Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The debate continues

Well! I have certainly got a range of responses to my recent posts about Jews. There were of course plenty of antisemitic raves which I promptly deleted but the responses from my Jewish readers were generally well informed and well reasoned -- with one exception. I got a series of emails from a New York Ashkenazi man who would not for one minute concede that modern-day Jews are racially mixed. To him Jews are a single race. To quote him: "All Jews are descendents of Jacob". I found it rather hard to argue with someone who seemed to me a nutty Jewish racist but I did my best -- to no avail. He had a farrago of scientific bits and pieces in support of his view which reminded me of nothing so much as the farrago of scientific bits and pieces that you find on antisemitic sites. Predictable I suppose.

Since I am rather surprised to find ANY Jewish racists about, perhaps I should take this opportunity to say a little about his arguments. As readers of my previous writings on the subject will be aware, I did briefly look at whether Jews can be considered as a race and made the point that there are rather a lot of blue eyes among the Ashkenazim and that that betokened a genetic contribution from Northern Europe, well away from Israel.

Our racist friend answered that by saying, quite correctly, that races tend to move about over time and appeared to believe that there must once have been blue eyes in the Israel of Biblical times. He supported that view by pointing to a recent conclusion by geneticists to the effect that blue eyes are a mutation that originally arose in prehistoric times in the Black Sea area -- which is indeed somewhat closer to Israel than Northern Europe is. Where something arose and where it ends up are however two different stories and there is no doubt that blue eyes originally survived only in Northern Europe. What caused that is still a matter of some debate but it is in fact remarkable how dark eyes seem never to have made the grade in Northern Europe nor blue eyes further South. The further North you go, the more frequent blue eyes become -- until they are almost universal in native-born Scandinavians. So for as far back as we can see, blue eyes are clearly a Northern European phenomenon.

In the last 2,000 years, of course, there have been various invasions of Southern lands by Northern Europeans and that has left a small legacy of blue eyes in Mediterranean lands too. But the overwhelming rule remains blue in the North and dark in the South, with some regions being intermediate. But however you look at it, blue eyes in a predominantly dark-eyed population are a sign of racial admixture.

But the speculation that blue eyes in Jews has an ancient origin is ignoring the obvious. Many Jews strongly resemble the populations from which they emerged in the 19th and 20th centuries. All the Lithuanian Jews I have met, for instance, looked like Lithuanians: Fair skin, blue eyes and fair hair. Whereas Jews who have come from Arab lands tend to look like Arabs: darker skin, dark eyes and black hair. So it is clear that for one reason or another Jews have tended to interbreed heavily with the people among whom they found themselves. They do it in New York to this day, much to the ire of many a Yiddisher Momma. But I think I have already spent too much time on the nonsense argument to the contrary.

Tomorrow I am going to put up an email from a Jewish man who knows a lot about British history. That should put me on my mettle! I have no idea why but my racist interlocutor did forward me a rather pleasant picture in one of his emails. I reproduce it below:


Israel is Right to Defend Its People

Comment from Britain

Hamas are a bunch of murderous thugs. Over the past few years they have fired 5,000 rockets on Israel from residential parts of the Gaza strip, killing and injuring dozens of innocent Israelis. Israel has done its best not to react, but in the end their patience has snapped - and understandably so. They have acted using the only kind of force Hamas can understand.

According to Conservative Friends of Israel, over the past week more than 300 rockets, missiles and mortar rounds have been fired from Gaza by Hamas and other militants at Israeli villages and towns. More than 560 have been fired since Hamas escalated rocket firing on 4 November. This is on top of the 5,000 which have been fired from Gaza this year. The media seem to think these rockets are fairly harmless. They are not. They are weapons of terror.

BBC reports suggest that in recent days none of these rockets has resulted in any Israeli deaths or injuries. Not true. CFI report today that: "An Israeli man was killed and four others were seriously wounded when a missile hit a house in Netivot. Another man was seriously wounded when a rocket struck at the community of Mivtahim later this afternoon." Over the last four years, 92% of Sderot residents (a town of 20,000 people) have experienced a Qassam rocket falling on their or an adjacent street. Sixteen Israelis have been killed by Qassam rockets and hundreds have been injured and maimed.

Israel should have dealt with this situation long before now. Instead, it allowed itself to be persuaded to call a truce with Hamas. It may have gone down well in the international community, but all it achieved was to allow Hamas time to regroup and rearm. According to CFI:
Under cover of the truce, Hamas engaged in a major campaign to upgrade its terrorist capabilities, manufacturing and smuggling massive quantities of weapons into Gaza - including rockets, explosive charges and machine guns - and constructing a network of underground tunnels for combat purposes. Israel cannot acquiesce to the presence of a Hizbullah-like organization on its southern border.

Hamas broke the ceasefire by firing more rockets into Israel. Imagine if this had happened here. Imagine if France fired rockets onto Dover from Calais. Would the British people expect its government to stand idly by and do nothing? Of course not.

British politicians are calling on both sides to act with restraint. Fine words, which are totally hollow. It is not right to treat both sides equally. Israel is a democratic ally, while Hamas are nothing more than an Iranian backed terror group, which is subjugating the people of Gaza in order to radicalise them. Once they have done that they intend to repeat the experience on the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority, led by Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas are well aware of this and their condemnation of the Israeli action is notable for its reticence. It's easy to understand why. They know full well what Hamas is like, and what its endgame is. This report is from the Press Association...
In a news conference today from Cairo, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas placed the blame for the violence in the Gaza Strip squarely on the shoulders of Hamas. He described how he repeatedly made contact with Hamas and implored them not to break the ceasefire. He lamented that the violence in the Gaza Strip could have been avoided had Hamas not broken the ceasefire. The following is Mahmoud Abbas's statement at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit.

"I say in all honesty, we made contact with leaders of the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. We spoke with them in all honesty and directly, and after that we spoke with them indirectly, through more than one Arab and non-Arab side... We spoke with them on the telephone and we said to them: We ask of you, don't stop the ceasefire, the ceasefire must continue and not stop, in order to avoid what has happened, and if only we had avoided it."

The US ambassador to the US Zalmay Khalilzad has suggested Hamas held the key to restoring calm. "We believe the way forward from here is for rocket attacks against Israel to stop, for all violence to end," he said. CFI reports that Khalilzad was "implicitly backed up from Cairo by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who claimed the current situation could have been avoided had Hamas renewed the ceasefire before it lapsed and ceased all violence towards Israel."

If you doubt my interpretation of Hamas's motives and are deluded enough to think that they are genuine freedom fighters, just click HERE. To the horror of the Egyptians Hamas are not even allowing ambulances in to Gaza to treat the injured.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the wounded were "barred from crossing" and he blamed "those in control of Gaza" for putting the lives of the injured at risk.

And we shouldn't forget who funds Hamas - the Iranians. Without their money and weapons Hamas wouldn't be half the force it is today, either in Gaza or in the Lebanon. Hamas is classified as a terror organisation by the UN. Virtually every Middle East country won't have any dealings with Hamas, yet in this country they seem to be treated by many as a legitimate organisation with whom the Israelis should negotiate. The only country which exalts Hamas is the one to whose President Channel 4 disgracefully gave a platform on Christmas Day.

People blame Israel for the terrible state of living standards in the Gaza Strip. They are wrong. Hamas is to blame for keeping its people in abject poverty. Israel handed over the governmental administration of the Gaza Strip in 2005 to the Palestinian Authority. They had an opportunity to run it themselves. Instead, since Hamas took power, they have done everything in their power to keep their people in poverty and use it as an excuse to radicalise those who are inclined to believe their propaganda. But even despite this, Israel was providing huge amounts of humanitarian aid to Gaza - more than 4,000 truck loads a month as well as fuel and electricity (despite the ongoing rocket attacks). Conditions were by no means good, but there was no humanitarian crisis, according to Khaled Abdel Shaafi, director the United Nations Development Programme in Gaza. He said this month that "this is not a humanitarian crisis... It's an economic crisis, a political crisis, but it's not a humanitarian crisis. People aren't starving."

It is highly regrettable that more than 250 people have been killed over the last few days. If Hamas hadn't been firing their rockets from residential areas the death toll would have been much lower. But Hamas have sited them there deliberately, so they can portray any Israeli response as heartless and disproportionate.

Gordon Brown was absolutely bang on with his response to what's happening in Gaza. He said: "I call on Gazan militants to cease all rocket attacks on Israel immediately. These attacks are designed to cause random destruction and to undermine the prospects of peace talks led by president Abbas. I understand the Israeli government's sense of obligation to its population."

William Hague, though, was perhaps a little less unequivocal, which I think is a shame. He said: "We deeply regret the loss of civilian life in Gaza today. We call on the Israeli government to show restraint. At the same time we call on Hamas to stop the rocket attacks which are an unacceptable threat to Israel's security, so that the ceasefire, which Hamas failed to renew, can be urgently restored."

The trouble is that any Hamas backed ceasefire isn't worth the paper it is written on. If we have learned nothing from recent history, surely we have learned that. Israel will only be able to restore open borders with Gaza and cease its military action when it is clear that no further rockets are being fired. In the meantime they should have the backing of every right thinking democrat in destroying the sites from which rockets are being fired and the tunnels through which Hamas are smuggling arms from Egypt.

As you can tell, I support Israel 100% in their actions in Gaza. But I fully recognise that there is an opposing viewpoint, which others are espousing on other blogs - mostly on the left. Whenever I write about Israel or the Middle East it provokes the loonies to come out of hiding. Let's keep the debate moderate and insult free in the comments please.

UPDATE: Courtesy of Dizzy...

Quote of the Day by the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit
The Israelis have been warning you that this was coming if you continue your cross border rocket attacks. Egypt has been imploring you to stop firing rockets into Israel, but you ignored our words. We have been urging you to renew the cease-fire with Israel, but you refused. You have brought this upon yourselves. You are responsible for what is happening to the people of Gaza.




The Church of England turns the Bible on its head: "The Church of England has reached an historic agreement on the consecration of women bishops. After years of struggle to avoid schism, bishops have agreed a formula that enshrines the principle of equality for male and female bishops while appeasing opponents of women's ordination. The first women bishops could take their place in the Church of England within three years. The deal, published in a new report yesterday, provides for a class of "complementary" traditionalist bishop for parishes that refuse to accept a woman diocesan bishop. Such "flying" bishops would have to abide by the authority of the woman bishop, according to the accompanying code of practice." [Maybe they should get themselves a new holy book. "Das Kapital", perhaps]

British airport security. The expected efficiency: "Security at one of the UK's biggest airports has been branded 'a total failure' after a man flew to Pakistan using his little sister's passport. Businessman Kasim Raja went unchallenged through three security checks at Birmingham International Airport using his sister Samina Raja's ID. He then boarded a Pakistan International Airlines flight to Islamabad, where he was finally spotted. He said the wrong passport was checked at the first desk and also at the boarding gate before he was waved through. It was only when the 26-year-old finally reached the Pakistani capital that border control staff there noticed the mistake and ordered him home. Despite pleading with them to contact the British Embassy to try to sort out the mix-up, they bundled him on to a flight back to the UK because he had no valid passport. Mr Raja said he had been staggered Birmingham International Airport had not noticed he was carrying his sister's ID, which he had picked up by mistake. The local businessman questioned how many others had slipped through the net. He said: 'It's frightening. It is a total failure in security and I could have been anyone trying to escape the country."

Black teens killing each other in U.S. soars by 34%: "The number of black teenagers killing each other has soared by 34 per cent in the United States, it was revealed yesterday. The FBI figures, hidden in an overall fall in murder and violent crimes, were analysed by criminal justice experts James Alan Fox and Marc Swatt. The number of black male murder victims aged from 14 to 17 rose by almost 40 per cent. The professors, of Northeastern University, Boston, said federal cash for schemes to help troubled youngsters dried up after the 9/11 terror attacks, when cash was prioritised elsewhere. Mr Fox added: 'We either pay for these programmes now or pray for the victims later. Crime doesn't wait until the economy improves.' The increases, covering the period from 2000 to 2007, far exceed the corresponding statistics for white males of the same age range of 17 and 3 per cent respectively. Among their findings: an increase of more than 39 per cent in the number of black males between the ages of 14 and 17 killed between 2000 and 2007, and an increase of 34 per cent in the number of blacks in that age group who committed homicide. The increases for white male teens age 14-17 during that same period were about 17 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively."

Bailouts aggravate financial crisis : "In the New York Times, economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason University argues that the $700 billion financial-system bailout is impeding an economic recovery. Because of the `ad hoc,' standardless way the money is being doled out, `the market doesn't know what to expect and many financial institutions are sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see what regulators will do next. Regulatory uncertainty is stifling the ability of financial markets to engineer at least a partial recovery.'"


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


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


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Biology and the Jews

My recent meditations about the fate of the Jews were of course put on the net with some trepidation. Almost any discussion of the topic at all is likely to elicit immediate shrieks of racism -- particularly if a gentile is making the comment and the comments are not wholly laudatory. I am therefore delighted to see that a reasonably polite "Reply" to my comments has appeared which addresses my arguments rather than simply abusing me. I believe that I have already covered the points he raises but I obviously need to sharpen up my message.

I am not surprised, however, to see signs that emotion has overwhelmed logic in the reply. A central point in my posts on the subject was comparisons of Jews with others and my critic rightly sees that. His comment on the subject is, however, quite astonishing. He says of my comparison between Jews and Christians:

The problem is that he is comparing the number of members of a nation, with the number of adherents of a religion

Christians are members of a religion and Jews are not? What is Judaism then? Judging by the frequency of blue eyes among Askenazi Jews, Jews often are clearly not geneticaly connected to the Middle East. As far as I am aware, in fact, no member of the Ashkenazim can trace their ancestry to the Middle East. And I gather that it would be a rare Jew who identifies Jews as a race. That would make Jewish pride racist and the number of Jews who would wish to wear that label must be vanishingly small. What makes Jews Jews is their religious heritage, even if most Jews are not these days religious. What irreligious Jews trace back to as the source of their Jewishness is not a place but a forebear who identified himself or herself as a follower of the Jewish religion. So I see no invalidity at all in my comparison between Jews and Christians. Lots of Christians are pretty nominal too. My father never went to church but he would always put himself down on forms as "Church of England".

My critic says that it is understandable that Jews have proliferated less because they are endogamous and exclusive. But that is a point I make too. Endogamy (marrying within the clan) is very common in the human race and I think it is precisely the Christian abandonment of that which is wiser and a step forward. And biology looks primarily at numbers and the numbers do clearly show that the exogamy and general welcoming of others which is basic to Pauline Christianity has been a more adaptive survival and perpetuation strategy. From a purely biological standpoint, one could argue that Christianity is a more highly evolved form of Judaism. OK. I know that those will be taken as fighting words but they are not meant to be. They are meant as a normal deduction from the numbers within evolutionary biology. That Christianity is a more highly evolved form of Judaism is also, of course, a central Christian claim but, as an atheist, I am not influenced by that.

The remaining point in what my critic says is to deny that Jews have adopted a less than optimal survival strategy. Many groups are listed which are either extinct or smaller in number than the Jews. That however is to sell Jews short. I was not interested in such trivial comparisons. I don't for one second deny the miracle of Jewish survival. They have clearly outdone all of humanity in terms of the time they have survived. I was looking only at how they could survive in more security. Pharaonic Egypt one looked as if it would last forever but it did not. The same could be true of the Jews. It does not pay to be complacent. In other words, I wanted to compare Jews with the MOST successful of other groups, not with any of the many less successful groups. Jews are undoubtedly illustrious as far as survival is concerned but can they learn something from other groups that are also illustrious survivors? In particular can they learn from groups that could be seen as MORE successful in various ways?

What I did, then, was to look at another group that has not only survived for a significant length of time (c. 1500 years) but done so in style -- without having to endure horrendous pogroms, holocausts and decimating wars -- the English. Their influence on the modern world has been immense so I was comparing Jews not with unsuccessful groups but with an outstandingly successful group. The English may well by now have had their day but how they had such a splendid day is surely of interest. For nearly a thousand years their land has not been invaded. Unlike most other countries and groups, foreign soldiers have not tramped through their land, destroying, stealing, killing and raping women. Instead the English have conquered huge slices of the lands of other people and left those lands in the control of their descendants. Biologically, that is hot stuff, awesome, even. It is certainly without precedent. So we see, for instance, that Richmond-upon-Thames, the affluent southwest London borough has given its name to 55 settlements on three continents.

And so I still think that Jews can learn from the English. But you will have to read my earlier posts to see why and how I think they can do that. I have combined my three previous posts into a single article here.



Bystander intervention still lives on in Australia: "A passer-by thwarted a bank robbery in Sydney's west this morning after tackling a thief as he fled with a bag of cash, police say. The thief entered the bank on Jersey Road, Plumpton, about 10.50am, telling staff he was armed and demanding money, a police spokeswoman said. However the thief was not believed to be armed, she said. "We've been told he then allegedly took a female staff member hostage," she said. The man then left the bank with cash, but was tackled a short time later by a member of the public, she said. The man was in custody at Mount Druitt police station, and was believed to be uninjured, she said."

Another reason why NOBODY should trust the British government with personal information: "More than one Government computer goes missing every day, ministers have admitted. Since the start of 2002 nearly 3,000 computers have been lost or stolen across Whitehall, which equates to eight every week. In total 1,774 laptop computers and 1,035 desktop computers have been lost or stolen, a rate of nearly five a week and three a week respectively. This year alone 238 laptops and 40 desktops have gone missing. The past seven years have also seen 676 mobile phones, 202 hard drives and 195 memory sticks lost or stolen. The worst offender is the Ministry of Defence, which handles some of the most sensitive information in Government. It has had 866 laptops stolen and has lost 178 - more than half the total of missing laptops. The MoD is losing laptops at a rate of nearly three a week and has also had 157 desktops stolen and lost seven. The Department of Work and Pensions, which processes details of millions of bank accounts, national insurance contributions and benefit and pension payments, is not far behind. The DWP has had 828 desktops mislaid or stolen - 80 per cent of all those lost to the Government since 2002 - as well as 271 laptops."

Corruption's cost, beyond Blagojevich : "Gordon Tullock is not a household name. It's a shame that he's not. In contrast, disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is a household name. It's a shame that he is. These two men have little in common except that Mr. Tullock, an eminent economist, is the first scholar who systematically grasped and explained why the actions of politicians such as Mr. Blagojevich are so harmful to the rest of us. It takes no genius to understand why Blagojevich sought to enrich his purse and enlarge his power by allegedly trying to sell a US Senate seat. . As H.L. Mencken observed long ago about homo politicus: `[I]t is to his interest to augment his powers at all hazards, and to make his compensation all the traffic will bear.' Understanding just how actions such as Blagojevich's create widespread harm, however, is more involved than it appears."

The New Deal would have worked, if . : "The standard liberal-progressive-socialist litany is that socialism, in the New Deal and subsequent years, would have succeeded, if only the government had spent more money for a longer time. Many liberals lament that the New Deal didn't go far enough in socializing the economy. That was a major reason for the savage antagonism between the liberal establishment of the 1960s and the New Left student radicals like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, the spiritual parents of president-elect Obama's educational policies. In addition to blind religious faith in the secular religion of socialism, liberal-progressives are beset by ignorance. For three generations, students have been taught a completely false version of the Depression's causes and of the actual results attained by President Roosevelt's New Deal."


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


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


Monday, December 29, 2008

America can't win with its critics

"Retail Sales Plummet," read the Christmas headline in the Wall Street Journal. "Sales plunged across most categories on shrinking consumer spending."

Hey, that's great news, isn't it? After all, everyone knows Americans consume too much. What was it that then Senator Obama said on the subject? "We can't just keep driving our SUVs, eating whatever we want, keeping our homes at 72 degrees at all times regardless of whether we live in the tundra or the desert and keep consuming 25 percent of the world's resources with just 4 percent of the world's population, and expect the rest of the world to say you just go ahead, we'll be fine."

And boy, we took the great man's words to heart. SUV sales have nosedived, and 72 is no longer your home's thermostat setting but its current value expressed as a percentage of what you paid for it. If I understand then Senator Obama's logic, in a just world Americans would be 4 percent of the population and consume a fair and reasonable 4 percent of the world's resources. And in these last few months we've made an excellent start toward that blessed utopia: Americans are driving smaller cars, buying smaller homes, giving smaller Christmas presents.

And yet, strangely, President-Elect Obama doesn't seem terribly happy about the Obamafication of the American economy. He's proposing some 5.7 bazillion dollar "stimulus" package or whatever it is now to "stimulate" it back into its bad old ways.

And how does the rest of the world, of whose tender sensibilities then Senator Obama was so mindful, feel about the collapse of American consumer excess? They're aghast, they're terrified, they're on a one-way express elevator down to Sub-Basement Level 37 of the abyss with no hope of putting on the brakes unless the global economy can restore aggregate demand. What does all that mumbo-jumbo about "aggregate demand" mean? Well, that's a fancy term for you - yes, you, Joe Lardbutt, the bloated disgusting embodiment of American excess, driving around in your Chevy Behemoth, getting two blocks to the gallon as you shear the roof off the drive-thru lane to pick up your $7.93 decaf gingersnap-mocha-pepperoni-zebra mussel frappuccino, which makes for a wonderful cool refreshing thirst-quencher after you've been working up a sweat watching the plasma TV in your rec room all morning with the thermostat set to 87. The message from the European political class couldn't be more straightforward: If you crass, vulgar Americans don't ramp up the demand, we're kaput. Unless you get back to previous levels of planet-devastating consumption, the planet is screwed.

"Much of the load will fall on the US," wrote Martin Wolf in the Financial Times, "largely because the Europeans, Japanese and even the Chinese are too inert, too complacent, or too weak." The European Union has 500 million people, compared with America's 300 million. Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain are advanced economies whose combined population adds up to that of the United States. Many EU members have enjoyed for decades the enlightened progressive policies Americans won't be getting until January 20th. Why then are they so "inert" that their economic fortunes depend on the despised moronic Yanks?



No Peace in the Holy Land

It's no surprise that Israel would launch a new offensive against Hamas. Israeli officials have been warning that they would not sit back indefinitely and let Hamas rain missiles on their citizens. The timing - after Christmas and before Obama is sworn in - make sense. It's also no surprise that much of the coverage has ignored the years of missile attacks Israel has endured or treats them as though they are just a minor annoyance: Can't the Israelis use umbrellas or something?

A CNN piece I saw earlier today made no mention of the missiles until the very end when they quoted from a White House statement calling on Hamas to finally put a stop to the rocket salvos.

Context is also missing from many reports: Israelis left Gaza in 2005 - after years of being told that if they "ended the occupation" the violence would subside. It's been just the opposite. Instead of proving to the world that they are capable of building a free and democratic state, the Palestinians voted in the militant Islamist group Hamas which - with support from Tehran - quickly turned Gaza into a terrorist enclave. Hamas then took over full control of Gaza in a bloody operation against the Palestinian Authority and its supporters.

In June of 2006, Hamas "commandos" invaded Israel and kidnapped an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. The "international community" has been virtually silent about Shalit who - unlike the detainees at Guantamo - has never had access to the Red Cross much less to an attorney. The real question now is will Israel do to Hamas what it failed to do to Hezbollah: demonstrate clearly that terrorism is a dead end - figuratively and literally - for those who employ it, sponsor it and support it?



The corrupt UAW makes it impossible for GM to compete

An insider tells how hard UAW workers work

As a former supervisor of UAW workers at a GM facility, I will say that poor management and union malpractice made the Detroit Three uncompetitive long before the government sent in their arsonists. To put it bluntly, the UAW takes the hard-earned money of the best workers and spends it defending the very worst workers while tying up the industry with thousands of pages of work rules that make it impossible to be competitive. And the spineless management often makes short-sighted decisions to satisfy the union and maximize immediate benefits over long-term sustainability. The strength of the union and the weakness of management made it impossible to conduct business properly at any level. .

I supervised a loading dock and 21 UAW workers who worked approximately five hours per day for eight hours' pay. They could easily load one-third more rail cars and still maintain their union-negotiated break times, but when I tried to make them increase production ever so slightly they sabotaged my ability to make even the current production levels by hiding stock, calling in sick, feigning equipment problems, and even once, as a show of force, used a fork lift truck and pallets and racks to create a car part prison where they trapped me while I was conducting inventory. The reaction of upper management to my request to boost production was that I should "not be naive."

One afternoon I was helping oversee the plant while upper management was off site. The workers brought an RV into the loading yard with a female "entertainer" who danced for them and then "entertained" them in the RV. With no other management around, I went to labor relations for assistance. As a twenty-five-year-old woman, I was not about to try to break up a crowd of fifty rowdy men. The labor relations rep pulled out the work rules and asked me which of the rules the men were breaking. I read through the rules and none applied directly, of course. Who wrote work rules to cover prostitutes at lunch? The only "legal" cause I had was an unauthorized vehicle and person and that blame did not fall on the union workers who were being "entertained" but on the security guards at the gate. Not one person suffered any consequence.



Preparations for the day when Obama is confirmed as ineligible to be President?

A new report from the U.S. Army War College discusses the use of American troops to quell civil unrest brought about by a worsening economic crisis. The report from the War College's Strategic Studies Institute warns that the U.S. military must prepare for a "violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States" that could be provoked by "unforeseen economic collapse" or "loss of functioning political and legal order."

Entitled "Known Unknowns: Unconventional `Strategic Shocks' in Defense Strategy Development," the report was produced by Nathan Freier, a recently retired Army lieutenant colonel who is a professor at the college - the Army's main training institute for prospective senior officers. He writes: "To the extent events like this involve organized violence against local, state, and national authorities and exceed the capacity of the former two to restore public order and protect vulnerable populations, DoD [Department of Defense] would be required to fill the gap."

Freier continues: "Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order . An American government and defense establishment lulled into complacency by a long-secure domestic order would be forced to rapidly divest some or most external security commitments in order to address rapidly expanding human insecurity at home."




NYT wobbling financially: "Seeking to fortify its core assets, The New York Times Company is actively shopping its stake in the holding company of the Boston Red Sox baseball club, according to two people familiar with the discussions. Times Co, which faces a cash shortage accelerated by steep industry-wide revenue declines, has been rumoured for months to be open to selling non-core assets. Besides its flagship newspaper, Times Co owns the Boston Globe, and a 17.5 per cent stake in New England Sports Ventures (NESV), which owns the Red Sox, their fabled ballpark Fenway Park and most of the cable network that airs the team's games. Times Co pushed discussions beyond the exploration phase early last month at a quarterly meeting of NESV's limited partners, at which the company indicated to the partnership its intention to sell. Since then Times Co has been pursuing potential buyers, according to people familiar with the discussions. Barclays Capital has pegged the value of the investment at about $US166 million ($244 million). A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment".

Darling Caroline: "It seems that Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, or how ever she is styling herself this week, has been carrying on a "close friendship" with NY Times publisher Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger (in this context his nickname is most appropriate) and the NY Times refuses to comment on the subject. Sez them: "we don't report stuff like this, regardless of the people involved." To which a person who hasn't been in a coma for the better part of a year would ask, why didn't that standard apply to John McCain when the NYT ran its scurrilous front page insinuation of adultery? And why wouldn't they cover this as the NYT will be covering Ms. Whatever's actions in Washington when Governor Paterson (boy is it ever a metaphor that he is blind) appoints her a Senator.


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


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


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Why the U.S. needs a space-based missile defense against an electro-magnetic pulse attack

America will no more heed this warning than Britain heeded Churchill's warnings about Hitler, of course

Consider Iran. For the past decade, Iran -- with the assistance of Russia, China and North Korea -- has been developing missile technology. Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani announced in 2004 their ability to mass produce the Shahab-3 missile capable of carrying a lethal payload to Israel or -- if launched from a ship -- to an American city. The current controversy over Iran's nuclear production is really about whether it is capable of producing nuclear warheads. This possibility is made more urgent by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statement in 2005: "Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved."

Mr. Ahmadinejad takes seriously, even if the average Iranian does not, radical Islam's goal of converting, subjugating or destroying the infidel peoples -- first and foremost the citizens of the U.S. and Israel. Even after 9/11, we appear not to take that threat seriously. We should. Think about this scenario: An ordinary-looking freighter ship heading toward New York or Los Angeles launches a missile from its hull or from a canister lowered into the sea. It hits a densely populated area. A million people are incinerated. The ship is then sunk. No one claims responsibility. There is no firm evidence as to who sponsored the attack, and thus no one against whom to launch a counterstrike.

But as terrible as that scenario sounds, there is one that is worse. Let us say the freighter ship launches a nuclear-armed Shahab-3 missile off the coast of the U.S. and the missile explodes 300 miles over Chicago. The nuclear detonation in space creates an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Gamma rays from the explosion, through the Compton Effect, generate three classes of disruptive electromagnetic pulses, which permanently destroy consumer electronics, the electronics in some automobiles and, most importantly, the hundreds of large transformers that distribute power throughout the U.S. All of our lights, refrigerators, water-pumping stations, TVs and radios stop running. We have no communication and no ability to provide food and water to 300 million Americans.

This is what is referred to as an EMP attack, and such an attack would effectively throw America back technologically into the early 19th century. It would require the Iranians to be able to produce a warhead as sophisticated as we expect the Russians or the Chinese to possess. But that is certainly attainable. Common sense would suggest that, absent food and water, the number of people who could die of deprivation and as a result of social breakdown might run well into the millions. Let us be clear. A successful EMP attack on the U.S. would have a dramatic effect on the country, to say the least. Even one that only affected part of the country would cripple the economy for years. Dropping nuclear weapons on or retaliating against whoever caused the attack would not help. And an EMP attack is not far-fetched.

Twice in the last eight years, in the Caspian Sea, the Iranians have tested their ability to launch ballistic missiles in a way to set off an EMP. The congressionally mandated EMP Commission, with some of America's finest scientists, has released its findings and issued two separate reports, the most recent in April, describing the devastating effects of such an attack on the U.S.

The only solution to this problem is a robust, multilayered missile-defense system. The most effective layer in this system is in space, using space-based interceptors that destroy an enemy warhead in its ascent phase when it is easily identifiable, slower, and has not yet deployed decoys. We know it can work from tests conducted in the early 1990s. We have the technology. What we lack is the political will to make it a reality.

An EMP attack is not one from which America could recover as we did after Pearl Harbor. Such an attack might mean the end of the United States and most likely the Free World. It is of the highest priority to have a president and policy makers not merely acknowledge the problem, but also make comprehensive missile defense a reality as soon as possible.

More here


Does this explain why Blagojevich is not giving in?

Ex-mayor Willie Brown has shed some critical light onto the Obama-Blagojevich affair. It seems now that this was all a push initiated by team Obama to stop Blagojevich from selecting a successor to Obama. It seems Blagojevich has a candidate in mind that Obama wanted to stop. In light of what Willie Brown has uncovered in his recent talks with Gov Blag, it seems Team Obama was the one putting the pressure on Team Blagojevich and not the other way around!
I wouldn't bet on him stepping aside anytime soon. If anything, his hand is getting stronger by the day. I can't go into details, but my impression is that the whole mess started because the governor had been considering appointing a political rival, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, to the Senate so she wouldn't be able to run against him when he went up for re-election in 2010.

Apparently, Obama's people weren't happy about the idea of Madigan coming to Washington, and there were some pretty heated conversations between Blagojevich and Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, which I understand will burn your ears off.

This really changes everything we read from Fitzgerald. Now Blagojevich's rants about Obama giving nothing to get Obama's selection(s) into the US Senate has morphed into Obama pressuring a sitting governor to allow the President-Elect to dictate the selection. Blagojevich's requirements for a quid pro quo are now maybe a push back against an incoming administration who wanted control over who got into the Senate. Now the quid pro quo discussions are about what Obama would be willing to give up in order for Blagojevich to do Obama's bidding on the selection and not go with his preferred choice of Madigan (who I warned should keep her mouth shut about impeachment, etc until the facts came out). Now the awkwardness of the Obama denials make sense.
This political problem arose in part because Obama was so eager to appear purer than any politician can actually be. In his initial statements, he sounded as if he was trying to say that he knew nothing at all about the selection of his successor. "I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening," he told the press, and refused to elaborate.

That remark clarified nothing; today it seems like obfuscation at best and prevarication at worst. Nobody is likely to believe that Emanuel spoke more than 20 times with Blagojevich or the governor's aide John Harris without informing Obama about those conversations. To insist that he had "no contact" when his top aide was involved in so many contacts is precisely the kind of parsing that undermines confidence.

Well, it wouldn't make sense if Team Obama was being pressured by a crooked governor to pay something for a candidate they preferred. But it does make sense if Team Obama is the one that was applying the pressure. If it is true that Team Obama was in contact with Team Blagojevich to pressure Blagojevich to dump his own preference and defer to Team Obama's directives the whole thing turns around.

More here


Theodore Roosevelt Was No Conservative

There's a reason he left the GOP to lead the Progressive Party

The fact that conservative politicians such as John McCain and writers like William Kristol and Karl Rove are attracted to our 26th president is strange because, if we want to understand where in the American political tradition the idea of unlimited, redistributive government came from, we need look no further than to Roosevelt and others who shared his outlook.

Progressives of both parties, including Roosevelt, were the original big-government liberals. They understood full well that the greatest obstacle to their schemes of social justice and equality of material condition was the U.S. Constitution as it was originally written and understood: as creating a national government of limited, enumerated powers that was dedicated to securing the individual natural rights of its citizens, especially liberty of contract and private property.

It was the Republican TR, who insisted in his 1910 speech on the "New Nationalism" that there was a "general right of the community to regulate" the earning of income and use of private property "to whatever degree the public welfare may require it." He was at one here with Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who had in 1885 condemned Americans' respect for their Constitution as "blind worship," and suggested that his countrymen dedicate themselves to the Declaration of Independence by leaving out its "preface" -- i.e., the part of it that establishes the protection of equal natural rights as the permanent task of government....

In his New Nationalism speech he noted how, in aiming to use state power to bring about economic equality, the government should permit a man to earn and keep his property "only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community." The government itself of course would determine what represented a benefit to the community, and whether society would be better off if an individual's wealth was transferred to somebody else. We can see the triumph of this outlook in progressive income taxation, which TR trumpeted in his speech (along with progressive estate taxes). We may also see this theory in action when a government seizes private property through eminent domain, transferring it to others in order to generate higher tax revenues -- a practice blessed by the Supreme Court in its notorious Kelo v. New London decision of 2005.

Some conservatives today are misled by the battle between TR and Wilson in the 1912 presidential election. But Wilson implemented most of TR's program once he took office in 1913, including a progressive income tax and the establishment of several regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission. Others are misled by TR's crusade against an activist judiciary. But unlike our courts today, the judiciary during the Progressive era properly struck down legislation that violated our bedrock rights to liberty of contract and private property. TR hated the judiciary precisely for standing up for the Constitution; this is certainly no reason for conservatives today to latch on to his antijudicial rhetoric.

More here

I think that another reason why TR is sometimes identified as a conservative is his warlike foreign policy. America built lots of battleships and took over several countries (Cuba, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii) under his influence. But that is in fact not conservative at all. American conservatism is traditionally isolationist. It was Democrats who dragged America into most of its wars -- from WWI to Serbia. Conservatives go to war only when attacked, as in the response by GWB to the 9/11 events. Which is also why FDR pushed Japan into war. He knew that Americans up to that point wanted no part of WWII. TR also had generally realistic views about race -- with his warning about Japan being particularly prescient -- and that certainly separates him from modern-day Leftists. But that did not at all separate him from the Leftists of his day


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


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


Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Economic News Isn't All Bleak

We may be in for a long slide. But there are also reasons to think the economy could rebound quickly

The recent economic news has been dismal, and it's now almost universally assumed things will get worse before they get better. Conventional wisdom also dictates that this recession will be longer, deeper and cause more long-term pain than any financial crisis since the Great Depression. Yet, less than two years ago, conventional wisdom dictated that the housing bubble would be painful but that global economic growth would remain stable. That assertion was proved dramatically incorrect. Why then is there so much conviction in today's forecasts of a dire future?

Predictions about the rate of unemployment by the end of 2009 are based on how high that rate went during and after other recessions, and how steep those recessions were compared to today. Forecasts of GDP growth are grounded in the nature of past contractions and how long it took the system to begin expanding again. But none of these past patterns are necessarily a useful guide to the circumstances of today. The way events have unfolded over the past few months simply has no precedent.

It's common to hear comparisons to the Great Depression, when economies around the globe shrank precipitously, or to the 1970s, when an oil shock gave way to steep contraction of GDP growth in the developed world and a concomitant collapse in energy prices. But those occurred over the course of years. What happened since the collapse of Lehman on Sept. 15 was a global, synchronous cessation of all but nondiscretionary economic activity in the wake of the near-collapse of global credit markets. And it happened over the course of weeks, not years. Data from October and November show shrinkage of 10%, 20% and often considerably more in corporate earnings, car sales, home prices, commodities and a host of other areas. But analysts and strategists now take this as the "new normal" and are projecting into 2009 and beyond as if it were.

True, this global halt is the dark side of the information technologies and globalization that have created so much wealth and generated so much activity in the past 20 years. The frictionless, instantaneous flow of capital is possible only because of the Internet and electronic exchanges. The supply chain for industrial metals, from copper to iron ore, has gone from being regional and fragmented to global and unified. Semiconductors have become one global industry with pricing and inventories determined based on aggregate world-wide demand. Few industries are local, and almost everything is linked. In good times, that meant credit expanded and activity magnified geometrically. China for one has undergone more transformation in 20 years than most countries have seen in 100. But when the system was infected with toxic assets, the effects spread everywhere and fast. The collapse of Lehman led to fewer cars being sold in China in a matter of weeks, and the decline of Dubai real-estate prices to boot.

And yet, if things came to a halt more quickly than ever before, they could also restart more quickly than ever before. This is not to say they will, only that the possibility is more than marginal. And there are signs things are not everywhere as bad as conventional wisdom suggests. First, we haven't seen war, revolution, the collapse of states and governments or massive demonstrations sweeping the globe. Crowds have demonstrated in China, Greece and Thailand -- for reasons sometimes related to the economic crunch and sometimes not. Pakistan is teetering for multiple reasons -- of which economics is only one. But major economic crises in the 20th century almost always led to those types of major breaks, especially during the 1930s. While no one can say whether they will come in the months ahead, for the time being we should be remarking on how relatively stable things are in light of what has happened.

Second, consumers in many parts of the world are in relatively good shape. That statement might strike many as absurd, given the mantra of "consumers have been living beyond their means." But it's not just the third of American households that have no mortgage, or the 50% savings rate in China, or the still massive wealth accumulation in the Gulf region, Brazil and Russia. It's that the credit system, even at its most promiscuous, didn't allow consumers to take on the obscene leverage that financial institutions did. Millions of people who shouldn't have been lent money were, either in mortgages or through credit cards. But they couldn't be levered 40-to-1 as investment banks and funds were.

People have also reacted swiftly to the current problems, paying down debt and paring back purchases out of prudence or necessity. That's a short-term drag on economic activity, but it will leave consumer balance sheets in good shape going forward. Low energy prices and zero inflation will boost spending power. Even if unemployment reaches 9% or more, consumer reserves in the U.S. and world-wide are deeper than commentary would suggest. Household net worth in the U.S. is down from its highs but is still about $45 trillion. As the credit system eases, historically low interest rates also augur debt refinancing and constructive access to credit for those with good histories and for small business creation in the year ahead. Entrepreneurs often thrive when the system is cracking.

In addition, corporations generally have very clean balance sheets with little debt and lots of cash, unlike the downturns in 2002 and in the 1980s. And government has more creative ways to spend, which both the current Federal Reserve and the incoming Obama administration intend to do.

The last months of 2008 will go down as one of the most severe economic reversals to date, and on a global scale. But it is foolish to assume that this period provides a viable guide to what lies ahead. The rush to declare the future bleak has obscured the fact that no one knows the outcome of an unprecedented event. No one. The worst course in the face of uncertainty is blind faith in conventional wisdom and past patterns. The best is to stay humble in the face of the unknown, creative and unideological about solutions, and open to the possibility that as quickly as things turned sour they can reverse.




Hate-filled Leftist dies: "Nobel Prize-winning British playwright Harold Pinter, one of theatre's biggest names for nearly half a century, has died aged 78, his wife Lady Antonia Fraser and agent said Thursday. Pinter , who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, had been suffering from cancer. Fraser told the Guardian newspaper: "He was a great, and it was a privilege to live with him for over 33 years. He will never be forgotten." Pinter's plays included "The Birthday Party", "The Dumb Waiter" and "The Homecoming". His first play, "The Room," appeared in 1957 and his breakthrough came with "The Caretaker" in 1960. They often featured the slang language of his native east London as well as his trademark menacing pauses. The adjective "Pinteresque", referring to such characteristics, is included in the Oxford English Dictionary.... In Pinter's Nobel acceptance speech, he launched a lengthy and strong attack on US foreign policy, particularly over the Iraq war. "The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them," he said. [He must have been stone deaf!!] "You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis." [More political background here]

Democrat attack on criticism of government in Oklahoma: "Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson recently told supporters that he plans to run for Governor in 2010. So voters might be interested in how the AG has treated critics of government while serving as the state's top law enforcer. The case of Paul Jacob is instructive. A veteran political activist, Mr. Jacob is the former head of U.S. Term Limits and the current head of Citizens in Charge. A year ago, he and two fellow grassroots organizers, Rick Carpenter and Susan Johnson, were indicted on criminal conspiracy charges. Mr. Edmondson's office alleges that they attempted to defraud the state by hiring people from out of Oklahoma to gather signatures for a ballot initiative that would impose spending limits on lawmakers. If convicted, the "Oklahoma Three" face 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. But a conviction is unlikely given that last week the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional Oklahoma's law that bans nonresidents from circulating petitions. Despite the ruling, Mr. Edmondson has refused to drop the case and says he will appeal... Furthermore, the judges noted that the circulation of ballot petitions is "core political speech" that deserves the highest level of First Amendment protection."

Donor Disclosure Has Its Downsides: "How would you like elections without secret ballots? To most people, this would be absurd. We have secret balloting for obvious reasons. Politics frequently generates hot tempers. People can put up yard signs or wear political buttons if they want. But not everyone feels comfortable making his or her positions public -- many worry that their choice might offend or anger someone else. They fear losing their jobs or facing boycotts of their businesses. And yet the mandatory public disclosure of financial donations to political campaigns in almost every state and at the federal level renders people's fears and vulnerability all too real. Proposition 8 -- California's recently passed constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage by ensuring that marriage in that state remains between a man and a woman -- is a dramatic case in point. Its passage has generated retaliation against those who supported it, once their financial support was made public and put online. For example, when it was discovered that Scott Eckern, director of the nonprofit California Musical Theater in Sacramento, had given $1,000 to Yes on 8, the theater was deluged with criticism from prominent artists. Mr. Eckern was forced to resign. Richard Raddon, the director of the L.A. Film Festival, donated $1,500 to Yes on 8. A threatened boycott and picketing of the next festival forced him to resign. Alan Stock, the chief executive of the Cinemark theater chain, gave $9,999. Cinemark is facing a boycott, and so is the gay-friendly Sundance Film Festival because it uses a Cinemark theater to screen some of its films... These are just a few instances that have come to light, and the ramifications are still occurring over a month after the election. The larger point of this spectacle is its implications for the future: to intimidate people who donate to controversial campaigns."

Ford CAN still make good cars -- in England (No UAW there): "Take a bow, the Ford Fiesta – our Car Of The Year. I presented the gong to Ford’s UK boss Roelant De Waard and in an outstanding year for new models it was always going to be an extra-special car that won Sun Motors’ Top Award – and that’s what the new Fiesta is. The Fiesta has become part of the British motoring scene but this version takes small cars to a new level of sophistication. It’s the car that proves great things can come in small packages. Its sensational looks are backed up by an even more dramatic interior, with quality levels and equipment you’d expect on cars a class above. And, best of all, the Fiesta delivers a first-class driving experience, making the Ford a great all-round package. The public clearly agree because more than 11,500 have been sold since the car hit showrooms in October, despite the launch coinciding with the biggest sales slump in 15 years."


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


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


Friday, December 26, 2008

Maybe Obama really is a centrist

CAN YOU HEAR the grumbling over in what Howard Dean used to call "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party?" The tolerance-and-diversity crowd is upset with Barack Obama; it seems the president-elect has been bringing people into his circle who don't agree with them on every single issue.

President-elect Barack Obama introduces his national security team on Dec. 1. Nominees L to R: Eric Holder (Attorney General), Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (Secretary of Homeland Security), US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who is to continue in his position, Vice President-elect Joseph Biden, Sen. Hillary Clinton (Secretary of State), retired US Marine Gen. James Jones (National Security Adviser), and Susan Rice (ambassador to the UN).

The consternation on the left began with the naming of Obama's national security team -- Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Robert Gates to continue as secretary of defense, and retired four-star General James Jones as national security adviser. "Barack Obama's Kettle of Hawks," they were promptly dubbed in the Guardian by the left-wing journalist Jeremy Scahill, "with a proven track record of support for the Iraq war [and] militaristic interventionism." How could Obama possibly keep his campaign promise "to end the mindset that got us into war," asked The Nation, when none of his top foreign policy/national security picks had opposed the war?

There was even more distress in progressive precincts after Obama's economic team was announced. Lawrence Summers, who will chair the National Economic Council, "opposed regulating the newfangled financial instruments that greased the way to the subprime meltdown," wrote David Corn, the Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones magazine, in a column for the Washington Post. Obama's choice for Treasury secretary, New York Fed president Timothy Geithner, "helped oversee the financial system as it collapsed." Both of them, lamented Corn, are close to Robert Rubin, "a director of bailed-out Citigroup and a poster boy for . . . Big Finance." In the plaintive title of Corn's essay, "This Wasn't Quite the Change We Pictured."

Add to those the passel of former Clinton operatives who have returned to play key roles in the Obama transition, including Rahm Emanuel, John Podesta, and Greg Craig, and Obama Girl herself could be forgiven for feeling disillusioned. Whatever happened to the fresh, progressive candidate who promised an escape from Clinton-era Democratic politics?

As if all that weren't enough to give a fervent liberal agita, Obama has asked the Rev. Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor of Saddleback Church, to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. From many on the left, where Warren's staunch opposition to same-sex marriage is reason enough to loathe him, responses have ranged from dismay to fury. Barney Frank labeled the pastor's views "very offensive" and pronounced himself "very disappointed" that Obama would invite him. The blog Liberal Rapture was more pungent: "Obama throws another middle finger to liberals." ...

Still, Obama is hardly in danger of turning into anything resembling a right-winger. With his trillion-dollar "stimulus" proposal, he is inviting comparisons to FDR. And with committed liberals like Tom Daschle as Health and Human Services secretary, Carol Browner as energy czar, and Eric Holder as attorney general, the Obama administration is never going to be accused of harboring Republican tendencies.

More here

Whichever way you look at it, Obama sure is a champion con-man. Amusing that it seems to be mainly the Leftist big-shots that he has conned, however. Like other psychopaths -- such as Bill Clinton -- Obama believes in nothing other than what will benefit him personally. And he rightly perceives that if he wants a second term, he has to be a centrist. There is an article here which argues that centrism is the rule of politics. I can remember only as far back as Ike but as far as I can see, with one exception, all American presidents have been centrists -- the exception being, of course, Ronald Reagan. But as Nancy once said: "When they made Ronnie, they broke the mould". Ronnie actually moved the centre for a while but it has drifted back


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


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


Thursday, December 25, 2008


Posting on my various blogs may be a bit reduced over the Christmas period


Jews: Is survival enough?

I must be a crazy man to continue writing on this topic. To mix metaphors, I am both skating on thin ice and pissing into the wind. And if you can imagine that at least I have given you a laugh!

But I just want to make a brief comment on something that every single Jew who has written to me on the topic has said. They say: "We have survived them all so far and we will survive the present lot of SOBs too" (I paraphrase).

What that overlooks is what Winston Churchill originally said in 1934 (he said much the same later too). I briefly alluded to it earlier:
For nearly a thousand years England has not seen the campfires of an invader. The stormy sea and our Royal navy have been our sure defense. Not only have we preserved our life and freedom through the centuries, but gradually we have come to be the heart and center of an empire which surrounds the globe.

Churchill went on to warn (rightly) that the sea barrier was not alone enough and that Britain was nonetheless in dire peril. But what I want to draw attention to is that the English have survived for a long time too but have done so in style. They have had relative peace and prosperity (not a single woman raped by foreign troops in nearly a thousand years and very few civilian deaths from hostile foreign action) and have made their culture one of the world's most influential and made their language the common language of the world. English is even the language most widely spoken by Jews. Compared to that success, the Jewish achievement of mere survival amid horrendous losses is a very poor second prize.

I am sorry if that is a harsh way to put it but my more "fudged" British way of putting it previously obviously failed to communicate effectively in at least some cases.

So what I was doing in both my prior posts on this matter was to analyse what the English got right and what Jews got wrong. My conclusion is of course only my own opinion but I hope that the arguments I have made in support of it are persuasive. And my principal focus was of course on just one of the things that have kept Britain safe and thriving: Their unremitting emphasis on the importance of allies. Britain was invaded many times before the Norman conquest in 1066 but the Normans brought to Britain a wider continental awareness and engagement. And that system has continued in one way or another to this day.

And my (pissing into the wind) hope is that I might get more Jews to value allies highly too, now that some chances for allies have opened up. I have been a partisan for Israel since my early teens and I want it to survive in peace and prosperity, not amid more horrendous losses. So I say what little I can that might assist that.

This is not meant to be a stand-alone post. It is meant to be read as just a footnote to my two previous posts. See here and here.


Something to worry about when Christmas is over

A post recycled from one of America's military men

The economy is in the dumps. However the incoming Obama administration wants to save this capitalist economy with a dose of big-government socialism.

I have just begun reading the new book "The End of Prosperity" by Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Peter Tanous. In the very first chapter titled "The Gathering Economic Storm", the authors point out that the U.S. economy encountered "Four Killers of Prosperity" during the two tumultuous periods during the 1930s and 1970s. Those 'Four Killers' are:

- Trade Protectionism
- Tax Increases and profligate Govt Spending
- New Regulations and increased Gov't intervention in the economy
- Monetary policy mistakes

Unfortunately, a couple of those killers have already struck, and Obama isn't even in office yet. However, very soon all of those killers will be paroled, and sold to the public as the cure to economic ills. Lets run through those Killers again...

- Trade Protectionism - Check! Colomba can kiss its trade pact goodbye, and when the newly empowered Unions get their way, NAFTA will be the next big target

- Tax Increases and profligate Govt Spending - Check! Obama has paid lip service to delaying Income Tax increases, but there are many other ways to raise taxes, or if you live in California, "fees". Also, if you think that the Dems won't continue spending gov't oney like drunken sailors, now that the GOP has been kicked out of the budgetary bar, you must be high....

- New Regulations and increased Gov't intervention in the economy - Check! Since the new Dem bogeyman for a lot of this fiscal mess is "de-regulation", you certainly know what will be coming soon to a bureaucracy near you....more rules!! Welcome to the Nanny State...make yourself at home, just don't sit on the furniture.

- Monetary policy mistakes - Check! Already taken care of by the current administration. All Obama has to do is mind the store, and not advocate for a strong dollar.

Laffer, Moore, and Tanous may call them the Four Killers, but I think they will be refered to in the future as the Four Horsemen of the Obacalypse...



Some realism about bureaucracy

I read your blog on a daily basis and I've noted your skepticism about the monstrous bailout package being considered by the incoming Obama administration. In reading all of the econblogs I can find, I'm struck by the lack of practical knowledge both there and within the circle of advisers Obama has assembled.

I work for the DoD and when the Department of Homeland Security was established,we helped them with many things, not the least of which was contracting. To make a long story short, you cannot juice up a government agency's budget by tens of billions (or in the case of the stimulus package, hundreds of billions) and expect them to be able to process the paperwork to contract it out, much less oversee the projects or even choose them with any kind of hope for success. It's like trying to feed a Pomeranian a 25 lb turkey. It's madness.

It was years before DHS got the situation under control and between the start and when they finally assembled a sufficiently capable team of lawyers, contracting officials, technical experts and resource managers, most of the money was totally wasted. Now take the DHS situation and multiply it by 20 and you've got the Obama stimulus package. Even if they hand the money to existing governmental agencies, the situation will be the same. Those existing agencies are working full time administering the
budgets they have. They can't just add a zero at the end of each contract and be done with it.

Lastly, I've seen no business case analysis for this investment. I've seen lots of people referring to models and charts and graphs and history, but I've seen no analysis indicating that any of this will give you even a modest ROI....

Stop looking at models and equations and theoretical constructs for a while and look at the practical considerations of the stimulus package. I've been doing this sort of thing for quite a while and I'm convinced it's doomed from the start. If they feel the need to blast a trillion dollars into confetti, then tax cuts would make the most sense. Even if the public used the money to pay down debt, that would be a good thing as it would transfer the debt burden from the consumer to the government making the consumer feel a little bit like spending again.



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


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


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The First Noel
The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

So much Christian music celebrates Israel that I fail to see how anybody brought up in the Christian tradition can be anything other than Pro-Israel. But there are even many Jews who are either indifferent to or antagonistic in various ways to Israel so I suppose I should not be surprised at people who can sing one thing in Church and say very differently out of church. There are even whole Christian denominations that are anti-Israel, including one Methodist outfit, if I remember rightly.


An interesting little bit of dialogue via a black friend of Blagojevich:
As I was leaving, this brother comes up and says to me, "Willie Brown, even with the housing market and the economy, this has been a really great year for black people."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because we got Obama."

Then he said, "But you know, come to think of it, it was a good year for white people, too."

"Why's that?" I asked.

"Because they finally got O.J."


Only whites want a multiple murderer to be jailed? There is no doubt that there is still a huge pool of racism in America: Among blacks.


Conservative Snobs Are Wrong About Palin


Being listed in fourth place for Time magazine's "Person of the Year," as Sarah Palin was for 2008, sounds a little like being awarded the Order of Purity (Fourth Class). But it testifies to something important. Though regularly pronounced sick, dying, dead, cremated and scattered at sea, Mrs. Palin is still amazingly around. She has survived more media assassination attempts than Fidel Castro has survived real ones (Cuban official figure: 638). In her case, one particular method of assassination is especially popular -- namely, the desperate assertion that, in addition to her other handicaps, she is "no Margaret Thatcher."

Very few express this view in a calm or considered manner. Some employ profanity. Most claim to be conservative admirers of Mrs. Thatcher. Others admit they had always disliked the former British prime minister until someone compared her to "Sarracuda" -- at which point they suddenly realized Mrs. Thatcher must have been absolutely brilliant (at least by comparison). Inevitably, Lloyd Bentsen's famous put-down of Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice-presidential debate is resurrected, such as by Paul Waugh (in the London Evening Standard) and Marie Cocco (in the Washington Post): "Newsflash! Governor, You're No Maggie Thatcher," sneered Mr. Waugh. Added Ms. Coco, "now we know Sarah Palin is no Margaret Thatcher -- and no Dan Quayle either!"

Jolly, rib-tickling stuff. But, as it happens, I know Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher is a friend of mine. And as a matter of fact, Margaret Thatcher and Sarah Palin have a great deal in common. They are far from identical; they rose in different political systems requiring different skills. As a parliamentarian, Mrs. Thatcher needed forensic and debating skills which her training in Oxford politics and as a tax lawyer gave her. Mrs. Palin is a good speaker, but she needs to hone her debating tactics if she is to match those of the Iron Lady.

On the other hand, Mrs. Palin rose in state politics to jobs requiring executive ability. Her successful conduct of the negotiations with Canada, Canadian provinces and American states over the Alaska pipeline was a larger executive task than anything handled by Mrs. Thatcher until she entered the Cabinet and, arguably, until she became prime minister. Mrs. Thatcher's most senior position until then had been education secretary in the government of Edward Heath where, as she conceded in her memoirs, she lacked real executive power. Her political influence within that government was so small that it took 17 months for her to get an interview with him. Even then, a considerate civil servant assured Heath that others would be present to make the meeting less "boring." Her main political legacy from that job was the vitriolic slogan, "Margaret Thatcher, Milk-Snatcher," thrown at her by the left because of a budgetary decision she had opposed to charge some children for school meals and milk. It was the single most famous thing about her when she defeated Heath for the Tory leadership in 1975.

At this point she became almost as "controversial" as Sarah Palin. Heath, for example, made it plain privately that he would not serve under her. And Sir Ian Gilmour, an intellectual leader of the Tory "wets," privately dismissed her as a "Daily Telegraph woman." There is no precise equivalent in American English, but "narrow, repressed suburbanite" catches the sense. Mrs. Thatcher attracted such abuse for two reasons. First, she was seen by the chattering classes as representing a blend of provincial conservative values and market economics -- Middle England as it has come to be called -- against their own metropolitan liberalism. They thought this blend was an economic dead-end in a modern complex society and a political retreat into futile nostalgia. Of course, they failed to notice that their modern complex society was splintering under their statist burdens even as they denounced her extremism.

Second, Margaret Thatcher was not yet Margaret Thatcher. She had not won the 1979 election, recovered the Falklands, reformed trade union law, defeated the miners, and helped destroy Soviet communism peacefully. Things like that change your mind about a girl. But they also take time, during which she had to turn her instinctive beliefs into intellectually coherent policies against opposition inside and outside her own party. Like Mrs. Palin this year, Mrs. Thatcher knew there were serious gaps in her knowledge, especially of foreign affairs. She recruited experts who shared her general outlook (such as Robert Conquest and Hugh Thomas) to tutor her on these things. Even so she often seemed very alone in the Tory high command.

As a parliamentary sketch writer for the Daily Telegraph (and a not very repressed suburbanite), I watched Mrs. Thatcher's progress as opposition leader. She had been a good performer in less exalted positions. But initially she faltered. Against the smooth, condescending Prime Minister James Callaghan in particular she had a hard time. In contrast to his chuckling baritone she sounded shrill when she attacked. But she lowered her tone (vocally not morally), took lessons in presentation from (among others) Laurence Olivier, and prepared diligently for every debate and Question Time. I can still recall her breakthrough performance in a July 1977 debate on the Labour government's collapsing economy. She dominated the House of Commons so wittily that the next day the Daily Mail's acerbic correspondent, Andrew Alexander, began his report: "If Mrs. Thatcher were a racehorse, she would have been tested for drugs yesterday." She was now on the way to becoming the world-historical figure who today is the gold standard of conservative statesmanship.

Mrs. Palin has a long way to go to match this. Circumstances may never give her the chance to do so. Even if she gets that chance, she may lack Mrs. Thatcher's depths of courage, firmness and stamina -- we only ever know such things in retrospect. But she has plenty of time, probably eight years, to analyze America's problems, recruit her own expert advice, and develop conservative solutions to them. She has obvious intelligence, drive, serious moral character, and a Reaganesque likability. Her likely Republican rivals such as Bobby Jindal and Mitt Romney, not to mention Barack Obama, have most of these same qualities too. But she shares with Mrs. Thatcher a very rare charisma. As Ronnie Millar, the latter's speechwriter and a successful playwright, used to say in theatrical tones: She may be depressed, ill-dressed and having a bad hair day, but when the curtain rises, out onto the stage she steps looking like a billion dollars. That's the mark of a star, dear boy. They rise to the big occasions.

Mrs. Palin had four big occasions in the late, doomed Republican campaign: her introduction by John McCain in Ohio, her speech at the GOP convention, her vice-presidential debate with Sen. Joe Biden, and her appearance on Saturday Night Live. With minimal preparation, she rose to all four of them. That's the mark of star. If conservative intellectuals, Republican operatives and McCain "handlers" can't see it, then so much the worse for them.




The Fort Dix plotters are convicted: "The Fort Dix plotters were convicted Monday of conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military, a charge that could send the five Islamists to jail for the rest of their lives. The jury's verdict is notable because media coverage of the plotters' arrest and trial traveled a familiar arc: After a round of stories noting that a terrorist plot had been rolled up, the media followed up with skepticism and suggestions that the suspects were small-timers or just messing around. The word even went out that, in effect, the government's man on the inside had put them up to it. The implication, as with the Lackawanna Six and Jose Padilla, is always the same: The Bush Administration was advertising phantom threats to justify the trampling of civil liberties and to create a "climate of fear." Lest we forget, the Fort Dix plotters were finally arrested last year after they moved to buy AK-47s and fully automatic M-16s -- not exactly the stuff of innocent imaginings and idle chatter. Every plotter is an amateur until he pulls off a spectacular attack. This has created a permanent PR problem for the fight against domestic terror plots: If you move too soon, the conventional wisdom comes to doubt that anything serious was averted. But of course, waiting too long means running the risk of another attack on American soil, something we have avoided since 9/11."

I can't help thinking that there should be more of this: "As a prank, students from local high schools have been taking advantage of the county's Speed Camera Program in order to exact revenge on people who they believe have wronged them in the past, including other students and even teachers. Students from Richard Montgomery High School dubbed the prank the Speed Camera "Pimping" game, according to a parent of a student enrolled at one of the high schools. Originating from Wootton High School, the parent said, students duplicate the license plates by printing plate numbers on glossy photo paper, using fonts from certain websites that "mimic" those on Maryland license plates. They tape the duplicate plate over the existing plate on the back of their car and purposefully speed through a speed camera, the parent said. The victim then receives a citation in the mail days later. Students are even obtaining vehicles from their friends that are similar or identical to the make and model of the car owned by the targeted victim, according to the parent. The parent said that "our civil rights are exploited," and the entire premise behind the Speed Camera Program is called into question as a result of the growing this fad among students."

All hail Princess Caroline, for she hails taxis!: "Bloomberg columnist Albert R. Hunt makes the case for why Basil Paterson's son should appoint John F. Kennedy's daughter to replace Bill Clinton's wife in the Senate: "[Caroline Kennedy] has all the qualities--intellectual curiosity; a friendly, at times pointed, sense of humor, and a deferential manner (she hails her own cabs)--that are the stuff of a good legislator". She hails her own cabs! This is what passes for a common touch these days? Lots of New Yorkers can't even afford cabs and ride the subway instead. When we read this, our first thought was: We hail our own cabs, too. We deserve that Senate seat."

The destructive British welfare state: "To most people, I imagine, welfare seems an obviously good thing. But in fact the corrosive and iniquitous side of welfare has been evident for many decades. It's only now that people are poking their heads out of the trench and daring to say so. You can see the devastating effects of welfare in Britain, for example, in the exponential rise in single motherhood. The figures are astonishing. In the 1950s almost all children in Britain were brought up by their natural parents. Today, only around half the children in Britain are brought up by their natural parents. Half! To see why that happened, let me paint you a picture. In the 1950s, the typical working man and his wife In Britain lived in an income-tax free existence. They kept every penny they earned. For an unmarried teenager, there was no council flat (the `projects' I think you call them), no rent rebate, no rate rebate, no housing benefit or anything else. The burden of looking after her and the child fell on her family, friends or charity. Parents who discovered their daughters were pregnant were understandably furious - because they had to pick up the tab. That's why Dad stomped round to the family of the boy responsible, to call him to account. They boy's family understood the full economic implications of making babies and came down on him like a ton of bricks. From the real economic relationships there arose a real moral code - the value and the cost of things were clear. The growth of welfare benefits has been huge since that time. And within that system a pregnant girl gets special treatment (top of the state housing list etc). The fear has gone. The old idea, "Don't, for heaven's sake, get pregnant. It would be a disaster" has gone."


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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)


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The fate of the Jews -- continued

I trod on thin ice recently in my reflections about the history and fate of Jews. But despite my reflections getting a couple of thousand hits, I got only one really hostile response -- so I am encouraged to continue the discussion. I am however going to let one of my regular Jewish readers do most of the work initially. I reproduce his email in full below:
A few disagreements or notes on what you wrote about Jews:

What would our numbers be without 6 million murdered..and of the remainder that survived Europe, how many were yet again dysfunctional, would not have children, committed suicide later on? Ok, we'd still be small in number, but not QUITE so small, given the one or two generations that would have survived and possibly thrived.

Religious Jews, the most "stiff-necked" of the bunch in terms of holding onto their Judaism, (and the most politically conservative), are the ones with big families. The problem is that the base is so small, that the overall numbers remain low, but in percentage terms, the one group of Jews growing is the Orthodox.

It is difficult to compare Britain, an island nation, with the stateless-until-a-short-time-ago "nation" of Israel. We were and remain an anomaly in history, a people that were interspersed among the nations. That made us the "stranger", always, and we were often forced into professions that were not looked upon in a god light, e.g. moneylending. We certainly see right now that financiers are heroes when times are flush, but even the honest ones are anathema when times go bad. And we certainly had no nation to hold onto, remained the great scapegoat of the nations. Was that because we were politically stupid?

NO. That's because we were weak and easy targets, and yes, we refused to fit in and go along with the rest of the population. We refused the easy terms of Christianity, so were reviled by Christians. We refused the paganism of Rome and Greece, and suffered accordingly. We refused to go along with the insane Mohammed, and now our no. 1 enemy in the world is Islam. Ok, so yes, we're stiffnecked, but to say it's because we were politically stupid....or should we just given in and lost our identity, should we have become Christians or pagans or Muslims, and just let Judaism go by the wayside of history?

So yes, our numbers are puny. But we outlasted the Third Reich, Stalin's Soviet Union, Torquemada's Inquisition Spain, ancient Rome and Greece, ancient Egypt..and all others who've tried to destroy us.

Now, I would agree that in the current day, and maybe ever since the Enlightenment, when we decided to "reform" and not be SO weird and stiff-necked, when we tried to blend in...we've become more and more leftist, and that HAS resulted in terrible problems for us. We don't even need to worry about Iran as we are fading away on our own, as the less stiff-necked amongst us don't care if their kids leave Judaism and marry others, or cheapen the religion in any number of ways; right now, I would agree that leftism is our dominant "religion" and it drives me crazy, as you know. It has caused us much grief and we are committing, I would also agree, our own suicide. But it is the strange people in the black hats, and the rabid "settlers' on the West Bank, and the families with the 10 kids, and those who worry about the picayune and strange rules of Halakhah, the religous, Orthodox "form" of Judaism, the form that is derived from the Rabbinic Judaism, that has the only real chance of keeping Judaism alive. THAT is not a new phenomenon, and was always thus.

Allies? Who should we have made allies with, without losing who we were? It's a valid question, but the answer is that we had no one to ally with. We had nothing or little to lands, no titles...occasionally money and know-how to make money, for which we became court Jews and influential...but money, as it is wont to do, as often corrupted these Jews, as it does most people. Should we have allied with those who blamed us for killing their Lord, and who blamed us for poisoning the wells of Europe to bring about the Black Plague, which we often missed because of our rules of sanitation? Should we have allied with the Muslims who gave us dhimmi status at best, if not actively persecuting us for our lack of intelligence to convert to Islam?

I WILL be willing to grant we are not always smart as we are given credit for. I know a lot of Jews that irritate the hell out of me, and that I don't find so bright...but what percentage of science Nobels (not the meaningless and political ones like "peace" or "literature") are from Jews? That's another story and I know you know it.

So being alone and defenseless and insular and is a blessing and a curse. I'm well aware of the curse, but more need to understand the blessing. And what hurdles we've had to face. That we've overcome them is the miracle we'll celebrate, in part, tonight, the first night of Chanukkah. It is the anti-assimilation holiday, totally perverted by the reformed Jews, but the holiday is purely about maintaining our identity, our stiff-necked and crazy and insular persona, even in the face of hate and abuse.

And so it is 65 years since my grandparents were murdered by the animals, the Nazis, in Auschwitz. My 2 kids are religious, my sister's 5 kids and 7 grandchildren (I'm the slow one of the two!) are all religious or being raised religious. We haven't disappeared yet. But Hitler and his henchmen are gone, the Reich is gone. Yes, new enemies have arisen, and anti-Semitism doesn't go out-of-fashion, and yes, we can be total idiots...but we persevere, because we believe in what we are and who we are...not better than anyone, but maintaining who we are and what we do is important, EVEN IF WE DON'T EVEN ALWAYS UNDERSTAND WHY...: we are the group that gave the world the premier book about theodicy, the book of Job. It is who we are. We maintain faith though at times it seems absurd to do so. It is not always or maybe it is NEVER rational. But we've outlasted all the other folks who tried to do us in, and we believe that we'll outlast the Iranis and Hamas and Islam and all the rest of the murderers.

Said with proper passion.

He misses my point a bit, however and I admit that I should have spelled it out more. The thrust of my remarks was not at all that Jews should always have sought allies. I agree that allies would have been rarely available. My point is that Jews should be cultivating their allies NOW -- while such allies (American fundamentalist Christians) are available. Fundamentalist Christians are strong people in the face of the hostility of the world and have therefore remained supportive of Israel despite the scornful attitude that many Jews seem to have towards them -- but changing churches is an American tradition and church doctrines themselves have undergone a lot of changes even in my lifetime. My old Presbyterian church is still an oasis for the old gospel but many other churches are not. So nobody should take fundamentalist Christians for granted. Their support might not always be available. Note that already outside America fundamentalist Christians are often little focused on Israel. So from a British perspective it is stupid of Jews not to value, support and encourage American fundamentalist Christians.

And the reason I mentioned Britain was to point out that even a great and powerful nation has always seen a pressing need for allies. So if the Brits have always thought that they needed allies, might not people who are in a much weaker position also need them?

My comments on the Biblical description of Jews as "stiff-necked" as an explanation for Jewish political folly could probably also be expanded. I did note that I myself probably deserve that description. My point, however, was that obstinacy and defiance has both strengths and weaknesses. And I think that Jews are a good example of that. It gives Jews an independence of mind but also generates hostility towards them. Even The Lord himself did not like it! And I have NO expectation that it will ever change much. If Moses and the Hebrew prophets could not change it, who could?

Again, however, I think the British offer a safer example -- a way of handling others that any target of hostility should find thought-provoking. The Brits are experts at deflecting hostility. They don't succeed entirely at it of course but their historic civility and their ability to find allies shows that they are pretty good at it nonetheless. And their way is what outsiders often condemn as "British hypocrisy". But it is not really hypocrisy. It is just an attempt to respect the sensitivities of others. And the tools for doing that are compromise and the "fudge". You almost have to be British to understand what a fudge is and probably the best way of finding out is to Google "British fudge" and read some examples of it. It it is basically a partial retreat or concession that is disguised as not being a retreat or a concession. So it means something like "an evasive compromise", "handling a dilemma by vagueness" or "concealing what is really going on by vague or misleading words". It might not be too unkind to describe the whole of British politics as one big fudge. I doubt that the word is capable of precise definition but precision is, after all, anathema to it. There are some good examples of it here (Scroll down a little).

And I did make the point that the relatively small population of Jews in the world is essentially the result of persecution. That was really my starting point. I went on to ask WHY Jews have been so persecuted. And given their present demonstrable unwisdom politically, I suspect that they have always lacked political wisdom -- with "stiff-neckedness" being a major fount of that unwisdom. But my British heritage means that I speak as someone who not only respects compromise but also understands the "fudge". Nobody respects the "fudge" -- but they do it rather than perpetuate hostility.

A fudge that modern-day Jews could use would be to declare that Christian fundamentalists are after all just another Jewish sect. It is only partially true but it would warm relationships.


BrookesNews Update

The US economy is sinking in an ocean of newly-created money: In response to the crisis the fed forced the fed funds rate down from 1 per cent to between 0 per cent to 0.25 per cent. The real funds rate is now negative and yet the US economy continues to tank. Clearly, Mr Bernanke and the economic commentariat are at a complete loss as to what is really happening
The economic punditry displays its ignoranceas the economy sinks: It was the economic folly of central bankers and their reckless monetary policies that generated the global crisis. And as is always the case, the market gets the blame. Equally expected is the fact that central bankers have not learnt a damn thing from the results of their dangerous meddling. For September-October period M1 grew at an annual rate of about 18 per cent
US deficits and government spending - more fallacies: Reckless government spending is the enemy, not deficits, of prosperity and economic stability and it is time for this fact to be continuously and emphatically repeated, regardless of what economic illiterates in politics and the so-called mainstream media argue
Hugo Chavez's Red Terror on hold : In a brazen attempt to strengthen his grip on Venezuela Chavez abolished the separation of powers. Judges and prosecutors will be required to collaborate with the newly-decreed secret police. He his in the process of setting up Castro-style "Community Councils" whose function will be to continually monitor the activities of their neighbours and report enemies of the state to the secret policy
The Fed's two trillion dollar scam makes Madoff look like a piker: Congress has put two trillion dollars, about 15 percent of GDP, under the control of one man, with no checks and no accountability, and we don't know where the money went, or to whom. It then tells the American public that it has no right to know who has been getting the loot. Madoff's $50 billion fraud is a penny ante affair compared to what this bunch have been doing
Insiders still own Illinois' Senate seat: The Democrats are still up to their old tricks. When thy realised they had jeopardized political strength in their callous attempt to avoid the fallout of the Blagojevich scandal, they immediately hid behind these minor technical concerns as an excuse to deny the people a voice in the process and keep power in the hands of the political class that has created this crisis to begin with and who now control Washington. What a lousy example to the rest of the world
Obama faces swift challenge from Latin America leftists: South American leftists who hugged and applauded the cowardly and murderous Raul Castro see only weakness in Obama
Why Slumdog Millionaire is a cinematic masterpiece: The way to pay homage to Mumbai, a city that has one foot in the Third World and another in the First, is not to sanitize or glorify its poverty, nor to denounce globalization. The way to expose cruelty and exploitation - those time-honored human institutions overly present in any country where the rule of law is weak - is not to create Platonic stereotypes. The way to do it is to tell an honest story and to tell it well


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


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


Monday, December 22, 2008

The mysterious ways of Google again

If you search for "John Ray" on most search engines, you get a heap of links about some old geezer from a couple of hundred years back and only at the end of the search results might you get a link to something by me. With Google, by contrast, both DISSECTING LEFTISM and GREENIE WATCH are given on the first page of the search results. So I am pretty pleased about that. And my lead post here from yesterday is already being returned in Google searches too. So if you will forgive my childish glee: Long live Google and its market dominance!

The excellent Pamela Geller, on the other hand, says that Google has delisted most of her work. Yet if I do one of the searches she suggests I get her article on the second page of the search results! See here. So don't ask me what's going on.

I fully accept that I may be too lowly a worm to be censored and that Pamela is big-time but it's puzzling that I CAN find her work through Google. Maybe they have reinstated her after her latest complaint, I guess. Nobody will squash her, of that I am sure.


A clear example of what happens when people vote for feelgood emptyheads

A new law intended to prevent deaths and injuries caused by dangerous drains in pools and spas became effective Friday. As an unintended side effect, pools nationwide have been forced to close indefinitely.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission said there were 74 suction-related incidents reported from 1997 to 2007, including nine deaths and 63 injuries, according to a news report out of Wisconsin today. That amounts to fewer than two deaths and seven injuries per year being attributed to dangerous drains in pools and spas. Nevertheless, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act became effective yesterday, forcing pools nationwide - including one frequented by members of my family - to close indefinitely due to their inability to comply with the ridiculous law [See the CPSC news release about the new law here.] The first paragraph of a news release issued yesterday by the city of St. Peters, Mo., site of the Rec-Plex Natatorium where my wife and children swim, explains the situation:
Due to circumstances beyond the City's control, and under the threat of civil and criminal penalties, the swimming pool at the St. Peters Rec-Plex closed last night at midnight. We are doing this because we are complying with new federal regulations under the Virginia Graeme Baker Pools and Spa Safety Act that require the installation of pool drain covers that meet new federal specifications. Pools at recreation centers across our region and nationally are faced with the challenge of meeting these new requirements and are facing shutdown."

What exactly is the challenge? The second paragraph of the news release covers that:
"St. Peters staff has been thoroughly investigating any possible options that would allow us to comply with this new federal regulation. Despite our best efforts, there is currently no equipment available for purchase that allows our pool to meet these new requirements. The equipment simply does not exist that would allow us to retrofit our Rec-Plex pools to meet these requirements."

In a second news release issued the same day, the City of St. Peters outlined how St. Peters Mayor Len Pagano has sent letters to President George W. Bush and to members of Missouri's Congressional delegation, asking them to intervene and suspend new federal requirements impacting hundreds of thousands of municipal and recreational pools across the United States. Key portions of that news release appear below:
St. Peters staff has been thoroughly investigating any possible options that would allow us to comply with this new federal regulation," Mayor Pagano said. "Despite our best efforts, there is currently no equipment available for purchase that allows our pool to meet these new requirements. The equipment simply does not exist that would allow us to retrofit our Rec-Plex pools to meet these requirements."

"Pool officials, trade organizations and engineering experts have been working all year to develop solutions that would fulfill the new requirement. At the same time, we have been asking the Consumer Product Safety Commission to fulfill these requirements." "At this time, because the deadline came today and there is no waiver from the CPSC, we have no alternative other than closing our pools," added Mayor Pagano.

Did you catch the key point? People around the nation have worked ALL YEAR to develop a solution that would enable them to comply with the law, but none exists. The impact of this legislation is widespread as evidenced by stories from Huntington, West Va., El Paso, Texas and Albany, N.Y. In St. Charles, the county in which St. Peters is located, the impact is huge. Senior citizens and others who came to the city's Rec-Plex pool early Friday morning for their workouts and water aerobics classes had to be turned away. A major high school swim meet had to be canceled this weekend. Left with no place to train or hold competitions are the following:

One of the state's largest club swimming programs;

Eight local high school swim teams; and

Lindenwood University's swim team.

I'm all for safety, but legislation like the Baker Act goes beyond what is necessary by any standard. If you're as disgusted as I am about this abuse of power by Congress and the Consumer Products Safety Commission, CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS in Washington, D.C., and give them a piece of your mind. Threaten them with your vote. Say whatever it takes to convince them to rescind - or at least postpone - this legislation.



BOOK REVIEW of Karl Brandt: The Nazi Doctor: Medicine and Power in the Third Reich. Review by Ulf Schmidt

It is well known that the Nazis' "mercy killing" program was a stepping stone to the Final Solution; less known are the doctors who designed and let it. In Karl Brandt: The Nazi Doctor, Ult Schmidt, a professor of modern history at the University of Kent, explores the life and legacy of Karl Brandt, Hitler's personal physician, who was appointed head of the T-4 Euthanasia program, which forcibly took the lives of seventy to a hundred thousand disabled people from 1939 to 1941. Later, he presided over brutal and horrifying medical experiments on helpless victims, for which he was prosecuted and hanged after the war. His upbringing and education gave no indication he was headed for a life of evil. How such an intelligent and gifted young physician could betray everything that medicine - not to mention Western civilization - stood for, is the main theme of Schmidt's spellbinding book.

Interestingly, Brandt, like many other Nazis, was a man of the left, who was heavily influenced by Friedrich Neumann, a nineteenth century socialist pastor, who had declared: "As politicians we are national socialists, and as Christians we are searching for an evangelism which is true and alive." Brandt's "search" for relevance beyond the traditional gospel ended with his embrace Hitler's murderous Weltanschauung, though, perversely, Brandt always saw himself as a minister of compassion. "I do not feel that I am incriminated," he said defiantly at his post-War trial. "I am convinced that I bear the responsibility for what I did in this connection before my conscience. I was motivated by absolutely humane feelings. I never had any other intention."

Although Schmidt's book is historical and cannot be classified as part of the modern-day "culture wars," its conclusion carries a powerful lesson for medical ethics in our own time: "Whatever may be said by a saturated public, complacent politicians, and a cynical media industry to turn our attention to new and more exciting shores lurking beyond the virtual horizon, we cannot all this history to be ignored, because we cannot survive its repetition."

First Things, Jan. 2009, issue. No. 189



Sex differences in mental abilities start from infancy: "Men tend to perform better than women at tasks that require rotating an object mentally, studies have indicated. Now, developmental psychologists at Pitzer College and UCLA have discovered that this type of spatial skill is present in infancy and can be found in boys as young as 5 months old. While women tend to be stronger verbally than men, many studies have shown that adult men have an advantage in the ability to imagine complex objects visually and to mentally rotate them. Does this advantage go back to infancy? "We found the answer is yes," said Scott P. Johnson, a UCLA professor of psychology and an expert in infant perception, brain development, cognition and learning. "Infants as young as 5 months can perform the skill, but only boys - at least in our study."

Denial of New Trial in $54 Million Pants Lawsuit only partial justice: "The following statement from Lisa Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), is a response the D.C. Court of Appeals' rejection of a new trial for Roy Pearson against a Washington, D.C., dry cleaner. "We hope the rejection of Roy Pearson's request for a new trial marks the last chapter of this frivolous legal saga over a misplaced pair of pants. Unfortunately for Jin and Soo Chung, this victory is more bitter than sweet. Though they continue to `win' in court, their case has cost them emotionally and financially, resulting in the loss of two of their three dry cleaning locations. Those who say that the Chungs' victory in this case proves that our civil justice system works are ignoring the facts."

Obama is not on your side: "Every person and every segment of the economy felt the effects as Gas edged north of $4 per gallon. Everyone was hoping for a big change to help them out. So you would think that a politician that won with a campaign of Hope & Change would want his administration to help continue the current trend of dropping gas prices. Unfortunately, as pointed out by The Foundry blog over at Heritage Foundation, Mr. Obama's selections for Secretary of Energy actually wouldn't mind seeing Gas priced much higher than it was this summer. "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." So says Dr Steven Chu, Obama's selection for the Energy post. So, what do Europe's Gas prices look like? Well, in July, when average U.S. prices were topping off at $4.34, Gas in the Netherlands was $10.64. The cheapest of the big European countries cost almost $9 per gallon. Right now the average prices in the U.S. stand at $1.97, whereas the average across Europe is about $5.50. For the math impaired, that is nearly 3 times the cost that we pay. The funny thing is, the actual base cost of the gasoline isn't that much different in Europe than it is in the U.S. It is just that European countries tack on taxes such that taxes make up 65-70+% of the price."

The Bush bailout of the automakers: "It is somehow fitting that George W. Bush should end his Presidency with an act so damaging, so mindless, so anathematic to the principles on which he asked for our votes that he will for all time be remembered in the harshest of lights. But the Bush treachery puts in stark relief some facts citizens and politicians should note. It is very telling and could serve as a guide in the near term.First, the ease with which Bush purports to simply take money from the $700 billion fund administered by the Treasury for the bailout of the financial system is startling. Wasn't the whole reason Congress authorized that money was to stabilize the nation's financial system, to unclog the chocked off credit markets? Guess that job is done and we had a few dozen billion left over. Bush's looting of this fund, TARP, makes it clear that there never was a plan or any thought to how to use the $700 billion. It is a slush fund for the elite to buy their buddies out of trouble. Nothing more. For the future, we need to always demand to see the plan, spelled out in black and white. And double check the fine print... And finally, President Bush, by scamming the TARP fund to bailout the UAW union and the over-paid failures in the executive suites, has shown us all something too. He has reminded us that people who don't stand strongly for something will fall for anything."


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


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


Sunday, December 21, 2008

When will psychologists ever learn?

Artifactual relationships, absent sampling and invalid measuring instruments still abound in research into the psychology of politics

Rather to my surprise I recently read in the popular press a rather good article which points out that "phobias" and prejudice are very different. It was written by a young psychology professor named Nicholas Haslam at the University of Melbourne. I have myself for some time been protesting the misapplication of the word "phobia" to just about anything that Leftists disagree with: Homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, etc. As the article will cease to be available on the newspaper site after a while, I have reposted it on POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH today.

To keep his article within the bounds of political correctness, however, Haslam also had to say that "Prejudice flourishes among people who are cold, callous, inflexible, closed-minded and conventional". So you are still a pretty bad egg if you distrust Muslims or regard homosexuality as wrong or unhealthy.

What he said there is a conventional belief among psychologists but the evidence for its truth is very weak. In the 60 years that psychologists have been subjecting such theories to experimental test, just about the only proof for such theories that they have found has been derived from handing out to their students a bunch of questionnaires and seeing if the students who didn't like (say) blacks also expressed views that psychologists regard as close-minded etc. And from what their students say, psychologists generalize to all mankind.

From almost any point of view that is a ludicrous procedure. Not only do they base their research on a non-sample -- meaning that no generalizations can be drawn from it anyhow -- but college students are even a group of people who are KNOWN to be unrepresentative of the general population in all sorts of ways. And even if students were representative, relying on what they say would be most incautious. Students are very good at giving their professors the answers that they think their professors want. So many of the answers given will not be what the students really think.

So for all of those reasons, I was only slightly surprised when, in one of the earliest pieces of research I ever did, I found a correlation of .808 (a very high correlation) between two variables among students but when I repeated the survey on a more representative population, the correlation dropped to around .10, which is negligible. For the rest of my research career. I did almost all my research on proper samples of the general population and almost always ended up getting very different results from my student-using colleagues.

So I was curious to see if Haslam was just mouthing conventional and unsubstantiated platitudes or if he really had some basis for his generalizations. He replied that he was relying on a big review article on the subject by Sibley and Duckitt in Personality and Social Psychology Review titled "Personality and Prejudice: A Meta-Analysis and Theoretical Review". In a very restrained academic way it ploughs the old furrow that racially prejudiced people are sick in the head and anti-racists are just wonderful lovely people. Negative racial views are very common (if rarely acknowledged publicly these days) so there must be a lot of sick people around.

I have debated in the journal literature with Duckitt before so expected him to be less naive and assumption-prone than are most writers in the field -- and so it was. He shows a rare and commendable awareness that alleged correlations between attitudes and personality can arise because the alleged measures of personality are in fact measures of attitudes, for instance. He does not take that awareness as far as he might, however. He seems, for instance, to take correlations between racism and social dominance quite seriously despite the fact that the social dominance questionnaire contains such items as "Inferior groups should stay in their place", "Superior groups should dominate inferior groups" and "Some groups of people are just more worthy than others". Races are of course groups so is it any surprise that such statements correlate with other expressions of racism? All Duckitt has shown is that some expressions of racism correlate with one-another. He has shown nothing about personality at all.

So the finding of a relationship between social dominance and racism is what is called in science a "methodological artifact" -- generally a source of shame among serious scientists, but something that has long been common in this research field. Duckitt himself points out some other examples of it. Psychological research is in general still a profoundly amateur enterprise.

I might mention that the folly that I have just pointed out is not really the fault of Duckitt. His article is simply a summary of what other researchers have found and none of them seemed to see any problem with their measure of social dominance either. So it is psychologists as a whole that my criticism principally applies to. I never cease to be staggered by how blind psychology academics can be. They must never look at the questions they ask people.

Duckitt DOES show an awareness of the sampling problem I have mentioned but does not seem to take it seriously. He claims he has some real samples in his data but he does not identify them and combines them with the student data. There is no repetition of all his analyses on student and non-student data. So the generalizability of his findings is simply unknown.

But the problems with the Sibley & Duckitt article do not end there. Duckitt says very little about the measures of racism that he uses. He concedes that they were only poorly comparable and that some were more narrowly focused than others but he seems to take no account of that in his major analyses. Yet this is a vital point. In my research, I repeatedly found some shared variance betweeen attitudes to different racial groups but not much (about 20% on average). In other words, there were many people who didn't like (say) blacks but who did respect (say) Jews. So in most of the general population, there is essentially no such thing as racism. If there were, knowing a person's attitude to one minority would tell you all you need to know about that person's view of all minorities. But it is not so. Undoubtedly, there are some individuals who dislike all outgroups but that is not generally so. So the concept of racism is close to being an irrelevant concept. The concept it embodies is misleading. Many white people may be wary of blacks but have no firm views on race in general. So Duckitt makes a basic assumption that has very little correspondence with reality. There is ample room for attitudes to different races to have different correlates but Duckitt treats them as all the same. He has thoroughly scrambled Humpty Dumpty.

What I have just challenged is what psychologists call the "validity" of the racism measures. Do they index what they purport to measure? And the pervasive Leftist orientation among psychologists seems to make them very poor at composing valid questionnaires to measure racism, conservatism. authoritarianism etc. If you want to find out what people really believe you have to present them with statements that express that and not statements that are utterly loony. But psychologists tend to think that anything to do with conservastism etc is loony so it is common for them to compose questionnaires that contain way-out statements rather than normal expressions of conservatism etc.

And that shows on the rare occasions when the validity of such a questionnaire becomes testable. Do answers to a psychology questionnaire about conservatism predict a conservative vote in national elections for instance? From the McClosky and Adorno questionnaires to the Altemeyer questionnaire, they dont, or do so very weakly. So some of the measures of conservatism most frequently used by psychologists are demonstrably not valid.

And that IS the fault of the person who devised the questionnaire. I am more a libertarian than a conservative but I do have some conservative sympathies and the questionaire measures of conservatism that I compose correlate with general population vote up to the level of .50, which is not high in any absolute sense but which is very high by the standard of what is normally found in psychological research. It is certainly much higher than what is found in general population samples with the McClosky, Adorno and Altemeyer measures that other psychologists use. And the difference is that my conservatism questionnaires contain examples of what conservatives really say rather than what psychologists think they say. And it is amazing how profoundly wrong the conventional psychological conception of conservatism can be. See here. When psychologists research conservatism, they usually research a caricature of it.

And what is true of conservatism measures used by psychologists is also true of measures of prejudice. And so validation of such measures against real-life behaviour is rarely attempted. Does a "racist" person according to psychologists actually tend to vote for political candidates who are critical of affirmative action or uncontrolled Hispanic immigration, for instance? Psychologists normally seem game to test that only among their students.

So you see why I gave up psychological research around 1990. I felt that I was in a dialogue with mere game-players rather than serious scientists. What they say reflects their prejudices, not the results of any serious research.

The games psychologists play can be dangerous however. The sort of utterance that I quoted from Haslam above has the tendency to dehumanize those it describes and that view of "racists" and others has certainly passed from psychologists into the popular culture. Note here where a NY film critic quite literally questions the humanity of "racists". When one notes how many people -- even critics of illegal immigration -- are routinely denounced by Leftists as "racists", we see that such dehumanization could hit a lot of people. How ironic that the Leftist psychologists who would denounce the dehumanization practiced by the likes of Hitler go on to do a pretty neat job of dehumanization themselves. And just as Hitler based his dehumanizations on fake science, so do modern-day academic psychologists.

Substantiation for the various points I have made above about research findings can be found here.



Marathon Pundit is your headquarters for Blagovich updates.

Democrats Are the New Ethics Story: "A note to all those visitors who will soon flood Washington for the inauguration: Be careful of the "swamp." That would be the swamp Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed to drain when she led her party to victory in 2006. The GOP had been rocked by scandal, and Mrs. Pelosi and Democrats won, in part, by promising to clean up the "culture of corruption" that pervaded Washington. Instead, Democrats now have an image problem. The real issue isn't so much Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's Senate-seat auction, as it is the focus that his scandal has directed toward a wider assortment of Democratic troubles. This isn't great timing for Barack Obama, who campaigned on cleaner government. The Blagojevich drama is titillating enough, and local Democrats' dithering over how to fill Mr. Obama's seat guarantees it will remain a storyline longer than is comfortable. But the Illinois drama has also thrust new light on the ongoing ethical controversies of House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel. At the rate the House Ethics Committee is receiving complaints -- over Mr. Rangel's real-estate problems, tax problems, his privately sponsored trips to the Caribbean, and donations to his center in New York -- this too will make headlines for a while. Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune published a new story about Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who racked up $420,000 through a series of suspicious real-estate deals. Texas Rep. Silvestre Reyes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, came under scrutiny this fall for questionable earmarking. West Virginia Rep. Alan Mollohan has been under investigation for a separate earmarking mess. And then there's Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, who has yet to answer questions about the sweetheart mortgage deal he received from Countrywide... There are more."

Thatcher Wouldn't Have Gone Wobbly on Detroit: "The government must do something, and something fairly big, to jump-start the economy, an economist friend told me. ... I disagree with this whole line of thought. It reminds me of the open letter that 364 economists addressed to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1981, condemning her for daring to cut public borrowing in the midst of a recession, which was contrary to the Keynesian orthodoxy at the time. They did not accept Mrs. Thatcher's reasoning that too much public-sector borrowing and government-directed investment could only crowd out private-sector borrowing and risk-taking. They also implicitly rejected Mrs. Thatcher's strongly held belief that both governments and individuals must be guided by fundamental rules of common sense and frugality, in good times and bad. The economists described her thinking on this score as naive. Mrs. Thatcher spurned the collective wisdom of the 364 economists, seeing their advice as just more of the same failed interventionist policy prescriptions which the country had followed for over three decades. When she came to power in May 1979, the British economy, by every measure, was in worse shape than the U.S. economy is today. Inflation was out of control. Unemployment was high and rising rapidly. Job creation had been at a total standstill for almost a decade and a half. Yet by sticking to her policies of lightened regulation, reduced trade barriers, privatization of a raft of publicly owned companies, reduced taxation, and the adoption of laws to prevent abuses of union power, Mrs. Thatcher achieved something few if any of today's economists have begun to consider. She achieved a genuine, productivity-led recovery that transformed Britain from perennial basket case into the Europe's most improved and vibrant economy."


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


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


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Will the Jews survive?

Now that the Presidential election is over, I have scaled back my coverage of day-to-day politics somewhat and have been writing more on enduring issues -- issues that are more general and which will probably be with us for a long time. As I see it, Obama definitely does not want to be a one-term President and knows he has to stay pretty centrist to achieve that. His appointments so far certainly suggest that. So I am sitting back to watch with amusement the attempt by the Democrats to run America in a non-disastrous way. They have in fact inherited some difficult problems so their struggles should be fun to watch. There are some blessings in being out of power. It is more relaxing. Whatever happens will not be the fault of conservatives. So I have the leisure to think big thoughts.

Some of the things I have written recently have pushed right to the boundary of what may permissibly be said by civilized people -- but I have always run that risk. It is no accident that I am the proprietor of the Tongue-Tied blog. I am an instinctive anti-authoritarian. If someone tells me to do something, my instinct is to do otherwise. And if someone tells me not to do something, my instinct is to do it. I am in other words quite happy to be a rebel against the orthodoxy and am rather supported by the certainty that the orthodoxy of today will be the absurdity of tomorrow. So pushing against speech limits is, I hope, a service I can render to the advancement of knowledge and understanding.

What I will almost certainly be accused of below is "blaming the victim". I am in fact not blaming anyone, merely trying to understand -- and I accept no limits on what I can say or think in that quest. So I hope that no minds will snap shut before they read the whole of what I write below.

So what I want to say a few words about now is that everlasting issue: Jews. How awful it must be to be born into a group that is a perennial source of at least controversy and often hate. I am sure many Jews must pray for Jews to be simply forgotten. But their God seems to have doomed them not to be. I admire Jews in many ways but I am glad that my heritage is less horror-filled. Mind you, as a middle-class WASP male, I too belong to a much reviled group. But we are not as targeted as the Jews, mainly because there are more of us, I imagine.

And that leads into my point: Their small numbers reveal Jews as a biological failure. Reproduction is the prime imperative in biology and reproductive fitness has to be judged by reproductive success. I have always admired the wisdom of Gideon but from a biological viewpoint, strength is in numbers. So the roughly 10 million Jews in the world today is not impressive. If the Iranians were to sail two ships carrying nuclear devices into both New York harbour and Tel Aviv harbour at roughly the same time with some jihadis aboard to detonate them, there would not be much left of that 10 million.

By contrast, there are around one billion Christians in the world. So why have Christians flown so far ahead of Jews in reproductive success? Originally, there were a lot more Jews than Christians. The obvious answer, of course, is that Jewish numbers have been kept down by persecution. But that just leads to the very vexed question of why people have been persecuting them from the Pharaohs on. There are many answers to that but I want here to look at just one.

The contrast between Jews and Christians is all the more surprising when we look at the doctrinal similarities between them. After the destruction of the Jerusalem temple by the Romans and the subsequent diaspora, the Judaism of the Old Testament simply died. Most of the instructions in the Old Testament were predicated on Jews having and ruling their own country and that was no longer the case. So the commands given in the Old Testament no longer COULD be obeyed: No animal sacrifices at the temple etc.

In response, two reworkings of traditional Judaism emerged: Rabbinical Judaism and Christianity. And they were surprisingly similar. It was no longer feasible to stone to death such evil-doers as homosexuals so that was no longer expected of believers. St. Paul simply pointed out that such offenders were still abhorrent but left punishment of them to God. And the Rabbis had to rule similarly. The major differences between the two new versions of Judaism was that the Rabbinical Jews were gene-preserving while Christianity was open to all and actively sought to embrace all men (and women). So Christians rapidly lost any Jewish identity.

So where did the more traditional Jews go wrong? I am going to be blunt. I think that there must be something in Jews that predisposes them to political stupidity. How else are we to explain their ending up on the wrong side of just about every ruler from the Pharaohs to the Babylonians to the Romans to the Popes to the Tsars to the Nazis? I can't be sure what that thing is but it is still in full bloom today. Both in Israel and in the USA Jews tend heavily to lean Left -- at a time when the Left are having a romance with the sworn enemies of the Jews: Muslims. How stupid can you get? Jews just don't seem to be able to see who their friends are. Just about their ONLY friends in the modern world are American evangelical Christians but the actions of the ADL and much else reveal most Jews as despising American evangelical Christians.

And contrast that stupid behaviour with one of the world's most successful ethnic groups: The British. As Winston Churchill said, not for a thousand years has Britain seen the campfires of an invader. While the rest of Europe was tearing itself apart with internecine wars, Britain was securing for itself a couple of continents (Australia and most of North America) plus some rather nice Islands (The British Isles and New Zealand, for instance). And their progeny populate those places to this day.

So how did the British do it? Basically through just one strategy: Allies. The British have always sought allies. That has long been the dominant aim of British foreign policy. Britain never goes it alone. They will even enter wars that really concern them little just in order to preserve alliances (WWI and the Iraq war, for instance). So any description of a war in which Britain has been involved has always been between two sides: "The Allies" and the other guy. But to achieve that, you have to be great compromisers and great propagandists. And the British always have been both. Even Hitler admired British WWI propaganda. But above all you have to VALUE potential allies. And as far as I can see, Jews generally don't. They value their enemies instead. The Iranians may get them yet.

So do I have a clue about what causes such a brilliant people to be so stupid politically? I think I do have a clue. If you read Moses and the Old Testament prophets, you will see that they often describe the Israelites as a "stiff-necked" people (Which I take to mean proud, obstinate, unwilling to bow down to anybody. A more pejorative definition is here). I suspect that Moses and the prophets were right about their people and that enough of the old genetic material has survived in Jews to make the same thing true of most Jews today. St. Luke certainly seemed to think it was hereditary (Acts 7:51) and modern-day Sabras are certainly not often shy and retiring people. Maybe in fact you have to have some of that genetic material to identify as a member of such a reviled group. Such a difficult inheritance seems a pity to me -- from my ethnically British standpoint with its devotion to compromise and the "fudge" (scroll down) as a solution to difficult issues. But I am glad that there are still some people who take on the great burden of being Jews -- given the immense contribution that Jews have made -- and continue to make -- to civilization. And I am sure that I am pretty stiff-necked myself. I would probably not be writing this otherwise.

I look at the issues I have touched on above at much greater length here.



Learning from Japan: Infrastructure Spending Won't Boost the Economy: As the U.S. economy continues to deteriorate and has now entered a recession of uncertain magnitude, many in Congress, the media, and the business community are pushing for a bold federally funded stimulus package that they claim will create jobs, raise incomes, and put the economy back on its path of positive economic growth. Not surprisingly, much of this advocacy stems from a nostalgic embrace of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, implemented in the early 1930s in a failed effort to end the Great Depression that had its origin in the stock market collapse of October 1929. Beginning in 1991-1992, Japan adopted the spending approach now advocated by many in the U.S. Congress when it embarked on a massive nationwide program of infrastructure investment.... and the consequence was two decades of economic stagnation. Less ambitious infrastructure stimulus programs have been implemented in the United States over the past few decades, and numerous independent and government studies have concluded that these programs had little impact on economic activity or jobs.

History Points to GOP Gains in 2010: "Many Democrats have predicted the Republicans were finished after some devastating defeats, only to see them quickly recover and win again. No one gave the Republicans a snowball's chance in hell after Lyndon Johnson crushed Barry Goldwater in a landslide in 1964. Democrats said the GOP was finished, perhaps for a generation. But the Democrats' archenemy, Richard Nixon, took back the White House in 1968 and won re-election in a landslide four years later. The 2008 election resulted in a change in administrations, but recent polls show it didn't change the nation's ideological balance, which is still very much right of center. A post-election Pew poll finds that while the Democrats' advantage in party identification has risen, "the share of Americans who describe their political views as liberal, conservative or moderate has remained stable." About a year from now, we will be in the beginning stages of the midterm-election cycle when the political history books tell us that the party in power almost always loses seats in Congress. That record has been broken only twice in our history. The last time was in 2002 when President Bush was riding high, the Republicans had cut tax rates across the board, and the GOP made substantial gains in Congress. The chances are extremely high that the GOP will gain congressional seats in November 2010, dealing Barack Obama the first political defeat of his presidency."

Caroline Kennedy and media bias: "It is a legitimate question: Why is the resume-thin Caroline Kennedy being treated seriously as a prospective appointee to the U.S. Senate when the comparatively more-qualified Gov. Sarah Palin received such a harsh review? There can be little debate that Palin, as a governor and former mayor, has the superior political resume. More to the point, she was duly elected to both of those positions and has enjoyed an 80 percent approval rating as governor. Suddenly, after a lifetime shunning publicity -- one of her charms -- Kennedy is a likely U.S. senator solely on the basis of having decided that she'd like that quite a lot. The real rub is that she hasn't earned it. The sense of entitlement implicit in Kennedy's plea for appointment mocks our national narrative. We honor rags-to-riches, but riches-to-riches animates our revolutionary spirit. Palin paid her own passage unfreighted by privilege."

Black Congressmen can do no wrong?: "Rep. Charlie Rangel, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has been accused of failing to report income on a rental house he owns in a Dominican Republic resort, used one of his four rent-control New York apartments for campaign activities, mailed letters on official congressional stationery soliciting funds for an educational center to be named after himself, and used government property to store his Mercedes. In response to the accusations, the congressman said, "I don't believe making mistakes means you have to give up your career." I agree. When a congressman makes these many "mistakes," he should go to jail."

A revealing comment: "Sometimes a newspaper headline is shocking not for the information it provides, but for the way it blows up what you think you already knew. Take this front-page offering in the Dec. 17 issue of The Washington Post: "Welfare Rolls See First Climb in Years." The news isn't that, in this time of recession, welfare rolls are climbing. The news is that the number of people on welfare has been dropping for more than a decade. Wait -- the first time? After a year filled with bad economic news -- from soaring gas prices all summer to surging unemployment and sinking stock prices, it's only now that welfare numbers are climbing for the first time?"

The Employee Free Choice Act Is Unconstitutional: "A top priority of the incoming Democratic Congress and Obama administration is the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act. The EFCA, as is well known, introduces a card-check procedure that allows a union to gain recognition without an election by secret ballot. Thereafter a government arbitration panel can impose, without judicial review, all the terms of an initial two-year collective "agreement" if the parties cannot negotiate an agreement within 130 days. It is commonly supposed that economic regulation is immune to constitutional challenge since the New Deal. That's not the case with this labor law..... There is simply no legitimate government interest in promoting unionization that justifies a clandestine organizing campaign which denies all speech rights to the unions' adversaries. The mandatory arbitration provisions of the EFCA are also constitutionally suspect. True, the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment today is quite lax when the state just restricts how an owner can use his property. But it imposes a firm duty to compensate someone whose property is occupied pursuant to a government decree. The Supreme Court also has established that any company subject to rate regulation (such as in telecommunications, transportation, insurance, etc.) may raise a judicial challenge to secure a reasonable rate of return on invested capital. These Fifth Amendment protections apply to labor markets."


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


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


Friday, December 19, 2008

Is Atheism Morally Bankrupt?

Ben Shapiro says that atheism is morally bankrupt in the article below. I add some comments at the foot of the article
If you walk around Washington, D.C., on a regular basis, youre likely to see some rather peculiar posters. But you wont see any more peculiar than the ads put out by the American Humanist Association. Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake, say the signs, in Christmas-colored red and green. Sounds great, doesnt it? Just be good for goodness sake. You dont need some Big Man in the Sky telling you what to do. You can be a wonderful person simply by doing the right thing. Theres only one problem: without God, there can be no moral choice. Without God, there is no capacity for free will.

Thats because a Godless world is a soulless world. Virtually all faiths hold that God endows human beings with the unique ability to choose their actions -- the ability to transcend biology and environment in order to do good. Transcending biology and our environment requires a higher power -- a spark of the supernatural. As philosopher Rene Descartes, put it, Although I possess a body with which I am very intimately conjoined [my soul] is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body and can exist without it.

Gilbert Pyle, the atheistic philosopher, derogatorily labeled the idea of soul/body dualism, the ghost in the machine. Nonetheless, our entire legal and moral system is based on the ghost in the machine -- the presupposition that we can choose to do otherwise. We can only condemn or praise individuals if they are responsible for their actions. We dont jail squirrels for garden theft or dogs for assaulting cats -- they arent responsible for their actions. But we routinely lock up kleptomaniacs and violent felons.

It's not only our criminal justice system that presupposes a Creator. Its our entire notion of freedom and equality. We hold these truths to be self-evident, wrote Thomas Jefferson, supposed atheist, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Human equality must spring from a Creator, because the presence of a soul is all that makes man human and equal. Biology suggests inherent inequality -- who would call Arnold Schwarzenegger and Stephen Hawking equal in any way? Biology suggests the sort of Hegelian social Darwinism embraced by totalitarian dictators, not the principles of equality articulated by the Founding Fathers.

Without a soul, freedom too is impossible -- we are all slaves to our biology. According to atheists, human beings are intensely complex machines. Our actions are determined by our genetics and our environment. According to atheists, if we could somehow determine all the constituent material parts of the universe, we would be able to predict all human action, down to the exact moment at which Vice President-elect Joe Biden will pick his nose. Freedom is generically defined as the power to determine action without restraint (Random House). But if action without restraint is impossible, how can we fight for freedom?

If there is no God, there is no freedom to choose. If there is no freedom to choose, there is no good or evil. There is merely action and inaction. There is no way to be good for goodness sake -- that would require an act of voluntary will far beyond human capacity. Atheists simply gloss over this point. The American Humanist Association states on its website,, We can have ethics and values based on our built-in drives toward a moral life. Without a soul, this is wishful thinking of the highest order. Since when does biology dictate a moral drive? If it did, wouldnt man always get more rather than less moral -- wouldnt history be a long upward climb? What about the murderers, rapists, child molesters and genocidal dictators? Are they all ignoring that built-in drive toward a moral life?

Atheism may work for individuals. There are moral atheists and there are immoral religious people. But as a system of thought, atheism cannot be the basis for any functional state. If we wish to protect freedom and equality, we must understand the value of recognizing God. We must recognize the flame of divinity -- free will -- He implanted within each of us.


Shapiro's argument is a common one but ignores the fact that free will is a difficult concept for Christians too. Why does God allow freewill if he knows that it will in some cases lead to perdition? More importantly, however, irreligious people are usually quite moral. Very few Australians are religious but standards of behaviour are little different from the USA -- a much more religious country.

So how come Australia is a civil, prosperous and pleasant place to live? It is because Australians DO have a widely agreed-on moral code -- but it is not a Christian one. It originates from the values of the English working class of yesteryear and can perhaps be conveniently summed up (in its original Australian slang) as the following five "Commandments":

* Thou shalt not dob in thy mates
* Thou shalt not bung on an act.
* Thou shalt not be a tall poppy
* Thou shalt give everyone a fair go
* Thou shalt be fair dinkum

Translating these into standard English yields APPROXIMATELY the following:

* You must not incriminate your friends to the boss, the police or anyone else. Loyalty to your associates is all-important.

* You must not be ostentatious or pretend to be what you are not.

* You must treat others as your equals. If you are seen as being better than others in anything but sport you will be made to suffer for it.

* You must be fair and permissive in your treatment of others.

* You must not be insincere or dishonest.

From Hammurabi onwards, most moral codes have had much in common and the Australian and Christian moral codes do also have things in common but the Australian moral code is not preached in churches. It is simply traditional and widely heartfelt. I have looked recently at why moral codes tend to be similar from society to society. In brief, there are some inborn moral instincts. Such instincts are necessary for social life to exist.

So: Apologies to American churchgoers but people CAN be moral and decent without someone either putting the fear of God into them or inspiring them with the love of Christ.

Final note about religion in Australia: When asked at census time most Australians do put down some religion for themselves. Note, however, that in the last census we had over 5% of the population describe themselves as Methodists -- a denomination that has not existed in Australia for many years. The Methodists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists combined to form the "Uniting" church a quarter of a century ago. In other words, for the vast majority of Australians, Christianity is a token thing.

So, as with the Australian population at large, lots of Australian conservatives are NOT religious. I am one of them.



The Left-Side Of The Blogosphere Reacts To Barack Obama Choosing Rick Warren To Do His Inaugural Invocation : "Although Rick Warren takes his Christian beliefs seriously, he has always come across as a centrist politically. In other words, he can fairly be called "religious," but he's not really a member of the "religious right." Since that's the case and since Barack Obama has spent much of his adult life surrounded by ultra-left wing, pseudo-Christian wackadoodles like Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pfleger, Warren seems to be a sensible choice to do his inaugural invocation. However, Obama's selection of Warren is flipping out the left side of the blogosphere, which is generally appalled by people who hold mainstream Christian beliefs. Enjoy the reaction, folks!

Ga. woman jailed over head scarf : "A Muslim woman arrested for refusing to take off her head scarf at a courthouse security checkpoint said Wednesday that she felt her human and civil rights were violated. A judge ordered Lisa Valentine, 40, to serve 10 days in jail for contempt of court, said police in Douglasville, a city of about 20,000 people on Atlanta's west suburban outskirts. Valentine violated a court policy that prohibits people from wearing any headgear in court, police said after they arrested her Tuesday."

Postponing reality: "Some of us were raised to believe that reality is inescapable. But that just shows how far behind the times we are. Today, reality is optional. At the very least, it can be postponed. Kids in school are not learning? Not a problem. Just promote them on to the next grade anyway. Call it `compassion,' so as not to hurt their 'self-esteem.' Can't meet college admissions standards after they graduate from high school? Denounce those standards as just arbitrary barriers to favor the privileged, and demand that exceptions be made. . The current bailout extravaganza is applying the postponement of reality democratically - to the rich as well as the poor, to the irresponsible as well as to the responsible, to the inefficient as well as to the efficient. It is a triumph of the non-judgmental philosophy that we have heard so much about in high-toned circles."

You live in a socialist nation: "The good news is that socialism still sounds bad to us - we don't want to think of ourselves as socialists. The bad news is that we don't know what socialism means. We think it always means more centralized control than what we currently have, no matter what we currently have. A socialist government is one that owns or manages parts of the economy. That's it. A government-run post office is socialist. A government-run train service is socialist. A government bailout of banks is socialist. And so on."

Missing Xmas commercialism : "For decades editorialists, pundits, and other commentators have implored us all to stop all this commercialism during Christmas holidays. The holidays have become too commercial! People just focus on purchasing goodies instead of on the spirituality of Christmas. And so on and so forth the relentless blather went on and on, year after year, even in the midst of the reports on how good or bad have been holiday retails sales. This hypocrisy could be hidden from the consciousness of a great many people for a good while but now it is no longer possible to disguise it. Fact is, what is most missing from Christmas this year is, yes, the healthy commercialism that has been part of it over the last several decades."


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


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


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Curlypet has a new book out

A very popular writer in Leftist circles is the curly-headed Malcolm Gladwell. His shallow erudition and superficialty seem to suit Leftists well. Oversimplification is a Leftist stock-in-trade after all. Sadwell has made something of a name for himself by downplaying, in traditional Leftist style, the importance of genetics to human ability and achievement. And his new book, "Outliers" just out continues that tradition. In an era when hardly a day goes by without new evidence of some genetic influence on people being recorded in the academic journals of medical genetics and behaviour genetics, Sadwell has to be fast and loose to maintain his position. And fast and loose he is.

I have pointed out the many holes in one of his effusions here. David Brooks has a useful review of his latest book here and there are a few scathing comments on it here.

Gladwell's basic point in his new book appears to be that you need a combination of opportunity, ability and hard work to achieve success in any field. How is that original? I imagine that they were saying the same in ancient Sumeria -- and I certainly would not argue with it as a rough generalization. Gladwell's only contribution seems to be in stressing how hard successful people have worked for their success -- and that is sometimes true. But it isn't always true. Let me speak of the field that I know best: Writing academic journal articles. I have a talent for that. In my heyday, I was getting papers published at roughly the rate of one a fortnight. The academic average is about one a year. So did I work hard at it? Not by comparison with my colleagues. They would often labour for a year over a paper and then have it rejected as not good enough for publication! By contrast, some of my papers were written in one day and were immediately accepted for publication. And very few of my papers took more than a few days to write. So Sadwell is overgeneralizing. If you are a classical violinist or pianist, sure it takes hours of practice daily but in other fields you just have a talent for something or not.

And in good Leftist style Sadwell stresses that a fortunate environment is important for success -- i.e. we have to thank "society" for our achievements. Bill Gates grew up into a privileged family and part of his success stems from that. But what about the millions who grew up in privileged families and ended up good for snorting cocaine only? Environment has some minimal role but it is clearly the least important factor. And the same applies to hard work. What about the millions of kids who dutifully do their piano or violin or ballet practice and end up acclaimed only by their mothers? You can't get away from the fact that exceptional achievement comes from exceptional ability and all Sadwell's fancy footwork cannot hide that. So Sadwell achieves the rather remarkable feat of being at once platitudinous and wrong.

In closing, below is part of an introduction to Sadwell from one of the great British skeptics at The Register:
Have you ever had the nagging sense that there's something not quite right with the adulation that follows Malcolm Gladwell - the author of Tipping Point? But you couldn't quite put your finger on it? We're here to help, dear reader. Gladwell gave two vanity "performances" in the West End - prompting fevered adulation from the posh papers - the most amazing being this Guardian editorial, titled In Praise of Malcolm Gladwell.

It appears that we have a paradox here. A substantial subclass of white collar "knowledge workers" hails this successful nonfiction author as fantastically intelligent and full of insight - and yet he causes an outbreak of infantalisation. He's better known for his Afro than any big idea, or bold conclusion - and his insights have all the depth and originality of Readers Digest or a Hallmark greeting card. That's pretty odd. So what's really going on here? Who is Malcolm Gladwell? What's he really saying? Who are these people who lap it all up? And what is it that he's saying that hold so much appeal? Let's start with the first two first.

Gladwell is a walking Readers Digest 2.0: a compendium of pop science anecdotes which boil down very simply to homespun homilies. Like the Digest, it promises more than it delivers, and like the Digest too, it's reassuringly predictable. The most famous book Tipping Point, takes an epidemiological view of social trends and throws in a bit of network theory. You won't draw anything more profound from this than "we're all connected" - gee! - and you certainly won't get the drawbacks of epidemiology - much of which is now indistinguishable from junk science. A good book to write would be about how how epidemiology became so debased so quickly: it's now merely a computer modeling factory for producing health scares, or in the case of British foot-and-mouth disease, catastrophic policy responses that cost billions of pounds. John Brignell's The Epidemiologists does just that. (For good measure, Milgram's Six Degrees theory, has subsequently been debunked since Tipping Point appeared. Gladwell could have done that himself using a bit of investigative research of his own - but he probably wouldn't have liked the conclusion.)

The next book, Blink published in 2004, asks (in his own words) - "What is going on inside our heads when we engage in rapid cognition? When are snap judgments good and when are they not? What kinds of things can we do to make our powers of rapid cognition better?" But he ends up pursuing the idea that rationality is overrated - and with only speculative cognitive science to go with, it isn't suprising that this book, too, doesn't get to any conclusion. And the message of the new one? Genius takes hard work. Again, it's something bleedingly obvious, but which leaves deeper questions unanswered. Take two geniuses: George Best and Tesla. What did they offer? Why do we admire them so much? There's obviously much more to each of them than perspiration - but we don't find out, and the book is as flattening and reductive as the others.

Perhaps it's Gladwell's stunning oratory that draws the crowds? Perhaps he's such a magnetic performer, that you go for the ride, not the destination? But when we see a example of the Master at Work - the evidence seems to suggest otherwise. Here's an excerpt of the master strolling the stage at Ted - a presentation called Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce. Gladwell blathers at great length about an obscure market researcher called Howard Moskowitz. Who? On his own website, Howie calls himself "a well-known experimental psychologist in the field of psychophysics". Yet Gladwell describes Moskowitz' market testing of varieties of soup as if he was an unsung genius of the 20th century. All this takes up 15 minutes, but it's so repetitious and predictable, it seems to take about three times as long. (So much for the dazzling oratory Guardian leader writers admire.)

More here


BrookesNews Update

Obama and his advisors won't know what hit them when the economy finally tanks: There is no way that Obama's proposals could lift the US economy out of the recession that is gathering more and more speed by the day. On the contrary, they will do a great deal of damage. Under Obama we might discover just how much the US economy can take
The economy sinks further into recessions while the commentariat wheel out the old fallacies : Recession has arrived and I consider an unemployment rate of 10 per cent to 12 per cent a distinct possibility. Government policies based on stimulating consumption could have the perverse effect of driving the economy deeper into recession and prolonging it
America's deficit: raising taxes is not the solution : Like the alcoholic who keeps falling by the wayside Democrats eventually seek out ways to raise taxes. This fact needs to be continually stressed, especially now that so many Americans believe that Obama has - so to speak - forsworn of the bottle. Taxes are coming and that's it. Moreover, if Obama was serious about 'spreading the wealth' he would propose a wealth that his billionaire supporters could not escape. That he has no intention of doing this exposes him as a fraud and moral a poseur
Manning Clark and Soviet agents of influence: The Manning Clark episode should remind us just how hypocritical, dishonest, self-righteous and morally diseased the the Left really is. That is the real lesson to be learnt and remembered
Benicio del Toro: Che's useful idiot : The gangster regime that rules over Cuba rolled out the red carpet for Hollywood leftists Benicio Del Toro and Steven Soderbergh. Del Toro Starred in Che and Soderbergh, a film that lauded Che Guevara, a coward and a sadistic killer. It tells us what a political cesspit Hollywood has become when political scum like this pair can make a hero out of child-killer who liked to have mass killings take place in front of him while he enjoyed his lunch
Obama and Blago: saga begins: Obama many years in the Illinois, Cook County and Chicago political culture. That culture is rotten to the core. Nevertheless, his media stooges and unthinking disciples assert without a shred of evidence that he is without sin. That not only is he completely innocent of corrupt dealings he was also - until now - completely ignorant of the corruption that surrounded him in Chicago
Unrecognized by Americans majorities - domestic and international threats will change our country forever (blame the media). - Part I: The condition of our education system and the news media entrusted by our founders to keep the electorate 'well informed' has deteriorated to such an extent that the American people are unaware of threats from home and abroad that in a very real sense will change our lives just as a lost military war would
Unrecognized by Americans majorities - domestic and international threats will change our country forever (blame the media). Part II - Islam: If you want America to remain free of Islamic domination, get behind the Myrick proposals and see that your representatives and senators do as well; we can't rely on the press to do that



Your bureaucracy will protect you: "The world's biggest fraud could have been averted if the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had acted on numerous warnings about Bernard Madoff's financial impropriety years ago, the regulator's chairman admitted last night. Christopher Cox, the chairman of the SEC, effectively admitted mea culpa over the scandal after conceding that tip-offs were repeatedly made to the investors' watchdog but never resulted in any investigation. Mr Cox said that in less than a week of checks made into the regulator's oversight of investment businesses run by Bernard Madoff, he had found that "credible and specific allegations" had been "repeatedly" brought to the attention of the SEC but that no recommendations had ever been made to investigate the accusations. The admission comes a week after Bernard Madoff, a 70 year old financier, admitted to his two sons that he was "finished" and that his investment firm was nothing more than a giant Ponzi scheme"

UN gives OK to land, air attacks on Somali pirates : "On the same day Somali gunmen seized two more ships, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize nations to conduct land and air attacks on pirate bases on the coast of the Horn of Africa country. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was on hand to push through the resolution, one of President George W. Bush's last major foreign policy initiatives."

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


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


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


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why the university is dominated by the Left

The explanation excerpted below is pretty close to my own explanation. "We know better" is a rumbling subtext in most conversations about the world among academics. Humility is notably absent

In his classic Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942), the economist Joseph A. Schumpeter sketched in a brilliant "Sociology of the Intellectual." Things have not changed much in sixty odd years. The intellectuals he has in mind are distinguished by "active hostility to the social order." Their job, as they see it, is "to work up and organize resentment, to nurse it, to voice it and to lead it." Not everyone who receives a university schooling ends up an intellectual, but a university schooling is nearly universal among intellectuals. The common training provides a common cause. Or, as Schumpeter phrases it, "the fact that their minds are all similarly furnished facilitates understanding between them and constitutes a bond."

That is why, on the academic Left, "read Foucault" passes for a refutation. It is not merely that all university-trained intellectuals share the same references and citations, but what is more important, they accept the same auctores. Their lives have been changed by the same books. Small wonder that they progress rapidly "from the criticism of the text to the criticism of society," for as Schumpeter observes, "the way is shorter than it seems." It is shorter especially for those who read their favorite authors, not as literary critics nor as critics of the philosophical tradition, but as social critics.

Schumpeter traces the history of the intellectual from the monastery, where he was born, to the rise of capitalism, which "let him loose and presented him with the printing press." Similarly, the patron slowly gave way in the last quarter of the eighteenth century to that "collective patron, the bourgeois public." Although the intellectual conceived his role to ‚pater the public, he found, much to his delight, that flabbergasting sells; the public would pay for his "nuisance value."

The major change in the twentieth century was the expansion of the university-the emergence of Clark Kerr's multiversity. The trend only accelerated in the years following the first edition of Schumpeter's book. From 1930 to 1957 college enrollments in the U.S. more than doubled, and between 1960 and 1969 they doubled again, rising to over seven million. The faculty expanded along with enrollment.

The trouble is, as Schumpeter notes, the enormous expansion of the university created the conditions of what would now be called underemployment. "The man who has gone through a college or university," he writes, "easily becomes psychically unemployable in manual occupations without necessarily acquiring employability in, say, professional work." What is such a man to do? He "drift[s] into the vocations in which standards are least definite," like journalism, literature, or scholarship, thus "swell[ing] the host of intellectuals. . . ."

The economic conditions breed discontent-the intellectual feels underappreciated and underpaid-and discontent breeds resentment toward the social order which does not recognize the intellectual's genius and unique value. Add to this the fact that the system of emoluments seems capricious, rewarding some who are no more talented or accomplished than those who are deprived. Fern Kupfer, a four-book novelist who teaches at Iowa State University, fully understands the precariousness of her position:
When one of the graduate students in my [writing] program-looking longingly at my office, my piles of books, the few office hours posted on my door-confessed, "When I graduate, I want to do what you do," I wanted to tell him: "You can't. Because I'm already doing it."

Not "You can, through hard work and literary achievement", but rather, "Back off, boychik, I got here first". What are the chances that such an attitude, such a reality, will breed resentment in the longing student? ...

So too with the modern university intellectual's pose of social hostility. It does not arise from a rational analysis of the American order, but as a distortion of one's own personal circumstances. I should make better money; I should get the social recognition of a doctor or lawyer (my education is equal to or greater than theirs). To conceal the neurosis of this resentment from myself, I generalize it, transforming it into a social ideal. Why should a businessman make more than a teacher? (If a plumber thinks he can earn $250,000, however, he's a joke.)

Thus personal resentment and feelings of superiority are translated into an idealized image of social concern and responsibility. The humanities or social science professor, hating society, sees himself as the better man. And only wishes to associate with those who share his ideals-that is, those with equally idealized images of themselves.

More here



"Spengler" on Mumbai: "Several readers have asked me to comment on the terror attack on Mumbai in November. I will do so with great caution, given the absence of accurate information. I have good reason to believe that the Indian authorities lied about the attack. India claimed that 10 shooters were involved, because nine were killed and one captured. The actual number is closer to 30, I am reliably informed, not counting support personnel in Mumbai who arranged safe houses with extra ammunition and explosives months in advance of the attack. It was not a suicide attack at all, but a new kind of urban terror assault, in which the participants had a reasonable expectation of survival, and the majority did in fact survive. That is an important wrinkle, for a better class of combatant can be recruited for missions in which survival is at least possible. No analyst I know has answered with confidence the question, cui bono? To whose benefit was the attack? It has been suggested that al-Qaeda diverted a Pakistani military intelligence team from Kashmir to Mumbai, in a demonstration of power against India. But there may be another dimension. The Mumbai attack has been a test of a different kind of warfare, the kind that emanates from failed states: the tactics of the Somali pirates"

On government regulations again: "Opposition to government regulation should not be based on some imagined absolutism, namely, that each instance of it will necessarily result in regrettable consequences. No opposition to this and any other coercive public policy ought to rest on grounds of its injustice, on its perpetration of prior restraint! In broader terms, government regulations treat people as if they were experimental tools that may be used as decided by government officials. Something seems (though hasn't been proven) to be hazardous, so then those doing it may be forced to desist. This attitude, of enforced paternalism toward adults, is wrong even if once in a while acting on it will produce good results."

News flash -- FDR didn't fix the economy!: "The New Deal did not end the Great Depression. This statement will come as no shock to FEE supporters, but it will to the many people who never encountered it before. Now people are encountering it -- in newspaper columns and news-talk shows. Why, after years of being taught that Franklin Roosevelt's economic intervention saved the country from disaster, is the general public now being told -- by FDR fans, not critics -- that this is not the case?"

Britain and computers just don't get on: "One of the worst blunders ever seen on Whitehall saw a 'cost-cutting' computer system end up spouting answers in German and leaving taxpayers with a bill of more than 80million pounds. A damning report from MPs today accuses the Department for Transport of 'stupendous incompetence' in its management of a multi-million pound efficiency drive. Workers were left struggling with an IT system that issued messages in German, wrongly recorded that staff were off sick and randomly confiscated staff holidays. Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP who chairs the public accounts committee, said: 'The Department for Transport planned and implemented its shared corporate services project with stupendous incompetence. 'Department for Transport staff do not trust the system, which is hardly surprising when we hear that on occasion it took to issuing messages in German.' Tory MP Richard Bacon, another member of the committee, said: 'We saw the failure to test computer systems adequately with tax credits and with the Passport Agency. 'These were well-known bear-traps but the Department for Transport blundered straight into them. It is way past time that Whitehall learned to stop making the same old mistakes again and again.' "


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


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


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Getting Jonah out of the whale

Jonah Goldberg and I agree on most things. I particularly admire how effective he has been at making widely known the historical truth that Fascism is a Leftist phenomenon. Who was it who said: "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, leader of the prewar British Union of Fascists, speaking in the 1960s.

I myself did the academic groundwork of showing how the myth that conservatives were responsible for Nazism was concocted but that research was seen only by social science academics and the social sciences are overwhelmingly Leftist so my findings were no sooner seen than forgotten.

But despite his brilliant emergence from the whale of misinformation that surrounds us all when Fascism is discussed, Jonah still is not completely out. He declared himself not convinced by my recent post about Hitler not being a racist in any conventional sense. Who can blame him? For those inside the whale, it must be a claim redolent of mental illness: A total departure from reality. And yet it is plain historical truth. Most of the countries Hitler attacked were heavily populated by people with blue eyes and fair skin and he allied himself with the non-European Japanese. A pretty strange white racist! But was he a GERMAN racist, then? Not at all. Hitler was quite clear about the group he favoured: Aryans. And Aryans are mostly brown (Indians). But I will return to that in a moment.

What keeps Jonah from escaping the whale entirely is Hitler's antisemitism. He says that Hitler was so clearly anti-Jewish that that alone makes him a racist. I sympathize with Jonah there. As a Jewish person it must be hard for him to think straight about the Holocaust. But I am one of those lucky WASPs who have no such horrors in their past. In fact it was a Conservative-dominated WASP parliament that made a Jew (the outspokenly Jewish Benjamin Disraeli) their Prime Minister just 15 years before Hitler was born. So I can mention freely here something that Jonah knows as well as I do: Jews are not a race. It is only your religious heritage that makes you a Jew. And Israel's Law of the Return is even more expansive than that. It says that you are a Jew if you think you are. And that would have been as clear to Hitler as it is to me. Most of the Jews I have met have blue eyes -- and blue eyes are a Northern European phenomenon, not a Mediterranean one. And there were plenty of blue-eyed Jews in Hitler's Germany. If Hitler was a racist, how come he missed such a stark racial marker as that???

So what WAS Hitler's thinking about race? Let me repeat briefly here what I said previously: In his book Der Fuehrer, prewar Leftist writer Konrad Heiden corrects the now almost universal assumption that Hitler's idea of race was biologically-based. The Nazi conception of race traces, as is well-known, to the work of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. But what did Chamberlain say about race? It should not by now be surprising that he said something that sounds thoroughly Leftist. Anthropologist Robert Gayre summarizes Chamberlain's ideas as follows:
"On the contrary he taught (like many "progressives" today) that racial mixture was desirable, for, according to him, it was only out of racial mixture that the gifted could be created. He considered that the evidence of this was provided by the Prussian, whom he saw as the superman, resulting from a cross between the German (or Anglo-Saxon "German") and the Slav. From this Chamberlain went on to argue that the sum of all these talented people would then form a "race," not of blood but of "affinity."

So the Nazi idea of race rejected biology just as thoroughly as modern Leftist ideas about race do! If that seems all too jarring to believe, Gayre goes on to discuss the matter at length.

And in accepting the notions of Chamberlain, Hitler was, as usual, simply accepting the wisdom of his day. Chamberlain was immensely influential in Germany long before Hitler came along. The Kaiser was so impressed by Chamberlain that he sent free copies of Chamberlain's book to people whom he thought needed it. But in case anybody questions the influence of Chamberlain on Hitler, let me give an excerpt from Wikipedia:
Chamberlain himself lived to see his ideas begin to bear fruit. Adolf Hitler, while still growing as a political figure in Germany, visited him several times (in 1923 and in 1926, together with Joseph Goebbels) at the Wagner family's property in Bayreuth. Chamberlain, paralyzed and despondent after Germany's losses in World War I, wrote to Hitler after his first visit in 1923:
" Most respected and dear Hitler, ... It is hardly surprising that a man like that can give peace to a poor suffering spirit! Especially when he is dedicated to the service of the fatherland. My faith in Germandom has not wavered for a moment, though my hopes were - I confess - at a low ebb. With one stroke you have transformed the state of my soul. That Germany, in the hour of her greatest need, brings forth a Hitler - that is proof of her vitality ... that the magnificent Ludendorff openly supports you and your movement: What wonderful confirmation! I can now go untroubled to sleep... May God protect you!"

Chamberlain joined the Nazi Party and contributed to its publications. Their journal Voelkischer Beobachter dedicated five columns to praising him on his 70th birthday, describing Foundations as the "gospel of the Nazi movement".

So why, then, did Hitler make such a scapegoat of the Jews? To understand that, you need to know that Nazism/Fascism belongs to the "One big happy family" version of Leftism ("All men are brothers", "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer", "We are the ones we have been waiting for"), which derives principally from Hegel. The other version is the class-war version principally promulgated by Karl Marx, who claimed to have stood Hegel on his head.

But immediately after WWI, Hitler's beloved Volk ("people", i.e. Germans. Note that there is a perfectly good word in German for race -- Rasse -- but Hitler did not use it for Germans) was bitterly divided between Communists and others. And that was the worst possible news for a "One big happy family" Leftist. So Hitler needed to find an explanation for that. And the explanation that suited best was to say that Germans were divided only because many of them were being misled by someone -- Jews. And in a sort of a way, he was right. Jews then were as generally Leftist as they are now and many of the class war-preachers in Vienna at the time were in fact Jews. And in Mein Kampf Hitler carefully sets out evidence of that. So Jews were, as ever, the convenient scapegoat. In its explanation for Middle-Eastern turmoil, the modern-day Left has Israel in that role to this day. The more things change ....



Another big British bureaucratic bungle: "A group of MPs has called on the Government to apologise to Equitable Life policyholders and to pay them compensation, thus turning up the heat on Gordon Brown before a formal decision early next year. The Public Administration Select Committee said that it "strongly supports" the findings of a report into the near-collapse of Europe's oldest mutual published by Ann Abraham, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, in July. Ms Abraham found three government departments guilty of ten counts of maladministration over Equitable, berating their failure to spot signs that it was in trouble. She said that the Government should say sorry and set up a compensation fund within six months."

North/South split over carmakers: "Almost 150 years after the American Civil War the struggle to save the country's carmaking industry is once again becoming a battle between the Union and the Confederacy. In this latter-day renewal of hostilities the union is the United Auto Workers (UAW) whose members are mostly employed in Northern states such as Michigan, the traditional heartland of US motor manufacturing. Union leaders have bitterly denounced Republican Senators from the South for scuppering a $14 billion bailout package for General Motors (GM) and Chrysler which, along with Ford, make up Detroit's "Big Three". Many of those who voted against it represent former Confederate states where foreign-owned car plants have sprung up in recent years and are proving to be more competitive than America's domestic manufacturers.... Yesterday Mr Corker said that Capitol Hill negotiations on the rescue deal had been wrecked by the UAW's refusal to accept the imposition of costcutting measures that would have forced the carmakers to operate on the same labour costs as the foreign-owned companies. He dismissed suggestions that self-interest had influenced his position, pointing out that he also had a GM plant in Tennessee which is "very important to my state"."

Better than a bailout: "US Representative Louie Gohmert has a better idea. The third-term Texas Republican proposes to strip Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson of his authority to spend the $350 billion remaining in the $700 billion bailout fund Congress created in October. Instead of being doled out to well-connected banks and Wall Street investment firms, the money would be used to finance a two-month federal tax holiday for every American taxpayer."

Social security: "A Wall Street crook by the name of Bernard Madoff was led away in handcuffs the other day for running a Ponzi scheme that bilked tens of billions from well-off adults who were seeking suspiciously high returns. The Wall Street Journal said it could prove to be history's largest financial scam. With all due respect to the Journal, it is not the largest financial scam -- not by a long shot. Another pyramid scheme that operates in the open is more than 1,000 times larger. It was set up to bilk defenseless children out of their money. Law enforcement authorities know about it. The media know about it. The comptroller general of the United States knows about it and has warned the public about it -- or at least the five percent of the public that isn't watching reruns of 'American Idol.'"


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


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


Monday, December 15, 2008

Assumptions in moral debate

I have written a bit recently on what philosphers call meta-ethics. In other words I have been talking about what morality is in the abstract rather than discussing a particular moral dilemma (such as whether or not abortion is right). Scheule has made the interesting point, however, that we not only bring assumptions to discussions of ethical dilemmas but we also bring assumptions to our meta-ethical deliberations. So if a Leftist says that is it absurd to believe in the reality of something that has no known place or position and cannot be detected by any instrument, we could answer in the usual religious way or we could do something much more radical: We could say, "Why is absurdity a bad thing? Absurdity can be entertaining". We could, in other words reject absurdity as an evaluative criterion. So then we have to find a way of examining what we should think of absurdity. At that point we have obviously fallen into an infinite regress and the discussion cannot go on.

Sadly, I think Scheule is right. Meta-ethical discussions are every bit as much a matter of opinion as are ethical debates. So where can we go from there? The usual philosophical response in such circumstance would be something along the lines of saying that a rejection of absurdity as a criterion makes discourse impossible so therefore we cannot do it. But that is in itself arguable -- as is the nature of what is absurd. So I think that the entire discussion is not a universally available one but rather one that can only take place among people who have certain agreed asssumptions. And asking for shared assumptions between Left and Right is a tall order, and an order that will often not be met.

It is for instance a common Leftist assertion that there are many realities. That seems to me simply confused but it would nonetheless seem to rule out shared assumptions. In fact, it seems to me that "There are many realities" is a deliberate denial of any common assumptions. The Leftist is happy with his emotionally-dominated life and nothing will be allowed to interfere with his emotionally-dominated conclusions. And the denial of common assumptions would appear to be basic rather than a mere stratgem. The Leftist is surely aware that there is a glaring inconsistency between "There is no such thing as right and wrong" and "racism is wrong" yet that inconsistency does not seem to bother him in the least. He sees no problem with inconsistency-- to the point where inconsistency is almost a hallmark of Leftist argument. So the Leftist is quite happy to deny the possibity of rational argument. Making self-contradictory assertions is not rational. The Leftist is quite happy merely to emote.

Leftist argumentation does however remind us that we DO make some assumptions in meta-ethical debates and that could be seen as unsatisfactory. I think a very rough and ready way out is to note that despite our philosophical entrapment, people do nonetheless continue to make morally-influenced decisions and often care deeply about such decisions. So if we must give up asking philosophical questions there are still important questions there to ask, so why not instead ask scientific questions: Something I myself turned to in this area long ago. It is surely at least of interest to do studies of various sorts which detect how people do arrive at moral judgments in real life even if attempts at philosophical simplification have hit a wall.

Morality thus becomes a field of study for psychologists and anthropologists rather than for philosophers. And there have now of course been many research studies of that nature. Pinker offers a useful summary of them. And what such studies tend to show is what I have said above: That we do as human beings inherit certain moral instincts. So morality again emerges as quite solidly founded in the real world and a worthy and important object of discussion. It is a discussion of human instincts or responses to instincts. It is not wholly arbitrary and can be of vital importance. And the criteria we use in such discussions are not arbitrary either. They too are part of what we inherit. So I find it rather encouraging that both scientific enquiries and meta-ethical deliberations can arrive at essentially the same conclusion.



More media bias: "Why did the late Paul Newman’s philanthropy get better press than Richard Mellon Scaife’s? Because liberal philanthropists are altruists, while conservative ones are shadowy puppeteers manipulating strings for their own self-interest. At least that’s what you might think if you compared the media’s leperlike treatment of Pittsburgh billionaire Scaife (who has bankrolled the likes of the Heritage Foundation, the Free Congress Foundation, and The American Spectator, among other institutions), with the glowing portraits of Newman, Ted Turner, Bill and Melinda Gates, and even George Soros. “A damaging blow is dealt by the media when other conservatives considering a donation witness how Scaife and others are treated,” Nicole Hoplin and Ron Robinson write in Funding Fathers: The Unsung Heroes of the Conservative Movement. “They are left wondering why they would take a chance in investing in a conservative cause.”

Obama aide caught in corruption: "The bullish, foul-mouthed but effective Chicago arm-twister Rahm Emanuel has come under pressure to resign as Barack Obama’s chief of staff after it was revealed that he had been captured on court-approved wire-taps discussing the names of candidates for Obama’s Senate seat. Emanuel’s presence at the heart of the scandal threatens to roil the president-elect’s administration as a Chicago prosecutor builds his corruption case against Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois governor. Blagojevich has been accused of plotting to sell Obama’s Senate seat - which is in the governor’s gift - in return for financial and political favours. Republicans are salivating at the prospect of tying the president-elect to the notoriously corrupt Chicago machine in which he forged his career."

Bush the regulator: "Since Bush took office in 2001, there has been a 13 percent decrease in the annual number of new rules. But the new regulations' cost to the economy will be much higher than it was before 2001. Of the new rules, 159 are "economically significant," meaning they will cost at least $100 million a year. That's a 10 percent increase in the number of high-cost rules since 2006, and a 70 percent increase since 2001. And at the end of 2007, another 3,882 rules were already at different stages of implementation, 757 of them targeting small businesses. Overall, the final outcome of this Republican regulation has been a significant increase in regulatory activity and cost since 2001. The number of pages added to the Federal Register, which lists all new regulations, reached an all-time high of 78,090 in 2007, up from 64,438 in 2001."


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


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


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Conservatives are the real liberals

The so-called liberals are just Leftists

As a conservative, I believe my "liberal" credentials will stack up well with that of any of my contemporary peers in the academic, political, social, or religious venues of our day. Let me explain:

I am a liberal because I believe that the best education is one that indeed liberates. It liberates us from the consequences of those things that are wrong and frees us to live within the beauty of those things that are right.

I am a liberal because of my passion for a liberal arts education-an education that is driven by the hunger for answers rather than the protection of opinions, an education that is not subject to the ebb and flow of personal agendas or political fads, an education that is not afraid to put all ideas on the table because there is confidence that in the end we will embrace what is true and discard what is false.

I am a liberal because I believe in freedom-freedom of thought and expression and the freedom to dissent from consensus. I am energized by the unapologetic pursuit of truth. Wherever it leads I am confident in the words, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free."

I am a liberal because I believe in integration. Truth cannot be segregated into false dichotomies, but it is an integrated whole. The liberally educated person recognizes that we cannot and should not separate personal life from private life, the head from the heart, fact from faith, or belief from behavior.

I am a liberal because I believe in conservation. There are ideas that are tested by time, defended by reason, validated by experience, and confirmed by revelation; and these ideas should be conserved. We are in fact endowed by our Creator with an objective moral understanding. I believe in nature and its natural law. We do know that rape is wrong, that the Holocaust was bad, and that hatred and racism are to be reviled. Even though we cannot produce these truths in a test tube, we hold them to be self-evident laws that no human being can deny.

I am a liberal because I recognize that, when we exchange the truth for a lie, we build a house of cards that will fall to mankind's inevitable temper tantrum of seeking control and power. History tells us time and time again that to deny what is right and true and embrace what is wrong and false is to fall prey to the rule of the gang or the tyranny of one. We need look no further than the lessons of Mao, Mussolini, Stalin, Pol Pot, or Robespierre for such evidence.

I am a liberal because I believe in liberty. I believe liberty is the antithesis of slavery and slavery is the unavoidable outcome of lies-lies about who we are as people, lies about what is right and what is wrong, lies about man, and lies about God.

Here is the question: Are we really free today or are we now becoming more and more enslaved by the constructs of the Ubermensch-the superman-the power brokers, the elites, the "fittest" who have survived in the political arenas of campaigns or campuses? Are we free to live within the boundaries of justice that come from the classical liberal education of the Uni-Versity-Uni-verities-Uni-Veritas-or are we becoming more and more bound by group think, political correctness, and populous power, what M. Scott Peck calls the diabolical human mind?

You see, good education, complete education, liberal education must be grounded in the conservative respect for and the conservation of what is immutable and right and just and real. It should seek to reclaim what has been co-opted and to reveal what has been compromised. It should be free of intimidation and should honor open inquiry and the right to dissent. It should have confidence in the measuring rod of Truth-that unalienable standard that is bigger and better than the crowd or the consensus.

Education-good liberal education-is the business of pursuing Truth. It isn't about constructing opinions. As Martin Luther King Jr. told us in his letter from the Birmingham jail, it is the conservation of the immutable virtues that serves as our strongest justification for our ongoing struggle for freedom, liberation, and liberty. Without such conservative ideas, I am not sure anyone can truly call himself a liberal.

More here



Union blocks automaker bailout: "A $14 billion emergency bailout for U.S. automakers collapsed in the Senate Thursday night after the United Auto Workers refused to accede to Republican demands for swift wage cuts. The collapse came after bipartisan talks on the auto rescue broke down over GOP demands that the United Auto Workers union agree to steep wage cuts by 2009 to bring their pay into line with Japanese carmakers."

Administration unwilling to see automakers fail : "The Bush administration simply wasn't willing to stand by and watch the American auto industry financially collapse -- the stakes were too huge. So the administration committed Friday to step in and help avoid the collapse of the industry that was once the backbone of the nation's economy. Administration officials are talking with those automakers about conditions that must be met to get the aid and have not made final decisions on the size or duration of the help. "A precipitous collapse of this industry would have a severe impact on our economy, and it would be irresponsible to further weaken and destabilize our economy at this time," Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino said"

Iran could be throttled quickly: "An op-ed by Orde Kittrie in the Wall Street Journal highlights Iran's "economic Achilles' heel" -- its "extraordinary heavy dependence on imported gasoline." Since more than half of Iran's gasoline imports flow through Dubai, his call to action could pose the first test of Hillary's independence from her husband's business interests. Most of the gasoline imported into Iran comes through Dubai, located right across the Persian Gulf. Indeed, Dubai is the mainstay of Iranian foreign trade, exporting about $13 billion each year to Iran, including $8.5 billion in goods Dubai acquires from other nations -- especially the U.S. -- and then re-exports to Iran to avoid the U.N. sanctions. If Hillary and Obama crack down on Dubai and on the European countries that supply Iran with gasoline, they could bring quick, acute, intolerable pain to the streets and government of Iran.... Already, Iran has had to introduce gasoline rationing, which has met with huge popular protest. Iran now rations motorists to thirty gallons of gasoline each month at about thirty-five cents per gallon. It doesn't dare raise prices or limit supplies further for fear of triggering a revolution."

Obama's dream-world: "The new president thinks rebuilding the nation's infrastructure is the kind of stimulus the economy needs to start cranking again. But will any of the workers fired last week by, say publisher Houghton Mifflin, DuPont, Viacom, AT&T, Avis and dozens of other white-collar heavy companies, really want to pour cement, dig ditches and engage in the brutal tasks that repairing roads and bridges will create? When Roosevelt created jobs with infrastructure stimulus in the '30s, America was a blue-collar society that employed mostly men. We, white-collar prima donnas, aren't going to benefit from this program, no matter how many billions the government spends. But a lot of illegal workers willing to work hard should do quite well. We'll be getting thank-yous soon from the Mexican government, which could benefit more from this than Nafta"


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


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


Saturday, December 13, 2008

"The real objective of Socialism is human brotherhood"

The above quotation from George Orwell is a fairly classic Leftist comment. "All men are brothers" is a cry from Leftists that goes back at least to the 19th century. I document an 1894 example of it here (just before the half-way mark in the article). And we must not forget that "fraternite" was one of the 3 aims of the French revolution.

And it all fits in very well with some remarks I made recently about the emotional importance of "connectedness" in human beings. Because of their disgruntlement with the world about them, Leftists tend to feel disconnected from their own society but do nonetheless miss that sense of connectedness badly. So they make up a fantasy (and impossible) world in which they have a superabundant amount of connectedness: A world in which all men are brothers.


Is the gingerbread man nuts?

"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man"

Reflecting on the question "Is Blagojevic nuts?," -- retired clinical psychologist Judith Lown writes:
I read your column with particular interest this morning because it echoed a conversation I had with a friend last night. My reaction then, as to your column, is that Blago is a classic personality disorder--Axis II in the DSM, which, technically, is different from psychosis, although part of an Axis II diagnosis is a vulnerability to psychotic episodes.

The question here is reality testing and the quality and the extent of loss of reality testing. Psychotics' loss of reality testing tends to have a bizarre flavor--Martians planting radios in the brain, the next door neighbor spying on them, etc. Personality disorders' reality testing deficits tend to be more in the line of "I wish it, therefore it is, or I don't wish it, therefore it isn't." There were times during the Clinton administration when, imo, both Bill and Hill seemed to wander pretty far into that territory. My guess is that we will see some of the same when pressures get to O.

If I were Blago's attorney and wanted to use an insanity plea, I would go for the episodic psychosis, but if I were a juror, I wouldn't buy it. His behavior is, to me, just garden variety sociopathic personality disorder behavior. And in the context of the Illinois Combine, there were simply insufficient contextual signals to make him moderate it.

Former Assistant United States Attorney Bill Otis also invokes his professional experience to answer the question:
No, he's not nuts. Having been an AUSA for a long time, one thing I noticed is that normal, honest people have difficulty understanding how criminals think. (This shows up, for example, in the death penalty debates I do, where abolitionists simply don't grasp the heartlessness and cruelty that some killers display. It's simply beyond their experience).

Blago's world is merely corrupt; it's not insane. To him, a Senate seat is not a public trust, it's a commodity. It has a price, and the most efficient mechanism for determining that price is to put it on auction, which is what he did. Far from being insane, it's perfectly clear-headed -- just venal. Mortgage markets should operate as well.

There are two other factors tending to argue that Blago was thinking clearly. First, the quality of one's thinking must be measured in the environment in which it occurs. Blogo was a powerful man. His prior years of greed had gone, not merely unpunished, but rewarded, ultimately with the Governor's Mansion. It might well be mistaken, but it is hardly insane, to believe that the behaviors that got you so much for so long will continue to work.

In this respect, Blago is more than a little reminiscent of both Elilot Spitzer and John Edwards, who, although high-profile and ambitious public figures under considerable real (and even more potential) press scrutiny, nonetheless thought they could continue to chase skirts with the joyfulness (and abandon) of an anonymous Wal-Mart worker in his twenties. The cocoon of arrogance and the feel of invulnerability that comes with getting away with this stuff for years -- as Blogo, Spitzer and Edwards all did -- comes to be their environment. A person is not crazy for living in his environment and adapting his behavior to it; indeed he'd be crazy to do otherwise.

Second, the absence of insanity is strongly suggested by the large number of candidates who joined the auction and put in their bids (or at least explored what the bidding might look like). We don't know yet who all these people were, but it's a safe guess they were some powerful and prominent citizens. Are they all crazy? No. They were, like Blago, acting rationally in the environment at hand (which they did much to create, but that's another story).

Of course, sometimes rational but corrupt people get caught, and this appears to be one of them. If they were always caught, or always (or close to always) made to pay a significant price for their misdeeds, then there would be a better case for thinking them to be insane. But that's not remotely how it works -- and they know that.

It's not so much that Spitzer and Edwards will walk away from their respective scandals the multi-millionaire celebrities they were when they walked in, with a fawning (for liberals) press telling us that (a) everybody does it, or (b) to err is human, or (c) we can't be so judgmental, or (d) [fill in the blank]. It's that we (or at least they) learned from The Big One ten years ago. Bill Clinton disgraced his office, lied, and encouraged or (possibly) arranged for others to lie. He also granted at least one pardon after the pardonee's former (but still friendly) wife forked over a few hundred thousand in "contributions."

And what happened? Clinton's popularity went up, his spouse became a serious candidate for President, he's touted by the press as an elder statesman, his guy at DoJ who checked off on the pardon is about to become Attorney General, and of course Clinton himself lives a life of luxury and adulation. The world of perverse incentives that the Left labored so long to create has arrived. Is Blago nuts? Not hardly.

More here


BrookesNews Update

The country is in recession yet the commentariat still cannot spot what is wrong : If the commentariat had a grasp of basic capital theory they would be forced to conclude that directing spending to consumption will surely make matters worse because business spending is what keeps the economy afloat. Therefore an expansion in consumer spending could come at the expense of manufacturing
Happy Thanksgiving! from Fidel Castro's bomb squad : In 1962 Fidel Castro and Che Guevara planned a colossal terrorist attack on Manhattan on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Cuban agents were to use their cover as members of the Cuban mission to the United Nations to target Macy's, Gimbel's, Bloomindales and Manhattan's Grand Central Station with a dozen bombs and 1,102 pounds of trinitrotoluene (TNT). Fortunately J. Edgar Hoover's FBI cracked the plot
Labour market reform and the Liberal Party's betrayal : The Liberal Party under the leadership of the highly principled Malcolm Turnbull has declared labour market reform dead in the water. Well, no one ever lost money betting on that party's lack of principles. But what about sound economic policy
Associated Press's terrorist-linked photographer honored in NYC: Associated Press and its depraved media comrades honoured a man complicit in terrorist atrocities in Iraq. No surprise here. In Iraq Associated Press also collaborated with terrorists. This is the same bunch of vicious leftists that falsely accused President Bush of causing the subprime disaster. The one-party mainstream media really are the enemy
Bailout: The New American Business Model: When the government steps in to own banks, automakers, and more, then we lose our freedom. We must stand united and demand a conservative approach from our elected leaders. No more bailouts. No more big government. No more socialism. This is still America, isn't it?
President-elect Barack Obama will hasten America's decline : Obama has promised that he will inflict green policies on us which the facts show to be disastrously ineffectual on every level in every country affecting both our economy which conventional wisdom says it is in the most precarious state of our lifetime and our way of life
Nonsense about deflation : Given the monetary conditions now prevailing, the greater threat by far is inflation, not deflation. And contrary to what the investment 'experts', the politicians, and the mainstream economists believe, inflation is not a benign element in the economy's operation. It is a monetary cancer
I am sorry for what has happened to Americans : Most Obama supporters are sold on the idea that 'change' is needed but ignore the reality of the kind of change Obama wants for all of us. Obama's change drives us toward government control and intrusion into our lives beyond all comprehension of our founding fathers and of the governments we elected for the past two hundred years
Obama thinks he can 'jolt' the US economy out of recession. Fat chance - so tighten your seatbelts : Obama's 'economic' thinking could crush manufacturing, cause unemployment and consumer prices rise, worsen the current account deficit, and sink the dollar depreciates. So how long it will be before the public realize that the brilliant Obama really is an empty suit


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


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


Friday, December 12, 2008

Would you buy a car from Congress?

Congressional "wisdom" and California environmentalism prevents U.S. auto manufacturers from concentrating on the one thing they are good at: Building the big vehicles that most Americans want -- such as the one below. The auto makers have been suffocated by a political straitjacket

Leave it to Bob Lutz, GM's voluble vice chairman, to puncture the unreality of the auto bailout he himself has been championing. In an email to Ward's Auto World, he notes an obvious flaw in Congress's rescue plan now taking shape: The fuel-efficient "green" cars GM, Ford and Chrysler profess to be thrilled to be developing at Congress's behest will be unsellable unless gas prices are much higher than today's. Very few people will want to change what has been their 'nationality-given' right to drive big and bigger if the price of gas is $1.50 or $2.00 or even $2.50," Mr. Lutz explained. "Those prices will put the CAFE-mandated manufacturers at war with their customers -- and no one will win in that battle."

Translation: To become "viable," as Congress chooses crazily to understand the term, the Big Three are setting out to squander billions on products that will have to be dumped on consumers at a loss.

None of this was mentioned at four days of congressional bailout hearings, because Detroit knows better than to suggest Congress has a role in the industry's problem. Yet its own recently updated Corporate Average Fuel Economy regime, or CAFE, makes a mockery of the idea that government money will render the companies profitable, even as the same bailout bill demands that the Big Three drop their legal challenge to a California mileage mandate even more unsustainable than the federal government's.

Forget Chrysler, which has needed a bailout from Washington or Stuttgart in three of the last four recessions. The tragedy of GM and Ford is that, inside each, are perfectly viable businesses, albeit that have been slowly murdered over 30 years by CAFE. Both have decent global operations. At home, both have successful, profitable businesses selling pickups, SUVs and other larger vehicles to willing consumers, despite having to pay high UAW wages.

All this is dragged down by federal fuel-economy mandates that require them to lose tens of billions making small cars Americans don't want in high-cost UAW factories. Understand something: Ford and GM in Europe successfully sell cars that are small but not cheap. Europeans are willing to pay top dollar for a refined small car that gets excellent mileage, because they face gasoline prices as high as $9. Americans are not Europeans. In the U.S., except during bouts of high gas prices or in the grip of a Prius fad, the small cars that American consumers buy aren't bought for high mileage, but for low sticker prices. And the Big Three, with their high labor costs, cannot deliver as much value in a cheap car as the transplants can.

Under a law of politics, such truths were unmentionable in last week's televised circus because legislators are unwilling to do anything about them. They won't repeal CAFE because they fear the greens. They won't repeal CAFE's "two fleets" rule (which effectively requires the Big Three to make small cars in domestic factories) because they fear the UAW. They won't hike gas prices because they fear voters.

And make no mistake: An even more massive auto wreck lies ahead when a soon-to-be taxpayer-financed and taxpayer-owned auto industry confronts a California rulemaking that, in a silly gesture against global warming, would render most of its auto designs, profit centers and tooling unsalvageable.

We hate to admit it, but the only good idea from the bailout debate is the proposal for a new "auto czar." Along with disposing of Chrysler and downsizing Ford and GM, his job should be to confront Congress with its own policy cowardice and failure. If saving gasoline and Detroit are both worthy goals, let's ditch CAFE and institute a gasoline tax to make consumers value the cars government is forcing auto makers to build. If Congress doesn't have the tummy for that, at least ditch the "two fleets" rule so Detroit can import small cars to meet the mandate.

Alas, Barack Obama's vaunted "change" apparently doesn't include spending the political capital to make Congress acknowledge the failure of CAFE. If he can't do better than throw taxpayer money at a dismal policy disaster like our fuel-economy regulations (and so far he seems to be joining Congress in pretending it's all Detroit's fault), we might as well give up on his presidency along with any hope of progress on the nation's other unresolved dilemmas. His campaign never really answered the question of whether he was Chance the Gardener or Abraham Lincoln. We might as well find out now.




Politics posing as financial analysis: "Why the rally? It isn't really about the actual stocks, says CNBC stock guru Jim Cramer. It's about the end of the Bush administration. "The whole source of this rally is President Bush, meaning that each day we come closer to getting rid of him is a day where the market is better," Cramer writes on BloggingStocks."

Fighting Racism, U.N.-Style: "One of Colin Powell's best moves as Secretary of State was to pull out of the United Nations' 2001 conference in Durban against racism once it became an anti-Semitic rant. One of the best moves the new U.S. Administration and Europe could make is to stay away from the follow-up meeting altogether. "Durban II," planned for April in Geneva, promises to be an encore of the same old Israel-bashing. The draft declaration says Israel's policy toward the Palestinians amounts to no less than "a new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity, a form of genocide and a serious threat to international peace and security." We'll spare you the rest. Israel will be the main obsession, but it's not the only target. The draft declaration also goes after the West's freedom of speech and antiterror laws"

Will Volvo ever be the same again? "Volvo, the quintessentially middle-class Swedish marque, could soon be in Chinese hands after it emerged that Ford, its owner, is in talks with one of China's biggest carmakers. Last week Ford said that it was considering all options for Volvo, its last European brand. The American group has been selling businesses over the past two years as it struggles to bolster its balance sheet. Now it is under even more pressure as, like the rest of the car industry, it faces one of the most depressed markets for decades. Ford is in talks with Changan, one of the six biggest Chinese manufacturers with a history stretching back to 1862, about selling Volvo, which it has owned since 1999. Changan is a joint venture partner of Ford in China and has worked with the American carmaker for seven years. It is believed that early negotiations took place last month between Xu Liuping, Changan's president, and Ford and Volvo executives at a motor show in Guangzhou".

They can't catch me. I'm the gingerbread man: "The list of crooked politicians is long, and the list of stupid politicians even longer. But if the criminal allegations made yesterday against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich are proven in court, rarely will a politician have combined the two qualities with such efflorescence. The second-term Democrat knew that a grand jury probe was under way into corruption in Illinois politics, and that one of his fund raisers, Tony Rezko, had been convicted and is cooperating with prosecutors. Yet according to those prosecutors, Mr. Blagojevich talked openly in recent weeks about selling a U.S. Senate seat, trading government favors for campaign cash, and punishing the owner of the Chicago Tribune if it didn't fire members of the newspaper's editorial board. The Governor's comments were taped in court-approved wiretaps and include such self-incriminating classics as: 'I've got this thing [the power to appoint Barack Obama's Senate replacement] and it's [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I'm not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.' We recommend the entire 76-page FBI affidavit for every high school civics course as proof of the need for political checks and balances. If convicted, Mr. Blagojevich would be the second consecutive Illinois Governor to be found guilty of a felony, and the fourth in 35 years."

Questions about the Obama/Blagojevich relationship: "Asked what contact he'd had with the governor's office about his replacement in the Senate, President-elect Obama today said "I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening." But on November 23, 2008, his senior adviser David Axelrod appeared on Fox News Chicago and said something quite different. While insisting that the President-elect had not expressed a favorite to replace him, and his inclination was to avoid being a "kingmaker," Axelrod said, "I know he's talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them." ... But there remain questions about how Blagojevich knew that Mr. Obama was not willing to give him anything in exchange for the Senate seat -- with whom was Blagojevich speaking? Did that person report the governor to the authorities? And, it should be pointed out, Mr. Obama has a relationship with Mr. Blagojevich, having not only endorsed Blagojevich in 2002 and 2006, but having served as a top adviser to the Illinois governor in his first 2002 run for the state house."


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


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


Thursday, December 11, 2008

There IS such a thing as right and wrong

I have been writing -- sporadically -- on topics in moral philosophy for many years now (See here) so I think it is time for me to ask if I have learnt anything over the years. I think I have. In particular, I think I have now arrived at a complete answer to what Leftists say about the matter. "Complete answer" is a very bold expression for a philosopher to use but readers will be the ultimate judge of whether I have achieved that, of course.

The Leftist argument

The nub of the Leftist argument is that "right" and "wrong" language is incoherent. Saying "X is pink" and "X is right" seem on the surface to be the same sort of statement but we can immediately see that they are not. Pinkness is an objective property that we can point to whereas rightness exists only in the mind of the speaker. "Who says?" is a complete refutation of any claim that something is right. Religious people can say that "God says" but since religious people do differ considerably on moral questions (e.g. abortion) it is immediately obvious that it is only an opinion about what God says that we are dealing with. And how can an opinion have any objective reality? So the Leftist concludes that there is no such thing as right and wrong, just different opinions and value judgements. You cannot find rightness under a rock and you cannot find it anywhere so it does not exist as such.

A better argument

I did three courses in philosophy in my years as a university student and was always exposed to the above analysis. And up until fairly recently I accepted it as describing at least one sort of moral statement. I was always aware, of course, that nobody ever talks as if they believed it. Leftists are in fact very quick on the draw with moral language. They can say that there is no such thing as right and wrong and then immediately and with a straight face go on to say that "racism" or "intolerance' is wrong. And George Bush is of course EVIL!

So what the heck is going on? I think the first key is, as I have previously argued, that moral language is not used in one way but rather in several ways. And I have SHOWN that usage of moral language differs from person to person by way of psychological research. Philosophers are like physicists: They are always looking for a "unified field" theory of what they study but what if such a unified field does not exist? Perhaps the closest anybody has come to a single explanation of what moral language does is the formulation that "is good" or "is right" statements simply commend. R.M. Hare is associated with that view. But if we go on from there to unpack "commend", I think we are back to square one. Surely "commend" simply means "is good". Other objections to Hare's claims are summarized below (From Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century By Scott Soames. p. 137)
"What is it to commend something? Although Hare doesn't say very much about this, he does say that "when we commend or condemn anything it is always in order, at least indirectly, to guide choices, our own or other people's, now or in the future."' So if to call something good is always to commend it, to do so must always be to guide choices in some way. This emphasis on guiding choices fits many cases quite well. If we are trying to decide what movie to go to and someone tells us that Ed Norton's new film is a good movie, then it would be natural to take that remark to be an attempt to guide our choice. However, not all cases are this direct. We often say that certain things are, or were, good so and so' s even though we don't envision ourselves or others having the opportunity to make choices on the basis of that information. Personally, I would say that Ronald Reagan was a good president of the United States, even though I don't expect anyone to have the opportunity to vote for him again-- or even for anyone very much like him. Or, to use a nice example due to my former student Rebecca Entwistle, I would say that when the College of Cardinals selected Pope John Paul II, they chose a good pope. I am willing to say this to people despite the fact that I know that none of them is in the College of Cardinals, and they will never have any occasion to choose a pope, or even to influence such a choice. How does this square with Hare's idea that to call something good is always to commend it, where to commend it is always to guide choices, directly or indirectly?"

I have previously set out what I think are the main uses of moral language but I will repeat them here as a preliminary to an important update. It seems to me that statements such as "X is right" (or "X is good" or "You ought to do X") can be unpacked in only four or perhaps five basic ways:

1. I like it when people do X
2. Doing X generally leads to widely desired results
3. It is the will of God that you do X
4. X has an inescapable, universal "moral" quality.
5. X is the prevailing rule around here (though if the person was asked why that rule exists he would almost certainly reply by referring to some version of one of the preceding three statements).

I think most people would agree that "You ought" or "is right" statements can mean 1, 2, 3 or 5 above. I do. You might dispute the truth of any of them but you would understand what is being said and understand that it is a factual claim. I would for instance dispute an "ought" statement that is unpacked as 3 above because I am an atheist but I accept that the person making the claim is trying to make a statement of fact that can be proved or disproved in some way. So. at least in the senses 1, 2, 3 or 5 above, there clearly IS such a thing as right and wrong.

Interpretation 4 above however is the difficulty because it is apparently untestable and undemonstrable -- and is hence the one that Leftists focus on. They claim it is gibberish even though the usage does seem to be widespread. And I think that the widespread nature of such statements is the key to understanding them. I think that such statements arise because human beings do have inborn, hardwired moral instincts. So a person who uses "is wrong" statements of that ilk is expressing an important instinct. He is in fact referring to something quite objective: Normal human feelings and instincts. He is saying: "That goes against normal human feelings and I know it does because it goes against feelings deep in me". He could of course be wrong. His own feelings might not be a reliable guide to what is general -- but it is nonetheless a factual claim that can be disputed. Such a person might, for instance, say "murdering babies is wrong" and mean that as a universal and unquestionable claim about how normal people respond to the idea of murdering babies. But we can argue with him about the matter by pointing out that the undoubtedly brilliant civilization of ancient Greece routinely allowed the killing of babies in some circumstances. So the argument is an empirical one, not an unfalsifiable claim. And that is what I have only recently come to see.

I am not of course saying that the unpacking I have offered above is always high in the consciousness of the person making such statements. Most people use the word "dog" with great confidence but would be rather hard put to define a dog when you remark that dogs can be of many shapes, sizes and colours. So what defines a dog? When pressed the person might say a dog is "tailwagger" -- but is a boxer dog with an amputated tail not a dog? And so it goes on. Similarly, "is right" statements can be used with considerable accuracy and meaningfulness even though the person using such statements might not be able to unpack them readily or at all.

Because the standard psychological measures of moral attitudes (e.g. Kohlberg's) are profoundly contaminated by the Leftist assumptions of their authors, I have not even tried to look up inheritance data about morality in the behaviour genetics literature -- though there is some supportive evidence mentioned here and here (referring to the work of Hauser and Haidt respectively) and the idea is to be found in the work of various well-known writers -- e.g. Steven Pinker and James Q. Wilson. So suffice it to say that most important human characteristics seem to show very substantial genetic inheritance (See e.g. here and here and here, and some work on a genetically-coded social abnormality reported here, here and here). If morality were an exception that would be most surprising.

And from the viewpoint of evolutionary biology, it would be even more surprising. Man is both a social animal and an animal that falls very readily into conflict with his fellow humans. So ways of regulating behaviour to enable co-operation and forestall conflict must necessarily be of foremost importance. And that is largely what moral and ethical rules are all about. To forestall conflict there HAVE to be rules against murder, stealing, coveting your neighbour's wife etc. And that is why there are considerable similarities between the laws of Moses (ten commandments etc) and the much earlier Babylonian code of Hammurabi. The details of moral and legal rules are of course responsive to time, place and circumstances, but there are some basics that will almost always be there. And given the importance of those basic rules for social co-operation, it should be no surprise that such rules became internalized (instinctive) very early on in human evolution. So many if not most of our social instincts are in fact moral or ethical instincts. Ethics are the rules we need for co-operative existence.

Obviously, however, the rules are not so well entrenched as to produce automatic responses. We have broad tendencies towards ethical behaviour but that is all. This is probably due to their relatively recent evolutionary origin. Most of what we are originates far back in our evolutionary past whereas the social rules that we use became needed only with the evolution of the primates.

Additionally, we are the animal that relies least on instinct. So all our instincts can be both modified and defended by our reasoning processes. Just because a thing is instinctive to us it does not mean that the behaviour concerned is emitted in any automatic way. We think about why we do what our instincts tell us and generally conclude that our instincts are thoroughly wise! And we do generally explain our rules of behaviour in a thoroughly empirical and functional way -- generally starting with: "If everyone did that .... ". And moral philosophers are of course people who specialize in such talk. But, as Wittgenstein often pointed out, all such talk is largely epiphenomenal (an afterthought). It is predominantly their set of inherited dispositions that make people behave ethically, not any abstract rationalizations.

And that realization does explain why philosophers so often back themselves into absurd corners. You might guess what is coming next at that point: Peter Singer. Peter Singer (a former student of R.M. Hare) is undoubtedly a very able and influential philosopher and in good philosophical style he starts out with a few simple and hard-to-dispute general rules from which he logically deduces all sorts of conclusions that are greeted with horror by normal people -- his view that babies and young children may be killed more or less at will, for example. As a theoretical deduction, his views are defensible but seen in the light of the biological basis of morality, they are counterproductive. A society that killed off its young more or less at will would not last long.

So we come back in the end to the good Burkean principle that theories are to be distrusted and and continually tested against whether or not they lead to generally desired outcomes. Philosophers judge an argument on its consistency, elegance and comprehensivesness. Conservatives judge it on its practical outcomes. And Leftists judge it on whether they can use it to make themselves look good.

A famous objection to any claim that moral statements are at base empirical and hence rationally arguable is the objection by David Hume. David Hume contends that there is an unbridgeable gap between "is" and "ought" statements -- so that you cannot justify "ought" statements by "is" statements. Yet that is precisely what people normally do. An "ought" statement always commends some course of action and when people ask WHY that course of action is commended the reply is often in terms of "is" (empirical) statements (e.g. the commendation of X can be explained as: "X leads to generally desired consequences" or "X leads to consequences that you would like" or "I like X" or "X is the prevailing rule in this culture"). So in my view the fact that an "ought" statement can be explained in that way shows that it is an empirical statement to begin with. Statements in general have all sorts of influences on people (for example, if someone said to me: "Your son has just died", it is clearly an empirical statement but it would also have an enormous influence on me if true. It would cause me to take many actions that I would not otherwise take) and an "ought" statement is an empirical statement with what is expected to be one particular sort of influence -- it is meant to cause you to behave in the way described (Something that R.M. Hare also saw). So an "ought" or "is right" statement is simply a shorthand (compressed) "is" statement that can be expanded in some way if desired. It might be noted however that there seems to be a gradient in "good", "right" and "ought" statements, with "ought" statements being most intended to incite action and "good" statements least so.



Corrupt Obama pal finally caught: "The governor of Illinois has been arrested for conspiring to sell an appointment to US President-Elect Barack Obama's recently vacated Senate seat in what prosecutors called "a political corruption crime spree". Governor Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were also accused of demanding kickbacks for government contracts, jobs and appointments and trying to get certain editors fired from the Chicago Tribune newspaper because of their critical coverage of his administration. "The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering," US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said."

More Chicago crookedness close to Obama: "A former Illinois bank official, now claiming whistleblower status, says bank officials replaced a loan reappraisal that he prepared for a Chicago property that was purchased by the wife of now-convicted felon Tony Rezko, part of which was later sold to next-door neighbor Barack Obama. In a complaint filed Thursday in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Kenneth J. Connor said that his reappraisal of Rita Rezko's property was replaced with a higher one and that he was fired when he questioned the document. Mr. Connor, a real estate and commercial credit analyst at the Mutual Bank Corp. in Chicago, also noted in the complaint that the bank received a grand jury subpoena in October 2006 requiring it to produce information concerning Mrs. Rezko's purchase, including the bank's files on the property.

Obama stays silent over Robert Mugabe's rule in Zimbabwe: "More than five months have passed since Barack Obama last commented about the humanitarian disaster in Zimbabwe, a period that has seen it lurch from political and economic crisis into a cholera epidemic. A spokeswoman for the President-elect's transition team indicated yesterday that she would be willing to issue a statement on his behalf. In contrast, President Bush repeated British-led calls for an end to Robert Mugabe's tyrannical rule that have found an echo across Europe and parts of Africa in recent days. Although Mr Obama has been keen to avoid second-guessing the White House on foreign policy issues and emphasised that there can only be "one president at a time", this does not explain a prolonged period of silence that now stretches back to June 24."


"I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have any relations with that man, Mr. Blagojevich. I never told anybody to buy my Senate seat, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the hope of the change."


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


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


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pesky facts about women and mathematics

Was Larry Summers right about women and science, after all? As the mother of two girls, I hope not. In fact, Summers himself said in his infamous comments about intrinsic differences between the genders, "I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong." But Summers may have been on to something, recent research suggests. Math and science test data, he noted, show gender differences at each end of the performance spectrum. In other words, men are overrepresented at the very top and bottom.....

A group of researchers (all women, as it happened) looked at annual math assessments required by the No Child Left Behind law from 10 representative states that supplied details about gender and ethnicity, a total of 7 million students. Their study, published in the July 25 issue of Science, found no differences between girls and boys in average performance -- not even, as earlier studies had found, once they entered high school. The gap between girls and boys on math SATs, they said, could be explained by the fact that more girls than boys go to college and therefore take these tests.

But, echoing Summers's point, there was small yet significant variance between the genders -- the degree to which the scores of girls or boys differed from the average. At the very highest level, the 99.9th percentile, the difference meant 2.15 males for every female. This difference was large enough that, in an occupation requiring math skills at that level, the job ranks could be expected to be filled 68 percent by men, 32 percent by women -- enough to explain, as Summers suggested, part of the gender gap.

Studies comparing girls and boys in different countries add to the puzzle, both underscoring gender differences and suggesting that the influence of cultural factors may be greater than Summers thought.

In performance on a standardized math, science and reading test given to 15- and 16-year-olds in 40 countries, girls in every country performed far better than boys in reading. Conversely, boys in all but three countries did better, but by not nearly as much, in math. In all but three countries -- Britain, Thailand and Iceland -- more boys than girls scored in the 99th percentile in math.

Yet this study, published in the May 30 issue of Science, also showed a correlation between girls' performance on math tests and countries where there is more "gender equality," as measured by things such as the share of female elected officials or women's participation in the workforce.

Summers was boneheaded to say what he said, in the way that he said it and considering the job that he held. But he probably had a legitimate point -- and the continuing uproar says more about the triumph of political correctness than about Summers's supposed sexism.



IQ in early adulthood and later risk of death by homicide: cohort study of 1 million men

By G. David Batty et al.

Background: Risk factors for homicide are emerging; however, the predictive value of IQ, for which there is a strong prima facie case, has yet to be examined.

Aims: To examine the association between IQ and risk of death by homicide.

Method: A cohort of 968 846 men, aged 18-19 years, were administered an IQ test battery at military conscription and then followed for mortality experience over two decades.

Results: There were 191 deaths due to homicide during follow-up. In age-adjusted analyses, a high total IQ test score was associated with a reduced rate of homicide (hazard ratio (HR) per standard deviation increase in IQ score=0.49, 95% CI 0.42-0.57). A step-wise gradient was apparent across the three IQ groups (P-value for trend <0.001). After adjustment for indicators of socio-economic position and illness at conscription, this gradient was marginally attenuated (HR=0.57, 95% CI 0.49-0.67).

Conclusions: High IQ test scores in early adulthood were associated with a reduced risk of death by homicide.

The British Journal of Psychiatry (2008) 193: 461-465.

In other words, it is dummies who are most likely to get murdered. Not terribly surprising but it shows once again how far-reaching are the effects of IQ. Leftists who try to trivialize IQ have a mountain of evidence against them



Hooray! L.A. Slimes in trouble: "The owner of the Los Angeles Times and other leading US newspapers, Tribune, filed for bankruptcy overnight in the latest blow to the struggling newspaper industry. The Chicago-based media giant said that it was forced to seek bankruptcy protection because of a sharp drop in revenue and a heavy debt load but has enough cash to sustain operations while it restructures. "This restructuring will bring the level of our debt in line with current economic realities and will take pressure off our operations, so we can continue to work toward our vision of creating a sustainable, cutting-edge media company," he added. Tribune is the second largest US newspaper publisher in terms of revenue and the third in terms of circulation. Besides the Los Angeles Times it owns the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant and several other papers. It operates 23 television stations. According to media reports, Tribune is carrying some $US12 billion ($18 billion) in debt and cash flow is not enough to cover $US1 billion in interest payments due this year. A $US512 million debt payment is also due in June. Like many US newspapers, the Tribune has been grappling with declining circulation, a loss of readership to online media, and a steep drop in print advertising revenue."

NYT in trouble too: "The New York Times Company plans to borrow up to $225 million against its mid-Manhattan headquarters building, to ease a potential cash flow squeeze as the company grapples with tighter credit and shrinking profits. The company has retained Cushman & Wakefield, the real estate firm, to act as its agent to secure financing, either in the form of a mortgage or a sale-leaseback arrangement, said James M. Follo, the Times Company's chief financial officer, the Times reports. The Times Company owns 58 percent of the 52-story, 1.5 million-square-foot tower on Eighth Ave., which was designed by the architect Renzo Piano and completed last year."

Zogby Interactive: McCain Wins Wal-Mart Shoppers, But Obama Prevailed at Target, Macy's, Costco & JC Penney: "John McCain won the biggest battle of the 2008 electoral war for retail consumers by taking voters who most prefer to shop at Wal-Mart by 17 points. However, that was not nearly enough to overcome Barack Obama's advantage with the most loyal shoppers of other national retailers. That's the bottom line of how shoppers and the U.S. electorate made Obama our 44th President. Obama scored big increases over what John Kerry polled in 2004 at JC Penney, Sears, Kohl's and Target. We asked respondents: "If you could only shop at one of the following department stores for the rest of your life, which would you choose?" Using a different measure, weekly shopping at Wal-Mart, we found that Obama did much better than Kerry with that store's most frequent shoppers."


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


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


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Obama suggests some auto execs should lose jobs

One cheer for Obama! The spineless and complacent business-school theorists who failed to stand up to the unions and thus destroyed great American companies certainly need to "move on". I would prosecute them for dereliction of duty myself. And maybe abolish all business schools too. The only business school that is worth anything is starting up your own business and trying to make a go of it. You really learn fast that way. It was entrepreneurs like that who created the auto companies in the first place. I am more pleased by Obama's remarks below than I ever expected to be. He may turn out OK yet

President-elect Barack Obama pledged to work for the survival of the auto industry, but accused car company executives of a persistent "head in the sand approach" and suggested some should lose their jobs. One leading Democrat in Congress, Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, was far blunter. Rick Wagoner, the chief executive of General Motors Corp. (GM), "has to move on," he said Sunday.

The criticism of industry leaders deepened as negotiators for the White House and Congress narrowed their differences over a plan to extend roughly $15 billion in short-term loans to any of the Detroit automakers that need it. Analysts say General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, in particular, are at risk for running out of money in the next few weeks, and that Ford Motor Co. (F) may need help if the economy deteriorates further. Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, whose state is ground zero for the battered industry, said he was confident an agreement would emerge within the next day.

Democratic leaders have said they hope to pass the measure this week. While Levin declined to predict its approval, support among rank-and-file lawmakers presumably would improve dramatically if the White House and Obama were to signal their backing.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press," the president-elect said, "The last thing I want to see happen is for the auto industry to disappear, but I'm also concerned that we don't put $10 billion or $20 billion or $30 billion or whatever billion dollars into an industry, and then, six months to a year later, they come back hat in hand and say, 'Give me more.'" Obama, who takes office Jan. 20, has drawn some criticism from Democrats who want him to become more involved in efforts to save the industry. The president-elect said his aides are monitoring developments and considering longer-term plans. He expressed no support for calls to allow the big carmakers to enter bankruptcy and said, "We don't want government to run companies."

Instead, he said, "if taxpayer money is at stake - which it appears may be the case - we want to make sure that it is conditioned on an auto industry emerging at the end of the process that actually works, that actually functions. "Taxpayers, I think are fed up. They're going through extraordinarily difficult times right now."

Obama did not single out any individual executive by name for criticism and said there had been incremental progress in the past 15 years toward a more competitive line of products. "What we haven't seen is a sense of urgency and the willingness to make tough decisions. And what we still see are executive compensation packages for the auto industry that are out of line compared to their competitors, their Japanese competitors, who are doing a lot better," Obama said in the interview, taped Saturday in Chicago.

Asked whether the top executives should remain in the jobs, he said, "Here's what I'll say, that it may not be the same for all the companies. But what I think we have to put an end to is the head-in-the-sand approach to the auto industry that has been prevalent for decades now."




UN: Iran anti-nuclear efforts 'failed': "The head of the UN nuclear watchdog has said international efforts to halt Iranian nuclear activity have been a failure. "We haven't really moved one inch toward addressing the issues," said Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in the Los Angeles Times. "I think so far the policy has been a failure." Iran has faced three sets of UN security council sanctions over its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment activities, but over the past five years Tehran has pressed on with its controversial nuclear work. The United States and other western powers suspect the Islamic republic's nuclear program is a cover for an atomic weapons-making program".

Remember the Holodomor : "This year marks the 75th anniversary of one of the most horrific chapters in the history of the Soviet Union: the great famine the Ukrainians call Holodomor, `murder by starvation.' This catastrophe, which killed an estimated 6 to 10 million people in 1932-33, was largely the product of deliberate Soviet policies. Inevitably, then, its history is fodder for acrimonious disputes. Ukraine - which, with Canada and a few other countries, observed Holodomor Remembrance Day on November 23 - seeks international recognition for a Ukrainian `genocide.' Russia denounces that demand as political exploitation of a wider tragedy. Some Russian human rights activists are skeptical of both positions. Meanwhile, the famine remains little known in the West, despite efforts by the Ukrainian diaspora. Indeed, the West has its own inglorious history with regard to the famine, starting with the deliberate cover-up by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty."

Reparations, R.I.P.: "Just a few years ago, at roughly the turn of the millennium, slavery reparations seemed the coming thing. A June 2001 New York Times article reported that the movement to obtain compensation for slaves' descendants had "taken on substantial force" and was "gaining steam" both in the nation's universities, abuzz with rallies and study committees, and in the black community generally. All the major black organizations had signed on, including the NAACP, the Urban League, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Randall Robinson's The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks had hit bestseller lists in 2000, announcing in impassioned tones the need to rectify "America's crime against us," a "black holocaust" that was "far and away the most heinous human rights crime visited upon any group of people in the world over the last five hundred years." True, whites outside the campus remained heavily opposed, but after the United Church of Christ became the first big multi! racial denomination to endorse the notion and the Philadelphia Inquirer called for the creation of a national reparations committee, it was only a matter of time before more whites came on board. Many state and local Democratic politicians started to talk up the idea. Then: nothing. Today, reparations seem to have completely disappeared from the national agenda. Few mention them any more. What happened?"

A Hebrew lesson: "In this holiday season, Americans hear lots of talk about "Hanukkah" but most Christians-and most Jews, for that matter-don't know what that word actually means. No, Hanukkah doesn't mean "Festival of Lights," or "Festival of Tolerance" - the Hebrew word means, simply, "dedication." It refers to the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C., after its desecration by Hellenists who worshipped Greek Gods in the shape of men. The holiday calls for our re-dedication to resisting secularism and assimilation, and recommitting to God's commandments. The word "Hanukah" has the same root as "Hinukh" -education-emphasizing that there's no meaningful education without dedication to divine truth. At the darkest time of each year, the glowing candles of Hanukkah signal dedication to bring light to a world that too often worships men, instead of God."

Jewish ancestry for Thomas Jefferson? "Was Thomas Jefferson the first Jewish president? Researchers studying Jefferson's Y chromosome have found it belongs to a lineage that is rare in Europe but common in the Middle East, raising the possibility that the third president of the United States had a Jewish ancestor many generations ago. No biological samples of Jefferson remain, but his Y chromosome, the genetic element that determines maleness, is assumed to be the same as that carried by living descendants of Field Jefferson, his paternal uncle. These relatives donated cells for an inquiry into whether Jefferson had fathered a hidden family with his slave Sally Hemings, a possibility that most historians had scoffed at. ... Michael Hammer, a geneticist at the University of Arizona, said he had compared the Jefferson Y chromosome with those in his database of Y chromosomes and found close matches with four other individuals. There was a perfect match to the Y chromosome of a Moroccan Jew, and matches that differed by two mutations from another Moroccan Jew, a Kurdish Jew and an Egyptian. Dr. Hammer said he would "hazard a guess at Sephardic Jewish ancestry" for Jefferson, although any such interpretation was highly tentative."

A previous citizenship fraud: "Chester Arthur perpetrated a fraud as to his eligibility to be Vice President by spreading various lies about his parents' heritage. President Arthur's father, William Arthur, became a United States citizen in August 1843. But Chester Arthur was born in 1829. Therefore, he was a British Citizen by descent, and a dual citizen at birth, if not his whole life. He wasn't a "natural born citizen" and he knew it."

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


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


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


Monday, December 8, 2008

Eligibility dispute story spreads

Now National Press Club event scheduled on challenge to Oval Office occupant

Questions raised over Barack Obama's citizenship are reaching into the National Press Club now, with an event scheduled Monday at which an activist group will call for the release of documentation proving his eligibility to occupy the Oval Office. Already, at least one legal advocacy group is promising to raise legal challenges to whatever Obama would do as president, until and unless his eligibility is established.

Now the group that has aired and published a number of ads challenging Obama based on charges that he was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, and doesn't meet the U.S. Constitution's requirement that all presidents be "natural-born" citizens has scheduled a news conference in Washington. Among those scheduled to be present are attorneys handling a Pennsylvania case brought by Philip Berg, a New Jersey case brought by Leo Donofrio and a California case brought by Orly Taitz. The U.S. Supreme Court justices were scheduled to have a conference today on whether to accept arguments on the issue, but no immediate announcement was made., which is scheduling the event, will talk about Obama's response to the publication of an open letter last week in the Chicago Tribune.

The letter sought Obama's authorization for access to his original birth certificate, which state officials in Hawaii report having seen. "Under our Constitution, no one is eligible to assume the office of the president unless he or she is a 'natural born citizen,'" Bob Schulz of WeThePeople said. "To date, Mr. Obama has refused all requests to release his original birth certificate or other documents that would definitively establish his citizenship status and thus his constitutional eligibility." ]

More than a dozen legal challenges have been initiated over Obama's citizenship, all citing Obama's clouded history and the U.S. Constitution's requirement that a president be a natural born citizen. There have been allegations Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii as his campaign has reported, that he could be considered a British subject because of his father's residency in what then was a British protectorate that later became Kenya, and that the "Certification of Live Birth" posted on his website simply shows his mother registered his birth in Hawaii after he was born, but does not document a location of birth.

There also have been questions raised about his travels as a youth, including the years he spent registered as a Muslim in an Indonesian school, and his later travels to Pakistan at a time when U.S. passports weren't welcome in that nation.

WND senior reporter Jerome Corsi traveled to Kenya and Hawaii prior to the election to investigate issues surrounding Obama's birth. But his research and discoveries only raised more questions. The biggest question remains why Obama, if a Hawaii birth certificate exists, simply hasn't ordered it made available to settle the rumors. The dispute has been covered mostly by online news sources, but in recent days, Washington and Philadelphia newspapers have begun following, CNN and Fox have commented and even the American Bar Association Journal has noted the dispute.

The governor's office in Hawaii said there is a valid certificate but rejected requests for access and left ambiguous its origin. Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro, has named two different Hawaii hospitals where Obama could have been born, while a video posted on YouTube features Obama's Kenyan grandmother Sarah claiming to have witnessed Obama's birth in Kenya.

Schulz' open letter asked that Obama have delivered to the National Press Club a certified copy of the original birth certificate, including any under the names Barack Husssein Obama, Barry Soetoro, Barry Obama, Barack Dunham and Barry Dunham, a certificate of his citizenship and admission forms for his attendance at Occidental College, Columbia and Harvard.

The dispute is facing an immediate deadline, because members of the U.S. Electoral College are scheduled to vote Dec. 15 formally to make Obama the next president. "Should the state members of the Electoral College cast their votes for Mr. Obama in the face of such overwhelming evidence, and without verification of Mr. Obama's eligibility, they would be committing treason to the Constitution," Schultz said.

And in an analysis in the Philadelphia Bulletin, constitutional lawyer Edwin Vieira, suggested there would be major problems should Obama not be eligible, and assume the office anyway. "Let's assume he wasn't born in the U.S.," Vieira told the Bulletin. "What's the consequence? He will not be eligible. That means he cannot be elected validly. The people and the Electoral College cannot overcome this and the House of Representatives can't make him president. So what's the next step? He takes the oath of office, and assuming he's aware he's not a citizen, then it's a perjured oath."

The result would be any appointments made an ineligible president, and all the appointees' decisions, would be invalid, he said. Vieira suggested Obama supporters should be the ones raising the questions, because of the discredit that would follow a revelation of ineligibility. "Let's say we go a year into this process, and it all turns out to be a flim-flam," Vieira told the newspaper. "What's the nation's reaction to that? What's going to be the reaction in the next U.S. election? God knows. It has almost revolutionary consequences, if you think about it."

He also suggested Obama's silence on the issue, itself, is a concern. Vieira told the newspaper the question is significant because it involves the man who could have his finger next to a nuclear button. He also said the question would remain whether any laws he signs would be valid. Even after Obama takes the oath of office, the questions will remain, he suggested.

Wes Pruden, editor emeritus of the Washington Times, said Obama's refusal to authorize release of his birth certificate has fueled the dispute. "This has led to furious speculation on the Internet that Mr. Obama's parents returned to Hawaii with him shortly after his birth and simply registered his Kenyan birth certificate, certified by the doctor who delivered him and by the hospital where he was born, with the Hawaii Department of Health. Why, these skeptics ask, won't the president-elect authorize release of the original Hawaii certificate and squelch speculation once and for all?" he said. "It's a good question, though lack of his asking doesn't prove anything."



A democratic Iraq within reach

By Charles Krauthammer

The barbarism in Mumbai and the economic crisis at home have largely overshadowed an otherwise singular event: the ratification of military and strategic cooperation agreements between Iraq and the United States.

They must not pass unnoted. They were certainly noted by Iran, which fought fiercely to undermine the agreements. Tehran understood how a formal U.S.-Iraqi alliance endorsed by a broad Iraqi consensus expressed in a freely elected parliament changes the strategic balance in the region.

For the United States, this represents the single most important geopolitical advance in the region since Henry Kissinger turned Egypt from a Soviet client into an American ally. If we don't blow it with too hasty a withdrawal from Iraq, we will have turned a chronically destabilizing enemy state at the epicenter of the Arab Middle East into an ally.

Also largely overlooked at home was the sheer wonder of the procedure that produced Iraq's consent: classic legislative maneuvering with no more than a tussle or two - tame by international standards (see YouTube: "Best Taiwanese Parliament Fights of All Time!") - over the most fundamental issues of national identity and direction.

The only significant opposition bloc was the Sadrists, a mere 30 seats out of 275. The ostensibly pro-Iranian religious Shiite parties resisted Tehran's pressure and championed the agreement. As did the Kurds. The Sunnis put up the greatest fight. But their concern was that America would be withdrawing too soon, leaving them subject to overbearing and perhaps even vengeful Shiite dominance.

The Sunnis, who only a few years ago had boycotted provincial elections, bargained with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, trying to exploit his personal stake in agreements he himself had negotiated. They did not achieve their maximum objectives. But they did get formal legislative commitments for future consideration of their grievances, from amnesty to further relaxation of the de-Baathification laws.

That any of this democratic give-and-take should be happening in a peaceful parliament just two years after Iraq's descent into sectarian hell is in itself astonishing. Nor is the setting of a withdrawal date terribly troubling. The deadline is almost entirely symbolic. U.S. troops must be out by Dec. 31, 2011 - the weekend before the Iowa caucuses, which, because G-d is merciful, will arrive again only in the very fullness of time. Moreover, that date is not just distant but flexible. By treaty, it can be amended. If conditions on the ground warrant, it will be.

True, the war is not over. As Gen. David Petraeus repeatedly insists, our (belated) successes in Iraq are still fragile. There has already been an uptick in terror bombings, which will undoubtedly continue as what's left of al-Qaeda, the Sadrist militias and the Iranian-controlled "special groups" try to disrupt January's provincial elections.

The more long-term danger is that Iraq's reborn central government becomes too strong and, by military or parliamentary coup, the current democratic arrangements are dismantled by a renewed dictatorship that abrogates the alliance with the United States.

Such disasters are possible. But if our drawdown is conducted with the same acumen as was the surge, not probable. A self-sustaining, democratic and pro-American Iraq is within our reach. It would have two hugely important effects in the region.

First, it would constitute a major defeat for Tehran, the putative winner of the Iraq war, according to the smart set. Iran's client, Moqtada al-Sadr, still hiding in Iran, was visibly marginalized in parliament - after being militarily humiliated in Basra and Baghdad by the new Iraqi security forces. Moreover, the major religious Shiite parties were the ones that negotiated, promoted and assured passage of the strategic alliance with the United States, against the most determined Iranian opposition.

Second is the regional effect of the new political entity on display in Baghdad - a flawed yet functioning democratic polity with unprecedented free speech, free elections and freely competing parliamentary factions. For this to happen in the most important Arab country besides Egypt can, over time (over generational time, the time scale of the war on terror), alter the evolution of Arab society. It constitutes our best hope for the kind of fundamental political-cultural change in the Arab sphere that alone will bring about the defeat of Islamic extremism. After all, newly sovereign Iraq is today more engaged in the fight against Arab radicalism than any country on earth, save the United States - with which, mirabile dictum, it has now thrown in its lot.




"Cold Cash" Jefferson Ousted!... Republican Cao Wins! : "There's going to be one less Corruptocrat in Congress next year. Rep. William "Cold Cash" Jefferson lost his Congressional seat to Republican Anh "Joseph" Cao in Louisiana. Anh "Joseph" Cao, a Vietnamese-American and a Republican, will be the first Vietnamese-American in Congress from a predominantly black and heavily Democratic district. Republicans made an aggressive push to get rid of the 61-year-old incumbent, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, laundering money and misusing his congressional office. Cao came to the U.S. as a child after the fall of Saigon in 1975. He went on to earn degrees in philosophy, physics and law." [Natch!]

With help from Congress, homeowners could rescue themselves : "The U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve may need more than $700 billion to shore up bank balance sheets and restart the economy. So far, the ideas from Congress are doing nothing to improve the current dismal economic outlook. Instead of pouring capital into banks and trying to rescue homeowners who cannot meet their mortgage obligations, Congress can make a simple change to the tax code and let homeowners come to the rescue. . Homeowners held $11.2 trillion in mortgage debt at the end of June. They also held about $17 trillion in retirement assets . at the end of March. Unfortunately, these retirement assets are smaller now, but more unfortunate is that these assets cannot be used without penalty before reaching age 59-1/2, excepting hardship cases, first-time home buyers, and specific educational purposes. Congress should change these rules."

India - the other side of glory : "It has been said - and Chile, South Korea and Taiwan seemed to play into that narrative - that only autocracies could enable the painful process of opening up an economy to competition because democracies, with their conflicting demands and political divisions, tend to reverse free-market reform before it reaches a critical mass of people. India, with a 60-year-old democracy, throws cold water on that premise. But for many Indians, development is still an elusive goal. The country is socially stratified and millions of citizens, led by wily politicians, define their identity in religious or ethnic - i.e., collectivist - terms. This holds India back from catching up with modern liberal democracies in which rights are by and large based on the individual."


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


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


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Instinctive influences on morality

I am one of the many who believe that we all have inborn moral responses. So when people say that something is "just wrong" they are not really being incoherent but are being guided by strongly felt moral instincts in themselves. I set out my thoughts on the matter at more length here.

A recent piece of research rather strongly supports that view. The research was based on the responses of a small group of (mainly) young women attending a minor British university so we must not get too excited about its generalizability but it may be a straw in the wind nonetheless. Below is one summary of it:
"A new study has found that people are more likely to be lenient in making decisions if they have just washed their hands. British scientists who carried out the research said the findings suggest that jurors in criminal trials who have cleansed their hands may make their verdict less severe. And voters may be more likely to excuse a politician's misdemeanours when going to the ballot box if they have just had a shower.

In the study, 22 people who had washed their hands, and 22 who had not, were made to watch a disgusting three-minute clip of heroin addicts from the hit film Trainspotting. All 44 were then asked to rate how morally wrong they deemed the series of acts shown to them on a scale of one to nine, with one being acceptable and seven being very wrong. The actions included stealing money from a wallet, lying on a job application, cooking and eating the family dog, killing a dying plane crash survivor to avoid starvation, and abusing a kitten. All said they thought the actions were 'wrong'. However, the participants who had washed their hands were less likely to judge the actions as harshly as the group who had not.

In another experiment, a group was asked to read sentences with words such as 'purity' and 'cleanliness' before being posed the same moral dilemmas. Another group was given sentences with neutral words. Again, the 'clean' group judged the unethical behaviour less harshly.

Lead researcher Dr Simone Schnall, a psychologist at the University of Plymouth, said: "We like to think we arrive at decisions because we deliberate, but incidental things can influence us. "This could have implications when voting and when juries make up their minds." Lancaster University psychologist Professor Carey Cooper described the findings as "terrifying". He said: "It suggests that washing can make us more prepared to accept wrongdoing. "It is very scary when you think of the implications, especially in the judicial world."

The original report of the research is here.

So judgments of right and wrong are simply not rational. They are instinctive. I think conservatives will be a lot more comfortable with that than Leftists are. Leftist don't think ANYTHING (except homosexuality) is instinctive.

One should note however that the setting of the research was deliberately designed to draw out instinctive responses. People on a jury (for instance) may be less influenced by irrelevancies. Nonetheless it has long been known in psychological research that incidental factors can influence research results. This is merely the latest instance of it.

The original research article gives some interesting and plausible theoretical background to what they found.

If I were being devil's advocate, I would say that the results show that middle-class young women in Britain have been taught to associate cleanliness with virtue and to associate virtue with mercy so the old "more research is needed" applies here too. Would you get the same results with Lebanese? Maybe not.


McCain Couldn't Compete With Obama's Money

America affirms Chicago's Golden Rule


If money talks, we'll likely soon hear the real reason why Barack Obama beat John McCain. Both men and the national parties will report to the Federal Election Commission today how much money they raised in October and November. And what the numbers will probably show is that Mr. Obama outspent Mr. McCain by the biggest margin in history, perhaps a quarter of a billion dollars.

On May 31, as the general election began in earnest, the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee had a combined $47 million in cash, while the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee had a combined $85 million.

Between then and Oct. 15, the Obama/DNC juggernaut raised $658.7 million. I estimate today's reports will show Mr. Obama, the DNC and two other Obama fund-raising vehicles raised an additional $120 million to $140 million in October and November, giving them a total of between $827 million and $847 million in funds for the general election.

Mr. McCain and the RNC spent $550 million in the general election, including the $84 million in public financing Mr. McCain accepted in exchange for his campaign not raising money after the GOP convention.

How did Mr. Obama use his massive spending advantage? He buried Mr. McCain on TV. Nielsen, the audience measurement firm, reports that between June and Election Day, Mr. Obama had a 3-to-2 advantage over Mr. McCain on network TV buys. And Mr. Obama's edge was likely larger on local cable TV, which Nielsen doesn't monitor. A state-by-state analysis confirms the Obama advantage. Mr. Obama outspent Mr. McCain in Indiana nearly 7 to 1, in Virginia by more than 4 to 1, in Ohio by almost 2 to 1 and in North Carolina by nearly 3 to 2. Mr. Obama carried all four states.

Mr. Obama also used his money to outmuscle Mr. McCain on the ground, with more staff, headquarters, mail and a larger get-out-the-vote effort. In mid-September the Obama campaign said its budget for Florida was $39 million. The actual number was probably larger. But in any case, Mr. McCain spent a mere $13.1 million in the state. Mr. Obama won Florida by 2.81 percentage points.

Mr. McCain was outspent by wide margins in every battleground state. But it would have been worse for him if RNC Chairman Mike Duncan and Finance Chairman Elliott Broidy hadn't stockpiled funds in 2007 and early 2008. The RNC provided nearly half the funds for the GOP's combined general-election campaign, while the DNC provided less than a tenth of the funds that benefited Mr. Obama.

To diminish criticism, Mr. Obama's campaign spun the storyline that he was being bankrolled by small donors. Michael Malbin, executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute, calls that a "myth." CFI found that Mr. Obama raised money the old fashioned way -- 74% of his funds came from large donors (those who donated more than $200) and nearly half from people who gave $1,000 or more. But that's not the entire story. It's been reported that the Obama campaign accepted donations from untraceable, pre-paid debit cards used by Daffy Duck, Bart Simpson, Family Guy, King Kong and other questionable characters. If the FEC follows up with a report on this, it should make for interesting reading.

Mr. Obama's victory marks the death of the campaign finance system. When it was created after Watergate in 1974, the campaign finance system had two goals: reduce the influence of money in politics and level the playing field for candidates. This year it failed at both. tells us a record $2.4 billion was spent on this presidential election. And with Mr. Obama's wide financial advantage, it's clear that money is playing a bigger role than ever and candidates are not competing on equal footing. Ironically, the victim of this broken system is one of its principal architects -- Mr. McCain. He helped craft the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform along with Sen. Russ Feingold in 2002.

No presidential candidate will ever take public financing in the general election again and risk being outspent as badly as Mr. McCain was this year. And even liberals, who have long denied that money is political speech that should be protected by First Amendment, may now be forced to admit that their donations to Mr. Obama were a form of political expression.

It is time to trust the American people and remove limits on how much an individual can donate to a campaign. By doing that, we can design a system that will be much more open by requiring candidates to frequently report donations in an online database. Technology makes this possible. Such a system would be easier for journalists to use and would therefore make it more likely that fund raising would be included in news coverage. That would give voters the tools they need to determine if a candidate is getting too much from unattractive people.

Rather than showing the success of a new style of post-partisan politics, Mr. Obama's victory may show the enduring truth of the old Chicago Golden Rule: He who has the gold rules.




Palin Derangement Syndrome: "Did you know that Sarah Palin-haters are still trying to prove she didn't give birth to her youngest son, Trig? These tinfoil hat-wearers are as obnoxious and unhinged as the 9/11 Truth cultists who insist that America engineered the jihadi attacks on itself. The presidential campaign may be over, but there's no expiration date on Palin Derangement Syndrome."

He should have fried long ago: "Ex-US football star OJ Simpson has been jailed for up to 33 years for the kidnap and armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in Las Vegas. Describing Simpson as arrogant and ignorant, Judge Jackie Glass said the evidence against him was overwhelming. He and an accomplice, Clarence Stewart, were convicted on 12 counts in October. Simpson, who could be eligible for parole in nine years, made an emotional plea at the Las Vegas court sentencing, saying he was "sorry" and "confused".

The Cleanest State Meets the Pushiest Person : "Until now, Minnesota was always famous for its clean elections. Indeed, Democratic consultant Bob Beckel recently attested to the honesty of Minnesota's elections, joking: "Believe me. I've tried. I've tried every way around the system out there, and it doesn't work." But that was before Minnesota encountered the pushiest, most aggressive, most unscrupulous person who has ever sought public office, Al Franken. On Election Day, Franken lost the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota to the Republican incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman by 725 votes. But over the next week, Democratic counties keep discovering new votes for Franken and subtracting votes from Coleman, claiming to be correcting "typos." In all, Franken picked up 459 votes and Coleman lost 60 votes from these alleged "corrections."


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


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


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Was Hitler a racist?

"John Ray has now gone too far. Pointing out that Nazism was simply an extreme version of prewar Leftism was fine but denying that Hitler was a racist is right off the planet". That is the sort of reaction I expect to the above heading. But as Eddington said, the universe is not only stranger than you imagine but it is stranger than you can imagine. And the truth is that Hitler's ideas about race were pretty similar to the thinking of Leftists today. We all know that Hitler used the Jews as a scapegoat but what have you ever read about what his conception of race was? You may be surprised.

Although in his speeches he undoubtedly appealed to the nationalism of the German people, Locke (2001) makes a strong case that Hitler was not in fact a very good nationalist in that he always emphasized that his primary loyalty was to what he called the Aryan race -- and Germany was only one part of that race. Locke then goes on to point out that Hitler was not even a very consistent racist in that the Dutch, the Danes etc. were clearly Aryan even by Hitler's own eccentric definition yet he attacked them whilst at the same time allying himself with the very non-Aryan Japanese. And the Russians and the Poles (whom Hitler also attacked) are rather more frequently blonde and blue-eyed (Hitler's ideal) than the Germans themselves are! So what DID Hitler believe in?

In his book Der Fuehrer, prewar Leftist writer Konrad Heiden corrects the now almost universal assumption that Hitler's idea of race was biologically-based. The Nazi conception of race traces, as is well-known, to the work of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. But what did Chamberlain say about race? It should not by now be surprising that he said something that sounds thoroughly Leftist. Anthropologist Robert Gayre summarizes Chamberlain's ideas as follows:
"On the contrary he taught (like many "progressives" today) that racial mixture was desirable, for, according to him, it was only out of racial mixture that the gifted could be created. He considered that the evidence of this was provided by the Prussian, whom he saw as the superman, resulting from a cross between the German (or Anglo-Saxon "German") and the Slav. From this Chamberlain went on to argue that the sum of all these talented people would then form a "race," not of blood but of "affinity."

So the Nazi idea of race rejected biology just as thoroughly as modern Leftist ideas about race do! If that seems all too jarring to believe, Gayre goes on to discuss the matter at length.

So although Hitler made powerful USE of German nationalism, we see from both the considerations put forward by Locke and the intellectual history discussed by Gayre, that Hitler was not in fact much motivated by racial loyalty as we would normally conceive it. So what was he motivated by?

Locke suggests that Hitler's actions are best explained by saying that he simply had a love of war but offers no explanation of WHY Hitler would love war. Hitler's extreme Leftism does explain this however. Hitler shared with other Leftists a love of constant change and excitement --- and what could offer more of that than war (or, in the case of other Leftists, the civil war of "revolution")?

The idea that Nazism was motivated primarily by a typically Leftist hunger for change and excitement and hatred of the status quo is reinforced by the now famous account of life in Nazi Germany given by a young "Aryan" who lived through it. Originally written before World War II, Haffner's (2002) account of why Hitler rose to power stresses the boring nature of ordinary German life and observes that the appeal of the Nazis lay in their offering of relief from that:
"The great danger of life in Germany has always been emptiness and boredom ... The menace of monotony hangs, as it has always hung, over the great plains of northern and eastern Germany, with their colorless towns and their all too industrious, efficient, and conscientious business and organizations. With it comes a horror vacui and the yearning for 'salvation': through alcohol, through superstition, or, best of all, through a vast, overpowering, cheap mass intoxication."

So he too saw the primary appeal of Nazism as its offering of change, novelty and excitement. And how about another direct quote from Hitler himself?
"We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions"

(Speech of May 1, 1927. Quoted by Toland, 1976, p. 306)

So Hitler WAS a racist -- but a very mixed-up one -- just as modern-day Leftists are -- who support racial preferences (affirmative action) but still say they are anti-racist! The big failure for both Hitler and the modern-day Left is an inability to treat people as individuals. They cannot even think about others except by lumping them into huge and simplistic categories.



Lies, damn lies and government lies - or do I repeat myself? : "All governments thrive on lies. We might even say that apart from weapons and men cruel enough to wield them on behalf of the rulers, lies are a government's most essential resource. Opponents of the state may be powerless in nearly every way, but so long as they are free to speak the truth, the rulers can never sleep soundly. It therefore behooves them to suppress the truth and to substitute the state's propaganda at every turn. Recently the government of Latvia has been illustrating these truths in an especially blatant manner."

The privileged Obama family: "The most telling appointment Barack Obama has made since becoming President-elect has nothing to do with his Cabinet or senior advisors. It was the appointment of Sidwell Friends School, a private grammar school in Washington D.C. to which the Obamas have reportedly decided to send their two daughters. I applaud Obama's commitment to the education of his daughters, choosing to send them to the best schools.It is just too bad that Obama opposes extending that choice to families whose children are relegated by geography and by income to schools he knows and everyone knows will fail them."

UK: The Big Brother state - by stealth: "Personal information detailing intimate aspects of the lives of every British citizen is to be handed over to government agencies under sweeping new powers. The measure, which will give ministers the right to allow all public bodies to exchange sensitive data with each other, is expected to be rushed through Parliament in a Bill to be published tomorrow. The new legislation would deny MPs a full vote on such data-sharing. Instead, ministers could authorise the swapping of information between councils, the police, NHS trusts, the Inland Revenue, education authorities, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, the Department for Work and Pensions and other ministries. Opponents of the move accused the Government of bringing in by stealth a data-sharing programme that exposed everyone to the dangers of a Big Brother state and one of the most intrusive personal databases in the world."

Corrupt British government "charity": "The boss of a Government-owned company which aims to reduce Third World poverty was paid nearly 1million pounds last year, it has emerged. Richard Laing, the chief executive of CDC, received a total of 970,000 pounds in pay and bonuses, while other senior executives at the company earned an average of 435,000. CDC, which is wholly owned by the Department for International Development, uses private equity funds to plough money into poorer countries, mainly in Africa and Asia. But MPs condemned the ' ridiculous' size of the pay packages enjoyed by its bosses. A damning report by the National Audit Office, the public spending watchdog, also found that the firm is sitting on 1.4billion in profits, more than it currently has invested in developing nations. Edward Leigh, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, said: 'It is ridiculous that the chief executive of a Government-owned body aimed at reducing poverty can earn 970,000 in a single year."

British government "bailout" hits savers: "Millions of savers are staring at a desperate future after the Bank of England slashed interest rates yesterday for the third time in three months. The biggest losers will be the elderly who rely on income from their savings to top up their measly pensions. Terrifyingly, they could get as little as $8 a year for every $10,000 they have put aside."


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


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


Friday, December 5, 2008

Lots to catch up with today so short excerpts only:

A good comment from Taranto: "Barack Obama has dropped yet another left-wing campaign promise, the Houston Chronicle reports: "Obama has shelved a proposal to slap the oil and gas companies with a new windfall profits tax because oil prices have dropped so much in recent months, the transition team confirmed today. "President-elect Obama announced the policy during the campaign because oil prices were above $80 per barrel," a transition aide said. "They are currently below that now and expected to stay below that." Funny how politicians always vilify "Big Oil" when prices are high, but they never give it credit when prices are low. Some industries just can't win."

Some Anglicans still respect the Bible: "A collection of breakaway Episcopalians have formed a single denomination to rival the mainstream U.S. church, cementing a schism that was largely prompted by the election in 2003 of a gay bishop. Their new "Anglican Church in North America" said it includes four dioceses that recently split from the Episcopal church, as well as several splinter groups, 1,000 clergy and an estimated 700 parishes, said the Rev. Peter Frank, spokesman for the Right Rev. Robert Duncan, bishop of Pittsburgh, who months ago lead his diocese away from the Episcopal church. A spokesman in the Episcopal church said he was dubious the numbers were that high. The new church will seek recognition from the world-wide Anglican communion, including its leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams."

Zogby: Palin Top 2012 Contender: "Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is the slight favorite of Republican voters as the best candidate the party could run for President in 2012. When all voters are asked that questions, Palin falls into a three-way tie with Mitt Romney and Bobby Jindal. Those are among the findings of a Zogby Interactive poll of 24,964 voters conducted from Nov. 7-18. The margin of error for the entire sample is +/-0.6 percent

Bias by omission: ""While Americans sat through football games, planned their 'Black Friday' morning shopping, and all in all enjoyed a quiet and peaceful Thanksgiving, terrorists in India were slaughtering more than 200 innocent people. Westerners, particularly U.S. and British citizens, were primary targets. The fact that it was a peaceful American Thanksgiving went unnoticed by most. The fact that this has been the case since the Al Qaida attacks on America of Sept. 11, 2001, also went little noticed. That all of this coincides with and is a result of President Bush's prosecution of the war on Islamist extremism is never highlighted."

Bailout Lacks Oversight, GAO Says: 'The rapid pace of implementation and evolving nature of the program have hampered efforts to put a comprehensive system of internal control in place,' [a new GAO report] said. 'Until such a system is fully developed and implemented, there is heightened risk that the interests of the government and taxpayers may not be adequately protected and that the program objectives may not be achieved in an efficient and effective manner"

Why should a failing automaker receive a bailout? : "One could debate this issue via all manner of economic logic, and maybe I'll get to that later, but let's examine this situation morally first. Is it the responsibility of the U.S. taxpayer to make sure these automakers remain solvent? No. Is it the responsibility of the U.S. taxpayer to make sure that people who work for the Big Three keep working? No. Is it the fault of the U.S. taxpayer that the Big Three are currently insolvent? Yes, partially. (That's not a misprint.) Taxpayers comprise the market and, of course, it is a market response that causes firms like GM to be losing money. GM is selling stuff that people don't want to buy, for whatever reason and so, few buy. GM is supposed to be losing money! Until and unless the U.S. automakers manage themselves in a way that: a) creates products that people want to buy and b) at a price that supports the expenses of the business, they should lose money. That's the choice that the market is destined to make, unless the government intervenes and screws things up."

The Mumbai Strategy: "The Mumbai terrorist attacks have opened a new chapter in the war against terrorism. They remind us that Islamic radicalism owes more to classic Leninist thinking than to the Koran. This wasn't some desperate move to make a statement. It was a carefully planned operation, under the command of sophisticated leadership--the group responsible had links to al-Qaida, according to many reports--in order to achieve a strategic, indeed worldwide, goal. Before the attacks, India and Pakistan were on the verge of concluding an alliance against their de facto common enemy, Islamic radicalism, under the guidance of the American government. In reviving Indians' fears that they were once again under attack from Pakistani security forces, the Mumbai atrocities may well disrupt the projected alliance. Further, the attack on Mumbai took place in advance of decisive provincial elections in India: vociferous Hindu nationalist parties will undoubtedly exploit anti-Muslim feelings for political gain. The timing of the Mumbai attack, like that of al-Qaida's Madrid bombing in 2003, confirms the broader Islamist-terror movement's sophisticated strategy."

Too little, too late? "Worried about their jobs and warned that the cost of failure could be a depression, hundreds of leaders of the United Auto Workers voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to make concessions to the struggling Detroit Three, including all but ending a much-derided program that let laid-off workers collect up to 95 percent of their salaries. "Everybody has to give a little bit," said Rich Bennett, an official for Local 122 in Twinsburg, Ohio, representing Chrysler workers. "We've made concessions. We really feel we're doing our part." Union leaders also agreed to let the cash-starved automakers delay billions of dollars in payments to a union-administered trust set to take over health care for blue-collar retirees starting in 2010. In addition, they decided to let the Detroit leadership begin renegotiating elements of landmark contracts signed with the automakers last year, a move that could lead to wage concessions."

Huge bureaucratic bungle in Britain: "The Serious Fraud Office suffered a huge defeat yesterday with the collapse of its $50 million, six-year investigation into alleged price fixing among drug manufacturers. The Court of Appeal in London rejected the SFO's appeal against the striking out of its indictment in July this year against five pharmaceutical companies. The decision, reached in less than 1« hours, raises a question mark over the future of such lengthy and complex investigations by the SFO. The investigation dwarfs any other undertaken by the office. At one stage it involved every lawyer and every accountant at the SFO, its entire forensic computing unit and 100 police officers from the National Crime Squad as well as the entire Metropolitan Police fraud squad."

Clinton's confirmation may spark Constitutional battle : "The biggest obstacle facing Hillary Clinton's Senate confirmation as President-elect Barack Obama's top diplomat may not be her husband's wheeling and dealing abroad for his foundation, as many suspected. Instead, it could be the U.S. Constitution. According to an emolument clause in the Constitution, no lawmaker can be appointed to any civil position that was created or received a wage increase during the lawmaker's time in office. President Bush ordered Cabinet salaries raised to $191,300 from $186,600 by executive order early this year, while Clinton was senator."

Massachusetts. None dare call it corruption: ""When the Legislature granted 20 new, highly coveted liquor licenses to Boston in late 2006 to meet pent-up demand, the city's Licensing Board did not hesitate to dole them out. In less than three months, it awarded licenses to five bars in South Boston and five more in the South End, two in the North End, two in Chinatown, and a handful of others from Roxbury to Beacon Hill. But . one element remained remarkably constant: the same set of politically connected lawyers. The majority of the license recipients hired the same firm, McDermott, Quilty & Miller. The firm's clients won 13 of the 20 new licenses, or 65 percent."


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


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


Thursday, December 4, 2008

We Blew It

A look back in remorse on the conservative opportunity that was squandered. Excerpts from humorist P.J. O'Rourke:

Let us bend over and kiss our ass goodbye. Our 28-year conservative opportunity to fix the moral and practical boundaries of government is gone--gone with the bear market and the Bear Stearns and the bear that's headed off to do you-know-what in the woods on our philosophy.

An entire generation has been born, grown up, and had families of its own since Ronald Reagan was elected. And where is the world we promised these children of the Conservative Age? Where is this land of freedom and responsibility, knowledge, opportunity, accomplishment, honor, truth, trust, and one boring hour each week spent in itchy clothes at church, synagogue, or mosque? It lies in ruins at our feet, as well it might, since we ourselves kicked the shining city upon a hill into dust and rubble......

Government is bigger than ever. We have fattened the stalled ox and hatred therewith rather than dined on herbs where love (and the voter) is. Instead of flattening the Department of Education with a wrecking ball we let it stand as a pulpit for Bill Bennett. When--to switch metaphors yet again--such a white elephant is not discarded someone will eventually try to ride in the howdah on its back. One of our supposed own did. No Child Left Behind? What if they deserve to be left behind? What if they deserve a smack on the behind? A nationwide program to test whether kids are what? Stupid? You've got kids. Kids are stupid.

We railed at welfare and counted it a great victory when Bill Clinton confused a few poor people by making the rules more complicated. But the "French-bread lines" for the rich, the "terrapin soup kitchens," continue their charity without stint.

The sludge and dreck of political muck-funds flowing to prosperous businesses and individuals have gotten deeper and more slippery and stink worse than ever with conservatives minding the sewage works of legislation.

Agriculture is a business that has been up to its bib overalls in politics since the first Thanksgiving dinner kickback to the Indians for subsidizing Pilgrim maize production with fish head fertilizer grants. But never, since the Mayflower knocked the rock in Plymouth, has anything as putrid as the Farm, Nutrition and Bioenergy Act of 2008 been spread upon the land. Just the name says it. There are no farms left. Not like the one grampa grew up on.

A "farm" today means 100,000 chickens in a space the size of a Motel 6 shower stall. If we cared anything about "nutrition" we would--to judge by the mountainous, jiggling flab of Americans--stop growing all food immediately. And "bioenergy" is a fraud of John Edwards-marital-fidelity proportions. Taxpayer money composted to produce a fuel made of alcohol that is more expensive than oil, more polluting than oil, and almost as bad as oil with vermouth and an olive. But this bill passed with bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress and was happily signed into law by President Bush. Now it's going to cost us at least $285 billion. That's about five times the gross domestic product of prewar Iraq. For what we will spend on the Farm, Nutrition and Bioenergy Act of 2008 we could have avoided the war in Iraq and simply bought a controlling interest in Saddam Hussein's country.

Yes, we got a few tax breaks during the regimes of Reagan and W. But the government is still taking a third of our salary. Is the government doing a third of our job? Is the government doing a third of our dishes? Our laundry? Our vacuuming? When we go to Hooters is the government tending bar making sure that one out of three margaritas is on the house? If our spouse is feeling romantic and we're tired, does the government come over to our house and take care of foreplay? (Actually, during the Clinton administration.....)

Anyway, a low tax rate is not--never mind the rhetoric of every conservative politician--a bedrock principle of conservatism. The principle is fiscal responsibility. Conservatives should never say to voters, "We can lower your taxes." Conservatives should say to voters, "You can raise spending. You, the electorate, can, if you choose, have an infinite number of elaborate and expensive government programs. But we, the government, will have to pay for those programs. We have three ways to pay.

"We can inflate the currency, destroying your ability to plan for the future, wrecking the nation's culture of thrift and common sense, and giving free rein to scallywags to borrow money for worthless scams and pay it back 10 cents on the dollar.

"We can raise taxes. If the taxes are levied across the board, money will be taken from everyone's pocket, the economy will stagnate, and the poorest and least advantaged will be harmed the most. If the taxes are levied only on the wealthy, money will be taken from wealthy people's pockets, hampering their capacity to make loans and investments, the economy will stagnate, and the poorest and the least advantaged will be harmed the most.

"And we can borrow, building up a massive national debt. This will cause all of the above things to happen plus it will fund Red Chinese nuclear submarines that will be popping up in San Francisco Bay to get some decent Szechwan take-out."

Yes, this would make for longer and less pithy stump speeches. But we'd be showing ourselves to be men and women of principle. It might cost us, short-term. We might get knocked down for not whoring after bioenergy votes in the Iowa caucuses. But at least we wouldn't land on our scruples. And we could get up again with dignity intact, dust ourselves off, and take another punch at the liberal bully-boys who want to snatch the citizenry's freedom and tuck that freedom, like a trophy feather, into the hatbands of their greasy political bowlers.

But are we men and women of principle? And I don't mean in the matter of tricky and private concerns like gay marriage. Civil marriage is an issue of contract law. A constitutional amendment against gay marriage? I don't get it. How about a constitutional amendment against first marriages? Now we're talking. No, I speak, once again, of the geological foundations of conservatism.

Where was the meum and the tuum in our shakedown of Washington lobbyists? It took a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives 40 years--from 1954 to 1994--to get that corrupt and arrogant. And we managed it in just 12. (Who says Republicans don't have much on the ball?)

To go from slime to the sublime, there are the lofty issues about which we never bothered to form enough principles to go out and break them. What is the coherent modern conservative foreign policy?

We may think of this as a post 9/11 problem, but it's been with us all along. What was Reagan thinking, landing Marines in Lebanon to prop up the government of a country that didn't have one? In 1984, I visited the site where the Marines were murdered. It was a beachfront bivouac overlooked on three sides by hills full of hostile Shiite militia. You'd urge your daughter to date Rosie O'Donnell before you'd put troops ashore in such a place.

Since the early 1980s I've been present at the conception (to use the polite term) of many of our foreign policy initiatives. Iran-contra was about as smart as using the U.S. Postal Service to get weapons to anti-Communists. And I notice Danny Ortega is back in power anyway. I had a look into the eyes of the future rulers of Afghanistan at a sura in Peshawar as the Soviets were withdrawing from Kabul. I would rather have had a beer with Leonid Brezhnev.

Fall of the Berlin wall? Being there was fun. Nations that flaked off of the Soviet Union in southeastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Caucasus? Being there was not so fun.

The aftermath of the Gulf war still makes me sick. Fine to save the fat, greedy Kuwaitis and the arrogant, grasping house of Saud, but to hell with the Shiites and Kurds of Iraq until they get some oil. Then, half a generation later, when we returned with our armies, we expected to be greeted as liberators. And, damn it, we were. I was in Baghdad in April 2003. People were glad to see us, until they noticed that we'd forgotten to bring along any personnel or provisions to feed or doctor the survivors of shock and awe or to get their electricity and water running again. After that they got huffy and began stuffing dynamite down their pants before consulting with the occupying forces.

Is there a moral dimension to foreign policy in our political philosophy? Or do we just exist to help the world's rich people make and keep their money? (And a fine job we've been doing of that lately.) If we do have morals, where were they while Bosnians were slaughtered? And where were we while Clinton dithered over the massacres in Kosovo and decided, at last, to send the Serbs a message: Mess with the United States and we'll wait six months, then bomb the country next to you. Of Rwanda, I cannot bear to think, let alone jest.

And now, to glue and screw the lid on our coffin, comes this financial crisis. For almost three decades we've been trying to teach average Americans to act like "stakeholders" in their economy. They learned. They're crying and whining for government bailouts just like the billionaire stakeholders in banks and investment houses. Aid, I can assure you, will be forthcoming from President Obama. Then average Americans will learn the wisdom of Ronald Reagan's statement: "The ten most dangerous words in the English language are, 'I'm from the federal government, and I'm here to help.'...." Ask a Katrina survivor.

The left has no idea what's going on in the financial crisis. And I honor their confusion. Jim Jerk down the road from me, with all the cars up on blocks in his front yard, falls behind in his mortgage payments, and the economy of Iceland implodes. I'm missing a few pieces of this puzzle myself. Under constant political pressure, which went almost unresisted by conservatives, a lot of lousy mortgages that would never be repaid were handed out to Jim Jerk and his drinking buddies and all the ex-wives and single mothers with whom Jim and his pals have littered the nation.

Wall Street looked at the worthless paper and thought, "How can we make a buck off this?" The answer was to wrap it in a bow. Take a wide enough variety of lousy mortgages--some from the East, some from the West, some from the cities, some from the suburbs, some from shacks, some from McMansions--bundle them together and put pressure on the bond rating agencies to do fancy risk management math, and you get a "collateralized debt obligation" with a triple-A rating. Good as cash. Until it wasn't. Or, put another way, Wall Street was pulling the "room full of horse s--" trick. Brokerages were saying, "We're going to sell you a room full of horse s--. And with that much horse s--, you just know there's a pony in there somewhere."

Anyway, it's no use blaming Wall Street. Blaming Wall Street for being greedy is like scolding defensive linemen for being big and aggressive. The people on Wall Street never claimed to be public servants. They took no oath of office. They're in it for the money. We pay them to be in it for the money. We don't want our retirement accounts to get a 2 percent return. (Although that sounds pretty good at the moment.)

What will destroy our country and us is not the financial crisis but the fact that liberals think the free market is some kind of sect or cult, which conservatives have asked Americans to take on faith. That's not what the free market is. The free market is just a measurement, a device to tell us what people are willing to pay for any given thing at any given moment. The free market is a bathroom scale. You may hate what you see when you step on the scale. "Jeeze, 230 pounds!" But you can't pass a law making yourself weigh 185. Liberals think you can. And voters--all the voters, right up to the tippy-top corner office of Goldman Sachs--think so too.

We, the conservatives, who do understand the free market, had the responsibility to--as it were--foreclose upon this mess. The market is a measurement, but that measuring does not work to the advantage of a nation or its citizens unless the assessments of volume, circumference, and weight are conducted with transparency and under the rule of law. We've had the rule of law largely in our hands since 1980. Where is the transparency? It's one more job we botched.

Although I must say we're doing good work on our final task--attaching the garden hose to our car's exhaust pipe and running it in through a vent window. Barack and Michelle will be by in a moment with some subsidized ethanol to top up our gas tank. And then we can turn the key.




I have recently put up several posts about the psychology of politics. As they are all interrelated, I have now combined them and revised them to form a single article here.

Making fun of the emotional irrationality of the Greenie movement is hard but a new blog Go Anti-Green has a good attempt at it.

I have just put up here another review of Buchanan's claims that WWII was "an unnecessary war". There have of course been several previous reviews but this one seems almost wholly sympathetic. That WWI was the prelude to WWII is undoubted so my main comment is that the British fear of the Imperial German navy as a cause of WWI needed more discussion. The battle of Jutland showed that concern to be well-founded -- a battle in which a smaller German force sank several British capital ships without losing any of its own. Given its tried and tested "balance of power" doctrine, it is my personal regretful conclusion that Britain did indeed have to intervene in both wars.

NY Times Refuses to Report Role of Islam in Mumbai Massacre: "Analyzing five days of coverage of the Mumbai massacre, Boycott The New York Times editor Don Feder decried The Times’ “politically correct coverage” and its refusal to describe the terrorists who perpetrated the slaughter as Islamic extremists or Muslims. “The Times adamantly refuses to recognize a connection between Islam and worldwide terrorism,” Feder wrote in an article posted today at Failing to acknowledge the impact of Islam on terrorism, Feder said, “constitutes the greatest denial of reality in the history of journalism.” Feder examined six stories on the Mumbai attacks published in The New York Times between November 27 and December 1. He noted that the paper made no direct reference to Islamic extremism as a motivation for the killings, although it did hint at a connection by quoting some of the killers, who complained about the treatment of Muslims in India and the Kashmir, and called for the release of “mujahedeen prisoners.” In addition to refusing to discuss the terrorists’ motives, Feder found that The Times omitted important details about the victims. The paper’s November 30 story described the murders as “indiscriminate,” but reports indicate that the killers targeted foreigners (particularly Americans and Brits) and Jews. “In thousands of words of coverage, The New York Times never mentioned that victims’ bodies frequently bore the marks of torture,” added Feder."


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


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


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Patriotism, nationalism and racism

Warner Todd Huston sets out at some length the simple but rather denied truth that Leftists only pretend to be patriotic. In a patriotic nation they have to do that for PR purposes but their hearts are not in it and they manage the pretence only by claiming that they love what America COULD BE rather than what it is. Pathetic!

I have set out at some length previously evidence that patriotism is not in general aggressive. There is however a related attitude known as nationalism. That is when the lovers of their own country want to dominate other countries. All the examples I can think of, however, from Napoleon to Hitler, have been Leftists. So my summary of the matter is that nationalism is a Leftist perversion of patriotism. No wonder Leftists are so suspicious of patriotism! They judge others by themselves. They know how vicious they would be with an entire nation behind them and assume that others think similarly.

But both patriotism and nationalism are only one sort of group loyalty. Rotarians are often strongly attached to their club and even homosexuals feel "gay pride" apparently. And many church members are strongly attached to their religious denomination or local church. And religious identity can extend to something like nationalism -- with physical attacks on members of other denominations. There is still a faint remnant of that in Northern Ireland (though the enmity there is as much historic as religious) and in Islam there is a lot of it. Muslims are great slaughterers of other Muslims -- if the other Muslims don't subscribe to the "right" brand of Islam. But Islam is Fascistic anyway.

And then there is the great unmentionalable. You CAN feel proud of your race. And if the pride is "black pride" that is just fine. But "white pride" is apparently a breath from the depths of hell. Yet history's most destructive example of racism was not concerned with whiteness at all. Hitler in fact allied himself with the non-white Japanese and attacked many nations that were just as white as Germans are. In fact there are proportionately rather more blue-eyed blondes in Russia and in Poland than there are in Germany -- and Adolf slaughtered millions of both. Hitler's bag was -- following Woodrow Wilson -- ARYANS. And most Aryans are in fact brown (Indians).

So the Leftist suspicion of pride in being white has exactly no foundation in the place where it might be most expected! Pretty normal Leftist ignorance of facts and history, of course. So white racism as an oppressive thing is mainly an American phenomenon. And the KKK were overwhelmingly Democrats! Clearly, conservatives were not the problem there.

I can't resist noting here, however, that I quite like Aryans myself. I have at the moment three quite brown Indians living with me in my house and most days I fly the flag of the Republic of India from my flagpole. Maybe that just makes me a nut but the court jester of old was the only one in the court allowed to tell the whole truth so I cheerfully claim that privilege. Does that make me a dangerous nut? Maybe. Truth is dangerous to those who live by deception.

I in fact have very good contacts with India. The chairman of the huge company that owns the recently attacked Taj hotel is the much admired Ratan Tata and if I wanted to get a message to him there is a good Indian friend of mine for whom Ratan Tata would always pick up the phone. Everybody who loves India will be pleased to hear that Mr Tata has pledged to rebuild the Taj hotel so that is is as good as new again.

I imagine that it is by now pretty clear that Leftists would have an uphill job of tagging me as a white racist (though they will no doubt get to the top of that hill somehow). I just don't fit their simplistic black-and-white way of thinking. If we are more careful with our definitions than Leftists usually are, however, I think it should become clear that there are some forms of white "racism" that are perfectly reasonable, normal and harmless.

I refer in particular to my prior comments showing that patriotism is not in general necessarily aggressive, hostile or oppressive. And I see no reason why what we might call "white patriotism" should be aggressive, hostile or oppressive. In other words, a feeling of connectedness with other whites and a pride in being white does not necessarily imply a wish to oppress or attack people of other races. But when we come to nationalism, however (the Leftist specialty), it is a very different situation. White nationalism (the desire to conquer or control non-white races) is indisputably a very bad thing.

But white nationalism is a very rare thing. Hitler wasn't moved by it nor was the British empire. The chief enemy of the British empire was the French, who are quite white. The KKK is about the only example of white nationalism that I can think of. And the KKK at one time dominated Democrat conventions. Such acclaimed Democrat Presidents as Woodrow Wilson and FDR both had solid KKK support. So if we are careful with our definitions, white pride is only dangerous in the hands of Leftists. The very small band of modern-day neo-Nazis are probably an exception to that but there are small exceptions to most rules. And the modern-day political parties that are most often called neo-Nazi (Britain's BNP and Germany's NDP) do in fact have a lot of quite socialistic policies -- just as old Adolf did.

Note how easily everything falls into place once we have swept away the Leftist hokum about Nazism and the KKK being "Rightist".


BrookesNews Update

Obama thinks he can 'jolt' the US economy out of recession. Fat chance - so tighten your seatbelts: Obama's 'economic' thinking could crush manufacturing, cause unemployment and consumer prices rise, worsen the current account deficit, and sink the dollar depreciates. So how long it will be before the public realize that the brilliant Obama really is an empty suit?
The economy slides into recession while the Pollyannas look the other way : Regardless of a still positive GDP the economy is in recession. This leaves two questions: how long and deep will it be, and can the Reserve's desperate monetary pumping reverse the process. Even if the Reserve succeeds it will only amount to a reprieve and not a rescue
Can Obama stop the US recession: If the Keynesian instincts of Obama's economic wizards leads them to conclude that a rapid monetary expansion is a superior alternative to allowing the recession to make the necessary economic adjustments then Obama might indeed end up being a one-term president
The facts are clear: We are not warming the planet : The fiction that Co2 is the driving force behind global warming fits in with the plans of big government dreamers. What better way to get people to follow the script than alleging the sky is falling and we can only stop it by doing lowering Living standards while filling and fill government coffers with endless streams of money to use to develop still more schemes to control the masses
Obama appoints Castro's Lawyer as White House Counsel : Obama appoints Gregory Craig as White House Counsel. Craig is a corrupt lawyer, a coward and a despicable liar. I guess appointing this debased political vulture is Obama's idea of 'hope and change'
Look who's dissing the US economy now: In 2000 President Bush correctly warned that the US was sliding into recession. The response of the country's one-party mainstream media was to assail him for talking down the Clinton economy. Now that Obama is talking, correctly, of a recession, the same bigoted journalists are licking his boots. No wonder Time magazine's Mark Halperin called the media's grovelling 'disgusting'
The Obama economy and the failure to learn from history : Rahm Emanuel, Obama's in-house bullyboy, told a gathering of CEOs at a Wall Street Journal what to expect the Obama administration. He sounded like a Soviet commissar. Government control and planning in health care, energy, the economy, and financial markets
A Thanksgiving Meditation : The ideas of the socialists Peter Singer, a Princeton professor of philosophy, lead to the barbaric conclusion that there is no moral difference between killing a piglet and strangling a baby to throw him in the trash can
Australia needs a moratorium on emissions trading : Slowly the world is coming to their senses on this Global Warming hysteria. Just this week China and India rejected the suggestion that they curb their emissions of CO2, and Italy and Poland said they would veto EU plans unless changes were made
Tearing down crosses and making threats does not change minds: Sometimes the changes are not just in how long we let our hair grow or what the music fad is, sometimes the changes are tragic to the fabric of society and our liberty and freedom - bought and paid for by blood and heartache of our founders. We are experiencing such an era of change now



A blog which does not get as much traffic as it should is Blogwonks. I have a small vested interest in it as I cross-post something there most days. But there are a lot of posts there which are at least as good as mine. Someone who posts there several times a day is Bob Parks, a black conservative. As well as being "articulate and bright and clean" Bob makes lots of good points.

The new search tool seems to have dropped out of sight after the initial splash. It did have some large deficiencies. There is a recent re-evaluation of it here, though. The conclusion is that it is still pretty uneven. So I once again tried a search on the topic I know most about: Myself. I entered the search term "John Ray" and looked at what I got back. I was most unimpressed. I am always on the front page of a Google search but I did not get a mention on until their fourth page. No good to me! A pity though. Google could use more competition.


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


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


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More on the massacre at the Taj

The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel was built on a slight, when Jamsetji Tata was turned away from Watson's Hotel because he was not a white man. Last Wednesday the four Pakistani murderers who entered the hotel's ornate lobby were also motivated by a slight, but theirs was a burning, murderous sense of grievance. Their motives were pathetic - envy and resentment - masquerading as religious fire.

They murdered indiscriminately. They killed staff members and guests, Indians and foreigners, men and women, young and old, Muslim and Hindu. They killed at least 200 people at last count. Two of the gunmen started the killing at the nearby Leopold Cafe (where my wife and I dined last year, on the advice of our Qantas crew, while staying at the magnificent Taj Mahal Palace) before jogging the short distance to the hotel to join two other gunmen inside the hotel.

When it was all over, police did not just recover grenades, AK-47 rifles, pistols and mobile phones but, according to Indian reports, two bags of RDX high explosives, enough to do to the Taj hotel what had been done to another landmark hotel, the Marriott, in Pakistan's capital, just three months ago. And this is important to remember. This latest Mumbai massacre was not a de facto act of war by Pakistan against India. Pakistan has suffered more death and mayhem than India at the hands of the psychotics and sexual perverts who call themselves Islamic jihadists.

The attack on the Taj had many similarities to the bombing of the Marriott in Islamabad on September 20, when a truck filled with explosives and driven by a suicide bomber detonated in front of the hotel. The bomb killed 54, injured at least 266, and left a gaping hole in the front of the most prestigious hotel in the capital. Most of those murdered were locals, that is, Muslims....

It was no accident that all or most of the murderers were Pakistani, not Indian Muslims. Ever since India and Pakistan were partitioned by the British government in 1947, Pakistan has fallen further behind its great rival. While India has maintained 60 years of relatively stable, pluralist democracy and has recently emerged as an economic powerhouse, Pakistan's per capita wealth ranks a dismal 166th among the world's nations. Pakistan's politics has gone through 20 national emergencies in the past 60 years. Members of the Pakistani diaspora in Britain were responsible for the co-ordinated mass murders on the London Underground on July 7, 2005, and have been involved in numerous terrorist plots in Britain.

More here


Broken windows

I've always been interested in broken-windows theory, also known as zero tolerance, which holds that if people are forced to abide by social norms in small matters, such as fixing broken windows and not littering the footpath, they (and others) will be less likely to breach more important standards of behaviour. So if we fix broken windows there will be less vandalism, and if there's less vandalism there'll be less crime. Application of the theory is often credited with reducing the overall crime rate in New York in the 1990s by about a third. Despite this, the theory has always been highly controversial. But new research from Holland seems to suggest it does indeed have some basis in human behaviour.

It's always been an attractive idea for conservatives, because it seems to indicate that the neatness and civility of the past were not just matters of taste, but possessed profound practical and moral significance. And this is something many want to believe. (Apart from anything else, it lends weight to arguments with teenage children about cleaning their rooms.)

But even though broken-windows theory is regarded fondly by many, there have long been doubts about whether it really works. The glowing example of New York starts to fade when examined more closely. Writing for the Australian Institute of Criminology in 1999, P.N. Grabosky noted that New York's then recent crime decline (which also occurred in a lot of cities that did not apply the theory) was influenced by many other factors, such as the improved economy, the reduction of crack cocaine use, demographic changes and restricted access to handguns by teenagers. Other important changes to policing at the time included providing local patrol commanders with better intelligence and making them responsible for results. Indeed, so many other factors were involved that some people concluded that broken-windows theory didn't work at all.

Well, who is right? Until now there's been surprisingly little really solid research. So we turn with interest to a recent paper by Kees Keizer and colleagues from the faculty of behavioural and social sciences at the University of Groningen. They decided to look at exactly how people's behaviour changed when a modest amount of disorder was introduced into their surroundings. Their first experiments were conducted in an alley in their town used to park bicycles.

A flyer for a non-existent restaurant was attached by a rubber band to the handlebar of every bicycle parked there. The question was what the bicycle owner would do with the flyer once he or she returned to their machine. (The flyer had to be taken off to ride the bicycle away, and there was no litter bin in the alley.) Would they drop it on the ground, or take it with them?

The first experiment was conducted when the walls of the alley were clean, and again when they were liberally daubed with graffiti by the researchers. Broken-window theory predicts that the graffiti would induce some bike riders who might otherwise pocket the flyer to drop it on the ground. This is what happened. Where there was no graffiti, 33 per cent dropped the flyer. But when the graffiti was added, this number went up to 69 per cent.

In another study, the graffiti was replaced by fireworks being let off illegally in the distance. Once again, littering increased significantly, against the background of illegal activity. In other experiments, forbidden activity increased a lot when other people's bikes were illegally chained to a fence, and (this one in a car park) when supermarket trolleys were left standing around and not returned to the proper place. In each case, the existence of some form of disorder seemed to encourage a hefty proportion of people to breach standards of behaviour that would otherwise have been observed.

The final experiments involved leaving an envelope hanging out of a mailbox with a _5 note visible in the window where the address normally appears. When the mailbox was clean, 13 per cent of passers-by stole the envelope. When graffiti was applied to the box, this proportion went up to 27 per cent. When the graffiti was removed and litter placed around the box, the proportion of thefts was 25 per cent. The researchers conclude: "The most likely interpretation of these results is, as before, that one disorder (graffiti or littering) actually fostered a new disorder (stealing) by weakening the goal of acting appropriately."

More here


The Great Obama Depression?

Hoover and FDR turned a recession into the Great Depression. Obama is on the same track

Early in what became the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes was asked if anything similar had ever happened. "Yes," he replied, "it was called the Dark Ages and it lasted 400 years." It did take 25 years, until November 1954, for the Dow to return to the peak it reached in September 1929. So caution is sensible concerning calls for a new New Deal.

The assumption is that the New Deal vanquished the Depression. Intelligent, informed people differ about why the Depression lasted so long. But people whose recipe for recovery today is another New Deal should remember that America's biggest industrial collapse occurred in 1937, eight years after the 1929 stock market crash and nearly five years into the New Deal. In 1939, after a decade of frantic federal spending -- President Herbert Hoover increased it more than 50 percent between 1929 and the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt -- unemployment was 17.2 percent. "I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started," lamented Henry Morgenthau, FDR's Treasury secretary. Unemployment declined when America began selling materials to nations engaged in a war America would soon join.

In "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression," Amity Shlaes of the Council on Foreign Relations and Bloomberg News argues that government policies, beyond the Federal Reserve's tight money, deepened and prolonged the Depression. The policies included encouraging strong unions and wages higher than lagging productivity justified, on the theory that workers' spending would be stimulative. Instead, corporate profits -- prerequisites for job-creating investments -- were excessively drained into labor expenses that left many workers priced out of the market.

Furthermore, Hoover's 1932 increase in the top income tax rate, from 25 percent to 63 percent, was unhelpful. And FDR's hyperkinetic New Deal created uncertainties that paralyzed private-sector decision-making. Which sounds familiar. Bear Stearns? Broker a merger. Lehman Brothers? Death sentence. The $700 billion is for cleaning up toxic assets? Maybe not. Writes Russell Roberts of George Mason University: "By acting without rhyme or reason, politicians have destroyed the rules of the game. There is no reason to invest, no reason to take risk, no reason to be prudent, no reason to look for buyers if your firm is failing. Everything is up in the air and as a result, the only prudent policy is to wait and see what the government will do next. The frenetic efforts of FDR had the same impact: Net investment was negative through much of the 1930s."

Barack Obama says the next stimulus should deliver a "jolt." His adviser Austan Goolsbee says it must be big enough to "startle the thing into submission." Their theory is that the crisis is largely psychological, requiring shock treatment. But shocks from government have been plentiful.

Unfortunately, one thing government can do quickly and efficiently -- distribute checks -- could fail to stimulate because Americans might do with the money what they have been rightly criticized for not doing nearly enough: save it. Because individual consumption is 70 percent of economic activity, St. Augustine's prayer ("Give me chastity and continence, but not yet") is echoed today: Make Americans thrifty, but not now.

Obama's "rescue plan for the middle class" includes a tax credit for businesses "for each new employee they hire" in America over the next two years. The assumption is that businesses will create jobs that would not have been created without the subsidy. If so, the subsidy will suffuse the economy with inefficiencies -- labor costs not justified by value added. Here we go again? A new New Deal would vindicate pessimists who say that history is not one damn thing after another, it is the same damn thing over and over.

More here


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


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


Monday, December 1, 2008


I have so far made only a small mention of the Satanic rampage in Bombay. Part of the reason is that I was too horrified to say much. I am very fond of Bombay and have been there thrice. I have even stayed at the magnificent old "Taj" hotel that was the chief target of the Islamic haters. I fervently hope that the Taj can be restored to its former glory but one thing I am sure of is that Bombay will continue to thrive. The Islamists will not be even a fleabite on the life of the great city of Bombay and its admirable people.

I do however want to express my sorrow at the attack on the Chabad house. Chabad are joyous Jews. They must not let this take away that joy for long.

And I also want to express my appreciation of the heroic Indian commandos who gave their lives to stop the followers of a Satanic religion from killing even more people. The gunmen had plans to kill 5,000 people but were stopped long short of that.

Indians are a very articulate people so I was not surprised to find the eloquent tribute below from an Indian who also has great affection for Bombay
What They Hate About Mumbai


My bleeding city. My poor great bleeding heart of a city. Why do they go after Mumbai? There's something about this island-state that appalls religious extremists, Hindus and Muslims alike. Perhaps because Mumbai stands for lucre, profane dreams and an indiscriminate openness.

Mumbai is all about dhandha, or transaction. From the street food vendor squatting on a sidewalk, fiercely guarding his little business, to the tycoons and their dreams of acquiring Hollywood, this city understands money and has no guilt about the getting and spending of it. I once asked a Muslim man living in a shack without indoor plumbing what kept him in the city. "Mumbai is a golden songbird," he said. It flies quick and sly, and you'll have to work hard to catch it, but if you do, a fabulous fortune will open up for you". The executives who congregated in the Taj Mahal hotel were chasing this golden songbird. The terrorists want to kill the songbird.

Just as cinema is a mass dream of the audience, Mumbai is a mass dream of the peoples of South Asia. Bollywood movies are the most popular form of entertainment across the subcontinent. Through them, every Pakistani and Bangladeshi is familiar with the wedding-cake architecture of the Taj and the arc of the Gateway of India, symbols of the city that gives the industry its name. It is no wonder that one of the first things the Taliban did upon entering Kabul was to shut down the Bollywood video rental stores. The Taliban also banned, wouldn't you know it, the keeping of songbirds.

Bollywood dream-makers are shaken. "I am ashamed to say this," Amitabh Bachchan, superstar of a hundred action movies, wrote on his blog. "As the events of the terror attack unfolded in front of me, I did something for the first time and one that I had hoped never ever to be in a situation to do. Before retiring for the night, I pulled out my licensed .32 revolver, loaded it and put it under my pillow."

Mumbai is a "soft target," the terrorism analysts say. Anybody can walk into the hotels, the hospitals, the train stations, and start spraying with a machine gun. Where are the metal detectors, the random bag checks? In Mumbai, it's impossible to control the crowd. In other cities, if there's an explosion, people run away from it. In Mumbai, people run toward it - to help. Greater Mumbai takes in a million new residents a year. This is the problem, say the nativists. The city is just too hospitable. You let them in, and they break your heart.

In the Bombay I grew up in, your religion was a personal eccentricity, like a hairstyle. In my school, you were denominated by which cricketer or Bollywood star you worshiped, not which prophet. In today's Mumbai, things have changed. Hindu and Muslim demagogues want the mobs to come out again in the streets, and slaughter one another in the name of God. They want India and Pakistan to go to war. They want Indian Muslims to be expelled. They want India to get out of Kashmir. They want mosques torn down. They want temples bombed.

And now it looks as if the latest terrorists were our neighbors, young men dressed not in Afghan tunics but in blue jeans and designer T-shirts. Being South Asian, they would have grown up watching the painted lady that is Mumbai in the movies: a city of flashy cars and flashier women. A pleasure-loving city, a sensual city. Everything that preachers of every religion thunder against. It is, as a monk of the pacifist Jain religion explained to me, "paap-ni-bhoomi": the sinful land.

In 1993, Hindu mobs burned people alive in the streets - for the crime of being Muslim in Mumbai. Now these young Muslim men murdered people in front of their families - for the crime of visiting Mumbai. They attacked the luxury businessmen's hotels. They attacked the open-air Cafe Leopold, where backpackers of the world refresh themselves with cheap beer out of three-foot-high towers before heading out into India. Their drunken revelry, their shameless flirting, must have offended the righteous believers in the jihad. They attacked the train station everyone calls V.T., the terminus for runaways and dreamers from all across India. And in the attack on the Chabad house, for the first time ever, it became dangerous to be Jewish in India.

The terrorists' message was clear: Stay away from Mumbai or you will get killed. Cricket matches with visiting English and Australian teams have been shelved. Japanese and Western companies have closed their Mumbai offices and prohibited their employees from visiting the city. Tour groups are cancelling long-planned trips.

But the best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever. Dream of making a good home for all Mumbaikars, not just the denizens of $500-a-night hotel rooms. Dream not just of Bollywood stars like Aishwarya Rai or Shah Rukh Khan, but of clean running water, humane mass transit, better toilets, a responsive government. Make a killing not in God's name but in the stock market, and then turn up the forbidden music and dance; work hard and party harder.

If the rest of the world wants to help, it should run toward the explosion. It should fly to Mumbai, and spend money. Where else are you going to be safe? New York? London? Madrid? So I'm booking flights to Mumbai. I'm going to go get a beer at the Leopold, stroll over to the Taj for samosas at the Sea Lounge, and watch a Bollywood movie at the Metro. Stimulus doesn't have to be just economic.



St Andrew's day

I mentioned yesterday that St Andrew's day is Scotland's national day and am pleased to report that Anne and I did do something towards celebrating it. We had Forfar Bridies for our evening meal and listened to Scottish music both then and afterward. And the songs we listened to were the in the main the old favourites that are so deeply felt among the Scots -- Scottish Soldier, My Ain folk, Loch Lomond, Skye boat song, Scots wha hae etc. etc.

I have spoken a little lately of how conservatives have few inhibitions about group loyalties (such as patriotism) and mentioned the Eton Boating Song as an instance of how such loyalties can be deeply felt. And I also noted at the time that loyalty or a feeling of connectedness to your own group does not necessarily imply contempt for other groups or a wish to dominate them. And the Eton Boating Song exemplified that well. And so does the Scottish song I put up yesterday. Although it is called "Scotland the Brave", it again contains no aggression or hostility towards others. It just talks about Scottish people and the beloved Scottish landscape. But it is still capable of bringing tears to Scottish eyes. The feelings it conveys are intensely felt.

So I am going to press the point a little further by putting up the words of another beloved Scottish song: Scottish Soldier. I am sure that any Leftist would immediatey assume that such a song must be glorying in the crushing, dominating and extermination of other people. But it does none of that. As a song about a soldier it does indeed refer with pride to his distinguished military past but the song is not about that at all. Once again it is about his memories of his own country whilst serving abroad and how his dying wish to be buried in Scotland was honoured.

Scottish Soldier

1). There was a soldier, a Scottish soldier
Who wandered far away and soldiered far away
There was none bolder, with good broad shoulders,
He fought in many a fray and fought and won
He's seen the glory, he's told the story
Of battles glorious and deeds victorious
But now he's sighing his heart is crying
To leave these green hills of Tyrol.

Chorus: Because these green hills are not highland hills
Or the Islands hills their not my lands hills,
As fair as these green foreign hills may be
They are not the hills of home.

2). And now this soldier, this Scottish soldier,
Who wandered far away and soldiered far away
Sees leaves are falling, and death is calling
And he will fade away, on that dark land
He called his piper, his trusty piper
And bade him sound away, a pibroch sad to play
Upon a hillside but Scottish hillside
Not on these green hills of Tyrol


3). And now this soldier this Scottish soldier
Who wanders far no more, and soldiers far no more
Now on a hillside, a Scottish hillside
You'll see a piper play this soldier home
He's seen the glory, he's told the story
Of battles glorious and deeds victorious
But he will cease now, he is at peace now
Far from these green hills of Tyrol


A point I was waiting for people to bring up was the fact that, right up to JFK, Leftists were patriotic too -- almost crazily so in the case of people like Theodore Roosevelt and the followers of Hitler. And Scots too are a very socialistic people. So how come they are so patriotic?

I think Obama worship gives us the answer. Because Leftists are more emotional, their POTENTIAL for group loyalty generally and patriotism in particular is unusually great. But the more there are things that they hate in the world about them, the more they are inhibited from giving rein to any such feelings. But when something arises that they can give undivided loyalty to, they go overboard -- as we saw in Fascism, Nazism and now in Obama worship.

So the Leftist is in perpetual conflict: He WANTS connectedness but so many things in the world about him are unsatisfactory to him that he ends up as a rejectionist rather than as a participant. In the past, it was only "The Bosses" who were the focus of his ire and he could kid himself that most of the people around him were not responsible for the "injustices" that bother him so much. Now, however, when it appears to him that even "rednecks" and "NASCAR dads" are on the side of what upsets him, he is completely alienated. He once felt that "the workers" were on his side and appointed himself as a spokesman for them. That illusion is now gone and the whole country is on the wrong track from his viewpoint. So how wonderful for him it was when the Obamessiah came along to rescue him from that dreadful dilemma and offered the prospect of reshaping the country into his desired mould!

In the case of Scotland, however, the old illusions live on. Scots still hate "The bosses" but most of all they hate England. The song that comes nearest to being their national anthem is "The Flower of Scotland". It was written quite recently but is concerned with something that happened in the 14th century! So what is going on? The secret is hatred of England. The event referred to is the Scottish victory over the King of England, Edward II, at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Very few English people would today know anything about the North/South wars of the 13th and 14th century but the Scots have not forgotten. So again for a Scot the enemy is externalized and he can happily be patriotic. Hitler found the Jews useful in the same way. The English are Scotland's Jews.

In case I seem to be just blowing smoke in saying above that Leftists tend to see patriotism as implying hostility towards others, I might mention that there is a very large academic literature in psychology which assumes exactly that -- starting with the work of Adorno et al. (1950) on "ethnocentrism". I might also mention that my own survey research into exactly that question showed repeatedly exactly what I have asserted above -- that patriotism does NOT in general imply hostilty towards others. See e.g. here.

Reference: Adorno,T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. & Sanford, R.N. (1950). The authoritarian personality New York: Harper.


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


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