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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31 August, 2012

Rachel Corrie believed in Israel

I don't know if anybody else has pointed this out -- they probably have -- but the Israel-hating Rachel Corrie showed by her actions that she recognized Israel's moral superiority. Why didn't she hop out of the way at the last minute instead of getting run over by the bulldozer? I certainly would have in her shoes.

But the reason why she did not is clear: She clearly had absolute confidence that the bulldozer would stop at the last moment. Her only mistake was in assuming that the driver would see her lying on the ground in front of him. Had it been a Palestinian bulldozer I cannot imagine anyone not being prepared to hop out of the way. But Rachel Corrie was clearly not so prepared.

By her own actions she betrayed more than any words could do that she knew Israel was not the moral monstrosity that she claimed it was. Her death was an unintentional tribute to Israel. She knew in her heart where the virtue was. And coming from an enemy of Israel, the tribute is all the more impressive. She was hate-filled but she knew the truth.

A trenchant comment from Israel about her here.


The impoverishment of America

The Presidential race is boiling down to one dominant issue: which party's policies will do more to help the financially stressed American middle class. President Obama's campaign theme is that Mitt Romney and the Republicans cater to the rich, while Mr. Obama cares about struggling families.

He may care, but he sure hasn't done much for them. New income data from the Census Bureau, tabulated by former Census income specialists at the nonpartisan economic consulting firm Sentier Research, reveal that the three-and-a-half years of the Obama Presidency have done enormous harm to middle-class households.

In January 2009, the month President Obama entered the Oval Office and shortly before he signed his stimulus spending bill, median household income was $54,983. By June 2012, it had tumbled to $50,964, adjusted for inflation. (See the chart nearby.) That's $4,019 in lost real income, a little less than a month's income every year.

Unfair, you say, because Mr. Obama inherited a recession? Well, even if you start the analysis when the recession ended in June 2009, the numbers are dismal. Three years after the economy hit its trough, median household income is down $2,544, or nearly 5%.

The new income data reveal other eye-opening trends. The group that has suffered the most during the Obama Presidency has been black Americans, whose real incomes have fallen by more than 11%.

Mr. Obama also likes to say that government workers like teachers are hurting and the private economy is doing "just fine." But the data indicate that over the past three years households with government workers saw their incomes decline less than households with private workers. The public-private pay gap is now wider than ever ($77,998 government versus $63,800).

The last time incomes fell this fast was during the late 1970s under Jimmy Carter, and it's no coincidence that economic policies then and now are so similar. If Mr. Obama succeeds in convincing voters that he really is the tribune of the middle class, it will be the political conjurer's trick of the century.



MSNBC abandons GOP convention during every speech by a minority

One of the left's favorite attacks on the Republican Party is that it is the party of old white people, devoid of diversity and probably racist.

If you were watching MSNBC's coverage of the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Tuesday night, you might believe those assertions, since missing from the coverage was nearly every ethnic minority that spoke during Tuesday's festivities.

In lieu of airing speeches from former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis, a black American; Mia Love, a black candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Utah; and Texas senatorial hopeful Ted Cruz, a Latino American, MSNBC opted to show commentary anchored by Rachel Maddow from Rev. Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes and Steve Schmidt.



Entitlement Reforms

Thomas Sowell

For those of us who like to believe that human beings are rational, trying to explain what happens in politics can be a real challenge.

For example, that segment of the population that has the least to fear from a reform of Medicare or Social Security is the most fearful -- namely, those already receiving Medicare or Social Security benefits.

It is understandable that people heavily dependent on these programs would fear losing their benefits, especially after a lifetime of paying into these programs. But nobody in his right mind has even proposed taking away the benefits of those who are already receiving them.

Yet opponents of reforming these programs have managed repeatedly to scare the daylights out of seniors with wild claims and television ads such as one showing someone -- who looks somewhat like Paul Ryan -- pushing an elderly lady in a wheelchair toward a cliff and then dumping her over.

There are people who take seriously such statements as those by President Barack Obama that Republicans want to "end Medicare as we know it."

Let's stop and think, if only for the novelty of it. If you make any change in anything, you are ending it "as we know it." Does that mean that everything in the status quo should be considered to be set in concrete forever?

If there were not a single Republican, or none who got elected to any office, arithmetic would still end "Medicare as we know it," for the simple reason that the money in the till is not enough to keep paying for it. The same is true of Social Security.

The same has been true of welfare state programs in European countries that are currently struggling with both financial crises and riots in the streets from people who feel betrayed by their governments. They have in fact been betrayed by their politicians, who have promised them things that there was not enough money to pay for. That is the basic problem in the United States as well.

We are not yet Greece, but we are not exempt from the same rules of arithmetic that eventually caught up with Greece. We just have a little more time. The only question is whether we will use that time to make politically difficult changes or whether we will just kick the can down the road, and keep pretending that "Medicare as we know it" would continue on indefinitely, if it were not for people who just want to be mean to the elderly.

In both Europe and America, there are many people who get angry at those who tell them the truth that the money is just not there to sustain huge welfare state programs indefinitely. But that anger might be better directed at those who lied to them by promising them benefits that were inherently unsustainable.

Neither Social Security nor Medicare has ever had enough assets to cover its liabilities. Very simply, there has never been enough money put aside to do what the government promised to do.

These systems operate on what their advocates like to call a "pay as you go" basis. That is, the younger generation pays in money that is used to cover the cost of benefits for the older generation. This is the kind of financial pyramid scheme that got Charles Ponzi put in prison in the 1920s and got Bernie Madoff put in prison in our times.

A private annuity cannot play these financial games without its executives risking the fate of Ponzi and Madoff. That is why proposed Social Security and Medicare reforms would allow young people to put their money somewhere where the money they pay in would be put aside specifically for them, not used as at present to pay older people's pensions, with anything left over being used for whatever else politicians feel like spending the money on.

It is today's young people who are going to be left holding the bag when they reach retirement age and discover that all the money they paid in is long gone. It is today's young people who are going to be dumped over a cliff when they reach retirement age, if nothing is done to reform entitlements.

Yet the young seem not to be nearly as alarmed as the elderly, who have no real reason to fear. Try reconciling that with the belief that human beings are rational.



Heavier Punishment for failing to fill out a form than for Child Porn

If you can read the following and not get upset, you are not a good person. Please move to France (where higher taxes are “patriotic”) and don’t come back.

I’m engaging in a bit of hyperbole, but you’ll hopefully understand after reading this excerpt from a very disturbing report posted on Zero Hedge.
Jacques Wajsfelner of Weston, Massachusetts is a criminal mastermind. Big time. Like Lex Luthor. But rest easy, ladies and gentlemen, for this nefarious villain is about to face some serious jail time thanks to the courageous work of US government agents. You see, Mr. Wajsfelner was finally caught and convicted of a most heinous crime: failing to disclose his foreign bank account to the US government.

Note– he was not convicted of tax evasion. He was not convicted of failing to file or pay taxes. His crime was not filing the annual Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). Because of his failure to disclose his foreign bank account, Wajsfelner is now looking at FIVE YEARS behind bars in a Day-Glo orange jumpsuit.

Oh, one more thing– Wajsfelner is 83 years old. He was born in Germany during the global depression and rise of Adolf Hitler. The Wajsfelner family soon fled the Nazi regime and made its way to the United States.

Please note that Mr. Wajsfelner didn’t get convicted of not paying tax. He got convicted for the utterly trivial and victimless “crime” of not reporting a foreign bank account.

So the government is sending a completely harmless old man to jail for something that shouldn’t be illegal (and if we had a flat tax, there would be no double taxation of saving and investment, so it wouldn’t matter for tax purposes if your bank account was in Georgetown, Kentucky, or Georgetown, Cayman Islands).

Now let’s compare the treatment of Mr. Wajsfelner with the way some real criminals are treated.

Then there’s Eric Higgins of Port Huron, Michigan, who was recently busted for major possession of child pornography and engaging in sexually explicit conversations with juveniles online. He was given 20 months. Oh… and Mr. Higgins was a US Customs & Border Patrol agent. …

Or Ricardo Cordero, another US Customs & Border Patrol officer who was given 27-months for personally smuggling 30 Mexican nationals into the United States, and assisting another smuggler to bring 15 Mexican nationals across the border. This genius even had the smuggler testify as a character witness at his divorce proceeding!

Or Jon Corzine, former CEO of Goldman Sachs and member of the political elite, who presided over one of the largest plunders in the financial system ever seen during the recent MF Global collapse. He walks the streets freely to this day.

The article closes with a very accurate – but understated – assessment of the federal government.
It seems pretty clear where the US government stands: the victimless crime of failing to report a foreign bank account is far more egregious than, say, possession of child pornography, engaging with minors in online sex chat, bribery, extortion, fraud, and abuse of official power.

This horrifying example of government abuse is a good example of why I’m a libertarian. Yes, I get upset about bloated and counterproductive government spending. And I also get irked by our punitive and destructive class-warfare tax system.

But what gets me most upset is unfair tyranny against powerless people.

More HERE (See the original for links)


The end of the wedge is not as thin as it used to be

Three Brazilians have been united in a civil ceremony after a public official deemed that the man and two women should be entitled to family rights as any other couple would be.

Public Notary Claudia do Nascimento Domingues, from the state of Sao Paulo, accepted the civil union between the three people, saying there is no law to prevent it happening and that it merely reflected the changing idea of family.

"We are only recognising what has always existed. We are not inventing anything," Ms Domingues said.

"For better or worse, it doesn't matter, but what we considered a family before isn't necessarily what we could consider a family today."

The three were formally united three months ago but the news had only emerged this week.

They had lived together in Rio de Janeiro for three years sharing bills and expenses and had recently opened a joint bank account.

The union has enraged some religious and legal groups, with lawyer Regina Beatriz Tavarez da Silva telling the BBC it was "absurd and totally illegal".

The individuals originally decided to join in civil union to protect their rights in case of death or separation from a partner.



French writer says Anders Breivik was 'what Norway deserves’

Richard Millet, a respected French writer and editor, has sparked controversy for his comments on Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass killer, whom he described as “without doubt what Norway deserves”.

Mr Millet, who says he has read all 1,500 pages of Breivik’s online manifesto, insists that he does not approve of the Norwegian gunman’s crimes.

However, he praised Breivik’s writing and cry of hatred for social democracy, immigration and multiculturalism.

“Breivik is without doubt what Norway deserves,” wrote Millet in an 18-page pamphlet. He is “as much a child of a broken family as of an ideological and racial fracture caused by immigration from outside Europe over the last 20 years,” added Mr Millet, who has edited several award-winning books in France.

His writing about Breivik has sparked consternation in the literary circles, with one author Annie Ernaux calling the text “a politically dangerous act”.

Another author Tahar Ben Jelloun said: “He has lost his head.”

Others were less critical. “He is still my editor,” said Alexis Jenni. “I don’t want to take any public position on the subject. Millet believes only in literature. “He is someone who writes marvellously well. His questionable ideas do not reduce his literary qualities,” he argued.

Breivik was last week sentenced to 21 years in prison for killing 77 people in a bomb attack and deadly shooting rampage that shook Norway.



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


30 August, 2012

The death of a Jew-hater

There is a lot of outrage on the net today over an Israeli court giving the "wrong" verdict over the death of a pro-Palestinian protester, Rachel Corrie, in March, 2003. She was run over by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to be a "human shield" to protect a Palestinian terrorist site. The IDF has always held that the driver of the bulldozer did not see her before he ran over her. He was driving a large and heavily armored bulldozer with small slits for vision. The court upheld the driver's account.

The interesting thing to me is the close-up picture that accompanies many of the stories. It portrays her as a quiet and serious young woman in what could be a studio portrait (though even in a studio portrait they could not get her to smile). You can search high and low on the net to find a picture that gives any other impression of her. Being an old guy, however, I have certain records and one of them has produced a picture of her that is what the bulldozer driver would have seen if he had been looking down. A picture is worth a 1,000 words, I think. The stock picture followed by the "forgotten" picture below. The forgotten picture shows her at a rally shortly beforehand.

Even in the above picture she looks rather angry

A face of hate

If anyone is to blame in the matter it is the parents who indoctrinated her with their Leftist hates. May their grief help them to repent. The love of Christ would not have led them into the Devil's kingdom.


More inspissated ignorance from the Left

They don't even know what conservatism is (Or they don't want to know)

The term “conservative” is used elastically these days, normally to indicate something that the author using the term dislikes. And while many such writers tend indeed to dislike conservative ideas, the objects of their dislike are rarely conservative in any sense a conservative would recognize.

A few years ago, the late Christopher Hitchens spoke of fringe elements in Jerusalem seeking the expulsion of Arabs as “Israeli conservatives” – surely a surprise to Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, and other groupings that comprise the vast bulk of Israeli right-of-center politics.

Reuters thinks Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a “conservative,” and the New York Times even headed its report on his election as president with the title “New Conservative President Takes Power in Iran.” Actually, Ahmadinejad is a radical among radicals in the Iranian hierarchy, with a penchant for Holocaust denial and harping on erasing Israel from the page of history. But then, the Associated Press regards him as “ultraconservative,” so the Times appears measured by comparison.

Now, David Greenberg at Slate thinks the recently deceased writer Gore Vidal was a “conservative.”

Vidal was neither insecure nor stupid, but if he can be described with a straight face as conservative, then just about anyone else can be as well. If conservatism comprises respect for custom, institutions, religious faith, the Judeo-Christian tradition, and limited government, Vidal was as anti-conservative as one could be. He regarded monotheism as “the great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture.” He despised Ronald Reagan and supported the Democrats across the decades, even once running (unsuccessfully) as a Democrat for congressional office in New York. But that was altogether too mainstream for him. For two years (1970-1972), he chaired the People’s Party, a short-lived grouping that promoted legalizing marijuana and instituting such decidedly unconservative devices as a minimum wage and even a maximum wage.

In 2004, he supported the presidential candidacy of far left Democrat Dennis Kucinich.

In short, Vidal was a political crank of the left. He was also an avid and perennial peddler of conspiracy theories. He believed that Winston Churchill was a malefactor who helped infiltrate “little Englander” film directors and producers into 1930s Hollywood to valorize Albion and to incite the American public out of neutrality and into the war. He believed to the grave that Franklin Roosevelt deliberately provoked Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor so as to facilitate U.S. entry into the war. Vidal’s isolationist stance was all of piece with that of Father Charles Coughlin — a thorough-going radical, though one also often deemed conservative by those who should know better — and like Coughlin’s, was thoroughly laced with anti-Semitism. Vidal also befriended through correspondence the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Greenberg is too well-read not to have known all this, and his piece shows that he has no illusions about Vidal being a paragon of immoderate bigotry and nastiness. How does Greenberg connect this blighted record to conservatism? On inspection, the connection rests on the exceedingly slender reed of Vidal having once said “I think of myself as conservative.” But then perhaps Vidal was, by his own lights — a conserver of patrician aloofness, avuncular unpleasantness, and drawing-room bigotry, all of which were going out of fashion in his lifetime. But as a lucid estimate of his political pedigree? Obviously Greenberg found it too tempting to tar conservatives with the brush of nastiness that was the bread and butter of progressives, whom leftists today would prefer be remembered as something they were not.

The procedure of discovering new “conservatives” seems to rest in transferring to fictitious conservatives all the ugly traits, vicious sentiments, and rancid rancors that have disfigured actual leftists.

This procedure has been going on since at least the time of the Soviet Union’s terminal phase, when Western journalists, inebriated with Gorbymania and the prospect of a hip, glastnosted, and perestroikaed Soviet Union, labeled the Bolshevik hardliners in the Kremlin old guard who looked on askance at all this as “conservatives.” An odd label when one thinks that these same people mounted the 1991 coup in an effort to keep old-style Bolshevism alive.

Unless diehard Marxist-Leninism or Stalinism has something to do with the thinking of Edmund Burke, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, the Marquess of Salisbury, Michael Oakeshott, Elie Kedourie, or William F. Buckley, the promiscuous abuse of the term “conservative” debases language and ideas to irreverent ends.



The Shame of the Manhattan-Beltway Media Elites

Hugh Hewitt

When I asked Paul Ryan Wednesday night for his reaction to the news that the major television networks won’t carry a minute of the opening night of the GOP convention, he responded that he wasn’t surprised and that this is just the media terrain the GOP faces in the 2012 election cycle.

Ryan is right not to be surprised, and while he doesn’t have time to be angry, every American –left, right, center, undecided or simply indifferent—ought to be furious. The hypocrisy of anyone bemoaning the loss of civility in American politics who doesn’t also denounce the Manhattan-Beltway media elite’s dumbing down of American political coverage is large.

The conventions feature speeches. Speeches make arguments and they do not rely on soundbytes. Conventions aim to persuade, and it is a rare chance for both parties to make their case directly without the interruption or overlay of the chattering class (which of course on thee networks is overwhelming left.)

The ratings are not huge, but neither is voter turnout. If the future of a country in crisis is significant, so too is the opportunity for the voters to make a change or confirm a course.

But the suits have decided to cut the already drastically reduced coverage by 25%.

This of course helps the Obama/[?] ticket, because the president has nothing to sell and nothing to defend, and it is harder to attack, attack, and attack when you are the incumbent with a record to defend.

The president is fine with reduced coverage. He’d rather everyone be watching anything except the news and people discussing the news. As the ruins of his years in office continue to smoke, he’d like nothing more than to have everyone tune into a repeat of the Olympics.

The Manhattan-Beltway media elite knows this, and giving yet another nudge to the Obama forces is fine with them. They’ll deny that motive of course, and say they are driven simply by greed and that the cable channels will carry the proceedings anyway. (Interesting how when PBS funding is on the line we hear about the millions of Americans without cable, but when the lefty media brass want to put a finger on the scale for Obama that “public interest” argument goes out the window.)

This is a pattern, one that is so stark that it is more amusing than shocking.

Recall the coverage given to the New York Times-Quinnipiac state polls showing an Obama lead in Florid and Pennsylvania a couple of weeks back? The sample was overweighted to Democrats, but it ran and ran and ran without explanation or caution.

This week new polls show Romney/Ryan ahead by 15 points in Florida and almost 4 in Michigan! Now, that poll’s sample overweights GOP voters in my opinion, but no caution is needed because MSM simply hasn’t reported these results.

See the game?

Or how about the University of Colorado study employing the same methodology it has used since 1980 to predict elections? Have you heard that headline on the television? Probably not, because the study predicts a Romney/Ryan landslide.

Then there is the photo of President Obama from Ohio, where he posed in the famous Ohio State spell-out wherein four people make the O-H-I-O with their bodies.

Except the president and his three friends misspelled OHIO and form instead O-I-H-O.

What would be a front page photo were George W. Bush to have made the mistake –and the cover of all weeklies, and probably twice, if Dan Quayle had been involved—is posted on a few conservative websites like mine.

Like Ryan said, it is predictable. The GOP has to work around it.

Which is why I wrote last week’s column on talk radio and the opportunity it offers Romney/Ryan.

Yesterday I got eight minutes with Paul Ryan, and at the risk of sounding ungrateful to a dedicated campaign staff that found the slot on a crowded schedule, it should have been 80 minutes. He is a terrific candidate, and like Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan charms and persuades. The more time he spends in conversation with serious talk show hosts the better the campaign will do in every conceivable way.

I devoted my time with Ryan to biography (a half dozen previous interviews in the past two years have been about policy), and would have spent much more time on his early years had I been there for the simple reason offered by Ulysses S. Grant:

“I read but few lives of great men because biographers do not, as a rule, tell enough about the formative period of life. What I want to know is what a man did as a boy.”

That time is available to both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, but not from the television networks that won't even cover the opening night of the convention.

So the candidates have to take up the offer of talkers across the country and invest the time. Not every show should get get a visit from Mitt Romney and/or Paul Ryan, and certainly not the goons and the pots-and-pan bangers.

But since the MSM is very eager to spin and slant, cover up what hurts the president and spend endless amounts of time on what they think will hurt Romney/Ryan, the GOP team simply has to use the opportunities available to them.

I did interviews with Romney senior advisors Lanhee Chen on Wednesday and Robert C. O’Brien on Tuesday (those transcripts will be found here) and these far outweigh in substance and detail anything MSM or cable has done with any advisor from either side. The key people are available. They will do the interviews. The Manhattan-Beltway media elite simply isn’t interested in serious argument about the peril facing the country.

This past week I have covered the loss of just four of themany heroes who have died in the past fortnight: Army Major Tom Kennedy, Air Force Major DavidGray, Marine Corps Captain Matt Manoukian, and Navy SEAL Davey Warsen. I did so because personal circumstances brought each man’s story to my attention, and the loss of four amazing men from the four branches along with the dozens of other casualties in the past few weeks has impressed on me that MSM finds war coverage as inconvenient as coverage of the convention.

How does a great nation remain great when its media crumbles this way? Remarkable. Shameful. Brave men and women sacrificing their everything and the American media can’t spare the political parties that guide the country an hour a night for four nights.




Risky Business

Thomas Sowell

Insurance is all about risk. Yet neither insurance companies nor their policy-holders can do anything about one of the biggest risks -- namely, interference by politicians, to turn insurance into something other than a device to deal with risk.

By passing laws to force insurance companies to cover things that have nothing to do with risk, politicians force up the cost of insurance.

Annual checkups, for example, are known in advance to take place once a year. Foreseeable events are not a risk. Annual checkups are no cheaper when they are covered by an insurance policy. On the contrary, they are one of many things that are more expensive when they are covered by an insurance policy.

All the paperwork, record-keeping and other things that go with having any medical procedure covered by insurance have to be paid for, in addition to the cost of the medical procedure itself.

If automobile insurance covered the cost of oil changes or the purchase of gasoline, then both oil changes and gasoline would have to cost more, to cover the additional bureaucratic work involved.

In the case of health insurance, however, politicians love to mandate things that insurance must cover, including in some states treatment for baldness, contraceptives and whatever else politicians can think of. Playing Santa Claus costs a politician nothing, but it can cost the policy-holder a bundle -- all of which the politician will blame on the "greed" of the insurance company.

Insurance companies are regulated by both states and the federal government. This means that, instead of there being one vast nationwide market, where innumerable insurance companies compete with each other from coast to coast, there are 50 fragmented markets with different rules. That adds to the costs and reduces the competition in a given state....

Too many political "solutions" are solutions to problems created by previous political "solutions" -- and will be followed by new problems created by their current "solutions." There is no free lunch. In the case of health insurance, there is not even an inexpensive lunch.

Health insurance would be a lot less expensive if it covered only the kinds of risks that can involve heavy costs, such as a major operation or a crippling disability. While such things can be individually very expensive, they don't happen to everybody, and insurance is one way to spread the risks, so that the protection of a given individual is not prohibitively expensive.



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


29 August, 2012

Japan, "Modernism" and the 19th century origins of Fascism

I said yesterday that I might say something today about the deeper reasons behind the West's early fascination with Japan. I need to set out a lot of background to get to that point, however, and "Modernism" is a rather surprising key to that. It explains both the fascination with Japan before WWI and the emergence of Fascism after WWI.

"Modernism" is a much abused term that has had a number of meanings over the years but the version that I want to discuss here was a movement, mostly in art and literature, in the closing decades of the 19th century and continuing into the early 20th century. It took a hit from the shattering events of WWI but rather surprisingly survived. It was particularly prominent in France and Italy and in Italy eventually merged with Fascism.

It was a rather euphoric movement marked by a general rejection of previous traditions and a feeling that the modernists could create the world anew. It all sounds rather silly and egotistical nowadays but its relationship with Fascism gives it more than ordinary historical importance. Wikipedia has one summary of it here for those who want to read further.

There is a book (briefly summarized here) by a frequent writer on Fascism (Roger Griffin) which attempts the daunting task of defining modernism -- and the author's apologies for the boldness of that endeavour must be my apologies too.

I think his approach to Fascism via Modernism is fruitful but there is also something in the Marxist account of social changes having economic causes -- so I would extend the analysis to say that even modernism can be seen as an economic product. I think economic history explains just about all of modernism in fact. But economic phenomena do not exist in a vacuum either. Behind economic history is political history. So on to that:

After the defeat of the French by German forces in 1870, Bismarck rapidly accomplished his long-pursued task of unifying most of the German lands under the Prussian crown. Only Austria proved indigestible.

Bismarck saw the great danger of the unification, however. Unified Germany was such a formidible economic and military power that it had great potential to strike terror into the rest of Europe. And a logical response to that terror would be for the rest of Europe to "gang up" on Germany in what would have to be a brutal and destructive war, whatever the outcome.

Rather surprisingly to some, however, Bismarck was a man of peace, despite his earlier talk of "blood and iron". His only real devotion was to his Vaterland so, although he made skilled use of war to bring about the widely desired unification of Germany, he was just as ready to use peace on behalf of Germany once that was accomplished.

And Bismarck saw the fatal weakness in hostility to Germany: Great alliances would have to be formed if there was to be any hope of taking Germany on. So for the remainder of his term as Reichskanzler he used diplomatic means to frustrate that. His constantly changing foreign policy confused everyone and prevented any firm alliances from forming. So purely to protect Germany, Bismarck achieved something remarkable: Peace in Europe.

And that peace became rather permanent. People got used to not being at war. Proof that peace was possible made it the status quo which most people wanted to continue. So even after Bismarck left the scene in 1890 the peace continued for nearly a quarter of a century more -- until 1914.

And peace in Europe had a hugely energizing effect. Scientific, technical and economic innovations had already begun in various places but with European energies diverted to peaceful pursuits rather than war, those developments got a huge kick-along and great economic progress took place. Europe emerged from a peasant age into an industrial age. Even in Russia, heavy industries emerged and railways snaked out across the land.

But these vast economic changes had a psychologically disruptive effect. As the old order crumbled before the steam train its assumptions crumbled too. Aristocracy lost legitimacy and all values were questioned. Any thinking that had been widely accepted in the past became automatically suspect as belonging to the past only.

And that, basically, was modernism: A confidence that the old could be swept away and replaced by a new more exciting and more heroic vision of just about everything.

But again at risk of seeming Marxist, the new vision had its antithesis. Many people were suspicious of the new enthusiasms and were not at all ready to throw away the wisdom of the past. This "reaction" was brilliantly managed by Disraeli in Britain, not managed at all in France and rather hamfistedly managed by Bismarck in in Germany. Bismarck was not nearly as successful in domestic policy as he was in foreign policy, though again his policies kept his opposition off-balance as long as he was around.

So, of the major European powers, only Britain merged smoothly into the modern world -- with only a minimum of social disruption. The values of the past were largely preserved while considerable innovations to cope with changed economic circumstances were also made. Russia was of course at the other end of the scale, where adaptation to the new was disastrously managed.

Perhaps the most vivid evidence of the orderly British transition is the survival right into the present day of the House of Lords, still a highly esteemed body but quite unlike any other present-day upper house that I know of. So Britain had plenty of cultural modernism in its day but Fascism never made significant inroads into British political life, despite the efforts of Sir Oswald Mosley.

So now I come to where I disagree with the Marxists (with whom Griffin, mentioned above, seems to agree partly). I think the Marxists have got the wrong end of the stick altogether. Marxists see Fascism as a form of defence of the old order when it was clearly quite the opposite. They see it as a defence of traditional values when Fascists themselves saw themselves as the vanguard of the new. Particularly in Italy it is clear that Fascists were the modernists, not traditionalists. Extreme modernists such as D'Annunzio were simply co-opted into Fascism.

One can perhaps excuse the Marxist confusion a little in that both Mussolini and Hitler did make major allusions to the past -- Mussolini aiming to re-establish the Roman empire and Hitler glorifying Germany's imagined pre-Christian lifestyle. But it is starkly clear that these allusions are to an imagined and remote past rather than to the actual immediate past. Neither man was a traditionalist in any sense. Both had visions for their countries that were thoroughly modernist. The visions were rather vague and inchoate but that was part of modernism.

But the major point behind the Marxist critique is that the changes wrought by the Fascists were much less sweeping than those wrought by the Bolsheviks in Russia. The Fascists left most of the existing structure of society in place. Does that not make them defenders of the status quo?

But it must be remembered that the modernists were idealists rather than the hate-filled smash-everything monsters of Bolshevism. And the "hope and change" message offered by the modernists was every bit as vague as a similar message in the 21st century. Their ideals left very little guide for action. So their actions were rather limited when they came to power. They were clear that they needed to gain close control over society but they saw that this could be done by laws and regulation rather than by mass-murder -- so chose that more orderly path.

The one ideal that they aimed to implement was the thoroughly socialist ideal of a better deal for the workers -- and they in fact did that by much expanded social welfare legislation. And they intruded further into the lives of the workers than even social democratic parties had ever envisaged -- even providing cheap recreations for the workers (The "Dopolavoro" system in Italy and the "Kraft durch Freude" movement in Germany).

A KDF "Holiday ship"

The Fascist control of their society was extensive and intrusive but not obviously destructive. They were in that way closer to the social democrats than the Bolsheviks. So the transformation of society under the Fascists was more restrained than what happened in Russia but it was still obviously motivated by socialist ideals and was just as disastrous in the end.

But what about the nationalism of the Fascists? Where does that fit in? It was in fact one way in which the Fascists did NOT innovate or stand out. Nationalism was normal across the political spectrum in Europe at the time. There were few more ardent German nationalists than Friedrich Engels, for instance. Yes. THAT Engels: Karl Marx's co-author. And Mussolini saw that. He saw that the working classes of Europe had supported their respective nation-states in WWI and it was largely that realization which eventually caused him to give up Marxist class-war ideas and invent Fascism instead. Hitler too was repulsed by class-war ideas.

So one can conclude that the political manifestation of modernism in the form of Fascism was largely a poorly managed response to an economic transformation. A new world called for new ideas and Fascism purported to offer that.

I will close by pointing out very briefly the rather obvious tie-in to the fascination with Japan that prevailed for a while in Europe. Japan modernized at the most breakneck speed of all and yet still seemed to retain all its traditional values! No wonder the modernists were fascinated! In fact, Japan had something for everyone, which is why it had so much influence (now mostly forgotten) in the run-up to WWI.

Footnote: I am mildly pleased to see that the Wikipedia entry on Bismarck agrees fairly closely with what I have said about him. I don't always have orthodox history on my side!


George Orwell, Call Your Office

Sometimes the mind just boggles. The Atlantic has an article this month with the title “Americans Want to Live in a Much More Equal Country (They Just Don’t Realize It).” I am always curious when intellectuals announce that the people (who in the American constitutional system serve as the sovereign power) don’t know what’s good for them (What’s the Matter with Kansas?) or don’t even know what they want.

Implicit in all of these revelations, of course, is the firmest, if never directly expressed, belief of the Left: That the average person is too stupid to run his own life, let alone make public policy decisions. Those few, those happy few, that band of liberal intellectuals, must do that for them.

The author of the Atlantic article, Dan Ariely—a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke—divided the American population into quintiles according to wealth. He then asked a representative sample of more than 5,000 Americans to guess how the country’s wealth was distributed amongst these quintiles.

He doesn’t say exactly how he determined the population’s wealth. Are the hundreds of billions of dollars in union and government pension funds that will fund the retirement of millions of blue-collar and government workers considered an asset of those workers? I’d guess not. Does this money greatly improve their standard of living? You bet, just like a trust fund improves the standard of living of some rich man’s grandson. But let that go.

It turns out that the overwhelming majority of the sample population thought the distribution of wealth was much more equal than in fact it is. The average guess was that 9 percent of the country’s private wealth belonged to the bottom 40 percent and that 59 percent of it belonged to the top 20 percent. According to the author, it is in fact 0.3 percent of American privately held wealth that belongs to the bottom 40 and 84 percent that belongs to the top 20. But, again, without some insight into the methodology, these figures are impossible to evaluate. They are simply declared ex cathedra.

Ariely then asked people in the sample population to pick an ideal distribution of wealth among the quintiles. The average of their choices was much more egalitarian than is the American reality. The average proposed distribution was 11 percent for the poorest quintile and 32 percent for the richest.

The rest of the article is devoted to a discussion of how best to get to that preferred distribution.

A few points:

1) As long as no one lacks the wherewithal for a decent standard of living, is a very unequal division of wealth necessarily a bad thing and a more evenly distributed pattern of wealth necessarily a good thing? Professor Ariely blithely begs this fundamental question.

2) American society is notoriously fluid. Rising from a log cabin to the presidency is American folklore. It is also American reality. The majority of the Forbes 400 created their own fortunes.

But there is not an inkling here that individuals often transition through different quintiles during their lives. Someone might start off in the top quintile, living with his affluent parents. Then he graduates from college, gets an entry-level job and a studio apartment in a crummy part of town, and bam! He’s in the bottom quintile. He works hard, gets ahead, saves some money, and he’s in the next-to-bottom quintile. He marries a woman with a good job and moves up another. His parents help with the down payment on a house and 20 years later, once the mortgage is paid off, he’s in the next quintile. His father dies, leaves him a million dollars, and he’s in the top quintile. Then the market goes to hell, his net worth declines drastically, and, as a result, he drops down a notch or two. And so on.

Instead, there is an unmistakable implication in the article that the various quintiles are self-perpetuating, with the proletariat at the bottom leading lives of quiet desperation and a few fat cats at the top lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills. That might have been true in the 1840s when Marx began writing (although the early 19th century was also a time of many new fortunes). It sure isn’t true in today’s America, where a bright idea for an iPad app can make you rich practically overnight (just ask the guy who invented Angry Birds) and talent is far more valued than ancestors.

3) How on earth are 5,500 people chosen from all walks of life—from janitor to rocket scientist—supposed to have the faintest idea what the ideal distribution of wealth should be in today’s rapidly changing economy? These people are picking numbers out of the air and saying, “Oh, that seems right.” Is it? Professor Ariely simply assumes that it is.

4) Shouldn’t we have some real idea as to what the ideal distribution actually is—if that’s even knowable—before we march the country off willy-nilly toward some arbitrary distribution chosen by a bunch of people in a random sample? The average of 5,000 guesses is an excellent way to produce an accurate estimate of the number of jelly beans in a big jar. It is a disastrously dumb way to determine the parameters of a vast social engineering project.

An even worse way to determine these parameters, of course, would be to have the choice made by a group of professors sitting around the faculty lounge and grumbling about the people who aren’t as bright as they are but who are worth tons more money.

5) Might deliberately trying to achieve a particular distribution of wealth—through taxation or other means—have terrible and utterly unanticipated real-world consequences? Neither I nor Professor Ariely nor anyone else has the faintest idea.

The American economy is a vast, hugely complex, and dynamic system, filled with individuals who are pursuing their self-interests whether the denizens of the faculty lounge (who are pursuing theirs) like it or not. It is beyond intellectually presumptuous to think that we understand the totality of the effects of a fundamental change in the economy.

6) In a highly dynamic system, such as a modern economy, when you pin down one number, requiring it not to move, all the other numbers will begin to behave differently, often in pernicious ways. Consider price controls. A price is the point in a free market where supply and demand balance. If the government requires that the price of a commodity not change in response to changes in supply and demand (such as with rent controls and minimum wage laws), one of two things will immediately begin to happen.

If the fixed price is set below the market price, scarcity will result. There is no current shortage of caviar. But set the price at $10 a pound, and there will be lines outside every gourmet shop in the country. And no caviar.

Set the price above the market price, however, and you will get an instant glut. Minimum wages for unskilled labor have produced armies of unemployed teenagers whom no one wants to hire at the legal price. So, if wealth must be distributed according to a set formula, heaven only knows what other numbers will promptly go out of whack. And, of course, the people whose wealth is scheduled to be redistributed are going to do what they can to prevent that. In a democracy, that will be a lot.

7) Major new technology produces new and larger fortunes than those known before. This, ineluctably, produces a more unequal distribution of wealth.

It happened with the steam engine. Benjamin Disraeli coined the word “millionaire” in 1826 to describe the new fortunes that were based on factories, not land. It happened with the railroads, with petroleum, and with the automobile, too.

And it is happening now with the most profound technological development at least since the steam engine—or perhaps ever—the microprocessor. The microprocessor is creating new fortunes (Microsoft, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Dell, Google, Bloomberg, Apple, Facebook, etc.) that are of unprecedented size. This is skewing the distribution of wealth sharply toward the top quintile. But no one is a dime poorer because Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg are billions richer. Their wealth was created by the dynamic economic enterprises they brought into being, not transferred from others.

The only way to prevent the increase in wealth inequality brought about by major new technology would be to prevent the creation of new fortunes that new technology makes possible. The country would be mad, utterly mad, to try to do that. These fortunes came into being only because millions of people flocked to buy the new products, use the new services, and shop in the new stores. No new fortunes, no new products, services, or stores.

What do you prefer: An America with a very uneven distribution of wealth and an unending stream of new products and services that make life better for everyone, or an oversized North Korea?

The idea that something as fundamental as the distribution of wealth can be radically altered in a democracy without disastrous side effects is an intellectual fantasy. Prohibition, a far simpler social engineering project than fundamentally redistributing wealth, didn’t get rid of demon rum, it gave us Al Capone. And the people who wanted to drink kept right on doing so.

Intellectuals, especially in the social sciences, have a nasty habit of thinking that, “This is the way the world should be, therefore this is the way the world can be.” This is what leads them to come up with so many ideas that are, in George Orwell’s phrase, “so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.”



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


28 August, 2012

The surprising influence of Japan

As someone who drives a car made in Japan, and as one who occasionally dines at a Sushi train, I am one of the many who is aware of the large influence of Japan in the modern world. What seems to have slipped out of general awareness is how far back that influence goes. It has been infuencing us for over 100 years.

Even when Commodore Perry anchored his black paddle-wheeler in Tokyo Bay in 1854 and signed a treaty opening Japan to the West, he was impressed by the rich Japanese culture -- and that impression has continued on from there. By the late 19th century there was quite a fad in Western Europe for all things Oriental, both Chinese and Japanese. This was very evident in Art Nouveau, the dominant art of the Belle Epoque. As one review says:
"Art Nouveau was not a style but a movement which was a reaction against the stuffy over-decoration of the nineteenth century. It took its early inspiration from the work of William Morris, Arthur Mackmurdo, and Walter Crane, and fused these with an enthusiam for Chinoiserie and Japonisme. And as a movement it errupted very suddenly in the 1890s, spread throughout Europe and even to the USA – and then ended just as abruptly in the first decade of the new century."

But while Westerners were enthusing (justifiably, in my view) about Japanese art, the Japanese were embarking on a uniquely determined attempt to catch up with the West technologically, something they had pretty much achieved as the dawn of the 20th century broke. Most Asian nations are still modernizing in the 21st century. Japan did it in the 19th. There is no doubt that they are a remarkable people.

And as I have previously pointed out, the culmination of that catch-up in the defeat of Russia in 1905 energized the West enormously. A civilization that was already esteemed became even more so -- to the extent of being taken as a model in many ways.

But Japanese culture, like Chinese culture, is a culture of honour/shame rather than a culture of moral absolutes so its influence was in some ways atrocious. Again as I have previously pointed out, its influence on military doctrine led to the mass slaughter of ONE'S OWN TROOPS being seen as a good thing!

And we see another awful instance of the power of honour/shame in the episode below:
I happened to be watching one of those TV progs about antiques the other day. This one was called "Flog It" and it encourages people to dig out old stuff they don't want, get it valued by experts and, if it is worth anything, either sell it to a dealer or put it into auction.

Apparently one of the things that can add extra value to an antique is its "provenance", i.e. its history, especially if it has some particular association with a person or event that makes the item "come alive" and become more interesting and collectible.

On this occasion an elderly woman was selling a set of medals. Alongside the medals she had an old, faded sepia photograph of two boys sitting either side of a young girl. She explained that the picture was taken just before World War I; the girl was her mother and the two boys her uncles - that she had never known. She went on to explain why she had never known them.

Just after the war broke out, one of her uncles was on a bus when a woman approached him and pinned a white feather on him. Readers will recognise this as a familiar insult used by women at the time to shame young men into joining the military and going out to fight in the war. The white feather did exactly what it was designed to do; the young man felt so humiliated by the woman's act that he promptly signed up. But he had to lie about his age in order to get in. Why? Because he was only fifteen years old. That's right: FIFTEEN. He looked older, but that was his precise age.

The medals on show on the programme were the ones he and his brother, who followed him into the army, won in their brief lives. Within a year of signing up, they were both dead on the killing fields.

Dead. Wasted. Before they could start their own families, before they even had a vote, before they had any chance of fulfilling their promise. Brave, honourable, but uselessly dead.

The presenter of the programme could not hide his shock at the story. It is good that people can still register such shock, because we should never forget the lessons. Did that woman who pinned the feather ever know what wickedness she had perpetrated? Did she ever care?

It occurs to me that in order to pin the feather on the young man, she must have deliberately taken it out with her that day. She must have had it in her bag or whatever, and was specifically looking for a young man to pin it on. It could not have been a spontaneous act: it was planned. She had a clear intent to inflict personal shame and misery, and ultimately complete destruction, on an innocent young man she didn't even know. She might as well have pulled out a gun and shot him. But she got clean away with it."

What kind of person is it that approaches a random stranger and calls him a coward knowing nothing about him, not his age, his occupation, his health and fitness, any of his history at all, the only type of person who does this is one who feels completely invulnerable, secure and confident in the knowledge that they would not be censored or criticized"

Fortunately, the follies of WWI were rapidly recognized as soon as the war was over and Western Christian values were more or less restored throughout Europe.

During WWI, Japan itself continued its alliance with Britain but mainly undertook naval operations (Would you believe Japanese navy warships assisting the British even in the Mediterranean?) -- so Japanese values continued on as before, leading them into the disaster of their conflict with the USA in WWII.

I might say something tomorrow about the deeper reasons behind the early fascination with Japan.


Barack Obama’s War on the Middle Class

Like conflict, numbers have a way of concentrating the mind. Everyone knows the economy is in bad shape. But just how bad is it? As President Obama campaigns to move the country “Forward” and tries to scare the middle class into voting against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (rather than for him), it’s critical to note how badly Americans’ incomes have fared in the Obama economy.

According to the Washington Post, “Incomes have dropped more since the beginning of the recovery than they did during the recession itself.” The Post cites a report which notes that “from June 2009 to June 2012, inflation-adjusted median household income fell 4.8 percent to $50,964.”

A broader historical comparison reveals just how acute the present crisis is. The report further notes that “median income is 7.2 percent below its December 2007 level and 8.1 percent below where it stood in January 2000, which was at $55,470.” Such grim news is just the latest reminder that President Obama’s leadership has left Americans poorer than they were under George W. Bush, and poorer than they’ve been in a generation.

Indeed, as a result of Barack Obama’s failure to stem the economic bleeding, the Federal Reserve reported earlier in the summer that the recession erased two decades’ worth of our collective wealth. There have been 42 straight months where the unemployment rate has exceeded 8%. Offering four more years of economic woe is anything but “Forward.”

It’s no secret the prolonged recession has most hurt the very people President Obama ostensibly intended to help with his ill-conceived government “investments,” the middle class. The middle class, i.e. those making between $39,000 and $118,000 (according to the Pew Research Center), has borne the brunt of the bad economy. As the above numbers demonstrate, three years after the recession technically ended (August 2009), the recession continues to ravage the middle class.

These are facts President Obama cannot mention. And in the Leftist playbook, when you cannot tell the truth, you deceive and personally attack those who dare to do so. Further, you attempt to divide people by artificial barriers, like income. Hence Barack Obama’s obsession with Mitt Romney’s tax returns. There is something gross about categorizing Americans by their gross income. In the Obama worldview, you are your W-2.

Seeing the nation as distinct “classes,” or better yet castes, is illogical and offensive. It’s illogical because there are not separate classes of Americans. Our motto is out of many one, not out of many, many. And it’s offensive because it ignores one of America’s best attributes: upward social mobility. Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs were not born billionaires. And we all know President Obama was not born a millionaire.

The tenuous relationship with the truth that characterizes his best selling autobiographies is evident in his dishonest campaign to win over the middle class. Like the Good Samaritan offering to tend to the wounded traveler by inflicting further harm upon him, the president claims to support the middle class but undermines it by creating more government dependents than private employees. As more people go to their mailbox to receive government handouts than go to work to earn a paycheck, and as Obama guts the welfare reform work requirement, he touts both as progress. In an opposite world George Costanza could only dream of, Barack Obama attacks the middle class like a scourge to be eradicated, while simultaneously claiming to save it. The cognitive dissonance is dizzying, and alarming. To wit:

Barack Obama claims to support unemployed Americans while pandering to and bribing illegal immigrants, and punishing state-based efforts to address illegal immigration and the attendant violence and wage depression.

Barack Obama affirms the middle class vote while marginalizing that vote by seeking to provide ballots to felons and illegal immigrants, rather than soldiers deployed abroad, and by litigating against overwhelmingly popular voter ID initiatives and providing federal tax dollars to shady outfits that register felons, dead people, and Mickey Mouse.

Barack Obama claims to support middle class values while mocking religious voters as weak clingers and forcing religious institutions to provide free contraception and abortifacients, in violation of their most sacred beliefs.

Barack Obama claims to support middle class jobs but has unleashed his EPA to undermine the domestic energy industry that employs and feeds the middle class in many parts of our nation, targeting coal plants for death by regulation and impeding new domestic and offshore drilling on public land, like the Keystone Pipeline.

Barack Obama claims to support middle class healthcare while imposing the Affordable Care Act, which will raise premiums, decrease care, encourage employers to drop coverage, and put government bureaucrats between patients and doctors.

Barack Obama claims to support middle class education but opposes tested and proven education reforms – vouchers and charter schools – that would drastically improve education outcomes for middle and lower class students stuck in failing public schools.

Barack Obama claims to support the middle class’ future, but he has done nothing about the deficit, and nothing to address the unfunded obligations of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that will bankrupt the middle class in a few years’ time.

The evidence is undisputed. Barack Obama’s claims to support the middle class are fiction, contempt masquerading as care. Politicians, no less than individuals, are judged by their actions, not simply their words. The distortion and demonization Barack Obama peddles on the campaign trail cannot hide the damage his policies have caused middle class Americans. They deserve better than him, and better than the “Forward” he offers. In Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, they have the chance to choose it.



Leftist logic: Paul Ryan’s Black College Girlfriend Could Mean He’s Racist

Paul Ryan had a black girlfriend in college? The Root’s Kelli Goff suggests in this article that blacks should be suspicious of this, implying Ryan could be a racist. Maybe a call to the Guinness Book of World Records is in order. Ryan isn’t the first white man to date a black person and certainly won’t be the last. Ryan dating a black woman in college shows me he’s just as audacious in his personal life (evolved and open-minded) as he is in his approach to governance.

But apparently, interracial dating is a story only when a white Republican does it. President Obama dated white women in college and law school and that never became a significant story during the 2008 campaign. In fact, discussion by the mainstream media of the President Obama dating white women in college and law school often implied that he was more tolerant, complicated and interesting. Instead, the Root’s political writer Keli Goff speculates just the opposite of Ryan that because Ryan dated a black woman in college, doesn’t mean he’s NOT a racist.

When it comes to a white conservative politicians interracial dating, the Liberal media portrays it as something negative. “Is the fact that Ryan has dated interracially a noteworthy detail to consider when analyzing his politics and policies?” wrote Goff.

Referencing no examples of behavior by Ryan that could be viewed racist, Goff only suggests that one day Ryan may be faced with racist allegations and use the fact that he dated a black woman in college as his defense. She writes: “Here's a well-known phrase that has virtually become a punch line: When someone finds himself on the ropes facing an allegation of racism, the go-to reflex defense is usually something along the lines of "But some of my best friends are black!" Translation: "I can't possibly be racist or racially insensitive because there are black people I like and they like me. So there."

Ryan doesn’t have a record of pushing legislation harmful to blacks, he authored a budget plan to help all Americans by reducing America’s debt, reforming our tax code and fixing entitlement programs to keep them from going bankrupt. But instead of pointing to specific legislation or actions by the congressman that might be construed as racist, Goff eagerly pushes a racist smearing of Ryan when there is ZERO evidence to suggest such a charge.

Goff like liberal journalist Toure Neblett is engaging in race baiting journalism because she knows black support for Obama is slipping and wants to either discourage blacks from voting for Mitt Romney or voting at all. A recent AP poll found black support for Obama has dropped from 95% to 82% due to Obama’s support of gay marriage and abysmal unemployment rate plaguing blacks, which is almost twice the national average.

By putting Ryan in the same company as Strom Thurmond, a professed segregationist who fathered a baby with his “black servant,” Goff is asking readers to believe Ryan may be a racist. She also points out that cable news pundit Lou Dobbs been married to a “Mexican-American woman” even though for years he “was the face of the anti-illegal-immigration crusade.”

While Goff professes at the end of her piece she’s “not calling Ryan a racist,” the question arises why she wrote this story to begin with? I agree with Goff “if you want to know where a politician's heart lies when it comes to a particular community, it may be best to look at that person's policies . . . rather than personal relationships” or the color of his skin. After three and half years, I’d like to see black journalists like Goff start to critically evaluate Obama’s policies and not continue to give him a free pass because he’s the country’s first black president.



From Jay Leno

They’re now worried that Tropical Storm Isaac could hit Florida during next week’s Republican convention. But Florida is ready for it. Thanks to President Obama’s economic policies, many businesses down there are already boarded up.

It’s now being reported that Joe Biden will go to the Republican convention to try to cause problems for Mitt Romney. Then after that, he will go to the Democratic convention where he will definitely cause problems for President Obama.

At a campaign stop in Virginia, Joe Biden said he is such a NASCAR fan, “I’d trade being vice president in a heartbeat for winning Daytona.” To which President Obama said, “Deal!”

President Obama met with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in the Oval Office. They agreed on a new economic plan after losing last night’s big Powerball lottery.

After his latest gaffe, Joe Biden has a new slogan — “Chains you can believe in.”

It was 109 degrees today in Los Angeles. It was so hot today, Joe Biden was putting his foot in his mouth just to cool it off.

Police in Florida have arrested a man who said he finally achieved his goal of shoplifting in all 50 states. You know what you call someone who steals from all 50 states? Congressman.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 August, 2012

The Herd Mind of the Left

Why Leftists are impervious to rational argument: They cannot afford to listen. They would lose the security of their herd

Just about any gregarious conservative can register the same complaint: his friends of a liberal persuasion firmly believe in evolution, the hydrocarbon menace, technogenic global warming, and the virtues of green energy; they are convinced that racism is still rampant in America, that all the ills of inner-city schools can be cured by throwing more money at them, that criminals are actually victims of society, that voter fraud is a myth concocted by evil conservatives, that cheating at the polls is a sacred right of minorities, that illegal immigrants have committed no crime even though the word "illegal" is self-explanatory, that George Bush attacked Iraq at the behest of Halliburton to grab Iraqi oil...

In short, it is always the same mantra, demonstrably stupid and illogical, yet fervently espoused by all ardent liberals, irrespective of their social status or educational attainments.

How to account for it? And why are liberals totally impervious to any counter-arguments -- on those rare occasions, that is, when they actually deign to listen to the contrary views? The easiest explanation, of course, would be that those who persevere in beliefs glaringly devoid of any meaning or logic are just plain dumb. But no, there are a lot of highly intelligent people -- in fact, almost the entirety of academia -- among the most vocal proponents of that idiocy. So there must be some other explanation. And as a matter of fact, there is.

The estimable Lee Harris, in his wonderful book The Suicide of Reason (Basic Books, 2007), explores the concept of the shaming code developed by Thomas Huxley. Huxley, widely known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his ferocious defense of evolutionary theory, thought long and hard about the inherent contradiction between man's "innate tendency to self-assertion ... as the condition of victory in the struggle for existence and the obvious fact that in the struggle for survival loners are losers and individuals who banded together increased their chances of survival." Upon reflection, Huxley came to the conclusion that the glue that holds together individuals in a group is the collective shaming code.

"It is this code that makes the members of the group feel as one," writes Lee Harris. "They are disgusted, angered, delighted and shamed by the same things. The unanimity of their visceral response is what provides the powerful sense of collective identity. It makes them feel and think as a tribal Us, in contrast to those tribes who are not disgusted by what disgusts us, or made angry by what makes us angry, and who feel no shame at what we think of as shameful[.] ... A tribe that shares a powerful visceral code that inhibits the natural tendency of the individual to self-assertion will present a united front against its enemies."

Therein lies the explanation of the total information blockade built around the highly dubious figure of Barack Obama by the left-leaning salons and the mainstream media, even including the respectable conservative media. It doesn't take unusual intelligence to see that the 44th president is a patent mediocrity with a totally contrived past. And yet, crickets.

In 1600, Sir John Harrington penned these immortal words: "Treason doth never prosper; what's the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason." In other words, treason attains respectability once it becomes a prevalent trait of the social mores, part and parcel of society's shaming code. Today, it is the very same shaming code that causes polite society to rally around the "right-thinking" Obama and rebuff all attempts to expose him as the fraud that he is. Even the late, utterly fearless Andrew Breitbart refused to wade into the controversy around Obama's birth certificate, advising his followers not to "go there," because he believed that it was unproductive and harmful to the conservative cause. He understood the power of the shaming code.

But why is today's social and political scene dominated by the left, allowing it to impose its shaming code on society? In the struggle for survival and supremacy, the advantage invariably goes to those who are more committed to maintaining and expanding their cultural traditions and who, because of the strength of that commitment, are united by the more powerful sense of group feeling. Hence the liberals' domination of the public discourse.

Conservatives are usually reluctant ideological warriors. For the most part, they want only to be left alone, to live and let live. Having won a battle, they sigh with relief and waste no time beating their swords into ploughshares. Not so the liberals. They never tire or despair in their attempts to impose their views on all others; if they lose a fight, they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and, undaunted, continue to slog toward their goals. And in the struggle of opposites, the more fanatical will always win.

The vicious hatred of the left for its conservative opponents, belied by the liberals' constant protestations of their high-mindedness and tolerance, is also easily explainable in tribal terms. It is the hatred of the righteous for the sinner, of the acolyte of the one true faith for the heretic. Distilled to its essence, it is the hatred for "the other," of "us" for "them." It is also the reason why liberals so liberally lie and cheat in their dealings with the conservative "enemy." Everything is fair in love and war, and politics is war by other means. Why are liberals infinitely understanding and patient toward the Islamic terrorists who threaten to destroy Western civilization? Not only because the Islamofascists are of the third world and thus automatically endowed with virtue, but also because they offer no competition to the left for supremacy in American society, while conservatives do.

Today's left is every bit a tribe with its unthinking, fanatical devotion to the tribal code and animal fear of being ostracized. The ancient Greeks believed banishment from the tribe to be the harshest of all punishments, worse than death. Human nature has not changed, and the dread of being cast into outer darkness is still as strong as ever. Sure, there are some exceptions, but they pay a heavy price for their bravery. That's why so many bright people, eager to toe the line, join the fawning fandom of Obama; it's the price of admission to the club. They may have some doubts in the beginning, but as time goes by, they undoubtedly lose their qualms. The mask fuses with the face; they convince themselves of the truth of the cult and internalize its code, for to acknowledge the truth and rebel against the tribe is too painful and too dangerous.

Emerging from the questioning by the grand jury investigating President Clinton, Vernon Jordan loudly declared that he had "kept the faith" -- i.e., lied to save Bill Clinton's bacon. Jordan's standing with the tribe was more important to him than the potential perjury charge. The handlers assigned by John McCain to guide his inexperienced VP candidate, Sarah Palin, through the dangerous shoals of the 2008 presidential campaign chose to throw her to the media wolves. They failed in their duty not due to incompetence, but because their primary concern was preserving their credentials with the Washington in-crowd, paying obeisance to the tribal values. And so they blithely sacrificed their ward to safeguard their social status.

The astute Robert Heinlein in his 1961 best-selling SF novel Stranger in a Strange Land invented a special word, grok, to describe the phenomenon of tribal consciousness carried to its extreme: "Grok means ... to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience[.]" The practical corollary of the dissolution of one's identity in groupthink is that all Republican outreach efforts are a total waste of time, money, and hope. It's just too much trouble to open one's mind; how much more comfortable just to go on grokking in the tribal Nest!

Liberal intellectuals like to pose as bearers of the culture of reason, as fiercely independent thinkers. But they are kidding themselves. They have traded their intellectual primogeniture for the mess of pottage of group identity. They are fully integrated into the socially and politically dominant tribe, sharing the same visceral likes and dislikes, the same shaming code. Rather than being autonomous rational actors, they are merely an assemblage of cipher units marching in lock step to the tribal drumbeat. Harold Rosenberg mordantly branded them the herd of independent minds.



More of the herd mind: Voters fret about economy, Dems focus on abortion, homosexuality

"This election, to me, is about which candidate is more likely to return us to full employment," says former President Bill Clinton in a new ad released by the Obama campaign. Most voters would agree, at least if one believes countless polls that show the economy and jobs are the nation's top concern.

So why are Democrats planning to make their convention a celebration of abortion and gay marriage? The Obama campaign has given a new and prominent surrogate role to Sandra Fluke, the former Georgetown law student and full-time lefty activist who achieved notoriety after Rush Limbaugh called her a bad name because of her energetic promotion of taxpayer-financed contraception.

There will be a lot of talk about abortion, all of it from one side. But not all Democrats agree with Fluke and her fellow speakers when it comes to abortion; in May of this year, Gallup found 34 percent of Democrats identify themselves as pro-life. And, perhaps more important to President Obama's re-election prospects, 47 percent of independents describe themselves as pro-life.

Why would a party that wants to attract the largest possible number of votes this November make such extravagant pronouncements on abortion, knowing that one-third of its own members and nearly one-half of independents disagree?

If you stand on the floor of a Democratic convention when a speaker is discussing abortion, you can feel the depth of the emotion that many Democrats feel on the issue. Conservatives like to say abortion is a liberal sacrament. Maybe that's going too far, but it is very, very important. And when something means so much to a group of people, they can easily convince themselves that it means that much to others, too.



Famous dumb ideas: Let’s have a maximum wage, shall we?

Sometimes the mask slips a little on the left and you get a peek at the real collectivist agenda at work there. Other times a leftist will just take the mask off completely and show you the collectivist behind it.

It is one of the reasons I find the left to be the most potentially totalitarian side of the spectrum … because their basic premise, the premise that spawns all others, is indeed collectivism.

For instance, this Gawker screed by some nimrod named Hamilton Nolan:
"Let’s have a maximum annual income of, oh, $5 million, pegged to inflation. All income above that would be taxed at 99 percent. Our precious national sports stars, celebrities, and corporate executives could still be fabulously wealthy. The daydreaming poor could still have a nice big number about which to hopelessly dream. Five million dollars a year. Five million! Anyone with $5 million can invest it conservatively enough to earn 5 percent a year and still be making $250K per year without lifting a finger. In other words, $5 million provides you with the means to live as a member of the one percent without ever touching the principal. It’s everything that any reasonable person could ask for, financially speaking.

A million and a quarter per year? Far more than anyone should be earning, in a world with so much poverty and want, but not so much that someone could consider themselves set for life. It’s a number at which the go-getting rich person is still aspirational. They hope to double or triple that salary before their earning days are done. So a hefty 75 percent tax, though completely just, will not only spook them enough to flee, but allow them to retain a modicum of dignity while doing so, at least among the more affluent segments of their peer group.

But $5 million? I defy the slickest PR firm in America to explain to a nation of struggling, underemployed working class people with a median household income of just over $50,000 why an already-wealthy person felt the need to leave the country—taking money out of the taxpayers’ pockets in a very literal sense—rather than donate, to the common good, earnings over one hundred times the nation’s median household income. This requires an already-wealthy person who is, by definition, being paid a wage that far outstrips any measure of fairness or good sense, to stand up in front of a nation (to which he has no doubt paid ample lip service during his rise to the top) of people far, far less fortunate than he and declare: "I have far more than I need. But I would rather abandon you all than help you."

If someone is willing to do that, let them take their shame and go. Good riddance.

You have to read the whole thing to ensure its not a spoof. It’s not. This knucklehead is serious.

Note how blithely he decides what is proper for you to have. “It’s everything that any reasonable person could ask for, financially speaking”.

Is it? What if you’re trying to build a business that requires, oh, I don’t know, 10 million?

Well, you can’t have that. Because Hamilton Nolan has arbitrarily decided that 5 mil is it. It’s a bit like the crowd that decides that at a minimum, labor is worth, oh I don’t know, how about $7.25 an hour?

Sound good? Let’s go with it and prosecute anyone that tries pay below that. What do you mean that causes unemployment because wage payers aren’t willing to pay more than what the labor on a job is worth? Why would some of them rather automate than pay that wage to a real person? How does a minimum wage kick up the price of a product?

See it’s these little niggling questions that are never entertained by economic rubes like Nolan that blow their little collectivist theories all to blazes.

Things like “well if I can only earn 5 mil in the US but I can earn 10 mil in Russia, I’ll just move to Russia”, also known as human nature, simply don’t register.

Dingbat’s reaction to such a move? “Good riddance”.

Really? Good riddance?

Someone ought to ask this economic idiot if he got his job at Gawker from a poor person? And when he got that job did he believe he got it because: "America has provided all of the opportunity necessary for these people to earn their fortunes. That opportunity is paid for with tax dollars."

Because that’s what he wrote. Seriously Mr. Nolan, did “America” provide all the opportunity necessary, paid for by the taxpayers, for you to land at Gawker? Or did your work and effort perhaps ‘earn’ you the job (although reading this hash one might be led to believe that Gawker has very low standards of employment)?

How does our collectivist plan on “rewarding” the high earners who remain and government coercively fleeces, taking most of what they’ve produced (note that the word “produced” never is used in Nolan’s rant)?

Newspaper articles. No. Seriously. "The wealthy could still earn as much as they want. It’s not that they don’t get anything for their earnings above $5 million; they get the distinct privilege of making a huge and helpful contribution to their fellow countrymen. Give them awards. Lavish them with praise. Publish the names of the highest taxpayers in laudatory newspaper columns. Allow them to bask in civic pride. But take their money. They have plenty."

Because Mr. Nolan and the mob, er collective, believe they have first claim on the money anyone earns. They just have to vote for it (“hey, that’s democracy!”). And that my friends is the basic difference between the left and right in this country. They believe it is“their” money or the government’s money. They have no idea of how wealth is produced. They have no idea of the concept of what it takes to earn something. Instead, it’s real simple: you get to keep what they deem appropriate, because wealth doesn’t belong to the producer, in their world it belongs to the collective.

Why? "This is not primarily about raising our total national tax revenue. That’s a far broader issue. This is about inequality. It’s about what type of nation we want to be—what level of inequality we are willing to tolerate in order to protect a vague and twisted notion of "freedom" that most people cannot even fully articulate, and that was created by the rich to serve themselves. This is a baby step. But it’s one that would make us, fundamentally, a better and more just country. And if the rich people don’t like it, fine."

It’s not at all about “raising our total national tax revenue”.

It’s about nascent totalitarianism masquerading as “fairness”. Fairness is one of those code words on the left that is used to rationalize removing choice, using coercion and claiming their actions are justified because otherwise the status quo is “unfair”.

There is no worse of a sin in the collective than being ‘unfair’. And screw you if you don’t like it.


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 old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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)


25 August, 2012

BOOK REVIEW of Military Strategy and the Origins of the First World War (Princeton University Press)

Most historians seem to agree that WWI was the key folly of the 20th century -- a folly that ultimately led to both the Hitler and Stalin disasters -- but how and why did it all happen? There are many answers to that but the review below by Richard Koenigsberg highlights a surprising but cogent explanation in terms of the war immediately preceding it: The Russo-Japanese war. That war -- resulting in the crushing and totally surprising defeat of a major European power by an Asian nation -- did make a huge impact at the time so it all fits that it should have been the key to WWI thinking.

Japan and Britain were allied at the time so there were considerable numbers of British observers embedded with the Japanese forces -- so what went on in the various battles was reported in detail in the British press and also therefore in the European press

Battles occurred when massive numbers of troops got out of their trench and attacked the opposing trench. Modris Eksteins describes the fundamental pattern:
"The victimized crowd of attackers in No Man’s Land has become one of the supreme images of this war. Attackers moved forward usually without seeking cover and were mowed down in rows, with the mechanical efficiency of a scythe, like so many blades of grass. “We were very surprised to see them walking,” wrote a German machine-gunner of his experience of a British attack at the Somme. “The officers went in front. I noticed one of them walking calmly, carrying a walking stick. When we started firing, we just had to load and reload. They went down in the hundreds. You didn’t have to aim, we just fired into them.”

By the time the war ended in November 1918, casualties had been staggering. Matthew White’s table summarizes the results: 65 million soldiers were mobilized to fight of which 9.5 million were dead, over 21 million wounded, and nearly 8 million taken prisoner or missing. Total casualties were over 37 million: 57.7% of all forces mobilized.

The mind boggles at these statistics. What could have been at stake to justify this massive episode of slaughter?

Howard suggests that it was neither the Boer War nor the American Civil War nor even the Franco-Prussian War that established the template for the First World War. Surprisingly, the 1905 Russo-Japanese war provided the model that France, Great Britain and other nations sought to emulate.

In February 1904, the Japanese navy launched a surprise attack on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur. It took the Japanese army a year to establish themselves in the disputed province of Manchuria, capturing Port Arthur by land assault in a two-week battle involving over half a million men.

The general consensus of European observers-who followed this war closely-was that infantry assaults with bayonets were still not only possible but necessary. The Japanese had carried them out time and again, and were ultimately successful. In spite of enormous losses in these assaults (Japan suffered an estimated 85,000 casualties during the war); soldiers had broken through the enemy line against machine gun fire and other obstacles. Bodies were heaped on the ground as one wave of troops followed the next, but the attacks eventually resulted in victory.

Japanese bayonet assaults came, it was true, only at the end of a long and careful advance. A French observer described one Japanese attack:
"The whole Japanese line is now lit up with the glitter of steel flashing from the scabbard. Once again officers quit shelter with ringing shouts of "Banzai!" wildly echoed by all the rank and file. Slowly, but not to be denied, they make headway, in spite of the barbed wire, mines and pitfalls, and the merciless hail of bullets. Whole units are destroyed-others take their places; the advancing wave pauses for a moment, but sweeps ever onward. Already they are within a few yards of the trenches. Then, on the Russian side, the long grey line of Siberian Fusiliers forms up in turn, and delivers one last volley before scurrying down the far side of the hill."

Japanese losses in these assaults were heavy, but they succeeded; and so, European theorists argued, such tactics would succeed again. "The Manchurian experience," one British military theorist wrote, showed over and over again that the bayonet was "in no sense an obsolete weapon. The assault is the supreme moment of the fight. From these glorious examples it may be deduced that no duty, however difficult, should be regarded as impossible by well-trained infantry of good morale and discipline."

It was the "morale and discipline" of the Japanese armed forces, Howard tells us, that all observers stressed. They were equally unanimous in stressing that these qualities characterized not only the armed forces but the entire Japanese nation. General Alexei Kuropatkin, the commander of the Russian forces, noted in his memoirs that his nation's defeat was due not to mistakes in generalship, but Russia's inferiority in "moral strength." Lacking "moral exaltation" and the "heroic impulse," Russia did not have sufficient resolution to conquer the Japanese.

The issue of national morale and will was a central concern of European leaders who studied the War. British General Sir Ian Hamilton stated that the Russo-Japanese war should cause European statesman anxiety. People seemed to forget that millions "outside the charmed circle of Western Civilization are ready to pluck the scepter from nerveless hands as soon as the old spirit is allowed to degenerate." Much as some worry today that China might become the "greatest country in the world," supplanting the United States, so European leaders at the turn of the century worried that Japan might supplant Western nations as the greatest country.

The basis of national greatness was, essentially, the spirit of self-sacrifice. Hamilton said that England still had time to "put her military house in order;" to "implant and cherish the military in the hearts of children." It would be necessary to impress upon the minds of the next generation of British boys and girls a "feeling of reverence and admiration for the patriotic spirit of their ancestors." The cult of the offensive, it would appear, represented a desire to make manifest the national will-the capacity for self-sacrifice-and therefore to demonstrate the greatness of one's nation.

In the following report, British Brigadier-General Hubert Rees describes a battle in which his own brigade was massacred as they advanced on German lines:
They advanced in line after line, dressed as if on parade and not a man shirked going through the extremely heavy barrage, or facing the machine-gun and rifle fire that finally wiped them out. I saw the lines, which advanced in such admirable order melting away under fire.

Yet not a man wavered, broke the ranks, or attempted to come back. I have never seen, indeed could never have imagined such a magnificent display of gallantry, discipline and determination. The reports from the very few survivors of this marvelous advance bear out what I saw with my own eyes: that hardly a man of ours got to the German Front line.

In spite of the total failure of this attack, it is evident that General Rees regarded the destruction of his brigade in a positive light. He observed that not a man “shirked” in the face of the machine-gun and rifle fire. He was proud that even though his troops were “melting away under fire,” they continued to advance “in admirable order.” His men did not waver, break ranks, or attempt to retreat. The General gushed that he had never seen such a magnificent display of “gallantry, discipline and determination.”

His soldiers were slaughtered and “hardly a man got to the German Front line.” However, the General does not evaluate the battle in terms of success or failure. Rather, his reflections revolve around the morale and spirit demonstrated by his troops. The fact that his soldiers continued to advance despite being riddled with bullets leads General Rees to conclude that the attack had been “marvelous.”

Excerpt from a review received by email from Library of Social Science.

I concur that national pride was at the root of the war. The long peace created by Bismarck (after Von Moltke's decisive victory over the French at Sedan in 1870) had enabled huge economic advances in Europe and these advances inspired great pride in the countries concerned. That everyone else was doing well tended to be overlooked. So the nations of Europe all believed in their own greatness and thought they would win any war in a pushover. They were spoiling for a fight and it took only the assasination of an Austrian Archduke to bring one on -- JR


American middle class hit by 10% drop in worth from double whammy of falling income and house prices

With more and more of the workforce diverted into useless bureaucracies, the total supply of useful goods and services has diminished

The middle class has shrunk drastically over the last 10 years as Americans' net worth has plunged, wages declined and standards of living slipped away, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Middle-income earners, long seen as the solid center of the country, are pessimistic and place the blame squarely on US lawmakers, banks and big business, the findings by the Pew Research Center showed.

'America's middle class has endured its worst decade in modern history,' researchers wrote.

In all, 85 percent of middle-class Americans say it is more difficult now than a decade ago to maintain their standard of living. Since 2001, median household income has fallen from $72,956 to $69,487 in 2010 -- a 4.75 percent drop, the report said.

The median household net worth, which is the value of assets minus debt, dropped from $129,582 to $93,150 over the same 10-year period, according to Pew, which analyzed US data along with its own survey of nearly 1,300 adults who consider themselves middle class.



Breivik found sane, faces life imprisonment

Breivik once again gave the Communist salute in court, which the media universally described as Right-wing!

THE Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has been found responsible for his crimes and faces life in prison. A panel of five judges led by Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen, who read the judgment, declared their verdict to be unanimous.

Breivik smiled briefly when he heard the verdict of guilt over terrorism offences and premeditated murder.

The judges effectively found that Breivik was sane when he slaughtered 77 people last year and sentenced him to "preventive detention". This is different to a normal prison sentence, which carries a maximum of 21 years. Breivik will be assessed after 21 years and his sentence could be extended if he is considered to still be a threat to society.

The victims' families had wanted him to be found sane so he could be held responsible for what they saw as a political crime. Seventy per cent of Norwegians polled shared this view.

After the verdict a survivor, Eivind Rindal, told a Norwegian newspaper: "The most important thing is that he never gets out. There are many who share his extreme views in our society."

There is a growing consensus in Norway that the feeling of national unity, symbolised by the huge "rose marches" in which hundreds of thousands marched in defiance during the aftermath of the attacks, has slowly ebbed away as the country becomes divided over the issues of rising immigration and cultural integration.



Economic Inequality is a Small Price to Pay for Staying Human

By Oleg Atbashian (Oleg is a former Soviet citizen)

To paraphrase Baudelaire, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world of the moral superiority of collectivism. According to Ayn Rand, if we don't convince the world otherwise, nothing else will work. Our greatest ally in this fight is human nature. Our greatest asset is morality itself, which is really, truly, undeniably, and absolutely on our side.

Today's political debates often end up in the following compromise: capitalism may be more economically efficient, but it's no moral match to economic equality that benefits most people. But the only way economic equality can benefit people is by pandering to their class envy. In all other aspects -- economical, political, cultural, philosophical, and spiritual -- it's a dastardly, immoral cause.

To begin with, it is the efficiency of capitalism that benefits most people. Among other things, it raises everyone's living standards and quality of life; expands consumer choices; boosts innovation that reduces the share of low-paying, mind-numbing manual jobs; increases the pool of well-paid professional jobs; gives the poor access to things that only the rich could enjoy a short while ago; promotes the creation of new cures of diseases; extends life expectancy and makes old age much more enjoyable.

The alternative to capitalism -- whatever one would like to call it -- is the loss of freedom, loss of choices, government corruption, and moral decay. What do we get in return? The vague promise of economic equality.

But in human reality, complete economic equality cannot be achieved. A century of collectivist social experiments around the world has proven three undeniable facts: One, government-enforced economic equality results in a forced inequality of a powerless, impoverished populace ruled by a corrupt elite. Two, the main obstacle to economic equality is human nature. Three, human nature cannot be changed, no matter the effort to re-educate, indoctrinate, or punish the violators.

An essential part of everyone's human nature is what collectivists are maligning as greed. Generally speaking, it is a normal desire of all humans to achieve a better life for themselves and their children. In a free capitalist system, "greed-driven" achievers engage in lawful productive work, start businesses, and build things. In a restrictive socialist system, to achieve a better station in life, one must either join the corrupt government apparatus, or become part of the criminal underworld with its vast shadow economy. The alternative is to succumb to misery and, very likely, alcoholism or worse. In the end, capitalism brings out the best in people; socialism brings out the worst.

How worthy and moral can an ideal be that punishes achievement and criminalizes human nature?

Proponents of economic equality are either willfully blind, or are themselves sociopathic megalomaniacs, trying to create a restrictive system in which they envision themselves to be part of the powerful ruling elite. Both are willing to go to extremes in order to achieve their goal. As they spin their tale of an imminent paradise, they never say what it will cost us to get there -- and, frankly, they don't give a damn. Individual human sacrifice is never an obstacle for collectivists; their glorious end justifies any unsightly means.

It is up to us then to examine just what exactly we will have to give up for the promise of economic equality -- something that has been proven to not exist.

At first we will have to accept restrictions on certain consumer choices and products in exchange for letting the government take care of our personal well-being. Then come restrictions on speech and activities: a price for maintaining the national well-being. Eventually all dissent is suppressed and criminalized, as the media falls under the government control, young people are indoctrinated in the "new ways," businesses pay enormous taxes, more and more families descend into misery and live off government subsidies, the economy crumbles, and shortages create long lines at the supermarket.

The leaders shift the blame to "enemies of the people," saying that this country would have been a dreamland if it weren't for a few greedy reactionaries. With no one left to object, desperate citizens succumb to the hatred and accept the idea that eliminating the few is a fair price to pay for improving the lives of the many. Then they accept the idea that eliminating an entire class of people is a small price to pay. But despite all the bloodletting, the promised collectivist paradise never arrives and the misery only increases. By now the demoralized, destitute masses are fully separated from the ruling elites by an impenetrable wall of privilege.

The ultimate price -- the relentless sacrifice of millions of people: their work, careers, ambitions, property, and lives -- has been paid to reach an unattainable economic mirage, a phantom concocted in the feverish minds of a few maniacs obsessed with class envy.

In contrast, the price of living in a free and prosperous capitalist society is merely to accept economic inequality as a natural extension of human nature. Without doubt, it's a small price to pay for remaining a free, productive, and moral people who live in harmony with objectively true moral principles, otherwise known as the natural moral law.



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


24 August, 2012

Is there a drone in your neighbourhood?

A lot of Democrat voters are drones but this is different


IMF admits that Iceland got it right

It put its people first and refused to bail out its banks. America too could have let its crooked banks fail and protected its people via the FDIC

Iceland holds some key lessons for nations trying to survive bailouts after the island’s approach to its rescue led to a “surprisingly” strong recovery, the International Monetary Fund’s mission chief to the country said.

Iceland’s commitment to its program, a decision to push losses on to bondholders instead of taxpayers and the safeguarding of a welfare system that shielded the unemployed from penury helped propel the nation from collapse toward recovery, according to the Washington-based fund.

“Iceland has made significant achievements since the crisis,” Daria V. Zakharova, IMF mission chief to the island, said in an interview. “We have a very positive outlook on growth, especially for this year and next year because it appears to us that the growth is broad based.”

Iceland refused to protect creditors in its banks, which failed in 2008 after their debts bloated to 10 times the size of the economy. The island’s subsequent decision to shield itself from a capital outflow by restricting currency movements allowed the government to ward off a speculative attack, cauterizing the economy’s hemorrhaging. That helped the authorities focus on supporting households and businesses.

“The fact that Iceland managed to preserve the social welfare system in the face of a very sizeable fiscal consolidation is one of the major achievements under the program and of the Icelandic government,” Zakharova said. The program benefited from “strong implementation, reflecting ownership on the part of the authorities,” she said.

In Iceland, the krona’s 80 percent plunge against the euro offshore in 2008 helped turn a trade deficit into a surplus by the end of the same year. Unemployment, which jumped nine-fold between 2007 and 2010, eased to 4.8 percent in June from a peak of 9.3 percent two years ago. The $13 billion economy will expand 2.4 percent this year, the IMF said April 17. That compares with an estimated 0.3 percent contraction in the 17-member euro area.

Iceland’s growth “is driven by private consumption, investment has picked up strongly and even though, when you look at net exports, those have a negative contribution to growth, it is mainly because imports have been strong, reflecting strong consumption and an increase in income and the healthy expectations of households,” Zakharova said. “Still, exports have been increasing very strongly. Last year was a banner year for tourism. These are all really positive things.”

The krona has gained about 15 percent against the euro since a March 28 low and was trading little changed at 147.27 per single currency as of 12 noon in Reykjavik today.

“The lifting of the capital controls is a key challenge for Iceland and it’s not an easy task,” she said. At the same time, “the government has regained access to international capital markets; the cleaning up of the balance sheet of banks has been proceeding at good speed. So going forward it’s important that the gains are sustained and consolidated,” she said.

As the central bank prepares to ease capital controls, policy makers are also raising interest rates in part to protect the krona from any weakening that might ensue. The bank increased its benchmark rate a quarter or a percentage point on June 13, bringing it to 5.75 percent. It was the fifth interest- rate increase since August last year.

“Further monetary tightening is needed, over the next few quarters, in order for Iceland to get to the target,” Zakharova said. “But we’ve also seen that the central bank has made strong statements about a hawkish monetary policy stance, indicating that the monetary policy will be tightened over time. So we think that the stance is appropriate at this point.”



The race clownery of Obama-Biden

By Michelle Malkin

Looks like Vice President Joe Biden has been taking extracurricular Democratic jive-talking lessons. The results of condescending liberals' cynical racial pandering attempts are, as always, seismically cringe-inducing.

At a campaign event in Danville, Va., the gaffetastic veep dropped his g's and picked up a bizarre twang in front of an audience of black voters. Middle-Class Joe swapped his Home Depot apron for an A.M.E. preacher's robe and sermonized about the big, bad GOP.

Romney's "gonna let the big banks once again write their own rules," Biden shouted. "Unnnn-chain Wall Street," he exclaimed with pulpit bravado. "They're gonna put y'all back in chains," the pasty Delaware wheeler-dealer faux-drawled. Extra-emphasis on the "y'all."

Yes, Biden is rattling chains like an extra in "Roots." This is the same politician of pallor who cracked jokes about Indians who work in 7-Elevens and who referred to his now-boss as "clean" and "articulate." Yet, Biden's demagoguery was met with approving hoots and hollers. Or rather, hollas.

Naturally, the defiant Obama campaign backed up Biden and gave a shout-out of its own. Welcome to the new tone -- and the same old slime. Prevaricating spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter (last seen defending the phony, indefensible Romney-killed-a-steelworker's-wife ad run by Obama Super PAC Priorities USA) chimed in after Biden's speech. "We have no problem with those comments," she told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. Biden "was using a metaphor" with which the president agrees.

Timing matters. Biden's race-baiting came after a weekend clogged with divisive jabs at GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's announcement of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.

Democratic Rep. Donna Christensen, the non-voting delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands to the U.S. House of Representatives, tweeted: "Wait a minute! Are there black people in Va? Guess just not w Romney Ryan! At least not seeing us. We know who's got our back & we have his." Left-wing actress Mia Farrow watched the announcement and derided a "whole bunch of white people." They were joined by countless "progressive" social media users who mocked the GOP's "white guy, white guy 2012!!!" Sirius XM radio host Dave Rubin -- himself the color of discount Charmin toilet paper -- called Romney-Ryan "the whitest ticket since the KKK voted for their box social chairperson."

Gotta love post-racial America!

The poisonous slavery allusion echoed the former pastor of Biden's boss. Rev. Jeremiah Wright, you may recall, used the same "chains" imagery to justify his "God Damn America" diatribe. "America," he inveighed in Obama's old Chicago-based Trinity United Church, put blacks in "chains ... and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America'? No, no, no. Not God bless America; God damn America!"

Biden's stunt also echoes Hillary Clinton's infamous black church minstrel performances in which she unleashed a mortifying Southern-spiced-with-street accent to show her street solidarity: "For the last five years, we've had No. Power. At. All. And that makes a big difference, because when you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation. An' yew know what ah'm talkin' about." At an event with race-hustler Al Sharpton, she poured it on thicker: "I'm afraid I'm gonna lift up the rug, and I'm goin' to see so much stuff uh-nder thar. ... You know, what is it about us always havin' to clean up after people? ... But this is not just goin' to be pickin' up socks off the floor. This is goin' to be cleanin' up the government."

At least the only thing she manufactured was her patronizing dialect. Remember candidate Barack Obama's 2007 Selma, Ala., speech? To court black voters, Obama claimed that President Kennedy had sponsored the airlift in Africa responsible for bringing his family to the U.S. and asserted that Selma's 1965 Bloody Sunday demonstration brought his parents together and led to his birth. Of course, JFK didn't take office until two years after Obama's father arrived in the U.S., and the president was born four years before Bloody Sunday.

Obama-Biden 2012: Never let facts, civility or scruples get in the way of a racist racial pander.



Why Ryan might be right about Medicare

Overlooked in the furor surrounding Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal — a plan, it should be recalled, that wouldn’t start until 2023 and even then would affect only new beneficiaries — is a just-published study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggesting that, well, Ryan might be right. The study finds that a voucher-type system might noticeably reduce costs compared to “traditional” fee-for-service Medicare. Three Harvard economists did the study, including one prominent supporter of President Obama’s health-care overhaul.

The study compared the costs of traditional Medicare with Medicare Advantage, a voucher-like program that now enrolls about 25 percent of beneficiaries. Medicare Advantage has cost less for identical coverage. From 2006 to 2009, the gap averaged 11 percent between traditional Medicare and voucher plans that, under the proposal by Ryan and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), would serve as a price “benchmark.”

The central issue here is whether the runaway costs of the health sector, comprising nearly one-fifth of the economy, can be controlled without eroding medical quality. Almost everyone agrees that the delivery system — the amalgam of hospitals, clinics, doctors and nurses — should be reorganized to lower costs and eliminate unneeded care. The question is how.

One group favors market-like mechanisms. Consumers would receive vouchers, either payments or tax credits, to buy coverage. The theory: as people shop for low-cost and high-quality plans, competition forces the delivery system to restructure. Hospitals, doctors, insurers create more efficient networks with more coordinated care than today’s fee-for-service system. By contrast, fee-for-service reimburses doctors and hospitals for services they perform; this encourages unneeded tests and procedures.

The JAMA study doesn’t surprise advocates of this “consumer driven” health care. “Medicare fee-for-service is an inefficient way to deliver care,” says James Capretta, associate director of the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2004. “It’s an engine for volume-driven spending.” Cost savings under a full-fledged voucher system would be much larger, he argues, because Medicare Advantage’s modest size has created only “muted competition.”

Medicare Advantage reinforces another bit of real-word evidence for market-like policies. This is the Medicare drug benefit (Part D), launched in 2006 with a voucher approach. In 2012, beneficiaries could choose from at least two-dozen plans. Part D’s costs have been about 30 percent below early estimates by the Congressional Budget Office, though vouchers are not the only reason (more generic drugs is another). In 2013, average monthly premiums — the part paid by recipients — are projected to stay at $30 for a third straight year.....

Limits must be imposed on the health sector. There are no pleasing ways to do this. Still, the increasing evidence from large-scale experience is that market mechanisms offer the best chance of reconciling Americans’ desire for personal choice with cost control. If there are better ideas, let’s hear them. Otherwise, we shouldn’t reject the obvious merely because it’s unfamiliar.

Voucher plans are not right-wing, extremist ideas. They enjoy support in both parties. Ryan would permit continuation of fee-for-service; if it’s more efficient and effective, it would survive. If not, its decline would be no great loss. The Ryan plan’s greatest defect may be that it doesn’t start for a decade. We can’t wait that long.



Stingy liberals

by Jeff Jacoby

THERE ARE 366 major metropolitan areas in the United States, and a comprehensive new study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy ranks them on the basis of generosity -- the percentage of income the median household in each city gives to charity. According to the Chronicle, the most generous city in America is Provo, Utah, where residents typically give away 13.9 percent of their discretionary income. Boston, by contrast, ranks No. 358: In New England's leading city, the median household donates just 2.9 percent of its income to charity.

Provo's generosity is typical for its region. Of the 10 most generous cities in America, according to the Chronicle's calculations, six are in Utah and Idaho. Boston's tight-fistedness is typical too: Of the 10 stingy cities at the bottom of the list, eight are in New England -- including Springfield (No. 363) and Worcester (No. 364).

What's the matter with Massachusetts? How can residents of the bluest state, whose political and cultural leaders make much of their compassion and frequently remind the affluent that we're all in this together, be so lacking in personal generosity? And why would charitable giving be so outstanding in places as conservative as Utah and Idaho?

The question is built on a fallacy.

Liberals, popular stereotypes notwithstanding, are not more generous and compassionate than conservatives. To an outsider it might seem plausible that Americans whose political rhetoric emphasizes "fairness" and "social justice" would be more charitably inclined than those who stress economic liberty and individual autonomy. But reams of evidence contradict that presumption, as Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks demonstrated in his landmark 2006 book, Who Really Cares.

However durable the myth, wrote Brooks (who now heads the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank), there is no getting around the data. For years, academic research and comprehensive national studies have confirmed that Americans who lean to the left politically tend to be much less charitable than those who tilt rightward. The Chronicle of Philanthropy's new report is only the latest in a long series of studies corroborating that fact.

In 1996, for example, the wide-ranging General Social Survey asked a large sample of Americans whether "the government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality" -- a key ideological litmus test. Thirty-three percent of respondents agreed; 43 percent disagreed. The two groups differed sharply in more than their politics. The conservatives -- those who opposed government programs to reduce inequality -- were significantly more likely to donate money to charity than the liberals. And among those who did donate, conservatives gave away, on average, four times as much money per year.

Though there is a strong link between religious belief and philanthropy, it wasn't just churches the conservatives were giving to. "They gave more to every type of cause and charity: health charities, education organizations, international aid groups, and human welfare agencies," Brooks noted. They even gave more "to traditionally liberal causes, such as the environment and the arts."

None of this was what Brooks had anticipated when he began his research. "I expected to find that political liberals … would turn out to be the most privately charitable people," he says. "So when my early findings led to the opposite conclusion, I assumed I had made some sort of technical error…. In the end, I had no option but to change my views."

The Chronicle's new study, which is based on IRS records from 2008 (the most recent available), accounts for regional differences in the cost of living. It calculates charitable giving only from discretionary income -- the dollars left over after paying for taxes, housing, and food. But the economic differences are not nearly as significant as cultural differences. In parts of the country where conservative values dominate, charity tends to be high. Where liberalism holds sway, charity falls. "Red states are more generous than blue states," the Chronicle concludes. The eight states that ranked the highest in charitable giving all voted for John McCain in 2008. The seven lowest-ranking states supported Barack Obama.

Of course this doesn't mean that there aren't generous philanthropists in New England. It doesn't mean selfishness is unknown on the right. What it does mean is that where people are encouraged to think that solving society's ills is primarily a job for government, charity tends to evaporate. The politics of "compassion" isn't the same as compassionate behavior. America's generosity divide separates those who understand the difference from those who don't.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 August, 2012

In Obama's America .....


Why the Doctor Can't See You

The demand for health care under ObamaCare will increase dramatically. The supply of physicians won't. Get ready for a two-tier system of medical care

Are you having trouble finding a doctor who will see you? If not, give it another year and a half. A doctor shortage is on its way.

Most provisions of the Obama health law kick in on Jan. 1, 2014. Within the decade after that, an additional 30 million people are expected to acquire health plans—and if the economic studies are correct, they will try to double their use of the health-care system.

Meanwhile, the administration never seems to tire of reminding seniors that they are entitled to a free annual checkup. Its new campaign is focused on women. Thanks to health reform, they are being told, they will have access to free breast and pelvic exams and even free contraceptives. Once ObamaCare fully takes effect, all of us will be entitled to a long list of preventive services—with no deductible or copayment.

Here is the problem: The health-care system can't possibly deliver on the huge increase in demand for primary-care services. The original ObamaCare bill actually had a line item for increased doctor training. But this provision was zeroed out before passage, probably to keep down the cost of health reform. The result will be gridlock.

Take preventive care. ObamaCare says that health insurance must cover the tests and procedures recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. What would that involve? In the American Journal of Public Health (2003), scholars at Duke University calculated that arranging for and counseling patients about all those screenings would require 1,773 hours of the average primary-care physician's time each year, or 7.4 hours per working day.

And all of this time is time spent searching for problems and talking about the search. If the screenings turn up a real problem, there will have to be more testing and more counseling. Bottom line: To meet the promise of free preventive care nationwide, every family doctor in America would have to work full-time delivering it, leaving no time for all the other things they need to do.

When demand exceeds supply in a normal market, the price rises until it reaches a market-clearing level. But in this country, as in other developed nations, Americans do not primarily pay for care with their own money. They pay with time.

How long does it take you on the phone to make an appointment to see a doctor? How many days do you have to wait before she can see you? How long does it take to get to the doctor's office? Once there, how long do you have to wait before being seen? These are all non-price barriers to care, and there is substantial evidence that they are more important in deterring care than the fee the doctor charges, even for low-income patients.

For example, the average wait to see a new family doctor in this country is just under three weeks, according to a 2009 survey by medical consultancy Merritt Hawkins. But in Boston, Mass.—which enacted a law under Gov. Mitt Romney that established near-universal coverage—the wait is about two months.

When people cannot find a primary-care physician who will see them in a reasonable length of time, all too often they go to hospital emergency rooms. Yet a 2007 study of California in the Annals of Emergency Medicine showed that up to 20% of the patients who entered an emergency room left without ever seeing a doctor, because they got tired of waiting. Be prepared for that situation to get worse.

When demand exceeds supply, doctors have a great deal of flexibility about who they see and when they see them. Not surprisingly, they tend to see those patients first who pay the highest fees. A New York Times survey of dermatologists in 2008 for example, found an extensive two-tiered system. For patients in need of services covered by Medicare, the typical wait to see a doctor was two or three weeks, and the appointments were made by answering machine.

However, for Botox and other treatments not covered by Medicare (and for which patients pay the market price out of pocket), appointments to see those same doctors were often available on the same day, and they were made by live receptionists.

As physicians increasingly have to allocate their time, patients in plans that pay below-market prices will likely wait longest. Those patients will be the elderly and the disabled on Medicare, low-income families on Medicaid, and (if the Massachusetts model is followed) people with subsidized insurance acquired in ObamaCare's newly created health insurance exchanges.

Their wait will only become longer as more and more Americans turn to concierge medicine for their care. Although the model differs from region to region and doctor to doctor, concierge medicine basically means that patients pay doctors to be their agents, rather than the agents of third-party-payers such as insurance companies or government bureaucracies.

For a fee of roughly $1,500 to $2,000, for example, a Medicare patient can form a new relationship with a doctor. This usually includes same day or next-day appointments. It also usually means that patients can talk with their physicians by telephone and email. The physician helps the patient obtain tests, make appointments with specialists and in other ways negotiate an increasingly bureaucratic health-care system.

Here is the problem. A typical primary-care physician has about 2,500 patients (according to a 2009 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), but when he opens a concierge practice, he'll typically take about 500 patients with him (according to MDVIP, the largest organization of concierge doctors): That's about all he can handle, given the extra time and attention those patients are going to expect. But the 2,000 patients left behind now must find another physician. So in general, as concierge care grows, the strain on the rest of the system will become greater.

I predict that in the next several years concierge medicine will grow rapidly, and every senior who can afford one will have a concierge doctor. A lot of non-seniors will as well. We will quickly evolve into a two-tiered health-care system, with those who can afford it getting more care and better care.

In the meantime, the most vulnerable populations will have less access to care than they had before ObamaCare became law.



The Health-Care Spending Claim That Made Obamacare Possible Was a Lie

Health care costs were slowing before the passage of Obamacare

Here is the way Obama put the argument in a September 9, 2009, speech about health care to a joint session of Congress:

"Then there’s the problem of rising cost....insurance premiums have gone up three times faster than wages....our health care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. When health care costs grow at the rate they have, it puts greater pressure on programs like Medicare and Medicaid. If we do nothing to slow these skyrocketing costs, we will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other government program combined.... Now, these are the facts. Nobody disputes them."

Obama’s voice saying “these are the facts. Nobody disputes them,” is almost enough to set off sound effects akin to those that accompany Pinocchio’s growing nose in the Disney movie.

Sure enough, now that the data are in, the emerging consensus is that health care costs, rather than “skyrocketing,” have been moderating, even flat-lining. And they were beginning to do so well before Congress passed ObamaCare in March 2010.

There have been a trickling of academic papers and journal articles tracking the trend, but the news hasn’t really yet made it fully into the political discussion.

A January 2012 article in the journal Health Affairs reported that “U.S. health spending grew more slowly in 2009 and 2010—at rates of 3.8 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively—than in any other years during the fifty-one-year history of the National Health Expenditure Accounts.” That article, by economists and statisticians who work for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says, rather than controlling costs, ObamaCare actually increased health spending by one or two tenths of a percentage point in 2010. Overall, though, the law’s effect in 2010 was less important than were things like “the loss of patent protection for certain brand-name drugs” and “a continuing increase in the use of generic medications,” i.e., those $4 generics at Walmart.

"Slower Growth In Medicare Spending—Is This the New Normal?” was the headline on one article published in March 2012 in the New England Journal of Medicine. That discussed a series of factors. The economic downturn meant some hospitals delayed or canceled construction projects because of “tight credit markets and shrinking endowments.” Demographically, the Baby Boomers just becoming eligible for Medicare are “young elderly” who tend to be healthier and require less costly care. This article also mentions two Bush-era laws: “The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 reduced payment rates for imaging, home health services, and durable medical equipment, and the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 made substantial cuts to Medicare Advantage plans.”

Another New England Journal of Medicine article, from August 2, 2012, reported what it called a “marked slowdown in spending growth.” That article says that “Between 2000 and 2005, Medicare spending per enrollee grew about 7.2% annually, as compared with 9.1% growth among private payers. Between 2006 and 2010, however, growth in Medicare spending per enrollee slowed to 4.2% annually, as compared with 4.5% among private payers.” The article says growth of Medicaid spending per enrollee “was relatively slow (less than 3% per year) throughout the past decade.” Among the causes, the authors speculate, were “lower growth rates for prescription-drug spending” in part because of “the increased substitution of generics for brand-name drugs.”

According to the National Health Expenditure Accounts maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services, health care spending was about 14 percent of GDP from 1997 to 2001, then grew to about 16 percent from 2003 to 2007. In 2009 and 2010 it was at 17.9 percent. After just about doubling to $2.4 trillion from $1.2 trillion in the decade between 1998 and 2008, health care spending was about $2.5 trillion in 2009 and about $2.6 trillion in 2010.

The man who was President Obama’s White House budget director, Peter Orszag, weighed in last week from his new perch in the private sector with a column acknowledging that “The rising cost of health care in the U.S. has been slowing over the past few years.”

“Slowing,” not “skyrocketing,” got that? Now he tells us. In an email to me, Orszag tried to credit both President Obama’s stimulus spending on electronic health records and the ObamaCare law for the slowdown. But his timing and his logic are both off base.

Republicans who opposed ObamaCare in the first place can use these new facts as part of an argument for repeal. The “skyrocketing” costs that the president used to sell the law were already slowing without the new law. But in pushing their own health-care reform agenda to replace ObamaCare, Republicans will have to be careful not to repeat the president’s mistake. Even markets with huge government involvement, like health care in America, sometimes have ways of self-correcting.



Thanks to Pro-Free Market Reforms, Chile Is the Latin Tiger

A good article below but a pity that it does not directly mention the essential role of Augusto Pinochet in the Chilean reforms

The world is a laboratory, with some nations (such as France) showing why statism is a mistake, other jurisdictions (such as Hong Kong) showing that freedom is a key to prosperity, and other countries (such as Sweden) having good and bad features.

It’s time to include Chile in the list of nations with generally good policies. That nation’s transition from statism and dictatorship to freedom and prosperity must rank as one of the most positive developments over the past 30 years.

Here’s some of what I wrote with Julia Morriss for the Daily Caller. Let’s start with the bad news.

"Thirty years ago, Chile was a basket case. A socialist government in the 1970s had crippled the economy and destabilized society, leading to civil unrest and a military coup. Given the dismal situation, it’s no surprise that Chile’s economy was moribund and other Latin American countries, such as Mexico, Venezuela, and Argentina, had about twice as much per-capita economic output."

Realizing that change was necessary, the nation began to adopt pro-market reforms. Many people in the policy world are at least vaguely familiar with the system of personal retirement accounts that was introduced in the early 1980s, but we explain in the article that pension reform was just the beginning.

Let’s look at how Chile became the Latin Tiger. Pension reform is the best-known economic reform in Chile. Ever since the early 1980s, workers have been allowed to put 10 percent of their income into a personal retirement account. This system, implemented by José Piñera, has been remarkably successful, reducing the burden of taxes and spending and increasing saving and investment, while also producing a 50-100 percent increase in retirement benefits. Chile is now a nation of capitalists. But it takes a lot more than entitlement reform, however impressive, to turn a nation into an economic success story. What made Chile special was across-the-board economic liberalization.

We then show the data (on a scale of 1-10) from the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World, which confirm significant pro-market reforms in just about all facets of economic policy over the past three decades.

But have these reforms made a difference for the Chilean people? The answer seems to be a firm yes.

"This has meant good things for all segments of the population. The number of people below the poverty line dropped from 40 percent to 20 percent between 1985 and 1997 and then to 15.1 percent in 2009. Public debt is now under 10 percent of GDP and after 1983 GDP grew an average of 4.6 percent per year. But growth isn’t a random event. Chile has prospered because the burden of government has declined. Chile is now ranked number one for freedom in its region and number seven in the world, even ahead of the United States."

But I think the most important piece of evidence (building on the powerful comparison in this chart) is in the second table we included with the article.

Chile’s per-capita GDP has increased by about 130 percent, while other major Latin American nations have experienced much more modest growth (or, in the tragic case of Venezuela, almost no growth).

Perhaps not as impressive as the performance of Hong Kong and Singapore, but that’s to be expected since they regularly rank as the world’s two most pro-market jurisdictions.

But that’s not to take the limelight away from Chile. That nation’s reforms are impressive - particularly considering the grim developments of the 1970s. So our takeaway is rather obvious.

"The lesson from Chile is that free markets and small government are a recipe for prosperity. The key for other developing nations is to figure out how to achieve these benefits without first suffering through a period of socialist tyranny and military dictatorship."

Heck, if other developing nations learn the right lessons from Chile, maybe we can even educate policy makers in America about the benefits of restraining Leviathan.

P.S. One thing that Julia and I forgot to include in the article is that Chile has reformed its education system with vouchers, similar to the good reforms in Sweden and the Netherlands.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 August, 2012

"Issues" or America?

Thomas Sowell

There are some very serious issues at stake in this year's election -- so many that some people may not be able to see the forest for the trees. Individual issues are the trees, but the forest is the future of America as we have known it.

The America that has flourished for more than two centuries is being quietly but steadily dismantled by the Obama administration, during the process of dealing with particular issues.

For example, the merits or demerits of President Obama's recent executive order, suspending legal liability for young people who are here illegally, presumably as a result of being brought here as children by their parents, can be debated pro and con. But such a debate overlooks the much more fundamental undermining of the whole American system of Constitutional government.

The separation of powers into legislative, executive and judicial branches of government is at the heart of the Constitution of the United States -- and the Constitution is at the heart of freedom for Americans.

No President of the United States is authorized to repeal parts of legislation passed by Congress. He may veto the whole legislation, but then Congress can override his veto if they have enough votes. Nevertheless, every President takes an oath to faithfully execute the laws that have been passed and sustained -- not just the ones he happens to agree with.

If laws passed by the elected representatives of the people can be simply over-ruled unilaterally by whoever is in the White House, then we are no longer a free people, choosing what laws we want to live under.

When a President can ignore the plain language of duly passed laws, and substitute his own executive orders, then we no longer have "a government of laws, and not of men" but a President ruling by decree, like the dictator in some banana republic.

When we confine our debates to the merits or demerits of particular executive orders, we are tacitly accepting arbitrary rule. The Constitution of the United States cannot protect us unless we protect the Constitution. But, if we allow ourselves to get bogged down in the details of particular policies imposed by executive orders, and vote solely on that basis, then we have failed to protect the Constitution -- and ourselves.

Whatever the merits or demerits of the No Child Left Behind Act, it is the law until Congress either repeals it or amends it. But for Barack Obama to unilaterally waive whatever provisions he doesn't like in that law undermines the fundamental nature of American government.

President Obama has likewise unilaterally repealed the legal requirement that welfare recipients must work, by simply redefining "work" to include other things like going to classes on weight control. If we think the bipartisan welfare reform legislation from the Clinton administration should be repealed or amended, that is something for the legislative branch of government to consider.

There have been many wise warnings that freedom is seldom lost all at once. It is usually eroded away, bit by bit, until it is all gone. You may not notice a gradual erosion while it is going on, but you may eventually be shocked to discover one day that it is all gone, that we have been reduced from citizens to subjects, and the Constitution has become just a meaningless bunch of paper.

ObamaCare imposes huge costs on some institutions, while the President's arbitrary waivers exempt other institutions from having to pay those same costs. That is hardly the "equal protection of the laws," promised by the 14th Amendment.

John Stuart Mill explained the dangers in that kind of government long ago: "A government with all this mass of favours to give or to withhold, however free in name, wields a power of bribery scarcely surpassed by an avowed autocracy, rendering it master of the elections in almost any circumstances but those of rare and extraordinary public excitement."

If Obama gets reelected, he knows that he need no longer worry about what the voters think about anything he does. Never having to face them again, he can take his arbitrary rule by decree as far as he wants. He may be challenged in the courts but, if he gets just one more Supreme Court appointment, he can pick someone who will rubber stamp anything he does and give him a 5 to 4 majority.



Stressed? Are You Disabled?

Katie Kieffer

Government worker: “Do you have a disability?”

Man: “No.”

Man’s wife: “What does he get if he’s disabled?”

Government worker: “His monthly payments will [double].”

Man’s wife: “Well, then he’s disabled.”

Government worker (to man): “What’s your disability?”

Man: “I’m stressed.”

An attorney friend of mine recently overheard the above conversation in a Florida government building. The man, who had just turned 65, was signing up for retirement benefits while his wife stood over his shoulder. I relay the story to illustrate how our government is expanding the definition of the term “disability.”

Howard Rich explains in his recent Wall Street Journal commentary: ‘Washington isn’t broke because the government is inefficient. It’s broke because it promises too much. …$125 billion in disability payments each year—a number that’s increased 17-fold over the past four decades (after adjusting for inflation). …[due to the] government’s increasingly malleable definition of what constitutes a “disability,” …workers who complain of “persistent anxiety” and “chronic fatigue” are now viewed by the government as being disabled.’

Basically, if you’re stressed, the federal government now considers you to be disabled. But isn’t everyone (with a life) stressed? So are we all disabled?

Activities or activity levels that “stress” one person will energize or relax another. Stress is not only subjective but it is a natural byproduct of pursuing goals more challenging than watching soap operas while soaking in a bubble bath.

Man is a rational creature and so the highest enjoyment that he can achieve is that which fulfills his mind. In Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, the hero, John Galt, says: “Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values. …But neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. …the torture of frustration is all he will find, unless he seeks the happiness proper to man.”

In other words, man will not achieve happiness by avoiding work because this will lead to a level of mental frustration (stress) that no amount of monthly stipend from the government can ease.

If you desire a career doing what you are passionate about, whether it is civil engineering, painting, teaching, writing, running a small business, software programming or neurosurgery, you must log long hours and encounter stress along the way. Even to achieve fun goals like lowering your golf handicap, completing a triathlon or climbing Mount Everest, you must first put your body through physically agonizing routines. So stress is not a disability. Stress is byproduct of living.

Dr. Lynne Tan of Montefiore Medical Center in New York City tells MSNBC.com health editor Jane Weaver: "Very successful people, rather than feeling disempowered, take the extra stress energy ... and make it into a high-energy, positive situation."

Weaver even cites studies indicating that: “…by keeping the brain cells working at peak capacity,” moderate stress could help prevent Alzheimer’s and breast cancer. Periodic stress can be good for you; with the right attitude, the hormone surges of stress can be channeled into higher levels of productivity.

Certainly, humans should reduce unhealthy stress from procrastination, depravity, inactivity and unwholesome foods.

But humans would be foolish to eliminate healthy mental challenges in exchange for a monthly “stress stipend.” I maintain that the human mind is happy when it is operating at full capacity—learning, doing and loving. As I’ve written here and here , man is rational and capitalistic behaviors help him achieve happiness. Socialism is irrational and anti-human and therefore causes mental pain (stress) in the form of apathy and envy.

If stress is a disability, why don’t we talk about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as a disabled person? After all, Jobs was extraordinarily stressed at low points in his career, such as when he was ousted from the company he started. And when things went wrong, even as a grown man, he was known to break down in tears.

Yet, nobody thought Jobs was disabled. Everyone, including his competitors, viewed him as successful. Jobs made mistakes. He had some major regrets. But, as he grew older, he learned to channel the energy he got from stress into becoming a thriving entrepreneur and a loving son, father, husband and friend.

Jobs used stress as motivational energy to fulfill his vision of bringing amazing technology to the masses. Despite ample critics, backstabbers and cancer, he built the world’s most valuable company from the ground up. Jobs succeeded where other men fail (think Warren Buffett); he became a billionaire while maintaining his personal and professional integrity.

If you’re stressed, the federal government says: “No sweat! You qualify for cash from Obama’s stash!” But if you are relying on Obama’s cash to get you through life, please, start sweating. Word on the street is that Obama’s bank account is $16 trillion overdrawn.



Democrats for the status quo

What goes around seems to come around, such as an accusation Democrats are perennially thrilled to hurl at Republicans -- those fogies and Neanderthals, those reactionaries, those cave dwellers. What must we do with these change-hating fossils? is the recurring Democratic 'plaint. Drag 'em into modern times, kicking and screaming?

Oh, boy, does it ever come around! The shrieks and protests that fill American air space at the moment, the splutterings about change and whatever was good for Grandpa being good enough for me -- where do you hear it, on the right? Not for a minute. You hear it all on the left of the political spectrum -- the reactionary, status-quo-loving left.

Hands off everything! -- is the theme of the Barack Obama campaign and its intellectual enablers, whether based at the White House, Capitol Hill or in the press gallery. The Democrats like things as they are. Don't want none of them fancy boys from the Republican side meddling with Medicare, with Social Security, with the budget and/or with foreign policy. If it ain't broke, etc., etc.

The Republican emergence in 2012 as the party of reform and change -- arrayed against Democratic stale bread and stagnation -- has some precedent. In 1980, a year of economic wheel spinning, presided over by Jimmy Carter, a Democrat -- Ronald Reagan emerged as the candidate of change and innovation.

Mitt Romney's choice of reformer Paul Ryan for his running mate once again reverses stereotypes. The Democratic defenders of 8-percent-plus unemployment and accelerated decay in social programs seem to think they have a winning issue in "Stop! Take your filthy hands off!" By contrast, the Romney-Ryan ticket wants change.

What kind of change? That would be obvious, wouldn't it? They would change Washington, D.C.'s, bias in favor of government as the driver of growth and opportunity and the doer of all good deeds. They would pay overdue attention to the currently neglected virtues of the free market.

Many matters on this front need attention. I mention just two:

The tax system is out of whack. A near majority of Americans pay no net federal taxes, if indeed they pay any at all. America's corporate tax rate is the world's highest: a job-creation killer. The tax code is a crazy quilt of exemptions and loopholes, less noted for producing necessary revenue than for encouraging the wide employment of strategies whose purpose is the minimization of taxes. The Alternative Minimum Tax, AMT, designed to nick the rich, already hits the merely prosperous.

Never mind. Any good Democratic campaign spokesman will assure you all the Republicans mean by reform is cutting taxes for "millionaires and billionaires." No way.

No way, either, in Democratic terms, for overhaul of "Medicare as we know it." It's a nice stick-in-the-mud turn of phrase, don't you think? Just because there soon won't be enough money to finance "Medicare as we know it" doesn't mean reformers are, in essence, any more than troublemakers and Bolsheviks. The Democrats know good and well Ryan wants to voucherize Medicare, which he doesn't -- but so what; it sounds awful -- and jack up medical bills for seniors, like his 78-year-old mother.

It's wild stuff, but cave dwellers can get fairly wild when informed of the urgent need to clean up their domiciles and purge their diets of impurities.

That liberal Democrats, in the event Republican reforms actually work might vanish like the Brontosaurus, is from the liberal standpoint a truly appalling prospect. It would mean the labors of many decades led not to the promised land but to Okefenokee. That would be a horrible admission.

A truth about the reformers, themselves, needs recounting. If actually handed power, they wouldn't achieve half of what the cave dwellers fear most. Life and politics are too complex for that. Nevertheless, the present tone of the Democratic campaign -- eek! Make those bad people leave us alone! -- reminds us that dynamism is built into the human condition, and that those who get set in their ways get upset, at last, in ways hurtful to everybody.



A modern version of an old tale

"Who will help me plant my wheat?" asked the little red hen.
"Not I," said the cow.
"Not I," said the duck.
"Not I," said the pig.
"Not I," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself." She planted her crop and the wheat grew and ripened.

"Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen.
"I'm on disability," said the duck.
"Out of my classification," said the pig.
"I'd lose my seniority," said the cow.
"I'd lose my unemployment compensation," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen, and so she did.

"Who will help me bake the bread?" asked the little red hen.
"That would be overtime for me," said the cow.
"I'd lose my welfare benefits," said the duck.
"I'm a dropout and never learned how," said the pig.
"If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen, and so she did.

The smell of fresh-baked bread attracted all her neighbors. They saw the bread and wanted some. In fact, they demanded a share.

But the little red hen said, "No, I shall eat all the loaves."

"Excess profits!" cried the cow.
"Capitalist leech!" screamed the duck.
"I demand equal rights!" yelled the goose.
"Share with the 99 percent," grunted the pig.
And they all painted `Unfair!' picket signs and marched around and around the little red hen, shouting obscenities.

Then the farmer came He said to the little red hen, "You must not be so greedy."

"But I earned the bread," said the little red hen.

"Exactly," said the farmer. "That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are idle."

And they all lived happily ever after.

But only in the President's fairy tale. In a real-world version, the little red hen never again baked bread and the farmyard suffered Greek-style chaos when the animals riding in the wagon suddenly discovered there was nobody left to pull the wagon.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 August, 2012

A weird trick to end all weird tricks

A lot of the sites I log onto lately have advertisements for "weird tricks" -- which allegedly do things like banish your wrinkles, improve your eyesight and give you free electricity.

I have a weird trick for them all: Believe what they say. It is indeed a weird trick, a trick to get your money out of you for little return. I have subscribed to none of them. I am not that gullible. But if anybody has had any weird experiences with them, I would be amused to hear it.

I think it is rather shameful that conservative sites run such dubious stuff.


Former U.S. Marine Arrested for Leftist beliefs

Large numbers of Leftists believe in conspiracy theories but it is "terrorism" if a former marine expresses such views, apparently. It would seem to be the anti-government aspect of his views that has got Obama's stooges rattled. He did however explicity rule out use of force in his Facebook comments. In a chilling reminder of the Soviet system, he is now being held in a mental hospital.

The grabbing of the guy has now been widely covered -- which has already begun to produce some duck shoving on the part of the various parties involved in the grab. The cops are saying that they just "provided transport"! What a laugh! Locals should make sure to hail them next time they can't find a cab

This is no joke, though. Who is next? I am glad I am not an American while the proto-Fascist Obama is in charge of the place. Traditional liberties and the rule of law seem to have gone up in a puff of smoke. If the Obamabots get away with this, America will be a police state

A decorated U.S. Marine who served his nation in two wars, Brandon Raub, of Richmond Virginia, was arrested for airing his critical views of the U.S. government on Facebook this weekend.

His mother, Kathleen Thomas, says it is another case of the word 'terrorist' being applied to arrest and detain a citizen. You can hear the pride she feels for her son when she explains what he has been through, and by all counts Ms. Thomas makes her points loud and clear.

The law enforcement officials rolled up to the man's home around 7:00 last night. "He was there, the FBI, Secret Service and Chesterfield Police showed up in a storm," she said.

Thomas says her son was questioned about why he was writing certain comments, "He basically said 'I have some disagreements with the government and share this', and they said, 'You have to go with us'".

"He was handcuffed, not read his rights, put into a Chesterfield Police Department vehicle and taken to John Randolph Psychiatric Hospital in Hopewell, Virginia," Thomas said.

Agent Sherry Grainger with the Federal Bureau of Investigation called Kathleen Thomas, who described the conversation.

She said, "I am with the FBI" and "We have taken your son. He has been arrested by the Chesterfield County Police Dept because he assaulted an officer and resisted arrest. He has been arrested and taken to the Chesterfield Police Department."

The agent asked about whether her son was violent, Thomas explained that he was not, but that he loves his country. She asked the FBI agent if freedom of speech still exists in the United States.

"Yes we still have freedom of speech", Grainger reportedly said.

The FBI agent reportedly added, "The threats that he was making were terrorist in nature," telling Thomas roughly the extent of information that has been released so far, which is not much. Thomas was able to talk to her son on the phone.

As to what he is being charged with, she said, "He does not know, he has no idea why he is being held, he is told he will see a judge on Monday."

As referenced, the FBI agent, Grainger, reportedly told the woman that her son Brandon Raub was arrested for assault and resisting arrest… It was later when Grainger stated that the threats made by Raub was "terrorist in nature".


Some of the "seditious" things he said were 9-11 was done by the government (even going to such length, and an interestingly detailed thesis, of providing evidence to augment this), the War on Terror is a lie, Americans are killing innocent people in the ME, the current federal banking system is corrupt and unfeasible to Americans, and that the George Bush's family rapes little children

The video shows that the arrest was non-violent. Marines know when to employ self-defense and when to comply with an impossible situation.

More HERE. See also here. Ron Paul's site covers some of the legal aspects.


More findings on the genetics of IQ

A minute particle within a protein allowed humans to become the most intelligent creatures on the planet, say scientists. It holds the key to understanding why our brains are so much bigger and more complex than any other animal, according to new research.

It may also explain how its unequalled mental capacity evolved so rapidly and dramatically, a mystery that has baffled researchers for decades.

The modern human brain is three times larger in volume than those of the great apes, our closest living relatives. More importantly, its ratio to body size is significantly larger and it has a much greater cerebral cortex, the area that controls higher thought processes, with a higher concentration of neurons.

Professor James Sikela, of the University of Colorado, said: 'We wanted to know why. 'The size and cognitive capacity of the human brain sets us apart. But how did that happen?

'This research indicates that what drove the evolutionary expansion of the human brain may well be a specific unit within a protein - called a protein domain - that is far more numerous in humans than other species.'

The protein domain issue is known as DUF1220. Humans have more than 270 copies of DUF1220 encoded in their DNA, far more than other species. The closer a species is to humans, the more copies of DUF1220 show up. Chimpanzees have the next highest number, 125. Gorillas have 99, marmosets 30 and mice just one.

Prof Sikela said: 'The one over-riding theme that we saw repeatedly was the more copies of DUF1220 in the genome, the bigger the brain. 'And this held true whether we looked at different species or within the human population.'

Professor Sikela, whose findings were reported online in The American Journal of Human Genetics, said 'The take home message was brain size may be to a large degree a matter of protein domain dosage.



Liberals, Progressives and Socialists

Walter E. Williams

In Europe, especially in Germany, hoisting a swastika-emblazoned Nazi flag is a crime. For decades after World War II, people have hunted down and sought punishment for Nazi murderers, who were responsible for the deaths of more than 20 million people.
Here's my question: Why are the horrors of Nazism so well-known and widely condemned but not those of socialism and communism? What goes untaught -- and possibly is covered up -- is that socialist and communist ideas have produced the greatest evil in mankind's history. You say, "Williams, what in the world are you talking about? Socialists, communists and their fellow travelers, such as the Wall Street occupiers supported by our president, care about the little guy in his struggle for a fair shake! They're trying to promote social justice." Let's look at some of the history of socialism and communism.

What's not appreciated is that Nazism is a form of socialism. In fact, the term Nazi stands for the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The unspeakable acts of Adolf Hitler's Nazis pale in comparison to the horrors committed by the communists in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the People's Republic of China. Between 1917 and 1987, Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin and their successors murdered and were otherwise responsible for the deaths of 62 million of their own people. Between 1949 and 1987, China's communists, led by Mao Zedong and his successors, murdered and were otherwise responsible for the deaths of 76 million Chinese. The most authoritative tally of history's most murderous regimes is documented on University of Hawaii Professor Rudolph J. Rummel's website here, and in his book "Death by Government."

How much hunting down and punishment have there been for these communist murderers? To the contrary, it's acceptable both in Europe and in the U.S. to hoist and march under the former USSR's red flag emblazoned with a hammer and sickle. Mao Zedong has long been admired by academics and leftists across our country, as they often marched around singing the praises of Mao and waving his little red book, "Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-tung." President Barack Obama's communications director, Anita Dunn, in her June 2009 commencement address to St. Andrews Episcopal High School at Washington National Cathedral, said Mao was one of her heroes.

Whether it's the academic community, the media elite, stalwarts of the Democratic Party or organizations such as the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, Green for All, the Sierra Club and the Children's Defense Fund, there is a great tolerance for the ideas of socialism -- a system that has caused more deaths and human misery than all other systems combined.

Today's leftists, socialists and progressives would bristle at the suggestion that their agenda differs little from those of Nazi, Soviet and Maoist mass murderers. One does not have to be in favor of death camps or wars of conquest to be a tyrant. The only requirement is that one has to believe in the primacy of the state over individual rights.

The unspeakable horrors of Nazism didn't happen overnight. They were simply the end result of a long evolution of ideas leading to consolidation of power in central government in the quest for "social justice." It was decent but misguided earlier generations of Germans -- who would have cringed at the thought of genocide -- who created the Trojan horse for Hitler's ascendancy. Today's Americans are similarly accepting the massive consolidation of power in Washington in the name of social justice.

If you don't believe it, just ask yourself: Which way are we headed tiny steps at a time -- toward greater liberty or toward more government control over our lives?

Perhaps we think that we are better human beings than the German people who created the conditions that brought Hitler to power. I say, don't count on it.



Obama Says: Doctor, You Did Not Graduate From Medical School

The reason that President Obama uses teleprompters, even when addressing elementary school children, is because he cannot help but reveal who he is and what he believes during moments that involve real spontaneity. He no doubt wishes that he had gotten a “mulligan” for that line that he inadvertently delivered: “you did not build that business”, but it says so much about the man, his agenda, and why he feels the moral superiority to enact it.

Some dismissed the comment, while others called it a Freudian slip. But devotees of Freud maintain that a “slip” is actually caused by an unconscious or repressed wish, feeling or train of thought.

Poker players I know call it a “tell”. I believe it was simply Obama telling America, in a brief moment of honesty, what he really believed about the individual, and their relationship to the state.

“You did not build that business” revealed the antipathy that the president harbors for the individual, especially successful ones. No one is bigger than the state, and hence all that an individual achieves, the government has some claim to- whether it is your wealth, your intellectual property, or you.

Why would President Obama tell the American people lies about doctors, such as “...doctors would rather take out tonsils than treat a sore throat because it pays better” or “… doctors would rather cut off legs for $50,000 than take care of a diabetic before it got to this point”?

It is because he believes that doctors owe fealty to the government for what they have accomplished. Everyone has claim to their success. People need to see them for what they really are- rich, money driven mercenaries. He also needs to denigrate them in order for his agenda to succeed.

“Listen up”, he was saying to doctors. You did not achieve straight A’s in college, working into the late night and on weekends, while your roommates were out partying. Those grades could not have happened without the schools, paid for in part with Federal aid.

You did not graduate from medical school, putting in thousands more hours of studying and hard work. The government subsidized part of the school; your degree belongs to us all.

You did not complete your surgical residency, devoting tens of thousands of hours over 6-9 years, learning your craft and honing your skills, sacrificing your personal life in doing so. No, the government was right there, sending money to the hospitals where you learned how to become a surgeon. You could not have done this without Uncle Sam.

You did not succeed in your medical practice, working on average 60-80 hours every week, missing children’s birthday parties, anniversaries, soccer games and school plays. You did not pay exorbitant malpractice insurance rates to protect yourself from those who wish to prey on your ill-gotten gains.

You did not perform that life-saving cancer operation. The government was there every step of the way and made it possible for that to have happened. Why, the very road that you traveled to get to the hospital that day was built by all of the taxpayers.

And that gang banger that you treated in the emergency room for free in the middle of the night, which the government forced you to see, thanks to the EMTALA law, was something that they felt entitled to take from you- your time and skill- because they own a piece of you.

Herein is the essence of President Obama’s ideology. It is one that not only diminishes personal achievement, but goes on to claim that the fruits that are borne out of the toil leading to that achievement are to be shared with the state and hence everyone.

Obamacare is rooted in this philosophy. The doctors who are being counted upon to care for patients are merely footnotes in this massive new bureaucracy. The healthcare system is being turned upside down with the federal government in charge of deciding who gets what kind of care, by whom, where and how much they will pay for it. Those who engineered Obamacare believe that they can do this because they feel that they own a piece of every doctor in America and that the government has a right to this work.

It becomes easier to do this by convincing Americans that healthcare is an entitlement, and consequently, someone has to provide that care for them. It becomes easier for people to feel that sense of entitlement, if they believe that their doctors are not the compassionate individuals that they thought they were, but rather, greedy opportunists like the President has depicted them.

On the current path, the worst is yet to come. Doctors are quitting in anticipation of government controlling their practices. Doctor shortages are here, but will soon reach epic proportions. Covert rationing of care is coming because there will not be enough doctors to see patients.

There is still time to change course, but the window of opportunity is quickly closing. November 6 will be a referendum on what kind of America we want to have- one where personal achievement is valued, or one where everyone lays claim to those achievements.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 August, 2012

Is libertarianism an infantile disorder?

In the excerpt below the very level-headed Mark Krikorian says it is:
I think libertarianism is an infantile disorder, an "ideology" in the worst, anti-Burkean sense of the word. That is not to say that many Americans who call themselves "libertarians" share that disorder — I think the appeal of the label comes from the Republican Party's pathetic big-government record over the past couple of decades. Despite the many patriotic Americans who call themselves "libertarians" as a kind of protest, the ideology of libertarianISM is a post-American creed that rejects national borders and nationhood itself.

Krikorian is of course alluding to "Left-Wing" Communism: An Infantile Disorder", a book by V.I. Lenin in which Lenin criticizes the more idealistic and less practical Communists of his day.

I am inclined to agree with Krikorian. The level of hate and fanaticism that I regularly read in libertarian publications can sometimes be quite nauseating. Ideas of moderation and compromise are a rarity. As I myself am very much a minimum government conservative I find a lot of libertarian analyses helpful so I will not go on a rampage of finger-pointing and naming names but some of the writers on Lew Rockwell's site (for instance) regularly sound distinctly unpleasant to me. Take this article by Karen de Coster for instance. It absolutely drips hate and dogmatism. She is admittedly an extreme food fanatic as much as she is a libertarian but that seems to pass muster among at least some libertarians. Their very Leftist contempt for the society they live in makes them disrespectful of scientific caution so food and health fads seem to flourish among them.

I will not go on but those who read much libertarian literature will know well why libertarians are and will remain a tiny minority in politics. Which is all the more a pity because a more moderate presentation might help in the great struggle against government and for the individual that is afoot in America today

An important caveat, however, is that there are as many versions of libertarianism as there are libertarians and there are a minority of libertarians who manage to keep their feet on the ground. There are, for instance, some libertarians who oppose unrestricted immigration, though that is far from the majority position among libertarians.


Obama’s ‘Success Story’ Headed for Bankruptcy

Obama failed to let General Motors go through normal bankruptcy reorganization in order to give 17% of the stock of a new GM corporation to the union thereby screwing the secured creditors (old-lady bondholders) out of their life savings. As under his tutelage the company’s market share has gone from 47% of the cars sold in America to 18% and the market price of the stock is only 25% of the taxpayer money he has invested in rescuing it why should he be allowed in the building? He needs to be sent packing along with his central planning big government nonsense

On the campaign trail, Barack Obama’s signature definition of “success” is the government bailout of General Motors. “I said I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back,” he told an audience in Pueblo, CO last week. “Now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.” That pronouncement should send a shiver up the spine of every American, due to an inconvenient reality: according to Forbes Magazine, GM is likely headed for bankruptcy all over again.

The numbers are stark. The 500,000 shares of GM stock (comprising 26 percent of the company owned by the government–or more accurately the American taxpayer) sold for $20.21 on Tuesday. This left the government holding $10.1 billion worth of stock representing an unrealized loss of $16.4 billion. Even worse, in order to reach the break-even point, the stock would have to sell for around $53 per share.

The numbers remain in flux. As Investors Business Daily reveals, the Treasury Department continues “to revise upward the staggering losses inflicted on U.S. taxpayers.” They further note that the same day GM announced it was recalling 38,000 Impalas used by police in both America and Canada, due to a possible crash risk, a new Treasury report forecast that losses for GM were expected to reach $25 billion, which is $3.3 billion more than predicted earlier. Furthermore, since that report was based on GM’s stock price at the time of the report–15 percent higher than it is currently–those losses are likely understated....

A report by the Heritage Foundation paints a devastating picture of how politicized the bailout of GM truly was. Heritage notes that even if one accepts president Obama’s premise that the bailout out GM was necessary to prevent massive job losses,



Obama's Verbal Kindergarten

Shawn Mitchell

The president displayed his customary grace this week when he accused Team Romney-Ryan of pedaling "trickle-down fairy dust." It’s gratifying the president realizes he faces a serious economic and philosophical challenge, one that calls for vintage, anti-Reagan artillery. But, strictly speaking, the taunt he threw has always been an incoherent mess.

“Trickle down economics”--what does it mean? That if we don't tax the snot out of the rich, maybe they'll pour some spare pennies down on the heads of the poor? Nonsense. Beyond achieving a miserly-sounding sneer, the pairing is exactly wrong in at least three different ways.

First, in the ordinary course of things, the wealthy don’t actually trickle anything down on anyone. They pay for things they need and want, with whatever effects that produces in the economy. What progressives seem to prefer is a system to wring the rich like a wet towel and politically drizzle the money on the needy -—what’s left anyway after government waters its favored causes and cronies.

That's the ostensible approach of the shake-down state economies of the Euro-moribund zone and of the great Peron-Castro-Chavez banana tradition of strongmen gaining power, neutralizing competing power centers--like checks and balances—asserting economic control, and chocando the fortunes and freedom of rising Latin powers. (“Chocar” doesn’t mean “to choke” but close enough).

That turns out to be the real “trickle down”: extract lots of money from the rich, feed it through the digestive tract of government and its many corrupt parasites and dribble what’s left on the heads of the grateful, dependent poor, thus securing their suicidal votes.

Come to think, “trickle down economics” also reasonably describes the redistributive obsession and promises President Obama has powerfully and empirically debunked in an exhaustive four year field study. Bravo, Mr. President!

Second, what liberals call “trickle down” is just good ole’ “supply side" or “free market” economics. It means human freedom in commercial activity. Get out of the way of people’s pursuit of happiness and gainful labor, so free exchange and economic growth can build prosperity. Investors, entrepreneurs, managers, and workers build enterprises that hire employees to market goods and services. Opportunity spreads out from there.

Third, interestingly, if any vertical-spatial metaphor makes sense here, it’s not “down,” but “up.” “Trickle up economics” describes free enterprise far better than “trickle down.” The way to build wealth in a free economy is to satisfy the market, as in consumers. That is, to get rich you have to offer goods or services for which A) people are willing to pay you; B) a price higher than your cost of providing; and C) in sufficient quantity that profits proliferate. And your offer has to be more attractive than your competitors’.

If people get wealthy in a free economy, it's because the wealth trickles up as a result of others’ free choices pursuing their own benefit. All the related suppliers, employees, contractors and others also gain from the same flowing currents of wealth generation. Apart from charitable giving--a different subject--the rich don’t pour or trickle anything down on less fortunate heads; rather the middle and working classes earn income in the streams that trickle up toward success.

Ever since this silly insult first trickled harmlessly off Ronald Reagan’s Teflon, its logic has been amiss.

But when you hear it, be charitable. The speaker probably also has difficulty navigating “effect” and “affect”, and “your” and “you’re.” He’s literally a verbal kindergartner--figuratively speaking.



Adherence to the Constitution as a working definition of conservatism

In last week’s column I noted several specific examples of how the term “conservative” has been bastardized to mean standing for nothing other than not being a Democrat. Given what we’re seeing from Republican “leadership” on Capitol Hill, if every Republican is a conservative then nobody is.

This week I propose a remedy to the Republican Party establishment’s attempt to co-opt the term “conservative” and replace it with more Mitch McConnellesque milquetoast. That remedy will require a defined standard.

That defined standard should be the U.S. Constitution.

The best way to stop your movement from being co-opted is to adhere to a defined objective standard that holds everyone equally accountable. Anybody can call himself a “Conservative” just by killing one less unborn baby or stealing one less dollar from the taxpayers than the statists desire. But not everybody can call themselves a “Constitutionalist.” Either what you’re for or what you’re doing is in the Constitution or it is not. Last I checked, the Constitution does not include a “good ideas” provision or a “good intentions” clause.

The temptation of conservatism is to become a culture club, where a bunch of folks get together to self-righteously congratulate each other that they’re not as bad as the worst people in America. Conservativism settles for “anybody but Obama” in the White House, leaving the statist infrastructure the Left has hardwired into the culture largely in place, but with the promise to manage it better than the Leftist-Progressives will. Instead of stopping evil because it’s wrong, conservatism has sadly become “let’s just manage the decay because too much of it is icky.”

On the other hand, a “Constitutionalist” understands we also need “somebody that will repeal and nullify Obama” (or most of George W. Bush for that matter) in the White House. A Constitutionalist understands that defeating Democrats may be a key step, but it is just a step nonetheless. The real victory comes in determining public policy after your guys win the election, not just being content with your guys winning the election. Leaving in place the Left’s infrastructure means the election does little than give you a warm fuzzy that your team won. See how John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have essentially nullified the 2010 election results if you need more evidence.

A “Conservative” thinks the battle is won and lost in November. A “Constitutionalist” realizes the battle only begins in November. The real war comes in January regardless of who’s in power.

Since conservativism is no longer defined by objective moral absolutes, Republicans are now using the term “Conservative” as an excuse to measure themselves against the enemies of the Republic. But the term “Constitutionalist” brings with it an objective moral standard that compels them to raise their standard up to the Founding Fathers instead. We need a mechanism by which we have a standard to hold our elected officials accountable to something higher than “don’t destroy the country as quickly as the Democrats will.”

For example, President Obama claims to be a Christian, but everything he believes is in direct conflict with historic Christian orthodoxy, which is defined by the Bible as well as over 2,000 years of church tradition. That’s why scores of Christians who share those convictions doubt his Christianity. After all, you know a tree by its fruit.

Obama (or any mere mortal for that matter) does not get to subjectively define Christianity to suit his own agenda. Instead, Christianity is defined by an objective standard that defines who is actually a Christian. Without knowing what goes on in his private life, there is absolutely zero public evidence that Obama adheres to any semblance of Christian orthodoxy. Therefore, based on what we know publicly, regardless of what he claims there is no fruit to justify his public profession of being a Christian. The pastor he tutored under doesn’t preach Christian orthodoxy. He consistently governs contrary to Christian orthodoxy, to the point of being openly hostile to it. He associates with and advances the ambitions of those hostile to Christian orthodoxy. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, well, you know the rest.

Similarly, patriots need a defined standard to hold everyone equally accountable to. What better device to use than the U.S. Constitution itself? Every official already swears an oath of office before God to uphold and defend it. It is the governing document of these United States. It’s also readily available and accepted by many across the country as the standard. All we have to do now is enforce it.

A recent interview Justice Antonin Scalia gave to Fox News illustrates exactly why this transition is necessary. Scalia could very well be the most “Conservative” justice we have on the Supreme Court, and could also be among the best “Conservative” justices we’ve had since the Progressives took over the law schools. But some of the answers he gave on Fox News weren’t “Constitutionalist.”

For example, Scalia was asked about his judicial philosophy. He talked about looking at the original meaning of the text to determine what its author meant it to say. That is certainly more “conservative” than Justice Stephen Breyer’s stated philosophy, which is essentially to say, “I am God and can make the text say whatever I want it to say, or just make up the law as I go along.”

Scalia gave a more “conservative” answer than Breyer did for sure. But Scalia never told us why he accepts the authority of the original meaning of the Constitution in interpreting the law. If we don’t offer reasons why to accept the Constitution’s actual words as the law of the land, then we have no defense against the Breyer’s of the world that reject its authority outright.

A “Constitutionalist” would’ve told Fox News, “I seek to interpret the Constitution through its original meaning because it is the law of the land that my fellow justices and I swore an oath of office before the Creator of the Universe to defend and uphold. It was written with the ‘Laws of Nature and Nature’s God’ in mind, which is the highest law. My title is judge, not God. I don’t get to change the objective standard of the Constitution to mean what I want it to mean anymore than I can change the objective law of gravity to suit my desire to fly. The Constitution says what it says regardless of each individual’s agenda, just as gravity exists regardless of your wish to leap tall buildings in a single bound. The worst Supreme Court decisions in American history have been the direct result of judges who thought they were de facto gods, and not accountable to anything higher than themselves.

“I believe our rights come from God and my job is to protect those God-given rights. Justice Breyer and his ilk believe government is all-powerful, and what government can grant it can also take away. We’ve rejected our Founders and have been conducting civilization their way for 50 years. How’s that working out for us? We’re broke across the board—morally and fiscally.”

Later in the interview, Chris Wallace asks if the Constitution’s original meaning allows for any limits on the Second Amendment given the advances in technology that make weapons more dangerous than Colonial-era muskets accessible today, to which Scalia responded “we’ll see.” If Scalia accepts the plain language of the Constitution and its Founders, what’s there to see?

What a Constitutionalist would’ve told Wallace is, “Chris, how would you like it if I decided that since there’s technology today that allows for a freedom of speech and freedom of the press our Founders would’ve never anticipated, that government can therefore limit what you say, who you say it to, and how often you get to say it? Our Founders never envisioned the Internet or 24-hour news networks. Because of the new technology, perhaps we should apply the premise of your question first to the First Amendment before moving on to the Second? How would you like that, Chris?”

Conserving the Left’s agenda is no longer an option. Time is running out on these United States. We need to articulate an agenda that will undo the damage done to this republic, and sprinkling a few free market reforms into the welfare state won’t cut it. This is no longer a debate between putting the pedal to the medal on the Highway to Hell and casually driving Miss Daisy down it instead.

We need to define an agenda that reverses the statist collision course we’re currently on. Instead of reinventing the wheel, why not simply return to the one that gave birth to the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of Creation?


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 old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 August, 2012

All charm


Why Liberals Behave the Way They Do

Ann Coulter

My smash best-seller "Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America" has just come out in paperback -- and not a moment too soon! Democrats always become especially mob-like during presidential election campaigns.

The "root cause" of the Democrats' wild allegations against Republicans, their fear of change, their slogans and insane metaphors, are all explained by mass psychology, diagnosed more than a century ago by the French psychologist Gustave Le Bon, on whose work much of my own book is based.

Le Bon's 1896 book, "The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind," was carefully read by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in order to learn how to incite mobs. Our liberals could have been Le Bon's study subjects.

With the country drowning in debt and Medicare and Social Security on high-speed bullet trains to bankruptcy, the entire Democratic Party refuses to acknowledge mathematical facts. Instead, they incite the Democratic mob to hate Republicans by accusing them of wanting to kill old people.

According to a 2009 report -- before Obama added another $5 trillion to the national debt -- Obama's own treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, stated that in less than 10 years, spending on major entitlement programs, plus interest payments on the national debt, would consume 92 cents of every dollar in federal revenue.

That means no money for an army, a navy, rockets, national parks, food inspectors, air traffic controllers, highways, and so on. Basically, the entire federal budget will be required just to pay for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- and the cost of borrowing money to pay for these programs.

When Social Security was enacted in 1935, the average lifespan was 61.7 years. Today, it's almost 79 and rising. But liberals believe the age at which people can begin collecting Social Security must never, ever be changed, even to save Social Security itself.

Mobs, according to Le Bon, have a "fetish-like respect" for tradition, except moral traditions because crowds are too impulsive to be moral. That's why liberals say our Constitution is a "living, breathing" document that sprouts rights to gay marriage and abortion, but the age at which Social Security and Medicare benefits kick in is written in stone.

Le Bon says that it is lucky "for the progress of civilization that the power of crowds only began to exist when the great discoveries of science and industry had already been effected." If "democracies possessed the power they wield today at the time of the invention of mechanical looms or of the introduction of steam-power and of railways, the realization of these inventions would have been impossible."

Liberals exhibit this exact group-think fear of science not only toward light bulbs and nuclear power, but also toward medical inventions. Thus, when a majority of the country objected to Obamacare on the grounds that -- among many other reasons -- a government takeover of health care would destroy medical innovation, liberals stared in blank incomprehension.

They believe every drug, every diagnosis, every therapy, every cure that will ever be invented, has already been invented. Their job is to spread all the existing cures, while demonizing and stymieing pharmaceutical companies that make money by inventing new drugs.

Democrats haven't the slightest concern about who will formulate new remedies because they are enraged at profit-making and suspicious of scientific advancement.

Apart from cures that will never be invented, liberal elites will be mostly untouched by the rotten medical care to which they are consigning the rest of us. Note how Democrats' friends, such as government unions, immediately received waivers from Obamacare. Rich or connected liberals, such as George Soros, Warren Buffett, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, will always have access to the best doctors, just as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez do.

It is similar to the way that Democrats, who refuse to pass school choice, always seem to bypass the disastrous public schools for their own children, who end up at Sidwell Friends or St. Albans.

Democrats don't worry about how bankrupting Social Security and destroying the job market hurts black people, bitter divorcees and young people, because they can always demagogue these one-party Democratic voters simply by repeating that Republicans are racist, hate women and aren't cool like Obama.

The truth is irrelevant; only slogans and fear-mongering delight mobs.

The rest of us are forced to live in a lawless universe of no new pharmaceuticals, foreign doctors, gay marriage, girl soldiers, a health care system run by the post office, and bankrupt Social Security and Medicare systems, because liberals can't enjoy their wealth unless other people are living in squalor.

The country will have the economy of Uganda, but Democrats will be in total control.



Another old Lefty wises up

Leftists hate it when you point out how people normally become more conservative as they get older and thus learn something about the real world. Some Leftists even try to deny that the swing happens -- despite such prominent examples of liberals-turned-conservative as Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill. So the example below should have them steaming

Shrewd move in choosing House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as running mate for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Now here's the next play: Invite George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, to speak this month in Tampa at the Republican National Convention.

Yes, that old lefty McGovern. You know the expression, "A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged"? Well, McGovern has been mugged.

The most left-wing Democratic presidential candidate this side of Barack Obama, former Sen. McGovern, D-S.D., proposed giving every man, woman and child an annual $1,000 "demogrant." In his nomination acceptance speech, McGovern made the same case that Obama makes today -- capitalism and free markets let us down, and social justice require universal health coverage: "A program to put America back to work demands that work be properly rewarded. That means the end of a system of economic controls in which labor is depressed, but prices and corporate profit run sky-high. It means a system of national health insurance so that a worker can afford decent health care for himself and his family."

McGovern's left-wing bona fides are beyond questioning.

Sen. Bobby Kennedy, D-N.Y., himself a presidential candidate in 1968, called McGovern the "only decent man in the Senate." A decorated World War II bomber pilot, McGovern fiercely opposed the Vietnam War and pushed for a complete and immediate withdrawal of American troops. Name a tax hike, spending bill or new regulation, and very likely McGovern supported it. But after he left the Senate in 1981, something happened that profoundly changed several of his most deeply held views.

McGovern went into business for himself -- and went bust.

Following the recommendation of a friend with "a lifetime of hotel- and restaurant-management experience," McGovern bought a small hotel and restaurant, the Stratford Inn in Connecticut. He poured his savings into the place, investing his seven year's worth of post-Senate earnings from the lecture circuit.

A contributing factor to the failure, according to McGovern, was the regulations that make it tough to make a profit. In a mea culpa that should chill every lefty on the Hill, McGovern said: "I wish I had known more firsthand about the concerns and problems of American businesspeople while I was a U.S. senator and later a presidential nominee. That knowledge would have made me a better legislator and a more worthy aspirant to the White House. ... I learned first of all that over the past 20 years America has become the most litigious society in the world. ... The second lesson I learned by owning the Stratford Inn is that legislators and government regulators must more carefully consider the economic and management burdens we have been imposing on U.S. businesses. ... Many businesses, especially small independents such as the Stratford Inn, simply can't pass such costs on to their customers and remain competitive or profitable."

"I wish I had known more firsthand about the concerns and problems of American businesspeople." Holy Ayn Rand! Then in the spring of 2008, McGovern wrote an article called, "Freedom Means Responsibility":

"Many people can't afford the gold-plated health plans that are the only options available in their states," wrote McGovern. "Buying health insurance on the Internet and across state lines, where less expensive plans may be available, is prohibited by many state insurance commissions. Despite being able to buy car or home insurance with a mouse click, some state governments require their approved plans for purchase or none at all. It's as if states dictated that you had to buy a Mercedes or no car at all."

This is, of course, exactly what Republicans, pre-ObamaCare, offered as one of the ways to increase the affordability of health care insurance -- without further government intrusion.

McGovern, in warning about excessive regulation, sounded almost Reaganesque: "Under the guise of protecting us from ourselves, the right and the left are becoming ever more aggressive in regulating behavior. ... Since leaving office, I've written about public policy from a new perspective: outside looking in. I've come to realize that protecting freedom of choice in our everyday lives is essential to maintaining a healthy civil society.

"Why do we think we are helping adult consumers by taking away their options? We don't take away cars because we don't like some people speeding. We allow state lotteries despite knowing some people are betting their grocery money. Everyone is exposed to economic risks of some kind. But we don't operate mindlessly in trying to smooth out every theoretical wrinkle in life.

"The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else."

McGovern did a lot of damage while in Congress. Here's a chance for him to help undo some of it. For the sake of the country, McGovern should share his hard-earned wisdom -- at the Republican National Convention.

Invite him, Mitt. If he can't make it, then quote him.



What part of "health care is a finite resource" does the Left not understand?

Regardless of all the promises made by ObamaCare, there are still only 24 hours in a day and there are a finite number of doctors available to fulfill the starry-eyed promises the law makes. That's reality, something the left routinely attempts to pretend doesn't exist.

Some examples of the point - ObamaCare will put 30 million more people on insurance rolls Yay, problem of health care solved, right?

No, of course not. There will still be the same number of doctors and hours in a day. As we've been saying repeatedly, getting insurance does not mean you'll be able to see a doctor.
And then there are the new requirements placed on doctors by ObamaCare that further exacerbate the problem. For instance:
Take preventive care. ObamaCare says that health insurance must cover the tests and procedures recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. What would that involve? In the American Journal of Public Health (2003), scholars at Duke University calculated that arranging for and counseling patients about all those screenings would require 1,773 hours of the average primary-care physician's time each year, or 7.4 hours per working day.

So, a doctor either commits to 10 or 12 hours of work a day or she sees patients for other reasons for 2/3rds an hour a day. Or try this:
Meanwhile, the administration never seems to tire of reminding seniors that they are entitled to a free annual checkup. Its new campaign is focused on women. Thanks to health reform, they are being told, they will have access to free breast and pelvic exams and even free contraceptives. Once ObamaCare fully takes effect, all of us will be entitled to a long list of preventive services-with no deductible or copayment.

Of course, none of that is "free", but much of it will also tie up a doctor's time. Preventive care costs money - lots of money - and when you have someone else paying for it, even more people will try to take advantage of that. The left thinks that's a feature, not a bug. Here's the real-world problem, however:
If the screenings turn up a real problem, there will have to be more testing and more counseling. Bottom line: To meet the promise of free preventive care nationwide, every family doctor in America would have to work full-time delivering it, leaving no time for all the other things they need to do.

In effect, it is government mandating treatment that fills up the doctor's time when much of that treatment may not be necessary. But that call has been taken out of the doctor's hands with this law. If a patient demands all their "free" stuff, then what?

I often harp on the fact that the left seems sublimely ignorant on how the laws of economics work. Well, what ObamaCare has set up are exactly the same conditions that plague most government run healthcare systems:
When demand exceeds supply in a normal market, the price rises until it reaches a market-clearing level. But in this country, as in other developed nations, Americans do not primarily pay for care with their own money. They pay with time.

Prepare yourself for long waits for what you now consider to be routine problems. If it is routine you will likely have less of a chance of seeing a doctor than you do now. Best hope you can self- medicate or just wait out the problem. If it is a serious problem, you'll most likely still be in for a wait. Why?
As physicians increasingly have to allocate their time, patients in plans that pay below-market prices will likely wait longest. Those patients will be the elderly and the disabled on Medicare, low-income families on Medicaid, and (if the Massachusetts model is followed) people with subsidized insurance acquired in ObamaCare's newly created health insurance exchanges.

Econ 101. So what is likely to happen?
When people cannot find a primary-care physician who will see them in a reasonable length of time, all too often they go to hospital emergency rooms.

Uh, wasn't that a big part of the impetus behind creating ObamaCare? To "solve" that problem? In fact, it is likely to exacerbate it.

Of course the solution to the government made problem will be what? Most likely more government. Those patients who are in those plans that pay below-market reimbursement will complain to whom? Politicians. And vote hungry politicians will try to do what? "Fix" the problem they created. And who will they make the bad guys? Well, certainly not them - greedy doctors or insurance companies most likely.

You can see this coming from a mile off - well if your eyes aren't full of moon dust and you have even a passing acquaintance with how the real world works. As P.J. O'Rourke so aptly said, "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free."

Unless this monstrosity of a law is repealed, we're about to find out.




PA: $600 a day fine for feeding needy children: "A woman in Chester Township, Pennsylvania has been warned that she could be fined as much as $600 a day if she continues to feed needy children in her community. Angela Prattis has been feeding lunch to as many as 60 children a day under a program funded by the state’s Department of Education and administered by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. But because Prattis [is] allowing the children to come to her home, Chester Township has threatened fines of $600 a day if she continues to hand out the lunches, which consist of a sandwich, fruit and milk. Prattis told KPLC that the town sent her a letter stating she needed a variance to use her personal residence."

Obama-Biden: Hope and chains: "Vice President Joe Biden played the race card this week when he drawled Southern-style to a racially mixed audience that if Mitt Romney takes the White House, he'll 'unchain Wall Street. They're going to put y'all back in chains.' ... The president's henchmen are running a dirty campaign. The worst part of it: These nasty antics are the best Obamaland has to offer. ... The president blames 'the other side' for not playing fair, and then somehow expects Americans to re-elect him so he can not get things done again."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 August, 2012

"Progressive" by name and "progressive" by nature

I have just seen the recent appalling story about the firm Progressive Insurance, the insurance company from hell. They spent much more on dodging a claim they were due to pay than it would have cost them to pay the claim in the first place. Lawyers don't come cheap. Their customer had to go to court to collect what was due and the court verdict was eventually in favor of the customer anyway. So now Progressive have legal costs to pay as well as the customer's original entitlement. What a way to run a business! What a way to chase away prospective customers! What use is an insurance company that runs away just when you need them?

Interestingly, their name seems to be the only thing about them that is straight up. They ARE political Progressives (Leftists) and do donate to Leftist causes and organizationa.

So their actions exhibit the complete lack of ethical anchors that we expect from Leftists: The people who tell us, "There is no such thing as right and wrong". Doing their best to dodge a payout is obviously not wrong to them. And they are such moral defectives that they cannot even see that their actions are unwise. They are moral imbeciles.

Where I live we have a large insurance company (Suncorp) that prides itsef on making payouts without quibbling. And they do, resulting in their having about two thirds of the State's housing insurance business. As the early Protestants saw, good ethics are in fact good business.

Anybody insured with Progressive, however, should in my view go elsewhere at the earliest opportunity.

UPDATE: The company has now paid the original claim of about $70,000 but we also read: "the payment is separate from the judgment rendered by a jury in Baltimore Circuit Court last week awarding the Fishers $760,000". That should give them a well-deserved pain in the pocket. They are probably unwise enough to appeal it, though.

17 August, 2012

A wicked proposition

I have been thinking about this for some time but have not mentioned it before because almost any mention of race and ethnicity is prone to being misunderstood, if not actively demonized. Yet what I want to say is, I think, commonsense and is certainly well-meant. Yes. I know about the road to hell.

What have Indians, Chinese and Jews got in common? High IQs maybe but there is something more important that a knowledge of history would tell you: All three have been heavily persecuted in lands where they have been minorities -- the Chinese in S.E. Asia, the Indians in East Africa and the Jews we all know about.

Sadly, I have to say that I think that is human nature. We can struggle against it and we might even change the minds of educated people but I think the average Joe in any society does not like to think that his society is run by those he perceives as aliens. That doesn't mean I condone what Indonesia did to the Chinese or Uganda did to the Indians any more than I condone what Hitler did. But do note that the Jews in prewar Germany occupied a space in Germany not dissimilar to the space that Jews occupy in America today: At the top of most heaps.

Jews in America today seem perfectly safe but Jews in Germany once seemed that way too. The Prussian parliament announced the emancipation of the Jews as early as 1812 and Frederick the Great welcomed them when just about no-one else would. As a result the German Jews of the 1930s were the most assimilated Jews in the world. It did them no good.

Why did it do them no good? It did them no good because Hitler tapped into precisely the sentiment I mentioned: resentment of dominance by an ethnically distinctive elite. Hitler waxed eloquent about Jewish dominance of banking, commerce, science and industry and there were plenty of examples for him to point at. And there was little objection to that among non-Jewish Germans.

So what should Jews learn from that? I think that they should learn that they are not as safe as they think. The antisemitic comments I get on my blogs (DESPITE the Israeli flag I have flying on them all) are both frequent and virulent and the antisemitic cadre formed by Muslim-Americans is well known.

And the ever-encroaching socialism promoted by the Democrats has already long ago halted any growth in the average incomes of Americans -- despite great technological and scientific improvements. And the Obama-induced Great Recession seems finally to have put America into economic reverse-gear. Even a Romney/Ryan victory would seem to have only a slim chance of reversing the huge debt overhang that Obama has bequeathed to America -- so an outright economic collapse via Weimar-style inflation seems all too possible. And amid an economic collapse the people at the head of most parts of "the system" could be very exposed. Politicians will certainly prioritize saving their own skins above all else and pointing the finger at people other than themselves is totally predictable.

Let us suppose (for instance) that Romney/Ryan is defeated this year and an (overdue) inflationary thunderclap befalls America shortly thereafter. What is Obama going to say as the 2014 mid-terms approach? The dislike of Jews among African-Americans is well-known and Obama is an African-American politician who has no problem with race-hate (embodied in his pastor of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright). And even among white Democrats there is a barely-suppressed stream of antisemitism that occasionally breaks the surface. So if Obama pointed to Jewish bankers as the culprit for America's woes he would have almost every prominent African-American and Muslim-American on his side immediately. And the media will swallow anything that Obama says. And it's all downhill along a well-trodden path from there.

Republicans might object (as some did in response to FDR's imprisonment of Japanese Americans in WWII) but the well-oiled and media-enabled Leftist abuse machine would soon drown that out.

Are there any steps that Jews can take right now that will help them in the future? I think there is one. I will be blunt about it: Jews occupying prominent positions in American life should make aliyah. Israel needs their money and talents and they need Israel.

Ryan has shaken up the race (1)

I admire a man who makes his own sausages, especially if he has hunted the meat himself and used a bow and arrow. No time to be squeamish. Most of us eat meat while pretending it comes from some cartoon version of the food chain. I hate hunting but this man understands where protein really comes from.

Such a man is Paul Ryan, who has managed to do something that very few of the 435 voting members of the US House of Representatives have ever been able to do - become a national figure while still serving in the House. He is about to become the Republican nominee for Vice-President of the United States.

During the past three years, two members of the House, a Democrat and a Republican, raised themselves above the ruck of members of Congress to become national figures. One was Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York City. The other was Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin. Both became fixtures on Fox News Channel, for very different reasons.

Fox loved Weiner because he was shrill, opinionated, combative, mega-Jewish and mega-liberal. For the cunning Fox he was the ideal personification of the Democrats, an abrasive, divisive, big-spending eastern liberal elitist. They let him talk and talk. Weiner never got it. Such was his ego that this Weiner was cooked last year.

He was caught texting suggestive remarks and bare-chested images of himself to a woman, denied doing so, blustered and lied, then another woman came forward with more texts and photos. The media circled, Weiner broke down on television, admitted to sending sexts to six young women. He is married. He resigned.

The Fox News love of Paul Ryan was entirely different. It was the real thing. Ryan was everything Weiner was not: measured, personable, conservative, against big government, Catholic and mid-western. He was young - he's now 42, but had been elected to Congress at age 28.

Given Fox's role as the chief cheerleader of the Republican party, the network's platform for Ryan was potent among Republicans. So was Ryan's personality and energy. He was promoted through the ranks to become the senior Republican on the influential House Budget Committee, then became the committee's chairman when the Republicans won control of the House in the 2010 mid-term elections.

From this powerful position, with research staff and resources, he developed policies for structural change, notably welfare and tax reform, including privatising large portions of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Broadly, he proposes a form of personal superannuation accounts to replace government welfare bureaucracies. He also sought to curb America's accumulation of debt and government spending.

When the Republican field for the presidency emerged last year, it seemed to me that the most impressive leader in the party was not in the race. From afar, Ryan had more substance than the presidential aspirants. The winner, Mitt Romney, seemed wooden by comparison, with second-hand policies. But Ryan was young, a mere Congressman, and had devoted his energies to building a policy agenda rather than a national campaign operation.

All this changed on Sunday when Romney galvanised the presidential race by choosing Ryan as his running mate. The contrast between the number two men on the tickets will be extreme. Vice-President Joe Biden, the ultimate safe choice four years ago, is a weathered Washington insider with a modest resume, leaden delivery, and turns 70 in November.

Biden's views on policy will be irrelevant while Ryan's keystone document, The Path to Prosperity, is the proposed Republican budget for the fiscal year 2013. Its detailed proposals will become central to the debate.

President Obama came to the White House in 2008 with a meagre legislative record and inherited the whirlwind of a global economic financial meltdown and President George Bush's misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will run against Romney's wealth and portray Ryan as an ideologue who will slash the nation's safety net.

It will be class war, tooth and claw, veiled by Obama's charisma.

Never underestimate the capacity of an electorate to sense what is false and what is true about politicians. Authenticity is the electric currency in politics. Ryan has it. The American public, queasy about the nation's growing debt mountain and stubbornly high unemployment rate, may be receptive to daring alternatives to printing money and government debt.

Romney, in his choice of Ryan, has made a lacklustre 2012 presidential campaign exciting.



Ryan has shaken up the race (2)

He catches catfish in his bare hands, hunts deer with a bow and turns them into homemade sausages, and boasts that his ruthless workout programme has left him with just 6 per cent body fat. Little wonder that, after the phrase ‘vice-president’, the most popular word added to Google searches for ‘Paul Ryan’ is ‘shirtless’.

His brain packs a punch, too: a budgetary whizzkid, Ryan has galvanised the American Right with bold ideas that may yet save the U.S. from hurtling off the fiscal cliff.

Now he’s stepping into shoes last occupied by Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential nominee. In doing so, he has electrified the race to the White House, which up to this point had threatened to be a tediously negative slugging match between an ineffectual President and his robotic challenger Mitt Romney.

Suddenly, everything has changed. In the four days since Romney catapulted Paul Ryan, a 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman, into the limelight by naming him as his running mate, Americans have been gushing over Ryan’s toned 6ft 2in physique and manly leisure pursuits.

He’s certainly a bold choice, but unlike the last maverick Republican ‘VP’ nominee — Sarah Palin — Ryan could never be faulted for not knowing his brief. While most American politicians love to gloss over the policy details, the determinedly Right-wing Ryan delights in spelling out exactly what he wants to do.

Leaving aside his plans for government (basically, squeeze hard and keep squeezing until the massive budget deficit is eradicated), Ryan isn’t afraid to lecture other countries, either. Just days after billions watched the London Olympics opening ceremony tribute to the NHS, he attacked the British health service for making patients too dependent on government help.

Ryan remains a pin-up and seer of the Tea Party movement, that populist groundswell of American anger against big government spending. It’s not hard to see why the Tea Partiers love him. His life story lives and breathes old American values of hard work and self-sufficiency.

A devout Roman Catholic and pro-lifer, he had a down-to-earth Midwestern background in the working-class Wisconsin town of Janesville, where he still lives with his lawyer wife Janna and three young children, Liza, Charlie and Sam.

He saved up by working at McDonald’s to pay for his university education in Ohio, where he developed his hard-Right views on economics, and became a devotee of libertarian writer and thinker Ayn Rand.

Through influential books such as her epic novel Atlas Shrugged, Rand — who died in 1982 — espoused a laissez-faire creed she called Objectivism which held that the moral purpose of life is to pursue one’s own happiness, and that government interference should be kept to an absolute minimum.

He became the top Republican on the House budget committee in 2006, impressing colleagues with his effortless grasp of fiscal detail. But it wasn’t until January 2010 that he made headlines when he unveiled an ambitious U.S. budget plan he called Roadmap For America’s Future.

Hugely controversial, it is a grand plan to balance the U.S. budget — mission impossible as far as most of Washington is concerned — by 2040. It involves slashing spending on food subsidies for the poor, and limiting Medicare health provision for older people, as well as cutting tax rates for the wealthy — to encourage wealth creation.

Drastic problems call for drastic solutions, and even some liberals privately admire the fact that Ryan is at least trying.

But he’s no ranting prophet of doom. In Washington, he has a reputation as affable, polite and charming — a man who loves to debate policy with his opponents without slinging insults (a rarity in U.S. politics nowadays). He prefers to direct his aggressive instincts instead towards the wildlife population.

An inveterate hunter and fisherman — he proposed to his wife at one of his favourite fishing spots — Ryan fills his Facebook page with pictures of him posing with dead deer and turkeys, all killed by him, sometimes with a rifle and sometimes with a bow.

He’s also an avid catfish ‘noodler’, a technique that calls for consummate patience and speed as the fisherman plucks the creatures out of the water with his bare hands.

The strength of his appeal has been evident in the way the Obama camp and its media allies are already gunning for him, painting the congressman as what Obama strategist David Axelrod called a ‘certifiable Right-wing ideologue’.

Yes, Romney’s choice of Ryan may be risky in terms of the radical conservatism of his views, yet the Catholic Ryan will also reassure voters who see Romney’s Mormonism, his career as a multi-millionaire venture capitalist and haughty, elitist image as far removed from their lives and values, particularly evangelist Christians who viewthe Mormon religion with deep suspicion.

Solidly middle-class, a good speaker and — for all his hard-edged politics — a normal kind of guy, Ryan crucially ticks the boxes that Romney has failed to.

The next few months will reveal whether Romney’s bold choice is a little too bold for the swing voters who are likely to decide the outcome of this election. But at least Republicans can be sure their own supporters will now overcome their apathy over Mitt Romney. With this plain-speaking Mid-Westerner at his side, he suddenly looks a whole lot more interesting.



Expect The Heckling To Get Worse, And You Can Thank Saul Alinsky

Monday seemed like deja vu all over again when Paul Ryan was heckled at the Iowa State Fair. His new boss was heckled at exactly the same place, same time last year.

Searching through YouTube, both Romney and Ryan have been heckled a lot over the last year. And, if it looks like Obama is going to lose, you can expect the heckling to not only increase but also become more provocative.

Now, before I continue, let’s just be clear that I’m not saying Obama has been heckled less than Romney. There are plenty examples of that as well on YouTube, and there is no way to be certain since, as far as I know, no one collects statistics on the heckling of politicians. Nor am I suggesting that it is just a left-wing activity. Indeed, not long ago Romney’s campaign sent a few supporters to Boston to give David Axelrod a warm welcome.

That said, heckling is an activity that tends to be the purview of the left, especially the radical left. After all, the tactic conforms very well to Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.”

Here is Rule No. 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

Heckling works well because politicians usually expect to address receptive crowds. Hecklers can throw them off stride, make them look anxious and confused.

The problem is that politicians can get better at dealing with it. Apparently Romney has. Compare his reaction at last year's Iowa State Fair to his reaction to being heckled in Wisconsin last weekend. Furthermore, the politician’s supporters can get wise to it as well. Listen to Mitt’s supporters drown out the heckler with chants of “USA! USA!” or, in this instance, with “Mitt, Mitt, Mitt!”

As heckling becomes less effective, it will become more provocative. Alinsky’s Rule No. 10 states, “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive. Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.”

Thus, expect to see hecklers provoking confrontations with Romney supporters or putting themselves in situations where they get hauled off by police — in front of the cameras, of course.

Here is a classic case. Paul Ryan is speaking at a luncheon, when 71-year-old Tom Nielsen stands and begins shouting questions at him. The police take him from the room, put him on the ground and arrest him.

According to the text under the video, “Nielsen repeatedly told police that he wasn’t fighting them and that he didn’t want to make any trouble. He also told them several times that he had a broken shoulder. Police officers ignored his comments as they wrestled him to the ground despite his howls of pain.”

From the video you can only hear what sounds like a “howl of pain” from Nielsen once. You never hear him say he has a broken shoulder, and he doesn’t seem to be howling in pain when the police lead him away in handcuffs. You also never hear him say that “he didn’t want to make trouble.” But even if he did say it, um, really? You interrupt the planned speech of a congressman by shouting questions at him, and you don’t want to make trouble? Hey, I want to eat nothing but pizza, cookies and ice cream, and I don’t want to get fat!

Anyway, we shouldn’t expect accuracy from the description since the propaganda value of such an incident far outweighs the value of the truth.

So as the heckling gets worse, what can Romney supporters do? The first is the exercise of enormous self-restraint. The radicals will call you all manner of expletives, get in your face, stick their fingers in your chest, etc., etc. You must back away. The second you throw a punch, the hecklers get their PR victory.

Also be sure to have the video recorders on your cell phones ready to record these events. The hecklers will be quick to load their versions up on YouTube. Be sure you have your versions ready to go.

Finally, when the police do get involved and remove the hecklers, record that as well. The hecklers will be quick to claim police brutality. Although the police don’t always exercise restraint, most times they do. A video showing that will also undermine the hecklers.

By exercising restraint and videotaping the heckling incidents, Romney supporters can be the ones that can push a negative into a positive.

Update: Matthew Vadum notes that the people who heckled Ryan in Iowa are part of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, an ACORN-like group. They are the same group that shouted at Romney last year.



Man! You Young People Are Really Getting Hosed When It Comes To Social Security!

Would you give a financial manager $598,000 of your hard-earned money (over the course of your lifetime) who then 'promised' to give you back $556,000 during your retirement years for a net loss of $42,000???

Of course not. You would be completely insane to do so.
You would call this financial adviser your ex-financial planner/manager. You would fire him just as soon as you could see the handwriting on the wall that read: 'You are getting a bum deal, bub!'

Well, that is precisely what is happening to you today if you are under the age of 60. Except your 'financial planner/manager' is none other than the Social Security Administration.

That is right. The very program so many in Congress are so eager to 'protect' for you and yours and the AARP 'swears' it will (almost) inflict bodily harm on anyone in Congress who dares even to breathe the words: 'Reform Social Security!'

The same program that has been 'promising' that 'the federal government will take care of you in your golden years' and 'is so perfect today that no one should ever change one iota of it'.

Don't believe it. You have been having the wool pulled over your eyes for decades....all of us have. The same politicians who have brought you the following: 1) The $16 trillion national debt and 2) The financial demise of Medicare have also been the ones hiding the truth from you about SS.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 August, 2012

A small reflection on the Leftist sympathy for criminals

Caution: This article contains a picture that is very disturbing

The emblematic example of Leftist sympathy for criminals is probably the release from prison of the murderous Willie Horton under the sponsorship of Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis. Dukakis had vetoed legislation that would have kept gross offenders such as Horton in jail. When Horton immediately began violent offending again it hit the reputation of Dukakis and contributed to his defeat in the 1988 Presidential election. Democrats were of course outraged that Republicans raised the matter at all. They are good at outrage.

And the execution of "Tookie" Williams in 1995 was another conspicuous example of misplaced sympathy. Stanley Williams was a murderous brute who helped found the notorious "Crips" street gang in Los Angeles -- and who refused to the end to help authorities investigate the gang -- but Leftists pulled out all the stops to prevent his execution. Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor of CA at the time however so their efforts were in vain.

The Left however consistently referred to him by the affectionate nickname of "Tookie" and put up pictures of him that suggested a gentle scholarly nature for him. See below:

Williams in his own eyes

A Williams victim

As the Left portrayed him

And the sympathy for illegal immigrants that mostly obstructs effective action against them can be seen not only in the USA but also in Britain and Australia. In Australia, a conservative government had stopped dead the flow of illegal immigrants but as soon as it came to power a Leftist government abolished the conservative policies and restarted the flow.

So why? Why do Leftists sponsor crime? They say it is because of their "compassion" but where is the compassion for the victims of Horton or Williams? It makes no sense as compassion. There is clearly something else going on.

And what that is, is clear. Leftists hate the world they live in and want to tear it down -- something Obama has been doing to America with considerable effectiveness for nearly 4 years now. So a sympathy for criminals flows readily from that. Criminals too are attacking the existing order. They are in a way doing what Leftist would like to do. So Leftists just can't find it in their hearts to see much wrong with criminals. "A bit misguided but understandable" would be the implicit Leftist judgment of criminals. That judgment costs us dear -- JR.


"You didn't build that" as a disincentive to enterprise

In any endeavor, individual effort generally plays only a small role in achieving the desired result, when compared to the contribution of all other relevant causal factors. Still, the success or failure of most human endeavors depend critically upon the supply of effort, and most endeavors will fail if too little effort is supplied. In some circumstances, a realistic assessment of the effect of greater effort on the odds of success will be demoralizing, leading to less effort and even lower odds of success. But this doesn't mean that successful people need to be systematically deceived about the efficacy of volition. It means that people need to internalize norms that stigmatize, at least some of the time, the rational withholding of effort.

Of course, people aren't generally self-destructive, and this sort of thing (i.e., morality, culture) only goes so far, even if it does goes pretty far. Incentives matter, as the economists like to say. You won't write try to write the Great American Novel if you don't think you can. But, even if you think that there's some small positive probability you could succeed, it may not be worth trying unless the payoff for success is really huge. Do the math. Which is why winner-take-all markets and the vast wealth and status inequalities they entail may not be so bad for the commonweal. A more egalitarian distribution of money and status for novelists would result in a decreased overall supply of novel-writing effort, and thus to fewer and fewer really valuable novels. (The stats quo also leads to a lot of wasted effort, but so what!) If widespread false belief doesn't work, try inequality!

That said, a smart culture can probably limit wealth inequality while maintaining the possibility of huge inequalities of status, which is why I suspect Ed Conard, whose book I have not read, overstates the case for economic inequality. Successful cultures produce individuals who try hard, because that's what one does, and who dream of riches and/or glory.



For the Marxists Ye Have With You Always


I was involved in a revealing exchange yesterday. Something I had Tweeted - a diffident question about whether pushing more and more people into university was necessarily desirable - prompted a series of responses along the lines of ‘Typical: like all capitalists, you don't like poor people'.

The criticism came in such a blizzard that I felt some sort of reply was in order, so I took to the keyboard again: ‘I love all these "capitalists don't like poor people" Tweets. It's true: we want to turn them into rich people. It's socialists who need their client groups.'

What happened next got me thinking. One after another, the Lefties on Twitter lined up to argue that capitalism couldn't survive without poverty, that its essence was the widening of inequality, that it concentrated more and more power in the hands of fewer and fewer plutocrats, that its days were numbered. I won't bore you by quoting them all. One - from the prolific Labour blogger Sunny Hundal - might stand for many: ‘In fact capitalism (by definition) needs more poor people and prefers poor bargaining rights and gross inequality'.

What's fascinating here is not just that Sunny's proposition is wrong; it's that, like all the other responses just cited, it is lifted directly from Karl Marx.

Marxism, uniquely among political philosophies, defined itself as a science. To its adherents, its propositions were not speculative but empirical. As a good Hegelian, Marx saw his forecasts as part of an inexorable historical process. Yet every one - every one - of them turned out to be false.

Capitalism was supposed to destroy the middle class, leaving a tiny clique of oligarchs ruling over a vast proletariat. In fact, capitalism has enlarged the bourgeoisie wherever it has been practised. Capitalism was supposed to lower living standards for the majority. In fact, the world is wealthier than would have been conceivable 150 years ago. The whole market system was supposed to be on its last legs when Marx and Engels were writing. In fact, it was entering a golden age, hugely benefiting the poorest. As Schumpeter put it, the princess was always able to wear silk stockings, but it took capitalism to put them within reach of the shop girl. The living standard of a Briton on benefits today is higher than that of a Briton on average wages in the 1920s.

I don't know how many of the people parroting Marx are aware that they're doing so. But, whatever name we call it by, his doctrine has proved stunningly impervious to events. You'd have thought - I did think - that the collapse of the Warsaw Pact regimes in 1989 would have definitively refuted revolutionary socialism. Yet successive generations continue to fall for it.

The more I read of behavioural psychology, the more I think that ideologies are as much a product of people's nature as of observed experience. The perverted doctrines that actuated the Bolshevists may be immanent in a portion of humanity. Some people are determined to see every success as a swindling of someone else, every transaction as an exploitation, every exercise in freedom as a violation of some ideal plan, every tradition as a superstition. How delicious that, as we approach the bicentenary of his birth, Karl Marx should have turned into the thing he loathed above all: the prophet of an irrational faith.



Black "useful idiots"

"Useful idiots" was Stalin's term for Western Communists

For expressing the opinion of the majority of voters in the 31 states where gay marriage was put to vote Chick-fil-A’s President Dan Cathy is accused of “hate speech” by D.C. Mayor Vernon Gray. Such is the mayor’s revulsion that he threatens to mimic Lester Maddox circa 1962 and stand at his city gates wielding an ax handle to bar restaurant Chik-fil-A’s entry into his municipal domain.

Washington D.C’s black mayor is a prominent patron of his hometown restaurant/bookstore Busboys and Poets, billed by its owner as “The Cultural Hub of the Black Community,” and known as “a haven for writers, thinkers and performers from America's progressive social and political movements.”

This restaurant features posters of Che Guevara on its walls and Che Guevara’s books in its adjoining bookstore. Busboys and Poets also sponsor tours of Cuba in partnership with Castro’s Stalinist regime. Every penny spent by Mayor Gray’s starry-eyed constituents on these Potemkin tours lands in the pockets of the only regime in the Western Hemisphere to herd thousands of men and boys into forced labor camps at Soviet-bayonet point for the crime of fluttering their eyelashes, flapping their hands and talking with a lisp. Every penny spent in Cuba by these progressive writers and artists enriches the only regime in the Western Hemisphere to fuel bonfires with Orwell’s Animal Farm, The UN Declaration of Human Rights and the writings of Martin Luther King.

"Work Will Make Men Out of You" read the sign at the Cuban prison-camp’s gate where tens of thousands of Cuban gays, suspected gays, “longhaired heepees”s and religious youths were jailed and tortured for years. The sign as prominent right over the barbed wire and next to the Soviet-trained machine gunners posted on the watchtowers. The initials for these camps were UMAP, not GULAG, but the conditions were quite similar.

When patronizing Busboys and Poets black Mayor Vernon Grey and his black and “progressive” constituents also reward a purveyor of the following sentiments:

“The Negro is indolent and spends his money on frivolities and drink, the European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent…The negro has maintained his racial purity by his well known habit of avoiding baths.” Che Guevara wrote these lines in his famous “Motorcycle’s Diaries,” which is prominently displayed in Busboys and Poets bookstore.

“My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood,” also appears in this popular book for peace activists. “Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any surrendered enemy that falls in my hands! With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!”

Among the sites omitted by Busboys and Poets Cuba tours are the prisons and torture chambers that held the longest-suffering black political prisoners in modern history. Prisoners were often taunted with racist epithets – “we pulled you down from the trees and cut off your tail!” Eusebia Penalver’s Castroite jailers would yell at him. Eusebio Penalver suffered longer in Castro and Che’s prisons than Nelson Mandela in apartheid South Africa’s.

Given the veneration by Washington D.C’s Busboys and Poets of the racist- Stalinist who craved to nuke Washington D.C. we have to think they also carry Che’s Message to the Tricontinental Conference in Havana 1966. Chik-fil-A “tastes like hate,” Mayor Gray? Well, then chew on this:

“Hatred is the central element of our struggle!... Hatred that is intransigent….Hatred so violent that it propels a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him violent and cold- blooded killing machine…We reject any peaceful approach. Violence is inevitable. To establish Socialism rivers of blood must flow. The victory of Socialism is well worth millions of atomic victims!” (thus spaketh the icon of flower-children)

Had the icon of Busboys and Poets prevailed in October 1962, today the incinerated remains of many of the restaurant’s patrons, and those of practically all of their parents and grandparents, would fit in one Cappuccino cup.




A new barrage of Leftist lies greets Paul Ryan: "Democrats believe fervently in the folly of Paul Ryan’s ideas, yet somehow can’t speak about them truthfully. They are confident they can destroy Ryan — not because they think they can win the debate over his proposals on the merits, but because they are certain they can distort those proposals with impunity. The battle of ideas will be as unsightly and dishonest as the battle over Bain Capital. If Democrats will lie about Mitt Romney killing a woman, it’s only a matter of scale to lie about him unloosing a near-genocidal assault on America’s seniors."

Drug caravan to visit more than 20 US cities: "A coalition calling for an end to the war on drugs began its monthlong campaign Sunday in San Diego that will take it to more than 20 U.S. cities. More than 200 people gathered at a park on the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a movement known as the 'Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity' that includes nearly 100 organizations."

VA: Pitchfork-wielding Virginia farmers rally against birthday party fine: "Pitchfork-wielding Virginia farmers rallied to support a woman who claims local officials came down on her for, among other things, hosting a children's birthday party on her spread. Martha Boneta, owner of Liberty Farms in the northern village of Paris, was threatened with nearly $5,000 in fines for selling produce and crafts and throwing unlicensed events, including a birthday party for her best friend's child. She told FoxNews.com she wasn't doing anything farmers haven't done for generations, and at a recent zoning board meeting, her agrarian friends literally showed up with pitchforks to express their support."

The wealthy also serve: "Wealthy individuals do not bury their money in their backyards. Savings become the capital that powers new business ventures. A maximum income punishes those most likely to invest savings in new business ventures, limiting job creation."

Obama is breaking the law: "As I’ve noted before, the Obama administration violated the text, structure, and purpose of the 1996 welfare reform law, in claiming the authority to waive its work requirements, which were specifically designed not to be waivable, in its July 12 HHS memorandum. (Contrary to the administration’s claims, that memo did indeed strike at the very heart of welfare reform.)"

When wage gaps are fair: "When I and my wife first got married, she worked shorter hours than I did, and used her additional time outside the workplace for activities like grocery shopping and preparing dinner. So there was nothing unfair about the fact that her employer paid her less than I was paid. I was getting the benefit of these activities, not her employer -- a benefit reflected in the fact that I paid most of the rent (while my wife did most of the family consumer spending, using financial contributions from me -- I reimbursed her for three-quarters of each grocery bill)."

Unbalanced Violence Against Women Act: "Since its beginning in 1994, VAWA has been beset by a host of problems. Although some 286 studies from the mid-70s to the present show women to be as violent in their intimate relationships as men or more so, VAWA funding goes overwhelmingly to services for female victims and male perpetrators. Less than 2% goes to help male victims or treat female perpetrators. As with most government largess, VAWA’s suffers from being misspent."


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


15 August, 2012

Paul Ryan and what his nomination means

It means the Democrats are facing a strong ticket with the announcement of Ryan as the VP nominee. It also finally focuses the ticket where most Americans want it focused – the budget, the size of government, the economy and jobs.

For Mitt Romney the selection of Paul Ryan is about as strong a choice as he could have made. Ryan has an intricate knowledge of the budget and budget process in Congress. That will be a critical skill in the next four years for an administration to have. In effect, Ryan will become the defacto administration budget expert (dare we say “czar”) for the Romney administration and give that administration a level of expertise unknown to most past administrations.

Romney is a “turn around” guy. He knows how to turn ailing businesses and the like around. The combination of Ryan and Romney is and should be compelling to most Americans.

For critics of Romney’s “conservatism”, the addition of Ryan should cool their angst and shore up the conservative base. Ryan is more of a Tea Party conservative (i.e. fixed on fiscal conservatism rather than social conservatism) but that is the sort of conservatism which is going to attract the most non affiliated voters.

Our fiscal house is broken and in bad need of repair. This is a team with all the credentials to do that, or at least begin a positive effort to do that (I doubt that it can be fixed in 4 years, but a lot of progress can be made in that time).

And, of course, that means trouble for the Obama administration, whose record is anything but compelling and whose leadership has been anything but inspiring. Ryan, therefore, must be “destroyed” in a political sense. So in the name of “vetting” – something that was never really done for our present president — we will see all sorts of wild stories and opinions flying around concerning the new VP pick.

I’m not sure any of that will matter much though. Why?

Well, there are indicators seem to be pointing out a momentum shift that polls aren’t showing yet (we discuss that on the podcast). A half-full fundraiser for Obama in his home town of Chicago vs an enthusiastic crowd who packed a Romney/Ryan rally at a furniture store in North Carolina. Or the turnout at this event:
Earlier in the day, Romney and Ryan campaigned at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C. The Hickory Daily Record reported that the two were “greeted by thousands.” A Romney campaign official told TheDC that an estimated 4,700 people showed up, with 1,700 people inside the event and 3,000 outside.

If the Obama campaign isn’t worried, then they are even more insulated from reality than I thought.

Fundraising is another indicator that all is not well in Obamaland. Romney, even without Ryan as the VP pick, has been consistently bringing in more campaign donations. And not by a little. He’s been crushing the Obama effort. That may be the truest indication to this point of how far the Obama brand has fallen. Donors don’t like to back losers. Indications are that the choice of Ryan will only exacerbate that problem for Obama.

So Paul Ryan means even more trouble for an already troubled Obama campaign.

What should we expect, then? A full-court press by the left and as dirty a campaign as you’ve ever witnessed. The Obama campaign and its media surrogates and pundits are going to be in attack mode from now on. In fact, just peruse some of the stuff already out there today. Expect it to get worse. The “Palin treatment” is called for because … because it worked the last time. I would guess, however, that Ryan may be equal to the task ahead and perhaps turn that treatment back on those who attempt to apply it.



Revisiting the DHS Smear of the Tea Party Movement

Michelle Malkin

In the wake of the horrific Sikh temple shootings in Wisconsin, left-wing barrel-scrapers are demanding that talk-radio giant Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives apologize for criticizing a 2009 Department of Homeland Security report that hyped an ominous new wave of violent "rightwing extremism." I don't apologize. I call foul.

The media lowlifes who exploit every tragic shooting to silence their law-abiding, First Amendment-exercising enemies are tearing this country apart. "Progressives" have had free rein to libel and slander peaceful, liberty-loving citizens -- while whitewashing the violent plots and criminal behavior of their ideological counterparts. No more.

Wade Michael Page was a chronically unemployed Army washout with a drinking problem; a body covered in abhorrent white supremacist tattoos; Neo-Nazi band membership; a recent breakup with his white supremacist girlfriend; and a military discharge under "other than honorable conditions" that suggests to several psychological experts he may have had a disqualifying mental illness.

He was, in short, an unrepentant racist and sicko for whom no decent Americans have sympathy or tolerance.

Before he turned the gun on himself, Page slaughtered six innocent human beings. But instead of mourning their deaths and decrying evil in all its forms, some vultures chose to indict the entire right. Instead of waiting for all the facts to come out about Page's life and mental history, political opportunists rifled through their drawer of partisan grievances to score points.

They are using the Sikh temple massacre to try to delegitimize perfectly legitimate criticism of the Obama administration's 2009 Department of Homeland Security report lumping in homicidal extremists like Page with ordinary activists who embrace the very principles of limited government espoused by our Founding Fathers.

On Thursday, Los Angeles Times reporter James Rainey promoted a smug article titled, "Sorry, Mr. Limbaugh, but Obama agency did not target tea party." Rainey, who describes himself as having "spent many of his 30 years in journalism cogitating on politics," blamed Limbaugh, Rep. John Boehner and yours truly for "prevent(ing) tracking of home-grown crackpots."

The DHS assessments, Rainey claimed, "were carefully couched as trends to beware of, directed not at everyday political activists but at those who planned to use violence to carry out their beliefs."

Sorry, Los Angeles Times. But your cogitating reporter misreported what was in those assessments and why conservatives successfully protested them. The politically timed documents were released just as thousands of peaceful, law-abiding Tea Party members were preparing the nationwide April 15 Tax Day Tea Party protests. DHS's overbroad report didn't just target those prone to violence with "carefully couched" language

No, Los Angeles Times. The feds engaged in scare-mongering about unnamed groups and individuals "antagonistic toward the new presidential administration" and "those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely." Code words for the stimulus-opposing, bailout-protesting Tea Party movement. Duh. For good measure, the report tossed in vague references to pro-lifers, Second Amendment activists and border security advocates, too.

As I noted at the time, past FBI reports on domestic terrorism have always been very specific in identifying the exact groups, causes and targets -- i.e., the Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, and enviro-wackos who have engaged in physical harassment, arson, vandalism and worse against pharmaceutical companies, farms, labs and university researchers.

By contrast, the 2009 report was a sweeping indictment of conservatives. The report warned that unspecified "rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy." Conservative blogosphere? Guilty! And the entire report asserted with no evidence that an unquantified "resurgence in rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization activity" was due to home foreclosures, job losses and "the historical presidential election." To the extent that the DHS assessments mentioned military service members, they focused on Army veterans returning from war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rainey and his ilk blithely glide over the fact that Page was an Army dropout who never saw combat.

No matter. Liberal commentators have convicted GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the entire conservative talk-radio world for Page's murderous rampage. On the dregs of cable TV news, MSNBC's Ed Schultz invoked our criticism of the 2009 report to try to shame and blame Righty.

Meanwhile, these ghouls remain radio-silent about actual domestic terror plots tied directly to the Democratic Party-embraced Occupy movement. Take the ring of self-identified Occupy leaders, members and anarchist organizers in Cleveland, Ohio, charged with plotting to bomb bridges in Ohio and kill potentially hundreds in order to sabotage local business and commerce. One pleaded guilty last month and will testify against the other four -- who attempted to detonate what they thought was an improvised explosive device intended to blow up a local bridge and take the lives of untold commuters across the Cuyahoga River. Media apologists have gone out of their way to minimize the severity of the plot and to enable Occupy organizers to distance themselves from their violent anarchist members.

In the warped world of James Rainey, MSNBC Neanderthals and George Soros operatives, every conservative is a rightwing terrorist. But there are no left-wing terrorists -- only misguided kids whose social justice agenda simply went awry. The bias reeks like an Occupy camp in the dog days of August.



The Left Continues To Ignore Rampant Voter ID Fraud, Says Photo ID Laws Are Racist

With the presidential election less than four months away, it's imperative that voters in November find the process as fair and accessible as possible. Several states have decided to enact the requirement of possessing a photo ID to help prevent the occurrence of voter fraud. Predictably, many on the Left are vocalizing their opposition to these measures, claiming that the elderly and minorities would not have the resources needed to acquire one, putting them at a distinct disadvantage.

This debate was accelerated to a higher level when Emily Schultheis of Politico opined that young voters and minorities will be grossly affected in swing states with these laws in tact. She points out that roughly 750,000 citizens in Pennsylvania do not have the necessary forms to acquire a photo ID card.

There is an implied notion here that individuals, specifically minorities, are not smart enough to figure out how to obtain proper identification. Liberals are notoriously known for claiming to be the champions of minority rights and equality, while invoking that the federal government must be the spokesperson for them because they are simply incapable of thinking on their own. What exactly is preventing young people and minorities from filling out forms needed to acquire a photo ID?

All Americans should reject this rhetoric. It is a common class warfare antic used by the Left to divulge attention from voter fraud and system inadequacies, and attempt to paint voter ID activists and advocates as racially motivated and bent on taking away votes from President Obama and other Democratic candidates.

The Left’s claim that voter identification affects turnout is preposterous. It’s a weak attempt to suggest that voters will be held back from voting for Obama due to stringent requirements, and not the simple fact that they are dismayed and dissatisfied with the president’s policies and the direction the U.S. economy is headed.

Schultheis referenced Attorney General Holder’s “poll tax” comparison when he spoke about voter ID laws at the NAACP convention earlier in July. It's rather ironic that the Attorney General expressed this divisive view with the NAACP, seeing as how the organization was just in hot water over corruption charges. Lessadolla Sowers, a Tunica County, MS NAACP Executive Committee member, was just sentenced to prison on 10 counts of illegally using absentee ballots.

Of course, the mainstream media doesn’t speak about this because it defeats the Left’s declaration that voter fraud doesn’t exist. They are counting on the fact that Americans will either be disillusioned, or turn a deaf ear to their cries of racism and injustice of those who are pleading for voting integrity. It is our duty and obligation to hold organizations like the NAACP accountable for trying to distort the voting process and tip the election results in favor of Democratic candidates.

But there are those who remain strong in leading the fight for voter integrity; Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True The Vote, a nonpartisan organization committed to combatting voter fraud nationwide, stated it best when she said, “Corruption, when not stopped at the polls, rises essentially unchecked to the highest offices in our nation. And it has to stop. If our elections aren’t truly fair, we aren’t truly free.”



The unconstitutional TSA

Deep down, we all feel that the airport security system is an FDA-approved rubdown and radiation parlor. But we are busy, rushing to catch flights, and we tell ourselves it is for our “safety.” So, like sheep, we comply.

The TSA security process is in violation of the law of the land, specifically the Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Let’s be honest, when I “opt” for a pat-down over a blast of cancer-inducing radiation, it is not a choice—it is a preference for the lesser of two fixed evils. A pat- down is a clear violation of my “person;” there is no probable cause warranting random government agents to feel me up for weapons.

The pat-down system also violates my right to be secure in my “papers and effects.” Every time I get a pat-down, my personal property is subject to theft. The TSA pat-down process does nothing to prevent an unconscionable person (going through the scanner) from taking advantage of the fact that I’m helplessly standing behind waiting for a pat-down—unable to monitor my luggage.

Because, here is what normally happens: I inform the TSA agent, “I’m opting out.” The agent then calls for a “female assist” and asks me to step aside. I wait (occasionally up to 10 minutes) for a pat-down. Meanwhile my luggage—including my purse, iPhone, MacBook Pro and other valuables—travel the conveyer belt and idle on the other side of the X-ray machine where anyone could easily walk off with them.

On a recent flight out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, a female TSA agent (who was openly annoyed at the prospect of doing her job and giving me a pat-down while oddly assuming that I yearned for her to touch me) said: “Well, if you ask for one, we have to give you one. So, are you just doing this for the free massage we give you?” I wanted to respond: “No way, pervert.” But, since I wanted to make my flight, I replied: “No. I just don’t want the radiation.”




The moronic TSA: "If airports had barn doors, TSA certainly would have closed the one in Newark, with great certitude and force, on Sunday. As it is, they simply shut down the entire airport, resulting in the delay of 65 flights and cancellation of another 100 -- after an unidentified suspicious woman had not only already boarded her flight in Newark, but had also already landed at her destination."

Israel: Ayon asks regimes to say Iran talks have failed: "Amid intensifying Israeli news reports saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is close to ordering a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, his deputy foreign minister called Sunday for an international declaration that the diplomatic effort to halt Tehran’s enrichment of uranium is dead. Referring to the Iran negotiations led by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, the minister, Danny Ayalon, told Israel Radio that those nations should 'declare today that the talks have failed.'"


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 August, 2012

Some more observations about Ron Unz and IQ

There is an ongoing "debate" between Richard Lynn and Ron Unz regarding international variations in IQ. Although he is the publisher of "The American Conservative", Unz takes the classic Leftist view that low IQ is caused by poverty, although he does make the concession that "some residual European IQ differences might indeed be due to genetics rather than environment".

Poverty is the cause of everything according to Leftists. They even blamed the 9/11 events on poverty until it finally penetrated their unseeing eyes that Bin Laden was in fact a billionaire.

Unz's article is replete with accusations that Lynn has acted in bad faith (though not in those words), which seems to me rather deplorable, though I was not too surprised by it. When Unz replied to my observations about crime and immigration, his comments were almost hilariously "ad hominem": He suggested that I was disqualified from commenting on such matters because I live in Australia!

Perhaps I can be rather Old Testament in the matter however by in turn accusing Unz of bad faith. In his desire to discredit Lynn's hypothesis of substantial genetic influence on IQ he cherrypicks his data heavily, as Sanders has pointed out at length. And it also seems to me that he rushes by the German data in great haste. I would think that the differences between the old East and West Germany should be a very good test of Unz's "poverty" hypothesis. After several generations of real poverty, East Germans were found to have average IQs that were about the same as West Germans -- even though West Germany was one of the world's most prosperous countries, one which made a "miraculous" economic recovery from WWII (the famous Wirtschaftswunder).

If poverty had no effect there, whence Unz's claim that poverty explains almost all IQ variation? Unz does not allude to the German results in his latest article but here is what he said in his earlier article:
Consider, for example, the results from Germany obtained prior to its 1991 reunification. Lynn and Vanhanen present four separate IQ studies from the former West Germany, all quite sizable, which indicate mean IQs in the range 99–107, with the oldest 1970 sample providing the low end of that range. Meanwhile, a 1967 sample of East German children produced a score of just 90, while two later East German studies in 1978 and 1984 came in at 97–99, much closer to the West German numbers.

These results seem anomalous from the perspective of strong genetic determinism for IQ. To a very good approximation, East Germans and West Germans are genetically indistinguishable, and an IQ gap as wide as 17 points between the two groups seems inexplicable, while the recorded rise in East German scores of 7–9 points in just half a generation seems even more difficult to explain.

Unz here cherrypicks again by seizing on the widest possible gap in the data rather than on the reasonably inferrable average. The 107 result is clearly an outlier and a West German mean of around 100 seems the best attested. And the convergence between the two later East German studies suggest that the 1967 East German finding was also an outlier. So we are left with an East German mean that is essentially undistinguishable from the West German mean.

Will Unz be defeated by that fact? Perhaps not. He leaves himself an "out" by saying "but East Germans hardly suffered from severe dietary deficiencies". So now it is not poverty that affects IQ but rather "severe dietary deficiencies". The goalposts have moved!

I don't know that it is really worth saying much more about Unz's merry journey through the data but I will briefly mention two other points: Unz consistently discounts the immigrant effect, the claim that immigrants are in various ways a superior subset of their parent population. Yet the USA seems a clear proof that such an effect exists. Herrnstein & Murray long ago showed that lower IQ goes with lower social class and the mass of immigrants to both Australia and America in the past were clearly from the lower strata of their host societies. To this day, upper class English accents are as rare in Australia as British regional accents are common. So average white IQs in both Australia and America should be lower than the average IQ in (say) Britain -- right?

But it isn't so. The average IQ in all three countries is essentially the same. The most readily apparent explanation for that convergence would seem to be the immigrant effect: The immigrants were a superior subset of the population from which they originated. And the way America has in various ways led and dominated the world at least since WWII would also seem to suggest that those immigrant genes were pretty good.

A final point in defence of Lynn. Unz says: "Finally, Lynn closes his rebuttal by repeating his boilerplate disclaimer that he has “never maintained that IQ is overwhelmingly determined by genetics,” although this seems to be his clear reasoning in every single particular example he discusses"

I suspect here that Unz is failing to see that Lynn has had two aims in his work: His main aim is to show that IQ is economically important and ascribing any origin to the differences observed is secondary to that aim. And that refusal to ascribe is what Lynn is doing when he makes modest claims for what he has shown. In science, however, once one question is answered, new questions arise and Lynn's demonstration of national differences in IQ does quite immediately lead to a question of how those IQ differences arise. And in rejecting Unz's "poverty" reasoning Lynn has moved on to the derivative question.

And even there, I think Unz is seeing only what he wants to see in Lynn's words. Lynn's denial of an "overwhelming" influence is perfectly consistent with around 100 years of IQ research. The normal finding from twin studies is that IQ is about two thirds genetically determined. Whether two thirds is "overwhelming", I leave others to judge but I submit that Unz has read more into Lynn's words than is there.

Prominent psychologist Steven Pinker also has some comments on Unz's dubious logic and in addition makes some useful points about the massive support for the heritability of IQ etc. He is far too cautious to endorse Lynn's position, however. To do so would be academic suicide -- JR


History will judge

I know that history is very poorly taught in the schools these days so at the risk of being tedious, the toon features Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and some emptyhead


Supreme Court Saved the Near Poor

Here's the most underreported story of the summer. When the Supreme Court ruled on the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) it inadvertently liberated millions of people who were going to be forced into Medicaid. Now they will have the opportunity to have private health insurance instead. What difference does that make? It could be the difference between life and death.

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report this week says there are 3 million such people. The actual number could be several times that size. But first things first.

Imagine that you are the head of a family of three, struggling to get by on an income, say, of $25,000 a year. You've signed up for your employer's health plan because you want your family to get good health care when they need it. But that takes a big bite out of your paycheck — $250 a month.

When you first heard about the president's health plan, you heard him say that if you like the plan you're in you can keep it. That was good news. You also believed the whole point of the reform was to help families like yours get health insurance if for some reason you had to seek insurance on your own.

Now get ready for some surprises. The first will be an announcement that in another year or so your employer's health plan will no longer be available to you. The reason: plain economics. People at your income level will qualify for as good or better health insurance in a new health insurance exchange. And almost all the premium will be paid for by the federal government. Most people like you would rather have higher wages than a health plan that duplicates what you can get almost for free, your employer will reason. So in order to compete for labor, your company will have to give prospective employees the compensation package they most want. And your employer will be right.

Then there will be a second surprise. Under the new rules, if you are eligible for Medicaid, you can't get private insurance in the exchange. Further the health reform law is designed to force the states to raise the income level for Medicaid. If your state complies, someone with your income will be eligible for Medicaid and you won't be allowed in the exchange!

Now if you were a resident alien, the rules are different. Since they don't generally qualify for Medicaid, immigrant families at your income level can get subsidized private insurance in the exchange. But alas, you're a citizen. So this option isn't open to you.

Now let's say you are under the impression that Medicaid is second rate insurance and you remember that your employer promised to pay more in wages once your health benefit is gone. What about using the higher wages from your employer to buy private insurance outside the exchange?

Now get ready for the third surprise. There isn't going to be any market for private insurance outside the exchange — at least not for you. The insurance companies are going away. The brokers are going away. The market is going way.

Now for the final surprise. The only option open to you under the Affordable Care Act is Medicaid! Why should you care? Because your initial impression is correct. Medicaid is second rate insurance.

In most places Medicaid patients have a terrible time finding doctors who will see them and facilities that will admit them. That's why so many of them turn to community health centers and the emergency rooms of safety net hospitals for basic medical care. Medicaid enrollees turn to emergency rooms for their care twice as often as the privately insured and even the uninsured. In fact, if you're trying to get a primary care appointment, it appears your chances are better if you say you are uninsured.

Study after study has found that patients on Medicaid have worse outcomes than patients with private insurance. With respect to cancer care, outcomes are much better if you have private insurance, but there does not seem to be much difference between Medicaid and being uninsured. Health blogger Avik Roy summarizes other studies that find that Medicaid patients do no better and sometimes worse than the uninsured. Additional evidence is supplied by Scott Gottlieb.

But now a rescuer has appeared on the scene. The US Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government can't force the states to expand their Medicaid programs. If your state doesn't, then you can enter the exchange and get private health insurance after all. Right? Maybe.

Here is where is gets little bit tricky, owing to the bizarre structure of ObamaCare. The new health law is trying to get the states to expand Medicaid eligibility to 138% of the federal poverty level ($15,415 for an individual or $26,344 for a family of three). But let's suppose that, thanks to the Supreme Court, a state doesn't do anything. It turns out that only people who are between 100% and 138% of poverty can then go into the exchange and get private insurance.

However, if you are at, say, 90% of the federal poverty level and not eligible for Medicaid, then you will not be allowed into the exchange. You will be in a sort of "no-man's-land" donut hole. And the only way out will be for you to somehow earn more income. Or, lie about it. This may be one of the very few instances where people will find it their self-interest to tell the IRS their income is higher than it really is!

According to the CBO about two-thirds of the states will not expand eligibility above 100% of the federal poverty level. That's why 3 million citizens will be liberated and will get private insurance instead. Moreover, the subsides in the exchange are incredibly generous. The most the family has to pay is 2% of their income. In the example above, you would pay $500 for an insurance plan that could be worth as much as $15,000!

Further, the private plans in the exchange will pay providers about 50% higher fees that the rock bottom payments they would have gotten from Medicaid. This will be a huge relief for safety net facilities that are scraping by on inadequate resources as it is. And it's a reason why the CBO may have underestimated how many states will find this option very attractive.

ObamaCare is still a Rube Goldberg contraption that desperately needs repealing and replacing. But in the interim, the Supreme Court has done a lot of families a big favor.



Ten Fallacious Conclusions in the Dominant Ideology’s Political Economy

The dominant ideology does much to shape people’s views about what is happening in social affairs, why it is happening, and what if anything ought to be done about it. Ideology exerts its force in large part through what we might call its power of predisposition, that is, its default conclusions that, on examination, amount to little more than leaps of faith.

For the past century in the United States of America, the dominant ideology has been progressivism. This belief system has not been static, of course, and its specific elements, emphases, and outlooks have changed substantially since the early twentieth century. For example, whereas the early progressives were generally racist, hard imperialist, and eugenicist, today’s are generally multiculturalist, soft imperialist, and more inclined to favor killing off the human race (to save the environment) than to improve it by eliminating the biologically “inferior” people.

Nevertheless, through all its emotional and intellectual ups and downs, progressivism has retained one central element: its abiding faith that the state can and should act vigorously on as many fronts as possible to improve society both here and abroad.

An economist notes in particular that progressive ideology now embraces the following default conclusions:

* If a social or economic problem seems to exist, the state should impose regulation to remedy it.

* If regulation has already been imposed, it should be made more expansive and severe.

* If an economic recession occurs, the state should adopt “stimulus” programs by actively employing the state’s fiscal and monetary powers.

* If the recession persists despite the state’s adoption of “stimulus” programs, the state should increase the size of these programs.

* If long-term economic growth seems to be too slow to satisfy powerful people’s standard of performance, the state should intervene to accelerate the rate of growth by making “investments” in infrastructure, health, education, and technological advance.

* If the state was already making such “investments,” it should make even more of them.

* Taxes on “the rich” should be increased during a recession, to reduce the government’s budget deficit.

* Taxes on “the rich” should also be increased during a business expansion, to ensure that they pay their “fair share” (that is, the great bulk) of total taxes and to reduce the government’s budget deficit.

* If progressives perceive a “market failure” of any kind, the state should intervene in whatever way promises to create Nirvana.

* If Nirvana has not resulted from past and current interventions, the state should increase its intervention until Nirvana is reached.

The foregoing progressive predispositions, and others too numerous to state here, provide the foundation on which the state justifies its current actions and its proposals for acting even more expansively. Progressives see no situation in which the best course of action requires that the government retrench or admit that it can do nothing constructive to help matters. They see the state as well-intentioned, sufficiently capable, and properly motivated to fix any social and economic problem whatsoever if only the public allows it to do so and bears the costs.

It follows that progressives desire a change in the state’s size, scope, and power in only one direction, regardless of past and present conditions and regardless of whether previous attempts to implement progressive panaceas have succeeded or failed—indeed, if honestly assessed, virtually all of them have failed, on balance. Progressive faith in the state, however, springs eternal.

It is a great misfortune for modern Western countries, and many others as well, that serious challenges to this currently dominant ideology do not exist. The political parties compete for office, each seeking to direct more of the state’s plunder to its supporters, but the ideological differences between the competing parties is almost entirely superficial. All politically potent parties believe in a powerful, pervasively engaged state. They differ only in regard to which specific individuals should steer the Leviathan.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 August, 2012

Obama's Progress

Paul Kengor

Try to define progressivism. In fact, ask progressives to try to define progressivism . All we really know is that they’re, well, progressing. They and their ideas and their politics are always changing, evolving. This means that what they believe and hold fast and dear today may not be what they believe and hold fast and dear tomorrow, or decades or a century from now.

For instance, when progressive heroine Margaret Sanger started her American Birth Control League a century ago, she was seeking birth control for, among other purposes, what she and fellow progressives termed “race improvement.” She hoped to expunge the gene pool of what she termed "human weeds," “morons,” and “imbeciles.” She repudiated abortion, calling it “an alternative that I cannot too strongly condemn … the practice of it merely for limitation of offspring is dangerous and vicious.” She clarified in no uncertain terms: “some ill-informed persons have the notion that when we speak of birth control we include abortion as a method. We certainly do not.”

Today, Sanger’s American Birth Control League is Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider. Progressives have not only progressed to that level but also to the point where they demand full taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and birth control and abortion drugs. Most amazing, those who disagree are castigated as Neanderthals favoring a “war on women.”

How did we suddenly progress to this latest stage?

That’s a long answer with a lot of factors, but we cannot disregard the huge impact of the latest influence: President Obama. If you would have told me five years ago that the president of the United States, by executive fiat, would force all Americans—including all religious organizations—to fund sterilization services and abortion drugs, I would have at least taken solace in one thing: my liberal friends would surely respect my religious beliefs and insist their president was crossing the line.

Sorry, the opposite is true. With President Obama leading, millions of Democrats have willfully fallen in line. He is not bending, and neither are they. If we disagree with what they’re compelling us to do … that’s our fault. We have failed to progress to their understanding.

My pro-choice friends always promised they’d never force me to pay for their abortions. With Obama out front, that has changed. They simply hadn’t progressed there yet.

The same is true for gay marriage, where liberals—immediately after Obama’s statement on gay marriage to ABC a few months ago—are suddenly on fire for the cause, from blasting Chick-fil-A to, according to The New York Times, considering the unprecedented step of placing gay marriage in the Democratic Party platform. Consider liberals’ progression on this issue:

A half century ago, the concept of “gay marriage” would have been unthinkable to any Democrat. Currently, I’m being frequently asked about parallels in thinking between Obama and his mentor, Frank Marshall Davis . There are striking similarities when it comes to their words on Wall Street, the rich, tax cuts, wealth redistribution, universal healthcare. I’m often asked if Davis’ writings indicated support for gay marriage and abortion. Are you kidding? Anyone who might have voiced public support for those things back then, Democrat or Republican or radical, would have been hauled off to an asylum as a public menace.

Just 20 years ago, the previous Democratic president, Bill Clinton, supported the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as strictly between a man and a woman.

While support for gay marriage has increased since then, what the progressive movement needed was a front man to light the fuse and take the lead. They got it big-time from President Obama. Just like that, the entire public debate has changed, with gay-marriage advocates on the offensive and opponents on the defensive. Those opposing the unwavering norm since the dawn of humanity, following the billions before us—what Chesterton called the “Democracy of the Dead” —are suddenly framed as extremists who must explain ourselves. And CEOs of companies who voice a mere opinion to the contrary—e.g., Chick-fil-A—are picketed, protested, banned, and attacked by the nation’s mayors for manufacturing everything from “hate thoughts” to “hate chicken.”

Progressivism. No one can see where it will end up, but we can see how it unfolds. In this latest manifestation—call it President Obama’s progress—it compels all of us to acquiesce on gay marriage and abortion. Obama didn’t begin the push, but, in only four years, he has advanced the progressive project by leaps and bounds, a stunning surge that doesn’t happen without him.

In 2008, Barack Obama promised fundamental, transformational change—and now, thanks to the American electorate, we’re getting it.



Obama’s War on Family Business

One of the aspects of President Obama’s worldview that has drawn consistent fire is his evident hostility toward business. His comments in Roanoke, Virginia three weeks ago (“If you have a business, you didn’t build that”) are just the most recent in a long history of shameful displays of ignorance about the way a business is launched, how it is grown, and what makes it successful.

In his speeches, Obama tends to praise businesses only as a lead-in to calling for higher taxes on them. The President likes to attach a taint to the word “business,” as if every enterprise were Enron and every founder was Scrooge McDuck, hording piles of gold in his basement. This convenient dodge feeds a vague but satisfying resentment in some of Obama’s core constituencies toward big, faceless, evil “multinational corporations,” which are easy to hate.

But the reality about business in America is quite different, and those who understand this most keenly are those who have started businesses – and the family members who have supported them. They know firsthand that Obama’s attacks on business in general translate to a war on family business in particular.

Few people realize just how predominant family business is in the United States. So some statistics (available from the Census and the U.S. Small Business Administration) are instructive.

First, most businesses in the U.S. are not large. Over 78% of all businesses (21M out of 27M) in the United States are “non-employer” firms, meaning that they report no payroll. In other words, they are either partnerships or sole proprietorships. In fact, the vast majority (it varies from year to year, but typically around 70%) of all businesses are run as sole proprietorships.

Of the remaining 6+ million “employer firms,” nearly 90% employ fewer than 20 people. 1.3 million of these companies gross less than $100,000 each year. 3.7 million have gross receipts of less than $500,000 a year. 4.6 million – or 76% - of all “employer firms” in the United States gross under a million dollars each year.

In other words, most business in the United States is small business.

It is important to consider these data when Obama calls for higher taxes on people making more than $250,000, lumping them with “millionaires and billionaires.” Since most small businesses operate as sole proprietorships, this means that the business doesn’t pay the taxes (as a corporation would); the individual owner pays all of the taxes on the business’ income. And while some might think that $250,000 would be a cushy salary for one person, a business generating $250,000 in gross receipts is a VERY small enterprise indeed. From this amount must come state and federal income taxes, property taxes, rent or mortgage payments, insurance, salaries, benefits, unemployment and workers compensation payments, and more.

Furthermore, 80 – 90% of all businesses in the U.S. are family-owned – including 35% of all Fortune 500 companies. Family-owned businesses are responsible for 50% of all GDP in the U.S., 60% of all U.S. employment, and 65% of all wages paid in the U.S.

Family-run businesses also have a more personal investment in their employees and in their communities. According to Anne Kincaid of Family Enterprise USA, family businesses have far less leadership turnover than shareholder-owned companies, and are less likely to let employees go, even in tough times.

One would think, therefore – particularly in a struggling economy – that the President of the United States would want to encourage the creation of businesses, laud those who take the personal financial risks to start them, and use power of the presidency to minimize the burdens government can impose.

To the contrary, the policies advocated by this president are crippling to business. Just a few examples:
1. Taxes. As noted above, taxing businesses grossing between $250,000 and $1 million a year hits a disproportionate number of the sole proprietorships and small family businesses we desperately need to expand and hire more people. It also discourages prospective entrepreneurs. Then there is his “Buffet rule” tax proposal and his insistence upon raising the capital gains rate. The former is just silly posturing. The latter will negatively affect investment – which, of course, will mean that small businesses have a harder time becoming larger ones.

2. Obamacare. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be ungodly expensive, and many small businesses – read family businesses – are not going to be able to afford to insure their current employees, much less hire new ones. Family Enterprise USA reports that 61% of the family firms they surveyed believe that the new law will make it harder, not easier, to pay for employee health care.

3. The HHS mandate. Having to provide what Obamacare considers to be appropriate insurance coverage is already burdensome. But the Obama administration has made this worse by insisting that all employers pay for sterilization and contraception – including abortifacient contraception. Catholic and other Christian universities and hospitals have filed lawsuits to contest the enforcement of this mandate, arguing that it compels them to violate the core teachings of their religious beliefs. But many family businesses are run by individuals who share those same beliefs, and they, too, are threatened by the HHS mandate. Already, at least one family business has sued – successfully. Others have followed. These are laudable developments. But most family businesses cannot afford the expense of a lawsuit in federal court.

4. The constant calls for reduction of the charitable deduction. President Obama has now tried five separate times to reduce the amount of the charitable deduction. This is inscrutable. The average family firm donates $50,000 to charities and philanthropic causes – most, locally for maximum impact. Larger companies donate much, much more.

(Sidenote: since Obama is so keen to yank America toward European-style socialism, he might want to read The Economist’s story from last week, blaming European government policies for the dismal lack of entrepreneurship and economic growth there.)

In light of these events, it is not surprising that the Roanoke speech has become the negative tagline for the Obama presidency. Every family with an entrepreneur in it knows that the business founder didn’t do it on his or her own; spouses and children also make substantial sacrifices to help launch a business, grow it, make it successful and keep it that way. Families in business also know how difficult government makes it.

The Roanoke speech is also the gift that keeps on giving to Mitt Romney. The president’s antipathy to business is affecting his reelection campaign. Donors had already been fleeing Obama in droves – including Democrats who are now supporting Romney. The result is nearly unthinkable to Democrat strategists: Romney is actually outpacing Obama in fundraising, and by a substantial margin.

No wonder. While it might be understandable that those who don’t own a business might vote for Obama the second time around, it is inexplicable that anyone who does – or wants to -- would. And that is a lot of people.



Fear and Shame on the Campaign Trail

Anyone who doubts the enduring power of the mainstream media need look no further than the rise in Romney’s unfavorables in a recent Pew Poll. Yes, this poll is likely skewed, but the percentages are too extreme to escape the conclusion that a large number of Americans do not find Mitt “Mr. Nice Guy.” (I met him and thought he was perfectly okay — but what do I know?) Obama, on the other hand, is still considered a swell fellow.

All this although the economy has been a disaster throughout his presidency and, for the last year, probably more, he has seemed a petulant prig when confronted with the slightest criticism. Not an attractive trait.

You would think under those conditions those poll numbers would be reversed and the election polls themselves would show Romney with a gigantic lead, but no. Like a nation of ostriches, huge portions of the American public have swallowed the media/Axelrod line that Mitt Romney is a rich self-interested capitalist out of touch with the masses, whoever they are and whatever that means(it doesn’t matter as long as they vote for Obama), hell-bent on robbing from the poor to give to the rich like a reverse Robin Hood.

In other words, a large portion of the American public has effectively been brainwashed. And the brainwashers are the Democratic Party and the mainstream media. The former is quite understandable since political parties cling to power by virtually any means when threatened. But for the media it’s another matter. Why do these people persist in their views in a situation where, objectively, almost any corporation or business would have been looking for new leadership long ago? Why are they so destructive to our society and ultimately to themselves? Don’t they have children and grandchildren?

Many explanations exist for this seeming blindness; among them, and not to be ignored, is good old-fashioned habit. But I would suggest, having lived among them, particularly the Hollywood variety, for decades, two other components: fear and shame (and, yes, loathing, to extend the Hunter Thompson analogy).

But fear first and foremost.

It seems counterintuitive, but journalists are some of the most risk-averse people around. Few of them are really entrepreneurs. Despite bohemian veneers, they have little daring. They work for somebody and that somebody calls the tune. “Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one,” as the great A. J. Liebling reminded us many years ago.

Journalists fear for their jobs and their jobs are increasingly precarious. If they change their opinions, even investigate the possibility that the other side might have some reasons, quite often they are out the door. So not only do they toe the line, they are disinclined even to consider alternatives in their minds, consciously or unconsciously, because those alternatives are dangerous to their livelihood.

And now for shame. Despite what many may choose to think, journalists are not stupid. They are at least relatively educated. They have seen the same things we all have and know that the economy (the very heart of America) is failing. And they know deep down that they are responsible for some of it, because they bought and promoted Barack Obama as if he were a messiah without the slightest bit of vetting. Obama was anointed, not elected. To this day no one knows who he is, possibly even Obama himself.

And deep down these journos are embarrassed by this (who wouldn’t be?) but they can never never admit it. To do so would injure their self-image and self-respect to the level of personality disintegration.

So this shame is projected out in rage and, yes, loathing toward you, me, Mitt Romney, and anyone else who might deign to disagree with them. We are accused racists, homophobes, sexists, classists, any refugee of sixties group speak that might stick for ten minutes, even though they themselves are more likely to be those things. It is, after all, projection. Ideology is but a pretentious cover for rage.

So no wonder they behave as a shrill gang, banging metal drums like lost characters out of Gunter Grass, “Romney bad and rich! Romney bad and rich! Romney bad and rich!” ad tedium, ad nauseum, as if they were on David Axelrod’s payroll.

And in a sense they are. For to wander off the reservation is a road to penury. And who wants that now more than ever with the number of media jobs contracting?

Of course, the ones who are screwed by this song and dance are you and me — the American public. And no doubt some day the journalists themselves.

If Obama wins, they will rejoice on election day. But they will shortly be throwing up. In the words of Brillat-Savarin, “You are what you eat.” (Actually he said, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are” — a yet more delicious irony.)


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 old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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)


12 August, 2012

Liberal Bigotry

By Jerry Shenk

Regrettably, sadly, there's a history of religious bigotry in my family -- Germans on both sides -- some of whom continued to fight the Thirty Years War until their deaths. My maternal grandparents (long departed) never voted until 1960. They registered for the first time in order to vote against a Catholic for president. I thought the family's religious bigotry had died out with my grandparents, until a much younger, very liberal family member recently treated me to an apparently rehearsed, out-of-the-blue, shocking, gratuitous riff on Mitt Romney, and, more specifically, Mormons and Mormonism.

It was nasty, ugly stuff, containing no context other than Romney's imminent presumptive Republican nomination for the presidency, and the diatribe included no attempt to explain how Romney's LDS faith negatively informed or influenced him as the governor of Massachusetts, as founder and head of a very successful business, or as the manager who saved the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. One suspects that we will hear far more of this sort of thing as we approach November and the other campaign becomes less confident and more desperate.

It was a very disheartening experience. I'm conservative, so, naturally, liberal relatives consider me to be the close-minded, non-inclusive, intolerant one. They should be more introspective and far more objective.

For decades, the American left has aggressively attempted to redefine constitutionally enumerated rights to favor one or more groups over others. If the Declaration of Independence were to be rewritten by today's liberals, it might begin something like this:

American progressives hold these truths to be self-evident:

* All cultures and religions are equally meritorious (except for Christianity)

* There is no objective truth (until and unless progressives declare the truth)

* You cannot legislate morality (Therefore, everything is "moral" -- except Christian morality)

* Progressives celebrate diversity and are tolerant, inclusive, and accepting of all fellow humans (except conservative, white and Christian people)

* Progressives are intelligent, thoughtful, reality-based, and benevolent

Objective? Diverse? Inclusive? Thoughtful? Reality-based? Benevolent? Not really. Progressives -- liberals -- are the worst offenders of their own axioms when they talk about the "evils" of those who dispute liberal versions of facts, policy, or, especially, morality. The bigotry liberals direct toward those with whom they merely disagree is staggering.

Liberals believe in free speech, unless it offends someone's tender sensitivities (meaning only that liberals disagree with it). They protest the "wealthiest 1%," but exempt from their condemnations billionaire liberals and wealthy movie and rock stars, most of whom share the same ideology. Many liberals believe corporations -- and capitalism itself -- to be evil, even though the capitalist system and many of the corporations of which they disapprove have created the products and standard of living liberals enjoy.

But the American left reserves its ugliest bigotry for Christians. When liberals speak or write about practicing Christians, especially evangelical Christians and, in this presidential election year, Mormons, no slander is unacceptable and no religious custom is off-limits. America's most prominent liberal has condescendingly denigrated Christians as "bitter clingers" to guns and religion. Liberals have (seriously) asked: "Do All Evangelical Leaders Believe Gays Should Be Put to Death?" They worry about reports that evangelicals are voting in record numbers. And they invent scenarios which question whether religious convictions resonate in the political arena. Every Christian, of any age or gender, is fair game for liberal animosity -- or left-wing redefinition. Liberals bash Christians with impunity, because Christians are...well...Christian, and behave in a Christian manner from which liberals fear no reprisal. Ironic, huh? And opportunistic, too.

No one on the left would dare speak of Muslims the way they do about Christians. Doing so would violate the liberal orthodoxy of multiculturalism, but, more importantly, such behavior might invite retaliation from some in the Muslim community. Apparently, there is nothing like a savage history and a continuing, credible threat of violence to immunize a group from liberal animus, to focus the liberal mind, and to encourage liberals to attend to their own affairs. Muslim societies, even those relocated in Western nations, remain immune to liberal criticism despite traditional, institutional toleration of misogyny, honor killings, pederasty, brokered and arranged marriages of children, and genital mutilation, among other distasteful practices. One suspects that if Christians were to hack off a few heads in response to the treatment they receive from liberals, they'd face far less liberal hostility -- at least openly.

If anyone were to describe blacks, Latinos, and women using the same sort of ugly stereotypes that liberals use to characterize Christians, liberals would be, rightly, angry and offended. But so would be conservatives. The point of an identical reaction from their ideological opposites escapes the left, which reserves for itself, alone, the "moral authority" to detect, condemn, and punish the most minute, even imagined examples of racism and ethnic or gender slurs, but only those which target black, gay, Hispanic, and female victims who embrace liberal orthodoxy. Liberals do not consider black, gay, Hispanic, and female conservatives "authentic." Accordingly, these do not merit liberal concern. In fact, the perceived political apostasy of minority and female conservatives and Christians has made them liberal targets.

Sadly, liberals will not consider, much less accept, that their shabby treatment of Christians is as ugly, ignorant, and offensive as the behavior of those who resisted the integration of blacks into American society. Though they are frequently both, liberals do not see themselves as either hypocrites or bigots.

They're too busy muttering liberal platitudes and insisting that the people they demonize pick up the tab for their liberal "generosity."



Why America has so much wasteful litigation

But if Jefferson’s decimal coinage concept was a good idea that quickly spread around the world, another idea that developed here at that time was lousy: the so-called American Rule, whereby each side in a civil legal case pays its own court costs regardless of outcome. This was different from the English system where the loser has to pay the court costs of both sides.

The American Rule came about as what might be called a deadbeat’s relief act. The Treaty of Paris (which ended the American Revolution) stipulated that British creditors could sue in American courts in order to collect debts owed them by people who were now American citizens. To make it less likely that they would do so, state legislatures passed the American Rule. With the British merchant stuck paying his own court costs, he had little incentive to go to court unless the debt was considerable.

The American Rule was a relatively minor anomaly in our legal system until the mid-20th century. But since then, as lawyers’ ethics changed and they became much more active in seeking cases, the American Rule has proved an engine of litigation. For every malpractice case filed in 1960, for instance, 300 are filed today. In practice, the American Rule has become an open invitation, frequently accepted, to legal extortion: “Pay us $25,000 to go away or spend $250,000 to defend yourself successfully in court. Your choice.”

Trial lawyers defend the American Rule fiercely. They also make more political contributions, mostly to Democrats, than any other set of donors except labor unions. One of their main arguments for the status quo is that the vast number of lawsuits from which they profit so handsomely force doctors, manufacturers, and others to be more careful than they otherwise might be. Private lawsuits, these lawyers maintain, police the public marketplace by going after bad guys so the government doesn’t have to—a curious assertion, given that policing the marketplace has long been considered a quintessential function of government.

The reason for this is that when policing has been in private hands, self-interest and the public interest inevitably conflicted. The private armies of the Middle Ages all too often turned into bands of brigands or rebels. The naval privateers who flourished in the 16th to 18th centuries were also private citizens pursuing private gain while performing a public service by raiding an enemy’s commerce during wartime. In the War of 1812, for instance, American privateers pushed British insurance rates up to 30 percent of the value of ship and cargo. But when a war ended, privateers had a bad habit of turning into pirates or, after the War of 1812, into slavers.

Predictably, the American Rule has spread exactly nowhere since its inception at the same time as the decimal coinage system. There is not another country in the common-law world that uses it. Indeed, the only other country on the planet that has a version of the American Rule is Japan, where a very different legal system makes it extremely difficult to get into court at all.

The United States has more lawyers and more lawsuits, per capita, than any other country. But lawsuits don’t create wealth, they only transfer it from one party to another, with lawyers taking a big cut along the way. Few things would help the American economy more than ending the American Rule. Texas reformed its tort law system a few years ago and the results have been dramatic. Doctors have been moving into the state, not out of it, and malpractice insurance costs have fallen 25 percent. And remember, good ideas always spread.



The workers Obama shafted

While Team Obama promotes fables to indict Romney, the incontrovertible stories of the current administration's economic malpractice are finally getting out. In 2010, I first reported on how Obama's UAW bailout threw tens of thousands of nonunion autoworkers under the bus. It's the ongoing horror story of some 20,000 white-collar workers at Delphi, a leading auto parts company spun off from GM a decade ago.

As Washington rushed to nationalize the U.S. auto industry with $80 billion in taxpayer "rescue" funds and avoid contested court termination proceedings, the White House auto team and the Treasury Department schemed with Big Labor bosses to preserve UAW members' costly pension funds by shafting their nonunion counterparts.

In addition, the nonunion pensioners lost all of their health and life insurance benefits. The abused workers -- most from hard-hit northeast Ohio, Michigan and neighboring states -- had devoted decades of their lives as secretaries, technicians, engineers and sales employees at Delphi/GM. Some workers have watched up to 70 percent of their pensions vanish.

"I worked for 34 years at GM/Delphi Corp. When Delphi went bankrupt, we lost everything," Dana Strickland of Michigan wrote me. "Because I was salaried (middle management), we lost our pension and health insurance. I did not belong to the union, so GM/Delphi could have cared less. I have never felt so betrayed. We never hear this brought to the public's attention. People need to know how we were screwed, while the Obama administration kissed up to the union."

"I'm one of the Delphi Salaried Retirees that lost the health care, life insurance and 67 percent of the pension I was promised in retirement after working hard for 40 years," Charles Stone of Michigan e-mailed. "Words cannot describe the frustration and let down these events have thrust on my family's lives, and to have GM's rescue all sugar-coated in the current political environment is like putting lipstick on a pig. ... We will continue to fight to right this grievous wrong."

Tom Rose of Ohio added: "I am one of the 20,000 salaried retirees that lost all of my health care and -- in my case -- a 40 percent pension cut. So I am now paying increased health care costs with fewer pension dollars and contributing what is left to our lawsuit to correct this injustice. Meanwhile, the politically connected union has their full pension and 90-plus percent of their health care. You have hit upon the key question: How can our own federal government pick winners and losers amongst its own citizens?"

Through two costly years of litigation and investigation, the Delphi workers have exposed how the stacked White House Auto Task Force schemed with union bosses to "cherry pick" (one Obama official's own words) which financial obligations the new Government Motors company would assume and which they would abandon based on their political expedience. Obama's own former auto czar Steve Rattner admitted in his recent memoir that "attacking the union's sacred cow" could "jeopardize" the auto bailout deal.

In June, 20 months after a federal judge first ordered the government to cooperate, the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association broke through the administration's information stonewall and dislodged 62,000 pages of documents in their lawsuit to right the administration's wrongs. As The Daily Caller reported on Tuesday, the documents included "internal government emails (that contradicted) sworn testimony, in federal court and before Congress, given by several Obama administration figures. They also indicate that the administration misled lawmakers and the courts ... and that administration figures violated federal law."

Meanwhile, the Delphi workers who got shafted are getting in the faces of the administration and the public with a new web ad produced by conservative advocacy group Let Freedom Ring. They are asking, "Why, Mr. President? Why?" They -- and America -- deserve answers and justice, not more Bizarro World smears and fantastical bedtime stories.



Obama Regime Tries to Hide Its Funding of Racist La Raza

Liberals are never more sanctimonious than when denouncing “racism.” Yet the most explicitly racist organization imaginable — La Raza (The Race), which explicitly exists to advance the interests of Hispanics at everyone else’s expense — snuggles affectionately if sometimes secretively in bed with the ultra-liberal Obama Administration. Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch reports:
On July 18, 2012, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) seeking access to records detailing taxpayer-funded grants provided by the Centers for Disease Control to the National Council of La Raza (The National Council of “The Race”).

The lawsuit was necessary due to Obama’s vaunted “transparency”:
HHS acknowledged receiving our request on December 13, 2011, and was required by law to respond no later than January 26, 2012. However, as of the date of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, HHS has failed to respond in accordance with FOIA law.

La Raza’s agenda goes beyond granting ever more special perks to illegal aliens. It appears to share the more openly sinister MEChA’s aspiration of driving all non-Hispanics out of the Southwest and splitting it off from the United States.
Judicial Watch investigated a radical Mexican separatist school in Los Angeles, California, called Academia Semillas Del Pueblo. (You can read our report here.) And who did we find pumping good money after bad into this failing school? The National Council of La Raza, and another radical organization called M.E.Ch.A., or Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán or Chicano Student Movement of Aztlán. (Taxpayers also paid the tab to the tune of $1.6 million per year.)

This extremely unsavory organization receives taxpayer funds in part because it has friends at the very top of the dung heap.
Cecilia Muñoz previously served as Senior Vice President for the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation at the National Council of La Raza. So she was, in effect, a lobbyist for illegal aliens and their Mexican separatist friends. Because her appointment would have violated Barack Obama’s lobbyist ban, the president granted Muñoz an “ethics waiver” so she could join his administration as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. (Muñoz now serves as the Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.)

According to a Judicial Watch investigation, federal funding for the National Council of La Raza nearly tripled from $4.1 million to $11 million in FY 2010, the year Muñoz joined the Obama administration.

To the extent that La Raza advocates the foreign conquest of American territory, funneling our money into it constitutes treason. No wonder Obama won’t cough up the documents.

Don’t hold your breath waiting from his accomplices in the “mainstream” media to show any interest.



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


10 August, 2012

The blowhard speaks

Fails to push the one thing that would work: Ban gun-free zones

SPEAKING just miles from the scene of the Colorado movie theatre shooting, President Barack Obama said Americans needed "to put an end" to "senseless" violence that killed 12 in Aurora and six at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, although he offered no specific solutions.

"I think we can all acknowledge we've got to put an end to this kind of senseless violence," Obama told a campaign rally in Denver on Wednesday.

"Whether in Aurora, whether it's in Oak Creek, whether it's in Tucson, whether it's in cities all across America where too many lives are cut short because of senseless violence - this is going to have to stop," he said. "And as an American family, as one American family, we're going to have to come together and look at all the approaches that we can take to try to bring an end to it."

Since the back-to-back shootings, Obama has called for soul searching on the issue of violence, but made no forceful push for new laws. White House aides have noted that the president supports reinstating a ban on the sale of assault weapons but sees no sign that Congress is moving toward action.



“We Now Have Our Smallest Government in 45 Years”

Now Leftists are trying to define away the truth

That’s the absurd title to a blog post over at The Atlantic today. The writer claims that the U.S. government is now the smallest it’s been since LBJ was president. The article is making the rounds among leftists, who, against all reason and common sense, have managed to convince themselves that the US government is getting smaller.

The claim is based on a calculation of total government employment as a ratio of the total US population. Right off the bat we know that comparing these ratios from 1968 and today will be off. This is largely because in 1968, most people whose salaries were funded by taxpayer sweat actually worked for the government. There weren’t mercenaries shooting up foreigners back then, or an enormous government-funded non-profit sector or legions of “consultants” who are really just government employees making extra-large salaries.

On top of this is the fact that government size is not only measured in the number of government employees. Better measures would include the US prison population, or taxes paid, or pages of government regulations or the number of federal laws, or the number of people groped by TSA pedophiles. Needless to say, all of these things have exploded in recent decades. On top of that, you have the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on salt, fat, guns, raw milk, and a number of other things.

Yep, government sure is a shadow of its former self!

But, to make it simple, let’s just look at government spending. In 1968, the US government spent $883 dollars for every one of the 201 million Americans, or annual outlays totaling 178.1 billion. In 2011, the US government spent a whopping $11,493 for every one of the 313 million Americans for total outlays of 3.6 trillion. That’s an increase of 1,923 percent since 1968. The CPI over this period increased 545 percent, so we’re talking an enormous increase, even when adjusted for the official inflation rate.

We can also look at this another way. The amount of money taken from each American has increased almost 2,000 percent since 1968, which is more than triple the inflation rate.



The Rich Don’t Make Us Poor

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the need for the wealthy to “pay their fair share” so that the federal government can pay down its debts and continue to fund programs to provide basic human necessities for the poor, such as food, shelter, and prophylactics. Their argument is that the greedy rich have been stealing increasingly large percentages of the nation’s GDP, and have been hoarding their riches, rather than generously giving them to the federal government to be used for the common good. The only solution is to increase taxes on the rich, so that instead of letting billionaires covetously hold onto (and thus waste) their excess wealth, which they don’t really need, the government can take that cash and use it much more effectively, to give the rest of us free stuff. After all, it just isn’t fair that some Americans control billions of dollars’ worth of wealth, while others struggle to make ends meet.

Sounds plausible, right? Of course it does. Unfortunately for those who make a living out of inciting class warfare, it’s not true. There are a number of errors embedded in the above explanation of our nation’s woes, but let’s cut to the central one: the fallacy that there always has been and always will be a fixed amount of wealth in the world, and that wealth is merely shifted back and forth among people, but it is never really increased. Economists call this the “fixed pie” fallacy.

This is not a new fallacy. In fact, it’s been around for almost as long as economics has been a science. Let’s look at one relatively recent example: in his 1912 work The Servile State, English historian Hilaire Belloc presents his case against capitalism, arguing that by its very nature it is immoral. Belloc – who was not an economist – has become especially popular among some Catholics who decry capitalism as being antagonistic to Christian social and political virtues, and who pine for the idyllic days of subsistence farming and feudal lords. For many of these people, The Servile State is their only exposure to economic thought. This is a shame, because Belloc is a prime example of someone who fell for the fixed pie fallacy.

Belloc defines capitalism as a “society in which private property in land and capital, that is, the ownership and therefore the control of the means of production, is confined to some number of free citizens not large enough to determine the social mass of the state, while the rest have not such property and are therefore proletarian.” The definition Belloc offers is a sign of a deeper mistake on his part: the belief that economics is a stagnant business. His definition of capitalism paints a picture of the wealthy few hiding their money in mattresses, while the rest of us languish with no hope of ever acquiring wealth or living well.

I suppose there could be instances of that happening, but they certainly won’t continue for any sustained period of time. Think about it – if the wealthy hoard their money and don’t do anything with it, how do they support themselves? You don’t live well by having money; you live well by using money. In order to use it, you have to give it to someone else in exchange for goods or services that they give to you. Entrepreneurs get wealthy by using their resources to provide others with jobs. This increases their own well-being, as well as the lives of those they hire; both employer and employee benefit by being part of a useful business from which they can make a living. So the idea that the wealthy are able both to hoard their money and to live well, even affluently, is absurd.

Historical reality bears out the fact that in capitalism, people become rich by putting what capital they have to good, productive use, and that anyone, no matter how poor they start out, can become wealthy. Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, which leftists love to hate, and other venture capital groups risk their own money to provide small entrepreneurs with the means of jump-starting their companies, providing jobs both for those working in venture capital firms, and those employed by entrepreneurs.

Many famous entrepreneurs, such as Henry Ford, Sam Walton and James Cash Penney became fabulously wealthy not by hiding their money in a mattress, inheriting it, or cheating on their taxes, but by delaying gratification, providing workers with decent paying jobs, and putting in long hours for years, to build and maintain successful companies that serve their employees and their customers well. The historical reality of entrepreneurs gives the lie to two of Belloc’s assumptions: that the wealthy can maintain luxurious living standards by sitting on their wealth, and that capitalism prevents the poor from working their way up the economic ladder.

Sadly, it seems that many Americans, including the Occupy crowd and even our own President, are not aware of the unique and amazing power of entrepreneurship: the ability to use our resources and God-given talent to better the lives of those we work with and those we serve. Only when we as a nation remember that the phenomenon of money can be used in a dynamic way to participate as co-creators with God, will we begin to work our way out of the economic mess we are in.



The Chicago Way Works

By Victor Davis Hanson

If I were Romney, I would not count on the idea of class warfare, the so-called politics of personal destruction, and McCarthyite tactics not working, because they always have for Obama/Axelrod in the past — and seem to be in the last week.

In the last ten days Mitt Romney has been reduced by various Obama surrogates, through rumor, innuendo, and falsity, to a tax-avoiding cheat who “probably” never paid taxes for a decade, a near felon who lied on a federal form, and a veritable killer who in piratical fashion destroyed a cancer victim’s chance of getting medical attention — all untrue and yet all damaging, as the corrections are not even out before Obama goes on to the next new inaccurate charge. Obama is running a Robin Hood, class-warfare blitzkrieg, even though he knows that the upper income levels have never paid a higher share of the nation’s aggregate income-tax revenue, and bumping them up to 39 percent would only lower the deficit in minuscule ways, given the gargantuan spending since 2009 and the general absence of new revenue when unemployment is in its 41st consecutive month of more than 8 percent and we are now in our fourth $1 trillion-plus budget deficit.

None of this is new. The media favorite Obama eliminated all his Democratic rivals in his first election for the Illinois legislature by suing in court to invalidate their nomination petitions and ran unopposed in the primary. Obama demolished his U.S. Senate Democratic primary rival through leaked divorce records. He demolished his initial Republican rival through leaked divorce records. When he got through with Hillary Clinton, the liberal former first lady and U.S. senator had transmogrified into a prevaricating hack and veritable racist, as Bill Clinton lamented the race card being played. John McCain released his health records and his general dismal ranking at Annapolis, leading to a false narrative that he was naturally inattentive and reckless, and scarcely hale, while Obama released neither his medical nor his college records; as Sarah Palin — heretofore a reformist governor of Alaska who in bipartisan fashion had fought special interests — was reduced to a caricature of an uninformed poor (and trashy) mom. All of the above transpired while Barack Obama ran as a “reformer” and proponent of “civility,” who vowed to run a “transparent” campaign of full disclosure, and to leave the old “petty” and “gotcha” politics behind.



The Natural Map of the Middle East

Pat Buchanan

"Apart from political maps of mankind, there are natural maps of mankind. ... One of the first laws of political stability is to draw your political boundaries along the lines of the natural map of mankind." So wrote H.G. Wells in "What Is Coming: A Forecast of Things to Come After the War" in the year of Verdun and the Somme Offensive.

In redrawing the map of Europe, however, the statesmen of Versailles ignored Wells and parceled out Austrians, Hungarians, Germans and other nationalities to alien lands to divide, punish and weaken the defeated peoples.

So doing they set the table for a second world war.

The Middle East was sliced up along lines set down in the secret Sykes-Picot agreement. But with the Islamic awakening and Arab Spring toppling regimes, the natural map of the Middle East seems now to be asserting itself.

Sunni and Shia align with Sunni and Shia, as Protestants and Catholics did in 17th-century Europe. Ethiopia and Sudan split. Mali and Nigeria may be next. While world attention is focused on Aleppo and when Bashar Assad might fall, Syria itself may be about to disintegrate p.

In Syria's northeast, a Kurdish minority of 2 to 3 million with ethnic ties to Iraqi Kurdistan and 15 million Kurds in Turkey seems to be dissolving its ties to Damascus. A Kurdish nation carved out of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran would appear to be a casus belli for all four nations. Yet in any natural map of the world, there would be a Kurdistan.

The Sunni four-fifths of the Syrian population seems fated to rise and the Muslim Brotherhood to rule, as happened in Egypt. The fall of Assad and his Shia Alawite minority would be celebrated by the Sunni across the border in Iraq's Anbar province, who would then have a powerful new ally in any campaign to recapture Sunni lands lost to Iraqi Shia.

With its recent murderous attacks inside Iraq, al-Qaida seems to be instigating a new Sunni-Shia war to tear Iraq apart.

The fall of the Alawites in Damascus would end the dream of a Shia crescent -- Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah -- leave Hezbollah isolated, and conceivably lead to a renewal of Lebanon's sectarian and civil war.

The losers in all this? Certainly Iran, which seems fated to lose its only Arab ally, Syria, and its land link to Hezbollah.



An Extraordinary Record of Failure

Comment below by Dick McDonald

That is what Romney called our latest jobs report “An extraordinary record of failure” but the leftists at the New York Times buried his comment deep in the article below preferring to advance their liberal propaganda by hiding their own and Obama’s leftist policy failures by making the headline “Hiring picks up in July.” In turn the leftist media will assure Americans of that deception by peddling that sound bite while failing to mention that the underemployed and those who have given up looking rose to 15%.

The NYT even buried the followig comment in the last line of the article - “Nearly the entire reduction in unemployment since October 2009 has been accomplished through a significant drop in the percentage of adults participating in the labor force,” said Peter Morici, a professor in the business school at the University of Maryland – proof of an extraordinary record of failure.

But the so-called “Paper of Record” remains the main cheerleader of lies that Obama needs every morning to fool the uninvolved that his Sunday Morning Revival populism isn’t working and his demand-side Keynesian economics is a massive failure.

Yet the paper spits out the nonsense that what we need is more government stimulus such as spending taxpayer’s money on infrastructure and hiring more teachers. That didn’t work before but as Einstein said only a liar like the NYT would repeat insanity.

They admit the Federal Reserve has shot its wad but assure their leftist sympathizers that the Fed will come to the economy’s rescue. Of course this is more liberal smokescreen. You can read more of that below.
Hiring Picks Up in July, but Data Gives No Clear Signal

America added more jobs than expected last month, offering a pleasant surprise after many months of disappointing economic news. Even so, hiring was not strong enough to shrink the army of the unemployed in the slightest.

Employers added 163,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department reported on Friday. That was more than twice the job growth in the previous month, and substantially more than Wall Street analysts had forecast. The underlying details of the report, however, ranged from unimpressive to outright discouraging and provided plenty of fodder for Republican attacks on President Obama’s economic legacy.

The Obama administration, for its part, argued that Republican obstructionism to its economic policies was holding back the recovery.

July’s jobless rate ticked up slightly to 8.3 percent, about the same as it has been all year. A broader measure of unemployment — including part-time workers who want full-time jobs, and people who have given up looking for work — rose to 15 percent.



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


9 August, 2012

Typical Leftist deception

The truth is poisonous to them



No Mystery to Slow Growth: Progressives Are the Problem

The Big Picture Lesson of the 20th century was that capitalism works and socialism and communism don't. The rest of the world learned that lesson far better because they and their close neighbors suffered far more with the socialist and communist progeny of Saul Alinsky's first radical. But America should know better because it has enjoyed most the workers paradise of capitalism.

Yet those who call themselves Progressive, a polite, Americanized word for Marxist, refuse to accept that obvious conclusion. That is why our politics have become so nasty. The Progressives know they can't win a debate based on reason. So they turn to name calling, demonization, ostracism, anything to distract from and avoid a reasoned debate. Hence the widespread use of the term "dumbass" by pot smoking hippie Progressives in commenting on the reasoning of careful scholars that they disagree with, or the ubiquitous allegations that anyone who disagrees with them is lying, or bought off.

This reflects the despotic nature of the Progressive personality and philosophy. Progressives most fundamentally are certain that they are so much smarter than the rest of us, and that they are so much more moral than the rest of us. Because of that they are certain that they have the right to rule over the rest of us. It's a very anti-social attitude that the rest of us should not be expected to have to live with.

That is why they are not interested in reason. They are interested in power, for themselves, over the rest of us. In their view, they have the unquestionable right to rule, and the rest of us have the unquestionable duty to obey. The last time America was authoritatively subject to that attitude was under the reign of King George III. And, of course, you know what happened then (unless you are in public school).

That is why the Progressives are so fundamentally in rebellion against the U.S. Constitution. That governing framework was designed to preserve the rights and liberties of the people, and to restrain the powers of government and of self-appointed, supposedly benevolent despots. But if you are so sure you are so much smarter and more moral than everyone else, then the Constitution is an outdated, 18th century barrier to your imposition of your notion of the perfect society on everyone else. That is why for over 100 years now, so-called Progressivism has been an open conspiracy against the Constitution, and so at its root treason.

All of the supposed fevered passions of the Progressives are really just props to justify more control over more money and power for them. The Progressives claim they will take care of the poor, if only we will give control over the money and power to the Progressives. They are not really interested in economic growth and prosperity, which is the only real solution to poverty. That does not expand their power and control over the rest of us. They are interested in promoting dependency, which builds their political machine, and their power.

That dependency perpetuates rather than solves poverty is not a problem for the so-called Progressives. They are perfectly happy with that vote buying, long term, status quo, even if that is really no damn good for the poor. See, e.g, Medicaid, under which the poor suffer and die, because the government won't pay the doctors and hospitals enough to serve them.

Similarly, Progressives believe in Keynesian economics not because it works to promote economic recovery and growth. Borrowing a trillion dollars out of the private economy for the government to spend a trillion dollars back into it does nothing to promote economic recovery and growth on net. Obamanomics just proved that again.

Moreover, in a market economy there can be no such thing as inadequate demand, the central concern of Keynesian economics. That is because in a market, if demand is inadequate to sell the supply, prices just fall until supply equals demand.

But that logic and experience has no effect on Progressive devotion to Keynesian economics. That is because the real reason they are in favor of Keynesianism's proven nonsense is not really because they think it works, but because it justifies what they want, which is more government spending, deficits, and debt, as that means more power and control for government and the all wise Progressives guiding us to their promised land.

The same can be said about the hoax of global warming, a greater scandal of science in the end than Lysenkoism. Carbon dioxide is a trace gas natural to the environment and essential to all life on the planet. There is no sound science demonstrating that it controls the climate, much less that the return closer to historic levels of CO2 in the atmosphere threatens catastrophic global warming. See the thorough scientific explanation that the pattern of global temperatures throughout the 20th century to today is dominantly controlled by natural causes definitively demonstrated in the more than 1,000 pages of the Heartland Institute's Climate Change Reconsidered, published in 2010, and the succeeding Interim Report, published in 2011. This is why advocates of catastrophic, anthropogenic, global warming effectively admit that they cannot defend their claims in public debate.

But science has nothing to do with the belief of Progressives in the theory of man caused, catastrophic, global warming. Progressives worship it because again it means more power and control for governments the world over, from local governments, to national governments, to ultimately world government, which again means more power and control for Progressives to rule us in accordance with their benighted vision of the perfect world.

The greatest Progressive passion of all is supposed to be equality. That is not the classic liberal concept of equality under the law, or equal rules for everyone, which protects and maximizes individual liberty. It is the totalitarian concept of equality of results, which requires the abnegation of personal liberty to enforce.

A regime of equal incomes and equal wealth for all leads not only the more productive to flee the regime, but anyone who does not want to live in an economically stagnant, poor society. That is the result because under a regime of equal incomes and wealth for all, there are no grounds for any capital investment at all, the foundation of economic growth and prosperity. That is because capital investment and wealth increases the income and wealth of the investor, and so would have to be confiscated to enforce equal incomes and wealth, leaving no basis for anyone to pursue any such capital investment.

Moreover, under such a regime, there are no grounds for any work either. That is because if you work more than average, the extra income that would result would have to be confiscated as well. But if you work less than average, the government would pay you out of what is confiscated from the more productive to restore your income to the average. Consequently, there is no reason for anyone to work at all, because all would be paid the same as anyone else in any event.

This is where the Berlin Wall came from. But so-called, progressive, social justice equality requires even more egregious transgressions in personal and individual liberty. It would require reversing all the voluntary transactions in a free society that result in unequal incomes and wealth.

These are the reasons why social justice equality is the ultimate for supposed Progressives. It requires the reversal of all the preferences and choices of the common man, in favor of the vision of the all wise Progressives.

This all adds up to the conclusion logically that Progressivism is not just wrong, but evil, as it involves the assertion of despotism over the liberties of common men and women, and abnegation of their personal prosperity, as it has all over the world wherever Progressivism has been taken to its logical conclusion.

This is why as long as free elections are maintained, common men and women will always throw off the yoke of Progressivism. But this time, once the people are truly liberated, those who are certain that they are smarter and more moral than the rest of us must be empowered to exercise that superiority to the fullest, among themselves, through some form of separation from the rest of us.

But will free elections be maintained? Or how far down will America fall?



The Week in Liberal Stupid

Every attempt to find the dumbest thing in liberal world this week just led to another, and another, each dumber than the last. Picking just one to rant about became a task of epic proportions, so two of them it is. In no particular order…

A Chicken

The name Adam Smith has a storied history, particularly in economics. Now, that name has a smudge on it thanks to Adam Smith of Arizona. This Mr. Smith became infamous on Wednesday for his uncontrollable hatred for anyone who might disagree with him on the issue of gay marriage. That’s fine. Far be it from me to attempt to deny him that which he seeks to deny others – the right to their opinion. But, in this reality TV/YouTube age where nothing is worth unless the world sees it, Smith decided everyone on Earth needed to see just how enlightened he is, so he filmed his “activism.”

What he thought would be seen as a triumphant moment for progressives ended up being what it was – a middle-aged man misdirecting his irrational anger over a difference of opinion towards a teenager simply trying to make a buck at her local fast-food restaurant. Anyone watching it could see how disgraceful it was…except Adam Smith, who had to have watched it before he uploaded it to the Web.

Within a day, the controversy had blown up. Smith got what he was seemingly after, to be famous. But he got something else … something he clearly was unprepared for.

Smith was fired from his job the next day and, shell-shocked, issued a video apology to the girl he attacked for daring to work for a corporation run by a man whose thoughts differed from his.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Smith, he did lose his job. But he did it to himself. I got the same feeling when I saw former NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte celebrate a touchdown by headbutting a wall and giving himself a concussion. You just look at it and think, “What the hell did you expect? A parade?”

There are no “middle-aged men being mean to teenage girls” trading cards, so it’s not really a skill he could have marketed. Which is too bad because he could use a job about now.

On the bigger issue of being mad at a company over the opinions of the guy at the top, I say this: Get a life! If you need validation of your sexual orientation, or anything about yourself, from a fast-food restaurant, there isn’t enough therapy in the world to help you. That being said, if Best Buy ever comes out against white socks with black low-top Converse Chuck Taylor’s I’m going to lose it on the Geek Squad!

Another Chicken

In politics, as in life, you can tell a lot about people by who they choose to lead them. For example, Republicans in the Senate chose Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. He’s a perfectly fine human being, but not the most conservative nor the most charismatic, by any measure. So, you get what you get with someone like that – he’s good most of the time, particularly when he’s going to lose a vote anyway, but he’s quick to cut the legs out from under people in his own party when it suits his needs (see the debt ceiling debate a few years ago).

Then you have the Democrats.

For their leader, they chose Nevada’s Harry Reid. Reid is a member of the old school Congress – someone who came to Washington with relatively modest means and somehow, through curious “land deals” with shady characters, managed to become a multi-multi-millionaire while being a “public servant.” The “old school” I was referring to was the time of nearly open graft in the late 19th and early 20th century.

And it’s not just Reid’s malleable ethics on personal financial issues; his character leaves a lot to be desired. That Democrats would choose him for their leader says a lot about their character.

When I worked in the Senate, I had two senators tell me Sen. Reid was the most untrustworthy man they’d ever known. They told me this in private conversations, so I won’t say who they are. But both had been in Congress a long time, so this was saying something.

This week Reid says he received a phone call from a “credible source,” who claims knowledge of Mitt Romney’s taxes from his days at Bain Capital and claims Romney paid zero taxes for the better part of a decade. By the time Reid told the Huffington Post about this, he had “a number of sources” claiming Romney paid no taxes. But he wouldn’t elaborate.

Not content with the ink and airtime his first round of BS got, Reid took to the Senate floor to claim “the word is out” that Romney hasn’t paid any taxes. So a single source had become “a number of sources” in one day. A day later, the “number of sources” became “the word is out,” as in everybody knows. The “word” came “out” from him. But did the media ever ask about this? Did the media ever let journalism get in the way of good rumor-mongering when it comes to attacking Republicans? Of course not.

Given the studies recently that show the connection between head trauma and long-term effects on brain function, perhaps Sen. Reid’s days as a boxer are catching up to him. Or maybe he’s just a pederast.

You may be asking yourself, “What?!?!?” Well, I’ve heard some rumors Harry Reid is a pederast. These are made-up rumors on Twitter, clearly presented as such … but I heard them. I can’t tell you where I first heard this rumor because I don’t remember. There were a lot of people spreading it, though. Sen. Reid refuses to address the rumor.

More curiously, Romney has come out and said Reid’s accusations against him are BS. But Reid has yet to comment on whether he’s a pederast.

Again, I have no proof Senator Harry Reid has a strange sexual attraction to young boys or whether he’s acted on his perversion, I’m just relaying what I’ve heard. Sen. Reid said, in the great liberal tradition of Republicans being guilty until proven innocent, it’s up to Romney to prove he paid taxes (even though the IRS seems strangely satisfied that he has). Under that thinking, it’s up to Sen. Reid to prove he isn’t a serial pederast.

Bonus Stupid

Dave Sirota is a writer who (apparently) has written a couple of books about something progressive or other. He is the kind of guy who wakes up every day and randomly calls someone in the third-world to apologize for being an American. Well Dave, the rest of us feel the same way…about you.

The title of his piece (of …) on Salon, “Don’t chant U.S.A.! It’s liberal Americans’ Olympic dilemma: How do they root for their countrymen without being jingoistic?” tells you everything you need to know about Sirota … except that he doesn’t have a long gray ponytail (at least not now). There’s more stupid in this piece than I have the energy to convey. It perfectly encapsulates the liberal mindset. Imagine Brittney Spears pontificating on the meaning of life, square it, and you’re getting in the zip code.

He’s proof of what I call “Michael Stipe’s Disease.” Named after the lead singer of band REM, Stipe always seemed just miserable. Not because of anything going on in his life, but because someone, somewhere was suffering. It’s a tragic disease that afflicts liberals, causing them to sit around coffee houses with their laptops and Charles Bukowski books and judge anyone who smiles or laughs. They often can be overheard saying things like, “I don’t know how you can sit there laughing when people are being killed/going hungry/suffering in whatever the liberal cause celebre country of the moment is. They’re also the people who talk constantly about how race doesn’t matter, that we need to move beyond it, but manage to keep a mental spreadsheet of the ancestry of everyone they’ve met and mention what kind of hyphenated-American they are in every story they tell. In short – jerks.

Tragic…and couldn’t happen to nicer people.




Egypt: Regime vows crackdown on “infidels” after border massacre: "Egypt branded Islamist gunmen who killed 16 police near the Israeli border as "infidels" and promised on Monday to launch a crackdown following the massacre that has strained Cairo's ties with both Israel and Palestinians. An Egyptian official said insurgents crossed into Egypt from the Gaza Strip before attacking the border station on Sunday. They then stole two vehicles and headed to nearby Israel, where they were eventually killed by Israeli fire."

Communist Vietnam donates 5,000 tons of rice to flood-stricken North Korea: "Vietnam's president said his country would donate 5,000 tons of rice to flood-stricken North Korea, Vietnamese state media reported Tuesday. The pledge was made by President Truong Tan Sang in a meeting with North Korea's visiting nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam in Hanoi on Monday, the Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan reported." [Vietnam has a largely capitalist economic system]

TN: Gibson Guitar CEO strikes back: "Late in the same day that Department of Justice announced they had reached a settlement with Gibson Guitars, in which Gibson acknowledged illegally importing environmentally endangered woods, CEO Henry Juszkiewicz struck a defiant tone as he continued to criticize government actions. 'We felt compelled to settle as the costs of proving our case at trial would have cost millions of dollars and taken a very long time to resolve,' he said in statement released via the company’s @gibsonguitar Twitter account late Monday."


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


8 August, 2012

Examining the opposition case

Elections are not a time for considered economic analysis, but then few times are. Opponents of the free market are able to point out obvious flaws in recent economic trends, but are met with mere cheerleading by free-marketers. The appearance of an Obamaist policy document “Prosperity for All” written by Yale professor Jacob Hacker and Nathaniel Loewentheil is thus a useful opportunity to check out the opposition thinking, spot its flaws and ideological blind spots, but more important, determine where it indeed makes good points, and what the answer to them should be.

Perhaps the most powerful current argument against the relatively free market policies of 1980-2006 is that of recent U.S. trends in inequality. In economic principle, there should be no great preference for one income distribution over another, but in practice observation has found that both extremes are bad. Very flat distributions of income and wealth, especially if caused by government fiat, destroy wealth creation and suppress economic growth (and give too much power to government bureaucrats – more on that later.) Equally however very skewed distributions of income and wealth, if accompanied by democracy, produce economic stagnation at the bottom and therefore appallingly bad governments since the poor majority sees no way out of its impoverishment and votes for nut-job populists.

The main problem with the increase in inequality since 1973 (as it has not taken the U.S. particularly far out into the Latin American part of the curve) is the stagnation of income for the working class, in spite of 40 years of technological progress and productivity increase. In this diagnosis, “Prosperity for All” is correct; its explanation of why it happened and its suggested cures are however mostly misguided.

There are other areas of agreement. “Prosperity for All” decries the bad behavior on Wall Street and the “crony capitalism” of government handouts to favored industries. We can all agree on that, although when it comes to solutions the document proposes several that are equally crony capitalist. It proposes that Wall Street houses should be split between commercial banking and trading operations – again we can agree; it’s not a free-market solution, but with deposit insurance and an over-powerful Fed it may be the least bad second-best approach. It wants a Tobin tax on trading to reduce its profitability – again I agree, though I want a much smaller one that attacks primarily automated “fast trading” which essentially uses insider information on market activity.

“Prosperity for All” decries the lack of investment in infrastructure. Here I agree to an extent, but the problem is nothing to do with the free market; most infrastructure is provided by governments, which have incentives to build flashy new ziggurats like California’s high speed train and neglect maintenance. More seriously, infrastructure costs have been grotesquely inflated by union featherbedding, environmentalist nonsense and excessive regulation. The Holland Tunnel under the Hudson River, completed in 1927, cost $48 million, equivalent to $700 million today. New Jersey Governor Christie’s zapping last year of a duplicate tunnel, expected to cost $8.7 billion, indicates just how out of control infrastructure costs have become.

Finally, “Prosperity for All” decries the insecurity of the current economy, especially for those without great resources. Social security and Medicare programs are both endangered, and likely to cover fewer of the old-age costs of those now approaching retirement, especially with the rapid escalation in medical costs. The collapse in house prices has removed what many people saw as a net worth cushion that could be tapped in time of difficulty. College costs have soared, and the employability of college graduates has increasingly come into question. Here the effect of prolonged recession has merged with relentless cost escalation in education and medicine, the actuarial problem of baby boomer retirement and the effects of excessive leverage to produce a toxic increase in insecurity beyond that inevitable in a free economy.

Having given “Prosperity for All” credit for its successful diagnoses of many of our current ills, it is nevertheless impossible to be so complimentary about its proposed treatments. Its most egregious error is a refusal to accept that governments, unions and NGOs have incentives too, just like corporations. Consequently, however easy it may be for an optimal analyst in a comfortable armchair to propose government-directed solutions to economic problems, governments are no more likely to behave in a “socially optimal” way than are corporations.

This is the central fallacy of Keynesianism. Keynes himself was so convinced of the quality of his analysis that he negotiated an overvalued fixed exchange rate for post-war Britain that killed stone dead the surge of automobile exports planned by the brilliant William Morris, Lord Nuffield. Morris, who left school at 15 to work in a bicycle repair shop but was Britain’s most successful industrialist, was not someone Keynes was accustomed to consulting about the economy’s needs. The Keynesian Bureaucrat Fallacy, that bureaucrats of immense intelligence and complete incorruptibility can arrange the workings of the economy, is probably the most damaging economic belief of all time, even worse than Marxism.

Apart from its inability to invest efficiently, the most important failing of incentive-ridden government is in regulation. Agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission exist simply to propagate and enforce regulations, and the more regulations they propagate and enforce, the more benefits in terms of remuneration, power and staff their senior officials obtain. Accordingly, we get nonsenses like the EPA regulation of carbon emissions, which may well shut down much of the U.S. power sector, thereby causing economic damage far beyond that sector.

Regulatory government is essentially irrational, and in practice pays little or no attention to the cost of the regulations it enforces – for example, a recent regulation banning “buckyball” products on the grounds children might swallow them, which bids fair to put a $50 million company out of business. As I have written previously in this column, it seems likely that the EPA’s advent was responsible for much of the decline in U.S. productivity growth after 1973, and that the current lethargy in the U.S. economy is at least partly due to the tsunami of new and expensive regulations under President Obama.

The cost of government favoritism is probably less than the cost of regulation, simply because the latter costs are so easy to hide. Nevertheless the entire clean energy program, based as it has been on science which increasingly looks chimerical, has been a bonanza of opportunity for the world’s least scrupulous businessmen. Not that “global warming” should be held entirely to blame; the corn-based ethanol boondoggle, pointless environmentally even if global warming were a problem, is a simple outgrowth of U.S. agriculture subsidies dating back to the 1930s. Needless to say, such programs almost never disappear, because the lobbies depending on them become so powerful; they only multiply.

A further fallacy perpetrated by “Prosperity for All” is the beneficial nature of unions and non-governmental organizations. Such entities, like governments, operate according to their own incentives dictating growth and the search for power. The best conditions for skilled and unskilled workers exist and have always existed in the most prosperous and fastest growing industries. Henry Ford’s $5 day, for example, the greatest single leap forward in unskilled-worker welfare of the twentieth century, was instituted in his entirely non-unionized plant in 1914, after the incredible success of the Model T. Automobile unionization happened only twenty years later, during the Great Depression and in the long run resulted in the U.S. automobile industry becoming hopelessly vulnerable to foreign competition. As for NGOs, their goals are political and their proliferation is entirely the result of the indefensible tax benefits given the “charitable” organizations. Remove those benefits, and NGOs would mostly wither away, leaving national prosperity very much greater for their absence.

Finally, “Prosperity for All” demands immediate legalization of the 10-12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Far from improving living standards, this would produce a further flood of unskilled undocumented immigrants, as did the 1986 amnesty. The result would be profits for Big Agribusiness but further immiseration of the less skilled half of the U.S. population. An economically successful society needs to be governed by the rule of law, and to ensure that its less productive citizens are able to get adequately paying employment without being subjected to wage-destroying competition from a flood of outsiders.

Since the problems identified by “Prosperity for All” are mostly genuine, and the solutions mostly chimerical, it behooves us to propose solutions that might actually work. Far from chivvying the Fed to satisfy its “full employment” mandate under the 1978 Humphrey-Hawkins Act, we need to reduce its remit to the single mandate of preventing inflation, and pass further rules so that its operations become “Volckerized” ensuring that henceforth it keeps interest rates high. With high interest rates, capital formation will be encouraged, and the United States’ traditional capital advantage over emerging markets will thereby be rebuilt, allowing its living standards and employment to remain at a satisfactorily high level because of its high ratio of capital to labor.

Tax reform is another essential. The current loopholes for home mortgage interest, state and local taxes, healthcare premiums and above all charitable contributions need to be removed, and the system pushed as far as possible towards taxing consumption rather than production. That way, the U.S. economy’s excessive dependence on mindless consumer spending will be removed, and it will become a high capital formation powerhouse like Germany and the best economies of Asia.

Markets in education and medicine must be reformed, by removing government subsidies and excessive regulation. That will make the reform of Medicare and Social Security very much easier, so that a Paul Ryan-style plan of limited targeted subsidy to those in need can be implemented, while costs are brought back under actuarial control. In these areas, foreign examples such as those of Germany and Japan are extremely useful, showing that quality can be improved and costs reduced without condemning America’s less fortunate citizens to sickness or illiteracy.

Finally, a bonfire of regulations must accompany a massacre of corporate welfare schemes. By these means, the economy will become more efficient and government costs will be greatly reduced, enabling proper provision to be made for the unfortunate while taxes are kept moderate, economic growth rebounds and full employment is restored in a natural unforced manner.

Looking at the detailed plans of political opponents is highly beneficial. Their diagnosis of society’s ills is often correct, and even if their solutions are misguided, one can at least ensure that one’s own plans address the ills they have identified. Nobody ever learned much through dialogue only with the like-minded.



Generation squeezed

After the destruction wreaked by Obama and the Democrats, America is undoubtedly in the grip of a Carter-esque "malaise". Reagan rescued America from Carter; Could Romney be a new Reagan? The instinct is to laugh out loud at the idea that a former governor of Massachusetts could be a new Reagan. But don't forget that Reagan was a former governor of California. So perhaps there is hope. Below is one expression of the malaise --JR

I worry about the future -- not mine but that of my three children, all in their 20s. It is an axiom of American folklore that every generation should live better than its predecessors. But this is not a constitutional right or even an entitlement, and I am skeptical that today's young will do so. Nor am I alone. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll finds that nearly 60 percent of Americans are also doubters. I meet many parents who fear the future that awaits their children.

The young (and I draw the line at 40 and under) face two threats to their living standards. The first is the adverse effect of the Great Recession on jobs and wages. Even if this fades with time, there's the second threat: the costs of an aging America. It's not just Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- huge transfers from the young to the old -- but also deferred maintenance on roads, bridges, water systems and power grids. Newsweek calls the young "generation screwed"; I prefer the milder "generation squeezed."

Already, batteries of indicators depict the Great Recession's damage. In a Pew survey last year, a quarter of 18-to-34-year-olds said they'd moved back with parents to save money. Getting a job has been time-consuming and often futile. In July, the unemployment rate among 18-to-29-year-olds was 12.7 percent. Counting people who dropped out of the labor market raises that to 16.7 percent, says Generation Opportunity, an advocacy group for the young. Among recent high-school graduates, unemployment rates are near half for African-Americans, a third for Hispanics and a quarter for whites, notes the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank.

The weak labor market hurts even job holders. From 2007 to 2011, "real" (inflation-adjusted) wages fell nearly 5 percent for recent college graduates and 10 percent for recent high-school graduates, says EPI. Among college grads, only four in 10 said their jobs required a four-year degree, reports a survey by the John J. Heldrich Center at Rutgers University. If the economy doesn't fully recover, slack labor demand will continue to depress employment and wages for years.

Of course, generalizations can be overdone. Countless millions of young people are doing -- and will do -- fine. History can't be predicted. The mass retirement of baby-boom workers may create job scarcities and raise wages. Still, some setbacks will endure. Some skills that would have been learned on the job won't ever be. Life decisions are deferred. Among 18-to-29-year olds, the weak economy is causing 18 percent to postpone marriage and 23 percent to delay starting a family, reports a survey by Generation Opportunity.

And then there are the costs of aging. Gains in productivity -- from new technologies or better skills -- that would normally flow into paychecks will be siphoned off to pay for retiree benefits, underfunded state and local government pensions and infrastructure repair. Taxes will rise; if not, public services will fall. Or both. Population change can't be repealed. The ratio of workers to retirees, 5-to-1 in 1960 and 3-to-1 in 2010, is projected at nearly 2-to-1 by 2025.

It's often said that today's young will ultimately benefit from this lopsided tax-and-transfer system. Old themselves, they will be similarly subsidized by their young. Doubtful. Sooner or later, the system's oppressive costs will become so obvious that future benefits will be curbed. Chances are the young will still pay for today's elderly without themselves receiving comparable support.

As a parent, all this rattles me. We judge our success by how well our children do. We love them and want them to succeed, even if most of us recognize -- at some point -- that our ability to influence and protect them has expired. Peering into the unfathomable future, we don't like what we think we see. We're dispatching them into a less secure and less prosperous world. These parental anxieties, I think, are the presidential campaign's great, unacknowledged issue. Many voters will decide based on a calculus of which candidate would minimize the economic perils for their grown children.

But the calculus will be selective. To aid the young, we could tighten Social Security and Medicare, raising eligibility ages and reducing payouts for wealthier retirees. Unlikely. Younger voters seem clueless about advancing their economic interests. In 2008, 18-to-29-year-olds supported Barack Obama by 34 percentage points. They love his pseudo-youthfulness. Or his positions on other issues (immigration, gay rights) trump economics. As president, Obama has done nothing to improve generational fairness.

If the young won't help themselves, their parents and grandparents might. They might champion revising retirement programs. Dream on. Parents and grandparents may be worried about their offspring's prospects, but they're not so worried as to sacrifice their own. There are real conflicts between the young and old; so far, the young are losing.




Obama gets something right: "President Obama echoed the sentiments of the essential founder of the American experiment in his response to Sunday’s horrific killings at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. 'As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship,' said Obama, as the nation learned of a shooting spree by an alleged white supremacist at a place of worship in suburban Milwaukee, 'we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.' That notion of the Sikh community as 'part of our broad American family' is not a new one. Sikhs have been a part of the American religious fabric for the better part of two centuries."

Gibson Guitar hit with grossly excessive penalties over “illegal” wood: "Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corp. will pay a $300,000 fine and make a $50,000 community-service payment for conservation in response to federal allegations that the company used illegally obtained ebony wood in the manufacture of its products. The U.S. Justice Department issued the following news release about the settlement this morning: Gibson Guitar Corp. entered into a criminal enforcement agreement with the United States today resolving a criminal investigation into allegations that the company violated the Lacey Act by illegally purchasing and importing ebony wood from Madagascar and rosewood and ebony from India." [Obama's hatred of business on show]


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


7 August, 2012

Built By Obama: What You See Is Not What You Get

The dark side of Obama's statement: collective achievement equals collective punishment

As Obama's "you didn't build that" quote is being probed and analyzed, I'd like to point out that the idea of redistributing other people's achievements is only a tip of an enormous ideological iceberg. Its invisible foundation sinks deep into the murky depths underneath the floating wreckage of American values.

Lest we take Obama's words out of context and are accused of "swift-quoting," let's review the full passage. Speaking at a campaign stop in Roanoke, Va., on July 13th, Barack Obama said:

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."

A friend with a PhD in mathematics made this comment: "We scientists say that in order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first build the universe - and that takes about four billion years. But that doesn't mean we can't build anything new from existing resources. So telling a businessman 'you didn't build that' is pure sophistry. Such phrases have always been a preamble to looting. Coming from the President, it's chilling."

Now let's put on our intellectual scuba gear to explore what lies beneath Obama's superficial altruistic bragging, which until now has served him as an unsinkable platform.

Apart from the simple untruth that "government created the Internet," Obama's words boil down to the old collectivist bromide that the individual is nothing without the society and the state. As one would expect, Obama didn't come up with it on his own. Standing on the shoulders of his collectivist predecessors, he ineptly restated Mussolini's motto: "All individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived in their relation to the State." And Benito's fellow collectivist Adolf Hitler agrees: "Our nation can achieve permanent health only from within on the basis of the principle: The common interest before self-interest."

If the businessman "didn't build that," who did? Apparently, all of us did! And if the credit is equally shared, so must be the reward. Jackpot winners all! No more worries about paying the mortgage or filling the gas tank. This must be what thrilled Obama's voters during the 2008 election, as his speeches removed old moral barriers protecting other people's property and made it available to all, establishing a new morality of forced redistribution of wealth, previously known as looting.

But here's the catch: everything in this world has a price. If all of us can be credited for someone else's achievement, by the same logic, all of us can be punished for someone else's failure. Just as all individual credit goes to the society as a whole, so does all the blame. And if the entire group, class, nation, or race can gain moral authority because some of its members did something right, the same standard grants the moral authority to blame any other group, class, nation, or race because some of its members did something wrong. In the history of collectivism this concept translated into wars, slavery, pogroms, terrorism, ethnic cleansing, expropriation of wealth, deportation, internment, resettlement, and genocide.

It appears that the two notions, collective achievement and collective punishment, are as inseparable as two sides of the same coin.

But there's more: if nothing is to your credit, then nothing is your fault. What is the cost of that bargain? In a seemingly fair trade-off, we lose our right to individual achievements but gain the right to blame others for our failures. Collectivism provides us with a sufficiently analgesic illusion of fairness. If you turn out to be a loser, it's not because you are unqualified: on a whim, with objective standards removed, you can now self-righteously put the blame on those close to you, or on the unfair system, or even on the big wide (and deeply flawed) world.

Before you know it, your moral impulses are reduced to an immature tantrum of a toddler who breaks things and hits a babysitter; a teenager who curses at his family and blames the Universe for his pimples; a graduating student of Marxism at the Occupy Wall Street encampment who vandalizes private property and blames capitalism for not providing him with a high-income job; an aging member of the "drug revolution" who blames The Man and The System for his depression; or the President of the United States whoblames corporations and bank CEOs, modern technology and "messy democracy," Fox News and all other media, the Japanese tsunami and the Arab Spring, as well as Bush, Reagan, Congress, the GOP, and the entire city of Washington for his lack of achievement.

Coincidentally, such is also the moral foundation of collectivist societies, from Cargo Cult followers to the so-called People's Democracies. In the erstwhile USSR, the government redistributed not only the nation's dwindling wealth; it redistributed successes and failures. All achievements were credited to the Party and its leaders, as well as to a centrally appointed regiment of "Heroes of Socialist Labor," who conspicuously "sacrificed for the common good." The failures were blamed on foreign aggressors, Western imperialism, enemies of the people, kulaks, saboteurs, corrupt bureaucracy, irresponsible middle management, selfish greed, and lack of proletariat consciousness, as well as on natural disasters and bad weather. Sound familiar?

Find the guilty and the opportunistic politicians will come. The problem is, they come not to help you but to help themselves. The latest example is the current grievance-mongering U.S. government - a massive self-serving army of patented demagogues who have yet to improve one life or right a single wrong. In the final analysis, collectivism is a dead end. Releasing the floodgates of government corruption is only Act One in the drama of a declining nation.

Now that we have gotten to the bottom of it, let's review Obama's quote from this new perspective:

"If you have failed, somebody along the line ruined it for you. There was a lousy teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unfair American system that caused you to fail. Somebody benefitted from your demise. If you're a loser, it's not your fault. Somebody else made that happen. Titanic didn't sink on its own. Corporations and insurance companies made a lot of money off of it, so they must be complicit. The point is, when we fail, we fail not only because of our individual shortcomings, but also because others have teamed up behind your backs. Vote for me - I'll punish the guilty and give you what's rightfully yours."

It turns out that, after all, "someone else made that happen" is merely a flipside of "blame someone else." One can't exist without the other.

In contrast, the argument for individualism and competitive private enterprise cannot be "flipped" - not without distorting its nature and moral purpose. The statement, "It's my achievement and I have the right to what I earn," manifests only positive, objectively true human values.

Unlike its alternatives, capitalism doesn't grow out of a dark, indiscernible mass of moral entanglements. And unlike crony capitalism - a corrupt monster created by government intrusion into the economy - free market capitalism is transparent. Just like the greatest invention of our time, the personal computer (brought to us by free enterprise), capitalism has a user-friendly interface: WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET.



Chik-fil-A-Quake: What the Media Didn't Say

If the media reports an earthquake was a breeze in the forest, did the earth still move? I’m not sure TownHall Finance is the natural venue for that question, but I’m also not sure why the Denver Post—my local paper—put a significant political and cultural event on page umpty-something, in the business section.

If you didn’t see it with your own eyes, you might have missed something big last week. Under fire by gay activists and their media amplifiers, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy unapologetically confirmed he supports the biblical definition of family as he understands it. This modern heresy quickly went viral. Reaction was harsh. Big city mayors and councilors channeled Al Capone with a badge: “Don’t file no stinking permit applications in our town, Chick-fil-A!” Pundits nodded righteously. But, what happened next didn’t follow the script.

Backlash welled up, not just from social conservatives, but fiscal conservatives and libertarians, outraged that politicians would trample the First Amendment, brandishing political litmus tests for the right to do business. Social media and web commentary buzzed with rebellion. A great day of fried chicken and Chick-fil-A appreciation was proposed.

Last Wednesday, I met friends in north suburban Denver at about 11 to beat the rush. Fail. The lot was packed, the drive-thru and building tightly coiled by a boa of cars, tail extending to the street. Inside was standing room only, with a switch-back line that triggered post-Disney traumatic stress. Yet, amid the din, cheer was high. The besieged staff moved helpfully and efficiently, and the line shuffled like a smooth deck of cards.

The friendly mob cycled through, holding steady in size the hour I was there. Judging scientifically by anecdotal Facebook posts, it stayed that way all day and evening, at every Chick-fil-A around Denver, throughout the state, and across the nation. The outpouring was unforeseen, the magnitude unimaginable. The chain’s coffers got a short- and probably long-term boost.

After 20 years around politics, I’ve seen how activists can generate pretty good ink just from a press release and 50 people on the Capitol steps in front of a borrowed guitar amplifier. I also know how hard groups sometimes have to hustle to assemble their 50. So I was eager to see what the media would make of this human tide.

Thursday’s Denver Post business page answered: “Coloradans voice their opinions on Chick-fil-A; Outlets flooded by supporters and opponents.” Not even close. Without space to fully deconstruct, I’ll acknowledge the article did say the crowds were large and the protesters few. But the headline and details caught maybe half the story and missed the essence. A few thoughts, on the event and the coverage:

Especially without any central organizer or major media promotion, the numbers were staggering, and broadly replicated across the country. If a protest warrants a story, this event deserves a Pulitzer-nominated multi-part investigative series.

It wasn’t a forum about the First Amendment, Cathy’s marriage views, or even political bullying. Whatever their motivation, the crowd arrived as a smiling, hungry lunch and dinner crew. It was a massive show of implicit support and protest, for reasons that deserve examination.

My table included a friend who supports civil unions, one for gay marriage, and one who thinks government should get out of the marriage business, letting people and churches make their own agreeable arrangements. We didn’t discuss the fourth person’s view, or anyone else’s that day, because lunch was don’t ask don’t tell.

It’s clear many diners intended to rebuke bullying politicians and the un-American idea that approved political views are required for permission to be in business. Does this resentment go further, and reflect anger at transgressed lines between private and public management, corporate and government bedfellows sharing money, policies, and favors? Is that resentment building toward a November eruptian?

Another strong positive is rejection of a vicious double standard: One side airs views through a respectful media, while others get vilified for different opinions. It’s breathtaking that liberals seek to redefine fundamental cultural concepts and muzzle the opposition; those who question or disagree should be attacked and cowed into silence, even while they speak for majority opinion. That happened with California’s ballot measure on marriage, as more than one financial supporter was hounded from high profile jobs. Wednesday was a salutary fist at that ugly trend.

Finally, what to make of the subdued coverage. Did our scribes not recognize an important cultural moment? Because it doesn’t interest them or flatter their vision? That’s the fish-don’t-know-they’re-wet view of media bias. Or, do they know full well and work carefully to contain the story? Of course, either way, the effect is the same.




Social Security not deal it once was for workers: "People retiring today are part of the first generation of workers who have paid more in Social Security taxes during their careers than they will receive in benefits after they retire. It's a historic shift that will only get worse for future retirees, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. Previous generations got a much better bargain, mainly because payroll taxes were very low when Social Security was enacted in the 1930s and remained so for decades."

Obama's fake birth certificate and other stories that don’t get covered: "Based in Washington, D.C., Diana West writes a weekly column nationally syndicated by the Universal Press Syndicate in Kansas City. It's a courageous column tackling topics seldom broached in the pages of many mainstream dailies. ... 'You're not being paranoid, it's absolutely true,' Ms. West replied. 'For a journalist, the comfort zone of discussable topics is definitely shrinking.'"

Why we shouldn’t tax companies: Because companies don’t pay taxes: "It's not unusual to hear the economically illiterate insisting that companies must pay more in taxes. This is illiterate because companies do not pay taxes. They cannot, for only people can bear the burden of a tax: someone's wallet has to get lighter and that wallet must belong to a person."

Counsel of despair?: "Over the years, I have heard many people say that the government’s adoption of a laissez-faire stance during a business recession or depression amounts to 'do-nothing government' -- the unstated assumption always being that it is better for the government to 'do something' than to do nothing. Recommending such a hands-off stance is often described as a 'counsel of despair.' Moreover, it is frequently added, in a democratic polity, the electorate will not tolerate such a policy. Implicit in such criticism is the assumption that the government knows how to improve the situation and has an incentive to do so."

Government Motors goes subprime: "President Obama continues pointing to his crony bankruptcy bailout of GM as a success. ... Now it turns out that much of the recent sales growth GM has bragged about is due to GM jacking up its sales with subprime loans."

Parenting bill could split baby many ways: "State Sen. Mark Leno wants California to recognize that a child can have 'more than two legal parents.' So he wrote a bill, SB1476, which, he argues, doesn't change the definition of a parent (for example, live-in lovers would not qualify) but allows family court to recognize more than two parents only 'when it is required to be in the best interest of the child.' He stresses that if the bill becomes law, 'None of our sponsors or supporters believe that this authority will be used very often.' SB1476 is for rare cases, Leno argues, like baby M.C., as she is known in court documents."

Obama shows what he thinks of the military: "In a move that puts new meaning to the term battleground, President Obama's re-election campaign and members of some military groups are on a collision course over voting rights in the critical state of Ohio. The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee have filed a lawsuit to block a new state law allowing men and women in uniform to vote up until the Monday right before an election, while the cutoff on early voting for the rest of the public is three days earlier. Men and women in uniform typically get more time than other voters to send in absentee ballots since they may be serving in an overseas or domestic location that is not close to their home polling station."


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


6 August, 2012

Picture gallery

Every six months or so I put up a picture gallery consisting of what I think are the "best" pictures that have appeared on my various blogs. The January to June, 2012 gallery is accessible here.


Ron Unz and IQ

I seem to be a consistent critic of Ron Unz, editor of "The American Conservative". I noted yesterday (and earlier) that his idea of low criminality among Hispanics is contradicted by Obama's deportation statistics and I also took a few potshots at his theory that IQ differences between nations are mostly the effect of environmental factors.

So I am pleased that Richard Lynn has now given a systematic reply to Unz on the IQ question. Lynn echoes some of the points I made (and I did get an email from Lynn saying he liked my article) but his reply is far more detailed and scholarly and, I think, a good reply to Unz's claims.

Unz has replied to Lynn and it looks to me that the two sides are converging, with the differences being in matters of degree. Both parties agree that the environment has some influence but Lynn makes a strong case for the importance of genetics.


Could a brain scan tell you how smart you are? Research shows intelligence linked to strength of neural connections

More evidence that IQ is genetically determined. We are now getting an idea of the specific mechanisms involved

Research suggests that 10 per cent of individual differences in intelligence can be explained by the strength of neural pathways connecting the left lateral prefrontal cortex to the rest of the brain.

The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, establish 'global brain connectivity' as a new approach for understanding how human intelligence relates to physiology.

'Our research shows that connectivity with a particular part of the prefrontal cortex can predict how intelligent someone is,' said Michael Cole, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in cognitive neuroscience at Washington University and lead author of the study.

He says the research is the first to provide compelling evidence that neural connections between the lateral prefrontal cortex and the rest of the brain make a unique and powerful contribution to the cognitive processing underlying human intelligence.

'This study suggests that part of what it means to be intelligent is having a lateral prefrontal cortex that does its job well; and part of what that means is that it can effectively communicate with the rest of the brain,' added study co-author Todd Braver, PhD, professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences and of neuroscience and radiology in the School of Medicine.

One possible explanation of the findings, the research team suggests, is that the lateral prefrontal region is a 'flexible hub' that uses its connectivity to monitor and influence other brain regions.

'There is evidence that the lateral prefrontal cortex is the brain region that "remembers" the goals and instructions that help you keep doing what is needed when you're working on a task,' said Prof Cole. 'So it makes sense that having this region communicating effectively with other regions (the "perceivers" and "doers" of the brain) would help you to accomplish tasks intelligently.'

While other regions of the brain make their own special contribution to cognitive processing, it is the lateral prefrontal cortex that helps coordinate these processes and maintain focus on the task at hand. This happens in much the same way that the conductor of a symphony monitors and tweaks the real-time performance of an orchestra.

The findings are based on an analysis of functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) brain images captured as study participants rested passively and also when they were engaged in a series of mentally challenging tasks associated with fluid intelligence, such as indicating whether a currently displayed image was the same as one displayed three images ago.

Previous findings relating lateral prefrontal cortex activity to challenging task performance were supported. Connectivity was then assessed while participants rested, and their performance on additional tests of fluid intelligence and cognitive control collected outside the brain scanner was associated with the estimated connectivity.

Results indicate that levels of global brain connectivity with a part of the left lateral prefrontal cortex serve as a strong predictor of both fluid intelligence and cognitive control abilities.



Another revealing admission of Leftist motivations

I don't think Leftists realize how arrogant they sound sometimes. Obama is on record as wanting to "fundamentally reshape" the American economy -- something he has certainly done, though not in a way that many would praise -- and we read below something very similar from Kevin Rudd, a past Prime Minister of Australia who could well be getting his job back soon as his Leftist rivals falter. There are no fixed terms for Australian Prime Ministers.

In reading Leftist admissions of wanting to "reshape" countries conservatives ask: What if the people don't want the shape the Leftist wants? What about letting the people shape their nation by their own individual actions and choices? This idea that a "shape" can be imposed from on high is pure Fascism

He is not supposed to be talking about a comeback, but former prime minister Kevin Rudd has given an interview in which he opens up about wanting to shape Australia's future well into the next decade.

Mr Rudd, who unsuccessfully challenged Julia Gillard for the Labor leadership in February, has told the Australian Women's Weekly that shaping the nation - which is somewhat difficult to do from the backbench - is "part of who I am, and you gotta be who you are".

Asked directly whether he wanted an ongoing role for himself, Mr Rudd said: "Oh definitely, it's just who I am. You gotta be who you are."

He was quick to say that "the position you occupy in life is less important". "What's more important is being involved directly in shaping the nation's future, to the extent that you can," he said.



Obama's reliance on ignorance

Calculated Deception. That is the central theme of the Obama campaign. Calculated Deception is the term I use for Obama's rhetorical practice of trying to take advantage of what he calculates the average person does not know, and his party-controlled, so-called mainstream media won't report. And that can be seen over and over in the Obama campaign.

In Monday's Wall Street Journal, Edward Lazear, former Bush chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, notes, "A graph titled 'Private Sector Job Creation' on the Obama-Biden campaign website... announces proudly that 4.4 million private sector jobs have been created over the past 28 months." But that factoid is meaningless out of any context, more like a pediatrician boasting to you that under his care your 16-year-old son has grown to 4 feet 4 inches. At the same point during the Reagan recovery, the economy had created 9.5 million new jobs.

Moreover, Lazear correctly adds, "there hasn't been one day during the entire Obama presidency when as many Americans were working as on the day President Bush left office." That's right, contrary to the Obama campaign's misleading claim of 4.4 million new jobs created, total jobs today are still half a million less than in January 2009 when Obama entered office.

Lazear continues, "Moreover, the unemployment rate, which we were told would not exceed 8% if we enacted Mr. Obama's stimulus package...has never fallen below 8% during his presidency. The rate has averaged 9.2% since February 2009." In sharp contrast, after Bush's tax rate cuts were all fully implemented in 2003, the economy created 7.8 million new jobs over the next 4 years and the unemployment rate fell from over 6% to 4.4%. We won't see that again until Obama is out of office.

President Obama and his chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, Alan Krueger, brag that private sector jobs have now grown for "28 straight months." Obama and Krueger apparently think most Americans do not know that job growth is the norm and not the exception for the American economy. In the 62 years from January 1946, after World War II, until January 2008, jobs grew in 86% of the months, or 640 out of 744. Reagan's recovery produced job growth in 81 out of its first 82 months, with 20 million new jobs created over those 7 years, increasing the civilian workforce at the time by 20%. Even George W. Bush oversaw 52 consecutive months of job growth, including nearly 8 million new jobs created after his 2003 capital gains and dividends tax rate cuts became effective (which Obama is dedicated to reversing).

The relevant streak of Obamanomics was extended in the June jobs report. That report established that under President Obama America has suffered 41 straight months of unemployment over 8%, which the Joint Economic Committee of Congress confirms is the worst recovery from a recession since the Great Depression almost 75 years ago. Indeed, the last time before Obama unemployment was even over 8% was December 1983, when Reaganomics was bringing it down from the Keynesian fiasco of the 1970s. It didn't climb back above that level for 25 years, a generation, which is a measure of the spectacular success of Reaganomics.

But Krueger tells us about that June jobs report, "It is important not to read too much into any one monthly report." The Obama Administration, however, has said the exact same thing for each of the last 30 months, as documented July 6 by Bryan Preston for PJMedia.

President Obama keeps telling us his economic program should be judged by comparison to the worst of the recession. Look, we have turned the corner, he says, and the economy has started growing again, just like your teenage son. But the correct comparison is to prior recoveries from past recessions. As Lazear explained, "Yet we know that all recessions end and that labor markets recover eventually. What distinguishes this labor-market recovery is not that jobs are finally being created but rather the growth rate is so slow that it will be 2016 before we return to pre-recession employment levels." Obama is campaigning as if he were certain that a majority of Americans do not know that all recessions end and that labor markets recover eventually.

American recessions since the Great Depression previously have lasted an average of 10 months, with the longest at 16 months. But this latest recession began in December 2007. The June labor report showed that the most commonly cited U3 unemployment rate remains stuck at 8.2%, with the number of unemployed Americans actually rising over the last 3 months by 76,000, 54 months after the recession started, and 3 years after it was supposedly over, the longest period of unemployment that high since the Great Depression.

Barack Obama knows that history, even though he is sure a majority of you don't. That is why he was confident enough to tell Matt Lauer and the nation in February 2009 regarding economic recovery: "If I don't have that done in three years, then this is going to be a one-term proposition." And it is why the Administration so confidently labeled the summer of 2010 "Recovery Summer," as by historical standards the recovery was already way overdue by then.

Obama's tragic jobs record reflects the dismal economic growth under his administration's throwback, Keynesian economic policies. For all of last year, the economy grew by a paltry real rate of 1.7%, only about half America's long-term trend. The average so far this year has been no better. That dismal growth is further reflected in the Census Bureau reports of falling real wages under Obama, kicking median family income back over 10 years, with more Americans in poverty today than at any time in the more than 50 years that Census has been tracking poverty.

In sharp contrast, in the second year of Reagan's recovery, the economy boomed by a real rate of 6.8%, the highest in 50 years. Real per capita disposable income increased by 18% from 1982 to 1989, meaning the American standard of living increased by almost 20% in those first 7 years of the Reagan boom alone. The poverty rate, which had started increasing during the Carter years, declined every year from 1984 to 1989, dropping by one-sixth from its peak. That is the proper comparison for Obama's economic performance.




Part of a large vote against homosexual "marriage": "Thousands flocked to local Chick-fil-A restaurants to show support for owner Dan Cathy’s controversial statements on same-sex marriage. Cathy’s statements have been the focus of many media groups leading up to the unofficial establishment of Chick-fil-A appreciation day Wednesday by former Arkansas Gov. and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. In Shreveport, so many customers came out to support the privately owned fast-food establishment that the Chick-fil-A on Youree Drive was forced to close its doors just after 5 p.m. for lack of chicken. The Chick-fil-A on Airline Drive in Bossier City also had incredible business but managed not to sell out, as folks waited 30 minutes or longer to get their nuggets. Even Bossier City police were on hand to direct traffic as the drive-through lane stretched past neighboring businesses and bridged several parking lots."

NY: Activists push city to be first in US to prohibit use of drones: "The City of Buffalo has a chance to be the first in the country to ban Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, also known as drones. A group of activists and community leaders came to City Hall on Tuesday to have their say in front of the Common Council Legislation Committee. 'You guys have an opportunity to make Buffalo the first drone-free city in the United States, and I hope you take that seriously,' John Washington of Occupy Buffalo told lawmakers." (08/01/12)

CA: San Bernardino files for bankruptcy: "A California city filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, the third in the Golden State to do so in recent weeks, stoking experts' concerns that other cities could follow suit. The city of San Bernardino, with more than 200,000 residents on the eastern tip of greater Los Angeles, 'filed an emergency petition for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy' with a regional U.S. bankruptcy court, according to a news release from the city's interim manager."

We need separation of medicine and state: "The federal government, in general, and the Food and Drug Administration, in particular, increasingly inject themselves into direct control of every medical practice. The FDA is aggressively moving past its sole jurisdiction over the approval of every medication and all medical equipment. It now seeks control of perhaps every procedure and treatment that your physician recommends. The FDA issued a warning (i.e., threat) about the use of venal catheters as a result of a physician conducting a clinical trial for treatment of multiple sclerosis. After approving the safety and efficacy of the device, the FDA now requires that it approve every use by individual physicians"

No taxation without respiration!: "This week, the House of Representatives will take up a tax extenders package to prevent the Bush tax cuts of ’01 and ’03 from expiring at the end of the year. Earlier this month, C4L called on the House Ways & Means Committee to include full repeal of the estate tax (AKA -- the death tax) in their tax package."

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 old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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)


5 August, 2012

Criminality among illegals

I have found what sound like some better statistics on illegal immigrants than what can be inferred from Obama's broad brush claim that he "only" deports serious criminals. We read:
"The 2011 figures show slightly more undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes were deported last year than in the prior year. ICE reported that 216,698 of the unauthorized immigrants removed in the 2011 fiscal year were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, making up about 55 percent of the total removals"

Even so, if we scale up 216,698 over just 10 years we still have 2 million out of 12 million illegals who are offenders, and that is not at all consonant with claims by Ron Unz and others that offending among illegals is rare.

All statistics in this field have to be regarded as wobbly but deportation statistics would seem most likely to be solidly grounded -- JR


Romney Is Right: Israel’s Economic Success is Due to Culture

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been assailed for saying at a fundraiser in Jerusalem that “culture” plays a large part in Israel’s superior “economic vitality” over the Palestinians, just as it does “between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States.” For this commonsensical statement of the obvious, he has been pilloried, not least by the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s Saeb Erekat, who described his remarks as “racist.”

There was, of course, no reference in Governor Romney’s comparison of Israel and the Palestinians to religion or ethnicity, let alone race. He referred to culture, which indeed makes a major difference, in this case and the others he cited. He was right to note that this has produced widely divergent results in economic performance between Israel and the PA.

Israel has a culture of private enterprise, research, innovation and technological development. In contrast, the PA has been bedeviled from its inception with crony capitalism, endemic corruption, distortions of the market and other malpractices which also affect its economy in drastic ways, not least in the loss of foreign investor confidence.

Israeli society is characterized by religious, economic and personal freedom. By contrast, the PA is unsafe for political dissidents as well as religious and sexual minorities. For example, Bethlehem, under PA control since 1995, has seen its traditionally Christian (and entrepreneurial) population dwindle to about 15%. In Hamas-controlled Gaza, there has been an even swifter flight of Christians. And Palestinian gays who wish to live without fear of death or imprisonment often have only one option: refuge in Israel. It makes sense that a society with Israel’s open and broadly liberal culture would be more stable and thus retain and attract foreign investment and better educated, entrepreneurial people.

But above all, Palestinian culture is also afflicted with incitement to hatred and murder, glorification of violence and terror. One has to look only at PA TV programs, radio broadcasts and newspaper articles to see that it is the terrorist, not the entrepreneur, who is honored. The PA doesn’t name streets, schools and sports teams after scientists and inventors. It names them after suicide bombers and jailed terrorists.

In the PA, public squares, a computer center, a summer camp and several events have been named in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, a revered figure in Palestinian society who led the terrorists who carried out the 1978 coastal road terrorist attack on an Israeli bus, murdering 37 people, including a dozen children. There are literally scores of similar, documented examples.

Many will recall that Palestinian enthusiasm for terrorism extends beyond Israel to the U.S., of which those Americans who saw on their TV screens Palestinians celebrating the 9/11 attacks need no reminder.

There is also no merit to Mr. Erekat’s objection that the PA cannot perform well because it is under “occupation.” The facts repudiate this shop-worn, opportunistic charge. Before the PA was established – in other words, when the areas now controlled by the PA were under Israeli control – economic growth was steady and rising among Palestinians. But economic performance tapered off immediately after the PA assumed control in 1994, following the Oslo Accords, and all the attendant problems mentioned earlier came into play.

“Even then, the PA was doing better in the mid-1990s than it was to do after 2000, when it launched a terrorist war against Israel. Naturally, joint projects, Israeli (and much foreign) investment thereupon dried up and the resultant hostilities destroyed or damaged much infrastructure. One can have war, but one can rarely have war and development. The Israeli economy also suffered from this war but, because of the general soundness of Israel’s economic culture, it recovered much more quickly once Palestinian terrorism was brought under control.

So Mr. Erekat’s predictably absurd criticism of Governor Romney’s “racist” statement can be dismissed for what it is: a fit of pique leveled against an outsider for embarrassing the PA by stating the obvious truth, a truth that undermines the metronomically invoked Palestinian alibi of “occupation.” As the philosopher Eric Hoffer once observed, “There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.”



Putting the LIBOR Scandal in Context

It robbed savers and reduced funds available for private investment

This deception boosted the banks’ profits by lowering their borrowing costs on LIBOR-based contracts. It also presented a false picture of a healthy banking sector to the public, because a higher interbank lending rate is considered a sign of distress.

The arcane nature of this scandal may cause many people to tune it out. But once you get past the technical jargon, the fraud is easy to identify. In “fixing” the LIBOR, the banks were robbing depositors of interest income and defrauding the market as a whole.

The banks were not the only beneficiaries of the fixed LIBOR; debtors and all those with variable-rate loans also benefited by having lower borrowing costs.

At one level, the banks were also cheating themselves. After all, a lower LIBOR resulted in lower interest charges on customer loans. But the banks were willing to take that hit in order to spruce up their balance sheets. A higher rate would have exposed large losses and driven down the value of their assets. Moreover, the fixed LIBOR has helped maintain a regime of low interest rates, which has propped up bond prices during a time of exploding government debt.

So it could be argued that the greatest beneficiaries of the LIBOR scandal are the debt-ridden governments, like Uncle Sam.

Consider that interest rates in both the United States and the United Kingdom are below the rate of inflation. And in both countries, the debt-to-GDP ratio is rising. Yet investors continue to purchase bonds issued by those governments, which are paying less than the rate of inflation. Why?

What is happening here is the bailed-out banks in the United States and the United Kingdom are “bailing out” their benefactors in Washington and London by rigging government bond prices with money provided by the central banks (Federal Reserve and Bank of England) at virtually zero percent. This debt-recycling scheme has the effect of propping up the bond market, which allows these governments to sell their bonds and thus go further into debt.

This collusion between Washington and London was revealed when the public learned soon after the scandal broke that the Federal Reserve had been aware of the LIBOR manipulation and apparently supported it.

Low interest rates keep the game of musical chairs going a little while longer for spendthrift politicians who don’t have the will to impose the large spending cuts necessary to address the huge imbalances their reckless spending has created.

So, what is the effect of this continued borrowing and monetary inflation?

Well, by pushing down interest rates, the Fed and other central banks are papering over their respective governments’ debts. This policy of financial repression punishes savers and encourages more debt and consumption. The deluded Keynesians in charge of fiscal and monetary policy hope more debt-financed consumption will ignite a recovery.

But by piling on more debt, governments are hindering economic recovery; their increased spending is siphoning off scarce capital from the productive (private) sectors of the economy. More debt also means more inflation and higher taxes in the future. This is hardly a pro-growth agenda. Indeed, it’s an agenda of plunder.

The nation, indeed, the entire Western world, has been living beyond its means for decades, and the debt levels are no longer sustainable. The federal government is $16 trillion in the red and borrowing more than a trillion dollars a year. This cannot go on forever.

The ugly truth is that consumption needs to drop significantly, and people need to save more. This means consumers need to buy less — much less — and governments need to slash their budgets. Such austerity is anathema to Keynesians, who believe in the “paradox of thrift” and the idea that spending is the key to recovery.

But it is not as if we have a choice in the matter. Austerity will come one way or another. When you borrow and spend too much, eventually you have to spend less, work more, and pay your bills — or default, and then someone else has to pay your bills. Either way, there is a reckoning. This is the recession, and contrary to popular belief, it is a time when the economy actually begins to recover. It’s not a pleasant experience, but you reap what you sow.


All debts will eventually be wiped out either by default or hyperinflation. Either way, savers will end up with nothing, leading to widespread poverty, particularly among the elderly -- JR


The elderly will be the principal victims of Obamacare

Many will end up with only what little care they can get from hospital emergency rooms

Last week, a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report updated the amount of money Obamacare robs out of Medicare from $500 billion to a whopping $716 billion between 2013 and 2022. According to the CBO, the payment cuts in Medicare include:

A $260 billion payment cut for hospital services.
A $39 billion payment cut for skilled nursing services.
A $17 billion payment cut for hospice services.
A $66 billion payment cut for home health services.
A $33 billion payment cut for all other services.
A $156 billion cut in payment rates in Medicare Advantage (MA);

$156 billion is before considering interactions with other provisions. The House Ways and Means Committee was able to include interactions with other provisions, estimating the cuts to MA to be even higher, coming in at $308 billion.

$56 billion in cuts for disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments.* DSH payments go to hospitals that serve a large number of low-income patients.

$114 billion in other provisions pertaining to Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP* (does not include coverage-related provisions).

*Subtract $25 billion total between DSH payments and other provisions for spending that was cut from Medicaid and CHIP.

In total, Obamacare raids Medicare by $716 billion from 2013 to 2022. Despite Medicare facing a 75-year unfunded obligation of $37 trillion, Obamacare uses the savings from the cuts to pay for other provisions in Obamacare, not to help shore up Medicare’s finances.

The impact of these cuts will be detrimental to seniors’ access to care. The Medicare trustees 2012 report concludes that these lower Medicare payment rates will cause an estimated 15 percent of hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies to operate at a loss by 2019, 25 percent to operate at a loss in 2030, and 40 percent by 2050. Operating at a loss means these facilities are likely to cut back their services to Medicare patients or close their doors, making it more difficult for seniors to access these services.

In addition, as MA deteriorates under Obamacare’s cuts, many of those who are enrolled in MA (27 percent of total Medicare beneficiaries) will lose their current health coverage and be forced back into traditional Medicare, where Medicare providers will be subject to further cuts. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief actuary predicted in 2010 that enrollment in MA would decrease 50 percent by 2017, when Obamacare’s cuts were estimated at only $145 billion. Now that the cuts have been increased to $156 billion (or possibly $308 billion, as the Ways and Means Committee estimates), MA enrollment will surely decrease even further.

But Obamacare’s raid of Medicare doesn’t stop with cuts; it includes a redirection of tax revenue from the Medicare payroll tax hike in Obamacare. The payroll tax funds Medicare Part A, the trust fund that is projected to become insolvent as soon as 2024. Obamacare increases the tax from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent, which is projected to cost taxpayers $318 billion from 2013 to 2022.

However, for the very first time, Obamacare does not use the tax revenue from the increased Medicare payroll tax to pay for Medicare; the money is used to fund other parts of Obamacare, much like the $716 billion in cuts are.

With a raid on Medicare of this magnitude, President Obama’s assertion that his new law is protecting seniors and Medicare is astonishing. The truth is that Obamacare does the opposite.



Politics Channels Hatred

Arnold Kling is inclined to a libertarian dislike of both sides of politics but I think what he says below applies particularly to the "class war" Left with their hatred of "The Rich"

In Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman wrote: "What the market does is to reduce greatly the range of issues that must be decided through political means"

Those who prefer government to markets will argue that markets embody greed. Thus, markets channel a base emotion. Still, one can say that it is more constructive to channel greed through markets than through thievery.

What I want to suggest is that government embodies an even more base emotion: hatred. Politics channels the base emotion of hatred. A lot of political actions derive from hatred of the other. Still, one can say that it is more constructive to channel hatred through political action than through war.

Between now and the election this November, you might think about viewing politics as an exercise in the expression of hatred. Think of this when you read Krulong or listen to Limbannity. Watch the extent to which the Republican and Democratic conventions turn into hatefests.

I do not think that you can say that the only thing that motivates people in politics is hatred. For that matter, one cannot say that the only thing that motivates people in markets is greed. But I do think that ignoring the role that hatred plays in politics is as unwise as ignoring the role that greed plays in markets.

Like Milton Friedman, I prefer to keep the scope of politics limited.



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


3 August, 2012

Freedom Makes All the Difference

Palestinian leaders were understandably insulted when Mitt Romney, noting the huge gap in wealth between Israel and the West Bank during a speech in Jerusalem on Monday, declared, "Culture makes all the difference." Although culture plays an important role in economic development, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee overlooked another key variable: government.

Good government establishes conditions that are conducive to production, innovation and trade. I am not talking about the roads, bridges and public schools cited by President Obama in his notorious "you didn't build that" speech. I am talking about a more basic kind of infrastructure: the rule of law, protection of property rights, enforcement of contracts, honest and open government, tolerable taxes and a minimum of interference with transactions between consenting adults.

When the state flagrantly flouts these principles, people do not prosper, no matter how much they value education, how hard they are prepared to work, how much risk they are willing to take or how inclined they are to save and invest. In fact, oppressive, arbitrary government changes culture, making these traits less valuable and therefore less common.

When Romney said "culture makes all the difference," he was quoting "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," a 1998 book by the historian David Landes. Elsewhere in the book, Landes is less categorical, saying, "Culture can make all the difference," and cautioning that "culture does not stand alone."

What else makes a difference? Landes is quite clear that limits on government are essential. When he says "the driving force" of economic progress during the last millennium "has been Western civilization and its dissemination," he is referring not just to cultural values such as thrift, competition, gender equality and the Protestant work ethic, but also to the political values that keep the state from smothering creative effort.

Saeb Erekat, a senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, highlighted the importance of political institutions when he complained that Romney "doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation." Israeli checkpoints, control of imports and exports, and interference with land use, even if justified by legitimate security concerns, surely have impaired economic development in the territory administered by the Palestinian Authority, but so has the authority's history of corruption and incompetence.

Those factors, along with intermittent violence, go a long way toward explaining the enormous difference in per capita gross domestic product between Israel and the West Bank (which Romney actually understated by a factor of five): $28,600 vs. $2,900, according to the CIA's 2009 numbers. There are also stark, though less dramatic, disparities between Israel and bordering Arab countries. According to the CIA's 2011 estimates, per capita GDP was $31,400 for Israel, $15,700 for Lebanon, $6,600 for Egypt and $5,100 for Syria.

One interpretation of these data -- the one Erekat clearly had in mind when he called Romney's remarks "racist" -- is that Arabs are lazy, while Jews are good with money. Yet Arabs excel economically in countries with stable governments that respect individual rights and the rule of law. In the United States, for instance, Arab-American households are more affluent than the average.

A similar pattern can be seen among the Chinese, who, Landes observes, "have long been so unproductive at home and yet so enterprising away." The laissez-faire Hong Kong Special Administrative Region -- which has a per capita GDP of nearly $50,000, compared to $8,500 in the rest of China -- shows it's not distance but rules that matter. Likewise, East Germany's per capita GDP was about half West Germany's in the decades before unification, while South Korea's is about 18 times North Korea's.

Culture matters, but these examples demonstrate that institutions are crucial. If you compare per-capita GDP to ratings in Freedom House's annual Freedom in the World report or the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom, you will see a clear association between poverty and tyranny. Maybe Romney should have said, "Freedom makes all the difference."



10 Concepts Liberals Talk About Incessantly But Don't Understand

1) Being Open Minded: To a liberal, this has nothing at all to do with seriously considering other people's ideas. To the contrary, liberals define being "open-minded" as agreeing with them. What could be more close-minded than assuming that not only are you right, but that you don't even need to consider another viewpoint because anyone who disagrees must be evil?

2) Racism: Liberals start with the presumption that only white people who don't belong to the Democratic Party can be racist. So, for example, even if Jeremiah Wright can make it clear that he hates white people because of their skin color or if liberals take an explicitly racist political position, like suggesting that black people are too stupid and incompetent to get identification to vote, they can't be racist. White Republicans, on the other hand, are generally assumed to be racist by default, no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary.

3) Fairness: In all fairness, I must admit that fairness is an arbitrary concept. So, you could make the argument that no one could get "fairness" wrong. Still, liberals do because they don't make any effort to actually "be fair." As a practical matter, liberals define "fairness" as taking as much as possible from people who they don't think are going to vote for them and giving it to people who may vote for them in return for their ill gotten largesse. Certainly conservatives, libertarians, and moderates might disagree about how much money to take from the wealthy to redistribute to the poor or how to help the disadvantaged, but the only liberal answer to the question, "How much is enough?" is "more."

4) Greed: To a liberal, believing that you pay too much in taxes or even opposing paying more in taxes is greedy. In actuality, wanting to loot as much money as possible that someone else has earned to use for your own purposes, which is what liberals do, is a much better example of greed.

5) Hate: Liberals often define simple disagreement with them on issues like gay marriage, tax rates, or abortion as hatred. No matter how well a position is explained, or the logical underpinnings behind it, it's chalked up to hate. Meanwhile, the angriest, most vicious, most hateful people in all of politics are liberals railing against what they say is "hatred." This irony is completely lost on the Left.

6) Investment: Actual investments involve putting money or resources into a project in hopes that they will appreciate in value. Liberals skip the second half of that equation. To them, an "investment" is taking someone else's tax dollars and putting it into a project that liberals approve of and whether a profit is made or lost is so irrelevant that they typically don't even bother to measure the results.

7) Charity: Contributing your own money or time to a good cause is charity. Liberals view themselves as charitable if they take someone else's tax dollars and give it away to people they hope will vote for them in return. At a minimum, they should at least credit the taxpayers who paid for the money they gave away for the charity, although it's not really charity if it's involuntary. Of course, there's nothing charitable about asking someone else to sacrifice for your gain, which could actually be better described as selfish.

8) Patriotism: Liberals love America the way a wife beater loves his spouse. That's why they're always beating up the country "for its own good." Doesn't the country understand that liberals have to hit it in the mouth because they LOVE IT SO MUCH?!?!? Of course, the conventional definition of patriotism, which is loving your country and wishing it well, isn't one that liberals can wrap their heads around.

9) Tolerance: In a free, open, and pluralistic society, there are all sorts of behaviors that we may have to tolerate, even though we don't approve of those activities. Liberals don't get this distinction. For one thing, they don't understand the difference between tolerance and acceptance. They also don't extend any of the tolerance they're agitating for to people who disagree with them. Liberals silence people who disagree with them at every opportunity which is, dare we say it, an extremely intolerant way to behave.

10) Diversity: What liberals mean by "diversity" is that they want a broad range of people from different races, colors, and creeds who have identical political views. A black or Hispanic conservative doesn't contribute to "diversity" in liberal eyes because he actually has diverse views. Incredible role models for women like Sarah Palin can't be feminists to liberals because she doesn't share the same liberal beliefs as sexist pigs like Anthony Weiner and Bill Maher. How can you have any meaningful "diversity" when everyone has to think the same way?



America's disastrous experiment with Fascist economics is still leading its privileged life

Big government programs often have results that are very different than what was intended. We can gain particular perspective by reflecting on the experience of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's most ambitious infrastructure program, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

It was heralded as a program to build dams that would control floods, facilitate navigation, lift people out of poverty, and help America recover from the Great Depression. Yet the reality is that the TVA probably flooded more land than it protected; much of the navigation it has facilitated involves barges of coal for coal-fired power plants; people receiving TVA-subsidized electricity have increasingly lagged behind neighbors who did not; and the TVA's impact on the Great Depression was negligible. The TVA morphed into America's biggest monopoly, dominating an 80,000 square mile region with 8.8 million people—for all practical purposes, it is a bureaucratic kingdom subject to neither public nor private controls.

Back in 1933, David Lilienthal, one of the founding directors of the TVA, vowed, "The Tennessee Valley Authority power program is not a taxpayers' subsidy. It is a business undertaking." In fact, for more than 60 years, Congress appropriated funds to cover the TVA's losses.

Although the TVA no longer receives congressional appropriations, it continues to receive large subsidies. The TVA pays none of the federal, state, and local taxes that private businesses pay. A 1993 study by Putnam, Hayes & Bartlett, a consulting firm retained by investor-owned utilities, estimated that annual cost-of-capital subsidies exceeded $1.2 billion, including the taxes that the TVA avoided. As a government-backed entity similar to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the TVA can borrow money cheaper than private businesses. Currently, the TVA has about $26 billion of debt.

Moreover, the TVA doesn't have to incur the costs of complying with myriad federal, state, and local laws. Energy consultant Dick Munson reported that the TVA is exempt from 137 federal laws, such as workplace safety and hydroelectric licensing. The TVA can set electricity rates without oversight by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has jurisdiction over private utilities. The Securities & Exchange Commission has only limited jurisdiction to oversee the TVA. On top of that, the TVA is exempt from federal antitrust laws and many federal environmental regulations. It's also exempt from some 165 laws and regulations in Alabama and hundreds more laws and regulations in other states in which it operates. When the TVA wants to acquire more assets, it doesn't have to haggle, because unlike private businesses, it has the power of eminent domain. More than 15,000 people were expelled from their property to make way for the TVA.

Established by President Roosevelt in May 1933 as part of his first 100 Days, the TVA's roots actually go back to 1918 when President Woodrow Wilson decided that the federal government should get into the gunpowder business after German submarines sank several ships bringing nitrates from Chile. At the same time, E.I. du Pont de Nemours, the world's most experienced gunpowder manufacturer, wanted to build a gunpowder manufacturing facility at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, on the banks of the Tennessee River, and his company proposed building a hydroelectric plant to provide the power that was needed.

"Progressive" politicians were wary that du Pont might make money on the deal, so the decision was to have two gunpowder manufacturing facilities: one built by du Pont and the other by the federal government. The du Pont facility was finished for $129.5 million and produced 35 million pounds of canon powder before the Armistice (November 1918), while the government's facility produced nothing at all. Wilson's Muscle Shoals project became the starting point for the TVA.

It's run by three directors, each appointed by the president to staggered nine-year terms. Although the directors are sure to be political supporters, the unusual length of their terms gives them considerable independence, and they're not subject to constraints by investors, customers, or voters.

As a remedy for the Great Depression, the TVA didn't work. It created no new wealth and, through taxation, transferred resources from the 98 percent of Americans who didn't live in the Tennessee Valley to the two percent who did. Any spending that happened in the Tennessee Valley therefore was offset by the spending that didn't happen elsewhere. Those taxes reduced net incomes.

Much like any other complex public works project, it took an inordinate amount of time to build the TVA. Only three TVA dams were completed during the 1930s. The dams themselves were small—with less than one-twentieth the power-generating capacity of big western dams like Grand Coulee. Although the building process provided work for engineers and skilled construction workers—who earned above-average incomes—the dams simply came too late to have much impact on most people in the Tennessee Valley during the Great Depression.

To the degree that the TVA had any impact, it appears to be negative. The most important study of the effects of the TVA, conducted by energy economist William Chandler, estimated that in the half-century after the TVA was launched, economic growth in the Tennessee Valley increasingly lagged behind non-TVA southern markets. Chandler concluded, "Among the nine states of the southeastern U.S., there has been an inverse relationship between income per capita and the extent to which the state was served by the TVA...Watershed counties in the seven TVA states, moreover, are poorer than the non-TVA counties in these states."

In the non-TVA southern markets, there was a greater exodus of people out of subsistence farming into manufacturing and services, which offered higher incomes. Ironically, electricity consumption has grown faster in the non-TVA southern markets, because it tends to correlate with income. Subsistence farmers might be able to afford light bulbs, but they could not afford the electrical appliances that people in non-TVA southern markets were buying. Furthermore, despite the vast sums spent building TVA dams, water usage grew faster in the non-TVA southern markets.

In any case, it was a delusion to believe that there was one "key" (such as TVA-subsidized electricity) to eradicating poverty. Subsistence farmers needed equipment such as tractors, trucks, and hay bailers (which are powered by diesel fuel, not electricity). They needed to develop more skills, more sophisticated farming practices, and so on.

Backed by the power of the federal government, the TVA promoted electricity for home heating--even when oil and natural gas were cheaper. To the extent the TVA's home heating campaign was successful, it still squandered resources.

As for flood control, the TVA has flooded an estimated 730,000 acres—more land than the entire state of Rhode Island. Most directly affected by TVA flooding were the thousands of people forced out of their homes. And while farm owners received cash settlements for their condemned property, black tenant farmers received nothing.

As one might expect with a government monopoly that can ignore so many laws, there have been frequent reports of waste and possible corruption. According to TVA's own inspector general, these include lucrative executive perks, cozy consulting contracts, costly building leases, and much more. The TVA spent $15 billion building nine nuclear power plants—and none of them worked. The TVA hired a former Navy admiral to fix them, but he was charged with cronyism and bad judgment. Congressional investigations followed.

Although the TVA was established to build dams, it has expanded relentlessly (as bureaucracies do) to include 11 coal-fired power plants and three nuclear power plants as well as 49 dams—apparently with ambitions to expand the TVA's power-generating monopoly beyond the Tennessee Valley. Among other things, this has raised environmental concerns. Ralph Nader charged that the TVA "has the poorest safety record with [nuclear] reactors." On December 22, 2008, at the TVA's Kingston, Tennessee coal-fired plant, the dike of a 40-acre holding pond broke, spilling as much as a billion gallons of coal sludge with elevated levels of arsenic. The sludge covered some 300 acres up to six feet deep, damaging homes and wrecking a train. This spill reportedly was much bigger than the oil spill from the Exxon Valdez tanker that went aground in Alaska.

As the TVA's long record illustrates, voters rarely receive what they signed-off on when it comes to massive government programs. Despite all of the harm it has done, the TVA has grown into a powerful and politically unstoppable special interest that has done a grave disservice to the Tennessee Valley. Too bad today's advocates of a new New Deal seem determined not to learn from their predecessors' mistakes.



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


2 August, 2012

A logical corollary of the Obama gospel


Social Security Nonsense

If you want to see a good example of liberal or progressive thinking on fiscal policy, read this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer entitled “Social Security Is Not Headed for Disaster” by Barbara R. Bergmann, who serves as professor emerita at American University and the University of Maryland.

The thrust of Bergmann’s article is that Social Security is not headed for disaster because the federal government is a big government in a nation of lots of rich people who can be taxed whatever amounts are necessary to fund the Social Security program indefinitely into the future.

That’s also the argument that liberals make with respect to the entire welfare state — that there is so much wealth in the United States that the federal government can use its vast taxing powers to continue imposing and raising taxes to whatever extent it needs to continue funding the ever-increasing expenditures of the welfare state.

Unfortunately, Bergmann didn’t mention the case of Greece. I wonder what she would say about Social Security and the entire welfare state in that country.

You see, in Greece statists took the same position — that government spending on welfare could go on increasing forever. Of course, Greek citizens on the dole, like American citizens on the dole, absolutely refused to consider any reduction in their dole.

Well, it got to a point in Greece where the amount being spent far exceeded the amount being collected in taxes.

So, why not just continue raising taxes? Because the government sector depends on a vibrant private sector in order to survive, much as any parasite needs a vibrant host to survive. If the private sector shrinks to nothing, there are no more taxes that can be collected, which means no more Social Security or any other welfare dole.

The problem for the parasite is this: how to keep the host vibrant and still suck as much blood of him as possible. If too much blood is sucked out of the host, he dies. That means the parasite dies too.

So, the government can tax up to a certain point but if it continues to confiscate increasing amounts of wealth and income from the private sector, it ultimately destroys the source of its loot.

As taxes are raised, businesses that are barely making a profit go out of business, laying off workers. Those workers go on the dole, which means higher taxes to fund them, which means more businesses going out of business. Moreover, wealthy people stop producing wealth and instead look for ways simply to preserve what they already have. Increasingly, the private sector shrinks and ultimately gets to a point where it cannot sustain the enormous taxes that are being imposed on it.

That’s what happened in Greece. And when spending began to exceed tax revenues, instead of reducing spending, which the dole recipients would not permit, the government just went on a huge annual borrowing spree to keep the dole going. For a short time it worked. But as the government’s debts mounted, things finally got to a point where no one would dare lend it any more money.

The Greek government was busted. Sure, it could levy a massive confiscatory tax on everyone, including the rich, which many statists want it to do. It could seize savings accounts, businesses, and homes to continue paying the doles. But then what? What does it do then? The host is dead. And that means the parasite is dead too.

Closer to home, I wish Bergmann had talked about those cities in California that are going bankrupt. Why is that? Why can’t they simply tax everyone 100 percent to fund their obligations and pay their debts? Why not seize their homes and businesses? What’s all that private wealth good for if not to fund the government? It’s because they know that that would work only one time. Then what? Who do they tax next year when there isn’t anyone left to tax?

Undoubtedly Bergmann would say that the U.S. government is different from the Greek government and those California city governments in that it is a bigger government that has more wealthy people to tax. But that implies that no matter how much the federal government spends, there is always going to be enough money in the private sector to fund it. It implies that that private sector can sustain any amount of federal expenditures.

With all due respect, that’s ridiculous. Right now, the federal government is spending more than a trillion dollars a year more than what it is bringing in with taxes. Like the Greek government, it continues to borrow the difference, adding to the mountain of federal debt that hangs over the American taxpayer.

Why doesn’t the government simply raise taxes to cover that difference rather than go further into debt? Because the more it raises taxes on the private sector, the more it threatens to destroy the host. It is an implicit recognition that there is a limit on the amount of taxes that can be imposed on the private sector.

Moreover, as the Greeks have learned and as American cities have learned, debts ultimately have to be paid back. And the only way governments have to repay their debts is through taxation. By borrowing the money, the day of reckoning is simply delayed.

In her article Bergmann mentions the Social Security “trust fund,” which is designed to make Americans falsely believe that their Social Security taxes are placed into a fund for their retirement. To Bergmann’s credit, she pierces right through that sham. There is no trust fund and there never has been one. Social Security is a straight welfare confiscate-and-transfer program, one that taxes the young and productive and gives the loot to people to whom it does not belong.

Bergmann suggests that the government can raise Social Security taxes to whatever extent is necessary to keep the system going. Oh? What if that means imposing a 90 percent tax on the income of young people for the rest of their lives? Would Bergmann say that’s okay?

The fact is that Social Security, like all other aspects of the welfare state (and the warfare state) are in deep crisis. After 80 years of all this socialism, the chickens have come home to roost. Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, paper money, the Federal Reserve, farm subsidies, foreign aid to dictatorships, and all the rest. They’re all in crisis, which is why they’re always in need of “reform.”

The only question is: Are Americans going to let this alien, socialist system that was imported onto our shores in the 1930s take us down, or are we going to embrace libertarian principles before it’s too late?



Big Lies in Politics

Thomas Sowell

It was either Adolf Hitler or his propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, who said that the people will believe any lie, if it is big enough and told often enough, loud enough. Although the Nazis were defeated in World War II, this part of their philosophy survives triumphantly to this day among politicians, and nowhere more so than during election years.

Perhaps the biggest lie of this election year, and the one likely to be repeated the most often, is that the income of "the rich" is going up, while other people's incomes are going down. If you listen to Barack Obama, you are bound to hear this lie repeatedly.

But the government's own Congressional Budget Office has just published a report whose statistics flatly contradict this claim. The CBO report shows that, while the average household income fell 12 percent between 2007 and 2009, the average for the lower four-fifths fell by 5 percent or less, while the average income for households in the top fifth fell 18 percent. For households in the "top one percent" that seems to fascinate so many people, income fell by 36 percent in those same years.

Why are these data so different from other data that are widely cited, showing the top brackets improving their positions more so than anyone else?

The answer is that the data cited by the Congressional Budget Office are based on Internal Revenue Service statistics for specific individuals and specific households over time. The IRS can follow individuals and households because it can identify the same people over time from their Social Security numbers.

Most other data, including census data, are based on compiling statistics in a succession of time periods, without the ability to tell if the actual people in each income bracket are the same from one time period to the next. The turnover of people is substantial in all brackets -- and is huge in the top one percent. Most people in that bracket are there for only one year in a decade.

All sorts of statements are made in politics and in the media as if that "top one percent" is an enduring class of people, rather than an ever-changing collection of individuals who have a spike in their income in a particular year, for one reason or another. Turnover in other income brackets is also substantial.

There is nothing mysterious about this. Most people start out at the bottom, in entry-level jobs, and their incomes rise over time as they acquire more skills and experience.

Politicians and media talking heads love to refer to people who are in the bottom 20 percent in income in a given year as "the poor." But, following the same individuals for 10 or 15 years usually shows the great majority of those individuals moving into higher income brackets.

The number who reach all the way to the top 20 percent greatly exceeds the number still stuck in the bottom 20 percent over the years. But such mundane facts cannot compete for attention with the moral melodramas conjured up in politics and the media when they discuss "the rich" and "the poor."

There are people who are genuinely rich and genuinely poor, in the sense of having very high or very low incomes for most, if not all, of their lives. But "the rich" and "the poor" in this sense are unlikely to add up to even ten percent of the population.

Ironically, those who make the most noise about income disparities or poverty contribute greatly to policies that promote both. The welfare state enables millions of people to meet their needs with little or no income-earning work on their part.

Most of the economic resources used by people in the bottom 20 percent come from sources other than their own incomes. There are veritable armies of middle-class people who make their livings transferring resources, in a variety of ways, from those who created those resources to those who live off them.

These transferrers are in both government and private social welfare institutions. They have every incentive to promote dependency, from which they benefit both professionally and psychically, and to imagine that they are creating social benefits.

For different reasons, both politicians and the media have incentives to spread misconceptions with statistics. So long as we keep buying it, they will keep selling it.



Statehouse, not White House, should lead on health reform
Washington Times

Says Gary R. Herbert, the Republican governor of Utah, below

The full title of what most call Obamacare is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The irony is it neither protects patients nor is it affordable. In fact, PPACA is a misguided budget-buster that falls short of real health care reform, undermines state solvency and subverts individual liberty. For those reasons, Utah is in no rush to adopt any Medicaid expansion and will continue to pursue pragmatic, principle-based reforms, regardless of elections or Congress‘ partisan balance.

Of course, we care about better health and an improved system, but it’s breathtaking that in order to comply with the individual mandate for insurance, just covering Utahns presently eligible for Medicaid but not yet enrolled will cost the state $940 million the first decade and $1.88 billion the next decade. Then the Medicaid expansion tacks on an additional $240 million the first decade, and $480 million the next. In other words, even if Utah does nothing, Obamacare will completely unravel our state’s uniquely positive financial outlook.

Utah has defined a clear vision for health care: We will pioneer health care innovation and reform, harnessing the power of collective efforts and market principles as we become the healthiest people in the nation. Our efforts include solutions for low-income, uninsured and vulnerable populations.

But in contrast to federal solutions, the philosophical framework for Utah’s vision is personal responsibility. Reform must align incentives and empower people to make better choices — and reward them when they do. Most importantly, reform must reinforce basic principles of free markets — principles like flexibility and certainty. PPACA stifles both.

Washington appears to have forgotten that Medicaid is supposed to be a bridge, not a hammock. To that end, Utah has proposed thoughtful and potent Medicaid waivers to deliver care to the most vulnerable while protecting the program’s long-term viability. Our goal is to help people in need but prepare and empower them as their situation improves.

Yet it is those most vulnerable — those whom Obamacare professes to protect — who will be most victimized by shrinking access to eligible providers, and hidden taxes and regulation that drive up the costs of life-saving medical devices.

Utah continues to use and explore customized reforms like greater flexibility, accountable care organizations and paying for quality instead of quantity, cost-controlling features, electronic records management systems like Utah’s Clinical Health Information Exchange, a market-oriented health insurance exchange, and our All Payer Claims Database. True reform adds real value.

At this time of economic uncertainty, Obamacare will effectively kill every state’s efforts to maintain balanced budgets — all at the sacrifice of other critical priorities. Right now, Medicaid consumes 21.5 percent of Utah’s budget, nearly double what it was a decade ago. Adopting the expansion could cost Utah $1.3 billion over the next 10 years. Where will that money come from? Take no consolation in false assurances that the federal government will offset costs. It all comes from the same wallet — the American taxpayer’s — and alarming federal deficits should be a major concern for every one of us.

If we truly want to cut costs, the administration should cut strings attached to Medicaid and issue block grants to states. Give me less money and no strings, and I’ll deliver better services.

PPACA has too many rules and too few answers. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s ruling has only exacerbated marketplace uncertainty. Restoring market confidence and stability will come when we strike the right balance between costs and benefits, between compassion and dependence, and between freedom and accountability.

Unfortunately, with its top-down, one-size-fits all approach, Obamacare doesn’t really fit anybody. At this juncture, as states assess their options, it comes down to this: The statehouse, not the White House, should be leading the charge on one of the most complex issues of our day. It is time to reset the health reform conversation, and repeal and replace PPACA with state-driven, people-centered and market-oriented innovations. States simply cannot afford the Affordable Care Act, and neither can the American people.



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


1 August, 2012


The article below came out some time ago but it is so stupid that it has taken me until now to bother with it. They come to the crazy conclusion that people do NOT become more conservative as they age.

I think most of us old-timers can think of quite a few people who are a lot more conservative than they used to be -- and who can overlook that both Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill were liberals in their younger days? And readers of this blog will probably be familiar with John Stossel and David Horowitz as further examples of such change. In my home State of Queensland, Ned Hanlon started out as a far-Left unionist and red-ragger but when he eventually became Premier of the State he ended up using the police to break strikes by unionists. He moved from one extreme to the other in the course of his lifetime. I could go on. The exampes are innumerable.

So how did they go wrong below? In the usual Leftist way: They have no idea of what conservatism is and substitute their own false picture of it for the reality. In particular, they equate conservatism with rigidity and closed-mindedness, when the actual research on the topic (going back to Rokeach in 1960) says that closed mindedness is not politically polarized. Both liberals and conservatives are roughly equally likely to be rigid and closed-minded. My papers on that topic are here.

And any mention of what conservatism really is: Respect for individual liberty and opposition to big government, for instance, is conspicuously missing.

In short, the work below fails as research because it gets the very first step in any science wrong: Taxonomy. Their classification of people as conservatives is demonstrably erroneous

Readers may be interested in the listing of attitudes contained in my paper "What old people believe". Note that the listing includes statements that old people REJECT -- JR

Amidst the bipartisan banter of election season, there persists an enduring belief that people get more conservative as they age -- making older people more likely to vote for Republican candidates.

Ongoing research, however, fails to back up the stereotype. While there is some evidence that today's seniors may be more conservative than today's youth, that's not because older folks are more conservative than they use to be. Instead, our modern elders likely came of age at a time when the political situation favored more conservative views.

In fact, studies show that people may actually get more liberal over time when it comes to certain kinds of beliefs. That suggests that we are not pre-determined to get stodgy, set in our ways or otherwise more inflexible in our retirement years. Contrary to popular belief, old age can be an open-minded and enlightening time.

"Pigeonholing older people into these rigid attitude boxes or conservative boxes is not a good idea," said Nick Dangelis, a sociologist and gerontologist at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

"Rather, when they were born, what experiences they had growing up, as well as political, social and economic events have a lot to do with how people behave," he said. "Our results are showing that these have profound effects."

Today, the image is ubiquitous in popular culture: A rigid gray-haired grump, who is closed-minded and set in his or her curmudgeonly ways. To some extent, that belief emerged from a real observation: Surveys that ask about attitudes towards things like premarital sex or race relations reveal that people older than 60 express more conservative views than people between the ages of 25 and 39. By extension came the assumption that older people used to be more liberal.

The problem with these studies, Dangelis said, is that they compare two demographics at one moment in time without offering a picture of the older cohort when they were younger. So, in a 2007 paper in the journal American Sociological Review, Dangelis and colleagues started to address that problem.

Using surveys taken between 1972 and 2004, the researchers found that groups of people actually became more tolerant, not more conservative, after age 60 -- calling into question some enduring myths about old age. Survey questions addressed attitudes about boundaries of privacy (such as the right to die), historically subordinate groups (such as women and Blacks) and civil liberties (for groups like atheists).

But that study had limitations, too. For one thing, each survey included a different set of people. So the researchers could compare the attitudes of people who were 25 in 1972, for example, with the attitudes of people who were 35 in 1982.

What's still missing, though, are long-term studies that actually follow individuals over time to see how their beliefs change.

In lieu of that kind of research, which is too difficult to do, researchers are now using complicated statistics to tease apart the effects of getting older from the effects of being a certain age at a certain moment in time.

Results, which are just starting to emerge, suggest that each belief follows its own complicated pattern. Seniors seem to have become more liberal about subordinate groups, for example, but more conservative about civil liberties.

Overall, what's happening in society at large as people come of age seems to matter most in determining the starting point for their core beliefs, said Karl Pillemer, a sociologist and gerontologist at Cornell University, who conducted more than 1,000 in-depth interviews with seniors for his book, "30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans." From there, people's attitudes can evolve as they age. And flexibility often trumps rigidity.

"Older people said very surprising things about being old," Pillemer said. "One of those things was that old age was a quest for adventure and a time to try new things. Many older people describe themselves as feeling freer or clearer."

Late in life, his research shows, people often become more open, more tolerant, and more appreciative of compassion. Even if they started out conservative, they may become less extreme in their conservatism.

"Many describe themselves as open to ideas or open to new ways of thinking, and they come back to a sense of much greater tolerance for different points of view," he said. "I had someone say, 'I used to think I was always right, but now that I'm 80, I'm not so sure I'm always right.'"



Shrinking government payrolls IS possible

Many people have pointed out that the size of the U.S. Federal bureaucracy seems to increase inexorably. People point out that even Ronald Reagan only managed to hold the size of the bureaucracy where it was. He did not reduce it. And after he went it resumed growing. So a tempting conclusion is that a reduction in the Federal workforce is impossible. It is a ratchet that we cannot put it into reverse.

That is of course depressing news for all of us with libertarian inclinations so I thought that something that revives hope might be worth mentioning.

I live in the Australian State of Queensland, which has recently given a huge parliamentary majority to a conservative administration. And the Premier (similar to a governor) is fulfilling his promise to cut the State payroll. He is making drastic cuts -- as you can judge from the news report below. And he is still getting onto his stride.

For context, the size of the total Queensland population is 4.5 million

HUGE cutbacks to Queensland's public service are draining Brisbane's CBD, leaving entire floors of carparks empty and retailers struggling to stay open.

Secure Parking's David Knight said it was not only the shrinking CBD workforce that was hurting operators; fewer people in general were coming into the city for business.

"People aren't going to see that lawyer or architect or engineer, and they're not going to government offices because there's no new projects happening," Mr Knight said. "It all dominoes right through the economy."

National Retail Association spokesman Gary Black said CBD retailers had been doing it tough since late 2009 and many were now on death row. "You would expect the public service job cuts to have some impact (on retailers)," he said.

Premier Campbell Newman announced on Friday that public sector numbers had fallen by 4400 full-time employees. He said the Government's reforms to build a "right-size public service" would continue.

Mr Knight said the plunge in demand for car parking started just before the June school holidays and had only got worse. "At first I thought everyone had gone away to the snow. But after the holidays business didn't pick up like it normally does," he said.



The Reddest of Presidents

It’s clear the economy is seeing red. A host of economists, who always seem to be the last to know, have cut GDP growth forecasts recently, in light of rising unemployment and falling manufacturing output. The latest to see the light at the end of the tunnel in its proper context as a speeding train coming right at us is Fannie Mae’s chief economist, Doug Duncan. Fannie Mae always seems to be the last-est of the last to know.

“The data from the past month collectively point to decelerating economic growth, but growth nonetheless," noted Duncan in a statement by Fannie Mae. “It's now clear that our bias toward downside risks noted in the June forecast have materialized, pushing down our already modest growth projections.”

And, according to Newsday, poverty is approaching levels not seen since 1965.

“Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups,” says Newsday, “from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor. More discouraged workers are giving up on the job market, leaving them vulnerable as unemployment aid begins to run out. Suburbs are seeing increases in poverty, including in such political battlegrounds as Colorado, Florida and Nevada, where voters are coping with a new norm of living hand to mouth.”

That should not surprise anyone who has paid much attention to the administration over the past year. Despite increasing worry over lack of economic growth, the administration has done little to get the economy moving and much to prevent it from growth.

Last year, in a signal to business that perhaps he really did feel their pain, Obama appointed Chicago’s Bill Daley as his chief of staff. This allowed former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel to exit stage left to replace the other Daley- Richie- as mayor of Chicago.

And for a brief moment the chamber of commerce crowd thought maybe Obama was starting to be more business-friendly. But the Daley ascendancy lasted months, not years. And while Obama announced an effort to cut back on red tape and regulation, year three of Obama's economic-whatnot has been as tough on business as any year of Obama’s administration.

An update to last year’s report from Heritage, Red Tape Rising, says that “Despite this promise of restraint, however, the torrent of new rules and regulations from Washington continued throughout 2011, with 32 new major regulations. These new rules increase regulatory costs by almost $10 billion annually along with another $6.6 billion in one-time implementation costs.”

And that’s not counting Obamacare costs.

In fact, last year Obama’s own Small Business Administration calculated that the total cost to implement regulations in the country amounted to $1.75 trillion or 13 percent of GDP.

While some of that money is accounted for already in government outlays, it means that total cost of government (state, local and federal), which accounts for over 40 percent of our GDP in cash costs, is actually much higher than that when you figure in other costs like lost business and costs of compliance.

Might government costs be over 50 percent of our economy? Possibly. But for sure, government now is the single biggest factor in our economy whether the actual percentage of GDP it accounts for falls just below the 50 percent-of-GDP rate or just inches past it.

And we haven’t even gotten to the bad part either:

Warns Heritage: “This regulatory tide is not expected to ebb anytime soon. Hundreds of new regulations are winding through the rulemaking pipeline as a consequence of the vast Dodd–Frank financial-regulation law (the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act), Obamacare, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s global warming crusade, threatening to further weaken an anemic economy and job creation.”

Total costs of all regulation will cost the economy close to $20 trillion in the next ten years, just using estimates from the Small Business Administration from 2011. In contrast, our yearly economic output is only $15 trillion. If Obamacare is implemented and Dodd-Frankenstein continues to turn on its masters, the costs, including lost opportunities for our economy, will be staggering.

Obama told us that for generations his election would be hailed as the moment the seas stopped rising and the earth began to heal.

But he neglected to mention how much it would cost us in red tape.

That red tape makes him the reddest of all presidents.

What? You expected something else?



Some 0ne-liners

Jay Leno

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told a congressional committee the economic recovery is weakening. But the good news is most Americans will not be affected because they had no idea there was a recovery.

Jobless claims rose again by 35,000 last week. Not good. But it does show that if you’re unsuccessful in this country, you didn’t do it on your own. You had help. Thank you, President Obama.

Well, President Obama and first lady Michelle went to see the U.S. Olympic basketball team play Brazil the other day. And during the game, they were put on the kiss cam. At first, they didn’t kiss and the crowd booed them. Then the camera went back to them. And they finally did kiss. Isn’t that amazing? A politician in Washington caught on camera kissing a woman he’s actually married to?

Romney’s surrogate, John Sununu, he’s in hot water for saying, “I wish President Obama would learn how to be an American.” Well, that’s kind of insulting, isn’t it? President Obama spends money he doesn’t have. He loves to skip work and play golf. He sneaks away from his wife to eat fatty foods. What is more American than that?

Ralph Lauren says the uniforms they make for the 2014 Winter Olympics will be made right here in the USA — using our own old-fashioned illegal immigrants.

Well, Harry Reid and other members of Congress, they’re just furious over this Olympic uniform deal. He says we should burn the uniforms, and it’s an embarrassment and a disgrace. Not as embarrassing as Congress constantly borrowing money from the Chinese, but still embarrassing.

The big news in Washington now is the disappearance of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. Nobody can find him. He’s completely disappeared. People think he’s either in rehab or he might have been given his own show on CNN.

The White House is now urging Americans not to “read too much” into last week’s jobs report. In fact, they said it would be best if you didn’t read it at all.

At a Democratic fundraiser in Seattle earlier this week, Vice President Biden said that Romney’s economic policies were “George Bush on steroids” — as opposed to Obama’s policies, which are “Jimmy Carter on Ambien.”



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


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"