couple used to sit on their porch and play the guitar and sing together during the warm summer evenings.

-On either Tuesday evening (3/13) or Wednesday morning (3/14) Tyrone invaded their home and stole $200 in cash as well as the Strait’s TV and Dodge Neon after raping Mrs. Strait and severely beating Mr. Strait.

- As noted, Nancy died from her injuries. Bob is in serious condition and is being treated at a nearby hospital.

-Mrs. Strait’s funeral was on Friday, March 23, 2012.

-The family has set up a fund—The Nancy Strait and Bob Strait Support Trust—to help pay for Nancy’s funeral service and Bob’s medical care.

-The Tulsa cops are looking for five more murderous morons suspected in this sick and twisted tale.

I wonder if President Obama is going to lecture the nation on this despicable act and tell us something similar to what he said regarding Trayvon’s shooting, namely:

“It is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together—federal, state and local—to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened. I think all of us have to do some soul searching to ask ourselves how does something like this happen? And that means that we examine the laws, the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident.”

Will Spike Lee and the New Black Panther Party tweet Tyrone’s address and put out a bounty on the remaining pieces of crap who have yet to be arrested for killing Nancy and brutally beating Bob? Spike and his ilk are all about “justice,” correct? Or is it more about “just us”?

For two more (out of many) recent black-on-white crimes that have ranged from unreported to insanely underreported, click here and here.



Not Another Dime

I’ve sat by and watched progressives attack our liberties, our Constitution and our way of life for long enough. No more.

For too long, conservatives have been content to sit on what we call the high ground while the Left racks up small victory after small victory until all we have left is the high ground under our butts. Enough.

They go after Rush Limbaugh, and conservatives say, “This is an outrage,” but do nothing. The most extreme, racist left-wing groups contact advertisers and sponsors and pressure them to abandon shows and networks that made them. And too often – and far too quickly in a lot of cases – the advertisers cave. If not for their spots on Rush’s show, I never would have heard of Angie’s List, Carbonite or many others who’ve bought into the faux anger the astroturf pros drummed up.

I’ve used ProFlowers in the past but never again. There are plenty of other options for sending flowers, just as there are options for every sponsor who sides with the Left.

Normally conservatives say, “I don’t support boycotts, but I’m never going to use company X again,” and have done with it. No more.

I am asking you to join me in never, EVER using any product or service from ANY company that sides with or caves under pressure from those who seek to silence us. And avoid any company that supports their hate-machine monetarily.

We learned this week that Color of Change, the race-based progressives group funded by George Soros and founded by communist/truther Van Jones, pressured Coca-Cola into abandoning the Left’s latest boogeyman – the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC helps draft voter ID laws throughout the country. That’s what it does – create model legislation, on request, to help state lawmakers.

But requiring a photo ID to vote is akin to Jim Crow laws, according to politicians and pundits dependent upon race-motivated voting. So it must be stopped. Voting is so fundamental, so important a right, we simply can’t try to protect the integrity of the vote by asking those who would participate for something they need for almost all of life’s important transactions.

If Color of Change and Democrats truly were concerned about people being “disenfranchised,” they would be worried about all the other ways people can be disenfranchised in society if they don’t have a photo ID. And they’d help those people get a photo ID so they could travel, deal with a bank, enter the Justice Department building, etc. But they don’t give a damn about people beyond using them as props or milking them for votes.

When I found out this week Arby’s and Walgreens joined the boycott of Rush, I vowed never to patronize them again. Although me not patronizing them means nothing, us not patronizing them might.

Our individuality has been weaponized against us because the Left and the companies who pull their ads from Rush know we don’t engage in boycotts. It’s time we change that, or we will keep losing ground and eventually lose our voices.

Traditionally, Arby’s had nothing to fear by giving conservatives the finger. Why else would a company known for roast beef make the mistake of siding with the party of PETA and vegans? It’s time to give them something to fear. There are plenty of other sandwich joints around, roast beef isn’t rare, just as there are other pharmacies. If they want to side with those who view our thoughts as something to avoid, something to silence, why should we give them a dime?

If we make an example of companies that side with fascists against liberty, others will take notice and fewer will cave to fascism.

Thankfully, in their bravado and desire to fundraise by showing how effective they are, these fascists compiled a list of companies who’ve chosen their side over the consumers who’ve made them viable companies. Note this list and avoid.

I’m not angry with the progressives. They’re fascists, and this is what fascists do. I’m angry with the companies who are more than happy to take our money, then side with those who seek to silence us. Well, no more.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Fascism is such a nasty word!” Well, it is. But it’s also accurate. They prefer to call themselves “progressives” now, but that’s like calling someone a kid at 14 and an adult at 21 – they’re still the same person.

Progressives are the embarrassed children of fascism who changed their name solely because Hitler used it. But a name change is all it is. They still share the same philosophy, concepts of the role of government and, all too often, hatred of Jews.

We can no longer sit back and simply take comfort in the virtue of our ideals. We risk losing too much. It’s time to stop feeding the beasts who side against us and with those who seek to silence or intimidate us. Only when siding with fascists starts to hurt their bottom line will they stop doing it.



Plunder! How Public Employee Unions Are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives, and Bankrupting the Nation

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that there are more union members in the public sector than in the private sector in the United States. Thirty-nine percent of state and local government workers are members of unions, compared to just 7 percent of private sector workers. What problems are caused by the high level of public sector unionism?

Steven Greenhut argues that public sector unions are “bankrupting the nation.” Greenhut’s book comes at a time of rising concern about the growing political power of public sector unions. With large budget deficits and huge funding gaps in pension plans, policymakers in many states are trying to constrain spending and improve government efficiency. But many governors, such as Chris Christie of New Jersey, are finding that unions stand in the way of needed fiscal reforms.

Greenhut is a California-based journalist and a former member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. He is thus familiar with both public sector unions and state budget crises.

California’s public sector workers have the highest average compensation of public sector workers in any state, and they also have one of the highest rates of unionization. It’s not a coincidence that the state is having severe budget problems and that it finds spending restraint very difficult to achieve.

Greenhut’s book focuses on California, and his background as a journalist results in a narrative-driven examination of the public sector union problem. He examines how public sector workers can
often retire at age 50 or 55 and draw very large pensions. In California, for example, there are more than 9,000 retired public sector workers with annual pensions of more than $100,000 a year. Oftentimes these high pensions result from government workers abusing the system; for example, the last year of an employee’s salary may be artificially inflated to garner a larger annual pension, a technique known as “pension spiking.”

Journalists often do not ask tough questions of groups such as firefighters and police because of the valuable contributions of those groups to local governments. But Greenhut analyzes these groups asspecial interests like any other, pushing for private gain and advantage. Yes, fire and police jobs can be dangerous, he says, but numerous private sector jobs are even more dangerous, and they don’t get the sweetheart deals on pensions and other benefits that public sector workers do.

The author takes on the education unions as well. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are powerful players in every aspect of education policy, and they rake in about $2 billion of union dues and fees a year. Greenhut describes how these unions “shamelessly” oppose reforms such as school choice, how they protect failing teachers from termination, and how they impose layers of costly bureaucracy on local governments.

While Greenhut has a strong narrative and tackles a very important issue, I would like to have seen more analysis of the union problem from a national perspective. Which states are the most unionized? Which states have the biggest pension problems? How will taxpayers be affected if governments don’t start reforming worker compensation packages? Greenhut does not provide sufficient analysis to answer those questions.

As I have documented, the level of public sector unionization varies dramatically from state to state. While New York’s public sector workforce is 73 percent unionized, North Carolina’s is only 8 percent. These large differences are due to varying state-level rules on collective bargaining and “union shop” provisions. Presumably, the public sector problems that Greenhut describes, such as pension abuses, are worse in the high-union states, but this is something that needs to be explored. Similarly, research is needed to compare the problems created by teachers’ groups in heavily unionized states such as California, and teachers’ groups in states such as Virginia, which have no monopoly unionism.

Greenhut concludes his entertaining but depressing book noting that “the public’s servants have become the public’s masters.” It does seem that the nation’s 20 million state and local government workers have tightened the screws on citizens and governments in many states. As the baby boomers in government workforces retire and draw their generous pension and retiree health benefits, there will be pressure to raise property, income, and sales taxes in the states.

Looking at possible reforms, Greenhut says that “public sector unions should be outlawed.” I would describe the needed reform somewhat differently. State governments should pass legislation to ban collective bargaining in the public sector, which is the successful path followed by Virginia and North Carolina. Government workers should be able to join voluntary organizations and have a voice in public policy debates, as people in any other voluntary organization can do. But collective bargaining infringes the rights of workers to freedom of association, and it creates monopoly unions with a privileged position in our democratic process.

A huge fiscal battle between taxpayers and public sector unions is getting under way in many states across the nation. Steven Greenhut’s book provides a timely guide to the challenges ahead in reforming governments and restraining the self-serving appetites of government unions.



Gas Prices Skunk Jobs Again

High gas prices may be hitting the economy right in the gut. For the month of March, the pace of new job creation was cut by more than half compared to the last several encouraging monthly reports.

According to the Labor Department just 120,000 new jobs were created in March. Over the previous three months an average of 246,000 new jobs were added. Analysts generally believe at least 200,000 new monthly jobs are necessary for the economy to expand.

Stuart Varney, business analyst at Fox News and Fox Business Network, says these disappointing numbers "suggest the recovery has stalled."

A little deeper look at the numbers reveals further troubling news – a great many Americans walked away from the workforce.

The number of America's employed or looking for a job (157.7 million) declined by 164,000 in March even though the total age eligible workforce population (242.6 million) increased by 169,000 people– a net shift in the wrong direction of 333,000 people. The effect of the shrinking size of the workforce was decline in the Labor Force Participation Rate to 63.8%, and a slight drop of the unemployment rate to 8.2%.

The skunk at the modest economic recovery party that seemed to have begun can be found at your nearest gas station. The national average price of gas has increased 18% (59 cents per gallon) in just the last 90 days. That kind of shock to the family budget and to the cost of producing and transporting goods is like putting a noose around the neck of an already chocking economy.

Worse, the full impact of the rapid rise in the cost of gas is just beginning to be manifested in the economic numbers, and the peak driving season and historically associated price increases is still a month away.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


8 April, 2012

Government Partying Shows the Real Sin City Is DC, Not Las Vegas

In February 2009, President Barack Obama gave this stern warning to bailed-out banks: "You are not going to be able to give out these big bonuses until you've paid taxpayers back," Obama said at a town hall meeting. "You can't get corporate jets, you can't go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime."

He should have added: "... unless you work for the federal government."

Twenty months later, as we all now know, a government agency called the General Services Administration rolled into Vegas on $822,000 worth of taxpayers' dimes so that 300 federal employees could enjoy a luxury spa, a clown show and a mind-reader, among other "over the top" entertainments at a regional training conference.

The revelation, unearthed by an internal inspector general, has resulted in two senior-level firings and the resignation of GSA chief Martha Johnson, while triggering the usual amount of political japery in Washington. But it's worth lingering on the contrast between this incident and Obama's original bank target.

The bailed-out bank that had been planning to send its most valuable employees to Vegas -- as it had been doing for years -- was Wells Fargo. One fact largely overlooked in the national shaming campaign that proved effective enough to derail the trip was that Wells Fargo didn't want the bailout. Or at least said it didn't when then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson summoned the nation's top nine private bankers to Washington on October 13, 2008.

Here's how Time magazine described the scene: "[T]he nine bank bosses, assembled in the Treasury's imposing boardroom, were each handed a piece of paper with the terms: $25 billion of preferred shares each from Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. In return for the capital, the U.S. would collect a 5% dividend in the first five years. Although Wells Fargo chairman Richard Kovacevich resisted, Paulson gave the bankers no choice."

Newsweek's Michael Hirsh put it even more explicitly, and presciently: "Richard Kovacevich had a point. Why should his company, Wells Fargo, sign its freedom (and his compensation) away to the U.S. Treasury when, unlike many other banks, it hadn't overloaded itself with risky, mortgage-backed securities? The Wells Fargo chairman eventually agreed Monday to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's capital injection plan -- it was, frankly, an offer he couldn't refuse -- but Kovacevich's objections still resonate. Amid the continuing market turmoil, there is a sense that all of us are being asked to assume collective guilt for the large, but still identifiable, group of rogues and villains who got us into this mess. And then we're supposed to just forget about it."

A funny thing about collective shame -- we are happy to administer it on CEOs who get their arms twisted by the feds, yet we shy away from applying it to one of the only truly collective entities we have: taxpayer-funded government.

We love to bash Goldman Sachs for trading exotic mortgage-backed derivatives, but we are far less likely to even point out that the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were trailblazers on the derivatives-trading fronts.

It shouldn't be surprising in this climate that federal employees would assume they get to play under different ethical rules and public scrutiny than fat-cat bankers. After all, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said last month that discretionary spending has been cut "to the limit," and Obama just this week thundered that the House GOP's recently proposed budget -- which, by the way, increases spending from $3.5 trillion to $4.9 trillion over the next decade -- amounts to "social Darwinism" that deliberately guts the middle class.

And let's not forget what the GSA does: As The New York Times puts it, the agency is "essentially the government's personal shopper for big-ticket items, like buying and leasing buildings and cars." These are precisely the people tasked with making sure taxpayer dollars are spent most wisely.

We have a federal government on autopilot, borrowing 40 cents on every dollar, after a decade-plus bipartisan spending binge that has doubled the budget in nominal terms. Washington is a boomtown, gentrifying rapidly as the rest of the country eagerly awaits the appearance of green shoots.

The surprise isn't that a federal agency went wild, or even that it got caught. What remains a genuine stumper is that the rest of the country hasn't quite figured out that the real Sin City has relocated 2,500 miles east.



Stop Panicking About Bullies

Childhood is safer than ever before, but today's parents need to worry about something. Nick Gillespie on why busybodies and bureaucrats have zeroed in on bullying

Is America really in the midst of a "bullying crisis," as so many now claim?

"When I was younger," a remarkably self-assured, soft-spoken 15-year-old kid named Aaron tells the camera, "I suffered from bullying because of my lips—as you can see, they're kind of unusually large. So I would kind of get [called] 'Fish Lips'—things like that a lot—and my glasses too, I got those at an early age. That contributed. And the fact that my last name is Cheese didn't really help with the matter either. I would get [called] 'Cheeseburger,' 'Cheese Guy'—things like that, that weren't really very flattering. Just kind of making fun of my name—I'm a pretty sensitive kid, so I would have to fight back the tears when I was being called names."

It's hard not to be impressed with—and not to like—young Aaron Cheese. He is one of the kids featured in the new Cartoon Network special "Stop Bullying: Speak Up," which premiered last week and is available online. I myself am a former geekish, bespectacled child whose lips were a bit too full, and my first name (as other kids quickly discovered) rhymes with two of the most-popular slang terms for male genitalia, so I also identified with Mr. Cheese. My younger years were filled with precisely the sort of schoolyard taunts that he recounts; they led ultimately to at least one fistfight and a lot of sour moods on my part.

As the parent now of two school-age boys, I also worry that my own kids will have to deal with such ugly and destructive behavior. And I welcome the common-sense antibullying strategies relayed in "Stop Bullying": Talk to your friends, your parents and your teachers. Recognize that you're not the problem. Don't be a silent witness to bullying.

But is America really in the midst of a "bullying crisis," as so many now claim? I don't see it. I also suspect that our fears about the ubiquity of bullying are just the latest in a long line of well-intentioned yet hyperbolic alarms about how awful it is to be a kid today.

I have no interest in defending the bullies who dominate sandboxes, extort lunch money and use Twitter to taunt their classmates. But there is no growing crisis. Childhood and adolescence in America have never been less brutal. Even as the country's overprotective parents whip themselves up into a moral panic about kid-on-kid cruelty, the numbers don't point to any explosion of abuse. As for the rising wave of laws and regulations designed to combat meanness among students, they are likely to lump together minor slights with major offenses. The antibullying movement is already conflating serious cases of gay-bashing and vicious harassment with things like…a kid named Cheese having a tough time in grade school.

How did we get here? We live in an age of helicopter parents so pushy and overbearing that Colorado Springs banned its annual Easter-egg hunt on account of adults jumping the starter's gun and scooping up treat-filled plastic eggs on behalf of their winsome kids. The Department of Education in New York City—once known as the town too tough for Al Capone—is seeking to ban such words as "dinosaurs," "Halloween" and "dancing" from citywide tests on the grounds that they could "evoke unpleasant emotions in the students," it was reported this week. (Leave aside for the moment that perhaps the whole point of tests is to "evoke unpleasant emotions.")

And it's not only shrinking-violet city boys and girls who are being treated as delicate flowers. Early versions of new labor restrictions still being hashed out in Congress would have barred children under 16 from operating power-driven farm equipment and kept anyone under 18 from working at agricultural co-ops and stockyards (the latest version would let kids keep running machines on their parents' spreads). What was once taken for granted—working the family farm, October tests with jack-o-lantern-themed questions, hunting your own Easter eggs—is being threatened by paternalism run amok.

Now that schools are peanut-free, latex-free and soda-free, parents, administrators and teachers have got to worry about something. Since most kids now have access to cable TV, the Internet, unlimited talk and texting, college and a world of opportunities that was unimaginable even 20 years ago, it seems that adults have responded by becoming ever more overprotective and thin-skinned.

Kids might be fatter than they used to be, but by most standards they are safer and better-behaved than they were when I was growing up in the 1970s and '80s. Infant and adolescent mortality, accidents, sex and drug use—all are down from their levels of a few decades ago. Acceptance of homosexuality is up, especially among younger Americans. But given today's rhetoric about bullying, you could be forgiven for thinking that kids today are not simply reading and watching grim, postapocalyptic fantasies like "The Hunger Games" but actually inhabiting such terrifying terrain, a world where "Lord of the Flies" meets "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior," presided over by Voldemort.

Even President Barack Obama has placed his stamp of approval on this view of modern childhood. Introducing the Cartoon Network documentary, he solemnly intones: "I care about this issue deeply, not just as the president, but as a dad. ... We've all got more to do. Everyone has to take action against bullying."

The state of New Jersey was well ahead of the president. Last year, in response to the suicide of the 18-year-old gay Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, the state legislature passed "The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights." The law is widely regarded as the nation's toughest on these matters. It has been called both a "resounding success" by Steve Goldstein, head of the gay-rights group Garden State Equality, and a "bureaucratic nightmare" by James O'Neill, the interim school superintendent of the township of Roxbury. In Congress, New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Rush Holt have introduced the federal Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has called the Lautenberg-Holt proposal a threat to free speech because its "definition of harassment is vague, subjective and at odds with Supreme Court precedent." Should it become law, it might well empower colleges to stop some instances of bullying, but it would also cause many of them to be sued for repressing speech. In New Jersey, a school anti-bullying coordinator told the Star-Ledger that "The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights" has "added a layer of paperwork that actually inhibits us" in dealing with problems. In surveying the effects of the law, the Star-Ledger reports that while it is "widely used and has helped some kids," it has imposed costs of up to $80,000 per school district for training alone and uses about 200 hours per month of staff time in each district, with some educators saying that the additional effort is taking staff "away from things such as substance-abuse prevention and college and career counseling."

One thing seems certain: The focus on bullying will lead to more lawsuits against schools and bullies, many of which will stretch the limits of empathy and patience. Consider, for instance, the current case of 19-year-old Eric Giray, who is suing New York's tony Calhoun School and a former classmate for $1.5 million over abuse that allegedly took place in 2004. Such cases can only become more common.

Which isn't to say that there aren't kids who face terrible cases of bullying. The immensely powerful and highly acclaimed documentary "Bully," whose makers hope to create a nationwide movement against the "bullying crisis," opens in selected theaters this weekend. The film follows the harrowing experiences of a handful of victims of harassment, including two who killed themselves in desperation. It is, above all, a damning indictment of ineffectual and indifferent school officials. No viewer can watch the abuse endured by kids such as Alex, a 13-year-old social misfit in Sioux City, Iowa, or Kelby, a 14-year-old lesbian in small-town Oklahoma, without feeling angry and motivated to change youth culture and the school officials who turn a blind eye.

But is bullying—which the stopbullying.gov website of the Department of Health and Human Services defines as "teasing," "name-calling," "taunting," "leaving someone out on purpose," "telling other children not to be friends with someone," "spreading rumors about someone," "hitting/kicking/pinching," "spitting" and "making mean or rude hand gestures"—really a growing problem in America?

Despite the rare and tragic cases that rightly command our attention and outrage, the data show that things are, in fact, getting better for kids. When it comes to school violence, the numbers are particularly encouraging. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 1995 and 2009, the percentage of students who reported "being afraid of attack or harm at school" declined to 4% from 12%. Over the same period, the victimization rate per 1,000 students declined fivefold.

When it comes to bullying numbers, long-term trends are less clear. The makers of "Bully" say that "over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year," and estimates of the percentage of students who are bullied in a given year range from 20% to 70%. NCES changed the way it tabulated bullying incidents in 2005 and cautions against using earlier data. Its biennial reports find that 28% of students ages 12-18 reported being bullied in 2005; that percentage rose to 32% in 2007, before dropping back to 28% in 2009 (the most recent year for which data are available). Such numbers strongly suggest that there is no epidemic afoot (though one wonders if the new anti-bullying laws and media campaigns might lead to more reports going forward).

The most common bullying behaviors reported include being "made fun of, called names, or insulted" (reported by about 19% of victims in 2009) and being made the "subject of rumors" (16%). Nine percent of victims reported being "pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on," and 6% reported being "threatened with harm." Though it may not be surprising that bullying mostly happens during the school day, it is stunning to learn that the most common locations for bullying are inside classrooms, in hallways and stairwells, and on playgrounds—areas ostensibly patrolled by teachers and administrators.

None of this is to be celebrated, of course, but it hardly paints a picture of contemporary American childhood as an unrestrained Hobbesian nightmare. Before more of our schools' money, time and personnel are diverted away from education in the name of this supposed crisis, we should make an effort to distinguish between the serious abuse suffered by the kids in "Bully" and the sort of lower-level harassment with which the Aaron Cheeses of the world have to deal.

In fact, Mr. Cheese, now a sophomore in high school with hopes of becoming a lawyer, provides a model in dealing with the sort of jerks who will always, unfortunately, be a presence in our schools. At the end of "Stop Bullying," he tells younger kids, "Just talk to somebody and I promise to you, it's going to get better." For Aaron, it plainly has: "It has been turned around actually. I am a generally liked guy. My last name has become something that's a little more liked. I have a friend named Mac and so together we are Mac and Cheese. That's cool."

Indeed, it is cool. And if we take a deep breath, we will realize that there are many more Aaron Cheeses walking the halls of today's schools than there are bullies. Our problem isn't a world where bullies are allowed to run rampant; it's a world where kids like Aaron are convinced that they are powerless victims.




TN: Bill would outlaw sagging pants at schools: "Lawmakers in Tennessee have passed a bill that would prohibit students from showing underwear or body parts in an indecent manner at school, myFOXmemphis reports. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the Tennessee state Senate and House, and now requires the governor's signature. Unlike a recent Tennessee bill that failed, the enforcement of this bill doesn't require a ruler or carry penalties of up to $250 and community service. ... Instead, this bill allows school districts to decide the punishment."

MN: Cops steal waitress’s tip: "Stacy Knutson, a struggling Minnesota waitress and mother of five, says she was searching for a 'miracle' to help her family with financial problems. But that 'miracle' quickly came and went after police seized a $12,000 tip that was left at her table. Knutson filed a lawsuit in Clay County District Court stating that the money is rightfully hers. Police argue it is drug money."

The tarts and “tards” of Hollywood: "Hollywood had its Golden Age, back when well-written scripts reflected well-developed, multi-faceted characters. Today, Tinseltown is a monolithic, left-liberal automaton, marching in thematic unison and subjecting the viewer to the same impoverished, error-riddled, preachy themes. The evidence is in. Activism and abreaction have replaced acting, and sermons have supplanted stories in the repertoire of the pretty, pea-brained community."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


7 April, 2012

Ve vill make you happy! Whether you like it or not

This new Green/Left proposal seems faintly reasonable at first. Is not happiness in some sense the bottom line for all of us? The idea that the government can make us happy is the funny bit. All the government departments I know of are much better at provoking rage!

But, aside from that, an even bigger fly in the proto-Fascist ointment is that happiness is largely dispositional. We are pretty much born with a pre-set level of happiness and departures from it are both rare and temporary. A common clinical observation is proof of that: Even people who have suffered catastrophic injuries -- such as paraplegics -- seem to bounce back to their original level of happiness after a couple of years. Some people (mainly conservatives) are born happy and positive and some others (Leftists) are born miseries and whiners.

And if you think I am just making propaganda in saying that, I'm not. Surveys of various sorts always show that conservatives are happier. Just one small example here, for instance.

And the whole concept of happiness is surprisingly suspect anyway. German and English are closely related languages and yet German just has no word for happiness. The nearest they can come is to say that they are "lucky" (gluecklich).

That was borne home to me forcefully many years ago when I was talking to an old Jewish gent who had escaped Hitler and ended up in Australia. He was glad to be alive but missed the vibrant cultural life he had known in prewar Germany. We spoke in English but he was aware that I knew some German so when I asked him a how he felt about his escape to Australia he replied: "Gluecklich I am but happy I am not".

And I would be surprised if other languages did not have similar difficulties of translation. I say more about the considerable body of happiness research here
Are you happy? Are Canadians happy, or at least happier than the Americans or the French or the Taiwanese? Would you like to be happier?

At the United Nations on Monday, they took a major step toward a global strategy to enhance your happiness status, and the happiness of everybody else in the world. It’s the new role for governments across the planet. If the UN has its way, the state’s major objective will be to boost your sense of well-being and improve how you feel about your life.

It all began in 1972 in the landlocked Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan (pop. 700,000) when King Jigme Singye Wangchuck announced that his Buddhist country (GDP per capita US$5,500) would thereafter pursue economic progress guided not by the harsh and dehumanizing concept of Gross National Product, but by the warm and humanistic principles of Gross National Happiness.

Almost 40 years later in New York on Monday, under the auspices of the Kingdom of the United Nations, the high priests of economic interventionism and wealth redistribution moved one step closer to turning Gross National Happiness into a global paradigm.

They issued a report — the World Happiness Report. They staged a conference — Well-being and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm. And they fashioned a declaration — Realizing a World of Sustainable Well-being and Happiness.

The declaration is in turn intended to become part of “a long-term reference framework” for the coming Rio +20 Earth Summit, a grand replay in June this year of Maurice Strong’s 1992 Rio Earth Summit.

At Rio +20, the UN activists hope to change the direction of world economic policy-making. Production goals and measures based on dollars and yen are out. Happiness measures are in — even though the concepts, happiness and “subjective well-being,” remain vacuous bits of quasi-religious sophistry.

The opening paragraphs of Monday’s World Happiness Report — written by Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute — set out the transcendental mindset required to deal with the mind-blowing idea of Gross National Happiness or its equivalent.

One of the amazing characteristics of the happiness paradigm as described by Mr. Sachs and others is how remarkably similar its conclusions are to the old interventionism and redistribution policies of the traditional left.

It’s as if the high priests of Occupy the Planet and the Green Apocalypse — having run their old socialist and environmental engines into the ground — have stumbled across a new set of rationalizations and slogans.

To no surprise, with 65/309 as a mandate, the Monday meeting in New York produced a radical declaration calling for the overthrow of the “current economic paradigm” to take into account finite global resource limits and the emerging science of well-being and happiness.

What that means, aside from the same old nitty-gritty policies such as more government job creation, is nothing less than a “redesign of the world economy” and the overthrow of existing economic ideas to be replaced by the pursuit of happiness as defined by the United Nations, not by individuals.



Controlling us for our own good


Public misunderstanding, ignorance and possibly contempt for liberty play into the hands of people who want to control our lives. Responses to my recent column "Compliant Americans" brought this home to me. In it, I argued that the anti-tobacco movement became the template and inspiration for other forms of government intrusion, such as bans on restaurants serving foie gras, McDonald's giving Happy Meals with toys and confiscating a child's home-prepared lunch because it didn't meet Department of Agriculture guidelines. A few responses read like this: "Smoking is different because that actually affects other people. We should be living by the notion that you should be able to do whatever you want as long as you don't hurt other people. Smoking hurts other people."

If we banned or restricted all activities that affect, harm or have the possibility of harming other people, it wouldn't be a very nice life.

Let's look at what can affect or harm other people. Non-obese people are harmed by obesity, as they have to pay more for health care, through either higher taxes or higher insurance premiums. That harm could be reduced by a national version of a measure introduced in the Mississippi Legislature in 2008 by state Rep. W.T. Mayhall that in part read, "An act to prohibit certain food establishments from serving food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the state Department of Health." The measure would have revoked licenses of food establishments that violated the provisions of the act. Fortunately, the measure never passed, but there's always a next time.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2010, nearly 33,000 people were killed in auto crashes. That's a lot of harm that could be reduced by lowering the speed limit to 5 or 10 miles an hour. You say, "Williams, that's ridiculous!" What you really mean to say but don't have the courage to is that to save all of those lives by making the speed limit 5 or 10 miles per hour is not worth the inconvenience. Needless to say – or almost so – there are many activities we engage in that either cause harm to others or have the potential for doing so, but we don't ban all of these activities.

One of the least-understood functions of private property rights is that of determining who may harm whom in what ways. In a free society, it is presumed that the air in a person's house, restaurant, hotel, car or place of business is his property. That means that if you own a restaurant and don't want your air polluted by tobacco smoke, it is your right. Most would deem it tyranny if a bunch of smokers had the political power to get the city council to pass an ordinance forcing you to permit smoking. You'd probably deem it more respectful of liberty if those who wanted to smoke sought a restaurant owner who permitted smoking. The identical argument can be made about a restaurant owner who permits smoking in a city where nonsmokers have the political power. The issue is not whether smoking harms others. The issue is the rights associated with property ownership.

The emerging tragedy is our increased willingness to use the coercive powers of government, in the name of health or some other ruse, to forcibly impose our preferences upon others. In the whole scheme of things, the tobacco issue itself is trivial. Far more important is its template for massive government disrespect for private property.

John Adams said, "The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence."



Market Order in War-Torn Iraq

In the course of my deployments to Iraq I learned a great deal about economics, though I didn't realize it at the time. I hadn't yet been introduced to the Austrian School or a Rothbardian view of laissez-faire capitalism. Looking back, however, I can see quite clearly that in several important areas voluntary systems not only existed in that country but thrived.

My first deployment was to Baghdad, that ancient Mesopotamian city positioned on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It was there I discovered how, even during the most violent and unstable times, markets can adapt to the needs of consumers and peacefully provide essential services to humanity.

The focus of this article will be on economic provision, rather than the war itself. However, it's important to note that the following free-market solutions have blossomed in spite of being in the heart of a country ravaged by economic sanctions and all but total war. Not only was the US-led war destructive of the physical means to provide such services; it also destroyed the institutions that delivered them, adding to the difficulty in restoring them.

Utility Services

In the United States virtually all utilities are a service provided by government. Whether they are directly controlled by municipal governments or simply regulated to the point of being creatures of those organizations, relatively few cases exist where the market provides utilities unhindered. Baghdad, however, was not so tightly regulated.

Being the capital city, it is home to all of the major government offices and thus has a priority for electrical power; this was true before and after the invasion. However, after a decade of brutal sanctions, followed by a relentless bombing campaign of "shock and awe," the socialized infrastructure was entirely unfit to meet demand. The solution arrived at by the Iraqi people was brilliant.

Taking advantage of economies of scale, residents would pool their resources and either buy a large generator or contract with someone who already owned one. Then a mechanic would be hired to maintain the generator, guarding it against thieves and ensuring it was properly fueled. The more clients a neighborhood had, the lower the consumer cost and higher the profits for the owners.

The one flaw in this system was that fuel was supplied by a centrally planned government agency. As might have been expected, shortages were frequent, leading to power outages. Had fuel been freed from the highly politicized and bureaucratic web of government, there's no doubt an equally innovative and peaceful solution would have arisen to address this need.


Another pocket of freedom that many Iraqis enjoy is in market-based currency, or something similar. After the collapse of Iraq's government, the central bank no longer issued notes for the Iraqi dinar. At this time the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which was the US-lead interim government, began a large-scale influx of the US dollar. Between large shipments of currency from the CPA, and the widespread use of the dollar by hundreds of thousands of troops, its supply quickly increased. And while many thought the result would be large-scale abandonment of the dinar, quite the opposite in fact occurred.

B.K. Marcus describes the result here, wherein the dinar actually increased in value and was in many cases the preferred currency by many in the country. One primary reason seems to be that the value of the dinar remained fairly constant, due to its supply being more stable. But other currencies existed, some fiat-based, others springing from the market.

In another account of the market in Iraq, Edward Gonzales described how in the western region of the country, sheep and bottled water acted as money. Their value floated based on the season and relative quantities of one or the other. While I never witnessed trades made with livestock or other commodities, I did see that not just dinars and dollars were used for exchange.

My second deployment was to the Babel province, south of Baghdad, and the Iranian rial was fairly common there. This was particularly true in the Shia towns and neighborhoods, as might have been expected. I was not familiar with the exchange ratios among the currencies, but all were used in trade. It was not uncommon for a man's wallet to contain two or more of a different states' moneys, even all three at times.

Defense Services

Perhaps the state's longest running and most institutionalized monopoly is that of defense. Advocates of limited government will quickly concede that most services ought to be provided in a free market. This provides incentives for firms to compete for market share, thus raising quality while driving down prices. One service that must be provided by the state, according to everyone from socialists to minarchists, is defense of persons and their property.

Even many who claim to believe steadfastly in free enterprise will concede that defense is the sole purview of government. By doing so they implicitly argue that the same economic laws that govern the provision of trash collection are rendered impotent when applied to defending property. This certainly does not hold water theoretically, nor is it true when applied to the market in Iraq.

In most of the country there were multiple layers of government police and military, and martial law had become the norm. Despite (or perhaps because of) the saturation of the market by government defense monopolists, private services were a valuable commodity. In Baghdad, circa 2005, there were 175,000 US troops engaging various guerilla forces. On top of that, the government's police never bothered with the pretense of scruples and corruption was standard fare. Private security quickly became a profitable enterprise.

It is often suggested by advocates of a free society that, theoretically, defense would be an individual endeavor. So long as individuals are free to own property, goes the argument, they'll be able to arm themselves for protection. This is largely how it played out in Iraq. Each adult male was permitted to own one AK-47 rifle, for personal defense, and gun ownership was nearly ubiquitous. (This allowance was expanded later to allow shotguns for hunting).

As an added layer of protection, many neighborhoods employed night watchmen. These were typically middle-aged men who were contracted by their neighbors to patrol the streets and defend against thieves. Their teenage sons would often assist, and we came to know the groups well. Some took employment in the markets, hired by the business owners to protect commercial interests. Others were posted near residential street corners, keeping a watchful eye on their clients' homes through the night.

These were trusted men in the community, who had found a way to earn a living in a ravaged economy by supplying a highly valued service to their fellow man. They did as good or better a job than we did at securing neighborhoods. Recognizing this, we equipped them with infrared lights, indicating they were friendlies, to help protect them from our helicopter gunships and other units passing through the area at night.


In each of these cases, where proponents of the state argue we must have active government involvement, individuals found voluntary, peaceful solutions to their problems. In spite of the failure by both the Iraqi and US governments to provide essential services, such as adequate electrical power and the defense of property, private solutions quickly sprang up among the violence and disorder. Money too was not something that required a government fiat to make trade possible. The market, unhindered by the state, provided a currency by which individuals could exchange with one another.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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

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6 April, 2012

Chag Pesach kasher ve sameach

OR: "Have a kosher and happy Passover holiday!" to my Jewish readers. An interesting dream below:

Pesach this year coincides with Easter Friday and I will make my usual effort to get along to my old Presbyterian church for the service. It's nice to be back where I began.


Easter Service

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Growing up in rural Georgia, Easter meant not only the resurrection of Jesus, but also a new Sunday dress, a hat, gloves and more chocolate than I could eat, at least at one time.

My clearest memory of Easter is not of all the candy that I ate, but of the beauty of the morning as we celebrated Easter during a sunrise service on top of a mountain. I'm not even sure where we were. We had gotten up early and driven a while. It was quite chilly, and I had a sweater wrapped around my shoulders.

The woods surrounded us, and the view was of the valley below. Azaleas were in bloom, and the trees were bright green. As the sun rose, fog came up from the ground, making the cross behind the altar barely visible. The area surrounding the cross was both hazy and bright: hazy from the fog, bright from the sun. The cross became clearer as the sun ascended in the sky and the fog burned off.

As the cross became clearer, the colors of the flowers and trees appeared brighter. The contrast of the cross, the symbol of Jesus' death, and the new growth of the trees and flowers were stark at the time, but now seem a perfect juxtaposition.

As a child, Easter seemed to be more about Jesus' death and his burial. Time was spent wondering during the service: What would a crown of thorns feel like, how would Jesus have been able to carry the cross, how could his mother have borne the loss of her son? Jesus' resurrection was, of course, mentioned, but not focused upon.

As an adult, I find myself spending more time thinking about Jesus' resurrection, what it meant to his disciples and what it means to me. Possibly as the balance of my life becomes shorter, and my eventual demise more evident, it is natural to focus on the life hereafter, rather than focus on death that is coming closer and closer.



Obama is a fake from beginning to end

He must have floated through law school on the basis of his skin color only

After all, someone who graduated from Harvard Law School, edited the Harvard Law Review, and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School must be familiar with Marbury v. Madison. As Wikipedia explains, it's an important case:

"Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803) is a landmark case in United States law and in the history of law worldwide. It formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution. It was also the first time in Western history a court invalidated a law by declaring it "unconstitutional." The landmark decision helped define the boundary between the constitutionally separate executive and judicial branches of the American form of government."

And yet President Obama yesterday implicitly claimed never to have heard of it, allowing him to say regarding Obamacare that it would be an "unprecedented, extraordinary" step for the Supreme Court to overturn legislation passed by a "strong majority of a democratically elected Congress." The precedents go back 209 years and, as Jonah Goldberg pointed out on "Special Report" last night, the Supreme Court has been overturning acts of Congress ever since, on average every 16 months.

So overturning Obamacare would be about as unprecedented as the sun rising in the east tomorrow morning. Actually the precedents go back even further, as Alexander Hamilton mentioned the power of judicial review in Federalist Paper 78, written in 1788. The last president to seriously challenge the court's power to overturn an act of Congress under the doctrine of judicial review was Andrew Jackson, who famously said after one decision he didn't like, "The court has made its decision; now let it enforce it."

The court has overturned laws based on the Commerce Clause as recently as 1995 (United States v. Lopez) and 2000 (United States v. Morrison). Both of those were relatively minor cases, although significant for putting limits on federal power under the Commerce Clause for the first time since the early New Deal.

But major pieces of legislation have also been overturned. The National Recovery Act of 1933 was the last piece of legislation passed during the "Hundred Days." Its purpose was, essentially, to cartelize the entire United States economy under the direction of the National Recovery Administration (the NRA, whose symbol was the famous blue eagle). Franklin Roosevelt called the legislation "the most important and far-reaching ever enacted by the American Congress." But that didn't stop the Supreme Court from overturning it in May 1935, by a vote of 9-0.

The National Recovery Act passed the House by a large majority and the Senate by 46-39. The "strong majority" mentioned by Obama in the passage of Obamacare did not exist. It passed the Senate 60-39 on Christmas Eve, when the Senate, briefly, had a filibuster-proof majority. But by the time a vote neared in the House, that filibuster-proof majority had vanished with the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. So the House had to pass the Senate bill unchanged in order to get it to the President's desk. Only much arm-twisting and deal-making allowed the bill to pass the House with a majority of only seven votes, 219-212. It garnered not a single Republican vote in either house, the first time so important a piece of legislation was passed on a totally partisan basis.



Is America slowly sinking into Fascism?

I was recently looking into the divisive issue of U.S. Marine Sgt. Gary Stein, whose position has come under threat due to his criticisms of Barack Obama and his founding of the `Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook Page'. What I discovered was a large number of Americans in support of Stein's right to speak as a citizen (even under Marine regulations) against the unconstitutional actions of any president or presidential candidate. I also discovered a considerable number who wanted to see the soldier dishonorably discharged, or even set upon a noose as punishment.

Surely, we can debate over the details of Marine regulations until our ears bleed, and I could point out several facts that the mainstream media did not cover in their hit pieces on Stein (like the fact that he went to his superiors and asked them to advise him in the handling of his political position long before the present charges against him were ever formulated, and the fact that he followed many of their suggestions.), but ultimately, the regulations of the Marines or the Federal Government are irrelevant. Such laws are transitory, and are usually written so broadly that the authorities of the day can execute them however they wish to fit their needs at the moment. The real question here is one of principle, moral compass, and Constitutionality (a document which is a reflection of eternal natural law). We have to set aside the pointless legalese of defense standards in the case of Sgt. Stein and ask ourselves an important question; do U.S. troops have a right to free speech?

If you believe so, then their rights are not limited or exclusive. They are free to say whatever any other American has a right to say. If you believe they do not, then you have relegated the troops to the position of second class citizens, or even property of the state. There is NO in-between. Discipline and military coherence be damned. Either these men and women have First Amendment protections and are full citizens or they are mechanisms of the government whose civil liberties have been erased.

Even though I understand the psychology behind it, I am still shaken with raw electrical astonishment when confronted by those who support the latter notion that American soldiers are indeed property of the state, that their actions must be dictated by the president and not the Constitution, and that this is required for the military to function.

Very few of these absurd multitudes ever ask what "function" such a military, populated by ethical robots who are blindly subservient to the dictates of a single man, would actually serve?

What good is an unprincipled military? An unprincipled government? An unprincipled society? What reason is there for these constructs to exist? The Nuremberg Trials solidified the reality that soldiers will be held accountable for following criminal orders, and still, there are some who claim that our troops must adopt a shoot first pay later methodology.

I bring up the circumstances of Sgt. Stein to illustrate the situation our nation is currently facing; we are on the threshold of total despotism, where the naysayers who shrugged off the threat of rogue government yesterday suddenly embrace it and support it today. When Stewart Rhodes first formed the Oath Keepers organization, the same talking point was consistently used in an attempt to derail it; "The orders you would refuse to obey could never occur in this country."

And yet, many of the warnings of Oath Keepers have come to pass, including the unlawful disarming of peaceful U.S. citizens during the disaster in New Orleans, the institution of government directed assassination programs of U.S. citizens under Bush and Obama, the passing of NDAA legislation which includes provisions for indefinite detainment of Americans without trial, warrantless wiretapping, surveillance, and even home invasion by authorities is becoming common, and the Obama Administration has put into place several executive orders (including the The National Defense Resources Preparedness EO) which pave the way for Martial Law to be declared.

The cold hard reality is, the Oath Keepers were right, and Sgt. Stein is right.

And, now that this is becoming undeniable, the opponents of their tenets are switching gears to fight for the implementation of unconstitutional laws which they used to deny were even possible. Can this situation be any more insane? Oh yes.

There are no limits to the surrealist hell that can be unleashed when dealing with what I like to call the "Slave Mentality". The slave mentality takes many shapes. It is pervasive in times of social distress, and, it can be infectious. The psychologist Carl Jung wrote in his book `The Undiscovered Self' that the cruel sociopathy seen in the populations of Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia is actually latent in many of us. All it needs is the right set of sociopolitical circumstances and a weak enough will, and the shadows in the hearts of lesser men are given license to come out and play. This is just as true in America, where people now operated on assumptions that the state is an absolute provider in the event of national calamity.

What I have seen in a number of the reactions to the honest activism of Sgt. Gary Stein is a knee-jerk bias that reeks of the slave mentality, but it offers us a window in gauging the leanings of the general public. Now that the once theoretical dangers of federal fascism are breaking the surface of the water and circling the American sinking ship, the great test is to watch closely where the masses place their priorities. Will they take the path of the individual, admit to the laboratory mutation that our government has become, and try to make things right again? Or, will they take the path of the slave, forget their past follies and empty arguments, and jump on the totalitarian bandwagon?



An uncivil income tax system

by Jeff Jacoby

EACH YEAR in the United States, an estimated 6.1 billion hours are spent complying with the federal tax code. I'm pretty sure at least half of those hours are spent by me.

With less than two weeks remaining before this year's tax returns are due, I've barely made a dent in my stack of forms, receipts, and instructions. Each year the prospect of doing my taxes looms more daunting and dismal than the year before. Each year I wonder where I'll find the time, never mind the patience, to get it done. Each year's tax ordeal seems to require more mental energy, more double-checking of math, more scouring of check registers and credit-card statements and brokerage records. And yet when I finally hit that "Send" button, I'm less certain than ever that I haven't inadvertently screwed something up. And if that's true for someone like me, whose financial arrangements are not especially abstruse, how much more miserable tax season must be for taxpayers whose circumstances are more elaborate.

Some people claim they file their tax returns cheerfully. They approvingly quote Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.'s dictum that "taxes are what we pay for civilized society." I quote instead that eminent commentator Dave Barry: "It's income-tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil and stab yourself in the aorta."

Not surprisingly, the Internal Revenue Service embraces Holmes's words. They are chiseled over the entrance to the IRS headquarters in Washington, DC. Yet I doubt whether Holmes, who retired from the Supreme Court in 1932, would think there was anything civilized about what the federal tax system has turned into, or the burdens, confusions, and complexity it imposes on honest taxpayers.

When Holmes first expressed that sentiment about taxes and civilization in a 1904 speech, the federal income tax didn't even exist. That had changed by 1927, when Holmes's phrase appears in one of his dissenting opinions. But even then, all of federal tax law -- not just the Sixteenth Amendment and Revenue Act of 1913, but the entire corpus of related regulations, rulings, and forms -- took up fewer than 500 pages. Today, the Standard Federal Tax Reporter runs to 73,608 pages in 25 volumes, and consumes nine feet of shelf space.

Is it any wonder, then, that the paperwork, record-keeping, calculations, form-preparation, and filing procedures required to pay federal taxes have become one of the great soul-crushing time sinks in American life? Or that the National Taxpayer Advocate (the independent ombudsman within the IRS) declared flatly last year that "the most serious problem facing taxpayers - and the IRS - is the complexity of the Internal Revenue Code"? Or that the Tax Foundation concluded in 2005 that income-tax compliance costs amounted to a stunning $265.1 billion -- in effect, "a 22-cent . surcharge for every dollar the income tax system collects"?

By now the great majority of individual tax filers has decided that putting together their tax returns without paying for help isn't feasible. According to a 2011 MarketTools study, only 12 percent of US taxpayers still complete their federal income taxes without hiring an accountant, visiting a tax-preparation firm such as H&R Block, or buying tax-preparation software. I gave up trying to prepare my returns by hand years ago; like tens of millions of other Americans, I now put my fate in the hands of TurboTax.

All of which is terrific for the tax-preparation industry, and perhaps April is anything but the cruelest month for those who make their living as a CPA or own stock in Intuit (which makes TurboTax). For the nation as a whole, however, the labyrinthine tortures of our tax system have serious social consequences.

Our tax code's lack of clarity -- and the flood of special-interest giveaways and preferences that make it so cumbersome -- has turned innumerable taxpayers into cynics. Americans conclude that the whole setup is rigged, and that only a sucker doesn't bend the rules in order to pay less or finagle a bigger refund. How many people who wouldn't think of ripping off a local charity or business don't hesitate to cheat on their taxes? In such an environment, it isn't only compliance rates that suffer. Some of the civic virtue so important to a healthy society is lost as well. Jimmy Carter was right in 1976 when he called the US income tax "a disgrace to the human race." Thirty-six years later, it's more disgraceful -- and maddening -- than ever.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


5 April, 2012

What Left-Wing Law Professors Really Think About You, and the Role of Lawyers

Hans Bader

You’re just a lab rat to be socially re-engineered by activist judges and lawyers — who think they know how to run your life better than you do — or a chump to be fleeced for lawyers’ enrichment. That’s the message some law professors apparently instill in students at Howard University: “At Howard, they tell us as soon as we get there, ‘If you’re going to be a lawyer, you’re either a social engineer or a parasite on society,’” a student at Howard declared. “That’s how I think about life, is to be a social engineer.” (Although Howard University is nominally “private” and thus not accountable to taxpayers, it is directly “funded by the U.S. Government, which gives approximately $235 million annually” to it in special appropriations.)

Promoting social engineering by lawyers (through “institutional-reform” lawsuits brought by left-wing lawyers and law-school clinics) is a bad idea. Left-wing law professors are a bossy lot: some want to ban conservative or politically-incorrect speech as “hostile-environment harassment,” control what you eat and drink, control your sex life (they view heterosexual sex as patriarchal and thus “consensual rape”), raise your taxes through state-court decrees ordering increased funding of government programs, and take away your property (and your children, if you home-school them). They also often lack common sense, or a grasp of certain basic realities of life. One of my professors at Harvard Law School was notorious among his colleagues for behaving as if on drugs. Another of my professors, the radical Duncan Kennedy, who was so prominent and respected among law professors that he was called the “Pope” of the “Critical Legal Studies” movement, advocated rotating the law professors and the janitors into each others’ jobs. (The janitors liked the idea of being paid like law professors, but had no interest in teaching law, and thought Kennedy’s idea was flaky. Kennedy himself was married to a wealthy heiress, and did not need a law professor’s handsome salary to live on. America would be better off being run by Harvard Law School’s modest, hard-working janitors than by its mostly left-wing law professors.)

As I noted earlier, much of what law schools teach their students is useless drivel, and law schools routinely exaggerate their students’ job prospects. Thus, there is no reason to require people to attend law school before sitting for the bar exam. As law professor Paul Campos notes, legal education is often a rip-off, since the typical law professor has virtually no real-world experience practicing law, and “knows nothing about being a lawyer.” But since most states require people to attend law school before sitting for the bar exam, law schools have been able to increase tuition by nearly 1,000 percent in real terms.

A New York Times article last year described how law-school educations for newly-hired corporate lawyers were so worthless that they didn’t know the basics, such as what a merger is, and how to draft the simplest legal forms needed for a merger, even though they’d spent up to $150,000 for a legal “education” at law school.

As I noted earlier in the Times,
I learned about trendy ideological fads and feminist and Marxist legal theory while at Harvard Law School. But I did not learn many basic legal principles, such as in contract law and real estate law, until I took a commercial bar-exam preparation course after law school. Getting rid of the requirement that students attend law school before taking the bar exam would save many students a fortune in student loan debt. It would also force law schools to improve their courses to attract students who now have no choice but to attend.

Law schools routinely sacrifice common sense to left-wing ideology: a classic example is Tulane’s decision to give a convicted murderer a scholarship to attend its law school, even though he most likely could never be admitted to the Bar given his criminal record.

Many state-funded law-school clinics effectively sue state taxpayers, both by suing businesses in their home state (thus killing jobs), and by suing their state governments to demand increases in government spending on various programs — something discussed at length in Walter Olson’s recent book Schools for Misrule.

Earlier generations of lawyers were more leery about the cost to society of lawsuits. They also had a more favorable view of lawyers’ role in defending property rights, and in helping people reach mutually-agreeable settlements. They rejected the idea that lawyers should be parasites who profit from legal strife. Abraham Lincoln was a prominent lawyer for the Illinois Central Railroad. He did not view lawsuits as the way to fix the world, much less as a form of social engineering. As he once advised,
Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this. . .A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession which should drive such men out of it.



Did Barack Obama Campaign Threaten Life of Chelsea Clinton to Keep Parents Silent on Obama’s Ineligibility?

I am not sure what to make of the story below. I think it needs corroboration. On the other hand, I wouldn't put anything past Obama and his minions. Leftists constantly tell us that "There's no such thing as right and wrong" so it should not surprise us if they act in accordance with that belief -- JR

Most people in the US, especially Democrats, believe that the Obama Birther Movement was started by Republicans and or the Tea Party. They believe it is a smear campaign aimed to tarnish the image of their hero of change. But they may be shocked to learn that the Birther Movement was actually started by former President Bill Clinton and Hillary back in 2008.

Bettina Viviano was a vice president with Amblin Enterntainment, Steven Spielberg’s company, before launching her own film production company in 1990. In 2008, Viviano was asked to produce a documentary about voter fraud within the Democratic Party. At the time, she says she was not a Democrat or a Republican and in fact had never voted in an election. She went into the project with the sole purpose of producing the best and most accurate documentary possible.

During the documentary process, Viviano says that she quickly became aware of just how dangerous and insidious the Obama campaign was. A number of the Democrats she interviewed refused to appear on camera and told her that their lives and property had been threatened by people working with the Obama campaign.

She also heard former President Bill Clinton say that Obama was not eligible to be president because of his lack of birth records. In fact, she said it was common knowledge around many top Democrats. Bill Clinton has often said that he would go public with the information when the time was right.

Before that could happen, his close friend and head of the Arkansas Democratic Party, Bill Gwatney was murdered in his office and then someone told Bill that he was next if he said anything about Obama’s eligibility. In the video below, she said that Clinton was not intimidated until someone associated with the Obama campaign told him that his daughter Chelsea would be next if he opened his mouth. From that point on, the Clinton’s remained silent about Obama’s birth certificate or lack thereof.

This is a powerful video from a lady that has nothing to gain and probably everything to lose by coming forward with her information. It could well ruin her career in Hollywood as so many of the film industry are flaming liberals. It could also cost her her life.

I took note of how she described the Obama campaign’s reign of terror and intimidation and how well coordinated it was. I thought to myself that if they were bold enough to threaten the life of the Clinton’s daughter then have they made similar threats to all of the leading Republicans in both the House and Senate? Is this why Congress has remained so silent ever since Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s March 1st news conference where he provided the American people with the evidence that Obama’s birth certificate and Selective Service Cards are forgeries?

When you see how blatantly Obama has defied the US Constitution and federal law without any apology or excuses, it’s not hard to believe that he, like every other dictator in history, obtained his position by intimidation, threats and outright violence. Knowing he is capable of this has to make every single American extremely fearful if Obama gets re-elected.

And if the voter fraud will be as prevalent in November as it was in 2008, it seems a sure thing that he will be re-elected. Obama has had the DOJ strike down every voter ID law and any other measure taken, to reduce the chance of voter fraud. They have set the stage for an old fashioned Chicago style election with padded and illegal votes. Wait a minute, he is a Chicago politician, so guess he’s just following local history at a national level.



Americans Want More Control Over Their Own Health Care

ObamaCare's popular provisions lose their appeal once Americans are confronted with the consequences

With the three-day ObamaCare circus at the Supreme Court behind us, let’s fast-forward to June. Suppose that five justices find their constitutional bearings and do what a majority of Americans want them to do: Scrap the individual mandate, the key provision without which the law will collapse. What then?

Will that mean that our current system can just lumber along as is? No. America’s health care system is wasteful, inefficient and way too expensive: The U.S. retail price for an MRI, excluding professional fees, exceeds $4,000—about 20 times more than in Japan and France. This makes it extremely hard for Americans without coverage to spring for their own care, creating a system of medical haves and have-nots. It is not surprising, therefore, that a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll earlier this month found that six out of 10 Americans want lawmakers to keep searching for workable reforms even if the Supreme Court eventually kills the president’s reform law.

But any reform has to be based on the correct diagnosis of the problem. The administration's main argument for ObamaCare's mandate—that unless every freeloader is forced to buy coverage, we won’t be able to control spiraling health care costs—is a total red herring. The cost of uncompensated emergency care in America adds up to only about $40.7 billion annually, less than 3 percent of the country’s total health care spending. Arguably, even if hospitals were not legally required to treat uninsured patients, they would provide that amount of care pro bono—just as they do in India, a far poorer country. Many private, for-profit hospitals I queried during a previous visit reported treating up to 10 percent of their patients for free. American law firms, by comparison, aim to offer 3 to 5 percent of their billable hours in pro bono services.

But the question remains: What kind of reforms do Americans want? The Obama administration completely misread the public mood when it based its decision to craft a 2,700-page, Rube Goldberg-style makeover of literally one-sixth of our economy on polls suggesting that Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes for universal coverage. Worse, a joint Reason-Rupe poll released last week found that the misnamed Affordable Care Act—a.k.a. ObamaCare—imposed trade-offs that Americans were simply unwilling to accept. The act’s supporters insist that even though a majority of Americans view the overall law unfavorably, many of its specific provisions are quite popular. But the problem is that most polls pose questions in a vacuum, without actually confronting Americans with the consequences of their choices. The Reason-Rupe poll was among the few to do so systematically, and it found that although Americans do want equity and coverage for all, they want control, choice and quality for themselves even more.

Like other polls, it found that Americans don’t want the government forcing them to buy coverage, although they were more amenable to employers being forced to provide coverage to employees, even if that means job losses and pay cuts. Indeed, 56 percent of respondents said they were fine with an employer mandate, compared to the 39 percent who said they were not.

Americans like the idea of giving everyone the same access to health care, regardless of medical status—except if it means sacrificing affordability or quality. Fifty-two percent approved of the community rating provision in the law, which would ban insurance companies from charging higher premiums based on medical history, compared to 39 percent who opposed it. But this support drops precipitously if the provision’s side effects include longer wait times for doctors (41 percent) or higher premiums (38 percent) or higher taxes (37 percent) or lower-quality care (15 percent).

But what was truly revealing was how eager Americans are to control their own health care dollars. Forty-eight percent said they’d prefer it if their employers gave them the money to purchase their own coverage, compared to 41 percent who would not. Even more remarkably, 65 percent of Americans want Medicare payouts in the form of a credit for use toward a private health plan, compared to 24 percent who don’t. This is good news for Rep. Paul Ryan’s “premium support” proposal for Medicare reform.

All of this makes perfect sense in light of another finding. When asked to rate how much they trust various entities in “addressing their health care needs,” 61 percent said they have a “great deal of trust” in themselves—but only 15 percent said that of their employers, and 5 percent of the government.

What’s more, Americans want to make their own coverage decisions. Almost 70 percent said they want the same ability to shop around for “a less expensive or better [health] insurance policy” as they have for their auto insurance.

So what are the implications of all this for health care reform? Americans are not dogmatically opposed to government intervention in health care markets. But their intuitions are more in line with advocates of consumer-based medicine who believe that the best way to control spiraling costs—the key to improving access—is to give patients more control over their medical dollars and inject a modicum of price sensitivity into our health care system.

If the Supreme Court relegates ObamaCare to the dustbin of history, Congress ought to bear that in mind when it crafts a revised bill. The last thing the country needs is another failed reform effort.




"Married" homosexuals sue for immigration rights: "Immigration advocates have filed a lawsuit on behalf of several married gay couples, alleging a federal law violates their constitutional rights by preventing them from sponsoring their spouses for green cards. The complaint, which challenges the federal Defense of Marriage Act, was filed in federal court in Brooklyn by Immigration Equality, an advocacy group."

WA: Court says employer can’t fire mentally ill worker: "In his time at Cottonwood Financial, Sean Reilly had overcome much. He had risen the company ranks from assistant to head store manager, and even won performance awards in spite of his bipolar disorder. Yet he claims that when he requested leave in 2007 to give him time to adjust to a new medication, he was fired. Reilly filed suit, alleging employment discrimination under federal disability law, and on Thursday, the District Court for Eastern Washington ordered the financial services company to pay Reilly a total of $56,500 in damages."

Why Does Department Of Homeland Security Need 450 MILLION Hollow Point Bullets?: "Somebody out there has decided that the Department of Homeland Security needs a whole lot of ammunition. Recently it was announced that ATK was awarded a contract to provide up to 450 MILLION hollow point bullets to the Department of Homeland Security over the next five years. Is it just me, or does that sound incredibly excessive? What in the world is the DHS going to do with 450 million rounds? What possible event would ever require that much ammunition? If the United States were ever invaded, it would be the job of the U.S. military to defend the country, so that can't be it. So what are all of those bullets for? Who does the Department of Homeland Security plan to be shooting at?"


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


4 April, 2012

Media distortion bears fruit as Harvard academic laps it up without checking

The following paragraph was written by Nancy Gertner, a retired US District Court judge, and a professor at Harvard Law School:
"Nothing prevents the Sanford police from critically evaluating Zimmerman’s account, as police do in so many situations, and concluding that it was contradicted by the girlfriend’s account, by 911 tapes of other bystanders shortly before the killing, that it makes no sense for Martin to start a fight since Zimmerman obviously had a gun in a holster, was substantially larger than Martin, since the encounter took place close to where Martin was staying and he was moments away from safety."

She's accepted uncritically the relevance of all those pretty media pictures showing Martin when he was about 12 years old. She really thinks that Zimmerman was the tall one -- when in fact Martin was 6" taller than Zimmerman.

What a clown she is! If that's what passes for proper judicial scrutiny at Harvard, we are all in big trouble. Anybody who appeared before when she was a judge and lost his case should take a screenshot of her original article above and use it to petition for a re-opening of his case.

I've got a question for the learned lady. What would she feel if she found the guy in the photo below looking down on her on a dark night?

Because that's a picture of the 17 year old 6'3" Trayvon Martin that Zimmerman encountered. And don't forget that it is she, not I who said that height is important.

The first time I saw the media pictures of Martin and then read his age I smelt a rat. Blind Freddy would know that a normal black male would be at or near full physical maturity at age 17 -- as Martin indeed was -- so why were they showing pictures of what looked like a 12-year-old kid? Easy answer: The whole thing is a media beatup designed to sell newspapers. And people lacking in critical thinking ability -- such as Harvard faculty -- fell for it hook line and sinker.

And if you think it's not a beatup consider the two cases below for contrast:

Shawn Tyson (above) was sentenced this week for murdering two white British tourists in Florida. No rallies against violence and no charges of racism. Tyson even referred to his victims as "crackers" so it was a clear hate crime.

Terry Moore, 32, was beaten this week by a mob of black males. Again, no rallies against racism; no public outpouring of support for the victim. Such black-on-White violence is the norm and only rarely makes it to anything but local headlines.



The Invincible Dogma

Thomas Sowell

A long-standing legal charade was played out again recently, when Federal Express paid $3 million to settle an employment discrimination case brought by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Federal Express was accused of both racial discrimination and sex discrimination. FedEx denied it.

Why then did they pay the $3 million? Because it can cost a lot more than $3 million to fight a discrimination case. Years ago, the Sears department store chain spent $20 million fighting a sex discrimination charge that took 15 years to make its way through the legal labyrinth. In the end, Sears won -- if spending $20 million and getting nothing in return can be called winning.

Federal Express was apparently not prepared to spend that kind of money and that kind of time fighting a discrimination case. The net result is that the government and much of the media can now claim that race, sex and other discrimination are rampant, considering how many anti-discrimination cases have been "won."

At the heart of these legal charades is the prevailing dogma that statistical disparities in employment -- or mortgage lending, or anything else -- show discrimination. In both the Federal Express case and the earlier Sears case, statistical differences between the mix of the workforce and the population mix were the key evidence presented to show discrimination.

In the Sears case, there was not even one woman who worked in any of the company's 900 stores who claimed to have been discriminated against. It was all a matter of statistics -- and of the arbitrary dogma that statistical disparities show discrimination.

Once statistical disparities have been demonstrated, the burden of proof shifts to the employer to prove his innocence, contrary to centuries of legal tradition that the burden of proof in on the accuser.

No burden of proof whatever is put on those who argue as if there would be a random distribution of racial and other groups in the absence of discrimination.

Happenstances may be random but performances seldom are. Most people are right-handed but, among major league hitters with lifetime batting averages of .330 and up, there have been 15 left-handed batters and only 5 right-handed batters since the beginning of the 20th century. All the best-selling beers in the United States were created by people of German ancestry. Anyone who follows professional basketball knows that most of the leading stars are black.

Some years ago, a study of National Merit Scholarship finalists found that more than half were first-born children, even in five-child families. Jews are less than one percent of the world's population but they won 14 percent of the Nobel Prizes in literature and the sciences during the first half of the 20th century, and 29 percent during the second half.

It would be no problem at all to fill this whole column -- or this entire page -- with examples from around the world of gross statistical disparities in outcomes, in situations where discrimination was not involved. But those who take the opposite view -- that numbers show discrimination -- do not have to produce one speck of evidence to back up that sweeping conclusion.

Human beings are not random events. Individuals and groups have different histories, cultures, skills and attitudes. Why would anyone expect them to be distributed anywhere in a pattern based on statistical theories of random events? Much less make the absence of such a pattern become a basis for multimillion dollar lawsuits?

However little evidence or logic there may be behind the belief that an absence of random distribution shows discrimination, there are nevertheless strong incentives for some people to cling to that belief anyway. Those who lag behind -- whether educationally, economically or otherwise -- have every incentive to think of themselves as victims of those who are more successful.

Those who want their votes have every incentive to go along, or even to actively promote that idea. So do those who want to see issues as moral melodramas, starring themselves on the side of the angels against the forces of evil. The net result is an invincible dogma -- and a polarized country.



They Don’t Know Us

Dennis Prager

Apparently, many liberals were disappointed in the administration’s performance before the Supreme Court. They felt that the government’s lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, did not respond effectively to the challenges of some of the conservative justices.

The editor of Commentary, John Podhoretz, offered an explanation on his magazine’s blog. “American liberals,” he wrote, “know their own language, but they don’t know the language of their ideological and partisan opposite numbers. ... Conservatives speak liberal, but for liberals in the United States, conservatism might as well be Esperanto.”

I have argued this point for many years. In my book to be published later this month ("Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph"), I argue that the left is a victim of its own brainwash. How could they not be? All they hear, see and read from childhood on, from elementary school through graduate school, on TV and in the movies, are leftist ideas.

Yet this is not true for conservatives. One would have to grow up in a silent monastery not to be regularly exposed to liberal and leftist ideas.

For 30 years, I have had leading left-wing thinkers on my radio show, and I continue to be shocked at their lack of awareness of conservative arguments. About two years ago, for example, I asked one of the most powerful Democratic members of Congress -- a major force behind every tax increase -- what tax rate he thought might be too high. He replied that he had not given it thought. I asked a leading liberal writer who maintained that all American wars since World War II had been imperialist if he thought the Korean War was also imperialistic. He replied that he didn’t know enough about that war to respond.

After interviewing leftists, liberal listeners frequently ask me why I don’t invite the best liberals on to my show.

The answer is that I have had some of the best liberals on my show. They just don’t tend to do well when challenged by thoughtful conservatives.

That may be why the majority of influential liberals refuse to go on conservative talk radio or to debate conservatives.



Economic “Recovery” Is Slow and Weak Due to Obama Administration Policies

Usually, after the economy suffers an unusually severe recession, it bounces back in an unusually rapid recovery — what some economists and others refer to as the “rubber-band effect.” But not now. Despite the huge worldwide fall in GDP in 2008-09, the economy has experienced only a weak recovery, with fewer people employed in America today than when President Obama took office. “At this point in the typical post-World War II recovery, the economy was growing at an average pace of nearly 5 percent. The Obama recovery has managed just over 2 percent.” As James Pethokoukis notes in the New York Post,
A Federal Reserve study from late last year looked at the behavior of recoveries from recessions across 59 advanced and emerging market economies during the last 40 years. The Fed found, to no great surprise, that recoveries “tend to be faster” after severe recessions, such as the one we just had. . .The deeper the downturn, the more robust the rebound — unless government messes things up.

For example, during the 1981-82 recession, output fell by 2.7 percent and then rose by 15.9 percent over the next 10 quarters (at an average pace of 6.0 percent). During the Great Recession, output fell even more, by 5.1 percent. But during the 10 quarters since, total economic output is up only a paltry 6.2 percent. Score one for Reaganomics.

But what about the depressing effect of Wall Street’s near-death experience back in 2008 and 2009? Well, that same Fed study found that bank or other financial crises “do not affect the strength” of subsequent recoveries. . .[What] might explain half of the Obama recovery’s underperformance versus the Reagan recovery. . .? Maybe we can attribute that to policy differences.

While one president cut long-term marginal tax rates, the other tried a massive burst of federal spending. One empowered private enterprise; the other empowered government.

Obama administration policies are preventing more jobs from being created. Obamacare is causing layoffs in the medical device industry, and is preventing some employers from hiring and from making the investments needed for new jobs and expanded operations. The Dodd-Frank law backed by President Obama has also wiped out jobs and driven thousands of jobs overseas. Recent EPA rules will wipe out hundreds of thousands of jobs. Andrew Stiles describes ten job-destroying regulations from the Obama Administration.

Another job-killing regulation is the Obama administration’s recent demand that trucking companies employ alcoholics as truckers rather than assigning them to less safety-sensitive positions — a demand that will lead to costly lawsuits against trucking companies by accident victims, and thus may discourage people from setting up new trucking companies. Another impediment to hiring is the Obama EEOC’s current practice of suing some employers who consider applicants’ arrest records and criminal convictions in hiring. If you were thinking of starting a new business, wouldn’t you be less likely to do so if you thought you would have no freedom as to whom you could hire, and no freedom to consider someone’s dangerousness or the content of their character before hiring them? (Economists say that requiring employers to ignore criminal convictions actually increases minority unemployment). The EEOC is also stepping up its attacks on certain employers who use merit-based criteria for hiring, like requiring a high-school diploma. And it is seeking to impose hiring quotas based on disability on the 200,000 employers who receive federal contracts — that is, the nation’s principal employers.

Contrary to his campaign promise of a “net spending cut,” Obama has substantially increased government spending. Legislation passed under the Obama administration has also required states to increase their spending, and incur large unfunded mandates that will lead either to increased state budget deficits or substantial state tax increases. The $800 billion stimulus package contained so-called “green jobs” funding, 79 percent of which went to foreign firms, effectively replacing American jobs with foreign green jobs. A recent biofuel program actually wiped out jobs rather than creating them as intended, while costing taxpayers a lot of money.

As Terry Catchpole noted earlier in The New York Times, Obama administration policies have wiped out jobs at companies like his:
Two years ago our executive communications company had 17 employees. Today it has seven . . . like many small businesses, we are dependent on big businesses as customers. And the big businesses that we would ordinarily depend on to become clients are sitting on their cash, because they are deathly afraid of an Obama administration that has been hostile to business . . . They have no idea where the administration’s next attack is coming from, and how much it is going to cost them to defend. So businesses do not spend money; they do not hire my company; and we cannot hire back those 10 good people we had to let go.




SCOTUS approves strip searches for minor offenses: "The routine strip search of those accused of minor offenses does not violate the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures whenever the detainee is to be housed within a general jail population, the US Supreme Court ruled on Monday. In a 5-to-4 decision, the high court said that officials at a jail or prison facility do not need individualized suspicion that a detainee is concealing a weapon or contraband before conducting a visual inspection of the most private areas of a person’s body." [The Bill of Rights takes another beating]

CA: Federal court upholds ban on racial, gender discrimination: "California’s ban on using race or gender as a factor in college admissions survived another legal challenge Monday when a federal appeals court upheld the law passed by state voters more than 15 years ago. ... In October, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on whether race-based affirmative action programs are legal."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


3 April, 2012

Democrats: Do as we say, not as we do

The Leftist immigration lawyer below accuses the GOP of bad faith in their approach to a White House regulatory reform

But who is responsible for the bad faith? When Obama releases tens of thousands of illegals even after they are caught, how can anyone have faith that he is honestly doing his best to enforce the laws he has sworn to uphold? It is his actions that make all that he proposes automatically untrustworthy and worthy of rejection. If you play a rough game, you've got to expect the other side to do likewise

If illegal immigration were under control the proposals might be reasonable and acceptable, but it is not under control. As it is, they are just another way of weakening the small amount of deterrence that still exists in American immigration practice

If Obama wants co-operation, why doesn't he start deporting ALL illegals who are apprehended and blow a large trumpet declaring that he is doing that?

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is chair of the House Judiciary Committee or the head of the "Just Say No To Any Immigration Solution" crowd.

As if on cue, Smith criticized a processing tweak -- proposed Friday by the Obama administration -- which will allow undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. while the Department of Homeland Security determines whether or not denial of their green card would cause extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen spouse or parent. Smith's predictable knee-jerk reaction included the same old tired claim that the administration was trying to pull an "end around" the immigration law. I expect Smith's restrictionist friends will soon chime in with a hearty chorus of "backdoor amnesty".

Smith should have read the proposed rule change before he opened his mouth. Under the law -- which, contrary to what Smith claims, would not change one bit under the administration's proposal -- undocumented husbands, wives, sons and daughters of U.S. citizens cannot apply for a green card in the U.S. Yet, when they leave the U.S. to get right with the immigration law, they are barred by statute from returning for up to 10 years -- kind of a legal "Catch-22".

Immigrants who face the unlawful presence bar can ask the government for a waiver if they can prove their U.S. citizen spouse or parent will suffer extreme hardship -- a very difficult standard to meet. Unfortunately, due to backlogs, the overseas waiver process takes months, sometimes even years. In the meantime immigrants remain stuck abroad, separated from their loved ones in the U.S. Over the years immigrants have been seriously injured, even murdered, while waiting in dangerous cities like Ciudad Juarez.

Lost in Smith's reflexive denunciation is that the rule change would do little more than allow an immigrant to file a waiver application in the U.S. before going abroad to apply for an immigrant visa. The rigors of the law have not been altered one bit: the applicant still must meet the exacting legal standard of proving his spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship and, if the waiver is granted, the applicant still must leave the U.S. to apply for the immigrant visa abroad. Smith also fails to note that the administrative change will reduce backlogs at U.S. embassies, leading to more efficient government and smarter enforcement.

If Lamar Smith were truly interested in making the immigration system work for American families he would wholeheartedly support the administration's stateside waiver proposal. The proposal is far from perfect and needs several key adjustments, but it is a welcome step in the right direction. If implemented, it will keep American families safe and together, make visa processing more efficient and secure, and guard the rule of law. The nation deserves Congressional leaders who are committed to fixing America's broken immigration system, not politicians who offer little more than hot air.



The Hutaree "militia" case unravels

The case was designed to fuel hysteria against conservative groups in the early days of the Obama administration. The Leftist pretence was that conservatives are just as dangerous as Muslims

"We haven't worked a year and a half on this investigation and risked [an undercover agent's] life to walk away from this with 3 arrests," groused the secret police investigator two years ago. By that time it had become clear the FBI wouldn’t be able to manufacture a successful criminal conspiracy out of a few trivial firearms violations and a surfeit of anti-government rhetoric.

The Hutaree was the first non-Muslim "domestic extremist" group to be cast as the lead in one of the Bureau’s post-911 Homeland Security Theater productions. U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts, who was able to see the plot holes in the FBI’s implausible script, had the character and good sense – traits otherwise all but impossible to find on the bench – to dismiss the case with prejudice [i.e. She barred re-opening the case]

In her order granting the defense motion for summary judgment, Roberts – who had previously expressed severe skepticism regarding the supposed merits of the case – lambasted the Feds for repeatedly venturing beyond "inference to pure speculation" and "attempting to formulate an alternative theory of criminal liability" when it became clear that they couldn’t provide tangible evidence of intent to commit an overt criminal act. This resulted in a theory of the case "based primarily on two conversations … the first on August 13, 2009, and the second on February 20, 2010."

The Hutaree "militia" was a loosely organized group of obscure people united by their entirely commendable hostility toward the criminal clique calling itself the United States Government. They apparently shared a set of apocalyptic beliefs about the imminent rise of the Antichrist, and they engaged in survivalist training in anticipation of the End Times, when they might confront the necessity to use defensive force against government agents – whether foreign or domestic – in league with the enemy.

The original indictment – which Judge Roberts eviscerated in a preliminary ruling – accused the Michigan dissidents of making material preparations to carry out specific criminal acts. When it was shown that there was no evidence to support that charge, the Feds shifted their focus and charged them with "seditious conspiracy," which consisted of expressing opinions about government corruption and making physical preparations to for self-defense against criminal violence perpetrated by government authorities.

Citing a Supreme Court precedent (Russell v. United States, 1962) holding that the prosecution isn’t "free to roam at large – to shift its theory of criminality so as to take advantage of each passing vicissitude of the trial," Roberts observed that the Feds were not free to "say that the alleged plan set forth [in the original indictment] is irrelevant." Yet that’s precisely what they attempted to do.

Although the supposed police assassination plot was central to the case against the Hutaree, "the Government did not provide sufficient proof of the existence of a conspiracy at all," ruled Judge Roberts. "The Government says it is not certain whether the Hutaree intended to initiate the conflict, or simply engage in it once it was initiated by others."

While Hutaree members frequently engaged in what were described as "diatribes" against law enforcement, "all of this speech is protected by the First Amendment," Roberts observed. Expressing hatred for the government’s enforcement caste "is not the same as seditious conspiracy."

Under the Government’s theory of the case, Roberts noted, one could be charged with "sedition" simply through his or her "mere presence at the scene" when a Hutaree activist spoke about "going to war and killing police."

One of the defendants, Tina Mae Stone, was described by the Feds as an "active, engaged and vocal member" of the purported conspiracy because she overheard two conversations – one regarding a planned trip to Kentucky by David Stone, Sr. and the federal informant, and a second that took place in an FBI-rented warehouse in which the provocateur "discussed explosives" with Mr. Stone.

The latter conversation touched on the subject of using coffee cans and wine bottles to make improvised explosively formed projectiles (EFPs). Ms. Stone joked that "she would take one for the team and drink more wine, presumably so that the bottles could be used to make explosives," Roberts recounts. The Feds characterized that wisecrack as evidence that she had "played an active, unhesitant, and continuing role in obtaining materials to use in building EFPs" – despite the fact that she was present for only one meeting with the Hutaree co-defendants, and never provided them with anything.

Following dismissal of the case, Hutaree defendant Michael Meeks, a 42-year-old former Marine, said that the salient lesson taught by the case was the need for Americans to "watch what you say. Even the most innocent of statements can be used against you."

Actually, the lesson is that anything said in your presence can be used against you – and if a sufficiently incriminating remark isn't forthcoming from you or your friends, the Feds can always pay somebody to perform on cue, and on camera.

While the Feds didn’t succeed in imprisoning the Hutaree defendants for life, they were able to steal more than two years of their respective lives through pre-trial incarceration.

As a consolation prize, the Feds were able to extort guilty pleas from David Stone, Sr. and his son Joshua on weapons charges, which could result in prison terms.

Although U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade – the Madam DeFarge behind this case – wasn’t able to feed the defendants to the guillotine, she expressed a measure of vindictive satisfaction that the felony convictions mean "that these defendants will never be permitted to possess firearms again." She also reiterated the Regime’s intent to continue "dismantling" militias and other dissident groups suspected of impermissible animosity toward their rulers.



With Washington Now Imposing the World’s Highest Corporate Tax Rate, Every Day is April Fool’s Day for American Companies

Last year, I expressed skepticism that the White House was serious about reducing the corporate tax rate. And, sure enough, when the Obama Administration produced a plan earlier this year, it was a disappointing mix of a few good provisions and several unpalatable proposals.

This is unfortunate because the United States has one of the most punitive corporate tax systems in the developed world. Indeed, every singe European welfare state has a lower corporate tax rate than America – even leftists nations such as France and Sweden!

For a long time, only Japan imposed a more onerous tax rate than the United States. But even that now has changed. After toying with the idea since 2010, the Japanese government finally pulled the trigger and reduced the nation’s tax rate.

Here’s a brief blurb from Reuters:

"The United States will hold the dubious distinction starting on Sunday of having the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate after Japan’s drops to 38.01 percent… Japan’s reduction , prompted by years of pressure from Japanese politicians hoping to spur economic growth, will give that country the world’s second-highest rate. …The average 2012 corporate tax rate for the 34 developed countries is 25.4 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development."

That leaves America in the unenviable position of having the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate, somewhere between 39 percent-40 percent.

The moral of the story is very straightforward. A high corporate tax rate is a self-imposed wound to American competitiveness. But that’s only part of the story. America also has a “worldwide” tax system, which forces U.S. companies to suffer a big disadvantage when trying to compete for market share in other nations.

No wonder even officials from the Clinton Administration have begun to argue that the corporate tax rate should be significantly lowered.



Bankruptcy can rein in greedy public sector unions

Distressed cities are finally doing what they should have been doing long ago, declaring bankruptcy to force concessions from public unions. Numbers are still a trickle, but at soon as a major city such as Oakland or LA selects that option, we will likely see a torrent of municipal bankruptcies.

At a packed, two-day conference on municipal woes sponsored by Michael Stanton, the publisher of The Bond Buyer Distressed Cities Discuss Bold Tactics in a New Fiscal Era.
The conference was devoted to a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the more powerful tools being used in many cities these days, including receiverships, emergency declarations and even bankruptcy.

Attempts to plug budget holes with one-time transactions are giving way to other approaches, “This is truly a new era for dealing with troubled municipalities,” said Stanton.

New woes were unfolding elsewhere even as a capacity crowd of government officials, investors, lawyers and credit analysts were gathering here to discuss the trend.

In Jefferson County, Ala. — which filed the biggest Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy in American history this fall after its sewer-construction financing fell apart and a court threw out one of its taxes — county commissioners were voting to default on a general obligation bond payment.

In Detroit, city and state officials were sparring over how much emergency aid the city might be able to get, and how much state oversight and control would accompany it.

Stockton, Calif., was in negotiations in a last-ditch effort to avoid becoming the biggest American city yet to declare bankruptcy. And just two hours west of Philadelphia, Harrisburg, the state capital, recently announced that it would default on a payment coming due to general obligation bondholders.

Robert G. Flanders Jr., the state-appointed receiver for Central Falls, R.I., said his city’s declaration of bankruptcy had proved invaluable in helping it cut costs. Before the city declared bankruptcy, he said, he had found it impossible to wring meaningful concessions out of the city’s unions and retirees — who were being asked to give up roughly half of the pensions they had earned as the city ran out of cash.

“The municipality is on bended knee asking the retirees and unions to come to the table and give up their contract rights,” he recalled. “All of that leverage shifts once you have the gumption to pull the Chapter 9 trigger. And guess what? That produces agreements quicker and more effectively than otherwise.”

Naomi Richman, a managing director at Moody’s Investors Service, wondered aloud whether it might become more acceptable for cities to declare bankruptcy.

“Back in the ’80s, the stigma against corporate bankruptcy fell away, and it became viewed as a strategy a corporation might pursue for various reasons,” Ms. Richman said. “Recently, with the residential housing collapse, individual bankruptcy has less of stigma in society — it’s a strategy that a person might be advised to follow if they have a debt that they can’t afford. Could the same thing happen for municipal bankruptcy?”

Rhode Island City Offers Gloomy Lesson

The Huffington Post reports As Detroit Bankruptcy Looms, Rhode Island City Offers Gloomy Lesson
Bankers, consultants and elected officials gathered at a conference here on Wednesday to discuss a hot political question for the formerly sleepy municipal bond industry: how to sell the need to protect the rights of bondholders -- the often large, distant financial institutions who extend the credit that keeps towns humming -- when cities enter financial crisis. The issue has most recently been thrown into relief as a Monday deadline for the city of Detroit to accept a consent order to fix the city's budget looms.

From the comments of Flanders and others at the municipal bonds conference, it seems like the industry is in agreement about one thing going forward: someone is going to have to suffer, and it shouldn't be bondholders.

This idea that bondholders should not take losses is ludicrous. Anyone stupid enough to buy Detroit bonds should pay a hefty price. Moreover, since untenable promises made to public unions are generally a leading cause of bankruptcy, public unions should suffer as well.



There is a big 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. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


2 April, 2012

Progressives Simply Do Not Like The United States

Ever heard of Dahlia Lithwick? No? Don’t feel bad. I hadn’t either until I read her piece of … something or other … on Slate about the Supreme Court hearing this week on Obamacare.

A quick Google search turned up her Wikipedia entry, which tells me she’s a Canadian and contributing editor at Newsweek and senior editor at Slate. In other words, a committed leftist. Lithwick writes:
This morning in America’s highest court, freedom seems to be less about the absence of constraint than about the absence of shared responsibility, community, or real concern for those who don’t want anything so much as healthy children, or to be cared for when they are old.

It’s difficult to tell whether Ms. Lithwick is simply making this up or just dumb. The end result is the same either way. She wants cradle-to-grave government care for everyone. It makes you wonder why she no longer lives in Canada, where they have it, or why so many ungrateful cancer and critical care patients leave the utopia north of the border to come to the United States to receive life-saving treatment.

I’ll address the “shared responsibility” insanity in minute, but first let’s think about the rest of what’s there.

Community. To progressives, “community” means whatever they need it to mean that day. The “black community,” the “Hispanic community,” the “gay community,” the “white community,” the “Italian community,” the “whatever sub-set they need to highlight for victimization or demonization community.” You’d think they were all math majors with all the division they foist on us so they can play various groups against one another to advance their agenda.

Backers of the multi-cultural agenda seek to remove the melting pot that made this country great from the heat that fueled it. Instead, they want to create a coagulated mess that they can mold how they see fit. They don’t want us thinking of ourselves as Americans. All kinds of craziness, such as patriotism and true community spirit, could break out. Instead, they need to foster division to keep people in various Lego-shaped blocks they can stick together and snap apart when it suits them. Look how they’ve pitted the “black community” against the “Hispanic community” in the Trayvon Martin case before any investigation is concluded.

Actually, they’ve gone further than that, they’ve created a new race, the “white Hispanic.” I would say the “white Hispanic community” but there is only one member of that group, George Zimmerman, so it’s not a community, it’s just sick.

As for people wanting healthy children and to be cared for when they’re old, we have that covered.

First and foremost is family. Progressives never admit this, but children raised in two-parent homes are much, much better off than children who are not. That’s simply not possible for all children, but it makes no sense – none – to celebrate single-parent homes.

For children from single-parent homes or two-parent homes who have a difficult time making ends meet, we have Medicaid. The problem with Medicaid, the major reason it is breaking state budgets, is progressives have turned this safety net program for the poor into a hammock for the middle class. There’s no reason a family of four making $80,000 should be enrolled in Medicaid, but that is the standard now in many states. What incentive does a person have to purchase something they can leech from the government?

For the elderly, we have Medicare and Social Security. They’re driving the entire country into financial ruin, which progressives strangely seem to enjoy – but no one talks about changing those programs for anyone within 10 years of retirement. Yet, even here progressives lie. They find one elderly woman who is “forced to eat cat food so she can afford her prescriptions” and present her as the norm. They tell our parents and grandparents this could be them if things go wrong. They do this, by the way, while claiming Republicans use scare tactics to sway voters.

They trot out this cat-food person out for a press conference, pretend there are millions like her, then trot her off stage and – like a prop from cancelled Broadway show – throw her back in the closet and move on. Inevitably, the good people of this country hear about this woman and step up to help her – for real, not for show.

That’s the greatness of the American people – all you have to do is point out someone truly in need, and we step up to help. We do so without a government program, without raising taxes, without progressive “solutions.” That’s why you never hear of them after they’ve been helped – the assistance actually helps them achieve independence, which means they become useless to progressives.

Lithwick continues:
Until today, I couldn’t really understand why this case was framed as a discussion of “liberty.” This case isn’t so much about freedom from government-mandated broccoli or gyms. It’s about freedom from our obligations to one another, freedom from the modern world in which we live.

Shared responsibility? Freedom from our obligations to one another?

Having done my taxes recently, I can assure Ms. Lithwick I take care of my “obligations,” just as I assume she does. But I’d be willing to bet she lives comfortably and that she availed herself of every deduction her accountant could find. There’s nothing wrong with that, aside from the hypocrisy of refusing to live the life she would impose on others.

But what about the 49 percent of American who pay no income tax? According the Ms. Lithwick we have “obligations to one another.” What is their obligation?

What is the obligation of the heroin addict I routinely see outside the 7-Eleven near where I live to me? To society? If society needs junkies begging and passing out on the sidewalks, he’s holding up his end of the bargain. But I’m pretty sure we don’t. Where is Ms. Lithwick’s “shared responsibility” for him?

I buy him a hotdog now and then, when he’s awake and coherent. Should I send half the bill for that to Slate?

When I was a porter at a Lincoln-Mercury dealership, a fellow porter had five children from three women and a pregnant new girlfriend – all at the ripe age of 22. I paid my taxes, so I took care of my end. He wasn’t paying child support (we were making $8 an hour), so I’m pretty sure he wasn’t taking care of his end. Where is his responsibility? I hope he’s changed but somehow doubt it.

The fact is we have no government-imposed “obligation to one another,” no “shared responsibility.” Nor should we. We’re responsible for ourselves. We care for others through charity. But that’s charity with our own money – given of our own volition. Progressives are quite good at giving away other people’s money. But as the anemic, embarrassingly low charitable giving numbers of the last few Democrat nominees for president show, they suck at helping others when it involves reaching into their own pockets.

So, Ms. Lithwick, we don’t want government reaching into our pockets to pay for what progressives deem moral. We’re quite capable of doing that on our own, thank you very much.

Our Constitution limits what government can do to or for us for a reason – because we’re supposed to do things for ourselves. A government powerful enough to make us engage in commerce so it can regulate it is a government that can make us buy broccoli or join a gym. And while broccoli and gym memberships are good things, we have the freedom to not buy them. And that is a great thing.

If Ms. Lithwick and her fellow progressives don’t like it, the Constitution was made to be amended. But that is the road progressives always refuse to take, because that is the road down which they find out just how unpopular their agenda truly is.



Trayvon Martin Was Not Shot Because He Was Black

That the contrary is believed among blacks testifies to how much hatred of whites Leftists have stirred up among blacks with their constant talk of victimization and racism. Below is what the 6'3" tall Martin looked like shortly before his death

In ways I have not seen in my forty-one years on this earth, this case -- or as it should be properly put -- the out-of-context reaction to this case has been perhaps the single most racially divisive event of my lifetime. (6) More than the O.J. Simpson verdict, more than the Rodney King case, more than any other incident I can call to memory.

The larger question for me this week is not so much the question of "why," because I can easily see how reinforcing racial divides helps a political party, a sitting president, people who peddle hate -- not very cleverly trying to disguise it as civil rights leadership, and even actors such as Sinbad and Spike Lee. No, the "why" of this matter seems easy to me. The larger question to me is, "how?"

George Zimmerman has nearly the same amount of Caucasian blood in him as President Obama does. (8) This alone -- in the President's case -- is an argument against his "whiteness," yet in the majority of early reports (and now, to those who talk behind sandwich counters) the truth doesn't matter.(9)

Zimmerman also has no history of racial animus towards black people. (10) One of his longtime friends, a former anchor for CNN -- who happens to be African American -- has been confirming this across as many media outlets as is possible. (11) Zimmerman and his wife -- it is now being discovered -- have been tutoring and mentoring at-risk African American youths for years, building into the lives of these at-risk children virtues and principals to live by.(12)

Zimmerman didn't target Martin because of race. (13) As a community watch volunteer, and as a licensed concealed-carry gun owner, Zimmerman had been concerned for some time about the amount of violent crime, break-ins, burglaries, and other felonies committed in his community. (14) In recent months, skinny tall guys in hoodies had been terrorizing the homeowners in the area. (15) Since the hoodie was pulled over his head, Zimmerman had no reasonable way to target merely an African American youth, but he did see a skinny tall kid -- that he did not recognize -- and felt if he saw something, he should say something.

According to 911 dispatch, Zimmerman was told that he did not need to follow Martin any further than he had. (Not, as some have reported, that he was actually instructed not to follow.) (16) According to Zimmerman, the police report, and as many as six witnesses: Zimmerman -- after getting off the phone -- retreated from his shadowing of Martin and returned to his SUV. (17) It is unclear as to why, but it is confirmed by multiple people who observed that Martin then turned and stalked Zimmerman. (18) Just when Zimmerman had gotten back to his vehicle, it is reported by witnesses that Martin violently assaulted Zimmerman. (19) And according to Robert Zimmerman, appearing on CNN on Thursday evening, Martin attempted to pull Zimmerman's gun. (20) Quickly the tussle turned serious. Both men in a fight for control of the firearm, one of them was shot seconds later.

The police -- once on the scene -- asked neighbors what they had seen and heard. (21) As many as six witnesses confirmed portions of Zimmerman's overall account. (22) Even so, Zimmerman was handcuffed, given medical treatment to clean up his wounds, taken to the police station, questioned, and released because his account was -- according to those who did the early investigating -- consistent with the evidence. (23)

Now a grand jury is looking into the matter, four different governmental levels of our nation's law enforcement are looking into it. (24) Police reports are being leaked to the press, and when every final bit of CSI material is catalogued a report will be made.

Robert Zimmerman wished to communicate to the Martin family the grief and sorrow that they feel for them. (25)

There are no such wishes being communicated to the rest of America for the damage that continues to be done in the violence that is the refusal to admit truth. (26) Those who do so would rather manipulate media and manufacture outrage all for political opportunity, vain publicity, or financial gain. (27)

Trayvon was not shot because he was black, and not one shred of actual evidence gathered thus far changes that fact. (28)

More HERE and more at GUN WATCH.


How Reagan won young voters

One politician who was not a phony!

‘THE OLDEST president in US history and the youngest members of the nation’s electorate have forged one of the strongest bonds in American politics.’’

So wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer in May 1986. Ronald Reagan was then in his sixth year as president, and his support among younger voters was stratospheric. Eighteen months earlier, a pre-election poll commissioned by Time magazine had found voters ages 18 to 24 expressing support for Reagan over his Democratic challenger, Walter Mondale, by an amazing 45-point margin — 63 percent to 18 percent. Now, the Inquirer noted, Reagan’s support among the young was even greater: According to a new survey, voters younger than 25 were giving Reagan a 79 percent job-approval rating. As it turned out, even that wasn’t his high-water mark. When he left office in January 1989, Reagan’s approval rating among the electorate’s youngest cohort was an incredible 85 percent.

For half a century, the Democratic Party had commanded the loyalty of most new voters. Under the Gipper, the political tides reversed and first-time voters surged to the GOP. Their devotion helped sweep his chosen successor into office; George H.W. Bush was elected with a majority of the under-30 vote. But by the time Bush ran for reelection four years later, Reagan’s magic with the young had dissipated. Bill Clinton won a plurality of the youth vote in 1992, and that age group has voted reliably Democratic ever since.

How did Reagan do it? What made him so strikingly popular with so many voters young enough to be his grandchildren? What, if anything, would it take to persuade today’s youngest voters to give the GOP a serious look? Mitt Romney wondered last week why more college-age voters aren’t “working like crazy’’ to elect Republicans like him. Similar laments might previously have been voiced by John McCain, George W. Bush, and Bob Dole.

Of course there is no single explanation for the political behavior of an age bracket that comprises millions of individuals. Certainly for some young voters it all comes down to ideology. The millennial generation tends to hold strong left-of-center views on many social and environmental issues, and millennials are less likely than older voters to describe government action as inefficient or unfair. It stands to reason that voters who embrace, say, “green’’ energy, same-sex marriage, a highly multilateral foreign policy, and an activist federal government would gravitate to the political party that shares the same views.

Does that mean Republicans must turn themselves into liberals to have any hope of winning twentysomethings back? Of course not. Pandering may be inseparable from politics, but it’s a poor strategy for long-term political growth. Candidates who tell voters only what they think those voters want to hear do themselves and their party no favors — least of all when it comes to the young, who hunger to be inspired and to be part of something consequential, something bigger than themselves.

New voters didn’t flock to Reagan in the 1980s because they were captivated by his views on supply-side economics and the Soviet Union. It would be truer to say that they were captivated by Reagan — by his optimism and authenticity and love of country, by his manifest faith in the people he sought to lead — and so they came to share his political outlook as well.

All other things being equal, are young people more naturally inclined to liberalism, with its appeal to feelings and good intentions, than to conservatism, which emphasizes standards and good results? Perhaps. But when Reagan was in the saddle, all other things weren’t equal.

Like other candidates, he had political ambitions and pursued them, but his career wasn’t strewn with innumerable flip-flops and conversions of convenience. He had controversial views, but didn’t hector the American people with preachy intolerance. He had millions of admirers, but he was no self-worshiping egotist.

And while he may have been an actor, he was never a phony. “Reagan’s lack of guile is one of the things that he has going for him,’’ wrote Meg Greenfield, the Washington Post’s unabashedly liberal editorial-page editor, in 1980. “In fact, Reagan won the nomination . . . with what seems to have been an unusually aboveboard, uncrooked, and uncompromised campaign.’’

Reagan was the first president I voted for, and the only one I ever voted for without qualms. I admired his moral clarity, his sunny outlook, his self-deprecating modesty, his love of liberty. He never had to tell young voters they should be “working like crazy’’ to elect him. So many of them already were.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


1 April, 2012

Another brainless Leftist psychologist

It's not uncommon for psychologists to do research into conservatism. But psychologists tend to live in a little Leftist bubble. It's doubtful if many of them have ever actually met a conservative to talk to. So their conception of what conservatives think is a rather hilarious caricature of actual conservatism.

In particular, they are thoroughly wedded to the notion that conservatives are people who oppose change. But every conservative I know has a whole list of things he would like to change in the society in which we live. So the poor old Leftist psychologist can't even get past first base in his research. He doesn't even know what he is studying. The idea that a preference for individual liberty and minimal government might be the lodestar for conservatives is simply unknown to him. He has certainly never read or heard a Ronald Reagan speech.

The guy below makes the usual howlers but adds another one. He says conservatives are acceptant of hierarchy. How that ties in with a preference for individual liberty and minimal government escapes me. Anyhow, just for fun below is the abstract of his paper. I guess he is studying something but who knows what it is?
Low-Effort Thought Promotes Political Conservatism

By Scott Eidelman et al;

The authors test the hypothesis that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism. In Study 1, alcohol intoxication was measured among bar patrons; as blood alcohol level increased, so did political conservatism (controlling for sex, education, and political identification). In Study 2, participants under cognitive load reported more conservative attitudes than their no-load counterparts. In Study 3, time pressure increased participants’ endorsement of conservative terms. In Study 4, participants considering political terms in a cursory manner endorsed conservative terms more than those asked to cogitate; an indicator of effortful thought (recognition memory) partially mediated the relationship between processing effort and conservatism. Together these data suggest that political conservatism may be a process consequence of low-effort thought; when effortful, deliberate thought is disengaged, endorsement of conservative ideology increases.



A mind-blowing performance

Someone sent me a link to the video below and it left me with a blown mind for some time. I was just limp and not knowing what to do next. It is a rendition of "The Prayer" by Celine Dion but done in the best operatic style.

Commentary here


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.



Overplaying the hate card

Martin case shows race baiting harms everyone

If Oscars were awarded for liberal hysteria, California’s Rep. Barbara Lee would be a perennial contender. On Tuesday, at a congressional forum on the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, Ms. Lee proclaimed that it was the result of “a toxic and deadly mix.”

“While this issue has shocked American culture, it hasn’t shocked me,” she said in a press statement. “The combination of the powerful gun lobby, racial profiling and hate crimes makes this local matter one of national attention.”

Who knew that the alleged shooter (did you notice how fast the word “alleged” disappeared in news reports?), neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman, was possessed by all those evil spirits when he began following Mr. Martin before the tragic confrontation on Feb. 26? Or that people who defend the Second Amendment are somehow responsible?

The New Black Panther Party, last seen intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place in 2008, has offered a $10,000 reward for the “capture” of Mr. Zimmerman, who has not been arrested as of this writing. The police say he acted in self-defense. Maybe so, maybe not, but we won’t know until all the facts come out.

Speaking of which, as Trayvon’s own problems with the law come to light, organizers of racially charged mass marches want any such facts suppressed, contending that asking questions amounts to smearing the dead. On the other hand, Mr. Zimmerman, identified constantly as “white-Hispanic,” is fair game. The whole thing is a sad, terrible business that unscrupulous race baiters are making worse.

So far, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s Justice Department, which withdrew the Black Panther voter case despite a conviction, has issued no public warning to the Panthers that they might be flirting with incitement or intimidation. The Justice Department also has ignored the execution-style shooting of two white British tourists in Sarasota, Fla., last April by a black teen who has been convicted of murder. President Obama, who has fanned racial flames in the Trayvon Martin case, apparently has ignored three letters from a friend of the slain tourists, who told the British press that he thinks the absence of presidential condolence is because the case has no “political value.”

Meanwhile, at the request of New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the Justice Department is reviewing the constitutionality of state laws that allow people to use force in their own defense. The “stand your ground” laws are meant to spare people who defend themselves from being sued by assailants. Liberals hate those laws because they reinforce the Second Amendment and interfere with the paradigm of criminal as victim.

The left’s constant accusations are getting a bit thick. Last month, an NAACP delegation actually complained to the United Nations in Geneva that state photo ID laws that prevent vote fraud are a violation of “human rights.”

In Loudoun County, Va., a local Democrat-owned newspaper, the Loudoun Times-Mirror, ran a banner headline on Wednesday that screamed: “Delgaudio’s advocacy group an anti-gay hate group, SPLC claims.”

Eugene Delgaudio is a county supervisor and founder of Public Advocate of the United States, a conservative advocacy group. SPLC is the Southern Poverty Law Center, which began as a small group fighting racism and morphed into a fabulously wealthy bully used by the left to apply the “hate” stamp to people and groups with whom the left disagrees.

The SPLC tracks real hate groups such as skinheads, neo-Nazis and the like, and when it does, it performs a valuable public service as an early-warning system. But recently, SPLC jumped the shark, lumping orthodox Christian outfits like the Family Research Council, Coral Ridge Ministries and others with real hate groups. That’s because those Christian organizations resist the cultural blitzkrieg to accept homosexual and transgender behavior as healthy, normal and unchangeable. The groups contend that people tempted in those ways deserve the same chance for repentance and salvation as everyone else.

Liberals used to play the race card at the drop of a hat. The conservative joke was, “How do you know you’re winning an argument with liberals? They call you a racist.” Now, liberals play the hate card just as often.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has become a mirror of its own allegations. It makes false charges of hate and equates good people with violent extremists. The Anti-Defamation League ought to be all over the SPLC, but it, too, has bought into a radical leftist agenda that redefines traditional morality as a form of hatred.

In a society trained to react in Pavlovian fury toward someone accused of harboring “hate,” this charge is a powerful weapon for crushing dissent. Gradually, people are being conditioned to be race-obsessed and to associate traditional religious morality with bigotry and extremism.

The uneven, overheated nature of hate allegations undermines our cultural consensus that hate really is a bad thing. It cheapens the language, like redefining marriage, as Great Britain’s formerly “Conservative” Party is inexplicably championing. Words are losing their meaning. When the SPLC calls somebody a “hater,” you don’t really know until you look more closely.

The good news is that surveys show the progressives’ “hate” parade is wearing out its welcome. How many people really believe that the Catholic Church and the Republican Party are “waging a war against women” because they want to restore conscience protections? How many people think Rush Limbaugh should be driven from the air while foul-mouthed liberals like Bill Maher assail conservative women with impunity?

Does anyone really believe anymore that march/protest/newshounds Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who never miss a chance to fan the flame of racial resentment, really want us all to get along?

Justice needs to be done in the Trayvon Martin case, but a racially charged circus atmosphere won’t make it any easier.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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)


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.


It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

"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)

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” -- Thomas Jefferson

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

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 intelligent and well-informed people, 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.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

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

“Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell’s Life of Johnson of 1775

"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.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope

Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora 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.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

"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

“How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values.” ? John Maynard Keynes

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.

A real army story here

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.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

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

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

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"