Thursday, December 31, 2009

The wake-up call from Flight 253

by Jeff Jacoby

AFTER THE SEPT. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it was widely asserted at the time, nothing would be the same. What Pearl Harbor had been for our parents and grandparents, 9/11 would be for us: a shattering national wake-up call revealing both the gaping holes in America's homeland security and the reality that we were at war with an implacable enemy whose defeat would require years of sacrifice and resolve.

But it became clear after a while that for many Americans, 9/11 had not marked a break with old ways of thinking. As the near-unanimity of 9/11 receded, Americans divided into what the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes dubbed September 12 people, for whom 9/11 had changed everything, and September 10 people, who believed the terrorist threat was being exaggerated by the Bush administration and who regarded the fight against Islamist extremism as chiefly a matter of law enforcement.

Would that divide have closed if Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had succeeded in blowing up Northwest Airlines flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day? If al-Qaeda, which reportedly trained Abdulmutallab in Yemen and is claiming responsibility for the thwarted attack, had succeeded in carrying out another 9/11, would the short-lived unity and moral clarity of that terrible day in 2001 have returned?

Had Flight 253 ended in the mass-murder the bomb plotters intended, Americans would today be filled with grief and fury. They would also be grappling with some hard lessons -- lessons that in recent years too many had been inclined to dismiss. Among them:

* Terrorism isn't caused by poverty and ignorance. Abdulmutallab came from a wealthy and privileged family, and had studied at one of Britain's top universities. He wasn't trying to kill hundreds of Americans out of socioeconomic despair. Like the 9/11 hijackers and countless other jihadists, Abdulmutallab was motivated by ideological and religious fanaticism. The teachings of militant Islam may seem monstrous to outsiders, but that is no reason to doubt that their adherents genuinely believe them, or that by giving their lives for jihad they hope to change the world.

* The global jihad is real. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was widely derided for initially insisting that Flight 253 wasn't blown up in mid-air because "the system worked" and "the whole process went very smoothly." Far more troubling, however, was her effort to downplay the suggestion that Abdulmutallab's attempted attack was "part of anything larger" -- this even after he had terrorist acknowledged his ties to al-Qaeda. Of course Abdulmutallab is part of something larger: He is part of the global jihad -- the relentless assault by Islamist radicals whose deadly serious goal is the submission of America and the West to Islamic law. If government officials like Napolitano cannot bring themselves to speak plainly about the jihadists' ambitions, how will they ever succeed in crushing them?

* Terrorists can always adapt to new restrictions. After 9/11, knives and sharp metal objects were banned from carry-on luggage, so Richard Reid attempted to detonate a shoe bomb. Thereafter everyone's shoes were checked, so the 2006 Heathrow plotters planned to use liquid-based explosives. Now liquids are strictly limited, so Abdulmutallab smuggled PETN, an explosive powder, in his underwear. There is no physical constraint that determined jihadists cannot find a way to circumvent. Yet US airport security remains obstinately reactive -- focused on intercepting dangerous things, instead of intercepting dangerous people. Unwilling to incorporate ethnic and religious profiling in our air-travel security procedures, we have saddled ourselves with a mediocre security system that inconveniences everyone while protecting no one.

* The Patriot Act was not a reckless overreaction. Security in a post 9/11 world has not come from pressing a "reset button," sending Guantanamo inmates off to Yemen, or refusing to use terms like "war on terrorism." It has come from stepped-up surveillance and stronger intelligence-gathering tools, and from working to pre-empt terror attacks in advance, rather than prosecuting them after the fact. Congress was not out of its mind when it enacted the Patriot Act in 2001, and the Bush administration was not trampling the Constitution when it deployed the expanded powers the law gave it: They were trying to prevent another 9/11 -- and they succeeded. President Obama has repeatedly and ostentatiously criticized his predecessor's approach. Perhaps it is not just a coincidence that Obama's first year in office has also seen an unprecedented surge in terrorist threats on US soil.

We came fearfully close to having to re-learn those lessons the hard way last week. Only the failure of Abdulmutallab's explosive to ignite and the bravery of the passenger and flight attendants who rushed him prevented what would have been the bloodiest attack on US soil in more than eight years. The world remains extremely dangerous, and the war against radical Islam is far from over. Flight 253 was another wake-up call. Did the September 10 people hear it?



Whistleblowers punished for warning of aviation security lapses

They've been frantically trying to warn America for the past six years: Aviation security is a joke, and it's only a matter of time before terrorists destroy another airplane full of innocent passengers.

The close call in Detroit on Christmas Day has vindicated a group of highly experienced experts -- including former airline pilots, federal air marshals and Federal Aviation Administration inspectors -- who were fired or demoted for pointing out obvious flaws in the nation's post-9/11 aviation security system to their chain of command.

Even now, facing financial ruin after their careers were trashed and their families destroyed, courageous members of the Whistleblowing Airline Employees Association ( refuse to be silenced.

Former United B-777 Captain Dan Hanley was forced out of the cockpit after filing federally mandated complaints in 2003 about the lack of federal air marshals and onboard cabin cameras aboard his high-risk London-to-New York flights. Six years later, there was still no federal air marshal aboard Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit, even though both cities are well-known hotbeds of radical Islamic activity.

Robert MacLean, hand-picked as one of the first federal air marshals, was fired for publicly criticizing the Transportation Security Administration's plan to remove marshals from nonstop, long-distance flights -- in violation of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 -- because the agency didn't want to pay their hotel bills.

Former FAA inspector Gabe Bruno uncovered evidence that an airline mechanic certification school was being run by a criminal syndicate. He's still trying to get somebody -- anybody -- in the federal government to find out where all the bogus mechanics are currently employed.

Fellow FAA whistleblower Rich Wyeroski was canned for asking too many questions -- and pointing out the lunacy of forcing passengers to take off their shoes when the airplanes they board are serviced offshore in completely unsecured facilities.

Former TSA Red Team Leader Bogdan Dzakovic, one of the world's top experts on aviation security, was demoted to human answering machine after he testified at the 9/11 Commission's second hearing that safety issues were still not being addressed.

The U.S. government's No. 1 job is to protect American citizens, but it didn't stop Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian who was already on the terrorist watch list, from buying a ticket -- in cash -- for Seat 1House,Senate,President,White House,Conservatives,Liberals,Barack Obama,President,Democrats,Republicans,Libertarians,Irwin Stelzer:26398789:26398789:Irwin Stelzer, directly above the aircraft's fuel tank, or from boarding the Detroit-bound flight with explosives sewn into his underwear.

"This individual should not have been missed," fumed Maine Sen. Susan Collins, ranking member of the Senate homeland security committee, in a classic example of understatement. But the harsh punishment meted out to whistleblowers has had its predictably chilling effect. "Who's going to speak out if you have a 2 percent chance of success and your career will be trashed?" Hanley asked.

The few brave souls who lost everything to warn Americans of the ever-present danger in the skies have been kicked to the curb, while those who failed to perform the Department of Homeland Security's core mission -- led by Secretary Janet Napolitano and her claim that "the system worked" in the Detroit incident -- continue to collect their government paychecks, aided and abetted by an irresponsible Congress.

As Robert Spencer, author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam," told The Examiner: "In reality, nothing worked. ... All the stupid and humiliating airport security procedures, all the little Baggies for toothpaste and shampoo, all the padding through the security scanner in stocking feet didn't work."

The dirty and dangerous secret about airline security is that it's all just political theater designed to calm passengers' very real fears. If the system allows a young, radicalized Islamist known to U.S. authorities to board a plane with 80 grams of pentaerythritol tetranitrate sewn into his pants, nobody is safe.

Meanwhile, your government is too busy bailing out failed banks and car companies and taking over the health care industry to provide for the common defense. Just don't say you weren't warned.



Why Does Interpol Need Immunity from American Law?

You just can't make up how brazen this crowd is. One week ago, President Obama quietly signed an executive order that makes an international police force immune from the restraints of American law.

Interpol is the shorthand for the International Criminal Police Organization. It was established in 1923 and operates in about 188 countries. By executive order 12425, issued in 1983, President Reagan recognized Interpol as an international organization and gave it some of the privileges and immunities customarily extended to foreign diplomats. Interpol, however, is also an active law-enforcement agency, so critical privileges and immunities (set forth in Section 2(c) of the International Organizations Immunities Act) were withheld. Specifically, Interpol's property and assets remained subject to search and seizure, and its archived records remained subject to public scrutiny under provisions like the Freedom of Information Act. Being constrained by the Fourth Amendment, FOIA, and other limitations of the Constitution and federal law that protect the liberty and privacy of Americans is what prevents law-enforcement and its controlling government authority from becoming tyrannical.

On Wednesday, however, for no apparent reason, President Obama issued an executive order removing the Reagan limitations. That is, Interpol's property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.

Interpol works closely with international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court — which the United States has refused to join because of its sovereignty surrendering provisions, though top Obama officials want us in it). It also works closely with foreign courts and law-enforcement authorities (such as those in Europe that are investigating former Bush administration officials for purported war crimes — i.e., for actions taken in America's defense).

Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?


Another comment

American law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal level are bound by open records act laws. At the federal level, the Freedom of Information Act applies.

Knowing that an intrepid reporter can, after establishing credible sources, file a judicially enforcible FOIA request to obtain information from a law enforcement agency is one of the chief deterrents to law enforcement agencies from abusing discretionary power.

Additionally, Interpol is a foreign power, but operates out of the U.S. Department of Justice inside the United States. While Interpol has some limited immunities given by Ronald Reagan in the early 1980’s, it does not — or at least did not until last week — have immunity from the 4th Amendment. Consequently, this international agency could, should it abuse its powers, have the federal government seize its assets, etc.

In other words, the international police organization Interpol was treated like every other law enforcement agency in America — it was subject to FOIA requests and could, like any arm of a municipal, county, state, or federal government agency, have its property taken by the federal government if it crossed the boundaries of criminal law protection for the accused.

For no discernible reason whatsoever, last Wednesday when no one was looking, Barack Obama signed an executive order giving all immunities of foreign powers to Interpol.

In other words, Interpol is now in a better position than any American law enforcement institution that operates on American soil. It cannot have its records searched or seized and it is not subject to the restraints of sunshine and transparency that FOIA requests can bring.

At a time when Obama is worried about ensuring the rights of terrorists against the abuses of the American government, he has no problem surrendering American rights to an arm of the United Nations. This is extremely important because it comports with Barack Obama’s world view in ways harmful to American sovereignty. Obama has said repeatedly that he views no nation as greater than any other nation. He has said repeatedly that one nation should not be able to impose its will on another. He applies this even to the United States.

In Barack Obama’s world, the United States is no better and no worse than Iran, China, North Korea, or Kenya. In his world view, we are all players on an international stage with the United Nations as the leader. Therefore, while Obama will not give up American sovereignty to Peru, he is perfectly happy to give up sovereignty to the United Nations.

The man is not just an amateur. He is also a damnably naive fool.

This is also a backdoor to the International Criminal Court (”ICC”). The United States chose, before Obama took office, to avoid the ICC. Interpol has become the law enforcement arm of the ICC. By taking away the limits to Interpol’s immunity in the United States, Barack Obama has freed the organization up to conduct criminal investigations of individuals inside the United States on behalf of the ICC without any of us knowing about it.

And who does the ICC want to investigate? The lawyers, CIA operatives, and soldiers who have defended the United States in the War on Terror by setting up GTMO and prosecuting the war. These men and women now have yet another deterrent to keep them from being fully effective — the fear of an international criminal investigation that they don’t even know about.

How many Americans will get killed because of the policies Barack Obama is employing to undermine our safety and security in a dangerous world?




Not so liberating: The twilight of liberation theology: "It went almost unnoticed, but on December 5th, Benedict XVI articulated one of the most stinging rebukes that has ever been made by a pope of a particular theological school. Addressing a group of Brazilian bishops, Benedict followed some mild comments about Catholic education with some very sharp and deeply critical remarks about liberation theology and its effects upon the Catholic Church. Apart from stressing how certain liberation theologians drew heavily upon Marxist concepts, the pope also described these ideas as ‘deceitful.’”

Back from the brink: "For years, perhaps decades to come, Americans will be whittling away at the mountain of debt the Obama administration has built, in part to apply Maynard Keynes’s nostrums to the sagging economy, in greater part permanently to expand the size and role of government. On the day before Christmas, immediately after its dawn vote to pass the health care bill, when few were watching, the Senate joined the House in raising the debt ceiling so that the administration could borrow enough money — $290 billion — to keep the government running, but only for a few months, so great is the amount of red ink pouring onto the federal books. Congress is also preparing a second stimulus bill — it will have a different name — and instead of using the money flowing in from the banks to repay the government’s bail-outs to reduce the deficit, the president and Congress are converting it to a slush fund to be spent on a variety of new programs. Throw in the fact that no one believes the health care bill will not add to the deficit, and Americans will remember 2009 as the year they loaded huge burdens on their children and grandchildren.”


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


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


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One formidable lady

HIGH standards, a short temper and a taste for whisky - Margaret Thatcher's personality is laid bare in secret files released in Britain Wednesday which cover the first few months of her premiership.

The files, covering the first few months of her premiership, reveal she refused a guard of 20 "karate ladies'' when she visited Japan soon after becoming prime minister in 1979 and personally handled pistols to decide which model was best for police in Northern Ireland.

Her impatience for the failings of ministers and civil servants less formidable than herself is also shown in a volley of curt, scrawled annotations on documents.

Perhaps the most unusual story in the files relates to her attendance at the Tokyo Economic Summit in June 1979, the month after she was elected Britain's first female premier. British officials heard of Japanese plans to lay on 20 "karate ladies'' to provide her security at the event, but Thatcher insisted she did not want them. "The Prime Minister would like to be treated in exactly the same way as the other visiting Heads of Delegation; it is not the degree of protection that is in question but the particular means of carrying it out,'' a confidential official communique from the Foreign Office said. "If other Delegation leaders, for example, are each being assigned 20 karate gentlemen, the Prime Minister would have no objection to this; but she does not wish to be singled out.''

Another document records a conversation between Thatcher and the then US President Jimmy Carter at the White House in December 1979. She was trying to persuade him to reverse the US policy of not selling arms to Northern Ireland's police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Arguing her case, Thatcher said, according to the official record: "She herself had handled both of the gun(s) which the RUC at present used and that which was on order. "There was no doubt that the American Ruger was much better.''

A file on her first visit to France in June to meet president Valery Giscard d'Estaing revealed that embassy staff in Paris paid for her duty-free cigarettes and alcohol. They later had to chase Downing Street for a refund.

An invoice in the file lists one bottle of Teacher's whisky, known to be her drink of choice; one bottle of gin, a "snifter'' of which was favoured by her husband, Denis; and 200 Benson and Hedges cigarettes for Thatcher and a senior Downing Street figure.

Elsewhere, Thatcher berates officials for not providing a "sufficiently interesting'' itinerary for the first day of her maiden tour to the US and requests a "fuller program'' in New York.

She furiously annotates documents in blue fountain pen, adding notes, underlining and even correcting officials' grammar.



Utopian new left just like old left

How did the European left rationalize communism's crimes and transform itself into a viable political force after the fall of the Soviet Union? It's all explained in "Last Exit to Utopia: The Survival of Socialism in a Post-Soviet Era." First published in 2000, the book by the late French intellectual Jean-Francois Revel is only now available in English. But given Revel's insights into today's leftist movements, it couldn't be more timely.

The old left's attempt to "excommunicate" modernity, as Revel describes it, is as alive today as it ever was. He traces the left's ideological rejection of modern civilization and the idea of progress back to French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who in the 18th century launched the Romantic rebellion against the Age of Reason.

Revel explains how Rousseau's "primitivism" and denial of reason manifested itself in the utopian ideologies of communism and fascism. These ideologies are often mistakenly associated with rationalism, progress and science. But their deeper motivation was the irrational impulse to eliminate all the uncertainties of the human condition -- to create, in short, an earthly paradise. Revel calls this the "totalitarian temptation" because mankind is tempted into thinking that the only obstacle to creating the good society is a lack of will and power.

Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Germany were the most extreme examples of this idea. But Revel notes there were softer versions, ranging from socialism to the progressive movements in the United States. Yes, some versions were violent while others were not. But, Revel stresses, all shared the idea that their noble cause to create an ideal society morally justified the means, and the means of choice was state power - sometimes grossly violent and sometimes not.

Hitler's creation is long gone, and so, too, is the Soviet Union. But the legacy of Rousseau's assault on civilization and progress lives on in three modern political movements.

The first is environmentalism. By this I don't mean the mere desire to have a clean environment, but rather the messianic mission to create a new ecological order through the application of state power. Environmentalism, particularly in its more radical forms, has inherited all of the old left's habits of mind, only on a far grander scale. It seeks to transform not just civilization, but the physical planet as well.

As with the old left, new left environmentalists view capitalism and the free market as enemies. But so, too, is reason. The lengths to which some scientists will go to stifle dissent reveal not only a disrespect for the scientific method, but also contempt for using reason to understand reality. If truly understanding climate change were the main goal, there would be no hesitation to look at all the evidence of global warming. In the minds of many climate-change scientists, however, the top goal is not to understand the planet but to "save" it. The cause transcends the science.

Another new left movement is dedicated to "global governance" -- the creation of supranational institutions to control societies. Manifested in the United Nations, the European Union, and other international institutions, the ostensible aim is more happiness for more people, but the means is the same old centralization of power in ever larger governing institutions -- in this case, regional and global ones.

The enemies here are also familiar, namely, the nation-state and the free market. The United Nations and the European Union seek to bypass and control both, empowering bureaucratic elites who are unaccountable to the democratic process. In the old days, the nation-state was to be the engine of socialism; today, it is supranational institutions.

Unsurprisingly, this movement exhibits all the traits of the old left. Dissent from the received ideal is tolerated no more than the fat-cat bourgeois was by old-school socialists. For example, EU advocates in the European Parliament are boycotting its new European Conservative and Reform Group because it questions some aspects of integration. Its sin is apostasy from the creed of European integration, which EU advocates equate with wanting a return to the bad old days of suicidal wars. The same advocates never explain how regulating the size and shape of bananas and cucumbers or the noise that tires make serves such a noble cause.

Another great utopian movement of our era, militant Islamism, differs in origin from these secular leftist movements, but it shares some of their mental habits. The Muslim Brotherhood rejects capitalism and freedom no less than the most ardent environmentalists. It matters little whether advocates want to create a religious caliphate or an ecological nirvana. They share the utopian's disregard for progress and civilization, and see few if any limits on the means to stop them.

Though written about the past, Revel's book is a window into the future. Read it and you understand why, as the French say, "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose" ("The more things change, the more they stay the same.")



Leftist destruction in Britain

The economy has suffered its worst decade of growth since the Second World War, figures revealed yesterday. The findings, which show a far worse performance than under the Tories in the 1990s, raise serious doubts about Labour's claims to superior handling of the economy during its 13 years in power.

Gross domestic product, which is the country's total economic output, rose just 1.7 per cent a year in real terms, which means the figures have been adjusted for inflation. At this low level, the last decade has been Britain's weakest period of economic expansion of any ten-year period since the 1940s, according to the research based on figures from the Office for National Statistics. By contrast, in the 1990s, when John Major was in power before being ousted by Tony Blair in 1997, output rose by an average of 2.2 per cent a year.

Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have made a habit of disparaging the economic record of the Conservative Party, but yesterday the Tories said the figures exposed the Government's dismal record. Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Philip Hammond said: 'After more than a decade in power, Labour's economic legacy is record low growth and a poorly performing stock market. 'This shows the urgent need for change to ensure the next decade is one of sustainable growth and a return to soundly-based prosperity.

The biggest loser over the decade was the embattled manufacturing sector, which collapsed into negative territory, falling by an average of 1.2 per cent every year. This did not happen even in the 1970s and 1980s, a time when Britain's industrial base virtually collapsed with victims such as shipbuilding, coal mining and car manufacture. During those two decades, output grew at an average annual rate of 0.6 per cent and 1.0 per cent respectively.

The sluggish performance of the economy is made even worse by the fact that the population has ballooned in recent decades. A rising population is usually associated with a rise in economic output, rather than a fall. The population has grown from 56 million in 1971 to 61 million in 2007, and is forecast to keep on climbing to nearly 63 million in 2011.

The findings come at a bleak time for Britain, which remains the only G20 economy still in recession. Latest ONS figures show that output fell between July and September, down 0.2 per cent. Since the recession started last year, the economy has shrunk 6 per cent, the biggest slump in modern times.

Unemployment has shot up to 2.5million, and a warning has come from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development that another 250,000 could lose their jobs. Its chief economic adviser Dr John Philpott said the outlook may be even worse, with unemployment possibly reaching three million. He said: 'Private sector employers will seek to contain wage costs and public sector employers will have to cope with the consequences of fast shrinking budgets and mass job downsizing.'



The most important civil right of all

Well, to paraphrase a famous president of a slightly earlier time, "you're doing a heckuva job, Janet." That goes for everybody at the White House.

If Barack Obama wants to reassure a nervous public that bureaucratic incompetence won't be tolerated, he might look to the example of what happened to the director of FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But no one expects the president to sack Janet Napolitano, the secretary of something the government insists on calling Homeland Security.

That's not how an administration that regards words and deeds as equals actually works. The lessons in the latest Islamist attempt to bring down a Western airliner could be useful, but such lessons are too painful for the guvvies to think about.

Mzz Napolitano's early assurance, since amended, that "the system worked" was either dopey beyond belief, or an unintended ringing endorsement of the ancient folk ethic that "God helps those who help themselves." Better God than a guvvie, but not everyone can count on having as a fellow passenger a young Dutchman with quick instincts, athletic grace, a sharp eye and a full complement of bravery and courage. That's not really a "system" for securing the homeland.

President Obama, interrupting a day at the beach, told reporters in Hawaii that he would pursue the plotters in Arabia and he would not rest until they are caught. This time he did not promise they would be executed, as he did of the Guantanamo plotters who are to be tried in New York City. But the attempt to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit was "a serious reminder" of the dangers George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and other Republicans warned us about. (Of course, he couldn't afford to say it quite that way.)

Mr. Obama's tough-guy rhetoric, his words plain, pretty and well-parsed, is more reassuring than his deeds, or would be if there was evidence that he really understands what must be done. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young jihadist from Nigeria by way of Yemen, was quickly indicted on federal charges of trying to destroy an aircraft, which means that he will have the full array of rights accorded to every defendant in an American court. Someone will have to read his Miranda rights, and he will have the right to a lawyer. This will please the civil rights radicals who imagine the Constitution to be a suicide pact, and who don't, or can't, understand that the most important civil right of all is the right not to be murdered. Murder, after all, is the surest way to deprive someone of his other civil rights.

If ever a system isn't working, this is the one. Warning flags the size of bedsheets fluttered above checkpoints on two continents. The suspect's father tried to warn the American government that his son had been radicalized and was looking for an opportunity to slaughter innocents. That should have been enough to interview the young man before revoking his visa. But such common sense, common nearly everywhere else, is rarely rewarded in the government precincts of the politically correct. Someone eager to scratch the itch to wound America might be offended.

Where were the intelligence services that soak up so many of the nation's billions every year? Did the CIA talk to the FBI, or the DEA to DIA, or did considerations of protecting turf take precedence, as such considerations often do? The Obama administration promises an investigation, naturally, and of course it will be fair, thorough, hard-hitting, blah, blah and blah. Congress should be suspicious of bureaucrats investigating themselves, and conduct its own investigation. But Democrats in Congress will no doubt be more interested in protecting the administration than finding out what really happened. To find out might compel even a senator to actually do something.

The Detroit incident ought to persuade President Obama once and for all that making nice with those who are determined to kill as many of us as they can is a fool's errand. He can go back to Cairo again and again to apologize as eloquently as he can, and when the apologies are over and he bumps the floor with his forehead in bowing to whomever, the Islamic jihadists will still despise us and will continue to plot to destroy us.

Janet Napolitano can conjure up more ways to harass air travelers, going after all those blue-eyed Scandinavian grannies in Minnesota again to avoid "profiling" the likely terrorists. She may require us to take off our pants as well as our shoes. But even with more harassment of the innocent, she still won't have a "system" that works. We must pray for a Dutchman.



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


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


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Obama handles Northwest Airlines terror incident differently than Ft. Hood

Yet Ft. Hood was where people died. Is it only terrorism if it doesn't succeed?

The Obama White House has been aggressive in its press outreach regarding the Northwest Airlines terrorist incident. Some of the earliest stories on accused terrorist Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempt to set off an explosive device on board Northwest Flight 253 were sourced to the White House, and White House officials were quick to label the incident an "attempted act of terrorism." The White House wants the public to know that President Obama, on vacation at a luxurious oceanfront home in Hawaii, has received conference call updates and is keeping close tabs on the situation.

"President Barack Obama's Christmas Day began with a briefing about a botched attack on an airliner in Detroit," began an Associated Press account published Christmas evening. "Obama's military aide told the president about an incident aboard a plane as it was landing in Detroit just after 9 a.m. here [in Hawaii]. The president phoned his homeland security adviser and the chief of staff to the National Security Council for a briefing…'We believe this was an attempted act of terrorism,' one White House official said on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive situation."

Those details didn't come from nowhere. "Within a few hours of the Delta/Northwest Airlines flight touching down in Detroit, a senior administration official telephoned and e-mailed members of the White House press pool," writes the Atlantic's and CBS's Marc Ambinder, a reliable source of the White House perspective. The administration message: We're on the case. "The apparatus of government is in high gear now," Ambinder reported.

The White House messaging on the Flight 253 affair stands in stark contrast to its handling of the massacre at Ft. Hood, Texas in which Obama, on the day after the killings, cautioned the public against "jumping to conclusions" about the murders of 13 people, and then, a day later, declared that "we cannot fully know" accused killer Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's motives. Now, the administration is openly using the T-word.

But it appears the White House's press outreach has been more extensive than its outreach to actual officials in the government. "They're keeping information very tight, in terms of not giving it to Congress," says Republican Rep. Peter King, who has been on television frequently in the hours since the incident. "There are not too many details coming out."

In his appearances, King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, has been described as having been "briefed" on the issue. It turns out he has been briefed, but not by the administration. "When I say 'briefing,' these are people on my staff who are in contact with people in the government agencies," King says. So far, King has had just one contact with the administration: a phone call from Homeland Security deputy secretary Jane Holl Lute, who told him about airport security measures. Beyond that, nothing. "As far as all the other details I've gotten, they came from sources that we have in the government," King says. "I understand the Democrats are getting the same treatment, so it's not a partisan thing."

The important issue now, King says, is for officials to get to the bottom of how the incident could have happened. "There are real issues we have to look at as to why [Abdulmutallab] was on a watch list, or why he was on a classified file that the our government had on him, and yet he was not on a no-fly list and not on a secondary screening list," King says.

King isn't blaming the Obama team for what happened. "If [Abdulmutallab] was known about for two years, then that goes back into the Bush administration," King says. Still, it is the Obama administration's responsibility to find out what happened, and King is hopeful but a little wary. "The only reluctance I have is that the White House would not cooperate with us on the White House gate crashers incident, which was far less important than this," King says. Now, with an incident involving the nation's defenses against terrorism, "We have to have a full investigation as soon as possible."



One war Obama is keen on

Taking his vendetta with Fox News to a new low, President Obama sent an administration spokesperson to appear on every network but Fox to discuss the Northwest Airlines flight 253 terror attack.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, NBC’s Meet the Press and CBS’ Face the Nation. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, NBC’s Meet the Press, and CNN’s State of the Nation.

Communicating to the American people the facts and status of an attempted terror attack should be of paramount importance to a President plunging in the polls, but Obama appears more obsessed with ostracizing Fox News than keeping the American people informed of the war on terror.

The Fox network has the highest cable network ratings beating every other network. Shouldn’t the administration want their message to reach to the largest possible audience? Perhaps the Obama administration is afraid Fox might ask questions about their Homeland Security policies that allowed the suspect to be purged from the government database of potential threats.

The White House reports Obama received a brief update on heightened air travel safety measures and the investigation. It would be interesting to know how much time Obama spent organizing his administration’s media strategy to blacklist Fox News.



Some questions that need answers

Situational awareness is a term I learned from the fly-guys. When you’re hurtling along at 1000 miles an hour, knowing where you are (and where you need to be) in relationship to the ground and every other aircraft isn’t a matter of passing interest, it’s a matter of life and death. It’s the same thing for drivers, especially those who are talking on the cell phone while smoking a cigar and driving a car with a six-speed manual transmission.

Being on an airliner or a train is pretty much the opposite, especially at the end of a long trip. On a long transatlantic flight -- even in business class -- all you want to do is get off the doggone plane, get through customs and home to that waiting hot shower. You’re not thinking about someone seated a few rows in front of you who has a bomb concealed in his underwear.

That’s not your problem, right? They screen everyone, the highly-trained Federal Air Marshals are on board -- undercover -- and ready to spring into action. But what if they’re not? What if you’re departing from a high-risk airport such as Amsterdam’s Schipol, with a young Nigerian man aboard whose explosives go undetected? And what if there are no watchful FAMs aboard? It’s not only your problem: it’s the problem of every person on that aircraft.

For all the inconveniences we go through -- for all the blue-haired Norwegian grannies who are practically strip-searched regularly at the airports -- our security people seem to be unable to stop even the crude kind of attack attempted by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day.

No sentient being could have been comforted by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s ABC TV appearance on Sunday morning. No matter the question, she stuck to her mantra of how the system reacted perfectly to the attack, impervious to the question of why the system didn’t interdict it. She said in-flight aircraft were warned, the crew of Flight 253 reacted well and so forth. But she evaded every substantive question Jake Tapper asked.

Tapper asked questions -- ranging from why Abdulmutallab wasn’t prevented from getting on the flight to why DHS has spent billions on new technologies but hasn’t yet fielded one of them -- and Napolitano ducked every one.

Congressional Republicans should be asking Napolitano some pointy-type questions right now. Such as:

1. Abdulmutallab’s father apparently reported him to the embassy in Lagos, saying he'd turned radical. Who shared that information and with whom? Was there any follow-up?

2. What is the function of the so-called “Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment,” which listed Abdulmatullab, other than to keep DHS bureaucrats employed?

3. What does it take to be promoted from the “TIDE” list to the “no-fly” list?

4. Abdulmutallab has apparently claimed that Yemeni al-Queda planned the attack and provided him with the means. Are those claims true?

5. What preventive actions are being taken while Abdulmutallab’s claims are being investigated?

6. In light of Abdulmutallab’s claims, will the administration delay or cancel plans to release some Gitmo inmates to Yemen?

7. The flight reportedly had no Federal Air Marshals aboard. Why? Schipol is notoriously lax in security.

8. How much has Homeland Security spent on new passenger and baggage-screening technologies? What do we have to show for it?

Which brings us back to our personal dilemma: we can either stop flying -- which we mustn’t do -- or we can take personally our duty to defend ourselves and our fellow passengers in the air.

TSA shouldn’t panic: no one is advocating sneaking weapons aboard or punching every suspicious person in the gut. But what I am saying is that our right of self defense is also a duty and it has to be undertaken seriously.

We have to be aware, and we have to be willing. How many of us would have reacted as did Jasper Schuringa, the brave Dutch filmmaker who jumped over other passengers to subdue Abdulmutallab and put the underwear fire out? Too few, I’d guess.




A non-Christian Christmas for the Obamas: "President Obama and his family celebrated Christmas in Hawaii on Friday, but with their own twists. The president and his wife, Michelle, started their day at 6:40 a.m. by going to the gym -- a feat unimaginable to most parents of young children eager to open presents on Christmas morning -- and returned more than an hour later. The first couple did not swap presents, aides said. And the Obamas did not attend church services, instead spending the day at the oceanfront home they are renting in Kailua, on the island of Oahu. Later on, the children -- along with Obama's sister, Maya Soetero-Ng, her husband, Konrad Ng, and their children -- were to open gifts. A meal of roast beef and potatoes was to follow, aides said." [I don't claim to be a Christian but even I attended the cathedral service in honour of the day]

Obama supports oil drilling in Brazil but not in the USA: "The U.S. government is preparing to provide up to $10 billion in loans to finance the development of massive hydrocarbon reserves off Brazil’s coast thought to contain 80 billion barrels of high-quality crude, an amount that could lead to a six-fold increase in Brazil’s current proven reserves and transform that nation into one of the world’s 10 largest oil producers. President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones, discussed the matter with officials this week during a visit to the South American country, Brazilian Planning Minister Paulo Bernardo da Silva told reporters. He said the U.S. Export-Import Bank already has signed a letter of intent in that regard with Brazilian state oil company Petrobras."

Poll: Just 29% Say U.S. Heading on Right Course: "Just 29 percent of U.S. voters now say the country is heading in the right direction, the lowest level measured since early February, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. The percentage of voters who felt the country is heading in the right direction remained in the narrow range of 31 percent to 35 percent from July to early November. For the previous three weeks, however, confidence in the country’s current course has held steady at 30 percent. The majority of voters (65 percent) continue to believe the nation is heading down the wrong track. The latest finding is up slightly from last week and has remained fairly consistent for months. In the weeks just prior to Barack Obama's election, more than 80 percent of voters felt that way. Eighty-nine percent (89 percent) of Republicans and 74 percent of unaffiliated voters believe the nation is heading down the wrong track, findings that have held roughly steady for months. Democrats are more closely divided on the question: 52 percent say right direction, 38 percent say wrong track. Just nine percent (9 percent) of GOP voters say the United States is heading in the right direction."

Housing boom in southern Israel: "When Israel launched a massive offensive in the Gaza Strip a year ago, political leaders said the primary objective was to snuff out cross-border rocket fire against villages in southern Israel. That military mission has largely been accomplished. Launches of short-range Qassam rockets plummeted 90 percent to a decade low in 2009. The newfound peace of mind has fueled a surge in demand for homes in a region that people had been fleeing. Although much of Gaza remains in ruins, renewed interest in real estate in Sderot, the main target of the Qassam rockets, has pushed home values up by as much as a 30 percent. In the kibbutz, or farming collectives, around Gaza, there is also a resurgence in demand. Yisrael Gunwerg, a real estate marketing executive for neighborhood projects at two kibbutzes, said sales of new homes have tripled while prices have risen 15 percent. However, that sense of relief belies a long-term trepidation that a new, worse flare-up is only a matter of time. Southern Israel residents are aware of Israeli army intelligence assessments that Hamas is learning the lessons of the war and stocking hundreds of missiles in preparation for another round of fighting."

Hollow talk: "President Barack Obama on Monday vowed to use ‘every element of our national power’ to keep Americans safe and said the failed Christmas Day plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner was ‘a serious reminder’ of the need to continually adapt security measures against changing terrorist threats. But even as Obama spoke, word came that a State Department warning had failed to trigger an effort to revoke the alleged attacker’s visa.”

TSA admits it: Rules confusion is intentional: "You are now free to move about the cabin. Or not. After a two-day security clampdown prompted by a thwarted attempt to bomb a jetliner, some airline officials told The Associated Press that the in-flight restrictions had been eased. And it was now up to captains on each flight to decide whether passengers can have blankets and other items on their laps or can move around during the final phase of flight. Confused? … The Transportation Security Administration did little to explain the rules. And that inconsistency might well have been deliberate: What’s confusing to passengers is also confusing to potential terrorists. ‘It keeps them guessing,’ transportation expert Joseph Schwieterman said.”

UAW: We did it for cars, we’ll do it for your kids: "Michelle Berry runs a day-care service from her home in Flint. Although she owns the business, Berry’s been told she is now a government employee and union member. It’s not voluntary. Berry and 40,000 other Michigan private day-care providers have union dues taken out from the child-care subsidies the state sends them on behalf of their low-income clients. The ‘union’ is a creation of the United Auto Workers. This racket means big money to the UAW, writes the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank.”

Cash for Clunkers: Home edition: "Cash for Clunkers (cars) is over. Cash for Clunkers (houses) continues. Legislators just extended the scandal-marred $8,000 home- buyer tax credit — which means another $11 billion will be wasted. Ground zero of last year’s financial crash was the politically driven collapse in the housing market. Six years ago, Rep. Barney Frank, now chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, declared: ‘I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing.’ Uncle Sam rolled the dice a lot, and we all are paying the bill.”

Notorious British "child protection" authority still being careless: "An urgent review has been ordered after the 15-page Haringey Council file, which included details about a boy taken away from his mother over fears he could be abused, was found in a railway carriage in London. "This is an isolated case but of course the council is extremely concerned that sensitive papers relating to child safety appear to have been left on public transport," a council spokesman said. "It is the position of the council that such documents should be stored and used securely. We will urgently review our procedures and tighten them where necessary to make sure it doesn't happen again." A council worker has been suspended while the review is carried out." [They're clearly just bureaucrats who don't give a damn until they are caught out]


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


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


Monday, December 28, 2009


It takes a Leftist to do real rage. He even calls it rage

The far left is not happy with President Barack Obama, their Messiah.

"Now I'm Really Getting Pissed Off" is an article by David Michael Green, a progressive professor at Hofstra University in New York, that provides a devastatingly negative critique of Obama and his economy-wrecking policies, including his disastrous healthcare reform legislation. Below is the text of his article. Professor Green’s occasional Republican whack with his anti-capitalism club pales in comparison to his shocking blow to Obama's socialist solar plexus, using the same type of rhetorical bludgeon. As one of our grassroots activists, Dan, wrote: “We live in really bizarre times”.

Although the article is a view from the far left, it shows that liberals are finally realizing the danger posed to our nation by the inept Obama and out-of-control Democrats in Congress. What took liberals so long to wake up from their Obama-worship stupor?

Now that progressives/liberals are starting to remove their rose-colored Obama glasses, is there any possibility they will also take off their socialist blinders? If they did, then we might witness an abrupt halt to their quest to turn our country into a failed socialist nation. Sadly, though, the brains of progressives/liberals may be so marinated in socialist dogma they may never understand socialism is like a Vampire that sucks the blood out of an economy, forever turning a nation into the “living” dead, like Cuba and North Korea.

Please Note: In his article, Professor Green also continues to promulgate the Democratic Party’s false version of civil rights history while we, in the NBRA, are working hard to set the civil rights record straight. History shows that it was Republicans, not Democrats, who championed civil rights for blacks. For details see our NBRA Civil Rights Newsletter that is posted on our website.
Now I'm Really Getting Pissed Off


Hey did you hear about the iconic African-American guy who plays golf, and whose relationship with the public is in a free-fall lately? No, as a matter of fact – I’m not talking about Tiger Woods. You know, I’ve really been trying not to write an article every other week about all the things I don’t like about Barack Obama. But the little prick is making it very hard.

Like any good progressive, I’ve gone from admiration to hope to disappointment to anger when it comes to this president. Now I’m fast getting to rage. How much rage? I find myself thinking that the thing I want most from the 2010 elections is for his party to get absolutely clobbered, even if that means a repeat of 1994. And that what I most want from 2012 is for him to be utterly humiliated, even if that means President Palin at the helm. That much rage.

Did this clown really say on national television that “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street”? Really, Barack? So, like, my question is: Then why the hell did you help out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street? Why the hell did you surround yourself with nothing but Robert Rubin proteges in all the key economic positions in your government? Why did you allow them to open a Washington branch of Goldman Sachs in the West Wing? Why have your policies been tailored to helping Wall Street bankers, rather than the other 300 million of us, who just happen to be suffering badly right now?

Are you freakin’ kidding me? What’s up with the passive president routine, anyhow, Fool? You hold the most powerful position in the world. Or maybe Rahm forgot to mention that to you. Or maybe the fat cat bankers don’t actually let do that whole decision-making thing often enough that it would actually matter...

But, really, are you going to spend the next three interminable years perfecting your whiney victim persona? I don’t really think I could bear that. Hearing you complain about how rough it all is, when you have vastly more power than any of us to fix it? Please. Not that. Are you going to tell us that “I did not run for office to be shovel-feeding the military-industrial complex”? But what – they’re just so darned pushy?

“...I did not run for office to continue George Bush’s valiant effort at shredding the Bill of Rights. It’s just that those government-limiting rules are so darned pesky.”

“...I did not run for office to dump a ton of taxpayer money into the coffers of health insurance companies. It’s just that they asked so nicely.”

“...I did not run for office to block equality for gay Americans. I just never got around to doing anything about it.”

“...I did not run for office to turn Afghanistan into Vietnam. I just didn’t want to say no to all the nice generals asking for more troops.”

Here’s a guy who was supposed to actually do something with his presidency, and he’s turned into the skinny little geek on Cell Block D who gets passed around like a rag doll for the pleasure of all the fellas with the tattoos there. He’s being punked by John Boehner, for chrisakes. He’s being rolled by the likes of Joe Lieberman. He calls a come-to-Jesus meeting with Wall Street bank CEOs, and half of them literally phone it in. Everyone from Bibi Netanyahu to the Japanese prime minister to sundry Iranian mullahs is stomping all over Mr. Happy.

And he doesn’t even seem to realize it. Did you see him tell Oprah that he gave himself “a good solid B+” for his first year in office? And that it will be an A, if he gets his healthcare legislation passed? Somebody please pick me up and set me back on my chair, wouldya?

I am seriously beginning to worry that this cat is delusional. He has lopped off twenty full points from his job approval rating in less than a year’s time, falling now below fifty percent. His party, once dominant in generic congressional election poll questions, is today almost even with hated Republicans in the public mind. Last month, Obama’s inverted coattails (don’t even ask where those go) got two Democrats clobbered running for governor in New Jersey and Virginia. The otherwise obnoxious George F. Will (very) rightly points out that in Kentucky, “a Republican candidate succeeded in nationalizing a state Senate race. Hugely outspent in a district in which Democrats have a lopsided registration advantage, the Republican won by 12 points a seat in Frankfort by running against Washington”. Wow. Obama is now wrecking state senate races! What’s next? Will local Republican candidates for sheriff win office just by opposing the embarrassment in the White House who chooses abysmal policies and then refuses to fight for them, lest he should ruffle any feathers?

“For Democrats, the red flags are flying at full mast," said Democratic pollster Peter Hart in a recent AP article. "What we don't know for certain is: Have we reached a bottoming-out point?” Au contraire, Peter. Au contraire. I think anyone more sentient than a newborn amoeba can answer that question. The first thing to note is that the economy is not coming back anytime soon, if it comes back at all. Unless, of course, you’re a fat cat Wall Street banker. Then you’re just fine, because the Bush-Obama administration took care of you quite nicely, thanks very much. The rest of us poor slobs out here in real-world land, on the other hand, got a “jobs summit”.

I can’t even begin to describe how insulting Obama conducting a “jobs summit” is to me, or what an unbelievably ham-fisted piece of public relations that was for the White House, which is increasingly showing itself not just to be sickeningly regressive, but also fully inept. I think I speak for a whole lot of Americans when I say that, one year into his stewardship over a destroyed economy that was actually atomizing for at least six months before inauguration day, I don’t want my president sitting around a table, running a dog-and-pony show, pretending to kick around ideas on how to generate jobs. I wanted him to have those ideas, himself, before he was inaugurated. I wanted those to be real ideas, that produce real jobs for real Americans who are really hurting. I wanted that to be, and still be, the be-all and end-all of his presidency, not some distant fourth-place priority, behind healthcare and the White House dog selection process. And, especially not some fourth-place priority behind jive healthcare reform.

Which brings us to the second answer to Mr. Hart’s question. If Democrats think they’ll be screwed next November because of unemployment, wait till Congress passes this healthcare monstrosity. Or doesn’t. At this point, either way they’re gonna get slammed for it, and rightly so.

If they don’t pass anything, they will be seen as unable to govern. This perception will be quite true because they will have failed to pass a major piece of legislation, despite having 60-40 majorities in both houses of Congress and control of the presidency. It doesn’t get much better than that for a governing party in the American system. But it will be true in an even more profound sense, because the whole priority structure of the Democratic agenda is wrong. Sure, people want healthcare reform right now (especially if it were to miraculously also have the virtue of being authentic healthcare reform), but what they really want, overwhelmingly, is jobs. This choice of priorities is the equivalent of, say, invading Iraq when you’ve been attacked by people in Afghanistan. Surely no president would be that stupid, right? Surely any political party would realize the costs of having priorities so divorced from those of the voters, right?

On the other hand, the Democrats and their hapless president are probably in worse shape if they actually pass this legislation. Especially now that it’s been stripped of nearly every real progressive reform imaginable, it has become an incredibly stupid bill, from the political perspective. It will force people who can’t afford it to spend a giant amount of money on lousy insurance, without any real choice to hold down costs, and it will fund this by hacking away at the Medicare budget. No wonder an insurance industry lobbyist broadcast an email last week declaring: “We WIN. Administered by private insurance companies. No government funding. No government insurance competitor.”

But here’s a little riddle that any sixth-grader can easily figure out, although it seems to have eluded the brain trust at the White House: If insurance companies are winning big-time, then who is doing the losing? Something tells me that if Democrats are dumb enough to pass their own legislation, voters will provide them the answer to that puzzle in November of 2010, and then again two years later. What could be stupider than saddling thirty-five million Americans with a new monthly bill that will probably represent the second or third biggest item in their budget, in exchange for crappy private sector health insurance that is unlikely to pay out when needed, and wastes a third of the dollars paid in premiums on bureaucracy and profits anyhow? Slapping big fines on them if they don’t pony up for the insurance, perhaps? Yep, that’s in there too.

This bill alone could mobilize legions of people to go to the polls and vote for whichever party didn’t do it, and I’m pretty sure the GOP won’t be shy about reminding Americans who that is. I mean, if Democrats were searching for legislation less likely to win them votes, why didn’t they just bring back slavery or the debtor’s prison? Why not come out for pedophilia? It would have been so much more efficient. At least they wouldn’t have spent the last year looking like idiotic bunglers who, in addition to sponsoring really unpopular ideas, also inadvertently left their testicles at the coat check and have spent the last thirty years trying to find their way back to the gala.

Ah, but wait! If you order now, there’s more! As I understand it, the bill doesn’t even actually force insurance companies to cover people, at least in the sense that they can charge prohibitive amounts to those with whatever they define as pre-existing conditions. You know, like the young woman who had a policy but died when she was denied cancer treatment because she had a bad case of acne as a teenager.

This will be a total train wreck for the Democratic Party. Already, the public opposes the plan by a ratio of 47 to 32 percent. And they haven’t even been handed the bill for it yet. And they haven’t even had their premiums skyrocket yet. And they haven’t even seen insurance corporation executives buy small countries for use as second homes with the increased compensation they will be floating in. And they haven’t even found out what this does to their Medicare yet. And they haven’t even seen the impact on the national debt yet. And they haven’t even realized that the ‘good’ parts of the bill don’t go into effect until FOUR YEARS from now.

You know, elite Republicans may be sociopaths, and they may be lower on the moral totem pole than your basic cannibal, but they’re not stupid. I bet they’re salivating at the idea that this thing passes. I bet they’d even have Olympia Snowe vote for it if necessary, just to put it over the top. They must be laughing their asses off at this gift. All they have to do is oppose it right down the line, then say “Told ya so!” at the next election, squashing the pathetic Demognats, one after the next. Hey, even if worse comes to worse and the thing eventually becomes popular, they can always wait a decade or two and become champions of the new publically beloved healthcare system – just like they did for Medicare, Social Security, civil rights, etc.

This is President Nothingburger’s great gift to America, along with doing nothing about jobs, doing nothing about the Middle East, nothing about civil liberties, nothing about civil rights, and now doing nothing at Copenhagen. Regarding the latter, the world is literally on fire, and he jets in, gives a speech haranguing the delegates that “Now is not the time for talk, now is the time for action”, then splits even before the vote in order to beat the snowstorm headed to the east coast that might delay him getting home to his comfy bed. I’m not kidding. You can’t make this shit up, man.

This guy is killing me, though at the same time I still can’t quite figure him out. Here’s what I get: This president is a corporate hack. Like Bush or Clinton, he has constituents, alright – but you and I are not on that particular list. Here’s what I don’t get: He is radically tanking, at a moment when people no longer have patience for those kind of politics anymore. Here’s what I get: This president has his fingers in many pies, as he needs to, ranging from global warming to economic implosion to two wars abroad to massive federal debt.

Here’s what I don’t get: Why does he bother to do these things in a way that pleases no one, and only dramatically undercuts his own political standing? Why does he refuse to make anyone his enemy, thus making everyone his enemy? Is he just massively deluded? I wouldn’t have thought so, but watching the guy give himself a very good grade for 2009 – straight face and all – during the same year he’s lost twenty points off his job approval rating, and at a moment when even blacks and gays are deserting him, you know, you have to wonder.

Is he happy just to be a one-term president – just to say he’s been there and done that, and then sell some more books – even if he is reviled as one of the worst in history? Maybe. But what about the rest of us?

The rest of us, indeed. It’s been quite some time since anyone in the White House ever cared about that sorry pack of rabble. Obama looked like he could’ve been something different. He ain’t. So this is it, folks. Change you can believe in? More like bullshit you can take a bath in, if you ask me.



Senator Max Baucus In A Drunken Tirade On Senate Floor

During the general debate on the health care legislation that recently passed the Senate, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat from Montana, took to the floor of the Senate and engaged in a drunken tirade. Oblivious to the fact that he was slurring his words and mangling his sentences, Senator Baucus shouted down opponents as he let loose a rambling, and at times incoherent, tirade against those dastardly Republicans who refused to be bipartisan.

This drunk is the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, charged with overseeing our taxpayer dollars. As is clearly evident from this video, the less than honorable Baucus should not be in charge of a toll booth, much less have a say in the crafting of legislation that will affect every single American.




New blog -- The Conservative Deist Its author is professional philosopher Mike Valle. I like his praise of Sarah Palin.

A Christmas Orange for iPS Cells: "Ever get an orange in your Christmas stocking? Scientists working with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) got the equivalent of an orange in their Christmas stocking this year. Chinese and Austrian scientists reported on Christmas Eve that simply adding ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to the culture medium in which cells are grown increases by 100-fold the efficiency of mouse and human iPS cell production. IPS cells behave like embryonic stem cells, but no embryos, eggs, or cloning are involved in their production. Genes are added to normal cells, such as skin cells, that reprogram the cells to behave like an embryonic stem cell."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" mentions of race 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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009: The Year of Lost opportunity in Iran

by Charles Krauthammer

On Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not just reject President Obama's latest feckless floating nuclear deadline. He spat on it, declaring that Iran "will continue resisting" until the U.S. has gotten rid of its 8,000 nuclear warheads.

So ends 2009, the year of "engagement," of the extended hand, of the gratuitous apology -- and of spinning centrifuges, two-stage rockets and a secret enrichment facility that brought Iran materially closer to becoming a nuclear power.

We lost a year. But it was not just any year. It was a year of spectacularly squandered opportunity. In Iran, it was a year of revolution, beginning with a contested election and culminating this week in huge demonstrations mourning the death of the dissident Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri -- and demanding no longer a recount of the stolen election but the overthrow of the clerical dictatorship.

Obama responded by distancing himself from this new birth of freedom. First, scandalous silence. Then, a few grudging words. Then relentless engagement with the murderous regime. With offer after offer, gesture after gesture -- to not Iran, but the "Islamic Republic of Iran," as Obama ever so respectfully called these clerical fascists -- the U.S. conferred legitimacy on a regime desperate to regain it.

Why is this so important? Because revolutions succeed at that singular moment, that imperceptible historical inflection, when the people, and particularly those in power, realize that the regime has lost the mandate of heaven. With this weakening dictatorship desperate for affirmation, why is the U.S. repeatedly offering just such affirmation?

Apart from ostracizing and delegitimizing these gangsters, we should be encouraging and reinforcing the demonstrators. This is no trivial matter. When pursued, beaten, arrested and imprisoned, dissidents can easily succumb to feelings of despair and isolation. Natan Sharansky testifies to the electric effect Ronald Reagan's Evil Empire speech had on lifting spirits in the Gulag. The news was spread cell to cell in code tapped on the walls. They knew they weren't alone, that America was committed to their cause.

Yet so aloof has Obama been that on Hate America Day (Nov. 4, the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran), pro-American counter-demonstrators chanted "Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them," i.e., their oppressors.

Such cool indifference is more than a betrayal of our values. It's a strategic blunder of the first order.

Forget about human rights. Assume you care only about the nuclear issue. How to defuse it? Negotiations are going nowhere, and whatever U.N. sanctions we might get will be weak, partial, grudging and late. The only real hope is regime change. The revered and widely supported Montazeri had actually issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons.

And even if a successor government were to act otherwise, the nuclear threat would be highly attenuated because it's not the weapon but the regime that creates the danger. (Think India or Britain, for example.) Any proliferation is troubling, but a nonaggressive pro-Western Tehran would completely change the strategic equation and make the threat minimal and manageable.

What should we do? Pressure from without -- cutting off gasoline supplies, for example -- to complement and reinforce pressure from within. The pressure should be aimed not at changing the current regime's nuclear policy -- that will never happen -- but at helping change the regime itself.

Give the kind of covert support to assist dissident communication and circumvent censorship that, for example, we gave Solidarity in Poland during the 1980s. (In those days that meant broadcasting equipment and copying machines.) But of equal importance is robust rhetorical and diplomatic support from the very highest level: full-throated denunciation of the regime's savagery and persecution. In detail -- highlighting cases, the way Western leaders adopted the causes of Sharansky and Andrei Sakharov during the rise of the dissident movement that helped bring down the Soviet empire.

Will this revolution succeed? The odds are long but the reward immense. Its ripple effects would extend from Afghanistan to Iraq (in both conflicts, Iran actively supports insurgents who have long been killing Americans and their allies) to Lebanon and Gaza where Iran's proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, are arming for war.

One way or the other, Iran will dominate 2010. Either there will be an Israeli attack or Iran will arrive at -- or cross -- the nuclear threshold. Unless revolution intervenes. Which is why to fail to do everything in our power to support this popular revolt is unforgivable.



Obama's year of falling swiftly

Reality bites

As Barack and Michelle Obama prepare for their first Christmas in the White House, they might wonder why he has fallen so swiftly from being virtually a national icon to the unhappy status as among the least popular occupants of the Oval Office since modern polling began.

Regardless of what happens during the balance of his presidential tenure, Obama will always be a national treasure because he proved for all time that America truly is the place where any child, including one whose skin is not lily white, can be elected to the most powerful office on Earth.

But, just as Americans can elect whomever they choose to be their commander-in-chief, they can also decide they made a serious mistake in their choice. There is an especially bitter cast to that realization when it involves a recognition that they were lied to by somebody in whom they invested a historic trust.

To grasp the depth of the gathering disappointment with Obama, consider this fact: He is less popular today, not quite a year into his first term, than the battered and bruised George W. Bush was at the end of his eight years in office.

Here are the numbers: Scott Rasmussen's latest survey of likely voters -- the most reliable predictor of future election results -- finds 56 percent of those questioned either disapprove or strongly disapprove of Obama's performance, with 46 percent falling in the latter category. When Bush left office, 43 percent strongly disapproved of his performance.

In the Gallup Poll, only one in four Americans is satisfied with the direction in which Obama and the Democratic Congress are leading the country. Rasmussen's tracking finds Republicans with their biggest lead of the year in the generic congressional party balloting, leading Democrats by 44 percent to 36 percent. Only one in four Americans approves of the job Congress is doing, according to Gallup.

It's not hard to see why Obama and the Democratic Congress have sunk so low in the public esteem. Obama's signature issue, for example, is health care reform, and his solution is to create a government-run health care system.

Whatever the merits of Obama's proposed solution, health care reform is an odd choice for a signature issue. As Gallup puts it, "the perception that healthcare is the nation's top problem was fairly scarce during most of the decade, reaching a low point of 1% in October 2001 (as terrorism overrode other concerns)."

When Obama and congressional leaders turned their attention away from economic recovery to the campaign to enact Obamacare, "the public's mentioning of healthcare as the country's top problem began to rise again, reaching 26% by late August/early September," according to Gallup.

But now, "at decade's end, concerns over healthcare had drifted back to 16%."

In other words, the smartest guy in the room ran a slick presidential campaigns, capitalizing on public disgust with his predecessor by portraying himself as a tax cutter who would deliver "a net spending reduction," and benefiting from a generational yearning to make history by electing the country's first black president.

It was a brilliant strategy, but, once in office, Obama lost his touch. He and his advisers believed their own hubristic press releases about solving the nation's problems by doing what Washington Democrats have been doing since FDR -- throwing tax dollars and bureaucrats at them -- only doing it more spectacularly than ever before.

So they've done pretty much what I predicted they would do in a Feb. 11 column: Obama has spent 2009 "making himself the symbol of what's wrong with Washington rather than being the agent of change in Washington."

The title of that column was "Obama headed to a one-term strategy." He still is.



Detroit terror attack is a major intelligence and security failure

The fact that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was able to trigger his home-made incendiary device on board a US airliner represents an intelligence and security failure of staggering proportions. Tough questions need to be asked of not just the US security agencies – such as the CIA and the FBI – but also of Britain's MI6, MI5 and the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorist unit.

How can a Muslim student, whose name appears on a US law enforcement database, be granted a visa to travel to America, allegedly acquire an explosive device from Yemen, a country awash with al-Qaeda terrorists, and avoid detection from the world's most sophisticated spy agencies?

Every intelligence agency across the world is fully aware that the targets of choice for al-Qaeda and its numerous affiliates and sympathisers are airliners – preferably those flying to the US. Yet Abdulmutallab seems to have avoided detection in both Nigeria and Holland when he passed through the various security checks at Lagos and Schiphol airports respectively. Embarrassingly for Washington, Lagos airport had recently been given the "all clear" by the US's Transportation Security Administration, an agency established in the wake of the 9/11 attacks which was supposed to improve the security on American airliners.

Attacking airlines is not exactly new territory for al-Qaeda. After 9/11, Richard Reid, a British Muslim convert, tried to blow up a transatlantic airliner by detonating explosives hidden in his shoes. More recently, Britain was the base for the so-called liquid bomb plot when a group of British Islamists plotted to destroy up to 10 US bound airliners in a series of attacks designed to kill thousands. As 9/11 showed, for a relatively cheap outlay- the cost of the operation was estimated at round £300,000 – the impact of an airline attack can be global: the desired conclusion for every al-Qaeda mission.

Yet Abdulmutallab, a 23-year Nigerian, who US officials said studied mechanical engineering at University College in London, came frighteningly close to committing a terrorist atrocity undetected. MI5, Britain's security service, will be spending the next few weeks frantically trying to discover whether Abdulmutallab had, at any time, appeared on their radar. The service will want to know whether he was a complete unknown or if he was one of the 2,000-plus "persons of interest" MI5 currently has on its books and who are believed to be associated with al-Qaeda in some capacity.

There will be further concern and some embarrassment within MI5 and the British government if it emerges that Abdulmutallab entered the country with a student visa. There is a belief within some quarters of Whitehall that the visa offer potential terrorists easy access into the UK where they can recruit support and plot attacks. If it is established for definite that the suspect did study in the UK, MI5 will be keen to discover if he was a terrorist before he entered Britain in 2005 or whether he was radicalised in the UK.

Any Yemen connection brings an international dimension to the plot and suggests that this "near miss" was a conspiracy and not the work of one man acting alone. Such a notion will prove hugely worrying for the US and Britain because it would suggest that al-Qaeda have managed to create another international, and as yet unknown, network capable of planning and mounting attacks.

The US has an important and sensitive relationship with Yemen, a rare western ally in the Gulf region and a country fighting an insurgency against Islamist radicals. CIA drones have killed al-Qaeda operatives based in the country and just last week two terrorist leaders were reported to have been died in a Yemeni air force attack.

The simplicity of the latest plot – another al-Qaeda hallmark – could also lead to changes into the way passengers are body searched in the future. Reports suggest that Abdulmutallab was able to carry the powdery substance undetected by concealing it on the inside of his upper thigh, close to his groin – an area likely to avoid detection even by the most conscientious of security officials. It would appear that he was allowed to take a syringe containing a liquid on board the aircraft by apparently taking advantage of airlines' policy of allowing diabetics to inject themselves during flight. Changes of some sort to passenger travel would seem to be a certainty. British Airways has already announced that hand baggage has been reduced to one item following the attack.

Whether Abdulmutallab was directed by al-Qaeda – as he initially claimed to US investigators but later denied – or whether his connections were more "aspirational" remains to be seen.

But what this incident demonstrates is that despite all the improvements in security since 9/11, determined terrorists can and will continue to mount terrorists attacks against western targets – and one day they will succeed.




China's 245mph train service is the world's fastest... and it was completed in just FOUR years: "In the week that Britain's high speed rail link closed down because the wrong sort of snow interfered with the engine's electronics, China unveiled the world's fastest train service on one of the coldest days of the year. Days after thousands of passengers were left stranded when Eurostar services were cancelled, China's new system connects the modern cities of Guangzhou and Wuhan at an average speed of 217mph - and it took just four years to build. The super-high-speed train reduces the 664-mile journey to just a three-hour ride and cuts the previous journey time by more than seven-and-a-half hours, the official Xinhua news agency said. Work on the project began in 2005 as part of plans to expand a high-speed network aimed at eventually linking Guangzhou, a business hub in southern China near Hong Kong, with the capital Beijing, Xinhua added. 'The train can go 245mph, it's the fastest train in operation in the world,' said Zhang Shuguang, head of the transport bureau at the railways ministry. By comparison, the average for high-speed trains in Japan was 150mph while in France it was 172mph, said Xu Fangliang, general engineer in charge of designing the link."


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


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


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Lessons from John Galt

Recent headlines seem lifted directly out of an Ayn Rand novel. President Obama decries the “fat cat bankers on Wall Street”. Harry Reid attacks insurance companies for making too much profit. House Democrat leaders call Tea Partiers “Racist, Nazi, Gun Nuts”. How about this nauseating statement made by Army General George Casey after the Muslim terrorist attack on Ft. Hood? -- "As great a tragedy as this was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well"

Each of these headlines might well have been uttered by an Ayn Rand character. Rand, whose father’s pharmacy was confiscated by the Soviets during the communist revolution of 1917, and who came to America in 1926, seems uniquely able to speak to us about the inverted morality of our times. Virtue is to be apologized for. Depravity commands respect. Success is cast as evil and punished while failure is blamed on others and rewarded. Rand’s insights into the psychological state of collectivists—those who demand that we sacrifice our individual freedom and happiness for the sake of the state—explain what often seems incomprehensible to thinking people.

An epic demonstration of the inverted morality that Rand described was on display in Copenhagen last week as the world’s worst most evil dictators—Mugabe and Chavez—partnered with the world’s most visible and misguided progressives—Al Gore, Gordon Brown, Barack Obama—in an orgy of depravity. Sadly, even the Pope lent his moral support to the lunacy, saying, “Industrialized nations must recognize their responsibility for the environmental crisis, shed their consumerism and embrace more sober lifestyles.”

John Galt, the industrialist hero of Rand’s 1957 masterpiece, Atlas Shrugged, refers to those in power who stripped men of their minds, wealth and freedom, as mystics. The mystics of spirit were the religious leaders of centuries past who proclaimed that faith is superior to reason. Galt is no fan of these mystics but it is the mystics of muscle—the progressives who force us to submit to their version of the common good—that Galt despises.

And Barack Obama is a mystic of muscle in its purest form, able to corral the worshipping media, the always superficial Hollywood elites, America hating academics, state-sponsored capitalists (e.g., Goldman Sachs), and grant hungry “scientists” & environmentalists hoping to cash in on a trillion dollar loot of the American people called global warming. These are the pillars of deceit Obama used to get elected. This was how he convinced enough of us to give up our minds for the the mystical concept that Rand called the collective. True to form, Barack, master of the mystics of muscle, has used his power mightily to loot from the producers, and hand it to the parasites, crooks and undeserving (read; SEIU, ACORN, UN Climate Fund, General Motors).

John Galt leads a revolt by the productive class and outlines Rand’s philosophy in his 60-page radio address. Here, he explains how human beings—alone among life forms—can choose to be mindless: "A living entity that regarded its means of survival as evil, would not survive. A plant that struggled to mangle its roots, a bird that fought to break its wings would not remain for long in the existence they affronted. But the history of man has been a struggle to deny and destroy the mind."

Sad to say, for a movement powered by the mindlessness, there is plenty of fuel to sustain “hope and change”:

* Who but the mindless can believe that government run health care will reduce costs and improve care while covering more people?

* Who but the mindless can believe that this President is now serious about reducing the deficit after shattering spending records during his first year?

* Who but the mindless can take seriously the sham “jobs summit” held by a President whose every policy is a lesson in job destruction?

* Who but the mindless can believe Obama’s lie that “Cash for Clunkers” which cost taxpayers $24,000 per car was successful?

* Who but the mindless would not outraged that our government has reneged on its promise pay back the unused TARP fund to taxpayers?

* Who but the mindless would not question the morality that the world’s finest health care, which has extended and improved human life in unimaginable ways—conceived and produced by countless unsung heroes in the private sector—should magically be transformed by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi into a “human right”, taken over by the state and rationed out as they please?

The assault on reason by our President and Congress goes on ad infinitum. It is mindlessness that elected “hope and change” and mindlessness that sustains it. Ayn Rand recognized that the greatest struggle on earth is that between the individual and the collective, and to submit to the collective, the individual must lose his ability to think for himself. Howard Roark, hero of The Fountainhead explains: "The mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain."

The last thing a mystic of muscle wants is for us to start using our minds to uncover their fraud. Galt gets to the heart of the evil of progressive demand that we all serve the state when he says: "By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose."



The Socialist Revolution Has Come to America

The socialist revolution has come to America. It has been a long time coming. On Christmas Day 1991, the Soviet flag flying over the Kremlin came down — the Cold War was over. In the United States, the political left, dismayed from the collapse of its great patron, retrenched and transmogrified with the times, choosing for their president a free-trading, welfare-reforming moderate.

But this was but a feint; the era of big government was not over. The left had not learned its lesson, had not abandoned its dreams of absolute control. It seethed and stewed … and waited.

The new century dawned in fire when the twin towers came down. America lashed out, sending large armies into Asia and Arabia. Like all wars, fortunes waxed and waned. But the iPod generation has not the capacity to endure the waning. By the time Mesopotamia was stabilizing, it was too late; the American public had abandoned the war it had once supported. The commander-in-chief who took America into battle with Congress and the people behind him left office ridiculed and reviled.

Many will tell you that it was the financial crisis that led to the election of Obama in 2008. It is certainly true that John McCain’s erratic response to that meltdown did nothing to enhance his chances. But the Republican goose was cooked long before Lehman by years of war, seemingly endless reports of our soldiers struggling valiantly to hold back chaos in faraway lands for reasons that were growing less clear by the day, and a Republican president who seemed frighteningly inarticulate and uncomprehending throughout. The public had simply had enough.

Into this breech stepped a charming, charismatic, seemingly moderate Democrat (he even promised tax cuts!). Barack Obama made everyone feel good — about him, about themselves, about themselves for supporting him. And America wanted, needed to feel good again; they had spilled too much blood, had too much of their own blood spilled, in the preceding eight years.

A Republican Party in tatters, a nation exhausted and desperate. Are there any other conditions under which the American people could have turned to a man like Barack Obama? For just under the smooth, smiling facade lurked a man of deep allegiance to the radical left, counting among his associates both an avowed terrorist and a raving, racialist preacher.

But Americans didn’t want to hear it and the media obliged them. The ideologue was soon ensconced in the White House, where he acted swiftly to upend the entirety of American society through a comprehensive, two-pronged assault:

1. The government moved to take greater control of medical care and thus one-sixth of our entire economy. The excuse? Some people don’t have insurance, don’t you know? What are the details? Good question: specifics hatched in back rooms behind closed doors, utterly incomprehensible bills that may as well be carved in hieroglyphics. What will it mean for you? Why, whatever they want it to mean, of course.

2. Efforts to criminalize a particular naturally occurring compound, CO2, picked up pace. Why have they so singled out this substance? Because it is a byproduct of work and, indeed, life itself — every time you turn on your heater, every time you drive to work, every time you sit down to eat: don’t you know these sinful behaviors must be curbed, because you are “poisoning the planet” with your every move?

Success in this double strategy would amount to nothing less than a socialist revolution. A revolution of legislative opacity and bureaucratic fiat, to be sure, but a revolution just the same, for there is literally no part of your existence they couldn’t justify controlling under the cover of “health care” and “emissions” reform. Resistance would be met at first with peaceable punishments, fines and such. But the history of such revolutions shows that, sooner or later, they enforce their dictates with bars and boots.

Think it can’t happen here? History is littered with the wreckage of free states that gave way, sometimes with a scream, often with a whimper, to autocracy and absolutism. The city that gave birth to the world’s first and greatest republic was also home to Caesar and Mussolini.

America is not immune to these forces. The tides of history are inexorable and sooner or later pull every edifice into the sea.




More Irish Bishops quit over child abuse scandal (about time): "Two more Catholic bishops have resigned in Ireland in the wake of a devastating clerical child abuse inquiry. Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field bowed to weeks of criticism and pressure, Sky News reported. They announced during Christmas Eve midnight Mass services across Dublin that they planned to quit their posts as auxiliaries in the archdiocese. They are the latest senior clerics to stand down after Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin James Moriarty and Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray resigned over the damning Murphy report. It exposed the Catholic hierarchy's shocking inaction and cover-up of paedophile priests over decades. Bishops Walsh and Field announced their resignations in a statement as church services took place around the country. "As we celebrate the Feast of Christmas, the Birth of our Saviour, the Prince of Peace, it is our hope that our action may help to bring the peace and reconciliation of Jesus Christ to the victims/survivors of child sexual abuse," they said. "We again apologize to them." The bishops added: "Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have so bravely spoken out and those who continue to suffer in silence." The Murphy inquiry, based on a sample 46 priests, revealed a catalogue of paedophilia and subsequent cover-ups over three decades because the Catholic hierarchy was obsessed with secrecy and was effectively granted immunity by the police."

U.S. job market still not improving for 2010: "The prospects for significant job growth in 2010 are dim and the unemployment rate could still be in the 10 per cent range this time next year, economists say. Growth of three per cent would be far slower than is usual after a steep recession, but it would be slightly stronger than the 2.8 per cent average of the past 20 years. Above-trend growth "never felt so bad," wrote economists at JP Morgan Chase. "Growth will not be boomy. And growth will not go far in returning the economy to healthy levels of activity." According to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Blue Chip Economics, about 1.1 million nonfarm payroll jobs will be created next year. The consensus expects the unemployment rate to be 9.9 per cent a year from now in the US. Typically, after such a steep recession, job growth would snap back quickly as firms ramp up production to meet the desires that were repressed during the downturn. This time, however, the lingering impact of the financial crisis will mean less consumption, less investment, and less hiring than normal. Economists at Goldman Sachs figure the unemployment rate won't peak until the middle of 2011 and will drop back to 10.5 per cent by the end of 2011. That's at least two more years of remarkably high unemployment."

Canadian court increases libel protections: "The Supreme Court of Canada strengthened protections for journalists and bloggers in a pair of rulings, hailed as a victory for press freedom in a country with especially stringent libel laws. Tuesday’s rulings involving the Toronto Star and Ottawa Citizen newspapers, created a new responsible journalism defense giving reporters more leeway to pursue controversial stories as long as they are deemed to be in the public interest.”


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


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


Friday, December 25, 2009

More progress

Just back from an excellent lunch with ham, large prawn kebabs, calamari etc. cooked on the BBQ by our host Russell, husband of my stepdaughter Susan. Russell is a genial soul but I don't know him all that well as yet so I did at one stage ask him a question that I thought would get at least an untroublesome answer. I asked him: "Do you like steam trains?". He replied "I LOVE steam trains". So we had a good chat about that for a while. I am something of a steam fanatic too. I wonder if it's only conservatives who like steam trains? Could be something in that.

I also had a bit of a chat with Joe about 5-dimensional matrices and such things. I am very pleased to have a son who is also a born academic. His Christmas present to me was a very academic one: A modern verse translation of Beowulf. He knows I take an interest in Beowulf and have even been known to recite bits of it in the original Anglo-Saxon. But only an academic would do that.

Speaking of the Anglo-Saxons, as I sit amid the great Gothic stone cavern of St John's cathedral, it does give me some feeling of unity with my Anglo-Saxon ancestors. I realize that Gothic architecture is Norman rather than Anglo-Saxon but Gothic churches were originally built to recreate the awe of being amid the great forests of primeval Europe so my impression is an accurate one in its way. The Gothic architects have successfully transmitted their message to me.

I still have the order of service for Christmas in front of me and I wonder how many people noticed how discordant it was in a way. We went straight from the aggressive Hebrew triumphalism of Psalm 97 to the humble "justified by grace" of Titus chapter 3. But people are so used to the accepting the message of both the Old Testament and the New that few would notice any discordance, I think.

Anne is at her family Christmas dinner at the moment but will be back this evening for a late -- and light -- evening meal. I will now do a bit of reading for possible posting on my other blogs later on.

Progress report

Well! I am having a rather good Christmas day. Anne gave me a blue-striped shirt as a present, which I quite like. I wore it to the service at the Metropolitical Cathedral of St John the Divine. We got there rather early but there was already little seating left in the nave. I however have a particular spot just off the nave which I like -- on some plastic chairs (which are much more comfortable than the pews) so Anne and I had a good view of the proceedings. And they definitely kept the show on the road with lots of things happening one after another.

The censer was energetically deployed but no bells! Very slack. They had a rather good-looking beadle, though: A young blonde woman. Rather a change from the usual elderly gents. The sermon was given by a woman, which was of course repugnant to my fundamentalist background. But I am rather deaf these days so I didn't understand a word she said, which I found satisfactory. I just sat admiring the stained glass. And the hymns were good of course.

Anne was less impressed by the service than I was. Her Presbyterian rejection of "Popery" is probably stronger than mine. I am now off to a small family lunch. The big family do was last night, which was very lively.


I have a full offering on all my blogs today (mostly put together yesterday) but I will probably not be putting up as much as usual for the next day or two. As Australia is in a much earlier time-zone than the USA, many readers will in any case be reading this on their Christmas Eve. As I write this, I have just been to a big family celebration on my Christmas Eve. It is swelteringly hot here at the moment so a Christmas Eve celebration makes sense. Later today (on Christmas day) I will be attending a sung eucharist at the Cathedral followed by a smaller family Christmas lunch. I don't take the tokens at the Cathedral but I enjoy the music and the show. The Church of England is good for that, though not much else

I hope all my readers do as well as the guy below:


Where Did These Guys Come From?

The Origins of Obamism

I do not think it will be easy to delay Obamism. It is not just that both houses of Congress are under liberal leadership with ample majorities, with a White House and captive media egging them on. The problem is that now the entire engine of the federal government is harnessed in the most unapologetic way to pushing through a far left agenda. There is no shame, no hesitancy in using the full powers of the state.

How does that work out? Without qualification (remember we are in a new age of transparency and ethical reform) votes are bought with hundred-million-dollar earmarks; the attorney general predicates judicial action on the political ramifications of indicting or not indicting; federal bureaucracies (watch the EPA if cap and trade stalls) are devoted to the new Caesar rather than the letter of the law.

Such a strange scenario we have found ourselves in—a clear majority of Americans is opposed to almost everything Obama has to offer; congressional representatives know they are acting against the will of the people, but know too that they are offered all sorts of borrowed money for their districts to compensate for their unpopular actions. And a charismatic commander in chief believes that he can charm even the angriest of critics, and that anything he promises (Iran’s deadlines, closing of Guantanamo, new transparency, no more lobbyists, etc) means zilch and can be contextualized by another “let me be perfectly clear” speech spiced with a couple of the usual “it would have been impossible for someone as unlikely as me to have become President just (fill in the blanks) years ago”

No, I would not count Obama out. So what drives his agenda? What are its origins? Here are the three most prominent catalysts.

Equality of Result

What Barack Obama advocates is as old as Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Politics, the agenda of the classical dêmos and Roman turba.

It is why the French Revolution emphasized égalité and fraternité, while the Founding Fathers instead championed the freedom of the individual from the despotism of the state. In short, equality of result doctrine ignores the role of markets, of skills, of tragedy itself that renders some of us ill, others in perfect health, some born gifted, others less so, some evil by nature, others good, and instead promises that the state can even us all out through its power of material redistribution. Give us all the same amount of money and perks at the end of the day, and then utopia reigns under the benevolent watch of Ivy-League professors and organizers.

It is a given that what we make is not our own, but predicated on the liberality of society. Thus, for those who were too greedy, too conniving, or even too lucky, the state must step in to ensure that we end up the same.

In its most benign form, we know this as progressivism or communitarianism, a big government, high tax philosophy that co-exists within democracy. Its more pernicious strains are socialist, in which the state ensures, through bureaucratic fiat and a labyrinth of laws that curb free expression, that redistribution is institutionalized. And the virulent form (thankfully with the fall of the Soviet Union and the transformation of China not so global-threatening any more) is, of course, a murderous communism, in which any means necessary are justified to ensure the desire ends and the rule of anointed apparat. Remember, history’s greatest killers (Stalin and Mao) do it all “for the people.”


But there is another element to Barack Obama besides progressive statism. A number of contemporary –isms and –ologies (multiculturalism, moral equivalence, utopian pacifism, post-modernism) also help to explain Obamism, especially in cultural terms. Our universities subscribe to race/class/gender theory of exploitation, in which much of the unhappiness of today’s women, of today’s nonwhite, and of today’s poor originates with the privileges of the white Christian Western male that are predicated on oppression.

It works like this: The ghetto resident, the denizen of the barrio, the abandoned and divorced waitress with three young children, can all chart their poverty and unhappiness not to accident, fate, bad luck, bad decisions, poor judgment, illegality or drug use, or simple tragedy, but rather exclusively to a system that is rigged to ensure oppression on the basis of race, class, and gender—often insidious and unfathomable except to the sensitive and gifted academic or community organizer.

So Obama combines the age-old belief that the state is there to level the playing field (rather than protect the rights of the individual and secure the safety of the people from foreign threats), with the postmodern notion that government must recompensate those by fiat on the basis on their race or class or gender. Remember all that, and everything from the Professor Gates incident, to the dutiful attendance at the foot of Rev. Wright to Van Jones become logical rather than aberrant. Michelle Obama could make $300,000 and she will always be more a victim than the Appalachian coal miner who earns $30,000, by virtue of her race and gender.

The Chicago Way

A third and final ingredient to Obamism is the Chicago way. Here we see an interesting updated version of the old big-city, Daley thuggery. Rahm Emanuel threatens recalcitrant congressmen with reminders of the long Obama memory. The Axelrod/Jarrett clique ensures that the government channels stimuli to blue-states, that key Congress people are bought off with tens of millions of government largess, that every campaign promise—from no lobbyists and airing on C-span health care debates to posting impending legislation on the Internet for set durations and “reaching across the aisle”—is simply cynical fluff that no sane person would take seriously.

So? In short, we have a traditional statist bent on redistribution (Obama’s words, not mine), updated with the postmodern belief that race/class/gender oppressions require government affirmative reactions (which also abroad explains why we reach out to enemies and shun allies), all energized by an ends justify the means Chicago bare-knuckles apparat.

And? These true believers, then, don’t really care that the Blue Dogs (if such really exist) bite the dust in 2010, if Harry Reid goes up in smoke, or indeed, if Barack Obama is reelected. Instead, they will institutionalize an agenda that will affect America for generations, move it sharply to the left, and earn a spot in the academic pantheon of American heroes.

Asking why would Obama & Co. be so self-destructive to push through an array of proposals that have no more than 45% of the public’s support is like asking whether the English Prof who teaches incomprehensible Foucauldian theory worries whether he has only 2 students, or whether the well-off union boss is all that upset that membership has sunk to 30% of the workforce, or multimillion-dollar-earning Sarah Palin-interviewing Katie Couric is worried about her sinking ratings, or whether the New York Times columnists are upset that their mother paper is broke with subscription and readership down, and laying off thousands of blue-collar employees.

Instead, for the true believer, it is all about the self, and the sense of the self—and damn all other considerations. (We saw that with Jimmy Carter as well; that he destroyed liberal Democrat politics for a generation meant nothing; that he won prizes and jet-setted the world for thirty years meant everything. For these people, it is always about them—all the time. Let us eat cake as they end up liberal icons for the duration).

What Are We Left With?

The most blatant cynicism in recent American political history—a man who ran as a bipartisan who is the most partisan we’ve seen, a healer whose even flippant comments are designed to offend, a statist who assumes that the sheared sheep cannot stampede somewhere else, a reformer who trusts his honey-laced rhetoric can disguise Daley style-corruption.

On that happy note.

Everything, as my dear late mother lectured me, happens for a reason, or at least presents a sort of logic—irony, paradox, karma, and nemesis being the best ways of interpreting our unfathomable existences. It took messianic narcissistic Barack Obama to expose the full extent of the mess that a once noble tradition of 19th-century liberalism had devolved into. Only he could have rammed it down the throats of the American people, and when he is done, we will suffer, but also sicken of it for quite a while.

Otherwise, Merry Christmas! And thanks again to the most informed, articulate, and outspoken commentators in the blogosphere!



Critical statement on ACORN Report

Statement of Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli on Congressional Research Service ACORN report requested by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI, which absolves ACORN of allegations of misusing taxpayer money received over the past five years:

"Anyone who saw the video of undercover filmmakers being advised by several different ACORN offices on how to break tax laws and set up brothels can figure that taxpayer money is likely being misspent somewhere by this radical group. Representative Conyers' refusal to conduct an investigation of ACORN, and ignoring the pleas of his colleagues in the process, is appalling.

"Now, it seems as if he is going to try to hide behind a report he commissioned from a research service controlled by the congressional leadership of which he is a member. This doesn't pass the smell test. There are plenty of things suspect about ACORN. Just watch the video. Or talk to prosecutors in several cities currently conducting investigations of ACORN-related vote fraud. Or read about how former a ACORN bookkeeper may have embezzled as much as $5 million from the group.

"Americans are appalled that taxpayers' funds are supporting the work of ACORN. The fact that ACORN receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants is reason enough for a formal Congressional investigation even without the allegations of wrongdoing.

"For Conyers to question the need for a bipartisan oversight hearing on ACORN is akin to his questioning of the need to read the health care bill earlier this year. It raises the question: What exactly are his responsibilities in his mind? Why are taxpayers paying his salary?"



BrookesNews Update

Why the US economy is facing a very unhappy New Year: All in all, future prospects are pretty grim for the US economy. Right now economic indicators are not healthy. What is more, the economy could be paradoxically heading for a monetary crunch
Wondering why young people spout Marxist claptrap? Look no further than the universities : If Copenhagen reveals anything at all - apart from the stupidity of politicians - it is that the cult of socialism is alive and is as intolerant and as ignorant as ever. So where do young people get this socialist drivel from?
Activists use backdoor socialism to con and bludgeon corporations : Socialism is a power cult that will not die, a fact that the current political shenanigans in Copenhagen amply support. No matter how many times reason and history refute socialist fantasies its adherents always manage to dress it up in new garb
Obama's Afghan pickle and Bill Ayers : Is the unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers threatening to blow the whistle on his old mate Obama? The US-hating Ayres has been deeply angered by Obama's failure to surrender outright to Islamic terrorism
Uncle Obama's extortion racket : Uncle Obama has gotten a hold of your credit card. And he's amassing charges on it that you - not he - are liable for. You can call the fraud line, you can call the police, you can call any politician or government agency, and they will all tell you the same thing. Shut up and pay up. Since misery loves company, you might feel better knowing that you're not the only one being extorted



Britain to print more new money: "Sterling remained mired at two-month lows yesterday as Bank of England rate-setters refused to close the door on more quantitative easing. The minutes from this month’s meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) showed that, while all nine members voted unanimously to keep rates at 0.5 per cent and to maintain the quantitative easing (QE) limit at £200 billion, more QE next year was not ruled out. Jonathan Loynes, chief European economist at Capital Economics, said: “While it seems likely that the MPC is nearing the end of its measures to support the economy, further action is certainly possible if the recovery disappoints.” Sterling remained under $1.60 yesterday, hitting a low of $1.5924 amid fears that interest rates would remain at historic lows for some time yet, before closing the day up 0.2 per cent at $1.5971. The pound hit a trough of $1.5923 on Tuesday, the lowest since mid-October, as investors digested figures showing that the British economy had shrunk by 0.2 per cent in the third quarter, worse than expected."

British local authority couldn't afford enough salt (But you can bet that they are paying a heap of useless bureaucrats): "Cornwall County Council has said it failed to grit 80 per cent of its roads, including the stretch near Hayle where a Christmas tour coach crashed, killing two women. Irene Spencer, 78, and Patricia Pryor, 70, both from Camborne, Cornwall, died when their coach skidded off the road near Hayle and rolled on to its side. Emergency services said the roads in the area were “sheets of ice”. A police car responding to the 999 call skidded off the road and crashed into the upturned coach, which still had passengers trapped inside. Emergency crews could not get close to the crash site because of the icy roads and had to make their way on foot. The coach’s owner, Williams Travel, has accused the county council of failing to ensure roads were properly gritted despite warnings of severe weather. “The coach was unable to stop once it had come into contact with the black ice and then turned over on to its side and ended up in a ditch,” said operations manager Garry Williams on the company’s website. “All were amazed that this road was not gritted."

A triumph for steam in Britain: "Passengers stranded when modern-day trains fell victim to the freezing weather have been rescued by the crew of a steam engine. About 100 passengers climbed aboard the first mainline steam locomotive to be built in Britain for almost half a century at London Victoria when electric trains were delayed. The 1940s technology used to power Tornado, a £3million Peppercorn class A1 Pacific, was able to withstand the snow and ice that brought much of the South East to a standstill on Monday night. The locomotive's 'Cathedrals Express' service was offering festive trips in the region when staff on board heard about the stranded passengers. The travellers were offered free seats and were dropped off at stations as it chuffed through Kent, said Mark Allatt, chairman of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, the charity which built Tornado. Mr Allatt said they were pleased to be able to help some of London's stranded commuters 'get home in style' and joked that rail operators could learn lessons from them. 'It's amusing because this engine is predominantly made up of 1940s' technology and we were able to keep running despite modern trains not being able to,' he said. 'If any of the rail operators would like to use this technology for themselves, we would be more than happy to build them an engine.' Built partly by volunteers with donations collected over 19 years, the apple-green locomotive can reach a top speed of 100mph and is designed for long-distance express journeys."


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


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


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Are Republicans More Principled Than Democrats?

Ordinarily I’d say that commitment to principle, or its absence, is bi-partisan, that Republicans are neither more virtuous nor more concerned with the public interest than Democrats (or, obviously, vice versa), but a glaringly obvious yet under-remarked aspect of Harry Reid’s recent “Cash for Cloture” auction for health care votes calls that assumption into question: all of the bribes financial inducements were taken by Democrats.

First there was the “Louisiana Purchase,” $100 million in extra Medicaid money for the Bayou State, requested by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). Then came the “Cornhusker Kickback,” another $100 million in extra Medicaid money, this time for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). This was followed by word that Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) had written into the legislation $100 million meant for a medical center in his state. This one was quickly dubbed the “U Con.”

Earlier, when GOP staff member mistakenly thought the medical center was destined for Indiana rather than Connecticut, they named it the “Bayh Off” for Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). For Democratic leaders, this created an appearance problem

Only “appearance”? Oh well. The list goes on: Indeed, the proliferation of deals has outpaced the ability of Capitol Hill cynics to name them. Gator Aid: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) inserted a grandfather clause that would allow Floridians to preserve their pricey Medicare Advantage program. Handout Montana: Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) secured Medicare coverage for anybody exposed to asbestos -- as long as they worked in a mine in Libby, Mont.

Iowa Pork and Omaha Prime Cuts: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) won more Medicare money for low-volume hospitals of the sort commonly found in Iowa, while Nebraska’s Nelson won a “carve out” provision that would reduce fees for Mutual of Omaha and other Nebraska insurers. Meanwhile, Sens. Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad, both North Dakota Democrats, would enjoy a provision bringing higher Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors in “frontier counties” of states such as -- let’s see here -- North Dakota!

Hawaii, with two Democratic senators, would get richer payments to hospitals that treat many uninsured people. Michigan, home of two other Democrats, would earn higher Medicare payments and some reduced fees for Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) held out for larger Medicaid payments for his state (neighboring Massachusetts would get some, too).

There are probably even more bribes deal sweeteners that we don’t know about, yet, or that haven’t been made yet but will. Indeed, Fox News reports this morning that Sen. Cornhusker Kickback Nelson: said Tuesday that three other senators have told him they want to bargain for the same kind of special treatment. “Three senators came up to me just now on the (Senate) floor, and said, ‘Now we understand what you did. We’ll be seeking this funding too’,” Nelson said.

All the known (and presumably these three unknown future) bribes deals involve Democrats. But it defies belief that Obama and Reid did not offer equally generous bribes concessions to Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and even Lindsey Graham and other Republicans. Remember, Reid needed 60 votes to ram his partisan bill through the Senate, but they didn’t every one have to be Democratic votes.

According to Harry Reid, every Senator who was worth his or her salt got something. “I don’t know if there is a senator that doesn’t have something in this bill that was important to them,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reasoned when asked at a news conference Monday about the cash-for-cloture accusation. “And if they don’t have something in it important to them, then it doesn’t speak well of them.”

Presumably Reid means every Democratic Senator, since no Republicans voted for cloture. As a Virginian, I wonder what my Senators, Jim Webb and Mark Warner, got. Does their silence about the bribes goodies for Virginia they secured mean they are embarrassed because they gave their votes away for free, meaning they liked the Reid bill so much they didn’t have to be bribed induced to vote for it? Or are they embarrassed to admit their votes were for sale? Or perhaps they are embarrassed for having sold too cheaply? I assume we’ll find out.

But, to return to my initial questions, why did no Republican succumb to the temptations that surely were offered? It can’t be simple political self-interest, since Snowe, Collins, and perhaps some other Republicans would have benefitted politically by a show of bi-partisanship. I hesitate even to suggest it, but could it be that devotion to principle is not randomly distributed between the parties after all?


Iowa Senator Tom Harkin calls the bribes “catering to self-interest” of wavering Democratic Senators no big deal. "Harkin dismissed deals dubbed vote-buying by GOP senators as “small stuff” that distracted Americans from the primary focus of the overhaul bill. We have to keep our eyes on what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to cross a demarcation line,” Harkin told “Early Show” co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez. “On one side is health care as a privilege, on the other side is health care as a right. With these votes, with the vote that we’ll take before Christmas, we will cross that line finally and say that health care is a right of all Americans.”

I actually agree with Harkin: the Democrats did cross the line.



Obama Has Failed His Words

by Jonah Goldberg

On his own terms, President Obama is a failure. During the presidential campaign, he fought hammer and tongs with Hillary Clinton over the best way to govern. Clinton, casting herself as a battle-scarred political veteran, argued that diligence, dedicated detail work and working the system were essential for success. Obama, donning the mantle of a redeemer descending from divine heights, argued that his soaring rhetoric was more than "just words"; it was a way out of the poisonous, partisan gridlock of yesteryear. Early on, in New Hampshire, he proclaimed that his "rival in this race is not other candidates. It's cynicism."

Occasionally the Obama-Clinton argument was explicit (such as when they sparred over who was more important to the Civil Rights Act -- Martin Luther King Jr. or Lyndon Johnson), but it was always there, implicit in everything from their body language and stagecraft to position papers and platforms.

The great irony of it all is that it seems they were both wrong. Obama's rhetoric in fact looks to be the best way to achieve a Clintonian agenda. But a Clintonian agenda is the worst possible way to live up to Obama's rhetoric.

From his 2004 DNC keynote speech onward, Obama rejected the partisan divide. He earned points by insisting that invidious descriptions of political opponents were deleterious to civic health and distracted us from the fact that "we are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."

In a speech following a June primary victory, Obama said he was "absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children ... this was the moment -- this was the time -- when we came together to remake this great nation."

So, does anyone feel like Americans are coming together? Obama the outsider hasn't changed the way Washington works; he's worked Washington in a way that only an outsider with no respect for the place would dare.

Consider his signature domestic priority: health care reform. After a year of working on it, his progressive base is either profoundly disappointed with him or seethingly angry. His Republican and conservative opponents are not only furious, they are emboldened. And independents -- who've been deserting the Democrats in polls and off-year elections -- are simply disgusted with the whole spectacle. Most important, an administration that once preened over its people-power roots can't even claim that Americans like what he's doing.

The bill does have its supporters: inside-the-Beltway pundits and Capitol Hill deal-makers, the pharmaceutical industry and the supposedly rapacious insurance companies (don't take my word for it, just ask Howard Dean -- or your stockbroker).

Under the Clintonian paradigm of governance, Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson's parlaying of his pro-life objections to the Senate bill into a windfall for his state and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' leveraging of his socialist principles for billions in special deals would be dramatic twists in a conventional story of LBJ-style arm-twisting.

But Clintonian means cannot further Obamaian ends. For the last year, Obama's party has made a mockery of everything Obama was supposed to represent. The tone has gotten worse as his communications staff spent the year demonizing Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Fox News. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called opponents of their health proposals "un-American." Over the weekend, Rhode Island's Sheldon Whitehouse insisted that Senate opposition is being driven in part by "Aryan support groups."

Everywhere you look, the sizzle doesn't match the steak. He won the Nobel Peace Prize as he (rightly) sent even more men off to war. He promised that the oceans would stop rising but delivered a nonbinding something-or-other in Copenhagen.

In his special health care address to Congress in September, he said, "I am not the first president to take up (the cause of health care reform), but I am determined to be the last." Those were just words, and everyone, including Obama, knew it. Indeed, the only grounds for supporting the bill, according to progressives, is that it is a "first step" or a "starter house" that they'll build on for years, even generations, to come. In other words, the health care debate is not only not going to end, it's going to get uglier for as far as the eye can see.

But here's the point: Obama's rhetorical audacity breeds cynicism, because utopianism always comes up short. Obama has many victories ahead of him, but his cause is already lost.



"Shut up" is a favorite Democrat talking point

"This is not an administration that takes bad news well," Jennifer Rubin wrote on Commentary's blog, referring to Robert Gibbs' fit when asked to explain the Gallup poll showing the president taking on water, sinking into the high-to-mid 40s, and losing ground fast. Neither apparently does much of the left, which, faced with cratering numbers for both the health care proposals and for global warming, responded with all of the rational discourse and respect for debate and dissenting opinion that has made them so widely beloved.

First, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who emerged in the health care debate as the leading Republican anti-bill spokesman, was widely portrayed as sorry old coot acting from "bitterness," and who squandered his chance to establish a legacy by opposing the bill out of spite. He was a maverick, not an ex-Democrat, and his ally Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., fared even worse.

He was described as a "putz" by Jonathan Alter, as "the L-word" and as "Joe the Bummer" by Chris Matthews. He was also described as a traitor to Judaism by various bloggers -- by Jonathan Chait as the one Jew in the world too clueless to know what he's doing, and by Ezra Klein as a potential mass murderer, "willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score." Paul Krugman wanted him "hung in effigy," and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., urged he be "recalled" from office, though by whom was uncertain. Unfortunately, there is no provision in Connecticut law for recalls (much less for lynching) so they will have to wait for their chances in 2012.

In related news, Rep. Alan Grayson, Lunatic-Fla., known mainly for saying the Republicans' health plans called for asking the sick to "die quickly" and for telling former Vice President Cheney to "shut the f--k up," sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking the Department of Justice to investigate, fine, and perhaps send to jail for five years a Florida activist who reacted to his behavior by setting up a fundraising Web site called "" He complained that the blogger was "senseless and juvenile." "Just five years?" queried blogger Ed Morrissey. "Why doesn't Grayson just demand that Holder chop off her head?"

Then there was global warming, or the First Church of Al, where Al Gore sought refuge after the Florida recount and rapidly built a cult following. This was largely by warning that the Earth was in such danger from fossil fuel usage that in order to fight it he was compelled to jet all over the world spreading the message, and run up monstrous utility bills in his three or more homes.

When this cause was imperiled by e-mails showing that the global warming police had doctored the data -- and film showing Obama flying into a snowstorm on his trip to the summit at Copenhagen, Denmark, and then flying back into an even more extravagant blizzard in Washington -- certain members of the pundit-industrial complex responded by asking that news that impugned their consensus should be -- you guessed it -- suppressed.

ThinkProgress blogger Matt Yglesias complained that CNN ran a show called "Global Warming: Fact or Fiction" without taking sides on the side of the "Goracle," or saying that what he called the global warming "deniers" were totally out of their minds. He then said the news media -- along with the rest of what he called the elite of the country -- had a moral duty to the rest of humanity to censor their output, so that opinion contesting the "global climate-warming consensus" would never again see the light of the day.

At the New Republic, Ed Kilgore was in total agreement, blaming the mainstream press for being browbeaten by right-wing fanatics into thinking they ought to air different opinions, and even cover all of the news. Morals in this case seem to equal suppression. "Yglesias is right," he concluded. "This is one area of public policy where 'respect for contrary views' and 'editorial balance' are misplaced."

What a good thing Democrats are the party of logic and reason. They might tell their critics to "Shut the f--k up."




Ala. Dem defects to GOP over health care, policy: "A U.S. House Democrat who opposes the health care overhaul announced Tuesday he is defecting to the GOP, another blow to Democrats ahead of the midterm elections. U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith spoke to reporters at his home in northern Alabama, a region that relies heavily on defense and aerospace jobs. ‘I believe our nation is at a crossroads and I can no longer align myself with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy, and drives us further and further into debt,’ Griffith said as his wife Virginia stood by his side.”

Griffith party switch: Will other Dems follow suit?: "Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith’s surprise switch of parties on Tuesday shows how quickly electoral dynamics are shifting under the weight of massive social and economic policy gambits in Washington. In fact, Mr. Griffith’s defection could put pressure on other conservative and even moderate Democrats, especially in the Deep South, to jump ship to save their seats. They’ve been encountering backlash from the public against a Democrat-controlled progressive agenda in Washington. Griffith took over the seat of retiring congressman Robert ‘Bud’ Cramer (D) last year. Now, the freshman lawmaker is angry about being marginalized in the Democratic power structure. An oncologist, Griffith voted against healthcare reform, as well as against the stimulus package and cap-and-trade legislation.”

Obama, left behind: "Boy, this ‘Obama Derangement Syndrome’ really has gotten out of hand. Why, just this past week the decreasingly popular president has been called a ‘bald-faced liar,’ ‘an executive who can’t bring himself to lead,’ and even an ‘Uncle Tom.’ And that’s just by liberals. The progressive crack-up, before Obama even reaches the end of his first year, has been an awesome and occasionally humorous sight to see.”


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


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


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nearly 60 percent Say President Obama’s Decisions ‘Bad for America’

A majority of Americans believe an increased government role in health care would lead to more government corruption, while a plurality of Americans think that scientific data supporting man-made global warming is “mostly falsified.” That is what a new poll by Survey USA reveals. The poll also shows that 58 percent of Americans believe that decisions by the Obama administration have been “bad for America,” as opposed to 37 percent who think Obama’s decisions have been “good for America.”

These poll numbers come at a time when President Barack Obama is pushing for international agreement to address apparent global warming and is also advocating for a major overhaul of health care in America.

The poll of 1,450 adults by Survey USA was conducted Dec. 11-14, and was commissioned by the conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch. The poll asked questions on several topics, including government corruption, transparency, illegal immigration and the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN). Specifically, the poll asked, “Do you think data suggesting global warming is the result of human activity is mostly genuine? Or mostly falsified?” A plurality of 49 percent answered “mostly falsified,” while 41 percent answered “mostly genuine” and 10 percent were unsure.

Evidence about global warming has come under fire in recent weeks after hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit apparently revealed that contrary evidence was suppressed while organized efforts apparently were made to discredit critics.

The health care overhaul proposal supported by Obama and congressional Democrats has been unpopular in most polls. This poll, however, asked, “Would an increased government role in the health care system lead to more corruption? Less corruption? Or will it make no difference?”

An overwhelming 62 percent said “more corruption,” just 14 percent said “less corruption” and 21 percent said it would “make no difference.” Four percent were unsure.

While other polls have showed Obama’s approval rating slipping below 50 percent, this poll asked, “As a whole, are the decisions being made by the Obama administration good for America? Or bad for America?” To that, 58 percent answered “bad for America,” 37 percent said good and 6 percent were not sure.

“On virtually every single issue polled, the Obama administration appears to be completely out of step with the prevailing views of the American people,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It ought to be an especially troubling sign for President Obama that the majority of likely voters believe his decisions have been bad for the country. Frankly, these poll results suggest that President Obama and many other politicians ought to rethink their approach to government.”

The poll further showed that 64 percent of voters think the government is too big and that 62 percent think that bigger government leads to more corruption. Also, 72 percent think political corruption play a “major role” in the financial crisis last year.

The poll also found that 56 percent think the federal government is operating “out of line” with the U.S. Constitution.

In regards to the scandal-plagued ACORN, just 8 percent have a favorable view of the liberal activist group currently under investigation in several states for alleged voter registration fraud. A clear majority of 56 percent have a negative view of ACORN.

Obama also supports a comprehensive immigration reform package, which opponents believe is “amnesty” for illegal aliens. The poll showed an unfavorable rating here too, as 59 percent disapprove of the way the administration is handling illegal immigration.

Among those polled, 1,020 said they were likely to vote in the 2010 elections for U.S. Congress. The margin of error for the poll ranged from 2.6 percent to 3.1 percent.



Eurabia vs. Israel on Jerusalem

The recent Swiss vote to ban minarets was seen by many as a further indication that European populations are waking up to the threat of Europe’s Islamization and the need to stop the trend. If so, the European Union—the centralized bureaucracy that, as documented in Bat Ye’or’s important book Eurabia, went “over the heads” of European publics to meld the European and Arab/Muslim civilizations in the first place—still hasn’t caught up and remains locked in a pro-Arab/Muslim disposition.

At least, the EU’s stance on Jerusalem would suggest so. Last week the new EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, “came down hard on the Israeli government” in her maiden speech to the European Parliament and said: “East Jerusalem is occupied territory together with the West Bank. The EU is opposed to the destruction of homes, the eviction of Arab residents and the construction of the separation barrier.”

Her words prompted Israel’s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon to reply: “Just as the Romans did not succeed in cutting off Jerusalem from Israel, so too will diplomats from the UN and the EU be unsuccessful as well.”

Ashton, previously the EU’s trade commissioner and expected to be given considerable authority as a new sort of EU foreign minister, also called Israel’s recently launched ten-month moratorium on settlement construction a “first step”—representing, as the EUobserver comments, “a cooler tone than EU foreign ministers who last week took ‘positive note’ of the move.”

The EUobserver also pointed out that the speech was: “significant for what it left out: Ms Ashton did not say that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, that it faces a security threat from Palestinian ‘terrorists’ or that Palestinians should immediately return to formal peace talks—the classic tenets of Israeli supporters.”

Ashton’s statements also come hard on the heels of an EU-Israel spat over Jerusalem in which the EU explicitly called for East Jerusalem to become the capital of a Palestinian state. That demand was later only partially toned-down under intense Israeli objections.

In other words, even at a time when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly accepted the call for a Palestinian state and enraged part of his right-wing base with the settlement moratorium, the EU keeps reflexively embracing Arab/Muslim positions. As always, the EU’s stance on Jerusalem ignores several facts.

Jerusalem was unified under Israeli sovereignty in 1967, after nineteen years in which Jordan illegally occupied the city and finally used it to attack Israel despite being implored by Israel to keep out of the fighting.

Under Israeli rule, Muslims and all other groups (except Jews—on the Temple Mount itself) have enjoyed full freedom of worship—a stark contrast to the nineteen years of Jordanian rule when Jews and Christians were denied access to Jerusalem’s holy places and Jewish synagogues and gravestones were destroyed and desecrated.

Muslims already have full control over Mecca, Medina, and countless sacred locales and shrines throughout the vast Muslim world, and their demand for Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem and the redivision of Israel’s capital can reasonably be regarded as excessive – especially when, as noted, Israel gives Muslims full access to their Jerusalem shrines and full rights in the city.

Indeed, Jerusalem is full of minarets, and any visitor to its Old City or its Arab neighborhoods can attest to the vibrancy of Muslim religious life there. The EU should be more concerned with Islamization on the continent than with taking harsh stances against Israel as it struggles to survive and to find the right mix of accommodation and steadfastness in an Arab/Muslim environment hostile its very existence.

But for the EU, after decades of forsaking its Judeo-Christian roots for pro-Arabism, that may be too much to expect. Even if European populations are starting to grasp the consequences of this civilizational self-abnegation, Europe’s Brussels-based bureaucracy remains willfully ignorant of the stakes



Who is more respected by the people, Sarah Palin or Al Gore?

One is a former vice presidential candidate who has been vilified in much of the press. The other is a former two-term vice president who has been celebrated in much of the press. So which is more respected by the public at large?

In the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released a few days ago, pollsters Peter Hart and Bill McInturff asked, "I'm going to mention some people who have served in public life at some point in the past decade. Please tell me which one or two of these people, if any, you have the most regard and respect for." The list was filled with the predictable answers. The president was on top, named by 28 percent of respondents. Colin Powell was also way up there. But the striking thing is that Sarah Palin, after all the criticism that has been directed at her, finished tied for sixth place, respected by 13 percent of respondents, and Al Gore, after all the praise that has been directed at him, was in eighth place, respected by eight percent. (The poll was taken just before the global warming fiasco in Copenhagen, which seems unlikely to have a positive effect Gore's ratings.)

Hart and McInturff also posed the question the other way around, asking respondents who they have "the least regard and respect for." Gore tied for third place on that list, with 19 percent, while Palin was in fourth place, with 16 percent.

The poll also found that Palin's positive ratings have ticked up a bit, while her negatives have ticked downward. Fourteen percent of respondents say they have very positive feelings toward Palin; 18 percent have somewhat positive feelings; 23 percent are neutral; 14 percent are somewhat negative; and 26 percent are very negative. Her very positive and somewhat positive ratings are up a combined five points since October, while her very negative and somewhat negative ratings are down a combined six points.

One interesting thing about Palin's rating in the new poll is that the percentage of people who don't like her has not much changed from October, 2008, the moment when she was most popular. Back then, a combined 37 percent of respondents had very or somewhat negative feelings toward her. Now, the combined number is 40 percent. If you didn't like her then, you don't like her now. But the ranks of the Palin dislikers have not actually grown very much.




Oinking at the Trough: "Democrats in Washington have become completely oblivious to the fact that our money is not their money. They're like a bunch of fat, greedy kids in a candy store, charging their gluttony to someone else -- that would be us, the American taxpayers. Over at NRO, Daniel Foster totes up the expensive goodies that Democrats inserted into the health care bill. And Donald Lambro details more fat larded into the appropriations bill, also passed by Democrats largely on a party line vote. Remarkably, there is a 12% spending increase -- even as regular Americans remain unemployed and those not supping at the government trough continue to cut back. It may be that "love means never having to say you're sorry," but it's certain that working for the government means never having to live within your means."

The "Nazi Pope" myth lives on -- among people who should know better: "The founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center voiced dismay and disappointment Monday at weekend Vatican moves to raise controversial wartime pope Pius XII to sainthood. The Vatican sparked anger in Jewish communities worldwide with moves to nudge Pius — whose beatification process was launched in 1967 — closer to sainthood, its ultimate honor. The Catholic Church argues that Pius saved many Jews who were hidden away in religious institutions, and that his silence during the Holocaust — when millions of Jews were exterminated by Germany’s Nazi regime — was born out of a wish to avoid aggravating their situation. But others believe Pius’s inaction when it mattered to the lives of so many was appallingly wrong.” [There is still a lot of hatred for ALL Christians among Jews. More on Pius XII here and here]

Government imposes three-hour limit on tarmac strandings: "Stinky toilets, crying babies, airless cabins — the Obama administration said Monday passengers don’t have to take it any more. It ordered airlines to let people get off planes delayed on the ground after three hours. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the three-hour limit and other new regulations are meant to send an unequivocal message to airlines not to hold passengers hostage on stuck planes. Coming on the eve of the busy holiday travel season, the announcement was hailed by consumer advocates as ‘a Christmas miracle.’”

CDC: 2/3 of cocaine being cut with dangerous drug: "If you’re doing cocaine, chances are this story will not make you quit. But it may make you think twice about your supplier. A new report by the Centers for Disease Control follows 21 cases of the otherwise rare disorder known as agranulocytosis, which is hallmarked by a severe weakening of immune function. The condition is brought on by the drug levamisole, which used to be given to colon cancer patients. It is also widely used to deworm cattle. Citing the Drug Enforcement Agency, the CDC report claimed that 69 percent of all cocaine seized at US borders contains levamisole. The average concentration was near 10 percent. Tainted cocaine was also seized in New Mexico and Washington.”

Fallacious Political psychology: "Even before the Senate voted on cloture, the Democrats’ health-care legislation was already delivering benefits in the form of a free mental-health screening delivered by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse: If you oppose this bill, you’re a dangerous nut. Such was the essence of Sunday’s floor speech in which the junior senator from Rhode Island quoted at length from Richard Hofstadter’s 1965 classic, The Paranoid Style in American Politics and offered it as a diagnosis of the health bill’s opponents.” [Some more rejoinders to such comments here, here and here]

The reprehensible Murtha "cleared": "While everyone is understandably obsessed with whether or not the Senate will pass this monstrosity of a health care bill, Congress decided they wouldn't find a better time to announce this news: "The Office of Congressional Ethics has closed its investigation into Reps. John Murtha (D-Pa.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.) and their relationships to the lobbying firm PMA Group, and the OCE advised against a formal House ethics investigation, the lawmakers’ offices said Friday. George Behan, Dicks’ chief of staff, said the OCE, which reviews potential rules violations and refers investigations to the House ethics committee, informed the Washington lawmaker on Dec. 2 that it had recommended the inquiry be dismissed."

Chris Brand's Christmas greetings to readers are now up --in his usual "incorrect" style.


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


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


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One year after Gaza invasion, Israel proved right

On my understanding, there WERE a few rockets fired into Israel after the IDF withdrew from Gaza but the bombardment did stop shortly thereafter -- JR

It's something that has largely gone unnoticed but, with Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech winning praise for his defense of war in the name of peace, it is a good time to point out, that in the year since Israel invaded Gaza, they accomplished what they had to do. There has not been one single rocket attack launched into Israel from Gaza. None.

It's important to remember this not only in light of Obama's speech and his defense of war in Afghanistan, but to remember the criticism of Israel's invasion of Gaza from around the world, mostly from people who were thousands of miles away from the rocket attacks and were not, nor their families, at risk.

At the time, many of them criticized Israel's invasion to defend its citizens against Hamas' rocket attacks and many criticized Israel for a "disproportionate" use of force, an argument that is both practically,intellectually and morally bankrupt ( if a criminal comes at you with a knife you are not obligated to make it an equal fight and come back at him with a knife -- if you have a gun, you shoot him in self-defense).

This reminder is also timely in light of the absurdity of a British magistrate issuing an arrest warrant for war crimes for Tzipi Livni, Israeli foreign minister during the Gaza invasion and one of three Israeli officials who were overseers of the invasion.

There were countless complaints of civilian casualties and what was called human rights violations. But the charges were baseless. There was no intention of the IDF to kill civilians but since Hamas used civilian structures to make their bombs and rockets destroying those facilities were necessary. If anyone was guilty of war crimes it was Hamas.

The fact is war is war. And that was a war started by Hamas as has all the wars in that region been started by those who sought to destroy Israel. And in war innocent people unfortunately become victims. Hamas should know. They have waged war for years by attacking unarmed civilians and using their own civilian populations as shields, hoping the Israelis had more respect for the lives of their own people than they did.

Israel ignored these complaints from the international community, doing what it thought was best for their own country and they have been proved right once again. There have been no more attacks. What's more, Hamas knows Israel will do it again with devastating effects on the Gaza infrastructure, economy, and Hamas itself, if any other such attacks are launched. And it is that deterrence that has kept the peace. Not the absurdity of the British government issuing warrants for war crimes.



Stockholm syndrome? Jews who won't support their allies

Why don't Jews support those who support them? Last week, on December 13, Stop the Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) held a protest rally in what can only be described as an Islamic fortress in the heart of Harrow, England. I strongly urged Jews to attend. Islamic anti-Semitism is more poisonous and more dangerous than even Nazism was to the Jews. The promise of Jewish genocide is made "sacred" by Islamic texts such as the one in which Muhammad says that the end times will not come until the Muslims kill the Jews, and the Jews hide behind trees, which then cry out, "O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him."

The SIOE demonstration was against the building of a mosque there, and the larger issues of the advance of Sharia and Islamization in the United Kingdom. SIOE pointed out the words of the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan: "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and Muslims our soldiers..."

Political parties, racist chanting, banners and placards, and totalitarian symbols such as Nazi swastikas, communist hammer and sickles, and the Islamic star and crescent were banned. The initial announcement of the demonstration asked those attending to bring one thousand Israeli flags, and said: "SIOE supports Israel's right to defend itself against Islamist attempts to annihilate Jews." SIOE called on Jews living in London or within travelling distance of London to attend the demonstration, saying that "vile anti-Semitism is being preached in mosques across the world and almost certainly the one in your neighbourhood....Non-Jews are demonstrating on 13th December against the anti-Semitism being taught in mosques which goes unchallenged by politicians, the media and so-called ‘moderate' Muslims. Jews cannot, in all conscience, leave it to non-Jews to protest on the behalf of Jews who are once again the world's whipping boy."

But they did. The Community Security Trust, a leading Jewish group in Britain, urged the Jewish community there not to support the demonstration. The CST said in a statement that it "has drawn attention to the Islamaphobic comments on SIOE's website, and compared the group to the English Defence League, and the BNP's Nick Griffin, who have attempted to gain support from Jews through pro-Israel and anti-Muslim statements.... A demonstration against Harrow mosque under the banner ‘Stop the Islamisation of Europe', is as stupid and offensive as a demonstration against Harrow synagogue, under the banner ‘Stop the Zionisation of Europe.'"

Once again leftist Jews were lying and deceiving to advance the aims of the enemies of Jews and Jewish life. Stephen Gash of SIOE responded: "I have stood several times in elections against the BNP and what they stand for. Equating synagogues to mosques is reprehensible in my view. When terrorists leave synagogues to blow up planes and tube trains then we at SIOE might reconsider our position. Until that happens we will continue to support Israel and the right of Jews to exist and to defend themselves."

Rabbis attacked the campaign also. They said that SIOE's "only purpose" was "to spread hatred and fear," and wrote: "We share the desire of the Muslim community of Harrow to respect our mutual traditions, to learn from each other's cultures and ways of life, and to live together in peace." Even the Rabbis abandon Israel when the going gets rough. These morally ill rabbis have lost their basic instinct of self-preservation.

The Jewish Chronicle even went so far as to gloat when attendance was small. Did the Chronicle ask why so few people attended this demonstration in a town where the majority does not want this mosque? The majority knows what's happening in their country and fear it. But the Chronicle did not restate the obvious -- that people did not attend out of fear.

Did the Jewish Chronicle cover the Death to the Jews protests back in January? Does the Jewish Chronicle cover the ongoing jihad against the Jews?

Much like the Jewish councils of World War II Germany that helped assist in what would become the extermination of the Jews, we are witnessing Jewish groups like the CST aiding and abetting Islamic jihad and Islamic anti-Semitism. I see the Muslim community doing nothing to expunge their texts and their teachings of the virulent Jew hatred that fills the Koran and Hadith.

Jewish history is littered with these traitors. The failure of the Jews stand up and fight this century's Philistines after thousands of years of persecution is difficult to swallow. The death wish of the is to break the heart. When has the Muslim community ever stood against ‘divisive' anti-Jewish protesters? I ask you. Where were Muslims during the death to Jews marches across the UK during the defensive in Gaza? Where are the Muslim groups and Jewish groups demanding that Jew hatred be expunged from the Koran and Islamic teachings?

Jews should have stood with SIOE. These cowards put all Jews at risk. If you are too scared to stand up, then shut up!



On the Collapsing US Dollar

While I am normally not much of a fan of The New York Times, one of their articles in November 2009 about the ballooning US national debt is worth quoting. The White House estimates that the government’s tab for servicing the national debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion in 2009, even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. Other forecasters say the figure could be much higher. Although other industrialized countries have heavy debt loads, too, the United States is a special case because of its sheer size.

Put simple, had the United States been a private person he would have been declared bankrupt by now and put under administration by the bank. But the United States is not a private person; it is still the world’s largest economy and with huge armed forces. It is worth quoting Takuan Seiyo in one of the installments of his brilliant From Meccania to Atlantis series:

“The strongest, most admired country in the world until just a few years ago is now a cautionary tale of the wages of sin and stupidity told to Chinese schoolchildren. A nation that works for a living can weather perhaps even such great storms. But the jobs of the American lower class have been outsourced to imported Mexicans. The jobs of the American middle class have been exported to China and India. The jobs of the American upper-middle class have been taken from the white males who held them by merit, and given to resentful identity groups that hold them by the fiat of the government’s preferred skin colors and favored genitalia. And thejobs of the American upper class have been reprogrammed from leadership and service, to ripping off the less clever via lawyering, banksterism, and padding one’s golden CEO parachute, and then expiation via funding and leading socialist NGOs. A freefalling dollar cannot help by increasing exports, when you have off-shored your manufacturing, and your main industries are predatory lawsuits, selling shoddy American housing to Salvadorians with faked mortgages, and marketing financial weapons of mass destruction worldwide. And a falling dollar is not a good inducement for the world to keep buying dollar-denominated U.S. debt. The cessation of that buying has such dire consequences tothe United States that Chinese strategists have named them ‘the nuclear option.’”

I have sometimes encountered Americans online who are convinced that they will face an armed conflict with a rising China in the future. Perhaps. But they often seem to take it for granted that such a conflict will be triggered by Chinese aggression against “foreign devils.” I’m not so sure about that. Right now I don’t see what interest the Chinese should have in provoking a war. They are currently behaving smarter than the Americans in many respects. I suspect that the Chinese are quite happy with selling cheap toasters tothe United States while their presidents are bankrupting the country by making the world safe for sharia, their businesses are outsourcing jobs to Asia and their universities are educating Asian students.

The USA, on the other hand, is a country with a massive national debt and large armed forces, a potent combination which has facilitated wars in the past. I don’t rule out the possibility that Chinese nationalists could create trouble at some point but frankly, if there is a war between China and the United States in the near future it may well be triggered by the USA, not China.

Whether the Americans, whose armed forces are infiltrated by Muslim Jihadists and Mexican gang members, would win a conventional war is a different matter. After the Muslim Nidal Hasan killed many of his fellow soldiers the US military intensified its efforts to recruit more Muslims to the military. Recruiting people from hostile cultures to protect your country is the behavior of nations that want to die, and apparently, that is what the West now wants to do.

The US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for “saving” the global economy. Man of the Year, as the award was called before our gender neutral age, has earlier been awarded to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin (twice), the Ayatollah Khomeini and other distinguished gentlemen, so Mr. Bernanke is in good company.

Yet as the insightful financial observer Karl Denninger states, “Bernanke’s actions have singularly done more damage to the American economy - and America - than anyone in the history of this nation. He clearly eclipses Nixon in his dissembling, while making a mockery of the free market.” This is because “By encouraging the bubble economy during Greenspan's time in The Fed (Bernanke was the chief agitator for 1% interest rates - and holding them too low during the early part of the 2000s) and trying to restart the bubble economy this time around through both ZIRP and intentional distortions through the credit markets, shielding those who made bad decisions while cramming the inflationary pressures down the throat of trading partners, Bernanke has guaranteed the loss of global reserve currency status for The Dollar. Our Senate is too stupid to recognize this and stop his re-nomination.”

Regarding the financial crisis of 2008, Denninger comments that “We have fixed nothing in the last two years.” In his view, “…the root problem is an excessive level of debt in the system at all levels, a level of debt that exceeds capacity to pay, and as a consequence any and all attempts to restart the credit-driven consumption economy would fail, and if pressed too far the government will fail. The evidence strongly suggests that you are getting awfully close to your last chance to stop being stupid before the market hands you a lesson that has the potential to destroy both our economy and government.”

In case Europeans believe that the EU is in a much better shape, the same man also claims that the Eurozone is “an absolute train wreck” which is “dancing with jugs of nitroglycerine.”

The price of gold will probably continue to rise. Investors buy precious metals because they no longer trust many currencies, above all the US dollar, and they are right to distrust the dollar. Although the price of gold has already risen significantly, the expatriate American investor Jim Rogers believes this is not a bubble since virtually nobody still owns gold. As a friend of mine comments, “I think gold is going to hold the level for a while now, for some months bordering to half a year. Then, due to the money-printing, the sky will be the limit.”

I have heard several people who are into precious metals state that silver is currently preferable to gold, and platinum may be a good bet as well. Exactly which precious metal is better I will leave to the experts, but a combination of all three might be sensible, in addition to property or other assets. This could be one of the few cases where “diversity” really is a good thing. An ancient and time-tested advice is to never put all of your eggs in one basket.

According to blogger Dennis Mangan, “While predictions are difficult to make, especially about the future, Williams marshals the facts that support his analysis. Runaway government spending, aided and abetted by massive printing of dollars by the Federal reserve, have doomed the dollar. It is only a matter of timing. A hyperinflation will be accompanied by political upheaval and, in my opinion, could see the end of the U.S. as we know it. What shape that upheaval would take is anyone's guess.”

Not all observers agree that the USA is facing a hyperinflation; there are those who believe the result will rather be a serious deflation. Whatever will be the end result it is quite evident thatthe United States is now headed for turbulent times, financially and politically. Since ethnic diversity is rapidly increasing and national cohesion is decreasing correspondingly, a Second American Civil War could be considered one of several possible outcomes.

Frankly, I suspect that more or less the entire Western world is heading for serious financial instability and Multicultural tribalistic violence in the coming generation. The most important thing that the common man can do in such turbulent times is to be mentally and physically prepared to protect the life and property of his family as best as he can until the dust settles. This includes having guns and ammunition as well as money. All things considered I believe that Americans and Westerners in general would be smart to invest some of their savings in metals as soon as possible, starting with gold, silver and lead, not necessarily in that order.




Judge mulls key issues in US murder trial: "A judge is weighing a critical legal question in the case of a man who confessed to killing one of the few late-term abortion providers in the U.S.: Can the man claim at his trial that the slaying was justified to save the lives of unborn children? Scott Roeder, a 51-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, man, is charged with one count of premeditated, first-degree murder in Dr. George Tiller’s death and two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly threatening two ushers during the May 31 melee in the foyer of the doctor’s Wichita church.”

Dodd slips $100 million for hospital into “reform” bill: "A $100 million item for construction of a university hospital was inserted in the Senate health care bill at the request of Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who faces a difficult re-election campaign, his office said Sunday night. The legislation leaves it up to the Health and Human Services Department to decide where the money should be spent, although spokesman Bryan DeAngelis said Dodd hopes to claim it for the University of Connecticut.”

More homosexual aggression: "A Memphis attorney is being sued in connection with biting off a portion of a man’s nose at a Midtown restaurant. In a lawsuit filed this week by Greg Herbers, 48, local trial attorney Mark Lambert is accused of biting off part of Herbers’ nose during a fight last June at Dish in Cooper Young. The dispute started when Herbers, a self-employed hairstylist, entered the restroom around 9 p.m. and noticed the one stall was occupied by two men ‘performing some activity other than going to the bathroom.’ Herbers claims that when he told the men he needed to use the toilet, Lambert, who was standing at the urinal but appeared to know the men in the stall, became aggressive.”

In praise of Sweden: "We’re all familiar with the idea that Sweden is a social democratic hellhole where you cannot keep even an extra penny or krone for yourself but it gets taxed off you and used for the benefit of ’society.’ But as our Danish correspondent has been pointing out here those Nordic social democracies are not quite as they seem. High tax rates, yes, high levels of redistribution, yes, but underneath that social democratic bonnet there’s (to use the phrase of one commentator here) a surprisingly liberal capitalist economy purring along.” [See also some of my comments on Sweden here -- JR]


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


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


Monday, December 21, 2009

Freedom doesn’t have to ask the government for permission

The federal government was created by people who were sick and tired of a king’s government that controlled every facet of life. They wrote a Constitution that explicitly limited the power of the new government. Under this new government, individuals were free to pursue happiness as they chose. In 200 years, this new nation of free people created prosperity unmatched in all of history.

While free people were busy pursuing their happiness, others were free to pursue political power. Throughout the 20th century, a cancer grew in the very fabric of freedom. The idea that the role of government is to provide for its citizens is a return to the dark ages when the prevailing thought was that without the protection of a benevolent government (king), man’s life was, as Thomas Hobbes put it, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

The people who share Hobbes’ philosophy have been called by many labels over the years, but they all fit rather nicely into the ideas expressed most eloquently in modern times by Karl Marx.

It matters not what labels are pinned on the people who want to put government in charge of individual lives; what matters is that freedom cannot exist when it requires the permission of government. Freedom cannot co-exist with a government that insists on controlling its citizens

The people who have found life to be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” are eager for government to take control of their lives, and the lives - and fortunes - of those people whose pursuit of happiness has produced prosperity. When government assumes control it can “spread the wealth around.”

The war in Washington is far more than a battle between political parties; it is a war for the survival of America. Forget the labels; forget the political affiliation. Focus on the people who believe that America must remain a nation that honors its’ Constitution and cherishes the freedom of every individual. These are the people who must be elected. People who want to transform the foundation of America must be rejected. Freedom cannot co-exist with a government that insists on controlling its citizens.

For generations, government has been moving away from the idea of Constitutional limitations. Now, Congress no longer even pays lip-service to the Article 1, Section 8 Congressional limitations of power. Now, led by a devout, admitted, “wealth-spreader,” the federal government is moving rapidly to bury all traces of individual freedom. The new government now under construction will require that the pursuit of happiness begin at the desk of a federal bureaucrat, and follow only the path prescribed by government.

The federal government has already imposed, or is imposing, what is called Sustainable Development. This “sound-good” label obscures the control that government exercises over where an individual may live, what type of transportation must be used, and even the kind of materials that may be used in his home. This is not freedom; this is tyranny.

Government has taken control of land use through wetland, critical habitat, urban boundary zones, and other control mechanisms. Government is attempting to take control over all water in the United States, as well as the activities that may affect water (S-787).

Government ignored its Constitutional limitation when it used its citizens’ money to bail out those financial institutions it favored, while allowing others to go broke. Government didn’t even consider the Constitution when it fired the CEO of General Motors, reorganized a private corporation and used tax dollars to buy a controlling interest.

Government is taking control over energy use by declaring carbon dioxide to be a pollutant, and allowing the EPA to regulate it. Government is attempting to create a “cap & trade” program that will not only control the energy available to individuals, but will also produce windfall profits for the government at the expense of the individual.

Nothing in the Constitution authorizes the government to take control of the health care industry. Nevertheless, legislation now pending will create more than 100 new bureaucracies to take control of virtually every facet of health care.

The federal government has become the tyrannical king that our forefathers fought so hard to cast off. The next two elections will determine whether the great American experiment succeeds – or not. The current majority in Washington, which obviously rejects the idea of limited government and individual freedom, must be removed, or at least significantly reduced, in 2010. In 2012, a whole new regime must capture the Capitol.

Support those who support the Constitution. Only candidates who demonstrate their reverence for the Constitution by pledging to vote only for legislation that cites its Constitutional authority should be elected. The people who must be removed from Washington are those who vote for government’s takeover of all water, energy use, or health care. There is no way a politician can “preserve, protect, and defend” the U.S. Constitution while allowing the government to ignore the limitations imposed upon it by the Constitution.

Patriots must look beyond party affiliation to see how individual politicians vote. Support those who support the Constitution and its principles of freedom. Reject all others.



The Party of Repeal

In 1994, Republicans seized control of Congress, largely due to their Contract With America pledge which resonated with the electorate. The same concept will work for the 2010 election — if Republicans have the guts and the foresight to run with it. Note I used the word "concept," because this time their pledge should center around a completely different set of promises.

To begin with, Republicans must understand that Democrats and their media lapdogs are unwittingly doing them a huge favor by referring to them as obstructionists for refusing to abide Democrats' intention to socialize America. They should take that obstructionist label and double down on it: Republicans must become the "Party of Repeal." To wit:

If Democrats pass government-run health insurance, Republicans must first tell Americans they want no part of it — and them tell them that if they become a majority in 2010, they will repeal it.

Ditto for a host of other leftist agendas. Cap-and-trade passes? We'll "unpass" it. Terrorist trials in civilian courts? We'll overturn the Attorney General's decision by crafting a law stating that all non-citizen terrorists will stand before military tribunals. Democrats pass illegal immigration "reform?" We'll toss it overboard and enforce the laws already on the books — and we'll also cut federal funds to all "sanctuary cities" until they comply with those laws.

Runaway government spending? We'll peg federal spending to inflation and population growth, and come up with a realistic plan to reduce federal debt — including a pledge that no Republican will ever again add a single earmark to any federal bill. Democrats raise taxes? We'll lower them and get America working again.

Gutsy? Only if Republicans ignore the reality that Americans identify themselves as forty percent conservative, thirty-five percent independent and twenty-one percent liberal. Only if they have managed to miss the stunning uptick in people supportive of Tea Party Americans who have prospered despite a relentless bashing by the mainstream media and Democrats.

Only if they don't understand that one of the primal fears of most Americans is that once a government program is enacted, it is forever.

Republicans can make it crystal clear that nothing is forever, especially anything which has the capacity to undermine two hundred and thirty three years of individualism, freedom and prosperity.

If Republicans need reassurance that standing against rampant liberalism is a potential winner, perhaps they should cast their collective gaze toward Florida where their own "machine politician," Charlie Crist, has just been caught from behind by conservative upstart — and virtual unknown — Marco Rubio. This is happening despite Crist's huge advantage with regard to both campaign funding and name recognition. At the very least, such a startling development should tell them that Republicans are fed up with the status quo. Add the gubernatorial victory of Chris Christie in bluer-than-blue New Jersey — by an "ACORN-proof" one hundred thousand vote margin — and maybe Republicans might get the idea that moderates are ripe for the taking as well.

Moderates plus conservatives? Even the most math-challenged Republicans should be inspired by the possibilities.

One of the great strategies in selling anything is to turn a negative into a positive. Democrats and the media have excoriated Republicans, labeling them the "Party of No." Republicans should wear that label like a badge of honor — if they truly care about the country. A sizable majority of Americans are fed up with big — and getting bigger — government. If Republicans can't see that, they're comatose.



A lesson from Greece for America

If you don't think heavy regulation, elephantine bureaucracies, union rule and runaway spending amount to poison for an economy, take a gander at what decades of such socialist policies have done to Greece. Last week, the tiny Balkan state seemed like a blazing house threatening to set the rest of its European Union neighborhood on fire.

It started when Greece earned the first of two sovereign downgrades from ratings agency Fitch over its $436 billion budget deficit. Then Standard & Poor's cut Greece to BBB+ from A- and sternly warned that if the government didn't get serious about controlling its spending, the downgrade wouldn't be its last. Through the week, investors dumped Greek bonds, and word rose that Greece would need a bailout from the European Union.

European leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel loudly said no to that Wednesday, but it didn't help. By Thursday, Greece's problem became Europe's problem, with the euro tumbling to a three-month low against the dollar while U.S. Treasury prices -- a traditional safe haven for sovereign investors -- soared. On Friday, S&P announced "a more pronounced and faster economic deterioration than we previously anticipated" for Greece, with a "protracted hard landing" next.

The whole crisis has a perfectly logical basis: Greece's budget deficit is more than four times higher than the European Union's 3% ceiling and stands at 12.7% of GDP. Its gross debt, at 112% of GDP, indicates it has more debt than productive output. And its socialist government has no credible plan to quit spending. Years of embedded socialism -- in spending, labor and regulatory practices -- are responsible. They've enabled the government to consume the very economy that's supposed to sustain it.

Even supposedly right-of-center parties spent state cash the same way. The last party in power was nominally conservative, but failed to stop expansion of government. It kept hiring, kowtowed to union demands for fear of strikes and did little to change the culture's gimme-gimme mentality. Bureaucrats were hired like there was no tomorrow. These state employees are union members who can never be fired no matter how nasty, lazy or corrupt. Layers of such people go into ministries as payoffs for political favors.

The newly elected socialist prime minister, George Papandreou, claims he's cleaning up. He has denounced corruption and asked to freeze public hiring and pay. He has proposed to cut social security 10%, perhaps privatize state firms and gut military expenditures -- easy to do with the U.S. doing the heavy lifting in Afghanistan.

Papandreou still can't bring himself to lay the blame where it belongs -- on big government. Instead, he makes bankers the scapegoat, calling for a 90% tax on bank bonuses and vowing to end tax exemptions for everyone else to raise more revenues for the state. His own party blames foreigners. "This group dismisses Greece's financial predicament as a short-lived west European conspiracy to discredit the socialist government," according to a socialist policymaker quoted in the Financial Times.

Papandreou also has vowed to protect the little guys in the bureaucracy, making them immune to discipline even if they protest meager cuts. Already the communist labor union PAME has roused 5,000 teachers and hospital workers to strike, warning Papandreou to cut nothing and blaming the "greedy" private sector. "Papandreou, remember who elected you," the strikers shouted. Newspapers followed with their own work stoppage, and two of the bigger Greek unions warned the government to go gore someone else's ox.

With a shrinking private sector, that's getting harder. One in four Greeks is employed by the state, and 422,000 Greeks -- 10% of the work force -- are unemployed. Salaries and prices are as high as Germany's, but productivity is not. Job mobility is the most rigid in Europe. In 2009, Greece ranked second worst in Europe on the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom.

This culmination of years of runaway socialism has left the public resentful, bitter and unwilling to pay taxes. "Why should I pay?" a Greek citizen told the New York Times. "I don't care about my government, I don't care about my country." Greece may be Europe's problem for now, but the lesson should not be lost on the rest of us.



The Bondage of Debt

Obama's huge spending has already devalued the dollar, which means that the low prices Americans have been accustomed to pay for goods made overseas will rise -- thus making everyone poorer -- as a dollar buys less. And that process is just beginning

In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, King Solomon details the differences in thought, word, and deed between a wise man and a fool. In addressing the foolishness associated with borrowing money, he makes clear the relationship between debt and servitude: No man can truly be free when he is bound by financial indebtedness to another. It's clear, however, that the danger of debt is something a majority of the American people—including members of Congress and our President—have yet to take seriously. Even though our national debt is spiraling out of control, we appear unwilling to change our spendthrift ways.

Congress has just taken action to increase our national debt limit by $290 billion—bringing our debt ceiling to a whopping $12.4 trillion. This, after two years of unprecedented spending during which time we accrued the same amount of debt that we accumulated in the first 200 years of our nation's history. No matter how much money Uncle Sam extracts for his coffers, however, it appears it's never enough. The demand for entitlements continues to grow and liberals in government are only too willing to accommodate that demand by expanding the power of the nanny state. Contemporary society has been taught that when it comes to the world of finance, credit is king. Credit, we are told, is how we finance the good life. When Gordon Gekko told us that greed was good, we apparently believed him, and set about to prove his point.

But, as the old saying goes, there's no such thing as a free lunch. The United States cannot continue on this path of fiscal gluttony indefinitely. With every dollar we borrow, we sacrifice more and more of our freedom.

As individuals, we've come to rely increasingly on those credit cards in our wallets, charging 40 cents out of every dollar we spend. We finance everything: our homes, our vehicles, our educations, our entertainment...even basic essentials like food and clothing are more often than not purchased on credit in today's marketplace. Thanks to the folks at American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover, the American worker's penchant for champagne and caviar need not be stymied by the constraints of a beer budget.

As a nation, we've racked up nearly $12 trillion in debt and have seen the budget deficit soar from $455 billion to $1.4 trillion in the last year alone. And in the same way a strapped homeowner takes out a second mortgage on his house to stave off financial ruin for one more year, Congress has time and again—in the name of the people's "general welfare" no less—voted to take on more and more debt to fund a ballooning list of appropriations and entitlements.

In the face of this grim economic picture, only one of Solomon's fools could say with a straight face that the American government and her people are economically free. To keep up with our consumption habits, we have surrendered the freedom that comes with true ownership and live in service to our lenders. Because we have lost the discipline and maturity to distinguish our needs from our wants, we find ourselves surrounded by material goods bought on credit. But, one too many missed payments and that luxury vehicle in the driveway will be repossessed, and that McMansion in the suburbs will fall into foreclosure.

The risks associated with excess borrowing are no different at the federal level. As it now stands, 35% of the United States' gross domestic product is comprised of foreign debt. Each year, we are financing a larger and larger chunk of the nation's day to day operations on borrowed money, and each year the cost of servicing this debt goes up. This debt burden not only impacts our fiscal strength, it also significantly compromises our political and diplomatic position on the world stage. When the U.S. Government is beholden to foreign nations because of its debt, it is not free to act in the best interests of the American people, particularly when those interests conflict with the interests of our lenders.

Up to this point, America's approach to dealing with the pressures of our debt has been to take on still more debt and leave the headache to future generations. This folly must end. If we truly value our freedom we must overcome our addiction to debt and learn how to live within our means.



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


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


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Obama: Hysterical exaggeration in a calm voice

President Barack Obama grimly warned America this week that if his health care plans fail, the nation will go "bankrupt." Sure, adding another trillion-dollar entitlement program to our $12 trillion of debt may seem like a counterintuitive way to stave off economic ruin, but who are we to argue? The president's got smarts. And as is the case with so many issues, Obama adorned his rhetoric with sharp warnings of calamity should he fail, fabricated consensus to buttress his case and a promise of rapture should he succeed.

You'll remember it was Obama who cautioned that failure to pass the stimulus boondoggle would "turn a crisis into a catastrophe." He claimed that a failure to act on cap and trade will lead us to "irreversible catastrophe" and that a failure to pass a government-run health care system will mean "more Americans dying every day." It's like living the Old Testament. Scary.

Holy burning bushes! Did you know that everyone -- and I mean everyone -- agrees with the president? Obama stressed this week that you can "talk to every health care economist out there and they will tell you that ... whatever ideas exist in terms of bending the cost curve and starting to reduce costs for families, businesses and government, those elements are in this bill." Not "some" or "most" or "Peter Orszag on a two-day bender" but "every" health care economist in the entire world would tell you as much.

This sort of exaggeration reminds us of another whopper the president unloaded. While promoting the stimulus plan in January, he claimed that "there is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jump-start the economy." No disagreement whatsoever ... until the Cato Institute found 200 economists from major universities across the country who did have a disagreement -- and judging from the stimulus plan's impressive impotence, perhaps Obama should have lent them an ear.

So when Obama says that "whatever ideas exist" to help with cost are featured in the health care bills, let's chalk it up to his propensity to exaggerate, embellish or worse.

What about re-importation of pharmaceuticals developed and manufactured in the United States -- available now more cheaply abroad? Is that an idea that exists? (Drug companies, a group that Obama regularly condemned before cutting a sweetheart deal, made sure that idea was DOA.) What about balancing tax codes so that those with employee-provided health insurance and those with individual health insurance can benefit from the same benefits? Does that idea exist? You don't even need a staff of researchers to find economists who say it does. What about opening up health insurance markets beyond state lines to create competition and more access? What about tort reform to end frivolous lawsuits? What about expanding health savings and flex accounts instead of killing them?

Let's concede that there might be a number of ideas -- both on the left and the right -- that haven't been embraced. Still, the most misleading assertion of the president is that his focus is on bending the cost curve in the right direction -- or that it's even a goal. The prevailing objective of health care "reform" has been to expand coverage to the uninsured and to throw federal control on everyone. Cost has proved to be largely irrelevant -- other than being a political consideration.

Of course, ignoring the substantive ideas of the ideological opposition is not, in and of itself, new for presidents or politicians. But Obama's fondness for creating imaginary consensus and offering false choices to the American people has been something to behold.



Jealous females can't think straight when talking about Sarah Palin

Calling Rupert Murdoch! There’s an errant hen in the Foxhouse. And she seems to have developed a particular penchant for pecking away at Sarah Palin – the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth notwithstanding. Here’s Chicken Little’s MyFox New York story – in its entirety:
Sarah Palin Blacks Out John McCain's Name on Hat


Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin appears to be making a bold statement about her feelings for John McCain. Palin was photographed in Hawaii while vacationing with her family and was sporting a visor that had blacked out "McCain for President," leaving just a faint outline of his name, according to the New York Daily News. See photos from TMZ .

The paper adds that the message on her T-shirt was much more clear -- "If you don't love America," it said on the front, "then why don't you get the hell out," it said on the back.

Palin has been on a nationwide tour promoting her bestselling book "Going Rogue" in which she admits that there was tension between her aides and the McCain camp while on the campaign trail . Palin writes that she was denied the chance to speak on election night and that McCain's people constantly kept her "bottled up" from reporters. McCain has said that he considers Palin's attacks "vicious ."

Now, here’s the rest of the story: If you happen to click on the line “he considers Palin’s attacks “vicious” … lo and behold, it turns out that McCain wasn’t talking about Palin’s attacks on him at all -- he was talking about the media’s attacks on Palin! Here is his actual quote: “’I’ve never seen anything like it in all the years that I’ve been in politics, the viciousness and the personalization of the attacks on Sarah Palin.”

Now, that seems to suggest one of two things: either Ms. Fu can’t read – or she shouldn’t write. Not for Fox News, at any rate. Perhaps it’s time for the Farmer Rupert to toss out some bad eggs. Mr. Murdoch, we report – you decide.



Penetration Even At The Pentagon: Radical Muslims Setting Muslim Policy

The internal threat from Muslim extremists in the military extends to high-level Defense Department aides who have undermined military policy. In fact, one top Muslim adviser pushed out an intelligence analyst who warned of the sudden jihad syndrome that led to the Fort Hood terrorist attack.

An honored guest of the Ramadan dinner at the Pentagon this September was Hesham Islam, who infiltrated the highest echelons of the Ring despite proven ties to U.S. terror front groups and a shady past in his native Egypt. As senior adviser for international affairs to former deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, Islam ran interference for the Islamic Society of North America and other radical fronts for the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood, the subject of my new book "Muslim Mafia."

For example, Islam persuaded brass to sack a Pentagon analyst, Stephen Coughlin, after he advised cutting off outreach to ISNA, which he accurately ID'd as part of a covert terror-support network in the U.S. -- something the Justice Department recently confirmed in a major terror finance trial.

Islam invited ISNA officials to lunch with the avuncular England, known by insiders as Gullible Gordon, who in turn spoke at ISNA confabs. Islam also helped set up a Pentagon job booth at one recent ISNA convention to recruit Muslim chaplains and linguists. Most disturbing, Islam met regularly with Saudi and other embassy officials lobbying for the release and repatriation of their citizens held at Gitmo. He in turn advised England, who authorized the release of dozens of Gitmo detainees. Some have resumed terrorist activities.

No one really knew who Islam was when he was promoted -- in fact, the Pentagon removed his bio from its Web site after reporters noted major inconsistencies in it -- yet he was allowed to get inside the office of the Pentagon's No. 2 official. "In effect," a senior U.S. Army intelligence official told me, "we've got terrorist supporters calling the shots on our policies toward Muslims from the highest levels."

Meanwhile, politically incorrect prophets like Coughlin have been frozen out. After the betrayal at Fort Hood, the military could use his analysis of Islamic doctrine more than ever. I attended a private briefing by Coughlin in February. In a PowerPoint presentation, he detailed how jihadists use the Quran to justify their actions. Some of his slides matched almost word-for-word Hasan's own PowerPoint slides extolling the virtues of jihad and martyrdom. Both, for instance, quoted from the same Quranic passage known as the "Verse of the Sword."

Eerily, Coughlin predicted Hasan's mind-set. He first began briefing the Pentagon on this jihadist doctrine in 2002. So brass can't say they didn't know. They were warned that the enemy was drawing on religious principles, and that our own Muslim soldiers could succumb to such thinking. And they were warned that by using ISNA and other radical Brotherhood fronts to endorse Muslim chaplains and recruit Muslim soldiers, they were courting enemies of the U.S. -- and courting disaster. But they were too drunk with political correctness to listen.

The jihadist threat to U.S.-based armed forces is external as well as internal -- and far greater than reported. It comes from both inside and outside the military. Fort Hood follows in a line of attacks or plots against military personnel and installations since 2006, when al-Qaida spokesman Adam Gadahn, an American convert to Islam, appeared in a video with Osama bin Laden and encouraged fellow Muslim-Americans to "go on a shooting spree at the Marines' housing facilities at Camp Pendleton" in California. Over the past few years, an alarming number of homegrown Muslim terrorists have targeted military installations, including:

* A North Carolina cell of white converts to Islam who trained to attack Marine headquarters in Quantico, Va.

* A New York cell of black jailhouse converts who planned to down planes at an Air National Guard base with shoulder-fired missiles.

* A lone Muslim convert who shot two soldiers at a Little Rock, Ark., Army recruiting station, killing one.

* A Los Angeles cell of black Muslim converts who plotted to hit military bases in California.

* A New Jersey cell of hardened jihadists who trained to attack Fort Dix by posing as pizza delivery drivers.

The Fort Dix terrorists had also talked about joining the U.S. Army so they could kill U.S soldiers from the "inside." They planned to hit the post just days after a National Guard unit arrived back from Gitmo. Some of them were inspired by al-Qaida preacher Anwar Awlaki, who on his Yemen-based Web site calls for jihad against U.S. military targets inside and outside the U.S.

But so do so-called moderate American clerics like Zaid Shakir. In "Muslim Mafia," I transcribe for readers a CD recording of one of his sermons circulating in mosques across America. In it, he exhorts the Muslim faithful to attack planes carrying the 82nd Airborne. Frequently booked by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as a guest speaker at its events, Shakir tells his Muslim audience: "Jihad is physically fighting the enemies of Islam to protect and advance the religion of Islam. This is jihad." Acceptable targets of jihad, he says, include U.S. military aircraft. "Islam doesn't permit us to hijack airplanes filled with civilian people," he said, but "if you hijack an airplane filled with the 82nd Airborne, that's something else."

The 82nd Airborne is based out of Fort Bragg, which is part of North Carolina state Sen. Larry Shaw's home district. Shaw is CAIR's new chairman. He is also a minority contractor who operates Shaw Food Services Co. near Fort Bragg. According to the legislator's financial disclosure form, Shaw Food customers include the Defense Department. Yet CAIR, like ISNA, is an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator. The FBI says CAIR is a terrorist front group and has cut off formal ties to it. So should the military. Will Fort Bragg be next? Does anybody care?



Radical Is as Radical Appoints

I'm wondering whether there's anyone out there with the guts to pretend that it's insignificant that President Barack Obama keeps appointing radical after radical to his czar positions. Can anyone honestly say Obama's appointments don't tell us a great deal about Obama himself -- as if we needed any further proof he is a left-wing extremist?

I don't need to make a list of his radical appointees and detail proof of their extremism. Anyone paying attention knows it's irrefutably true that this has become a deliberate pattern. Statistically, Obama couldn't accidentally appoint this many radicals in two political lifetimes. Is he rubbing these people in our faces or just surrounding himself with like-minded soul mates -- or both? My educated guess is "both" because his general attitude toward governance has been utterly dictatorial. He knows what's best for America -- the type of America he envisions, anyway -- and he will proceed to implement it, full well knowing that he's violating the will of the majority every step of the way.

It's truly sad to me that our federal government has expanded to the point that no one flinches at the thought that we need some federal bureaucrat in charge of making our local schools indoctrination facilities for homosexuality, er, safe. As you know, Obama appointed known homosexual activist Kevin Jennings for the position.

Why would Obama, a self-professed Christian, choose Jennings, who admitted in his 2006 memoirs that he harbored a deep-seated hatred for God and religious believers at the time he embraced a homosexual lifestyle? Jennings wrote: "Before, I was the one who was failing God; now I decided He was the one who had failed me. ... I decided I had done nothing wrong: He had, by promising to 'set you free' and never delivering on His promise. What had He done for me, other than make me feel shame and guilt? Squat. Screw you, buddy -- I don't need you around anymore, I decided."

Jennings may have since modified his beliefs, but it's still clear that he hates Christian conservatives. reports that he told fellow homosexual activists in 2000 that members of the "religious right" were "hard-core bigots" who should "drop dead." He said he really wanted to tell them, "F--- you!" He was also on the advisory board for a 2001 PBS documentary "that slammed" the Boy Scouts of America for its policy of excluding homosexuals from membership. This video was then promoted at gay pride conventions to galvanize homosexuals against the Scouts.

More here


BrookesNews Update

The US economy is looking very sick indeed : There has been a massive increase in the reserves of depository institutions which now pose an immense inflationary threat to the US economy. In the meantime, the monetary figures suggest an inadvertent tightening in credit that will have a detrimental impact on economic activity. The fall in capital orders could be an unwelcome sign of this event
The Australian economy is looking super - but is it a mirage? : Serious distortions could be developing in the Australian economy, one sign of which could be manufacturing as a proportion of GDP shrinking further while what is left becomes overly oriented to serving the mining industry in response to China's growing demand for our minerals
What has Obama accomplished? : Ignored by the left and the media, however, is the inconvenient fact that every single policy promoted by Obama and passed by congress has been a dismal failure. From the jobs 'stimulus' package that has cost taxpayers a whopping
Israel must not waste time on rebuke : Endless amounts of time and millions of dollars are wasted on rebuking false accusations and deliberate distortions of the facts of history as well as the current 'reality' invented by Arabs, made by traditional anti-Semites, self-hating Jews and all sorts of sophisticated and primitive xenophobes
Taking the wind out of energy : Spain's alternative energy policy has turned into an economic disaster, something any free market economist could have predicted. Spain's painful experience ought to be taken into account at the upcoming Copenhagen summit on climate change. In recent years, many countries, including the United States, have touted the Spanish model as an inspiration. They really need to look again
Look who's clubbing Tiger Woods now : For black activist Democrats, Tiger is not a self-determining soul, but a black man who must live by - and never violate - their constraining tribal rules. They are furious at Tiger - not because he cheated on his wife, but because his wife is white, and all of his affairs were with white women. Moreover, he has always refused to play the race. Now it's payback time
America's Great Leap Forward : Like Mao, Obama will most likely never be held to account when the socialist, big government policies he has championed fail. And fail they must. History shows us that. The American people will, once again, be forced to pay the very real price for Obama's naive attempt to prove socialism is a workable theory, as long as its Obama's version


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


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


Saturday, December 19, 2009

The crooked British Left again

Vandals deface town war memorial

A Royal British Legion boss says vandals have “dishonoured those who have given their lives for our country” by defacing Burton's war memorial. Roy Whenman, vice-chairman of the town’s Legion branch, received calls from members saying an extremist message had been written on the statue.

Having been informed at 9.20am, borough council chiefs had cleaned the graffiti from the relic, situated outside Burton College, in Lichfield Street, by 9.40am.

Mr Whenman, of Birches Close, Stretton, has described whoever committed the offence as “diabolical”. He said: “There’s nothing worse, in my eyes, than discrediting a war memorial. It dishonours those who have given their lives for our country. “I don’t know how long it was there for, but I was pleasantly surprised by the council’s quick action and I commend them for it.

Dennis Fletcher, chairman of East Staffordshire Racial Equality Council, said he suspected someone from the far right was responsible.


Do you wonder why the graffiti got cleaned off so quickly? 20 minutes is the speed of light for a British bureaucracy. The picture of it below may help. The details below were "removed" from most pictures of the vandalized memorial

Those dastardly "Far Rightists"!


What Do Believers In Global Warming, Supporters Of Obamacare, And The New York Times Have In Common?

Overweening arrogance

Given the heavy and increasing opposition to Obamacare, Byron York asks in the Washington Examiner, “why are Democrats dead-set on hurting themselves?” “Because,” he asks “a Democratic strategist” who for understandable reasons wants to remain anonymous,
they think they know what’s best for the public,” the strategist said. “They think the facts are being distorted and the public’s being told a story that is not entirely true, and that they are in Congress to be leaders. And they are going to make the decision because Goddammit, it’s good for the public.

Ben Stein makes a similar point in The American Spectator, referring to climategate.
Based upon a great deal of data, many scientists have come up with a theory that human activity is wrecking the climate of the planet and that if the wise, good people are not allowed to compel the stupid, evil people to change their ways drastically, terrible things will happen.

Never mind “that there is major controversy about whether global warming is really happening in a long-term way” or “whether whatever climate change is occurring is anthropogenic....” If you are in any way skeptical of even the more extreme global warming claims or in fact if you disagree with any of a number of favored liberal nostrums, you are either stupid or evil, or both, and in addition, as I argue in a not quite published piece that I will come back and link later, you are “on the wrong side of history.”

This all-knowing, morally self-congratulatory, superciliously sneering attitude of superiority is now so endemic on the left that it has even begun to attack, and thus offend, some of its natural allies. Thus, with fury supported by chapter and verse evidence, this is how Feminist Law Professors summarizes a “contempt-laden” recent New York Times piece: “From the NYT: You Dumb Women are Opposing the New Mammogram Recommendations Because You Don’t Understand Science or Math.

The left is increasingly embattled and defensive, but circling the wagons and then shooting everyone inside the circle has not historically proved to be a winning tactic.



Poll: Tea Party Patriots Most Popular

The Tea Party Patriots conservative grassroots movement is now more popular than either major party according to a major new poll. According to the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday, 41 percent of likely voters now have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party Patriots. That compares to a 35 percent favorable rating for Democrats and 28 percent for the GOP.

The stunning conclusion: If the Tea Party Patriots were a political party – it is increasingly shifting its emphasis in a nonpartisan political direction – it would be the most popular party in America.

The results suggest voter antipathy toward both major parties is more profound than initially recognized. It also indicates that the left-wing bloggers and talk hosts who have consistently derided the Tea Party Patriots throughout the year with an obscene “tea bagger” reference are out of step with the American people. “This is stunning to me just because it shows how angry Americans are – the Tea Party movement [is] more popular than both major parties,” MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough said Thursday. “The parties are dying.”

NBC chief political correspondent Chuck Todd observed: “Candidates that align themselves against Washington and Wall Street are going to have good success right now in 2010.”

The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll also reflected the results of other surveys that have shown President Obama’s approval rating dipping below 50 percent. The survey states only 47 percent approve of his job performance. Also, only 39 percent say they have confidence in his goals and policies. Todd described it as “a bad poll for the president.”



Democratic districts receive nearly twice the amount of stimulus funds as GOP districts

A new analysis of the $157 billion distributed by the American Reinvestment and Recovery act, popularly known as the stimulus bill, shows that the funds were distributed without regard for what states were most in need of jobs. “You would think that if the stimulus money was actually spent to create jobs, there would be more stimulus money spent in high unemployment states,” said Veronique de Rugy, a scholar at the Mercatus Center who produced the analysis. "But we don't find any correlation."

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia is one of the nation's most respected economic and regulatory think tanks and has a Nobel prize-winning economist on staff. The econometric analysis was done using data provided by -- the government website devoted to tracking the stimulus data -- as well as a host of other government databases.

Additionally, Mercatus found that stimulus funds were not disbursed geographically with any special regard for low-income Americans. “We find no correlation between economic indicators and stimulus funding. Preliminary results find no statistically significant effect of unemployment, median income or mean income on stimulus funds allocation,” said the report.

The Mercatus Center analysis also found that Democratic congressional districts received on average almost double the funding of Republican congressional districts. Republican congressional districts received on average $232 million in stimulus funds while Democratic districts received $439 million on average. “We found that there is a correlation [relating to the partisanship of congressional districts],” de Rugy said. Her regression analysis found that stimulus funds are expected to decrease by 24.19 percent if a district is represented by a Republican.

“During the appropriations process, you're not surprised to see the Democrats are getting more money, but in this case a lot of the money we're looking at is going through HUD [Department of Housing and Urban Development], or Department of Education, Department of Transportation etc. and they're following a formula,” she said. “But the correlation exists, and not only does it exist -- when you look at how much money we're talking about, it's a pretty big deal.”

The analysis found that neither congressional leadership positions of local members nor presidential preference in 2008 were factors in stimulus allocation by congressional district.

Finally, the Mercatus analysis shows that a majority of the funds allocated went to public rather than private entities -- nearly $88 billion to $69 billion. While some of the money given to public entities may eventually filter down to the private sector, it's much less transparent how money given to public entities is spurring economic growth and job creation.



The decline of the almighty dollar

Financial and economic leaders around the globe have finally gained an understanding of just how damaged and weakened the United States is becoming with the daily devaluation of the American dollar. Historically, the United States has never experienced a massive collapse of its currency as have Russia, Argentina and other countries.

However, the recklessness of our current fiscal policy is causing other sophisticated global players to get fed up — and for legitimate reasons. They are made vulnerable by the actions of a belligerent few, and are positioning themselves to do what any other sane person would: seek alternatives in case the dollar collapses.

It’s sad to think that right now the defense of our aimless fiscal policy is to hold the other countries so close to our chest that they will drown with us unless we succeed. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to do this forever. What happens when they see the light?

Before Nixon, we had the gold standard; after Nixon, we were given fiat money — therefore, the government used manipulations to increase the value of the dollar. Now we have more than one major economic player in the global economy that realizes the deception behind the value of the dollar and wants an alternative.

BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), let me introduce the BRIC-plus-1 and we'll rename it CRIBS, adding South Africa is already looking to create the next largest world currency — one that will be pegged to oil. This will be an extreme threat to the dollar, because trading oil in dollars is one thing that gives that currency much of its value.

Currently, the fiscal policy of America should force politicians to seek solutions that restore the integrity of the dollar so our children have a future. Buenos Aires was at one point among the top 10 most expensive cities to travel to. Now it is a discount destination where the people have little to no hope for economic mobility.




To whom is a business manager morally responsible?: "Over the last several decades the field of business ethics has become very popular in colleges and universities, including business schools, around the world. Actually, other professional ethics courses have also gained entry into the medical, legal, engineering, and other curriculums. (Oddly, though, the ethics of education and scholarship have not joined this trend!) In the field of business ethics the focus has tended to be on what has come to be called the theory of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This view takes it as a given, not in need of a lot of argument, that what corporations ought to do, first and foremost, is to benefit society and not those who own the firm.”

A380s are just too complex. Something is always breaking down. One day it will be serious: "An Airbus A380 superjumbo had to turn around mid-flight and land back in Paris due to an electrical fault, a spokesman for its operator Singapore Airlines said. "We had an electrical current fault in the kitchen areas and the captain turned the plane round two hours into the flight to return to Charles de Gaulles airport so it could be fixed," the spokesman said. It was a "minor fault which does not at all compromise the safety of passengers or the crew," he said. "But if it wasn't repaired they could not have served hot food and drinks." It was at least the fourth time an A380 flight had been disrupted by a technical fault. A glitch grounded an A380 operated by Air France in New York on Monday. Last month an Air France A380 was forced to turn around and land in New York after a fault with its navigation system, days after the airline started flying the superjumbo. Air France cited "a minor computer problem" in that incident. An A380 flown by Singapore Airlines also had to return to Paris on September 27 after one of its four engines failed during a flight to Singapore."

Groupthink as a political mental illness: "Since the first publication of Victims of Groupthink, many researchers have been moved to study, to support, or to refute both Janis's theories and the implications of groupthink. Whatever has motivated any of these people, one thing is clear; that single work has been the starting point for many, if not all of these studies, and research on this phenomenon uniformly refers to Janis as the originator of the concept of groupthink, as well as its definer." [Slow-loading site. Another copy here]

Massive failures: "How many times, in the last year, have I heard praise for FDR's banking reforms, even down to the specifics of federal deposit insurance? The funny thing is, this factoid is false. Roosevelt opposed deposit insurance. Everyone did who at that time knew the history of the states that had experimented with this form of subsidy. Only logrolling pushed deposit insurance into law as a known special favor to small banks in rural areas - not to cure the nation's ills."


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


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


Friday, December 18, 2009

Once again Obama says one thing and does the opposite

"I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street," President Obama told "60 Minutes" onSunday, the eve of White House meeting with top Wall Street bankers. This line, and the credulous media coverage that followed, fed the image of Obama as the people's crusader against the wealthy special interests. But if you skip the rhetoric and focus instead on verifiable facts -- campaign contributions, administration appointees, White House visitor logs, Obama's bailouts and even his proposed regulations -- you see instead that Obama may be closer to Wall Street than any modern president.

Obama raised $14.8 million from Wall Street in the 2008 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics -- more than any politician ever, and more than George W. Bush raised in both of his elections combined. From the fattest cat, Goldman Sachs, Obama raised $997,095, more than four times McCain's Goldman haul and more than any candidate has raised from any single company since the McCain-Feingold campaign finance regulations.

Then there's the revolving door between Wall Street and the West Wing, spinning as rapidly as ever. Citigroup's and Goldman's tentacles into the White House have been well-documented by Obama critics on the Right (most thoroughly by Michelle Malkin in her best-seller "Culture of Corruption") and the Left (most famously by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone).

And on the substance, Obama's policies and proposals have been a boon to Wall Street interests. Begin with the bailout. Back in September 2008, Barack Obama was the only man outside of the Bush administration who could have blocked that $700 billion corporate welfare boondoggle. Had Obama opposed this transfer of wealth to fat-cat bankers, it would have died in the Democrat-controlled Congress. Since becoming president, Obama has ramped up the bailout machine, notably by creating a new double bailout program called the Public-Private Investment Partnership that relies on subsidies from both the FDIC and the Federal Reserve.

Then Obama rewarded the captains of Team Bailout 2008. Timothy Geithner, who ran the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, steered government through the creative bailouts of Bear Stearns and AIG. Obama put Geithner in charge of Treasury (and Geithner picked a Goldman Sachs lobbyist as his chief of staff). Obama also renominated Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, the other savior of the Wall Street giants last fall. Obama praised him for his "outside-the-box" thinking. For a president who talks like a reluctant bank saver, Obama certainly has bought into the bailout apparatus with enthusiasm.

But with his new regulations, Obama claims he's calling these banks to heel after using taxpayer money to save them. This is just more example of Obama's shadowboxing. In truth, he's nearly on the same page as the bankers. The AP reported Monday that Wall Street CEOs "believe the president has mischaracterized them as being against the new rules, when in fact they support the vast majority of the administration's proposals."

"I have no intention of letting their lobbyists thwart reform," Obama warned. But neither, apparently, do the lobbyists. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the lobby for Wall Street, applauded the House's passage of financial regulation last week, stating, "There is no doubt that the industry shares the same goal of reforming our financial system as President Obama and the Congress."

Obama's tough talk towards lobbyists looks even more absurd when you see who these lobbyists are. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, ING and the Investment Company Institute are all clients of the Podesta Group, co-founded by Obama's transition director, John Podesta, and the first K Street firm to hire away an Obama administration official. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, the Futures Industry Association, the Managed Funds Association and SIFMA are all clients of Steven Elmendorf, a top Democratic lobbyist who has visited the White House at least five times. American Bankers Association lobbyist Edward Yingling has visited at least six times.

These banks and lobbies have some disagreements with the president, but they are not the intransigent opponents he portrays them to be. But admitting to cordial relations with Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan would pierce Obama's crusader image. As his climate bill turns into a corporate porkfest and his health care reform turns into an insurer's and drug maker's dream, Obama needs to keep at least one imaginary corporate enemy.



Obama: Just another crooked and destructive politician

The White House thinks it can jawbone banks into lending to people they don't want to lend to. We've been down this road before, and it led all the way to the 2007 financial meltdown. The president on Monday gave a tongue-lashing to the "fat-cat bankers on Wall Street," as he called them the day before. He wants them to make more loans to small businesses and consumers to give the economy a boost.

But should banks be lending just because a politician tells them to? We tried this before. Indeed, it's the very source of the financial and economic calamity of the past two years. President Obama may think dressing down the top dogs at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and others is good politics. But it's demoralizing and will only lead to more bank write-offs, more bank failures and less lending.

Besides, as economist Thomas Sowell noted in a recent series in IBD, our current economic ills are largely due to just the kind of government meddling we now see in the financial markets. In this, President Obama is treading the very same ground as President Clinton and President Bush in pushing banks to make risky loans they shouldn't make. And it will have the same dire results.

For those who don't remember, the federal government became more involved than ever in determining how banks make their loans — and to what customers — thanks to the creation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of the wreckage of the Great Depression. They were followed by the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975, the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 and the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992.

Go back to the 1970s and early 1990s you'll see that, just as today, bankers were criticized heavily for their alleged racism and lack of concern for the poor. President after president lambasted them for not lending more to support presidential social policies. By 2000, President Clinton's HUD required half of Fannie Mae's loan originations to go to poor and moderate-income borrowers — whether they could pay on the loans or not. It marked the triumph of leftist politics over financial common sense.

This is how the subprime meltdown, the source of our current financial troubles, came about. Not by "greedy" banks or by "deregulation." Banks had a choice: make bad loans or face more scrutiny when it came time to raise capital or to merge with other banks.

As such, President Obama must know his attack on banks is dishonest. Plans for a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, the $700 billion TARP bailout and the creation of a "pay czar" who determines the pay of the top officers at companies that took bailout funds, have created a timid, risk-averse financial sector.

Banks have nearly $1 trillion in reserves. So why don't they lend them? Simply put, they can't sneeze without government permission. Worse, they don't know what taxes or regulations they'll face in coming years. If the House's vote on Friday to impose a $150 billion "fee" on Wall Street is any indicator, they can expect far lower profits and much more destructive government control — not less.



Democrats' Blues Grow Deeper in New Poll: Many of their voters may stay at home next November

Less than a year after Inauguration Day, support for the Democratic Party continues to slump, amid a difficult economy and a wave of public discontent, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The findings underscored how dramatically the political landscape has changed during the Obama administration's first year. In January, despite the recession and financial crisis, voters expressed optimism about the future, the new president enjoyed soaring approval ratings, and congressional leaders promised to swiftly pass his ambitious agenda.

In December's survey, for the first time, less than half of Americans approved of the job President Barack Obama was doing, marking a steeper first-year fall for this president than his recent predecessors. Also for the first time this year, the electorate was split when asked which party it wanted to see in charge after the 2010 elections. For months, a clear plurality favored Democratic control.

The survey suggests that public discontent with Mr. Obama and his party is being driven by an unusually grim view of the country's status and future prospects. A majority of Americans believe the U.S. is in decline. And a plurality now say the U.S. will be surpassed by China in 20 years as the top power.

Democrats' problems seem in part linked to their ambitious health-care plan, billed as the signature achievement of Mr. Obama's first year. Now, for the first time, more people said they would prefer Congress did nothing on health care than who wanted to see the overhaul enacted. "For Democrats, the red flags are flying at full mast," said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. "What we don't know for certain is: Have we reached a bottoming-out point?"

The biggest worry for Democrats is that the findings could set the stage for gains by Republican candidates in next year's elections. Support from independents for the president and his party continues to dwindle. In addition, voters intending to back Republicans expressed far more interest in the 2010 races than those planning to vote for Democrats, illustrating how disappointment on the left over attempts by party leaders to compromise on health care and other issues is damping enthusiasm among core party voters.

But public displeasure with Democrats wasn't translating directly into warmth for Republicans. Twenty-eight percent of voters expressed positive feelings about the GOP -- a number that has remained constant through the Democrats' decline over the summer and fall. Only 5% said their feelings toward the Republicans were "very positive."

And in one arena, Afghanistan, Mr. Obama appeared to have some success in winning support for his planned troop surge. Liberals remain largely opposed to the strategy, but in fewer numbers compared with before Mr. Obama made his case in a speech at West Point. Overall, by 44% to 41%, a plurality believe his strategy is the right approach.

Still, the survey paints a decidedly gloomy picture for Democrats, who appear to be bearing the brunt of public unease as unemployment has risen from 7.6% to 10% since Mr. Obama took office. Just 35% of voters said they felt positively about the Democratic Party, a 14-point slide since February. Ten percent felt "very positive."

More here


Duck-and-Run Obama

President Obama’s athletic prowess is becoming a real advantage in office as he recently has taken the duck-and -run approach to the media. Instead of defending himself in front of the open microphone, he is dispatching his cronies to defend his policy positions. Our commander-in-chief isn’t living up to his campaign promise of presidential access and transparency.

Obama hasn’t held a formal press conference since July 22. At that event he infamously gaffed that Cambridge Police had acted stupidly when confronting Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at his home. Since that time, Obama has avoided off-the-cuff question and answer sessions, preferring to rely on his teleprompter for scripted remarks. On his recent trip to Asia, Obama limited questions at his joint press conferences to one each from a U.S. reporter and a foreign journalist. At his “joint press statement” with Chinese President Hu Jintao, no questions were allowed.

This is all shocking given the hyperbole that was spewed during the campaign from the media, who referred to Obama as the ‘Great Communicator.’ While the press were admiring Obama’s rhetorical skills, behind the scenes, handlers were scripting all events and carefully controlling the message.

Rather than running one of the most open and transparent administrations ever, team Obama is running one of the most disingenuous and scripted. As White House Communications Director Anita Dunn boasted, “We controlled the media coverage of the campaign.”

Obama is running a charade. If he were genuine about what he is trying to accomplish, he would not be so afraid to face tough questions. Obama fears that if he makes himself available to the press, he will make another blooper and be caught in his lies.

This past week, Obama again practised deception. After pointedly declaring in his speech to the joint session of Congress that “my plan will not include taxpayer funding of abortion,” Obama lobbied Congress in support of abortion funding in the health reform bill. His administration has even lobbied against the pro-life amendments to these bills. Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs argued that these health bills are not the president’s, therefore “his plan does not include taxpayer funding of abortion.” This is a laughable explanation at best, and one that Obama clearly does not want to say himself. Therefore he is avoiding a press conference like the plague.

The American people are catching on and it is one reason why his approval rating is down to 47 percent in the most recent Gallup poll.




Why independents are abandoning Obama: "Many voters who were attracted to promises of ‘hope and change’ are now asking, ‘What the heck have I done?’ President Obama rode into office on the coattails of some horrible economic realities …. The nation needed both to energize new policies and to help us continue down the path to recovery, specifically in the areas of job creation and economic growth. … In 2008, 43% of evangelical Christians voted for him and he rewarded them by turning around and signing an executive order to authorize the spending millions of dollars for international abortions via the Mexico City policy. And he did it at the peak of the economic meltdown. Those who wanted America to withdraw from Iraq and to see Gitmo closed are still waiting for those promises to come true.”

Credit Suisse bank to pay $536 million for assisting Iran: "Credit Suisse AG agreed to pay $536 million to settle claims the bank helped process payments that let Iran and other nations avoid government sanctions and gain access to U.S. financial markets. The bank entered into a deferred prosecution agreement as part of the settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, a spokesman for U.S. District Court in Washington said today. The settlement, which included a local prosecutor and the Federal Reserve, relates to a previously disclosed probe of dollar payments from 2002 through April 2007, the bank said today in a statement.”

Disastrous subway cuts -- but no cuts to the bureaucracy? "New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday approved drastic service cuts as part of its new budget that must close a nearly $400 million deficit. The service cuts would include closing two subway lines, cutting station agents, slashing weekend and overnight service, and forcing pupils to pay for their travel to school, but MTA Chairman Jay Walder, at a webcast board meeting, promised to review the cuts over the next few weeks to see if their impact can be lessened.”

"Let me be clear" means "I am about to lie": "'There are those who claim we have to choose between paying down our deficits … and investing in job creation and economic growth,’ President Obama said last week. ‘This is a false choice.’ During the same speech, he asked his audience to ‘let me just be clear’ that his administration, having racked up the biggest budget deficits ever, is embracing fiscal responsibility, as reflected in his vow that ‘health insurance reform’ will not increase the deficit ‘by one dime.’ For connoisseurs of Obama-speak, the address featured a trifecta, combining three of his favorite rhetorical tropes. There was the vague reference to ‘those who’ question his agenda, the ‘false choice’ they use to deceive the public, and the determination to ‘be clear’ and forthright, in contrast with those dishonest naysayers. These devices are useful as signals that the president is about to mislead us.”

Free stuff from Uncle Sam: "I just got a free golf cart. Actually, it cost me $6,490 — but the dealer, Colin Riley of Tucson, Ariz., points out that there’s a $6,480 federal tax credit on such vehicles. Riley runs ads that say: ‘FREE ELECTRIC CAR … !’ Some consumers probably assume it’s a car-dealer scam, but it’s not. It’s an Uncle Sam scam.”

FTC suit against Intel misguided and uninformed: "Today the Federal Trade Commission filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Intel Corporation. The suit, which accuses Intel of violating Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914, comes on the heels of a separate antitrust lawsuit filed against Intel last month by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Technology analysts at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest group, questioned whether the FTC’s action is actually about protecting consumer welfare. ‘This lawsuit may succeed at grabbing headlines, but it won’t benefit consumers one bit,’ declared Ryan Radia, Associate Director of Technology Studies.”


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


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


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Is Protestantism of New Testament or of German origin?

Time for some sociology! I taught sociology for 12 years at a major Australian university so maybe I can claim to have some idea what it is all about. Sociology is actually a lot like climatology. You have to try to find a common thread in a whole lot of crazy data and the thread you think you have found may in the end not be there at all. But some of us like to make the effort anyway. At least we don't try to hide our data in sociology.

Max Weber's essay The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism is considered a classic in sociology and is usually cited with much reverence. When I was teaching in a sociology school myself, it always rather surprised me that my mainly Marxist colleagues seemed to think highly of it. I never quite saw how believers in economic determinism could accept Weber's spiritual determinism. But accept it they did.

I myself was never convinced. Weber makes a good case but I always doubted that competition for signs of election was enough to explain a capitalist orientation. I think Weber was fooled by the rationalizations that Calvinists put up rather than getting to their real motives.

The broader case that Protestantism in general was the spark that created the modern world did however seem to have something going for it. Many of the innovations and inventions that ushered in the industrial age originated from two communities with large Protestant populations: England and the German lands -- from Gutenberg's printing press to Watt's steam engine.

So it was with some interest that I read a report of some recent research which appears to show with considerable rigour that Protesant cities and Catholic cities of the early modern era in fact did equally well and were equally capitalist. I like the article so much that I have reposted it on my Paralipomena blog. The article is certainly strong support for my doubts about the Weber thesis. But does it also throw into a cocked hat the idea that Protestantism in general was beneficial?

Yes and No. It must be noted that the research concerned GERMAN cities only. It is not a comparison of Northern and Southern Europe, for instance. So it is not too disturbing to the theory overall. But the fact that Germans did equally well regardless of religion does strongly reinforce a theory that I put forward some years ago: That it was the Germanness of Protestantism that gave it its power, not its New Testament loyalties.

I am going to get myself into all sorts of strife here but Protestantism is a long way from the New Testament. I have explored the evidence for that at great length on my Scripture blog so let me just summarize that Luther, Calvin and Co. did not throw off much of Catholic theology. Absurdities of pagan origin such as the Holy Trinity mumbo jumbo (which is mentioned NOWHERE in the Bible) and the pretence that Winter solstice celebrations were somehow related to the (unknown) birthday of Christ were retained tout court. The real innovation was political rather than theological: Rejection of the authority of the Pope.

Perhaps the most vivid proof of what Protestantism is NOT lies in the fact that they still set aside the pagan Day of the Sun as their holy day, which runs contrary to every word on the subject in the Bible. Reverence for the sun was virtually universal in pagan religions and the Children of Israel deliberately set themselves aside from all that by making their holy day the day BEFORE the Day of the Sun. Had Protestantism really been a "back to the Bible" movement, they would have reverted to the Jewish Sabbath practice. Sabbath observance is after all a major aspect of Bible teachings. Jesus and the early Christians observed it, though not in a legalistic way. My copy of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance records over 50 references to the Sabbath in the New Testament. But instead of listening to the Bible the Protestants just used it as a fiddle upon which to play their preferred tunes.

So if theology was not the motor for Protestant innovations, what was? I have argued that Protestantism was a set of attiudes that came naturally to people of German stock, which includes the English, of course. Protestantism is an expression of Germanness rather than of the New Testament. But since the Germanness is basic, it is no surprise that German cities performed equally well regardless of their theology. The theology was not the driving force. It was, if you like, an epiphenomenon. All of which fits in well with the new research findings that I have mentioned above. It does however get me into deep do-do with any Leftist -- because Leftists these days refuse to believe in group differences -- no matter how much evidence you rub their noses in. American blacks as a group are just the same as whites as a group, only browner, don't you know?

So any Leftist reading this (if any) should get ready with the shrieks of "racism" now because what I am saying in summary is that the modern world was largely created by people of German origin and that their Protestant beliefs were a product and not a cause of what they were and became. I might note in passing that direct German ancestry is generally reckoned to be more common in the U.S. population than is English ancestry -- though the English themselves came from Germany 1500 years ago (the Anglo-Saxons).

My brief comments above do of course leave out a lot -- for instance the "counter-reformation" which in German lands did to an extent "Protestantize" Catholicism. But I think I have written enough for now. My earlier observations about Germanness are extensive, however, and can be found here or here.


Privileged Exemption

The contemptible mindset of intellectual elitists can be reduced to just two words: "privileged exemption."

* Al Gore and his soulmates want to "save the planet" from global warming—which completely justifies their flying to conferences in private jets, riding around in gas-guzzling limos, and living in homes that use twenty times the energy of ordinary houses.

* Congress can destroy the best health care system in the world—because they have their own Cadillac health care coverage, and will never have to endure whatever system they foist on us.

* College professors can rail against the injustice of our democratic republic and our capitalist system—because they live in college-supplied housing, have job-for-life tenure, and adjuncts relieving them from much of the "burden" of teaching.

* Politicians and celebrities are overwhelmingly in favor of "gun control"—because they have armed bodyguards and live in protected communities.

* The same bunch wants "social justice," even if it bankrupts America in the process—because they've already amassed so much personal wealth (from the very same capitalist system they ostensibly abhor) that no amount of "income re-distribution" will alter their lifestyles one iota.

* The miserable status quo of public education, due in large part to the intransigence of union contracts which nullify accountability, is acceptable—because the children of the elitists attend private schools, and because elite politicians need union contributions to get re-elected.

* Prosecuting wars without an all-out effort to achieve victory is acceptable—because "other peoples' kids" are doing the fighting and dying, and it's far more important to be "sensitive" to our enemy's concerns.

* Legalizing millions of lawbreaking border-busters is the "right thing to do"—because the privileged in business get cheap labor, and the privileged in politics get cheap votes.

* All attempts to foist world governance on America are perfectly acceptable—because elitists will be running things, and "messy impediments" like the Constitution will be unnecessary.

Privileged exemption, aka "do as I say, not as I do" has always been an integral part of the elitist mindset. It drives them to impose their agenda on the rest of us as a means of realizing a worldwide utopia, in which all the injustice of the world will have been eliminated, and everyone will be "equal."

Except for the elitists.

Why? Maintaining equality requires enforcement. Ask anyone who ever lived in a so-called "worker's paradise" who the most hated among them were, and you'll get the same answer: the "protectors of equality," from the ruling-party apparatchiks driving better cars and eating better food, to the secret police more than willing to crush dissent by any means necessary.

It is no accident that those who never face real world consequences for the bad decisions they make can be so casually indifferent to their irresponsibility. Such consequences are for "little people," and casual indifference can be reduced to one idea: if push comes to shove, I've got mine, the hell with everyone else.

The rest of us? Elitists insist that we don't eat meat or food with trans-fats, don't drive big cars, that we turn our thermostats up in summer and down in winter, mustn't smoke, and shouldn't have too many kids. We, not they, must learn to live with—and be happy with—less. Affluence isn't for everybody.

Only those with privileged exemption can handle it.



Obama was part of the movement to force banks to make high risk loans

This week we saw Obama on all the news shows blaming banks for the credit crisis saying that "you guys caused the problem" and calling them "fat cats."

This is the height of hypocrisy. Let me remind everyone that banks only operate within the regulatory environment that politicians create for them. All throughout the 80's and 90's, leftist groups led by ACORN harassed banks with protests, boycotts and lawsuits, falsely claiming banks were "discriminating" against minorities in terms of their lending practices.

The allegations were bogus. Banks do discriminate, however, against people with shaky finances regardless of race. And they should. Banks are not a welfare program. They're a business. They make lending decisions based on hard numbers such as a person's credit rating. That really don't care what race a person is; if someone's credit history gives a bank reason to believe its loan will be paid back, they'll make the loan. However, this was all before Congress started to meddle in banks' lending decisions.

Many of the 60's activists ended up getting involved with groups that harassed banks and filing lawsuits against them. Some of these suits were successful in that they often ended in settlements in which the banks agreed to make high risk loans to people who simply were not credit worthy. Eventually, this movement led to Congressional legislation called the Community Reinvestment Act, which applied even more pressure onto banks to make lending decisions based not on fiscal worthiness but on "diversity." And that was the beginning of the credit crisis.

So lets be clear here. Banks have been forced to make high risk loans as a result of years of protests, legislation, boycotts, and the CRA act. And who was involved with all of this? Why, our very own anointed one. Barack Obama. You can see his name here in the actual docket from one ACORN suit against Citibank. Or you can read more about this case here.

Yet Obama has the audacity to blame banks for acting under regulations that the movement created by ACORN successfully pushed for? Now that's chutzpah.

It time to face the truth folks: Obama was part of the "social justice" movement which created the incredibly stupid regulatory climate that caused banks to make loans they otherwise would never have made.

More here



WA: Islamist convicted in shootings at Seattle Jewish center: "A King County jury on Tuesday found Naveed Haq guilty of aggravated first-degree murder in the 2006 shootings at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, a verdict that carries an automatic life sentence. … Haq opened fire in the center’s offices, killing Pamela Waechter, 58. Several of the shooting victims who were in the courtroom hugged tearfully when the verdicts were announced. … Prosecutors had introduced as evidence recordings from 10 phone calls Haq, 34, placed to his family after his arrest. In them, Haq told his mother he was ‘a soldier of Islam.’”

OH: Court notices Fourth Amendment: "Police officers must obtain a search warrant before scouring the contents of a suspect’s cell phone unless their safety is in danger, a divided Ohio Supreme Court ruled Tuesday on an issue that appears never to have reached another state high court or the U.S. Supreme Court. The Ohio high court ruled 5-4 in favor of Antwaun Smith, who was arrested on drug charges after he answered a cell phone call from a crack cocaine user acting as a police informant.”

Feds arrest 26 in $61 million Medicare fraud: "Federal agents arrested 26 suspects in three states Tuesday, including a doctor and nurses, in a major crackdown on Medicare fraud totaling $61 million in separate scams. Arrests in Miami, Brooklyn and Detroit included a Florida doctor accused of running a $40 million home health care scheme that falsely listed patients as blind diabetics so that he could bill for twice-daily nurse visits.”

UK: Newspapers victorious in battle to protect sources: "The Independent has helped win an important court ruling protecting members of the public who supply confidential information to the media. Judges at the European Court of Human Rights said that The Independent and four other media groups were right to defy a court order to disclose documents that would have identified the source of a story about a multimillion pound City takeover in 2001. By standing their ground the four newspapers and one news agency faced massive fines and seizure of their assets, while the journalists who wrote the stories could have been jailed.”

Turning children into Orwellian eco-spies: "There is a long and sordid tradition of trying to socialise children by scaring them. The aim of such socialisation-through-fear is twofold: firstly, to get children to conform to the scaremongers’ values; secondly, to use children to influence, or at least to contain, their parents’ behaviour. When I was a schoolchild in Stalinist Hungary, we were frequently warned about the numerous threats facing our glorious regime. I also recall that we were encouraged to lecture our errant parents about the new wonderful values being promoted by our brave, wise leaders. The Big Brothers of the 1940s saw children as tools of moral blackmail and social control. Today, in the twenty-first century, scaremongers see children in much the same way, exploiting their natural concern with the wonders of life to promote a message of shrill climate alarmism.”

Don’t blame the Federal Reserve: "Long ago I quit criticizing the Federal Reserve chairman for failing to avert the latest systemic financial disaster, though I still pity him for enduring the endless Socratic essays, polemics, and indignant soliloquies of his detractors. Criticizing the Fed chairman for a lack of prescience is like criticizing a dog for an inability to recite the alphabet. When something is physiologically impossible, why bother?”

Race-based government established at expense of troops?: "The House and Senate are wrapping up work on the last appropriations bill of the year and rumors are swirling that the controversial Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, also known as the ‘Akaka Bill,’ will be included in the Defense Appropriations bill. The defense measure is proving to be controversial, because House and Senate appropriators are using it to carry non related matters like a $1.9 trillion debt limit increase, an extension of unemployment benefits and the Native Hawaiian measure. The Native Hawaiian bill, a long time priority of Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), would set up a race based government of ‘indigenous, native people of Hawaii.’”

The A380 problems never stop: " A glitch on a A380 superjumbo forced Air France to ground the plane in New York, the airline said yesterday, the second technical fault reported since the Airbus started flying to the route last month. The Monday evening flight from New York to Paris, with 511 passengers on board, "was delayed due to a technical problem on the plane," a spokeswoman for Air France told AFP, citing a problem with the fuel tanks. Half of the plane's passengers were put on alternative commercial flights on Tuesday while for the other half, Air France laid on an A340 aircraft that was due to fly on Tuesday evening, the spokeswoman said. Maintenance teams were "determining the cause of the fault," she added. Air France started flying the giant double-decker jet, the world's largest passenger plane, on November 23. Days later an Air France A380 was forced to turn around and land in New York after a fault with its navigation system. A spokesman for the airline cited "a minor computer problem" in that incident. Another A380, flown by Singapore Airlines, had to return to Paris on September 27 after one of its four engines failed during a routine flight to Singapore."


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


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


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The unreality-based community

More Democrats than Republicans believe in ghosts, talking with the dead, fortunetellers. This has emerged in past polls too

A new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reveals some startling differences between Republicans and Democrats on issues of spirituality and supernatural phenomenon.

The study, "Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths," reports that a significant number of Americans practice a mixture of religious beliefs, and "many also blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs such as reincarnation, astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects." The report is not specifically about partisan differences, but the results of the study are broken down by party affiliation, among many other categories. And the news on that front is that Democrats are far more likely to believe in supernatural phenomenon than Republicans.

"Conservatives and Republicans report fewer experiences than liberals or Democrats communicating with the dead, seeing ghosts and consulting fortunetellers or psychics," the Pew study says. For example, 21 percent of Republicans report that they have been in touch with someone who is dead, while 36 percent of Democrats say they have done so. Eleven percent of Republicans say they have seen a ghost, while 21 percent of Democrats say so. And nine percent of Republicans say they have consulted a fortuneteller, while 22 percent of Democrats have.

There's more. Seventeen percent of Republicans say they believe in reincarnation, while 30 percent of Democrats do. Fourteen percent of Republicans say they believe in astrology, while 31 percent of Democrats do. Fifteen percent of Republicans say they view yoga as a spiritual practice, while 31 percent of Democrats do. Seventeen percent of Republicans say they believe in spiritual energy, while 30 percent of Democrats do.

There are some areas in which the two partisan groups are similar. When Pew asked respondents whether they have had a religious or mystical experience, 50 percent of Republicans said yes, as did 50 percent of Democrats. But overall, there are sizable disparities.

What accounts for them? Pew doesn't say. But the report does note that there are gender, ethnic, and racial differences in the totals. "Having been in touch with a dead person is more common among women than men," the report says. "Women are also twice as likely to have consulted a fortuneteller or psychic. Blacks report more experience feeling in touch with the dead than whites or Hispanics. But they resemble whites and Hispanics on other items, such as encounters with a ghost or consulting a fortuneteller." Some of those gender, ethnic and racial differences might come into play in the partisan totals. But in the end, the Pew report offers no solid answers for why there are such differences between Republicans and Democrats. [That's easy. Anybody who believes in the Brooklyn Bridges that the Democrats keep trying to sell would believe anything -- as in: You can give free health insurance to 40 million more Americans and it won't cost a cent]



A time of universal deceit

Americans, not surprisingly, are feeling cynical. Gallup's just-released Honesty and Ethics of Professions poll shows that for the first time, most people -- 55 percent -- rate members of Congress low or very low for honesty and ethics. Senators come in slightly better at 49 percent. A whopping 9 percent of members of Congress and 11 percent of senators get high or very high ratings in honesty and ethics.

Even members of the clergy do not escape this cynical cloud hanging over the nation. Although 50 percent rate the clergy as high or very high in honesty and ethics, this is the lowest since Gallup starting reporting it.

This prevailing mood of distrust is understandable, given how commonplace it has become for so many in public life to lie to us. A mountain of hacked e-mails shows scientists who held the public trust regarding information on climate change research were liars. The e-mails show they selectively expunged data and suppressed research not supporting the conclusions they wanted showing man-made global warming.

Congress is frenetically trying to pass major health care reform that report after report shows is filled with politically manipulated data and conclusions. And now we learn that even Tiger Woods has been lying to us about who he is.

What is so troubling is that all this is not about human error or fallibility. It's the opposite. It's about individuals intentionally manipulating information to deceive the public in order to advance their own personal agendas.

Back in 2003, writer/physician Michael Crichton pointed out, in a speech he gave at the California Institute of Technology, how common sense was being violated in the research allegedly showing that human activity was causing the Earth's climate to warm irreversibly. "Nobody believes a weather prediction 12 hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everyone lost their minds?"

Similarly in the push for health care reform, the simple exercise of common sense would put the brakes on what is going on. Before us is proposed massive new government expenditures and intervention into health care markets under the assumption that the benefits of all this government activity will exceed the costs. But simple honesty would recognize that if this were true, it would be unprecedented. When Medicare was enacted in 1965, the projections then were that its annual expenditures by 1990 would be $12 billion. Actual expenditures in 1990 were $110 billion. Medicaid started as a proposed modest program with $1 billion in annual expenditures. It's now $280 billion.

We're told that health care reform won't cost more than $900 billion over 10 years. This is accomplished on paper by sleight of hand. Taxes are assumed to start in 2010, but expenditures not until 2014. Starting the meter when the expenditures actually begin shows that over the first 10 years, the costs are more like $2.5 trillion.

It's not that we no longer know how to conduct honest inquiry in America. It's that our interest in doing so is disappearing. How can you search for truth in a society that increasingly denies that truth exists?

What is adultery when our acceptance of something as basic as the definition of marriage can change with the political winds? So Woods, unhampered by moral constraint, simply pays handlers to produce a public image calculated to maximize his income.

Our national history began by asserting "self-evident truths." Now we have a president who, in his interpretation of our constitutional history, writes, "Implicit in its structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth. ..." It's times like this that George Orwell had in mind when he wrote: "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."



America's metastasizing bureaucracy under Obama

It's a cancer that seriously threatens America's health

Something President Obama said during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo about making foreign policy is equally applicable at home, namely, that the world must be dealt with as it is, not as we might wish it to be. This was highlighted by a USA Today investigative report published last week that found "federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time -- in pay and hiring -- during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector." In other words, bad times for the rest of us are good times for the federal establishment.

This recession has been such a boom time for the tax-supported bureaucracy that "federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months -- and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted." USA Today was especially struck by the fact that there was only one career federal worker making an annual salary of $170,000 or more at the U.S. Department of Transportation when the current recession began. Today, 18 months later, there are more than 1,600 career employees making that much at Transportation. We can only hope that none of those additional 1,600-plus high-paid workers was responsible for the $2 billion Cash for Clunkers debacle run by the Transportation Department.

Hot Air's Ed Morrissey points out something else that has occurred as the ranks of six-digit career government workers in Washington surged: "It's not as if they've been asked to do more with less, either. In the first six months of the year, the federal government was adding 10,000 jobs per month, and over the recession had grown the ranks of bureaucrats by 9.8 percent. The private sector, during that same period, shed 7.3 million jobs."

Hard times for folks outside of the federal establishment are also good times for Washington politicians with their never-ending thirst for finding new ways of grabbing tax dollars to benefit themselves, members of their families, present or former staff members, friends, or campaign donors. The $448 billion appropriations bill approved last week by the House contained more than 5,000 earmarks, many of which will ultimately benefit the favored few rather than the suffering many. It's helpful to keep these realities about Washington bureaucrats and politicians in mind the next time one of them steps forward and proposes solving another crisis with billions more tax dollars.



What Has Obama Accomplished?

Making the rounds of conservative talk shows lately is the question, “What has Obama accomplished so far?” The question is asked of of Obama supporters and the answers range from ‘abolishing lobbyists’ to ’securing world peace’ to ‘lowering taxes.’ One thing all answers have in common: They are all grounded in perception as opposed to reality.

Obama has accomplished the amazing feat of convincing millions of Americans that black is white, that cold is hot, that the bad economy is the fault of George W Bush, and the only things standing between America and peace on earth are those darn Republicans and greedy capitalists.

As author Thomas Sowell points out in ‘Is Reality Optional?’ social history in the last 30 years has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good. And no-where is this more evident than in the ‘change’ Obama is foisting on the American people.

The empty rhetoric of ’social justice’ and ‘compassion’ is convincingly and successfully being used to justify ever more ludicrous social policies, which just happen to come with a huge price tag and more government control.

Ignored by the left and the media, however, is the inconvenient fact that every single policy promoted by Obama and passed by congress has been a dismal failure. From the jobs ’stimulus’ package that has cost taxpayers a whopping $236,436 per job created – to the the ‘cash for clunkers’ – to the $61 billion bucks taxpayers just lost through the AIG and auto industry bailout. Add in the $75 billion mortgage relief program to stem the largely government caused ‘foreclosure crisis.’ This program has helped a grand total of 31,000 borrowers to date, a paltry 4% of the 760,000 who have applied.

Despite the dismal failures of these policies, Obama and his cohorts continue advocating more of the same. As Dr. Sowell points out, “The anointed are often wrong but never in doubt.”

Though 80% of Americans are happy with their health insurance, Obama has declared a health care crisis. Obama and congress have devoted most of the year to imposing government run health care on all citizens, despite the fact that 61% of Americans oppose it.

Though evidence has recently surfaced undermining the dire claims of global warming, our elected elites continue to ignore relevant science, insisting that a massive redistribution of our wealth is needed in order to pay an imagined ‘climate debt’ to third world countries. Meanwhile, record unemployment and rising fees and taxes continue to devastate businesses and families across the nation. The exception are federal workers, who just got a 2% pay raise.

As Democrat leaders and their allies take to the airwaves denouncing corporate greed, our public servants are scrambling to enact policies that enable them to extort an ever increasing portion of the wealth created by American workers. In the process, severely undermining the rule of law and ignoring the limitations imposed by our Constitution.

The Obama administration has plunged America into debt to the tune of a record $12 trillion dollars. That’s $39,000 owed by every man woman and child in America. And there is no end in sight. House Democrats just passed a $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill to fund the federal government. This bill includes $2 billion for ‘climate’ research, major spending boosts for domestic agencies and foreign aid. It also includes more than 5,200 pork barrel projects costing $3.9 billion. On top of that, Democrats are preparing to raise the federal debt ceiling by as much as $1.8 trillion before New Year’s.

Obama’s policies are destroying the dollar and bankrupting America. Moody’s just issued a warning that our triple A rating is in danger. Our president is also in the process of ceding American sovereignty to world bodies like the United Nations and the International Criminal Court.

What Obama has accomplished is astounding. He has managed in the short space of one year to dramatically alter the historical focus on individual rights and liberties to an ephemeral concept that focuses on government primacy.

Due to Obama’s charisma and his skill in manipulating the system and redefining words to fit transient meanings, many Americans continue to believe Obama’s rhetoric, willfully ignoring the underlying reality. Their belief has taken on a religious fervor based on faith and emotion and any facts to the contrary are summarily dismissed. After all, “Obama won.”

Once again, Thomas Sowell says it best: “We may be entering an era where the greatest dangers to the survival of Western civilization will come from internal social deterioration. Other great civilizations have declined and collapsed. We may be the first, however, to sink slowly into the quagmire, still beaming from ear to ear in self-congratulation at how ‘innovative’ we are in our social policies.”

Obama is a dangerous man. He has convinced millions of Americans that they are entitled to the fruits of another man’s labor. Virtually all of his policies to date have been designed to foster a dependence on government. But what the government gives, the government can take. As millions of enslaved peoples across the globe could attest – if they were allowed.




Obama goes from dazzle to drone: "It wasn’t so long ago that Barack Obama’s speeches were being hailed as ‘extraordinary rhetorical magic’ … that should be ‘required reading in classrooms’ …. Pity the poor grade-schoolers who have to be on the bus at 5 a.m. for a daylong slog through the 4,000-word sludge of the president’s Nobel thank you. … [T]he point of Barack Obama is to dazzle. … The squealing Obammyboppers of the media seem to have gotten more muted since those inaugural specials hit the newsstands back in late January. His numbers have fallen further faster than those of any other president — because of where he fell from. … The Obama speechwriting team doesn’t seem to realize that. They seem to be the last guys on the planet in love with the sound of his voice and their one interminable tinny tune with its catchpenny hooks.”

Is stealing a virtue?: "I am profoundly disappointed in Caritas in Veritate, the encyclical issued on June 29, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. It contains no fewer than six endorsements of wealth redistribution by government. It must be understood that wealth redistribution by government involves the use of its coercive powers to take resources from those who have earned them and give them to those who have not. Previous popes have seen a serious danger in such a forced redistribution.”

Drowning in red ink: "It took the Obama administration less than a year to reduce the United States from the country with a currency that is considered a safe haven when international storms threaten, to one that is warned by a rating agency that unless it mends its profligate ways it will lose the triple-A credit rating it has had since U.S. government debt was first assessed in 1917. Who would have thought when Barack Obama took the oath of office some eleven months ago that Dubai World, Greece, the UK, and America would attract the attention of the rating agencies in the same week. But here we are, caught in what consultants at The Lindsey Group call an ‘Attack on the Sovereigns.’”


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


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


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Is the Brain Like a Muscle, Really?

I thought I would reproduce the Newsweak column below as proof that Leftists never learn anything. Results such as they describe have been known for years. What nobody has been able to show is that the beneficial effects of special training are lasting. Educationally "enriched" kids are just as dumb when they get to adulthood as are control groups -- mainly because environmental handicaps tend to fade in importance as we get older. I noted recently some very powerful genetic research which showed exactly that: Environmental influences do matter somewhat in childhood but that fades out so that in adulthood it is your genetics that dictate your abilities.

Probably what the findings below show is that if you train kids in doing the sort of tasks that you encounter in IQ tests, they will get better at doing IQ tests for as long as they remember the training.

There is a slightly expanded account of the research concerned here but I can find no trace of it being published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. That leaves a lot of questions unanswered. It is, for instance, normal for there to be a "learning effect" in IQ testing. If you give the same test to the same people two weeks apart, they will do significantly better the second time around. That alone could explain the results below. The proper academic way to circumvent that problem is to use a "parallel form" of the test on the second time around. Most tests do have such forms available. Did the researchers below do that? Who knows? Other Problems: Was the study double-bind? Again, who knows? So I think that the bright-eyed enthusiasm shown below is mainly a product of uncritical and uninformed thinking.

For a sidelight on the issue, I reproduce a recent email from a reader underneath the article below. Some people don't need "enriched" education. In fact they do very well with very little. You will never guess who. In the end genetics rule the roost. Education can increase your knowledge and give you some skills but it cannot increase your ability to learn and figure things out
Back in 2007, Ashley and I reported on the science of praise for New York magazine, highlighting in particular the body of work by Dr. Carol Dweck. Dweck had done studies for over a decade – and we covered them all – including a brand new semester-long intervention that had been conducted with Lisa Blackwell at Life Sciences Secondary School in East Harlem.

Life Sciences is a health-science magnet school with high aspirations but 700 students whose main attributes are being predominantly minority and low achieving. The scholars split the kids into two groups for an eight-session workshop. The control group was taught study skills, and the others got study skills and a special module on how intelligence is not innate. These students took turns reading aloud an essay on how the brain grows new neurons when challenged. They saw slides of the brain and acted out skits. After the module was concluded, Blackwell tracked her students’ grades to see if it had any effect.

It didn’t take long. The students who had been taught that intelligence can be developed improved their study habits and grades. In a single semester, Blackwell reversed the students’ longtime trend of decreasing math grades.

The only difference between the control group and the test group were two lessons, a total of 50 minutes spent teaching not math but a single idea: that the brain is a muscle. Giving it a harder workout makes you smarter. That alone improved their math scores.

Ever since that New York magazine story was published, it’s been common now to tell kids the brain is like a muscle, and intelligence is malleable. The catch was that the students at Life Sciences were reading a four-page middle-reader version of neuroscience-lite that was somewhat edited to enhance, or sell, the idea that IQ isn’t fixed.

So it’s been a legitimate ongoing question whether we’re really now telling kids the truth, when we tell the brain is a muscle. Just how malleable is IQ, really? Are we misleading them at all, when we suggest their IQ is something they can control?

As Ashley and I wrote in NurtureShock, children’s IQs do change a lot as they develop. More than half of children will see significant swings in their IQ – not just once, but three times. And the swings are not minor. Two-thirds of children’s IQ scores improve, or drop, more than 15 points. One-third of kids’ scores jump more than 30 points. So there’s clearly a lot of instability going on.

But does that give us license to suggest to kids their brains can really be altered, quickly? Are we lying to them if we ignore there’s some element of genetic predestination?

Well, that’s why yesterday’s column here was, we believe, so important. Drs. Silvia Bunge and Allyson Mackey set up a special afterschool program at a low-performing elementary school in Oakland. For eight weeks, twice a week, kids came into one of two rooms to play board games, video games, and card games. These are games available at most retailers, but they’d been chosen by Bunge and Mackey because they demanded very specific cognitive skills. One set of games – in one room – challenged the kids’ reasoning ability. The other set of games – in the other room – challenged those kids’ processing speed.

Before and after the training, the scholars measured relevant components of the children’s IQs. The scholars expected some modest improvement. But the results were staggering – the group that trained for reasoning ability saw their non-verbal intelligence scores leap 32%. The group that trained for processing speed saw their brain speed scores jump 27%. In just eight weeks – 20 hours total of training – the games had a drastic impact on the kids’ IQ.

Now, Mackey does warn that kids who already come from enriched home environments might already have these games, or something similar, and in many ways they might have already trained their brains. So while Mackey suspects all kids could benefit from the game training, not all kids would benefit so much, so quickly.

Nevertheless, it’s striking evidence that indeed, the brain is like a muscle. While every individual probably has upper limits to what we might be capable of, brain training – like weight training, or fitness training – can lift us towards those limits.


An email from a reader with some relevance: "My wife is picking up our 10 year old adopted Chinese child at this moment. The little girl speaks 3 dialects, knows well over 1000 Hanzi characters, is able to read (not yet speak) quite a bit of English, and is off the charts in technological aptitude. And this from a girl who hasn't been exposed to 1/5 of what kids from even our lowest, social welfare classes receive. Tell me there's not something biological going on. As well as more courage and determination that what is generally inculcated in our society - at that age, anyway."


Harry Reid and Slavery

In remarks intended to further paint the political right as immoral, racist and evil, Reid offered that, "Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, 'slow down, stop everything, let's start over.' If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right…When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said 'slow down, it's too early, things aren't bad enough.' "

Reid is obviously confused. Republicans have no power to block passage of the senate healthcare reform bill. Nor are Republicans delaying passage of Obamacare. If Healthcare reform is being delayed and/or eventually dies it will be because one or more of Reid’s fellow Democrats decided to do the right thing and kill this Frankenbill where it lays.

Ironically, had Reid been speaking to Democrats he would not only have been currently correct, but historically accurate as well. It was of course the Democrat Party that was late recognizing the wrongs of slavery; it was Democrats that wrote the Jim Crow laws and enforced them with fire hoses and attack dogs; it was the progressive hero Woodrow Wilson who segregated the federal government and locked Blacks out of jobs; it was the democrat party that filibustered passage of the civil rights acts of 1964 and ’65 and in fact has opposed every piece of civil rights legislation written since the end of the civil war.

Reid’s remarks might also be more properly directed at Democrats given that the reasoning used by new liberals of the 21st century and Democrats of the 19th century bear a striking similarity.

What is slavery except the usurping of one mans liberty and private property in service of another man? The defenders of slavery argued that the founding was a lie, that all men were in fact not created equal, that, in fact – to borrow from Thomas Jefferson – some were “born with saddles and others with boots and spurs to ride them.” They pointed to advances in science and philosophy that proved Black people were a sub-species of human and thus justified their defense of slavery as a moral good. They further argued that the right to self determination meant slave owners could transport their chattel into non-slave states thus making slavery the law of the land through the back door. The defenders of slavery declared that it was they who were on the “right side” of history and the fact of slavery was proof.

The argument is almost indistinguishable from the case the left makes in defense of abortion, which they demand be a part of what they call healthcare reform. The right to self-determination is sacred yet does not apply to children in utero as they are not human; the Rights articulated in the Declaration do not apply to them. We are an advanced society and history demands that we recognize that abortion is a moral good.

Similar arguments run through most of the new lefts social agenda. They will argue that the founders of this great nation never intended that the rights they spoke of applied to all people in all times. For Reid and the rest of his Democratic cohorts some men were in fact born with saddles and others meant to ride them. To the new left a just government - a moral and compassionate government-is one that secures the newly discovered right to healthcare (or housing; or a job; or food) by confiscating the property of some in service to others. The fact that socialist Europe has already moved in that direction is proof enough that they are on the “right side” of history.

Reid invokes the image of America’s original sin in order to preserve the lefts inflated sense of its own virtue. In 2010 who but the most backward of all thinkers would side with the defenders of slavery? Who indeed?

Harry Reid is free to demonize Republicans and turn the past into fiction; it won’t make a bit of difference. It won’t make the healthcare reform bill any less terrible and it won’t make history anymore than an indifferent and no doubt amused observer.



Obama approval index falls to -16

(-16 means that 16% more strongly disapprove than strongly approve)

Rasmussen reports Saturday's Obama's Presidential Approval Index, fell to -16. Yet another record low for Obama.

Only 25% of the nation's voters still Strongly Approve of the way Obama is performing his role as President. Obama's falling popularity is partly the result of declining enthusiasm among Democrats - only 43% of whom now strongly approve of Obama's performance.

Only 36% of all voters believe that the Obama is doing a good or an excellent job handling the economy, while 45% rate his economic performance as poor.

On national security matters, only 39% rate the Obama's performance as good or excellent while, 36% say poor.

Rasmussen Reports presidential job approval ratings are based upon a sample of likely voters, rather than samples of all adults. Obama’s numbers are always several points higher in a poll of adults rather than likely voters because some of Obama's most enthusiastic supporters, such as young adults, are less likely to turn out to vote.

It's not just Rasmussen, a week ago even CNN found Obama's job approval rating fell 48%, confirming similar results from Gallup, Quinnipiac, and Hawkeye a week earlier.




Rap: What's It Good For?: "I would have said absolutely nothing, until I saw this news story in the New York Post: Times Sq. gunman held weapon like rapper: "A Times Square bloodbath was narrowly avoided because the machine-pistol-toting thug who fired at a cop flipped the gun on its side like a character out of a rap video, causing the weapon to jam after two shots, law-enforcement sources said yesterday. When scam artist Raymond "Ready" Martinez held the MAC-10-style gun parallel to the ground, it caused the ejecting shells to "stovepipe," or get caught vertically in the chamber, the sources said. The gun is designed to be fired only in a vertical position. If he had fired the weapon -- which had another 27 rounds in the clip -- properly, Martinez, 25, could have killed the hero cop pursuing him and countless others walking through the swarming tourist mecca Thursday morning." Heh. Martinez was himself a rapper of little note."

Barack Obama ensures a long depression: "Political success, as reflected in the recent gubernatorial races appears ever-more staked on the state of the economy. Official unemployment recently measured 10 percent, though the more-honest gauge (U-6) shows the nation running unemployment at a Depression-like 17.2 percent. In response to high unemployment numbers, Barack Obama has said, ‘I will not rest until all Americans who want to work can.’ Yet Mr. Obama’s policies belie his words.”

TSA: Worse than useless: "Airport security in the USA is a joke, and a bad one at that. It’s easy to create a fake boarding pass with Photoshop. And it’s not that much more difficult to steal someone’s identity to create fake identification documents. Indeed, the entire U.S. airline security process is nothing but ’security theater,’ a term coined by programmer and security consultant Bruce Schneier. But we still have ID checks, secret databases, and no-fly lists.”

Job Growth By Spring?: "The President’s top economic advisor, Larry Summers, told me that “by spring employment growth will start turning positive. During my "This Week" interview, Summers said that “everybody agrees that the recession is over,” but he did not say when the unemployment rate could be expected to drop further. The unemployment rate dipped last month to 10 percent from a peak of 10.2 percent. Many private economists, like Moody’s Mark Zandi, predict unemployment will climb through the third quarter of next year to 10.6 percent.

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


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


Monday, December 14, 2009

The old, old story: "Soaking the rich" does not work

In Britain, it is particularly foolish -- but hate overcomes the reason of its Leftist rulers. The financial services industry is Britain's biggest earner and they are steadily chasing it away to nearby Jersey, an independent country under the crown but outside both the UK and the EU -- where the movers get tiny taxes and lovely freedom from mountains of bureaucracy!

Britain’s financiers and entrepreneurs are quitting the UK at a rate of 10 a week to avoid Labour’s new 50% taxes. The burgeoning exodus threatens to deepen a £178 billion black hole in the public finances and leave middle-class voters with higher taxes for years to come, figures obtained from Companies House reveal. The number of directors of British businesses registered as living in the low-tax centres of Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man has risen by almost 500 to 6,729 in the past 12 months. The British Virgin Islands is also a popular destination, with 615 directors of UK companies now based in the Caribbean tax haven — an 18% rise on a year ago.

Those known to be fleeing the UK include hedge fund managers, property tycoons, bankers and people who made their money setting up companies organising private healthcare, call centres and luxury holidays. “The UK model is broken,” said Stephen Hedgecock, a partner in Altis, a £1 billion hedge fund company with 35 staff that has relocated to Jersey, leaving only a small presence in London. “It’s not just the 50% rate — it’s National Insurance, the treatment of pensions ... everything. It’s just a ridiculous amount of taxation.”

Russell Newton and Danny Masters, co-founders of Global Advisors, another hedge fund with hundreds of millions of dollars under management, also abandoned London for Jersey’s thriving finance community in the summer.

Another 100 Britons have begun working in the island’s businesses since the downturn began two years ago. The Jersey government said it had seen a 20% increase in interest from people looking at moving to the island. A new marketing brochure published by the island’s authorities promises “in Jersey, keep more of what you earn”. The authorities impose corporation tax at 10% and income tax at 20%. There is no inheritance tax or capital gains tax. Property taxes are also low.

Jersey Finance, an agency set up to attract financial talent to the island, has held a series of private dinners in London to woo new residents. Geoff Cook, the agency’s chief executive, said: “The 50% tax rate does seem to have been the tipping point for many people.” However, the island’s authorities maintain that the rich often favour Jersey because of the easy access to London, the sandy beaches, low crime rates and the use of English as the first language. “There is a lot of interest right now,” said Nigel Philpott, the Jersey government’s head of high net worth residency. “Last year I was getting one or two calls a day from people who wanted to come and join us. Now I get four or five on some days.”

Paul Bater, 52, a former bank manager from Swansea, is so happy with his move to Jersey that he has allowed himself to be used as a case study in promotional literature for Jersey Enterprise. “I love living in Jersey. The pace of life is much more civilised than anywhere else I have worked,” he said.

John George, the owner of Jag Communications, the UK’s third biggest mobile phone retailer, has moved to Guernsey, Jersey’s neighbour. The 48-year-old businessman now commutes by private plane to his company’s office at Perranporth, Cornwall. The journey takes just 30 minutes — and ends at his privately owned airfield. “It’s very easy, very straightforward and I never get stuck at the lights or any of that,” said George. His office is fewer than five minutes from the airfield.

For years considered little more than family holiday resorts, Jersey and Guernsey have become a playground for the rich in recent years, with Michelin-starred restaurants, luxury spas and hotels. Almost one in five of the island’s workers has a job in financial services. There are nearly 3,000 experts who help people set up trusts and companies — a rise of 12% since the onset of economic downturn. It is a similar situation in the Isle of Man, which says it has seen a 20% growth in the non-banking financial sector.



In Britain, the more things change the more they remain the same

Article below by Nick Clegg, leader of Britain's third party, the Liberal Democrats. The British electoral system is certainly a farce and much to blame for Britain's many periods of misrule

For two professions, 2009 has been a shameful year: politicians and bankers. Both had their worst vices and darkest secrets exposed to public view. Such is the disdain in which these two groups are now held, any rational observer would expect significant consequences: radical reform driven through by public outrage. And yet, as 2009 draws to a close, the stark truth is that both politicians and bankers are being let off the hook.

Nothing is fundamentally changing in Westminster or bankers’ boardrooms. Nothing is changing because the two old parties, Labour and the Conservatives, have chosen to duck reform.

In politics, some simple and welcome administrative changes are being made to iron out the worst excesses of the expenses system. But attempts to go further and really clean up politics, addressing the causes of this scandal instead of just its symptoms, have been blocked.

Proposals to give people the right to sack their MPs were voted down by Labour and the Conservatives. Efforts to get big money out of politics have been stifled by the influence of the donors who control those parties. And still there is no action in sight to elect the House of Lords or create a truly fair voting system.

Our political system has become a glorified stitch-up between the two old parties: the warped electoral system that allows Gordon Brown to govern with little more than 22% of the electorate’s vote; the murky system of party funding that allows offshore donors to the Conservative party to avoid answering questions on whether they pay full British taxes; a House of Lords that has become a dumping ground for political poodles obedient to the government of the day; a Westminster culture still steeped in the 19th-century tastes of the political classes (the House of Commons has a shooting gallery, but not a crèche).

Unsurprisingly, the Labour and Conservative parties have an interest in maintaining this system. They act as vested interests do in all walks of life: trying to get away with the minimum amount of change in order to protect their interests. This is a betrayal of everyone who hoped for a silver lining from the expenses scandal — everyone who hoped it would be the beginning of a new, decent political system.

In banking it’s the same story: yes to cosmetic change but no to real reform. The past few months have been dominated by displacement activity. The government talks tough about the excesses of the Square Mile but refuses to reform the City for good. Plans for a one-off tax on bonuses are little more than a symbolic pinprick. It will be easy for banks and their employees to avoid and, because it is a one-off measure, it will change nothing about the fundamentals of the banking system.

For years, banks took mad risks with other people’s money until eventually the system collapsed. But they didn’t have to pay the price for their failure: we did. The banks have had to be propped up at enormous cost to every one of us. Only a fool would say we do not need substantial reform to stop this happening again.

It is vital that the high-street banks on which consumers, households and small businesses depend are never again put at risk by the casino culture of investment banking. As the governor of the Bank of England has repeatedly recommended, we need to separate high-street and investment banking for good.

Until this split can be introduced, the banks will remain the beneficiaries of a unique, open-ended guarantee against failure from the taxpayer, a guarantee for which they should pay a fair price. That’s why Liberal Democrats are arguing for the introduction of a new banking levy of 10% on the profits of the banks until they can be split up.

But why are we the only voice at Westminster arguing for far-reaching reform? The government and the Conservatives claim it’s too tricky to split up the banks. They won’t get behind a tax on banks’ profits that is both necessary and fair. Just as both of the old parties act as vested interests blocking reform of the House of Commons, so too the vested interests in the City appear to have succeeded in getting the old parties to block real reform of the banking system too.

In banking and in politics, then, real reform is being stifled. The consequences will be profound. If we don’t reform politics from top to toe, we leave in place the ingredients for a repeat of this summer’s scandal. If we don’t reform banking, we leave in place the ingredients for another financial collapse sometime in the future. If we do not act now, while momentum and anger still remain, we will live to regret it.

2009 was a year of scandal and wasted opportunities. But history is not yet done with those scandals. There is still an opportunity for real change. We must make 2010 a year for doing things differently.



New respect for Palin

Talk about turning tides. They are ebbing so fast for Zero and flowing in so fast for Sarah Palin that they are crossing each other in the polls.

As TTP's Jack Kelly tells the HFR, Sarah's book tour has become a cultural phenomenon, with thousands of people waiting hours or even days at each stop to meet her. "Could Barack Obama -- who now seems so last year -- inspire that kind of devotion today?" asks Mr. Kelly.

More fascinating than to watch Palin's rise in the public's opinion of her is the rise in the media's opinion of her. The lib journalists well know how savagely they tried to demonize her, which would have destroyed the spirit of most anyone. Yet she has not only withstood it but done so with grace, guts, and humor.

It's really hard not to respect that. So it was an astonishing scene at the Gridiron Dinner last week during the reception before her speech to see all these media honchos crowding around her and asking for her autograph.

Then she stands up in front of them, the folks who have made every attempt to trash and destroy her publicly, and blows them right out of their seats with this lovably clever and hysterically funny speech.

No, they're not going to love her like Zero. But the media libs have a new, a profoundly new, respect for her. The dynamic between Palin and the media has dramatically changed.

Clear evidence is the review of Going Rogue this week (12/07) by New York Times columnist Stanley Fish. Folks, this is in The New York Times! You should read every word. This liberal journalist's conclusion:

"In the end, perseverance, the ability to absorb defeat without falling into defeatism, is the key to Palin's character... The message is clear. America can't be stopped. I can't be stopped. I've stumbled and fallen, but I always get up and run again. Her political opponents, especially those who dismissed Ronald Reagan before he was elected, should take note. Wherever you are, you better watch out. Sarah Palin is coming to town."

Of course, you have a copy of Going Rogue and are reading it, yes? I'm about half-way through. My favorite quote so far is this one. Who can resist a woman who has the moxie to say: "I love meat. I eat pork chops, thick bacon burgers, and the seared fatty edges of a medium-well-done steak. But I especially love moose and caribou. I always remind people from outside our state that there's plenty of room for all Alaska's animals - right next to the mashed potatoes."

The sun is setting on Zero and rising on Sarah. So - the next time you're gloomy and blue over what's happening to our country, repeat two words a few times and you'll find the gloom soon gone with the wind. The two words are: President Palin. See? I bet you feel better already.




Britain's laughable security vetting: "Ten members of a suspected Islamist terror cell, said by MI5 to be plotting to blow up a shopping centre and a nightclub in Manchester, had been granted permission by the Home Office to work as security guards in Britain. The Pakistani students — who were never charged for lack of evidence — were arrested over an alleged plot to bomb Britain last Easter. Police believed they had conducted “hostile reconnaissance” of the Arndale and Trafford shopping centres and the Birdcage nightclub. It has now emerged that in the months before the alleged plot, the men were given licences to work as security guards by the Security Industry Authority (SIA), a Home Office body that regulates the private security industry. They all passed a vetting programme designed to bar criminals and undesirables from taking up sensitive security posts protecting airports, ports and Whitehall buildings from terrorist attack. When arrested, two of the students were working for a cargo firm which had access to secure areas at Manchester airport".

Ireland cuts public sector spending: "Faced with public debts spiralling out of control and a tottering economy, Brian Lenihan, the finance minister, unveiled the toughest budget in the history of the Irish state. He announced cuts in public sector pay and welfare benefits that will save £3.6 billion — about 7% of government spending. Nothing was sacred. The government will save £900m by cutting the pay of every public servant. Those earning under £27,000 a year face cuts of 5%, increasing to 15% for the best paid. The prime minister is facing a 20% drop in salary. Another £900m will be saved from capital expenditure, while cuts in social welfare will save £684m next year. They include reducing the dole from £184 to £176 a week. Disability payments are to be cut by 4% and child benefit by 10%. The tough measures are intended to stop the budget deficit widening beyond £19 billion next year, which is equivalent to 12% of gross domestic product. The deficit is already four times the level allowed by Ireland’s membership of the euro and Brussels wants Dublin to bring it back to within 3% of GDP by 2014. So far the public reaction has been restrained, although the public sector unions have been predictably outraged."


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


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


Sunday, December 13, 2009


Instapunk is a much better blog than its name suggests but it does have the peculiarity of no permalinks that I can find and hence, presumably, no archives. I was particularly interested in a transcript of Dec. 10th from a video by Andrew Klavan, a recent convert from Leftism to realism. Klavan says:
Shame and guilt and self-hatred are universal. Whether you chalk it up to original sin or to Oedipus or call it Jewish guilt or Catholic guilt or white guilt or black guilt, every single one of us knows he is not the person he was made to be. There are honest ways to confront that. You can kneel before God and pray for forgiveness and live in the joy of his love. Or you can drink heavily and make sardonic remarks until you destroy everyone you care about and then keel over dead – that’s honest too. But what a lot of people do is try to escape their sense of shame dishonestly by constructing elaborate moral frameworks that allow them to parade their virtue and their lavish repentance without any real inconvenience to themselves while simultaneously indulging in self-righteousness by condemning others for their impenitent evil. That’s the bad version of religion – the sort of religion Jesus came to dismantle. And that’s exactly the sort of religion leftism is: an elaborate system for hiding shame behind a cheap mask of virtue. That’s why they demonize any opposition. To them, we’re not just disagreeing with them, we’re threatening to tear off the mask of their virtue and reveal them to themselves.

I think that's a pretty good diagnosis of at least some Leftism but I think his initial generalization is far too broad: "Shame and guilt and self-hatred are universal". Really? Universal among leftists, maybe but I doubt that many lifelong conservatives are moved by such feelings. I certainly have never felt any such feelings and I pass as a pretty good conservative, I think. I am in fact perfectly happy with my life and have been as far back as I can remember. I was probably born that way. I have no tolerance for the many rogues of the world and do my best to expose them when and where I can but I certainly don't need that activity to feel good. Being a born academic, I would probably be just as happy studying medieval theology or learning more Latin. In fact I would rather do that but I think the world is in great danger from a resurgence of Leftism so I feel that I have to direct my energies to where they are most needed.

As I see it, conservatives are basically happy and contented people who are in fact far too tolerant of the Leftist crooks who wish them nothing but harm. When really pushed, conservatives do rise up but mostly they just want to get on with their own lives with as little interference from others as possible. And ideological Leftists (as distinct from the many ordinary sensible people who are duped into voting Leftishly on election day) hate that. They want everyone else to be as discontented and as miserable as they are. They need it for self-validation. They want us all to be ants in one big anthill, to paraphrase Hegel. They dislike individualism because they are not capable of it themselves. Marching along in lockstep with some current "consensus" is their thing. They seem to need that for a sense of security -- unlike us conservative "heretics". I say much more about all that here and here


I have finally found the permalink to the Instapunk posts. It is a tiny "bug" just before the word "Comments". So the permalink to the Klavan comments is this. The permalink to posts here is the timestamp, a longstanding system in blogspot blogs.


Obama finally got a few things right

Maybe he is learning on the job

President Obama displayed exceptional dignity and humility in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday in Oslo. He diplomatically but candidly acknowledged that grave doubts surrounded his worthiness of the award, having been nominated only a few days after his inauguration. He rightly said that “my accomplishments are slight” compared to past recipients, and he acknowledged that “there are men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in pursuit of justice” who are “far more deserving of this honor than I.”

The president further recognized the irony that just a few days earlier he had announced his decision to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan and to ask the leaders of the 43 nations allied to our cause there to increase their contributions to the effort. In justifying the need to conduct war even as he accepted a prize for peace, Obama described the hard realities of the 21st century: “The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.”

These observations herald the appearance of a more mature and reflective Obama who expected to reshape the office he now holds but finds that he is instead having to revise his understanding of what its duties require of him. So he reminded his worldwide audience that “a nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies … negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms …the belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it.”

And, most important of all, he added this: “The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other people's children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.” Those are words of which every American can be proud.




by Rep. John Campbell (R-CA)

There have been a number of recent stories exposing the complete folly of the so-called "stimulus" plan and the number of jobs claimed to have been "created or saved" by this rapacious spending undertaken by the Obama Administration. Take for instance, the 935 jobs at the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council, the administration it claimed to have 'saved', even though they really only employ 508 people. Or how about the 129 jobs that were said to have been 'created' at a childcare center in Florida when the money was actually used for employee raises, and not new jobs.

Using these methods, in Obama speak, today I created or saved 3,000 calories towards my diet. Clearly, I could have eaten 300 more calories if I tried, but I "saved" those calories due to my stimulus plan. At this rate, I could lose 100,000 calories while still gaining weight! Now, that is Obamanomics.

Well, many have already become expert 'Obamanomists.' I asked some of my constituents in Orange County, CA for their experiences using 'Obamanomics,' and I recieved many good responses, but the one below is by far my favorite. I am interested in hearing your best example of 'Obamanomics.'
Using Obamamath, I've just saved, nay, created a great deal of money. How? I had wanted to buy a new Lamborghini Gallardo roadster so that I could drive to the White House to personally thank our beloved President for all that he is doing to save us from financial ruin. The trip, via New Orleans in order to view the results of former President Bush's failure to forestall Hurricane Katrina, would have been an approximately 6,000-mile roundtrip.

I didn't buy the Lamborghini, as it wasn't manufactured by Government Motors. I not only saved (created) some $243,000 (including tax) by not making this purchase, but I saved (created) an additional $1,500 by not purchasing fuel for the trip.

Since both the Gallardo and its fuel would have been imported, I'm sure that the Governmental Accountability Office would classify these as "green" savings. Thus by not buying a Lamborghini Gallardo, and not driving it to visit our President, I will have created a total of $244,500 in Green Savings. Not bad for an amateur!

But think for a moment: If each of the approximately 4 million families who live in Barack Obama's Illinois and Joe Biden's Delaware were to NOT buy a new Lamborghini, and NOT drive to the White House (via New Orleans), we would create an additional $1 trillion in new Green Wealth. Now that's Obamawealth with a vengeance!



The bailout that never ends

The $700 billion Wall Street bailout last year proved exceedingly unpopular with regular Americans. Nevertheless, House Democrats, with their tin ears to the ground, are looking to make bailouts the status quo by creating a permanent bailout fund.

The financial regulation bill cooked up by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the “Barney Bill,” offers a smorgasbord of bad policies that will affect every American. The Barney Bill is yet another leg of the Giant Government Takeover of major industries pushed through the House this year. If your appetite for bigger government wasn’t satiated by the Car Takeover (GM and Chrysler), the Energy Takeover (cap and trade) or the Health Care Takeover, Barney has something designed just for you: The Financial System Takeover.

There are many reasons to oppose the financial regulatory overhaul bill on the floor this week, but the major reasons are that it will further tighten credit, allow bureaucrats to chop up U.S. businesses they deem “too big,” cost consumers more and kill jobs.

When I operated my own business as a builder, I had to face tough and sometimes scary risks. I might leverage all I could to buy $3 million to $5 million worth of land and then face borrowing millions more for building costs. If there was a demand for my product, I could profit handsomely. If I failed miserably, I might lose not only my business but also everything I needed to provide for my family. I couldn’t risk my business or my family’s prospects on the mere hope of profit. I had to study. I had to hedge my bets.

That common-sense business model appears to be the “old way.” A permanent bailout fund sends the bigwigs on Wall Street a dangerous message: Take risks without consequences. It’s the truism of bailouts: Heads Wall Street wins, tails taxpayers lose.

The permanent bailout fund will hold $150 billion, raised from financial institutions with assets of more of $50 billion. This tax will affect approximately 30 banks, hitting each for about $4.5 billion, even though the majority of them played no role in the financial crisis and pose no threat to the system. Barney and his buddies will say this is merely a tax on Big Business meant to protect the American consumer.

That line of thinking should provoke laughter. These banks won’t just absorb a $150 billion loss. They’ll pass this cost along to everybody who uses a bank through higher fees and other costs. It’ll also mean removing those billions out of the marketplace; in other words, banks won’t have that money to lend to small businesses looking to expand or to cover their payroll. GOP members of the House Financial Services Committee say a tax this size could reduce overall lending by $55 billion and cause the loss of as many as 450,000 jobs.

The Barney Bill would further restrict credit by implementing a “credit czar.” The credit czar would determine what lending practices are acceptable and which aren’t. This effort to help the “little guy” will end up preventing the “little guy” from ever getting a loan. If banks can’t charge higher risk borrowers more, they just simply won’t make the loan (or they’ll charge the low-risk borrower more.)

The irony of these big government policies put forth by the Democrats is that they end up hurting most the people they are originally intended to aid.

When the government picks winners and losers, everybody loses. We have to restore the power of capital in capitalism. Businesses must succeed on their own – or be allowed to fail. Instead of a permanent bailout fund, we need a plan that permanently ends the Bailout Era and restores personal responsibility in our free markets.



What is Hanukkah?

by Paul Greenberg

This evening we light the first candle on the Hanukkah menorah, for it's the first night of this minor eight-day Jewish holiday that's become a major one over the years. There are blessings to be recited, songs to be sung, latkes to be eaten . . . . But just what does Hanukkah celebrate? Answer: A successful Jewish revolt against a Syrian empire ruled by the Seleucid dynasty of Greek kings some 2,200 years ago.

Well, not exactly. The revolt was not so much against the Syrian emperor, Antiochus Epiphanes, as against his attempt to impose Hellenistic culture on ancient Judaea.

Well, not exactly. It's not noised about, but this now-celebrated revolt against the Syrians was really something of a civil war between those Jews who proposed to adopt more of the fashionable Greek culture and those who rebelled against it. The rebels viewed its games and gods as a desecration, and fought for the old ways, the ancient practices and beliefs.

It may not be noised about in some politically correct circles, but this festival commemorates a military victory in a civil war -- of tradition over assimilation, of fundamentalism over modernism.

Well, not exactly. The military aspects of the struggle are scarcely mentioned in today's celebration of Hanukkah. The focus has shifted over the centuries. The very name Hanukkah, or Dedication, now refers to the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem after it was defiled by pagan rites. After all, the holiday isn't named for any particular battle or campaign or hero. It isn't the Feast of the Maccabees, who led the revolt. Therefore the real theme of Hanukkah is the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Well, not exactly. The essential ritual of the holiday has become the blessing over the Hanukkah lights. A talmudic story tells how the liberators of the Temple found only enough consecrated oil to burn for one day, but it lasted for eight -- enough time to prepare a new supply. We're really celebrating the miracle of the lights.

In the glow of the candles, the heroic feats of the Maccabees have become transmuted into acts of divine intervention. The blessing over the candles recited each night of the holiday goes: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old.'' Miracles, not victories.

At Passover, the story of the Exodus from Egypt is told with the same moral attached: It is He who delivered us, not we who freed ourselves. Freedom is a gift from God, not men.

Hanukkah isn't mentioned in the Old Testament. The swashbuckling stories of battles and victories have been relegated to the Apocrypha. A mere military victory rates only a secondary place in the canon. The victory is to be celebrated not for its own sake, but for what it reveals.

One more violent confrontation has left history, and entered the realm of the sacred. A messy little guerrilla war in the dim past of a forgotten empire has become something else, something that partakes of the eternal.

The central metaphor of all religious belief -- light -- reduces all the imperial intrigue and internecine warfare of those tumultuous times to shadowy details. And that may be the greatest miracle of Hanukkah: the transformation of the oldest and darkest of human activities, war, into a feast of illumination.

There is more than a single theme to this minor but not simple holiday. One can almost trace the ebbs and flows of Jewish history, its yearnings and fulfillments, its wisdom and folly, its holiness and vainglory, by noting which themes of Hanukkah have been emphasized when.

History may say a good deal more about the time in which it is written than the time it describes. The message of Hanukkah changes from age to age because the past we choose to remember is the truest reflection of any present. When Hanukkah is celebrated with pride, a fall is sure to come. When it inspires humility, hope is kindled.

If there is one, unchanging message associated with this minor holiday magnified by changing times, it can be found in the portion of the Prophets designated to be read for the sabbath of Hanukkah. It is Zechariah 4:1-7, with its penultimate verse: "Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts." Exactly.



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


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


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Greek tragedy for the world economy

The gloomy thoughts below are from a much-published German economist presently working in Australia. It would certainly be very disruptive if countries stopped being able to pay interest on their debt. The USA can just print money to pay what it owes to China (etc.) but other countries that owe dollars cannot do that. And the US dollar is already devaluing rapidly under the impact of Obama's huge debt-financed spending -- so a large part of the world's savings (held in U.S. dollars) is being wiped out at a rate of knots. And that (inflation) is always very disruptive

By Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich

Just when many thought the global financial crisis was over, it re-emerges with a bang. This week, Greece and Spain both had their credit ratings downgraded. Standard & Poor’s changed Spain’s outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative.’ For Greece, the news was even worse: Fitch revalued Greece’s creditworthiness to BBB+, just a few steps above junk status.

Dramatic as these developments sound, they are hardly surprising. When Greece was allowed to join Europe’s Monetary Union in 2002, it benefitted enormously from the Eurozone’s lower interest rates. Unfortunately, the Greeks did not use this opportunity to consolidate their finances. Instead, they took it as an invitation to run even higher deficits.

Only in one year, 2006, was Greece able to comply with the EU Growth and Stability Pact, which sets a budget deficit limit of 3% of GDP. Following the financial crisis, this deficit has now ballooned to 12.7%. At 121% of GDP, Greece’s public debt is much larger than its economy, making it the most indebted country in the European Union.

Australians could be forgiven for thinking that Greece’s problems are those of a small, faraway country. But they matter for at least two reasons. First, the GFC has demonstrated how interconnected the world economy has become. There are no faraway places anymore. Second, the Greek troubles could be a harbinger of much worse. It is only a matter of time before one of the world’s other sovereign debt time-bombs detonates.

That even Greece could trigger a financial domino effect is not least due to its membership of the Euro currency. There is no political way the other Euro member states could let the Greeks go under. Having just supported their banks, French and German taxpayers may now have to bail out a whole country. This will have implications for the Euro and economic stability, generally. It could even break the European Union with unforeseeable consequences.

Whether Greece will be the next country to declare bankruptcy is by no means certain. Other hot contenders are the Baltic states, Spain, Dubai, Ireland and, threatening even greater disruption, Japan and Britain. US public finances hardly look reassuring, either.

There is a real possibility that some countries have overstretched themselves so much that they cannot service their debt in the near future. It now looks more like a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ that will happen. We are anxiously awaiting the next act of this Greek tragedy.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated December 11. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.


Time to Put the Squeeze on Palestinian Aid

At the 1993 Oslo signing ceremony in Washington, President Bill Clinton called the Oslo accords a "brave gamble." Actually, Oslo turned out to be a tragic gamble that cost Israel almost 2,000 lives, with thousands more maimed. The reason: a concessionary policy that ignored continuing Palestinian rejection of Israel's existence as a Jewish state and support for terrorist violence against it.

Now, the Obama administration is doing the same thing. And it is Barack Obama's own secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is pretending that Palestinian terrorism -- and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it -- is nonexistent or unimportant.

Recently, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) wrote to Clinton, stating that he was "deeply concerned" about Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party conference this past August.

He noted that "posters of children brandishing weapons" were displayed; senior Fatah officials routinely "glorified perpetrators of terrorism"; and leaders addressing the audience "continuously championed the notion that Palestinians maintain the right to commit violence against Israel."

Accordingly, Specter urged that the $800 million in U.S. aid to the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority be "predicated on at least some level of assurance that the beneficiaries are committed to long-term peace."

How did Secretary Clinton reply? With a flat-earth letter of rebuttal to Specter, claiming that the Fatah conference showed "a broad consensus supporting President Abbas, negotiations with Israel, and the two-state solution."

She also claimed that Abbas and Fatah "reaffirmed" their "strategic choice to support a peaceful resolution of the conflict." She noted that "some individual Fatah delegates issued problematic texts and statements ... . It is important to note that those texts and statements did not represent Fatah's official positions."

In fact, as the Zionist Organization of America has documented, the conference reaffirmed Fatah's refusal to accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state and did not commit itself to a nonviolence. On the contrary, Abbas himself declared: "We maintain the right to launch an armed resistance." Jailed Fatah terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti, often touted as future leader, said: "Resistance to the Israeli occupation is a national obligation, and it is a legitimate right."

Another senior Fatah figure, Fahmi Al-Za'arir, said: "It is not possible to rule out or to marginalize the military option. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades [Fatah's armed force and a recognized terrorist group under U.S. law] are the jewel in Fatah's crown."

These are not merely the views of "individual Fatah delegates," as Clinton claims; they are unequivocal statements of support for terror by senior leaders of Fatah from Mahmoud Abbas down.

Moreover, the Fatah platform calls for increased international pressure on Israel, and opposes any normalization of relations between Israel and Arab states. It also calls for a "strategic channel with Iran to be opened," at a time Iran is defying the world by seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

Moreover, at this conference, Fatah openly honored terrorists, including Khaled Abu-Isbah and Dalal Mughrabi, responsible for a 1978 coastal-road bus-hijacking, in which 37 Israelis, including 12 children, were slaughtered.

In view of these easily ascertainable facts, Clinton's response to Specter is deeply troubling.

Ironically, as a senator, Clinton distinguished herself by pointing to the incitement to hatred and murder that permeates the P.A. She stated that such incitement would have "dire consequences for peace for generations to come." Now, however, confronting this matter and in a position to act, she ignores her own insights and advice. Worse, she praises Fatah for its commitment to peace.

The time has come for American Jewish and pro-Israel organizations to demand conditioning U.S. aid to the P.A. on the dismantling of terror groups, and an end to incitement to hatred and murder in its media, mosques and schools.



Why are Americans so pro-Israel?

Of all the ways in which the United States marches to the beat of its own drummer, few are more striking than the American people's consistent and deep-rooted support for the Jewish state. In a recent nationwide survey, the Gallup organization asked Americans: "In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?" For the fourth year in a row, 59 percent -- nearly 6 in 10 -- said their sympathies were with Israel, while just 18 percent sided with the Palestinians. When respondents were asked for their opinion of various countries, 63 percent said they had a favorable view of Israel (21 percent said very favorable), compared with just 15 percent who thought highly of the Palestinian Authority.

Conversely, only 29 percent of Americans told Gallup that their opinion of Israel was negative, even as a whopping 73 percent expressed a negative attitude toward the Palestinians.

This overwhelmingly positive feeling for Israel is normal for the United States, but it puts Americans sharply at odds with the rest of the world. At the United Nations, for example, nothing is more routine than the castigation of Israel. Similarly, any time Israel is forced to use its military power in self-defense, it comes under the harsh glare of the international media, which subject it to a scrutiny far more unforgiving than any other country receives. It was only a few years ago that a poll commissioned by the European Union found that a plurality of Europeans regarded Israel as the greatest threat to world peace -- more menacing than even North Korea or Iran. So what makes Americans different?

Foreign policy "realists" could certainly suggest reasons why close friendship with Israel is not in America's interest, beginning with the fact that most of the world doesn't share it. There are 300 million or more Arabs in the world, and they sit atop a vast share of the world's oil supply. Why endanger American access to that oil by maintaining such close ties to a nation with only 6 million people and no petroleum to export? Why risk incurring the wrath of Islamic terrorists by supporting Israel, a nation most of them detest? Surely it would make more sense -- so a "realist" might argue -- for Americans to distance themselves from the world's lone Jewish state, and tilt instead toward the much greater number of nations and governments that are hostile to Israel.

Yet most Americans instinctively reject such advice. The national consensus in support of Israel is longstanding and durable, and it isn't grounded in economics, energy policy, or a quest for diplomatic popularity. Nor, as some conspiracy-minded critics have claimed, is it because a "Zionist lobby" in Washington routinely hijacks US foreign policy, manipulating America into serving Israel's ends. The roots of America's bond with Israel lie elsewhere.

First, Americans stand with Israel because in it they recognize a liberal democracy much like their own: a nation in which elections are lively, fair, and democratic; in which freedom of speech and the press are core values; in which the political rights of minorities are respected; and in which a commitment to civil liberties and justice is woven into the very fabric of society.

Second, Americans know that Israel is a stable ally in one of the world's most critical and volatile regions. Its intelligence service is perhaps the world's finest, its military is the best in the Middle East, and its painfully acquired expertise in counterterrorism is invaluable -- all the more so as we wage our own war against jihadi terrorists.

Third, Americans sympathize with Israel because they understand that the enemies of Israel state hate the United States as well. The suicide bombers who revel in the death of innocent Jews, the fanatics who chant "Death to Israel," the Iranian- and Syrian-backed forces that launch rockets from Gaza or Lebanon with the aim of shedding Israeli blood -- they are steeped in the same murderous ideology as Osama bin Laden and the Islamists who slaughtered so many Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.

And fourth, there is a deep religious bond between American Christians and the Jewish people, a bond that stretches back to the earliest era of American history. More than a century before the Revolutionary War, the Puritan leader Increase Mather taught his followers to anticipate the day when the Jews would return to their homeland and establish "the most glorious nation in the whole world." In 1819, former President John Adams wrote of his wish to see "the Jews against in Judea an independent nation." Today, tens of millions of American evangelicals passionately support -- even love -- the Jewish state, and consider it nothing less than their duty as Christians to stand with Israel and her people.

Why are Americans so pro-Israel? For reasons practical and idealistic, religious and strategic. They are linked by the kinship of common values -- an affinity of strength and decency that reflects the best of both nations, and sets them apart from the other nations of the world.




Hating and beating up on 'f------ white people' in Denver: "To Gregory Kane's column of today on hate crimes legislation, I'd add these recent incidents in Denver, Colo., in which, once again, the perps and victims were "the wrong color." The series of brutal beatings and robberies was clearly racially motivated -- tinged with such shouted statements as "I hate you f---ing white people." According to the television news, the perps will likely face state hate crimes charges. But will we see the new, redundant federal hate crimes law applied here? That is to say, if any of the suspects are somehow acquitted in state court, will federal prosecutors re-try them in federal court, as that new law allows -- an apparent violation of the constitutional protection against double jeopardy? Will any grants from the new hate crimes law be given to local prosecutors if they pursue such charges, as that new law also allows?"

Obama's Nobel speech: "In his Nobel acceptance speech this morning, President Obama justified his decision to raise the stakes in the Afghan War. It was also another arrogant, self-referential Obama Special: "As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life's work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence." Dr. Martin Luther King won the Nobel in 1964, after years of being arrested and persecuted for his pursuit of basic human rights. One would hope that his legacy amounts to much more than a president who praises himself while accepting awards he clearly doesn't deserve, and who sounds more like George W. Bush with each speech he gives on foreign policy."

Enabling ACORN's Comeback: "Congress -- and possibly Citigroup -- may be gearing up to start funding the organized crime syndicate ACORN again. The current federal funding ban expires Dec. 18. On Tuesday evening the House Appropriations Committee rejected on a party line vote of 9 to 5 an amendment offered by Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) that would have blocked federal funding of the radical advocacy group. The amendment was needed because the Obama administration thumbed its nose at a provision in spending legislation that banned ACORN funding until the end of next week. In a ruling revealed late last month by the Justice Department the Obama administration invented a loophole allowing the government to continue funding the president's friends at ACORN. Through the magic of legal interpretation, the language forbidding funding the group was transformed by Acting Assistant Attorney General David J. Barron into a requirement not "to refuse payment on binding contractual obligations that predate" the original funding ban. Latham's amendment would have closed the loophole"

Progressives vs. democracy: "At press time, the House-Senate reconciliation over some version of a health care bill was still lurching along. Although key details were changing daily, one fact has remained constant: Any legislation that might end up passing through the Democrat-controlled Congress will involve enormous new government subsidies, onerous mandates on private insurance companies (and their customers), and tighter government controls on a large and growing percentage of the U.S. economy. Yet the process has already proven to be an unconscionable disappointment to many liberal legislators and commentators. Their increasingly shrill reaction to the debate has revealed a disturbing strain of American political thought that cannot comprehend how anyone could disagree with a big-government solution to health care without being evil, stupid, insane, or all three.”

Life in a mahogany bubble: "In our nation’s curious capital, people know nothing of uneducated young waitresses who juggle long hours and children, without having even one illegal nanny. DC is a world of secure jobs and money, where everyone has been to university, often to a Calvin Klein universities like Harvard, and brains in the ninety-ninth percentile seem unremarkable. We are making three hundred grand a year; why can’t they? This otherworldliness accounts I think for a certain surreal quality to Washington’s debates. For people with high-end Blue Cross, health care has something to do with Keynes and free enterprise and ideological catfights. For a young mother with a sick kid and no money, it doesn’t. But Washington doesn’t know this. Let them eat cake, but is there cake?”

Out of the mouths of babes come a conniving adult’s words: "The Copenhagen meeting opened with a video of terrified children begging adults to stop global warming. Green fanatic Clive Hamilton writes creepy letters to my children to make them scared, too. A crying 18-year-old confronts Canada’s chief negotiator at a Copenhagen briefing (?). The Age today publishes an op-ed allegedly written by a 17-year-old who says she is also “scared”, and wants “a climate agreement”. There is something profoundly immoral about terrifiying children for a political cause, and something profoundly anti-intellectual in demanding adults then heed the children’s cries to settle immensely complex questions of science and economics. This tactic alone suggests on which side of this debate reason lies."


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


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


Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama does not even have good manners

Barack Obama's trip to Oslo to pick up his Nobel peace award is in danger of being overshadowed by a row over the cancellation of a series of events normally attended by the prizewinner. Norwegians are incensed over what they view as his shabby response to the prize by cutting short his visit.

The White House has cancelled many of the events peace prize laureates traditionally submit to, including a dinner with the Norwegian Nobel committee, a press conference, a television interview, appearances at a children's event promoting peace and a music concert, as well as a visit to an exhibition in his honour at the Nobel peace centre. He has also turned down a lunch invitation from the King of Norway.

According to a poll published by the daily tabloid VG, 44% of Norwegians believe it was rude of Obama to cancel his scheduled lunch with King Harald, with only 34% saying they believe it was acceptable. "Of all the things he is cancelling, I think the worst is cancelling the lunch with the king," said Siv Jensen, the leader of the largest party in opposition, the populist Progress party. "This is a central part of our government system. He should respect the monarchy," she told VG.



Clarity Over Compromise

Whenever liberals start declaring that ideological sides don’t matter, that the best leaders govern from the center, it probably means their side is losing. The president’s approval numbers continue to plummet, support for health-care reform is tepid at best, the opposition is energized, and the 2009 elections don’t bode well for 2010.

In an effort to buy time and regroup (and marginalize such conservatives as Sarah Palin), talking heads have decided that the GOP’s attempts at ideological purity are poisonous to the political process and that one of our most successful presidents was really a centrist.

In Newsweek’s Palin-bashing extravaganza, Evan Thomas writes (and editor Jon Meacham concurs) that Ronald Reagan, like Eisenhower, governed by “deftly uniting center and right.” He continues that Reagan “piously gave lip service to the right-wing social agenda while doing nothing to further it.” Meacham writes that Reagan picked centrist George H.W. Bush for vice-president in 1980 because he realized the conservative movement needed moderates to win and ultimately govern — a move unlikely today because there are “so few moderates left in the GOP.”

Even conceding that all great leaders must occasionally reach across the aisle, Ronald Reagan did not yield to the center, the center bowed to him. Through congeniality and appeals to common sense and goodwill, he forged a coalition, known as Reagan Democrats, that kept the presidency in Republican hands for twelve years.

In 1981, sixty-three Democrats defied pressure from House Speaker Tip O’Neill and passed Reagan’s budget. Despite all the caterwauling in the 80s about rampant homelessness, and a shaky economy early in his term, Reagan stood his ground. Geniality with toughness ruled foreign policy, as well, though Thomas writes that while Reagan “talked tough about the Russians, he did more than any president to foster detente.”

Back on Planet Earth, it was because Reagan talked not about peaceful co-existence but about actually defeating the Soviet Union that nuclear annihilation was liberals’ other cause celebre of the 80s. By the time he made minor concessions to Gorbachev late in his presidency, he had already walked away from the table at Reykjavik (in lieu of abandoning the Strategic Defense Initiative) and the Communist Empire was crumbling. Much to the dismay of liberals who were seeking a negotiated peace, Reagan’s was one of the few voices making the moral case for freedom over containment.

Ultimately, his moral certainty that freedom is a God-given right that can and must prevail proved more powerful that any weapons system on either side of the Iron Curtain. Reagan’s spectacular success was due not to doling out pork or straddling the center but by instilling hope. Any interim compromises he made were to forward his two over-riding goals: reviving America’s broken economy and defeating the Soviet Union.

Though unable to tackle Washington’s entrenched bureaucracy or all the issues dear to the religious right, any conservative will attest to his towering presence over the movement even today. Conservatism to Reagan was less a matter of ideology than common sense and fair play. He writes in his autobiography that he selected George H.W. Bush for VP out of admiration, respect for his experience and because his second place finish made him the logical choice.

Besides, at the time, most potential running mates were, in fact, centrists, hence Reagan’s immense popularity then and now. Painting him a mere pragmatist renders conservatism alien and abstract. It is neither — its compatibility with human nature’s highest aspirations enabled him to render the opposition party impotent for the better part of a decade. That took clarity, not compromise, and the American left is terrified of seeing his like again.



US Supreme Court questions ‘honesty’ law used to convict Conrad Black

The judges of the US Supreme Court are examining a controversial law that was used to convict Lord Black of Crossharbour of fraud. The jailed press baron, whose empire included The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph newspapers is challenging the “honest services” law before America’s highest court. Miguel Estrada, his lawyer, told the court on Tuesday that the law — which makes it a crime to deny “honest services” — was “vague, amorphous, and open-ended”.

Most judges appeared disposed to rule part or all of the law unconstitutional. Justice Stephen Breyer asked whether the law could be applied to an employee who spent time at work reading the Daily Racing Form. “There are 150 million workers in the United States,” Justice Breyer told Michael Dreeben, the Deputy US Solicitor-General. “I think possibly 140 million would flunk your test.”

Lord Black was sentenced in December 2007 to six and a half years for obstruction of justice and five years for fraud. As he is serving both sentences concurrently, he is unlikely to be released early even if the conviction is overturned. However, his legal team could then argue that there was no obstruction of justice because there was no underlying crime. The decision could affect hundreds of cases including the conviction of Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron.



Martha Coakley: Too Immoral even for Teddy Kennedy's Seat

In Tuesday's primary election, Massachusetts Democrats chose as their Senate nominee a woman who kept a clearly innocent man in prison in order to advance her political career. Martha Coakley isn't even fit for the late Teddy Kennedy's old seat. (What is it about this particular Senate seat?)

During the daycare/child molestation hysteria of the '80s, Gerald Amirault, his mother, Violet, and sister, Cheryl, were accused of raping children at the family's preschool in Malden, Mass., in what came to be known as the second-most notorious witch trial in Massachusetts history.

The allegations against the Amiraults were preposterous on their face. Children made claims of robots abusing them, a "bad clown" who took the children to a "magic room" for sex play, rape with a 2-foot butcher knife, other acts of sodomy with a "magic wand," naked children tied to trees within view of a highway, and -- standard fare in the child abuse hysteria era -- animal sacrifices.

There was not one shred of physical evidence to support the allegations -- no mutilated animals, no magic rooms, no butcher knives, no photographs, no physical signs of any abuse on the children. Not one parent noticed so much as unusual behavior in their children -- until after the molestation hysteria began. There were no witnesses to the alleged acts of abuse, despite the continuous and unannounced presence of staff members, teachers, parents and other visitors at the school. Not one student ever spontaneously claimed to have been abused. Indeed, the allegations of abuse didn't arise until the child therapists arrived.

Nor was there anything in the backgrounds of the Amiraults that fit the profile of sadistic, child-abusing monsters. Violet Amirault had started the Fells Acre Day School 18 years before the child molestation hysteria erupted. Thousands of happy and well-adjusted students had passed through Fells Acres. Many returned to visit the school; some even attended Cheryl's wedding a few years before the inquisition began.

It's one thing to put a person in prison for a crime he didn't commit. It's another to put an entire family in prison for a crime that didn't take place. In the most outrageous miscarriage of justice since the Salem witch trials, in July 1986, Gerald Amirault was convicted of raping and assaulting six girls and three boys and sentenced to 30 to 40 years in prison. The following year, Violet and Cheryl Amirault were convicted of raping and assaulting three girls and a boy and were sentenced to 8 to 20 years.

The motto of the witch-hunters was "Believe the Children!" But the therapists resolutely refused to believe the children as long as they denied being abused. As the police advised the parents: In cases of child abuse, "no" can mean "yes."

To the children's credit, they held firm to their denials for heroic amounts of time in the face of relentless questioning. But as copious research in the wake of the child abuse cases has demonstrated, small children are highly suggestible. It's surprisingly easy to implant false memories into young minds by simply asking the same questions over and over again. Indeed, the interviewing techniques in the Amirault case were so successful that the children also made accusations against three other teachers, two imaginary people named "Mr. Gatt" and "Al" and even against the child therapist herself -- the one claim of abuse that was provably true. But only the Amiraults were put on trial for any alleged acts of abuse.

Coakley wasn't the prosecutor on the original trial. What she did was worse. At least the original prosecutors, craven and ambition-driven though they were, could claim to have been caught up in the child abuse panic of the '80s. There had not yet been extensive psychological studies on the suggestibility of small children. A dozen similar cases from around the country had not already been discredited and the innocent freed. Of all the men and women falsely convicted during the child molestation hysteria of the '80s, by 2001, only Gerald Amirault still sat in prison. Even his sister and mother had been released after serving eight years in prison for crimes that never occurred.

In July 2001, the notoriously tough Massachusetts parole board voted unanimously to grant Gerald Amirault clemency. Although the parole board is not permitted to consider guilt or innocence, its recommendation said: "(I)t is clearly a matter of public knowledge that, at the minimum, real and substantial doubt exists concerning petitioner's conviction." Immediately after the board's recommendation, The Boston Globe reported that Gov. Jane Swift was leaning toward accepting the board's recommendation and freeing Amirault.

Enter Martha Coakley, Middlesex district attorney. Gerald Amirault had already spent 15 years in prison for crimes he no more committed than anyone reading this column did. But Coakley put on a full court press to keep Amirault in prison simply to further her political ambitions. By then, every sentient person knew that Amirault was innocent. But instead of saying nothing, Coakley frantically lobbied Gov. Jane Swift to keep him in prison to show that she was a take-no-prisoners prosecutor, who stood up for "the children." As a result of Coakley's efforts -- and her contagious ambition -- Gov. Swift denied Amirault's clemency. Thanks to Martha Coakley, Gerald Amirault sat in prison for another three years.

Remember all that talk about President Bush shredding constitutional rights? Overzealous liberal prosecutors and feminist do-gooders allowed Gerald Amirault to sit in prison for 18 years for crimes that didn't exist -- except in the imaginations of small children under the influence of incompetent child "therapists." Martha Coakley allowed her ambition to trump basic human decency as she campaigned to keep a patently innocent man in prison.




Poll: Palin Within 1% of Obama: "Riding a wave of positive publicity from her book tour, Sarah Palin's favorable rating has crept within just 1 percent of President Barack Obama's job approval rating, according to the latest polls by CNN and USA Today/Gallup. The results suggest Palin has fixed the dent in her popularity ratings created this summer when she announced she was stepping down as governor of Alaska. According to a CNN poll released Monday, 46 percent of voters now say they like Palin. That's the same level of popularity she enjoyed before she resigned the Alaska governorship. The same percentage of likely voters – 46 percent – say they don't like the former Alaska governor, a clear indication that she continues to be a polarizing figure. Not surprisingly, the breakdown is sharply along party lines: 80 percent of Republicans like Palin, while 70 percent of Democrats don't. Although popularity polls and job approval polls differ, the results suggest that Palin is closing the gap on Obama. On Monday, a USA Today/Gallup poll reported that only 47 percent of likely voters approve of the president's job performance."

Did deregulation cause the Great Recession? "In a December 3 article in Politico (’J-O-Bs should come before GDP’), Rep. Phil Hare argues that ‘reckless deregulation’ is one of the causes of the current economic crisis. That isn’t actually true. This year’s edition of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Ten Thousand Commandments report found that 3,830 new regulations came into effect in 2008 alone. Over 30,000 total new rules passed during the Bush years. Hardly any were repealed. Businesses currently dole out the equivalent of Canada’s entire 2006 GDP - about $1.2 trillion - just to comply with federal regulations. Where is the deregulation?”

The pee-nal code and sex crimes: "Over two decades ago Juan Matamoros got a ticket in Massachusetts for taking a pee. Twenty-one years later he was happily living in Florida with his wife and two kids. The state government forced him to pack up his family and move since that one full bladder, years earlier, meant he was considered a sex offender and he had to comply with the sex offender zoning laws. These laws are intended to make all sex offenders miserable for the rest of their lives — a sort of perpetual, never-ending punishment for all the serious sex offenses that the politicians have criminalized — such as peeing outside, streaking, consenting sex between teens, sexting, etc. A little more information on Mr. Matamoros shows how out of control sex offender laws have become. In 1986 Matamoros was a bit tipsy and took a pee next to a car. Three people saw this and he was fined for the act. Local sex laws say he is not allowed to live near a school, bus stop, park, playground or day-care center.”

Spendaholics: "The reaction of Congress and the president to the good news on TARP has been revealing. Here we face a decade of unprecedented red ink, yet they think they're still not spending enough. Let's get this straight: The economy is on the mend, the recession is technically over, budget deficits still run well over $1 trillion a year, and unemployment actually ticked down in the latest report. Yet here's our President Obama declaring on Tuesday the nation must 'spend our way out of this recession.' And congressional leaders are hatching plans to declare a surprise $200 billion 'savings' in the government's bank bailout program. Hint: Given their druthers, the $200 billion will be gone before you know it"

NYT Gift Guide Includes A Separate Section For "People Of Color.": "We don't like to throw around words like "racist" in the same sentence as the NYT's name, but there's no other word we can think of to describe this page in the NYT's annual Holiday Gift Guide -- called "Of Color/Stylish Gifts" and aimed exclusively at the paper's non-white readers. Or, as the NYT describes it, "gifts created for and by people of color." Found in the "Style & Travel" section of the Gift Guide, it stands alongside sections called "Frugal Travel," "Chic and Cheerful," and "Cosmetic Enhancements." But this page is the only one aimed squarely at readers whose skin isn't white in color -- and it's the first time we can remember a gift guide, anywhere, openly defining its offerings by their appeal to a specific racial group. Can you imagine the NYT designating a section of its Holiday Gift Guide to presents made "for and by white people"? Or Jews? Or Chinese?"

Mystery behind 'Beast of Kandahar' revealed: "It's been dubbed "The Beast of Kandahar"and - until now - has been the closest thing Afghanistan has to a Loch Ness Monster. Over the last two weeks, an increasingly steady stream of grainy images have appeared on the internet of a strange, sleek new aircraft spotted in the skies above the war-torn country. Now the US Army has confirmed it - the RQ Sentinel stealth drone is real. Shaped like a B-2 stealth bomber and created by Lockheed Martin, the Sentinel has no metal parts outside its engine and can fly completely unnoticed through areas "thick with radar". The aircraft is also coated with a special paint, or "secret sauce", as it was described to FOX News by Oklahoma State University's associate professor of Aerospace engineering Dr Jamie D. Jacob. The Sentinel is reportedly set up as a "troop support sensor platform", meaning it's unlikely to carry Hellfire missiles such as that fired by the current fleet of Predator aircraft."


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


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


Thursday, December 10, 2009


I don't suppose anybody has noticed but I am in the midst of editing my blogroll (under "INTERESTING BLOGS" in the side column here). I am deleting links to blogs that no longer are being updated or which have vanished completely. And there are a lot of those. I have had over 300 links to go through, however, so it will take me a while yet to get through them all.

Meanwhile, I might as well add some new blogs while I am about it so let me know if you think there is one that should be there. No guarantees but I will at least look at all suggestions.


Americans Show Conservative Instincts, Not Ideology

by Michael Medved

It’s true that the American people are fundamentally conservative – but not in the angry, doctrinaire sense suggested by so many of my fellow radio ranters. Americans are conservative in temperament, but not necessarily in ideology. We are cautious, practical, skeptical folk, inherently resistant to sweeping, radical change—whether such change issues from the left or the right.

At the moment, the liberal true-believers who control both White House and Congress present the most potent, plausible threat of precisely the sort of jarring and dangerous transformations the people reliably reject. This offers Republicans a precious opportunity to re-connect with America’s deep-seated conservative instincts and to revive their battered party – unless they blow that chance with strident, unbending, purist appeals of their own, convincing the puzzled public that both parties have abandoned pragmatism and common sense.

Recent political history shows a clear and consistent public preference for flexible problem solvers over embattled ideologues. For some fifty years, presidential elections have been mostly close – with ten out of the thirteen winners held to 54% or less of the popular vote (and five of them actually winning with less than a majority). Only three times since 1960 did candidates win in one-sided blow-outs, and in each of those races (LBJ’s triumph in ’64, Nixon’s in ’72, and Reagan’s in ’84) the opposing nominee looked like an impractical, reckless, wing-nut extremist. Barry Goldwater even embraced the title extremist (“extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice”), George McGovern’s anti-war crusade offered an unapologetically leftist platform, and Walter Mondale proudly promised in his convention speech that he would raise the nation’s taxes. Their pathetic performance as major party nominees (winning 39%, 38% and 41%, respectively) showed the powerful national reflex against any candidate or party perceived as out of the mainstream, tilting too far in one direction or another.

By contrast, all three of the Democrats who have won the presidency since 1968 (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) campaigned as level-headed centrists, who pledged to build bi-partisan coalitions and to bring the country together. All three, however, governed with progressive tendencies and leftist associates that undermined their carefully crafted moderate images. Jimmy Carter in particular emerged as a sanctimonious scold, favoring impractical, inflexible liberal nostrums in both foreign and domestic policy that made him an easy target for the amiable, common sense appeal of Ronald Reagan.

Though rightly embraced as a great conservative hero, Reagan’s 1980 campaign went to great lengths to appeal to the wary middle-of-the-roaders who decide every election. He chose a conspicuous moderate as his running mate (George H. W. Bush) and framed the campaign’s key question (“Are you better off than you were four years ago?”) to make the other guy look scary, extreme and dogmatic. In the end, Reagan won an election in which self-described conservatives made up only 28% of the electorate (according to exit polls), while “moderates” were 46%. In fact more than 60% of the voters who placed The Gipper in the White House called themselves “moderates” or even “liberals,” showing the classic inclination to support an impressive candidate who seems to transcend ideology rather than to exemplify it.

Despite pipe dreams of an unwavering right wing majority ruling the electorate, the highest percentage of voters who actually call themselves “conservative” occurred in 2008, when 34% chose that description (Exit polls showed precisely the same percentage in 2004 and 1996). Meanwhile, the number of “moderates” who cast ballots ranged from a low of 42% (in 1984) all the way to 50% (in 2000).

Bill Clinton tried to appeal to these swing voters by emulating Reagan’s optimistic “I’ll-fix-the-mess” campaign when he ran against the floundering George H. W. Bush in 1992, posing as a sensible “New Democrat” rather than a by-the-book liberal in the McGovern-Mondale-Dukakis mode. In his first two years, however, miscues like the clumsy push for gays in the military and the “Hillary Care” disaster gave the lie to his pretensions of centrism, leading to the historic sweep for Newt Gingrich and his resurgent Republicans. The Contract With America that made that political earthquake possible (giving the GOP 55 more seats in the House and eight new Senators) was a cunningly devised document that emphasized reformist “good government” promises (Balanced Budget Amendment, Congressional Term Limits, Welfare Reform) and scrupulously avoided polarizing (if worthy) pledges that might have seemed extreme (abolishing the income tax, a human life amendment, eliminating major government departments).

After this smashing Republican victory in ’94, perceptions of the two parties quickly switched, With the government shutdown (widely if unfairly blamed on Gingrich, rather than Clinton) over budgetary struggles, the triangulating President won the image battle as more flexible and pragmatic, while the professorial Republicans (both Gingrich and his chief deputy Dick Armey had backgrounds as brilliant academics) came across as more interested in principles than practicality. In his re-election bid, the chastened Clinton (remember “The era of big government is over”?) easily sailed to victory, and also blithely triumphed over his seemingly rigid prosecutors during the protracted impeachment crisis.

George W. Bush succeeded Clinton not as the fire-breathing right wing purist his opponents tried to caricature but as a self-styled “compassionate conservative” pledged to bring a new spirit of cooperation to the divided capital. In debates and on the stump, he offered an aw-shucks, ordinary guy appeal (paradoxical for the son of an ex-president) that contrasted with the stiff, self-righteous, shrill persona of Al (“Prince Albert”) Gore. His decisive response to 9/11 allowed him to win re-election as “a uniter, not a divider” (over John Kerry, a humorless Massachusetts patrician and unwavering liberal). But ceaseless Democratic attacks on Bush as “the most extreme conservative president in American history” finally combined with GOP Congressional scandals to give Nancy Pelosi the speakership in 2006, and Barack Obama the presidency in 2004.

Obama used the classic winning formula in 2008: seeking the nation’s highest office as an open-minded problem solver, willing to use conservative as well as liberal ideas to address the nation’s woes. The 2004 convention keynote speech that made him a national figure overnight promised no more “red states” or “blue states,” but only “the UNITED States of America.” In his presidential campaign, the imprecise and soothing talk of “hope” and “change” did little to impress conservatives (who voted for McCain by a ratio of four to one) but drew a decisive 60% of the self-described “moderate” vote. The polls show that those same moderates and independents have now turned against President Obama with a vengeance, giving Republicans their historic opportunity.

In contrast to his gauzy promises of hope and healing, Obama and his Congressional allies have governed as divisive devotees of the hard left -- willing, for instance, to risk economic and budgetary disaster for the sake of realizing the leftist dream of “universal health care.” Pollsters show mounting opposition to Obamacare not because the public rules out every form of governmental activism as a solution to major problems but because the people distrust big, dogmatic schemes to remake reality all at once.



It is the Donks that big business likes best

By Jonah Goldberg

One of the great frustrations of the libertarian-minded right is how Republicans got stuck being "the party of big business." The quotation marks around the term are at least somewhat necessary, because in many respects, it's not true.

The notion that big business is "right wing" has always been more sloppy agitprop than serious analysis. It's true that historically, big business is against socialism and communism -- and understandably so. Socialism and communism were once close to synonymous with expropriation of wealth and the nationalization of industry. What businessman or industrialist wouldn't be against that? But many of those same industrialists saw nothing wrong with cutting deals with statist regimes. For example, the Swope Plan, put forward by Gerard Swope, president of General Electric, laid out the infrastructure for much of the early New Deal.

Yet the debate is always framed as if the choice is between "government intervention" on the one hand and free-market capitalism on the other. From 30,000 feet, that division is fine with me. My objection is the glib and easy association of big business with the free-market guys. (Milton Friedman was no champion of public-private partnerships and industrial policy.) This identification allows self-described progressive Democrats to run against big business when they are in fact in bed with the fat cats.

For instance, the standard line from the Democrats is that the plutocrats and corporate mustache-twirlers oppose health care reform because, in President Obama's words, they "profit financially or politically from the status quo." That sounds reasonable, and in some cases it is reasonable. But it makes it sound as if Obama is bravely battling "malefactors of great wealth."

But that's not really how it works, as Timothy Carney documents in his powerful new book, "Obamanomics." In 2008, Obama raked in more donations from the health sector than John McCain and the rest of the Republican field combined. Drug makers gave Obama $3.58 for every dollar they gave McCain. Pfizer gave to Obama at a 4-1 rate, as did the hospital and nursing home industries. In 2008, the insurance industry gave more money to House Democrats than House Republicans. HMOs give to Democrats over Republicans by a margin of 60 to 40.

So far, the health care industry has mostly been trying to cut insider deals with the government, not fighting to defend the status quo. Discussions between Big Pharma and the White House have been more like pillow talk than a shouting match.

This pattern is hardly unique to health care. The U.S. Climate Action Partnership, led by GE, includes many other Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs -- the company that has profited mightily from Obama's brand of hope and change. CAP is an aggressive supporter of the Democrats' climate change scheme. Why? Because GE and friends stand to make billions from carbon pricing, thanks largely to investments in technologies that cannot survive in a free market without massive subsidies from Uncle Sam. GE chief Jeffrey Immelt cheerleads big government as "an industry policy champion, a financier and a key partner."

Going back to U.S. Steel and the railroads, the story of big business in America is often as not the story of fat cats rigging the system. And the story of progressivism is the same tale. The New Deal codes were mostly written by big business to squeeze out smaller competitors. The progressives fought for these reforms on the grounds that it's easier to steer a few giant oxen than a thousand cats.

But health care is the most troubling example of the trend. Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson notes that while everyone has been debating the government takeover of health care, what's really transpired is health care's takeover of government -- thanks to what he calls the "medical industrial complex." Already 1 in 4 federal outlays are for health care; government pays, directly or indirectly, for half of all health care costs; and the entire industry is heavily regulated. Obama's answer to this state of affairs is more -- much more -- of the same, on the phantasmagorical grounds that it will cut costs.

My biggest objection is not to what isn't true about the claim that the right is the handmaiden to big business, it's to what is true. Too many Republicans think being pro-business is the same as being pro-market. They defend the status quo against bad reforms and think they've defended economic freedom. The status quo stinks. And the sooner Republicans learn that, the sooner they'll deserve to win again.



Russia back to its old authoritarian ways

From absolute monarchy to Communism to Fascism, only the details change. The Russians are a brilliant people condemned to appalling government -- even worse than Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi!

Pound for political pound, Russian "prime minister" Vladimir Putin may well be the most powerful human being on this planet. Yet, he may still be brought down by the inevitable corruption of power. Though he is no longer even officially "president" of the country, Putin still has the ability to hire and fire local officials like governors and mayors, to populate an depopulate the national parliament, to name the pontiff of the Orthodox Church and to discharge justices of Russia's supreme court at will. He recently displayed this authority to truly terrifying effect.

Unlike its U.S. counterpart, the Russian Supreme Court has an explicit legal mandate in the constitution itself to be its legal arbiter, which should mean that judicial independence in Russia is even more sacrosanct. Yet, when Justice Vladimir Yaroslavtsev gave an interview to the Spanish daily El Pais and said that Russian security agencies control the country just as they did in Soviet times, and worried that "nobody knows what [the FSB] will decide tomorrow, there is no consultation or discussion," he was immediately forced to resign. When his colleague Justice Anatoly Kononov came to his defense with an interview in the Russian paper Sobesednik, he too was forced out.

Yaroslavtsev told El Pais that "the judiciary in Russia during the presidencies of Vladimir Putin and his successor Dmitry Medvedev had been converted into an instrument at the service of the executive powers that be" and that "the center of the adoption of [judicial] decisions is in the administration of the president." Then Putin proved him right in the most emphatic way possible.

If there were any institution more untouchable by politics than the constitutional court, one would think that would be the church, but Putin has rolled his virtual tanks across that territory as well. He has a new bill moving rapidly through the Russian parliament which will make it illegal to discuss religion unless in possession of a Kremlin-issued permit. Instead of wiping out all religion as in Soviet times, Putin has instead co-opted it; he's installed a KGB operative as pontiff of the Russian Orthodox Church and is now moving swiftly to simply wipe out his competition.

The media can offer no brake or check on Putin's power. When prominent TV reporter Olga Kotovskaya recently began delving into official misuse of power, she promptly "fell" out of a window on the fourteenth floor of an office tower. She's not the first journalist to "take the Putin Plunge." Russia remains one of the very most dangerous places on the planet to practice the craft of journalism.

Students who stand up to the regime find themselves expelled. Bloggers who dare to do so end up in prison, or bankrupted, or both. And Putin his helped along mightily, of course, by Western journalism that either ignores his abuses or actually celebrates them, by an American president who has better things to do than to speak up for democracy, and by a Republican Party that cannot seem to find the wherewithal to call him to account.

More here



Using cellphones while driving: "In the ongoing concern with the use of hand-held and hands free cell phone use while driving a car, the focus seems to be all on what such use does to one’s driving and the comparison is nearly always between such use and no distractions at all. But what about the possibility that cell phone use in cars may not be any more hazardous than, say, changing CDs or cassette tapes, tucking in the baby in the back, checking the map, looking for something in the glove compartment, or having a heated discussion with one’s passenger, while driving one’s vehicle. Indeed, this is probably true but not easily tested and confirmed (or dis-confirmed). Imposing restrictions on drivers concerning these other possible distractions would, no doubt, be somewhat problematic since all those are mainly personal distractions and no big industry can be held complicit. Deep pockets are missing there, too. Instead these other distractions seem quite normal, just part of life on the road and have been with us since automobile and similar vehicle use itself has been.”

Infatuated with the New Deal: "President Obama is a master of the ‘narrative.’ That’s the fancy new word in the political lexicon for a storyline that makes a politician look good. Last year, Obama was the candidate of hope and change who would cure Washington of its bad habits. Now he has a presidential narrative. It goes like this: He’s done his part to revive the economy, and it’s time for others to do theirs, particularly the business community. Obama has been refining his narrative for several months. Last week’s jobs summit at the White House was cleverly crafted as a day-long expression of his version of the economy’s path in his 11-month presidency. And if that was lost on anyone, he was explicit in spelling it out.”

The auto bailout one year later: "President Bush provided the initial bailout for GM and Chrysler in December 2008, so it’s reasonable to look back a year later and ask: Was the bailout necessary? Did it work? In hindsight it is readily apparent that the answers are: No, and No.”


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


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


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More Fascist tactics from American "liberals"

Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue is a wanted man -- at least according to the liberal activist group that's put a de facto bounty on his head

A network of liberal groups known as Velvet Revolution started an ad campaign offering $200,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the man whose trade organization has become a thorn in the side of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats.

The group is not leveling any specific charges of criminal behavior. Rather, it is casting a wide net, fishing for any whistleblowers from Donohue's past who might come forward with allegations of wrongdoing. The campaign against the Chamber was launched in response to the group's opposition to climate change legislation and health care reform, and its plan to spend $100 million lobbying against these and other initiatives. "On every issue, the Chamber is kind of the lead corporate advocate for the status quo," said Kevin Zeese, a lawyer who sits on the board for Velvet Revolution, calling Donohue a "knee-jerk reactionary" and the Chamber a "right-wing extremist group."

The Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, decried the ad campaign and threatened possible legal action. "The media should be following the money trail behind this scurrilous group instead of giving credence to its outrageous tactics -- and we are considering legal options with the ad," spokesman Eric Wohlschlegel said.

The Chamber has already taken a lot of heat from the White House. Top aides tried to neutralize the group earlier in the year by doing an end-run around the organization and dealing directly with members, as some big companies, like Apple, peeled off from the Chamber due to disagreements over issues like climate change.

The organization was also not invited to Obama's jobs forum in Washington last week. But Zeese said the White House has nothing to do with the bounty on Donohue. "It's individual donors. We have no connection to the White House or unions or anything like that," he said.

Velvet Revolution launched the StoptheChamber campaign in October and started offering a bounty for information on Donohue a month later. A $100,000 reward was increased to $200,000 early this month, thanks to what Zeese called a "handful of larger donors" whom he would not identify. A full-page print ad that looks like a "wanted" poster out of the wild West began to run in the Washington City Paper this week. It features a head shot of Donohue and offers a tip line for "insiders and whistleblowers possessing information not already in the public domain."

The tip line is live. When called, the operator asked for "criminal" information about Donohue. Zeese said that a handful of tips have come in which the group is "pursuing."



GOP Seeks Principle After Scozzafava Controversy

A group of eleven party officials introduced a resolution for the upcoming Republican National Committee winter meeting to verify candidates conform to at least eight of ten basic party principles in order to receive party funding for their races. It’s their answer to the controversy aroused earlier this fall when it was revealed the RNC had donated heavily to the campaign of New York 23rd Congressional District candidate Dede Scozzafava, a candidate whose viewpoint and New York State Assembly voting record on several issues differed greatly from Republican orthodoxy.

Citing the “eighty percent” rule invoked by President Reagan, who argued that someone who politically agreed with him eighty percent of the time was his friend, the “Proposed RNC Resolution on Reagan’s Unity Principle for Support of Candidates” outlines ten key issues which sponsors believe should be a litmus test for fealty. The issues include, among others: smaller government, lowering taxes, market-based health care reform, opposing restrictive gun laws, refusing amnesty for illegal immigrants, and containment of Iran and North Korea.

While some conservative stalwarts oppose determining financial support based on fixed principles and issues, this resolution can be seen as a response to the defection of Republican icons like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Dick Armey, and a number of conservative media personalities to the cause of Doug Hoffman, who ran under the Conservative Party banner after state party insiders granted the GOP nod to Scozzafava.

In truth, this initiative by conservatives in the Republican Party mirrors that of Democrats. The Blue Dog coalition within their party disagrees with the rank-and-file only on the scope or approach to government intervention in various policy areas. At the end of the day, practically all Democrats still jump on the bandwagon of big-government solutions because that’s what the interests backing Democrats pay for.

This GOP proposal, sponsored by members of the party’s conservative wing who hail from the states many consider “flyover country,” faces an uncertain fate at the winter RNC meeting. It’s a Republican Party where Chairman Michael Steele overcame questions about his conservative bonafides during the runup to his election last January, yet it’s also a party which won two governorships with candidates who called for conservative solutions to their states’ problems – New Jersey’s Chris Christie in particular vowed to address the tax burden faced by residents and property owners.

But the true schism this idea attempts to address is the one created by Dede Scozzafava and her NY-23 Congressional bid. Where those on the right are lockstep in opposition to the liberal agenda put forth by Barack Obama and Democrats, any Republican defection to the Democrats’ side is heresy. Witness the conservative wrath directed at targets like Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, who voted for a Democrat health care reform proposal in committee, and the so-called “cap-and-trade eight,” eight GOP House members who provided the winning margin to pass the Waxman-Markey bill.

While some may see this proposal as too restrictive, the fact that disagreeing with two of the ten planks is still allowable suggests there’s room for compromise under the big tent. Being in step with eighty percent of a party’s platform shouldn’t be too much to ask when a candidate comes looking for financial help. A message of limited government will carry the day in 2010, so putting the party’s officeseekers on the same page philosophically should pay dividends at the ballot box and give the GOP the opportunity to be a real thorn in Barack Obama’s side.



A blunt letter to liberal elitist Senator Barbara Boxer

Do you remember the scene? The Senate. Barbara Boxer hearing from a Brigadier General? Silly General! He addresses Barbara as "Ma'am", and she CORRECTS him in front of millions of people, telling him she's "worked SO hard to earn the title, "Senator", so please to use that when speaking to her.

The letter to Boxer below is said to be from a National Guard aviator and Captain for Alaska Airlines named Jim Hill. The letter has been around for a while but is still well worth a run here


You were so right on when you scolded the general on TV for using the term, "ma'am," instead of "Senator". After all, in the military, "ma'am" is a term of respect when addressing a female of superior rank or position. The general was totally wrong. You are not a person of superior rank or position.. You are a member of one of the world's most corrupt organizations, the U.S. Senate, equaled only by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congress is a cesspool of liars, thieves, inside traders, traitors, drunks (one who killed a staffer, yet is still revered), criminals, and other low level swine who, as individuals (not all, but many), will do anything to enhance their lives, fortunes and power, all at the expense of the People of the United States and its Constitution, in order to be continually re-elected. Many democrats even want American troops killed by releasing photographs. How many of you could honestly say, "We pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor"? None? One? Two?

Your reaction to the general shows several things. First is your abysmal ignorance of all things military. Your treatment of the general shows you to be an elitist of the worst kind.. When the general entered the military (as most of us who served) he wrote the government a blank check, offering his life to protect your derriere, now safely and comfortably ensconced in a 20 thousand dollar leather chair, paid for by the general's taxes. You repaid him for this by humiliating him in front of millions.

Second is your puerile character, lack of sophistication, and arrogance, which borders on the hubristic. This display of brattish behavior shows you to be a virago, termagant, harridan, nag, scold or shrew, unfit for your position, regardless of the support of the unwashed, uneducated masses who have made California into the laughing stock of the nation.

What I am writing, are the same thoughts countless millions of Americans have toward Congress, but who lack the energy, ability or time to convey them. Regardless of their thoughts, most realize that politicians are pretty much the same, and will vote for the one who will bring home the most bacon, even if they do consider how corrupt that person is. Lord Acton (1834 - 1902) so aptly charged, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Unbeknownst to you and your colleagues, "Mr. Power" has had his way with all of you, and we are all the worse for it. Finally Senator, I, too, have a title. It is "Right Wing Extremist Potential Terrorist Threat." It is not of my choosing, but was given to me by your Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. And you were offended by "ma'am"?

Have a fine day.


Jobs or Snow Jobs?

by Thomas Sowell

President Obama keeps talking about the jobs his administration is "creating" but there are more people unemployed now than before he took office. How can there be more unemployment after so many jobs have been "created"?

Let's go back to square one. What does it take to create a job? It takes wealth to pay someone who is hired, not to mention additional wealth to buy the material that person will use. But government creates no wealth. Ignoring that plain and simple fact enables politicians to claim to be able to do all sorts of miraculous things that they cannot do in fact. Without creating wealth, how can they create jobs? By taking wealth from others, whether by taxation, selling bonds or imposing mandates.

However it is done, transferring wealth is not creating wealth. When government uses transferred wealth to hire people, it is essentially transferring jobs from the private sector, not adding to the net number of jobs in the economy.

If that was all that was involved, it would be a simple verbal fraud, with no gain of jobs and no net loss. In reality, many other things that politicians do reduce the number of jobs. Politicians who mandate various benefits that employers must provide for workers gain politically by seeming to give people something for nothing. But making workers more expensive means that fewer are likely to be hired.

More here



Forbes has just put out its annual Rich List of Fictional Characters, Uncle Sam is on top, with Scrooge McDuck in second place. A few years ago Santa Claus was number one but was removed following a deluge of mail advising that he is not a fictional character.

All the president’s regulators: "During the first year of the Obama administration, conservatives have directed much of their fire on the major legislation the president is pushing through Congress. This concern is justifiable, as Democrats are moving bills aimed at taking over the nation’s health care system, creating a national energy tax to limit carbon emissions, and enabling unions to rapidly add members by denying workers a secret ballot on unionization. But as critical as it is for the right to expose the damaging consequences of such major legislation, conservatives must not lose sight of the fact that there is more than one way for the president to impose his vision on the country.”

Iran: Streets, campuses erupt in protest: "Campuses across Iran erupted in protests Monday as defiant college students chanting anti-government slogans clashed with security [sic] forces armed with clubs in a forceful new round of confrontations over the nation’s disputed June presidential election. The daylong protests on National Students Day were not as large in Tehran as those that broke out in the days after the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But they took place in a larger number of cities and towns and followed weeks of ominous warnings by security [sic] officials. They continued through the day despite efforts by security [sic] forces arrayed on streets and inside campuses.”

Commercial spaceship makes first public appearance: "A spacecraft designed to rocket wealthy tourists into space as early as 2011 was unveiled Monday in what backers of the venture hope will signal a new era in aviation history. The long-awaited glimpse of SpaceShipTwo marks the first public appearance of a commercial passenger spacecraft. The project is bankrolled by Virgin Galactic founder, British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, who partnered with famed aviation designer Burt Rutan, the brains behind the venture.”

NJ: Homosexual Marriage bill passes key Senate hurdle: "A proposal to legalize gay marriage in New Jersey narrowly passed a key state Senate committee on Monday, paving the way for a legislative showdown this week and boosting the possibility New Jersey will join the handful of U.S. states allowing gay couples to wed.”

Government event on transparency … closed to public: "It’s hardly the image of transparency the Obama administration wants to project: A workshop on government openness is closed to the public. The event today for federal employees is a fitting symbol of President Barack Obama’s uneven record so far on the Freedom of Information Act, a big part of keeping his campaign promise to make his administration the most transparent ever. As Obama’s first year in office ends, the government’s actions when the public and news media seek information are not yet matching up with the president’s words.”

Pay back the debt: "Sunday, the Administration released what should normally be considered good news: The Obama administration is planning to slash its estimate of the losses from the government’s bailout package by about $200 billion. That from today’s Washington Post. Apparently, banks have been so eager to pay back the TARP (perhaps so that they won’t have to submit to a ‘pay czar’), that TARP won’t increase the deficit as much as initially expected. That would be good news if this Administration wasn’t hell-bent on digging itself deeper into a fiscal hole. The move could pave the way for Democrats to tap some of the unspent TARP funds for a jobs bill, currently being crafted by House Democrats. … Administration officials talk about their commitment to reducing the deficit, but they keep doing the opposite.”

Inside Cuba: Guerrilla blogging: "‘Blog.’ Many people in Cuba don’t understand all the fuss regarding this mono-syllabic word that seems to have no relationship to the daily routine of survival. On the Island, the blogosphere is an incipient media and, outside of Havana, all but invisible. Though their work generates controversies and awards worldwide, Cuban bloggers are largely unknown here. With Internet access in Cuba restricted to the very few, the nation’s bloggers function as a kind of guerrilla underground. They work as independent agents whose existence heralds a civic re-activation that will modulate the Revolution’s Realpolitik — or is that Raulpolitik? Blogs Sobre Cuba, an online database founded in 2007, lists more than 1,000 blogs on Cuban topics, both on and off the island.”


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


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


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Avoid the "zero catch" webhost

Unlike its name, has lots of catches. It is an old fashioned webhost with lots of intrusive popups and a small webspace allowance. I had my content up there for some years but they have recently deployed some very aggressive bots which have now shut down my site twice for no apparent reason. Content that was OK for years is now not OK, apparently. I of course used their help system to protest but just got brushed off. So goodbye to them! The free webhosts I like best at the moment are and


There Go The Jobs In The Energy Sector

The EPA led by Lisa Jackson, a big global warming acolyte, is prepared to announce next week that CO2 is a dangerous gas. That's right, everytime you exhale according to our imperial federal government you will be emitting a dangerous gas.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will early next week, possibly as soon as Monday, officially declare carbon dioxide a public danger, a trigger that could mean regulation for emitters across the economy, according to several people close to the matter.

Such an "endangerment" decision is necessary for the EPA to move ahead early next year with new emission standards for cars. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said it could also mean large emitters such as power stations, cement kilns, crude-oil refineries and chemical plants would have to curb their greenhouse gas output.

The announcement would also give President Barack Obama and his climate envoy negotiating leverage at a global climate summit starting next week in Copenhagen, Denmark and increase pressure on Congress to pass a climate bill that would modify the price of polluting.
I guess this another case of where the science is settled.

In the past activist judges have used previous reports citing CO2 as a dangerous gas as a reason to bar the construction of clean coal plants and to restrict the building of refineries, even though there was no official stamp on that line of reasoning. With the EPA making it official, it will be yet another blow to manufacturing and the energy sectors of our economy.

There won't any recovery anytime soon at the rate this is going. Without jobs and entire sections of our business world being handcuffed with everything from salary caps to ridiculous rulings like this, there simply won't be anywhere to hire people.

No, I am not putting much stock in those November unemployment numbers. Businesses just weren't up to laying off more people at the end of the year. Keep an eye on the numbers for January, which will of course take all the experts once again by surprise.




Jack Wheeler gives us what appears to be a full account of Sarah's speech at the Gridiron Club. The club is the oldest and most prestigious journalist organization in Washington DC. The annual Gridiron Dinner is attended by the media elite, at which the president is traditionally the speaker. This year, President Zero was the first president to refuse to address The Gridiron Dinner since Grover Cleveland. On Saturday December 5th., this year, the black tie dinner had double the attendance of recent years - for instead of Mr. Zero, the speaker was Sarah Palin. The tradition of the dinner is that the speaker pokes fun at himself and the attendees. Wheeler says that Sarah was such a hit there were dozens of the most liberal elite journalists in America laughing their heads off, many wiping tears of laughter from their eyes:
Good evening. It's great to be in Washington. I am loving the weather [it was snowing]. I braved the elements and went out for a jog! Or, as Newsweek calls it, a cover-shoot. I feel so at home here in DC. I can see the Russian Embassy from my hotel room!

It's a privilege to be here tonight at the Washington DC Barnes & Noble. Tonight, I'll be reading excerpts from my new book. Perhaps you've heard of it? "Going Rogue." Yukon wasn't sure if I'd go with that title and somebody suggested I follow the East Coast self-help trend and go with, "How To Look Like A Million Bucks...For Only 150 Grand." Todd liked, "The Audacity of North Slope." [She nods to him as he's at the head table]

Hey, I considered not having a title at all. I've said it before, but you Beltway types just don't seem to get it. You don't need a title to make an impact. But anyway, let's get started. I'll begin my first reading on Page 209.

It was pitch black when we touched down in Arizona late on August 27, 2008. The next morning we drove to John McCain's ranch in Sedona. John was waiting on the porch. Before he can say a word, I tell him, I'm quoting now: "I know why I'm here, and I'm ready. But, I'm worried. The cost of credit protection for the largest U.S. banks is rising precipitously. Have you given any thought to the run on the entities in the parallel banking system? Do you realize the vulnerability created when these institutions borrow short term in liquid markets to invest long term in illiquid assets?"

John said, "you betcha!" I thought, "you betcha?" Who talks that way?

Well, sometimes you just have to trust your instincts. When you don't, you end up in places like this. Who would have guessed that I'd be palling around with this group? At least now I can put a face to all the newspapers I do read. It is good to be here and in front of this audience of leading journalists and intellectuals. Or, as I call it, a death panel.

To be honest, I had some serious reservations about coming to visit your cozy little club. The Gridiron still hasn't offered membership to anyone from my hometown paper in Wasilla, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley Frontiersman. And my dad thought it was just a plain bad idea to leave the book tour for some football game. He might have a point! [She waves to her parents at a table at the back of the room] Hi, Dad! Hi, Mom! They crashed the party, you know.

I've been touring this great, great land of ours over the last few weeks. I have to say, the view is much better from inside the bus, than under it! But really, I am thrilled to be with you. And I'd like to thank the Gridiron for the invitation and Dick Cooper for his introduction. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, this has to be the most extraordinary collection of people who have gathered to viciously attack me since the last corporate gathering at CBS.

Despite what you have read, or more likely, despite what you have written, I do feel a real bond with all of you. I studied journalism, earned a communications degree and for a time only wanted to be a journalist. I was even a television sportscaster back home. I'm guessing some of you probably got your start the exact same way... once there was television. Let me get back to the book.

I know that many of you are still upset because I wouldn't play that silly Washington game. You know, the one where all of you read a book in its entirety, from the first page of the index to the last. But think about it, because you actually had to read the whole book in the vain hope of finding your name, you now know all about Denali, mom, dad, ungulate eyeballs, slaying salmon on the Nushagak and Ugashik near Alegnigak, where we make agootak and moose chili! You're welcome.

Still, I want to do something very special for this audience of Washington elite. So, I'll read from the index--which I chose not to include in the hardback. Would you believe me if I said I didn't include it because we wanted to save trees?

Under A we have... Alaska, media not understanding. Pages 1-432.

Under B... Biased media. Pages 1-432

And under C... Conservative media. See acknowledgments. I'll stop there.

I know this can be a long night, and as I understand it, we're going to break with a Gridiron tradition. Normally, the Democrat speaker would deliver a speech after me. But instead, John McCain's campaign staff asked if they could use that time for a rebuttal.

A lot has been made of a few campaign relationships. The closeness. The warm fuzzy feelings. John and I both agree all those staffers should just move past it. It's history. Let's just say, if I ever need a bald campaign manager, it appears all I'm left with is James Carville. I don't want to say that I've burned a bridge, but I know all about canceling a bridge to nowhere.

That Democrat speaker I referred to is, of course, the one-and-only Barney Frank. And I'm the controversial one? Barney, the nation owes you and the government a debt. A huge, historic, unbelievable debt. But, it's good to be here with you, Mr. Chairman. Because by Chairman, I don't just mean the House Financial Services Committee. As far as I can tell, Barney's also the Chair of AIG, CITI, and the Bank of America.

I don't want to say that the U.S. Government is taking over the role of the private sector, but I have to admit, on the flight here, thumbing through a magazine and looking at a photo of President Obama with the President of China, the person next to me pointed at it and said, "Hu's a communist." I thought they were asking a question.

Still, when I see this administration in action, I can't help think of what might have been. I could be the Vice President overseeing the signing of bailout checks. And Joe Biden would be on the road, selling his new book, "Going Rogaine."

Speaking of books.... Did I mention mine? "Going Rogue" Makes a great stocking stuffer. Available now at a bookstore near you. Hey, I have to pay for my campaign vetting bill somehow. Really, the response has been great. So I'll close by reading a final passage.

Page 403: ...I've been asked a lot lately, "Where are you going next?' Good question!

Wherever I go I know that, as with anyone in the public eye, I'll continue to have my share of disagreements with those in the media. Maybe even more than my share. It will come as no surprise that I don't think I was always treated fairly, or equally. But despite that, I respect the media very much. It's important. A free press allows for vigorous debate! And that debate is absolutely vital for our democracy. So as hard as it can sometimes be, we must all look past personal grievances. We must move beyond petty politics. And we must allow these incredibly talented and hard-working women and men to ask the hard questions and hold us, and our government, accountable. Because their mission is as true as the sun rising over the Talkeetna and Susitna Mountains....

Okay - so none of that is actually in the book. Not a word. But I do believe it! And I believe we live in a beautiful country blessed with so many different people who want the best for their children, families and for our great nation. I'm so proud to be an American.

And that is what I'll be talking about when I travel to where I'm headed. No better place than here to announce where I'm going. I'm going to Iowa! I'll be there tomorrow from noon to 3:00 pm at the Barnes & Noble on Sergeant Road in Sioux City. Come early. Long lines are expected. Thank you everyone. God Bless the U.S.A!



The Only Thing Less Popular Than Paul Krugman is the New York Times

Scott Rasmussen ran a couple of surveys to illustrate the importance of how poll questions are framed. The results make that point quite effectively, but are also interesting in their own right.

Rasmussen surveyed likely voters with respect to two pundits, Paul Krugman and John Fund. He found, not surprisingly, that neither is well known to the general public. Krugman scores exactly even, 22 percent favorable and 22 percent unfavorable, with 55 percent knowing nothing about him. Of those who know who Krugman is, 4 percent view him "very favorably" and 6 percent "very unfavorably." Fund is even less well known; his favorables/unfavorables are 12/22. (My guess is that most of those 22 percent either had Fund confused with someone else or were just reacting to the sound of his name.)

Here's the interesting part: in a separate survey, when Krugman was identified as "New York Times columnist Paul Krugman," his numbers plummeted to 25 percent favorable and 37 percent unfavorable. Moreover, his "very unfavorable" percentage more than tripled to 20 percent. On the other hand, when Fund was identified as a Wall Street Journal columnist, the opposite happened: his favorable/unfavorable percentages flipped to 34/20. All of which suggests that the public has pretty well caught on to the Times, which, as Rasmussen notes, was viewed favorably by only 24 percent in a 2008 survey.




Rupert Murdoch attacks bailout funds for media companies: "News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch has rejected the idea of public funding for media companies, saying if news outlets were not attracting audiences they deserved to fail. The government's only role in helping media should be to reduce unnecessary regulation and eliminate obstacles to growth and investment, he said last week at a US Federal Trade Commission workshop on the future of journalism in the internet age. "The prospect of the US government becoming directly involved in commercial journalism ought to be chilling for anyone who cares about freedom of speech," Mr Murdoch said. US congressional hearings in September -- into how the government could help -- heard ideas such as giving tax breaks to newspapers that restructured to operate as non-profit businesses. "In exchange, of course, (papers would be) giving up their right to endorse political candidates," Mr Murdoch told the FTC. "The most damning problem with government help is . . . (it) props up those who are producing things that customers do not want. In other words, it subsidises the failures and penalises the successes." A newspaper aid program is under way in France"

Nobel acceptance will be a tricky moment: "He’s the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who just ordered 30,000 more troops into war. He’s the winner who says he didn’t deserve to win. He’s not quite 11 months on the job and already in the company of Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. This is President Barack Obama’s Nobel moment, an immense honor shadowed by awkward timing. When Obama leaves for Oslo, Norway, on Wednesday to be lauded for his style of international diplomacy, he goes knowing that the American people are more concerned about something else: peace of mind. The economy has left millions of them hurting. … Unemployment is in double digits even as the bleeding of jobs has slowed. Meanwhile, there’s no hiding the contrast of war and peace.” [The magic of Leftism: Only Obama can escalate a war and get a peace prize at the same time]

More on general market efficiency: "It’s very difficult for any single individual/entity to beat index returns. For anyone who has some money set aside, the advice, ‘Put it in an index fund’ is sage. Very few mutual funds beat index returns in a given year. Over many years, almost none do. The average investor does not have access to inside information. The stock price moves within seconds in response to any information made public. If someone sees an incongruity or arbitrage opportunity, many others have probably already seen it and have already acted on it. ‘What makes you think you can beat the market?’ is a good question. It is also a question which I don’t think is applied enough.” [Hmmmm ... I don't know about that. I don't follow the market much these days but when I did I was always ahead of the index. You just have to have correct theories. Most people don't. And my portfolio came through the GFC in pretty good shape. Even the Dubai affair has had only a minor effect on it]

UK: The big squeeze: "Next year, Britain’s middle classes and the rich will face the biggest squeeze on their living standards in decades, shows research produced by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers for The Independent. In the build-up to what promises to be an exceptionally tough pre-Budget report this Wednesday, PwC says the typical British family (’Middle England’) already faces a decline of 2.4 per cent, or £300 a year, in its discretionary spending power, after tax, mortgages, food and other essentials.”

Nonsense on poverty: "The Joseph Rowntree Trust released its report on the state of poverty in the UK and brought forth the usual howls of outrage about, well, pretty much everything really. I was actually rather enjoying the howls of how we now have Dickensian, Victorian, levels of poverty for I always do enjoy hysterical hyperbole. But it set me thinking, do we actually have such levels? Of course, we simply do not have, absent a very few families blighted by mental illness, drugs or drink, anything like the physical poverty of those days.”


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


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


Monday, December 7, 2009

Genetics win out

It is obvious that life experiences have some influences on us. Chinese kids grow up speaking Chinese, for instance. But genetics are also powerful and the latest research indicates that they do to a remarkable extent overwhelm environmental influences. Environmental handicaps tend to fade in importance as we get older. Abstract of the latest paper on the heritability of IQ below:
The heritability of general cognitive ability increases linearly from childhood to young adulthood

By C M A Haworth et al.

Although common sense suggests that environmental influences increasingly account for individual differences in behavior as experiences accumulate during the course of life, this hypothesis has not previously been tested, in part because of the large sample sizes needed for an adequately powered analysis. Here we show for general cognitive ability that, to the contrary, genetic influence increases with age. The heritability of general cognitive ability increases significantly and linearly from 41% in childhood (9 years) to 55% in adolescence (12 years) and to 66% in young adulthood (17 years) in a sample of 11 000 pairs of twins from four countries, a larger sample than all previous studies combined. In addition to its far-reaching implications for neuroscience and molecular genetics, this finding suggests new ways of thinking about the interface between nature and nurture during the school years. Why, despite life's 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune', do genetically driven differences increasingly account for differences in general cognitive ability? We suggest that the answer lies with genotype–environment correlation: as children grow up, they increasingly select, modify and even create their own experiences in part based on their genetic propensities.

Molecular Psychiatry


Palin speaks in D.C.

Sarah Palin gave an 11-minute speech before Washington’s Gridiron Club at its Winter Dinner. Politico billed it as: “a moment somewhat akin to Karl Marx touring the New York Stock Exchange or Charles Darwin lecturing at a creationists’ convention.” Um, the Gridiron Club is supposed to be peopled by journalists. Her co-star was Congressman Barney Frank. Gridiron officials expected a big turnout. She does that a lot.

The remarks are off the record, so naturally Politico leaked like a sieve. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Tribune also broke the silence. As did Andrew Malcolm of the Los Angeles Times. From their leaks, I offer this:

Her book has no index so that people can check to see what page they are on in her book. Politico said she provided one: “A: Alaska, media not understanding it, page 1-432. B: Biased, Page 1-432.”

Other lines: “If the election had turned out differently, I could be the one overseeing the signing of bailout checks and Vice President Biden could be on the road selling his book, ‘Going Rogaine’.”

And this line: “It’s good to be here though, really, in front of this audience of leading journalists and intellectuals, or as I like to call it, a death panel.”

And: “Sometimes you just got to trust your instincts. And when you don”t, you end up in places like this.”

And: “You betcha. Who talks that way?”

And: “At least now I can put a face to the newspapers I do read.”

And on Frank: “And I’m the controversial one?”

And a dig at John McCain’s campaign staff: “The view is so much better inside the bus than under the bus.”

And on campaign manager Steve Schmidt: “If I need a bald campaign manager, I guess I’m left with James Carville.”

And the line about seeing a picture of the president and China’s president Hu Jinato and being told, “Hu’s the communist.”

Palin: “I thought he was asking a question.”

And her alternative title for her autobiography: “How to Look Like a Million Bucks for Only $150,000.”

And the line of the night (or what was reported so far) on her hotel room: “I could see the Russian Embassy.”

Self-effacing humor works best.



In defense of Sarah Palin & conservative women

Is chivalry dead? Have we conservative men allowed political correctness to prevent us from treating women the way we instinctively know we should? When my three brothers and I started dating, my dad instructed us. "You take good care and return her home the way you found her". Following dad's instruction made us feel good about ourselves. We felt like men.

It is time we conservative guys start acting like men and defend our women folk (a little cowboy lingo). Since her acceptance speech as McCain's VP nominee, attacks on Sarah Palin have been vile, extremely vicious and beyond the pale. Even Palin's family including her 14 year old daughter were targeted for destruction by an, dare I use the "E" word, evil media. The Left's hatred of Sarah Palin is good vs. evil. Palin's book tour is pouring gasoline on the Left's "destroy Palin at any cost" fire.

Governor Palin positively represents motherhood, marriage and traditional Christian values. The Left appears to despise any and all things so wholesome.

Unfortunately, it appears even some on our side (conservatives) have bought into the media's "she is not too bright" portrayal of Palin. When Obama says we have 57 states and other faux pas, the sycophant media circle the wagons around him by saying he was tired or simply misspoke. Meanwhile, every word out of Palin's mouth is viewed through the template that she is stupid. Who amongst us could withstand such harsh scrutiny?

Well, I am standing up for my awesome conservative sister, Gov. Palin. She has the right stuff to get our country back on track. I love how Palin boldly, without apology, challenges the concept of government run health care, the global warming/climate change scam and her desire to drill for oil to make us energy independent. Talk about backbone. Could Sarah Palin be the reincarnation of John Wayne and Ronald Reagan? No, I do not believe in reincarnation; just having a little fun. My point is despite what the snobby elites -- conservative and liberal -- think, Sarah Palin is a powerful force to be reckoned with and is great for America.

We the people are so sick of namby pamby "middle of the road speak" focus group-tested candidates. "Don't say this because you will offend this crowd and don't say that because you will offend the other." For crying out loud, just say what you mean and mean what you say. Show us voters who you are. These are the kind of candidates we voters are longing and tea partying for. And this is why Sarah "what you see is what you get" Palin is a rock star!

I believe strong women inspire men to be strong. They are not offended when we open the door for them, carry their heavy packages and mind our conversation around them. Or has such behavior from men become too "Andy and Mayberry" for our secular progressive crude culture? Trust me, I am not a prude, but radical feminists have diminished women's power in our society. I was raised to believe that a real man treats women with a level of respect. Nobody is allowed to "dis" your momma, wife or your sister.

Sarah Palin is a breath of fresh air; a woman using the God-given power of her femininity to be a mom, a wife and govern a state. Awesome. I would be honored to say, "Yes, Madam President"....

The Left deceptively call their pro abortion movement a pro choice movement. If choice is their issue, why are radical feminists so offended when a woman chooses not to have an abortion? They have a weird anti male (particularly white male) and family agenda. Outrageously, a feminist leader said "all sex is rape". These angry bitter women have a distorted view of the world.

Then along comes Sarah Palin; happily married, a happy mom and effective governor. Feminists should regard Sarah Palin as their hero; a shining example of women's liberation enjoying success in both words, family and career. But instead, the Left seeks to destroy her. Palin is too happy, too good, too pretty, too effective, and most intolerable, too powerful.



The Beck phenomenon

Many authors adorn the covers of their books with flattering recommendations from notable reviewers. Not Glenn Beck, whose latest bestselling diatribe, Arguing With Idiots, proudly sports a range of slurs from some of the many critics of his right-wing radio chat show.

“Glenn Beck is an idiot,” declares Discover magazine. He is “a lying sack of dog mess”, says Whoopi Goldberg, the Hollywood actress. He is “Satan’s mentally challenged younger brother”, adds Stephen King, the novelist.

After almost 30 years working in radio and television, Beck has this year emerged from the apocalyptic hubbub of American conservative political chatter to become a fully fledged cultural phenomenon. It is not only his verbal pyrotechnics that have entranced his growing audience — he is possibly the only crewcut Mormon in America who once claimed to have smoked marijuana every day for 15 years.

Beck has claimed that America’s first black president had “a deep-seated hatred for white people”.

The White House accused Fox News of “undertaking a war” against Obama. Yet even Beck’s critics acknowledge that he is not a conventional foe and, far from being a Republican stooge, he sometimes espouses startling views. “Not all Democrats are idiots,” he notes in his latest book. He says he is not a “partisan zombie” and declares that “being an idiot has nothing to do with your party affiliation”. Unlike most of his listeners he has a soft spot for Hillary Clinton.

Mostly, though, he has made his fortune by giving voice to a growing sense of frustration that the much-vaunted president of hope and change has delivered neither; and that a sycophantic media dominated by liberals has failed to be tough enough on Obama.

Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, has declared herself a big fan of Beck. In polls of listeners to his programmes, she is the overwhelming favourite for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Palin, the surprise choice as Senator John McCain’s running mate last year, was asked last month if she would spring a similar surprise by considering Beck as her 2012 running mate. The idea is not as far-fetched as it may seem — Beck recently adopted a more active political profile and is touring the country encouraging voter registration. Palin’s reply was: “I don’t know, we’ll see.”

Between them, Beck and Palin dominate America’s right-wing conversation but he was not always so eminent. His career encompasses an only-in-America arc that includes bouts of alcoholism and drug abuse, a late turn to redemptive religion and several family tragedies.

Beck was 15 when his mother’s body was discovered in the waters of Puget Sound in Washington state. His parents had divorced. Beck would later claim his mother committed suicide, but other accounts referred to a boating accident.

Seven years earlier, Mary Beck had given her son a record set entitled The Golden Years of Radio. Beck has written that the birthday gift had “an immediate and lasting impact . . . I was mesmerised . . . how radio could create pictures in my head”. Moving to his father’s home near Seattle, Beck took a part-time job at a local radio station, beginning an odyssey that would turn him first into a disc jockey, then into a chat show host. His early rise was fuelled mostly by beer and cocaine.

By the time Beck reached Kentucky in the mid-1980s, he was by his own admission drinking heavily, snorting coke and contemplating suicide. “I’m only alive today because a) I’m too cowardly to kill myself and b) I’m too stupid,” he wrote.

It was in Kentucky that the first signs emerged of the rabid super-patriot that Beck would become. After the bombing in 1986 of a Berlin nightclub frequented by US soldiers — an attack blamed on President Muammar Gadaffi’s Libya — Beck repeatedly played a song called Gadaffi Sucks. Listeners hailed him for “standing up for America”.

Mostly, though, he was falling down drunk. After stops in Phoenix, Houston and New York, his former manager described him as “out of control”. His marriage was failing, he was mixing recreational and prescription drugs. In Phoenix he had joked on air about his wife being pregnant and invited listeners to guess the sex of the child. The jokes stopped after his daughter was born with cerebral palsy.

Yet somehow he managed to clean himself up. In 1994 he began attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. Five years later he embraced the Mormon religion and acquired a supportive second wife. As he honed his talent for mischievous commentary, he rose through news radio ranks to his high-profile berth at Fox.

Obama’s early stumbles have proved a boon for Beck’s career. Broader dismay at the president’s perceived failings has re-energised an otherwise moribund Republican party, propelling it to eye-catching victories in state elections in Virginia and New Jersey last month.

Yet many Republicans remain concerned that the Beck-Palin axis of antagonistic populism may prevent the party attracting middle-of-the-road voters who swung to Obama last year, but are disillusioned and potentially ready to swing back. “We have to decide whether we want to be a debating society or a broad-based, centre-right governing coalition,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, a moderate Republican from Tennessee.

Beck and Palin scoff at critics who claim they are damaging Republican chances by scaring off moderate voters and previously sympathetic Latinos. They dismiss such theories as the kind of political game-playing that got America into a mess in the first place. The stage is set for a long strategy debate as Republicans seek a much earlier return to the White House than seemed possible a year ago. The only certain outcome is that Beck will be sitting at his microphone, urging conservatives to action. “It’s time to find our teeth and sharpen our teeth — and we’re going to do it,” he promised.




I probably should mention that I have put up a few things on my Paralipomena blog lately. A lot of what I put up there is history of one sort or another, as history is a great interest of mine -- as I think it should be for any conservative. History is a very large topic, however, so one has to specialize. My main interest is 19th and 20th century British and German history and I still have only very partial knowledge of that.

LibertyPhile notes that even readers of Britain's Leftist Guardian overwhelmingly approved the Swiss vote to ban Muslim minarets in that country.

There is an interesting video here about the extent of Muslim activism in Britain.

British PM snubbed by soldiers' 'curtain' protest: "Gordon Brown was snubbed by badly injured Afghan veterans when they closed curtains round their beds during a hospital visit and refused to speak to him. More than half the soldiers being treated at the Selly Oak hospital ward in Birmingham either asked for the curtains to be closed or deliberately avoided the prime minister, according to several of those present. The soldiers, who have sustained some of the worst injuries seen in Afghanistan, described his visit as “opportunistic” and a “waste of time”. Furious about equipment shortages and poor compensation for their injuries, one soldier said: “It is almost as if we are the product of an unwanted affair ... he has done nothing for us.”

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


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


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tony Judt and the confusion of the modern Left

It is with a little sadness that I write this. I am going to comment on a recent essay by Tony Judt. Even though he is an anti-Israel Jew, he is a brilliant mind and a most knowledgeable historian. He is now however suffering from a severe physical disability and the essay I wish to comment on could well be his last substantial work. So, with respect:

The essay boils down to two things: A rejection of "economism" and a dreamy glorification of 20th century democratic Leftism. And he ends up saying that Leftists should be conservatives. A more confused, though lucid, set of ideas would be hard to imagine.

For a start, his central dilemma is one that is ever-present on the contemporary Left: He argues for moral values while also believing that there is no such thing as right and wrong. If self-contradiction is a mark of insanity, the modern Left is terminally deranged.

It is purely in the name of some unspecified moral order that Judt rejects "economism". And what he condemns as "economism" boils down to being concerned about your financial state of affairs. It is wrong, apparently, to be concerned about how much money you have in your pocket. It is no doubt an outcome of Judt's own privileged life that he literally seems unable to understand why people would have such concerns.

It was one of my correspondents who alerted me to Judt's essay and the comment he sent with the link was simply: "A moron". One can understand that judgement. Let me be a little more professional about the matter, however, and say that Judt's moral ideas are seriously underdeveloped and that a full elaboration of his moral beliefs and reasoning would be needed for anyone to draw any reasonable conclusions from his essay.

He goes on to glorify government-provided services generally but once again seems not to be living in the real world. Who has not experienced the horrors of dealing with large bureaucracies and who does not find small businesses easier to deal with? He seems unaware that you get much better treatment as a valued customer than you do if you are a mere number to some bureaucrat. You are virtually powerless against a bureaucracy but you have some weight as a person who can take his business elsewhere.

Judt's primary example of a service that should be government provided is the railways. He thinks that they are "an essential public service". That people in some places get along quite well without them and that the vast majority of Americans hardly use them at all appears to have had no impact on his thinking. His argument seems to boil down to saying that railways run purely for profit would not serve isolated regions or the poor very well. He is probably right about that but does it follow that a government-run railway is the answer? If we are going to subsidize anything, why not subsidize small buses to run on the route concerned? That would undoubtedly be a lot easier on the taxpayer's pocket.

So his final plea that we remember the past glories of socialism is as deranged as his moral ideas. Leftists should hope that people do NOT remember how awful past government services have been. What Judt wants us to "remember" is a dreamy ideal that never existed. His closing assertion that "The left, to be quite blunt about it, has something to conserve" is undoubtedly a common Leftist belief but it is just another example of his moral incoherence and blindness to the actual past.

In an effort to do justice to the man, however, I will happily concede his point that privatizations of government services have not always worked well. And since he seems to have railways on the brain, let me mention the privatization of British Rail. I remember the shabbiness, erratic services and awful sandwiches of British Rail well so am perhaps in some position to comment. Who could believe train drivers who drove off while people were still trying to board? I do because I saw it. I was one of the passengers concerned.

There is no doubt that rail services in Britain today are often very poor but that is a consequence of their very PARTIAL privatization. The infinitely better rail services of the Victorian era were provided by companies that OWNED not only the trains but the tracks they ran on. In Britain today, however, the private rail companies own very little. They bid for the privilege of providing a service and get a government-controlled monopoly in return. So, once they have obtained their monopoly, it makes sense for them to screw passengers for all they can. Roadspace and parking are severely limited in Britain so passengers usually have no real option of other forms of transport.

In the Victorian era, by contrast, railways DID compete (and also co-operated when that was useful). There was more than one set of tracks running North and if you wanted to get from (say) London to somewhere in Scotland, there were competing ways of doing so. So it seems reasonable that a recreation of the completely private Victorian ownership structure would give results comparable to the Victorian experience. But modern Britain is too socialist for that to be contemplated.

And as for government-sponsored or government-run train services in Australia these days, don't get me started. The Melbourne services are run on British lines and just ask any Melbourne commuter how that works out.

There many more points in Judt's essay that I could contend with but the eloquence of the essay hides such a poverty of ideas that I cannot justify spending more time on it.


Chinese appeasement irks Indians

By Dr John Lee -- a foreign policy specialist with a particular interest in India

President Barrack Obama’s choice of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as his first state visitor last week was meant to be about reassuring New Delhi that Washington intends to build on the strategic partnership between the two countries that blossomed under George W. Bush. But after Obama’s much criticised trip to China, the meeting was largely about repairing the damage and reassuring New Delhi that Obama will be as good a friend to India as under Bush.

Why are the Indians upset? Obama’s supporters admit that the administration appeared ‘conciliatory’ towards the Chinese. His detractors argue that by treating China as an equal partner when it is not yet one, he appeared ‘weak.’

As far as New Delhi is concerned, the joint US-China communiqué strikes at the heart of Indian strategic sensitivities. China seems to have got something it desperately wants – at India’s expense – without offering anything in return.

By prematurely raising China’s profile and offering it a central role in working with Washington to promote peace and stability in South and Central Asia, the United States has added to India’s insecurities. India sees China’s role in these regions as destabilising and insidious. China has been attempting to distract India with land-based disputes by offering diplomatic, military and nuclear support to Pakistan while Beijing extends its influence in South Asia. And it sees US appeasement of China as America’s inadvertent blessing to continue distracting India.

Obama seems to have underestimated the long-standing regional tensions when he casually offered to China ‘the fundamental principle of respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity.’ This seems innocuous except for the fact that China has fundamental disputes with India (as well as with Russia, Japan and Southeast Asian countries) as to what constitutes Beijing’s ‘sovereignty and territorial integrity.’

Words matter. ‘Acknowledging’ China’s territorial claims is one thing. Respecting them is another and should be withheld until the disputing partners resolve the issues.

Taking a page out of the Harvard Negotiation Project’s Getting to Yes manual is not the best way to deal with the Chinese. The US-China relationship might be the most important in the world, but President Obama must learn that America cannot ‘manage’ China without help from friends and allies.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.


The labor union president

Journalists have spent countless hours writing and discussing how remarkable it is that a predominately white America has elected a black president. It is remarkable that a man born of a white mother would consider himself the first black president. However, based upon the actions of the Obama administration since January 20th, the more remarkable and less publicized story is how the American public really elected a purple president.

Purple is the color of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). SEIU spent 61 million dollars helping to get Barack Obama elected. Along with their sister organization, Association of Community Organizers Now (ACORN), they also contributed thousands of hours of grassroots organizing. In some cities, this grassroots “organizing” meant a Chicago style voter intimidation. SEIU and ACORN members stood at polling places to prevent voters unlikely to vote for Barack Obama from voting.

The efforts of SEIU and ACORN have not gone unrewarded. In previous Democratic administrations, organized labor spent millions of dollars to get their candidate elected, however presidents like Bill Clinton did not devote their entire presidency to achieving organized labor’s agenda. President Obama has clearly made the promotion and enrichment of organized labor at the expense of the American taxpayer the top priority of his administration. The last time this occurred was in the 1930’s under FDR, with disastrous consequences for the American people.

According to the White House visitor records recently published, the president of SEIU, Andrew Stern, has been the most frequent visitor, visiting 22 times since January. Mr. Stern’s visits have paid off, since virtually every action or piece of legislation by the Administration is for the benefit of organized labor and especially the SEIU.

Obama’s appointments have included a disproportionate number of SEIU and ACORN leaders in key policy positions. Anna Burger was appointed to the President’s Economic Recovery Board of Advisors. She was previously SEIU Secretary-Treasurer. Patrick Gaspard from SEIU Local 1199 was appointed as White House policy advisor. He was previously SEIU Vice President of politics and legislation. Craig Becker was nominated to the National Labor Relations Board. Is there any doubt about how the former SEIU associate general council will rule in labor cases brought before the NLRB?

The stimulus bill was promoted as a job creation bill so essential that it needed to be voted upon before the House and Senate members even had time to read it. In reality only about 10% of the Stimulus Act provide funding for the infrastructure projects it proponents touted. Even that 10% included provisions to ensure that only union construction workers could work on those projects.

The remainder of the Stimulus Act funded government programs, not infrastructure jobs. It provided funding to cash strapped states so they would not be forced to lay off public sector union employees to balance their budgets. When destitute California tried to lay off union (SEIU) workers to help reduce its budget deficit, the Obama administration threatened to cut off stimulus funds. The bill also provided additional funding to select Federal programs and reversed provisions of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act.

One of the driving forces behind the grossly misnamed Employee Free Choice Act or Card Check bill is the SEIU. They have made numerous public statements that they do not believe in secret elections to determine whether employees want to be represented by a union. They have been extremely successful in using coercion and intimidation rather than secret elections in their organizing of healthcare workers in a number of states.

SEIU President Stern and SEIU Healthcare Chairman, Dennis Rivera, have been instrumental in determining the language of the Administration’s healthcare bills. If the public option is included, the SEIU will have the opportunity to organize millions of new government healthcare workers. It has spent millions of dollars promoting healthcare bills through advertising and sending well coached SEIU and ACORN members to disrupt healthcare rallies. If Americans are forced to spend far more in taxes to fund healthcare programs, no one benefits as much as the purple shirted SEIU.

Never before has a President allowed the policies of an entire nation to be based upon the interests of a public sector labor union destined to bankrupt America. Clearly to President Obama, “spread the wealth” means taking the wealth of working Americans through taxation and giving it to groups like ACORN and SEIU that helped him get elected.



The Fatuous Job Summit

Obama's amazing confession: He doesn't know how jobs are created. Cutting government burdens on business is a sort of Masonic mystery to him, apparently. If the summit had been solely focused on how to reduce the costs of business it might have been useful

What are the odds that yesterday’s White House jobs summit will lead to the creation of any real jobs? The summit was based on the magic theory of government: Say the right incantations and reality will be reshaped according to one’s desires. There are no economic laws. There is only will. If we all think good thoughts and exude the spirit of cooperation, we’ll end these hard times and get the economy moving again. This is the sign of a primitive mentality. In reality economic laws exist, reality sets limits, and good feelings can’t create prosperity out of nothing, especially when government stubbornly stands in the way....

The downward employment spiral we have witnessed is an effect, not a cause, of economic trouble. People were laid off and consumption slowed down, with rippling effect, because of earlier bad policies. In the current case, government housing policy and Federal Reserve conduct united to create unsustainable distortions in finance, construction, and allied industries. When the boom came to end and the bubble burst, what looked like rational investments were revealed as errors that needed to be corrected so that the market process could get back on its natural track. This takes time. Decisions cannot be instantly and costlessly reversed. There’s too much construction equipment and not enough of something else, but that cannot be rectified overnight. Capital was wasted in the boom, and new saving is needed not just to replenish the capital stock but to make sure it’s the right kind of capital.

But the policymakers won’t let the market heal itself. Why? Because letting it happen means doing nothing —or rather undoing lots of things— and politicians are incapable of that. Imperative No. 1 is to get re-elected. Whether a politician understands economics or not, the electorate for the most part does not. So he caters to the economic illiterates by appearing to boldly take on problems that were created by his earlier takings-on. Almost any policy he backs will be opposite of what ought to be done.

The two things that government needs to do are exactly what politicians find so distasteful. It must 1) dramatically lighten its burden on the people and 2) abstain from causing producers to wonder what new burdens may be around the corner.

The burden of government is great. This is to be measured not in taxes alone, but in total spending, mandates, regulation, and Federal Reserve distortion. Politicians and special interests have lived as though the burden could be increased indefinitely with impunity. We see now that it can’t. Spending must be substantially cut — departments and agencies abolished — so that resources can be left in the productive sector. Taxes must be reduced sharply — better yet, repealed. The heavy hand of bureaucracy must be lifted from production. Government is a destroyer, not a creator, of value. It must stop....

The root problem is the privilege-ridden corporatist economy that shifts power to politicians and the politically connected. This has only gotten worse in recent years, with the Fed and Treasury directly guiding the flow of capital to favored companies. Abolish the privilege, the subsidies, the barriers to entry, the impediments to self-employment, the currency manipulation — and watch a stable and growing economy appear — one based on freedom rather than privilege, mutually beneficial exchange rather than exploitation. Once again the best course for government is: Get out of the way!

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


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


Saturday, December 5, 2009

In panic over jobs, Dems detour from health care

There’s a reason Barack Obama squeezed a hastily-arranged "Jobs Summit" into a White House schedule dominated by national health care and Afghanistan. You can find it on every page of "The Economy and Politics of 2010," a new survey of voter attitudes circulating among Democrats that, despite its dry title, betrays a sense of dread and horror among party strategists hoping to avoid defeat in next year's mid-term elections.

The report is the work of Democracy Corps, the influential polling organization run by Democraic strategists James Carville and Stanley Greenberg. The two men found voters are nearly beside themselves about unemployment, angry about the deficit, pessimistic about the future, and in a mood to punish Democrats if things don't get better soon. "This is about the economy, and it's not pretty," they write.

Most ominous for Democrats is the rise in the number of people who believe the country is on the wrong track. That number grew steadily through the later Bush years, reaching a high of 85 percent just before last November's elections. But with Obama's win, discontent began to subside. By inauguration day, the number was 66 percent. By March, it was 56 percent, and by May it was 46 percent. It was a remarkable turnaround, attributable mostly to the new president. But since then the turnaround itself has turned around. By July, the wrong track number had inched up to 50 percent. It was 55 percent in September. Now, it's 58 percent.

The reason is unemployment. When Carville and Greenberg asked respondents to list the one or two most important problems facing the country, 64 percent named jobs -- more than twice the level of concern about the deficit and rising health care costs, which were named by 29 percent each.

The pollsters found a lot of residual blame for George W. Bush. But they also found that Obama is gradually coming to own the economy. They read voters two statements. One was, "President Obama's economic policies helped avert an even worse crisis, and are laying the foundation for our eventual economic recovery." The other: "President Obama's economic policies have run up a record federal deficit while failing to end the recession or slow the record pace of job losses."

Among likely voters, 44 percent agreed with the pro-Obama statement, while 50 percent blamed the president for deficits and job losses. As Bush recedes into history, the blame will only go up if conditions don't improve. And for the first time since 2002, Carville and Greenberg found that more voters, 45 percent to 42 percent, say Republicans would do a better job handling the economy than Democrats. Just last May, Democrats held a 16-point lead.

Is there anything that could avert Democratic defeats? Of course something unexpected could always happen. But short of that, Carville and Greenberg found, things would have to improve markedly in the next few months. If unemployment falls below 10 percent and begins a steady decline, and the values of homes and retirement funds start to rise, then Democrats will be OK. But if joblessness remains high, along with the deficit, and the Dow and home values are shaky -- that's a brutal scenario for the party in charge. "The punishing of incumbents for negative economic scenarios is most pronounced in Democratic-held seats," Carville and Greenberg write.

The two Democratic strategists take some comfort in the fact that the Republican brand is still pretty unpopular. "This does not yet look like a wave election," they write hopefully, noting that the public doesn't particularly like the GOP. But the report points to something paradoxical going on in our politics. After a huge election, the victorious party usually has some time to govern while the loser rebuilds. But this time, Democrats have messed up so fast that the Republicans haven’t had time to recover.

All in all, it's a perilous situation for Democrats taking their House and Senate majorities into next year's elections. "The slow recovery and continued job losses, combined with Wall Street bailouts, big bonuses, government takeovers, deficits and possible gridlock are an ugly brew," Carville and Greenberg write. "For Democrats to reverse the slide in their standing, they need to focus with urgency on jobs."

Urgency -- that's the key word, and the reason for Obama's "Jobs Summit." But voters know Democratic leaders haven't shown that urgency about jobs, and are in fact working 24/7 to pass a national health care bill that isn't the country's top priority. What "The Economy and Politics of 2010" shows is that this could be a very costly mistake.



Building Peace Without Obama's Interference

A promising, independent Palestine is quietly being developed, with Israeli assistance

It is difficult to turn on a TV or radio or pick up a newspaper these days, without finding some pundit or other deploring the dismal prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace or the dreadful living conditions of the Palestinians. Even supposedly neutral news reporters regularly repeat this sad tale. "Very little is changing for the Palestinian people on the ground," I heard BBC World Service Cairo correspondent Christian Fraser tell listeners three times in a 45 minute period the other evening.

In fact nothing could be further from the truth. I had spent that day in the West Bank's largest city, Nablus. The city is bursting with energy, life and signs of prosperity, in a way I have not previously seen in many years of covering the region.

As I sat in the plush office of Ahmad Aweidah, the suave British-educated banker who heads the Palestinian Securities Exchange, he told me that the Nablus stock market was the second best-performing in the world so far in 2009, after Shanghai. (Aweidah's office looks directly across from the palatial residence of Palestinian billionaire Munib al-Masri, the wealthiest man in the West Bank.)

Later I met Bashir al-Shakah, director of Nablus's gleaming new cinema, where four of the latest Hollywood hits were playing that day. Most movies were sold out, he noted, proudly adding that the venue had already hosted a film festival since it opened in June.

Wandering around downtown Nablus the shops and restaurants I saw were full. There were plenty of expensive cars on the streets. Indeed I counted considerably more BMWs and Mercedes than I've seen, for example, in downtown Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

And perhaps most importantly of all, we had driven from Jerusalem to Nablus without going through any Israeli checkpoints. The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has removed them all since the Israeli security services (with the encouragement and support of President George W. Bush) were allowed, over recent years, to crush the intifada, restore security to the West Bank and set up the conditions for the economic boom that is now occurring. (There was one border post on the return leg of the journey, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but the young female guard just waved me and the two Palestinians I was traveling with, through.)

The shops and restaurants were also full when I visited Hebron recently, and I was surprised to see villas comparable in size to those on the Cote d'Azur or Bel Air had sprung up on the hills around the city. Life is even better in Ramallah, where it is difficult to get a table in a good restaurant. New apartment buildings, banks, brokerage firms, luxury car dealerships and health clubs are to be seen. In Qalqilya, another West Bank city that was previously a hotbed of terrorists and bomb-makers, the first ever strawberry crop is being harvested in time to cash in on the lucrative Christmas markets in Europe. Local Palestinian farmers have been trained by Israeli agriculture experts and Israel supplied them with irrigation equipment and pesticides.

A new Palestinian city, Ruwabi, is to be built soon north of Ramallah. Last month, the Jewish National Fund, an Israeli charity, helped plant 3,000 tree seedlings for a forested area the Palestinian planners say they would like to develop on the edge of the new city. Israeli experts are also helping the Palestinians plan public parks and other civic amenities.

Outsiders are beginning to take note of the turnaround too. The official PLO Wafa news agency reported last week that the 3rd quarter of 2009 witnessed near-record tourism in the Palestinian Authority, with 135,939 overnight hotel stays in 89 hotels that are now open. Almost half the guests come from the U.S or Europe.

Palestinian economic growth so far this year —in a year dominated by economic crisis elsewhere— has been an impressive 7% according to the IMF, though Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad, himself a former World Bank and IMF employee, says it is in fact 11%, partly helped along by strong economic performances in neighboring Israel.

In Gaza too, the shops and markets are crammed with food and goods. But while photos from last Friday's Palestine Today newspaper, for example, depict sumptuous Eid celebrations, these are not the pictures you are ever likely to see on the BBC or Le Monde or the New York Times. No, Gaza is not like a "concentration camp," nor is the "humanitarian crisis in Gaza is on the scale of Darfur," as British journalist Lauren Booth (who is also Tony Blair's sister-in-law) has said.

In June, the Washington Post's Jackson Diehl related how Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had told him why he had turned down Ehud Olmert's offer last year to create a Palestinian state on 97% of the West Bank (with 3% of pre-1967 Israeli land being added to make up the shortfall). "In the West Bank we have a good reality," Abbas told Diehl. "The people are living a normal life," he added in a rare moment of candor to a Western journalist.

Nablus stock exchange head Ahmad Aweidah went further in explaining to me why there is no rush to declare statehood, saying ordinary Palestinians need the IDF to help protect them from Hamas, as their own security forces aren't ready to do so by themselves yet.

The truth is that an independent Palestine is now quietly being built, with Israeli assistance. So long as the Obama administration and European politicians don't clumsily meddle as they have in the past and make unrealistic demands for the process to be completed more quickly than it can be, I am confident the outcome will be a positive one. (The last time an American president —Bill Clinton in 2000— tried to hurry things along unrealistically, it merely resulted in blowing up in everybody's faces —literally— and set back hopes for peace by some years.)

Israelis and Palestinians may never agree on borders that will satisfy everyone. But that doesn't mean they won't live in peace. Not all Germans and French agree who should control Alsace Lorraine. Poles and Russians, Slovenes and Croats, Britons and Irish, and peoples all over the world, have border disputes. But that doesn't keep them from coexisting with one another. Nor —so long as partisan journalists and human rights groups don't mislead Western politicians into making bad decisions— will it prevent Israelis and Palestinians from doing so.



We scratched your back -- now you scratch ours -- say the MSM

Watching liberal journalists desperate for a government bailout as they prostrate themselves before Congress can be so confusing: Should we be embarrassed as these media representatives of the "best and brightest" beg for official handouts while proclaiming their devotion to independent journalism? Or should we laugh at the irony of what is left of a once-proud liberal media establishment choosing to become wards of the very state they so vigorously promoted for the past several decades? Speaking as somebody who has made his living reporting and analyzing the news for more than two decades, I tend towards the embarrassment option.

In any case, it's clear that the fix is in and all that is left now is for the liberal journalists and their new masters in government to complete their kabuki dance enroute to congressional approval and presidential signature on a massive package of aid for politically correct newspapers and broadcasters.

You've heard of "too big to fail." Now it's "we're too important to fail, so cough it up, suckers." Hey, when you can't produce a product enough people are willing to pay for to keep you in business, President Obama and the congressional Democrats are happy to bail you out, you've been helping each other for a long time anyway, you went to the same elite schools, etc. etc.

Actually, maybe "outraged" would be a more accurate word to describe my reaction than "embarrassment." I can't help it; I love journalism, the unique pace and culture of most newsrooms, the smell of printers ink, journalistic lore, the courage and blood required to win journalism's independence, the whole works, and that's why this makes me madder than ...

Anyway, Accuracy in Media's Danny Glover reports from the FTC's two-day workshop coyly entitled "How will journalism survive the Internet Age?" that Rep, Henry Waxman is ready to begin writing legislation. Liberal journalists and their fellow travelers from the non-profit and academic communities are eager to sign on the dotted line for what used to be called "indentured servitude." "Rep. Henry Waxman trekked from Capitol Hill to Federal Trade Commission headquarters today to deliver a message to journalists and news consumers: All of you need to reach a consensus about working with the government in order to bail out the struggling news industry.

"The California Democrat, who chairs the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, didn't say it quite so bluntly, but his point was clear. Government's going to have to be involved, in one way or the other,' to save journalism from an ongoing 'market failure' that will only worsen without intervention, Waxman said," Glover reports.

Happily chirping in with the chorus to Waxman's vocal lead was a media heavy. Glover tells us that Jon McTaggart, the senior vice president and chief operating officer of American Media Group, informed workshop attendees that "as a civil society, we don't trust the open market or the free market" to provide such valuable services. McTaggart also proclaimed, according to Glover, that the media should not be allowed to suffer because of market forces (aka "consumer choice").

Singing right along with McTaggart, Glover tells us, was Georgetown University communications professor Mark MacCarthy who dismissed critics opposed to a government bailout. Critics are wrong, he said, because government involvement in the arts, sciences and other fields is "traditional, mainstream and all-American. ... This is not some weird, strange aberration and alien intrusion into our life. This is the way we do things in this country."

Geez, these two guys must have taken a media history course taught by Beatrice and Sydney Webb, who not only founded the British Fabian Society that led the socialization of Great Britain, but also wrote a couple of books praising Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator.

McTaggart in particular ought to ring up former GM CEO Rick Wagoner for a little chat about the value of promises of non-intervention by government officials. Wagoner found out the hard way when President Obama summarily - and probably illegally, but what's a mere constitution between friends? - fired him barely hours after professing to have absolutely no desire "to run the auto industry."




Great care needed in shopping online: "More than 1,200 illegal internet shopping websites that have made millions of pounds for criminals have been shut down by Scotland Yard in the biggest operation of its kind in Britain. The sites claimed to sell heavily discounted designer goods, including Ugg Australia Boots, ghd hair straighteners and jewellery from Tiffany & Co and Links of London. Buyers either received counterfeit products or nothing at all. It is also likely that their credit card details have been used to fund other illegal activity. It is estimated that British shoppers have spent millions on the sites but police are convinced that by shutting them down consumers have been saved millions more. Intelligence gathered by the Metropolitan Police’s Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) showed that the majority of the sites were registered in Asia, despite their UK domain names, using false or misleading details. This made it “almost impossible” for victims to complain to the source about poor quality, counterfeited items or goods not received, said an officer. But after several complaints were received by Trading Standards officers, Operation Papworth was set up. The PCeU deregistered 1,219 domain names. Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie, head of the PCeU, said: “Fraudsters target the victim’s desire to buy designer goods at reduced prices, particularly at this time of year. “The risk begins when your desire to purchase blinds your judgment or leads you to illegal websites. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is."

Conservatives hail West Point cadet who read 'Kill Bin Laden': "Waiting for his Commander-in-Chief to speak, a West Point military academy cadet had some blunt strategic advice this week: “Kill Bin Laden”. The title of his book captures in three words the one easily-defined goal that has eluded US forces in eight years of conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was indentified this evening as Konrad Bunde, a freshman or first year cadet, belonging to Company A3. His choice of reading material was hailed on conservative websites in the US as a rebuke to President Obama’s circumscribed new strategy for Afghanistan, which does not specifically target bin Laden and makes no mention of the word “victory”. The picture was taken in the academy’s Eisenhower auditorium an hour and a half before Mr Obama took the podium there for his address to the nation on Tuesday night. For security reasons, cadets were seated four hours before the speech and many brought reading and study material, an academy spokesman said. A Times analysis of the badges on the cadet’s chest shows that he is a “prior service” student at the academy, recommended for a place there after active service in Iraq."


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


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


Friday, December 4, 2009

Searching in Vain for the Obama Magic

Comment from Germany

President Barack Obama's Tuesday speech left a bad taste in many mouths. Never before has a speech by President Barack Obama felt as false as his Tuesday address announcing America's new strategy for Afghanistan. It seemed like a campaign speech combined with Bush rhetoric -- and left both dreamers and realists feeling distraught.

One can hardly blame the West Point leadership. The academy commanders did their best to ensure that Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama's speech would be well-received. Just minutes before the president took the stage inside Eisenhower Hall, the gathered cadets were asked to respond "enthusiastically" to the speech. But it didn't help: The soldiers' reception was cool.

One didn't have to be a cadet on Tuesday to feel a bit of nausea upon hearing Obama's speech. It was the least truthful address that he has ever held. He spoke of responsibility, but almost every sentence smelled of party tactics. He demanded sacrifice, but he was unable to say what it was for exactly.

An additional 30,000 US soldiers are to march into Afghanistan -- and then they will march right back out again. America is going to war -- and from there it will continue ahead to peace. It was the speech of a Nobel War Prize laureate.

For each troop movement, Obama had a number to match. US strength in Afghanistan will be tripled relative to the Bush years, a fact that is sure to impress hawks in America. But just 18 months later, just in time for Obama's re-election campaign, the horror of war is to end and the draw down will begin. The doves of peace will be let free.

The speech continued in that vein. It was as though Obama had taken one of his old campaign speeches and merged it with a text from the library of ex-President George W. Bush. Extremists kill in the name of Islam, he said, before adding that it is one of the "world's great religions." He promised that responsibility for the country's security would soon be transferred to the government of President Hamid Karzai -- a government which he said was "corrupt." The Taliban is dangerous and growing stronger. But "America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars," he added.

It was a dizzying combination of surge and withdrawal, of marching to and fro. The fast pace was reminiscent of plays about the French revolution: Troops enter from the right to loud cannon fire and then they exit to the left. And at the end, the dead are left on stage.

But in this case, the public was more disturbed than entertained. Indeed, one could see the phenomenon in a number of places in recent weeks: Obama's magic no longer works. The allure of his words has grown weaker. It is not he himself who has changed, but rather the benchmark used to evaluate him. For a president, the unit of measurement is real life. A leader is seen by citizens through the prism of their lives -- their job, their household budget, where they live and suffer. And, in the case of the war on terror, where they sometimes die.

Political dreams and yearnings for the future belong elsewhere. That was where the political charmer Obama was able to successfully capture the imaginations of millions of voters. It is a place where campaigners -- particularly those with a talent for oration -- are fond of taking refuge. It is also where Obama set up his campaign headquarters, in an enormous tent called "Hope."

In his speech on America's new Afghanistan strategy, Obama tried to speak to both places. It was two speeches in one. That is why it felt so false. Both dreamers and realists were left feeling distraught. The American president doesn't need any opponents at the moment. He's already got himself.



Republicans Accuse Obama of ACORN Cover-up

House Republicans accused the Obama administration Tuesday of covering up criminal activities committed by the embattled community activist group ACORN, saying that the president has used the group as an illegal political tool to help himself and other Democrats get elected. "The current administration is fast becoming, in reality, the war room of ACORN's political machine," said Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican. "I am concerned that the era of corruption promulgated by ACORN and protected by the White House is just the beginning."

The top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said ACORN has engaged in "illegal, partisan activities designed to help individual Democratic members." "This (action) goes from city councilmen to state assemblymen all the way to President Barack Obama," he said.

Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said Mr. Obama's past ties to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) will "taint any conclusions" by any Justice Department probe into the group.

Mr. Issa and Mr. Smith made their remarks at a Capitol Hill forum on ACORN that they sponsored. The event was attended by a handful of House Republicans but no Democrats. Congressional Democrats, while condemning many of ACORN's practices, see no illegal ties between the group and the White House. Many of the Republican lawmakers used the event to try to link the White House to ACORN - a group under intense scrutiny after hidden-camera videos showed its workers advising a woman posing as a prostitute how to cheat on taxes and loan applications. The liberal organization also has been accused of voter registration fraud that benefited Democratic candidates in several states.

Mr. Obama served as an ACORN lawyer during his years as a community organizer in Chicago but has cut ties with the group since elected as president. "When this investigation is finally finished ... these roads following ACORN will lead to the White House," said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican.

Republicans have pressed the Justice Department and the FBI to conduct a comprehensive investigation of ACORN. They are upset that the Democrat-controlled Congress hasn't launched its own probe. Congress recently canceled federal funding to ACORN and its affiliated organizations. But the Justice Department released a memo last week concluding that the government should pay ACORN for contracts that were in place before Congress passed the law.



Government Motors

Amid creepy assurances that the firing of GM's CEO Fritz Henderson was just business, evidence is piling high it wasn't. It was politics, and another reason why government must get out of the private sector. The surprise "resignation" of General Motors Chief Executive Henderson Tuesday, coming on the back of silky assurances three weeks ago that he had the support of the board, and just hours before he was to keynote a trade show in Los Angeles, had all the earmarks of one of those government operations World War II GI's used to joke about for incompetence and absurdity: Close enough for government work. Catch-22. Snafu.

It points to an overbearing government presence in a distressed industry that's only making matters worse. Government can be arbitrary, driven by politics and addicted to power. This move against Henderson is like one Venezuela's dictator Hugo Chavez would make -- and will have similar results.

Henderson was a GM lifer who "didn't fit in" with the GM board's political appointees. Unlike them, he knew the car business. He pared the product line, stabilized GM's market share at 20% and turned a profit on some units. But he couldn't transform the company with a political board looking over his shoulder, cutting his salary to $950,000 and second-guessing his every move. Surprise.

The White House knows this and tried to conceal its hand. "This decision was made by the board of directors alone. The administration was not involved in the decision," a Treasury Department spokesman said. That's rich, given that the government owns 60% of GM after sinking $52 billion in bailout cash into the company. You can bet it owns the board.



BrookesNews Update

Blame Keynes, not China, for America's economic mess :Money is not merely a veil that hides the reality that ultimately goods exchange against other goods but that money itself is an extremely potent force that influences real factors. Failure to understand this fact is creating financial chaos and giving rise to dangerous fallacies
Why the ETS report and Rudd's carbon tax are dangerous to the economy : No matter how it is dressed up any emissions trading scheme (ETS) is in fact a carbon tax which in turn translates into a tax on economic growth and hence living standards. And Rudd's insane ETS is no exception. Moreover, Frontier Economics report on the ETS should be rejected
The global warming hoax: The media's silent scandal : The biggest scientific hoax in history was exposed when emails revealed that evidence supporting global warming had been falsified, counter evidence suppressed, data doctored and critics blacklisted. Yet the mainstream has done everythin in its power to spike this story, proving once and for all that the so-called media is thoroughly corrupt and filled with lying leftists
Leftwing history v. economic theory : An example of how leftist thinking distorts students' views about capitalism and the industrial revolution
When they killed Che Guevara : Che Guevara was a coward and a sadistic killer. He murdered for the fun of it. Young boys, retarded kids, pregnant women: It was all the same to this vicious leftwing excuse for a human being. And yet Hollywood celebrities, leftwing journalists and US-hating intellectuals praise this thug as someone to be admired. So what does this tell us about them?
Emails of climate researchers buttress case of warming fraud : Global warming fanatics are on the ropes. Emails reveal collusion and fraud among top global warming scientists. Now we know: Britain's Climate Research Unit has been lying about data and suppressing evidence to the contrary. Every scientist involved in this fraud should be fired. Moreover, those who have suffered a financial loss because of their shenanigans should be allowed to sue for damages
Obama's NYC Show: Starring Khalid Mohammed : Obama and Holder are using 911 to put President Bush on trial. The result of their leftist hatred could be a legal fiasco and a victory for terrorism. By politicizing the Justice Department Obama set another disastrous precedent in U.S. terrorism policy



Former NASA climate scientist pleads guilty to contract fraud: "A former top climate scientist who had become of one the scientific world's most cited authorities on the human effect on Earth's atmosphere was sentenced to probation Tuesday after pleading guilty to steering lucrative no-bid contracts to his wife's company. In addition to a year's probation, former NASA manager Mark Schoeberl, 60, of Silver Spring, was also fined $10,000 and ordered to put in 50 hours of community service. He admitted in the late summer that he had hid some $50,000 in NASA contracts for a company called Animated Earth, which was run by Schoeberl's wife, Barbara. Prosecutors alleged that Schoeberl tried to help his wife's firm for years. When his colleagues balked at giving no-bid contracts to his wife's firm, Schoeberl pressured them to steer money to his wife through indirect means. Schoeberl was the chief scientist of the Goddard Space Flight Center's Earth Sciences Division and the head of the Aura Project, a NASA mission to study the Earth's ozone layer, air quality and climate. He has written extensively about the depletion of the ozone level, and the influence of humans on global climate change".

NY: Lawmakers reject homosexual "marriage": "New York lawmakers rejected a bill Wednesday that would have made their state the sixth to allow gay marriage, disheartening advocates already stung by a similar decision by Maine voters just last month. The New York measure failed by a wider margin than expected, falling 12 votes short in a 24-38 decision by the state Senate. The Assembly had earlier approved the bill, and Gov. David Paterson, perhaps the bill’s strongest advocate, had pledged to sign it.”

Positive externalities of riches: "[C]learly there are many who are far more prosperous than I, even if I doubt that too many have enjoyed the degree of happiness I have been fortunate to experience thus far. Still, I could easily benefit from having a good deal more money, pretty much like everyone else. Yet, I have never felt envy in my life. Somehow the sight of greater wealth on the part of others has never lead me to desire to exchange their lives for mine. Nor, especially, have I ever felt ill will toward those who are rich. On the contrary, I have been thoroughly pleased that the very rich are with us. And there are some good reasons for my pleasure with them, even if I can barely think of myself in their shoes.”


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


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


Thursday, December 3, 2009

ACORN: It is hard to keep your story straight when you are lying

Is ACORN engaged in a massive money laundering scheme? Although evidence abounds that the radical left-wing advocacy group-cum-organized crime syndicate is recycling funds mafia-style, government investigators and the media have paid scant attention to ACORN's money trail. Red flags that appear to signal unlawful activities by ACORN are everywhere yet ACORN's collaborators in the White House, Justice Department, and House Judiciary Committee, smugly ignore them.

If senior executives at a troubled publicly traded corporation were to provide completely different accounts of their company's financial standing, how long would it be before federal investigators stormed their offices? If federal authorities failed to act, how long would it be before the media and the public began to accuse the powers that be of complicity in their wrongdoing? We shall see.

I have just discovered that three senior ACORN officials have recently given wildly divergent accounts of the size of ACORN's budget.

ACORN current CEO and chief organizer Bertha Lewis claimed in October that ACORN had an "average budget" between "$20 [million] and $25 million a year for everything, all of the offices combined."

ACORN national president Maude Hurd reported in the ACORN entry of Erica Payne's handbook for liberal activists, The Practical Progressive, that ACORN's annual budget last year was $50 million.

That's double the figure quoted by Lewis, yet even $50 million seems impossibly low given ACORN's lucrative ongoing corporate shakedown rackets and other revenue sources. The four main ACORN affiliates alone -- ACORN Housing Corp. Inc., Project Vote, American Institute for Social Justice Inc., and ACORN Institute Inc -- took in a total of at least $106.9 million in donations from foundations and individuals from 1993 through 2008. And ACORN takes in untold millions every year in member dues from its 400,000 members -- a figure that has crept up to 500,000 in Bertha Lewis's recent public statements.

In "Understanding ACORN," an essay published earlier this year, ACORN founder Wade Rathke said ACORN's annual budget was north of $100 million. "Each year we raise and spend over $100 million, of which a significant part comes from dues and internal fundraising, but big chunks come from campaign support and labor and corporate partnerships," he wrote.

So, is it $100 million, $50 million, or $25 million?

No one seems to know just how large the entire ACORN network's budget is. One of the reasons is that housing and community development grants administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are difficult to track.

ACORN has received at least $53 million in federal funds since 1993, much of it through HUD. HUD often distributes the money to states and localities, which then allot the funds to many different nonprofit groups. Getting a total financial picture would require enlisting an army of Freedom of Information Act requesters and forensic accountants.

Complicating the accounting further, ACORN Housing Corp. Inc., one of the ACORN network's largest affiliate members and ACORN's primary recipient of federal funding, throws money around like a drunken congressman trying to get re-elected.

Taxpayer dollars go into the ACORN network through ACORN Housing and then they somehow disappear. Some of the money leaves ACORN Housing in the form of huge cash transfers to other affiliates within the ACORN network.



Intellectual hypocrisy

The press loves stories of moral hypocrisy. Catching a finger-wagging politician violating his or her own moral code warms the cockles of every reporter's heart. Indeed, sometimes journalists confuse hypocrisy for the real crime. "If a politician murders his mother," the late Washington Post editorial page editor Meg Greenfield once said, "the first response of the press ... will likely be not that it was a terrible thing to do, but rather that in a statement made six years before, he had gone on record as being opposed to matricide."

The crusade against moral hypocrisy necessarily hits conservatives harder, not because conservatives are more immoral but because they uphold morality more publicly, making them richer targets. The left aims much of its moralizing at moralizing itself -- "thou shalt not judge." Meanwhile, the right focuses on the oldies but goodies -- adultery, drug use, etc. I think we're right to uphold a standard even if we sometimes fail to live up to it.

What I don't think we hear enough about is intellectual hypocrisy. What's that? Well, if moral hypocrisy is saying what values people should live by while failing to follow them yourself, intellectual hypocrisy is believing you are smart enough to run other peoples' lives when you can barely run your own.

I know many smart liberals for whom no idea is too complex, no concept or organizational flow chart too hard to grasp. They want government to take over this, run that, manage some other things, and in all cases put people exactly like them in charge of pretty much everything. Many are geniuses, with SAT scores so high you could get a bloody nose just looking at them. But you wouldn't ask one to run a car wash.

The chairman of a small college's English department thinks it's obvious intellectuals should take over health care, but he can't manage the class schedules of three professors or run a meeting without it coming to blows or tears. A pundit defends government intervention in almost every sphere of economic life, but he can't figure out how to manage the interns or his checking account.

The most famous story of an intellectual hypocrite getting his comeuppance is the tale of George McGovern and his inn. The senator, 1972 presidential nominee and college professor thought he could run a vast, technologically sophisticated nation with a diverse population and an entrepreneurial culture. Then, after leaving Washington, he bought an inn in Connecticut to while away his retirement years. For a guy as smart as him, running an inn should have been child's play. But it went belly-up before the end of the year, with a contritely befuddled McGovern marveling at how much harder running a business was than he thought.

Or consider Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), currently subject of a House ethics investigation. Rangel heads the Ways and Means Committee, which writes the tax code. He backs the imposition of an income tax surcharge on high earners to pay for health care, calling it "the moral thing to do." Yet he can't seem to figure out how to file his own taxes properly or, perhaps, legally.

Now, I also know lots of conservatives who are basket cases at everything other than reading and writing books and articles, giving speeches and thinking Big Thoughts (likewise, I know liberals who despise conservative moralizing about sex and religion who nonetheless live chaste, pious lives themselves). The point is that conservatives don't presume to be smart enough to run everything, because conservative dogma takes it as an article of faith that no one can be that smart.

Moral hypocrisy is still worth exposing, I guess. But we are living in a moment when revealing intellectual hypocrisy should take precedence. A J.P. Morgan chart reprinted on the "Enterprise Blog" shows that less than 10 percent of President Obama's Cabinet has private-sector experience, the least of any Cabinet in a century. From the stimulus to health care reform and cap-and-trade, Washington is now run by people who think they know how to run everything, when in reality they can barely run anything.



The Pretense of Knowledge

by Walter E. Williams

The ultimate constraint that we all face is knowledge -- what we know and don't know. The knowledge problem is pervasive and by no means trivial as hinted at by just a few examples. You've purchased a house. Was it the best deal you could have gotten? Was there some other house you could have purchased that 10 years later would not have needed extensive repairs or was in a community with more likeable neighbors and a better environment for your children? What about the person you married? Was there another person who would have made for a more pleasing spouse? Though these are important questions, the most intelligent answer you can give to all of them is: "I don't know."

Since you don't know the answers, who do you think, here on Earth, is likely to know and whom would you like to make these decisions for you -- Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, George Bush, a czar appointed by Obama or a committee of Washington bureaucrats? I bet that if these people were to forcibly make housing or marital decisions for us, most would deem it tyranny.

You say, "Williams, Congress is not making such monumental decisions that affect my life." Try this. You are a 22-year-old healthy person. Instead of spending $3,000 or $4,000 a year for health insurance, you'd prefer investing that money in equipment to start a landscaping business. Which is the best use of that $3,000 or $4,000 a year -- purchasing health insurance or starting up a landscaping business -- and who should decide that question: Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, George Bush, aczar appointed by Obama or a committee of Washington bureaucrats? How can they possibly know what's the best use of your earnings, particularly in light of the fact that they have no idea of who you are?

Neither you nor the U.S. Congress has the complete knowledge to know exactly what's best for you. The difference is that when individuals make their own trade-offs, say between purchasing health insurance or investing in a business, they make wiser decisions because it is they who personally bear the costs and benefits of those decisions. You say, "Hold it, Williams, we've got you now! What if that person gets really sick and doesn't have health insurance. Society suffers the burden of taking care of him." To the extent that is a problem, it is not a problem of liberty; it's a problem of congressionally mandated socialism. Let's look at it.

It is not society that bears the burden; it is some flesh and blood American worker who finds his earnings taken by Congress to finance the health needs of another person. There is absolutely no moral case, much less constitutional case, for Congress forcibly using one American to serve the purposes of another American, a practice that differs only in degree from slavery, which we all should find morally offensive.

Whether it is health care, education, employment or most other areas of our lives, I ask you: Who has the capacity to master all the complexity to make choices on behalf of others? Each of us possesses only a tiny percentage of the knowledge that would be necessary to make totally informed decisions in our own lives, much less the lives of others. There is only one reason for the forcible transference of decision-making authority over important areas of our private lives to elite decision-makers in Congress and government bureaucracies. Doing so confers control, power, wealth and revenue to society's elite. What's in the best interests of individual members of society, such as a person who'd rather launch a landscaping business than purchase a health insurance policy, ranks low on the elite's list of priorities.



Barack OBAMA said, in his Cairo speech: "I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America's story"

Dear Mr. Obama:

Were those Muslims that were in America when the Pilgrims first landed? Funny, I thought they were Native American Indians. Were those Muslims that celebrated the first Thanksgiving day? Sorry again, those were Pilgrims and Native American Indians.

Can you show me one Muslim signature on the United States Constitution? Declaration of Independence? Bill of Rights? Didn't think so.

Did Muslims fight for this country's freedom from England? No.

Did Muslims fight during the Civil War to free the slaves in America? No, they did not. In fact, Muslims to this day are still the largest traffickers in human slavery. Your own 'half brother' a devout Muslim still advocates slavery himself, even though muslims of Arabic descent refer to black muslims as "pug nosed slaves." Says a lot of what the Muslim world really thinks of your family's "rich Islamic heritage" doesn't it Mr.Obama?

Where were Muslims during the Civil Rights era of this country? Not present. There are no pictures or media accounts of Muslims walking side by side with Martin Luther King Jr.. or helping to advance the cause of Civil Rights.

Where were Muslims during this country's Woman's Suffrage era? Again, not present. In fact, devout Muslims demand that women are subservient to men in the Islamic culture. So much so that often they are beaten for not wearing the 'hajib' or for talking to a man that is not a direct family member or their husband. Yep, the Muslims are all for women's rights aren't they?

Where were Muslims during World War II? They were aligned with Adolf Hitler. The Muslim grand mufti himself met with Adolf Hitler, reviewed the troops and accepted support from the Nazi's in killing Jews.

Finally, Obama, where were Muslims on Sept. 11th, 2001? If they weren't flying planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon or a field in Pennsylvania killing nearly 3,000 people on our own soil, they were rejoicing in the Middle East. No one can dispute the pictures shown from all parts of the Muslim world celebrating on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and other news networks that day. Strangely, the very "moderate" Muslims who's asses you bent over backwards to kiss in Cairo, Egypt on June 4th were stone cold silent post 9-11. To many Americans, their silence has meant approval for the acts of that day.

And THAT, Obama, is the "rich heritage" Muslims have here in America. And now we can add November 5, 2009-- the slaughter of American soldiers at Fort Hood by a muslim major who is a doctor and a psychiatrist who was supposed to be counselling soldiers returning from battle in Iraq and Afghanistan. That, Obama, is the "muslim heritage" in America.




Buy Nothing Day: "It may have passed you by, but Saturday was Buy Nothing Day, a movement whipped up by the anti-consumerist organization AdBusters. They claim that ‘there’s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth; we have to consume less.’ The day ‘highlights the environmental and ethical consequences of shopping’ promising that ‘for 24 hours you’ll get your life back.’ AdBusters has long campaigned on the evils of neoclassical economics and the way in which it has caused cataclysmic climate change, exploitation of developing countries and huge global inequality. However, no matter how much the group may hate today’s society, encouraging people to grind the capitalist system to a halt would of course perpetuate the problems they profess to be so concerned about.”

Why Won't We Face Iran's Evil?: "When tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets last spring and braved the most brutal repression the regime could inflict, Michael Ledeen was the least surprised man in Washington. In season and out, Ledeen has chronicled the profound weakness of the mullahocracy and its deep unpopularity with the Iranian people. Impatiently, year after year, he has identified opportunities for the United States to help the people of Iran replace their sinister and menacing rulers. After each new post on the subject, Ledeen signed off with "Faster please." The failure to grapple with the challenge of Iran is more than a strategic failure, he argues; it's a moral failure. Just as few in the democratic countries took Adolf Hitler at his word when he repeatedly promised to dominate the world and kill all the Jews, and few could squarely acknowledge the genocidal lengths to which the communists would go, so today the threat from the radical Islamists is minimized, whitewashed, or wished away."

Read the Numbers: Obama Will Bankrupt America: "When President Barack Obama entered office in January, the greatest problem America faced was neither the war in Afghanistan nor the recession. It was the imminent crisis of the welfare state. Not only has Obama failed to deal with this crisis, he is pursuing policies that will bankrupt America. In March, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, led by former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, calculated the total value of the federal government's "unfunded liabilities" as they stood at the end of fiscal 2008. The sum of these unfunded liabilities, the foundation discovered, stood at $56.4 trillion. That equals $435,000 for every full-time worker in the United States. How did Obama respond to this problem? First, he signed a $787-billion stimulus law. Obama repeatedly claimed this law -- that not one member of Congress read in its entirety -- was urgently needed to create jobs. In fact, most of the new spending it authorized was for longer-term projects, including creating a national system of electronic health records for every person in America in anticipation of Obama's plan to nationalize the health care system. Then, Obama offered his first federal budget. In 2008, President Bush's last year in office, the federal government spent $2.983 trillion. Under Obama's plan, according to the Congressional Budget Office, annual federal spending will climb to $4.982 trillion by 2019."


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


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


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jew Flu

Every now and again I feel the need to say something about Jews. It must be some sort of craziness in me because there is nothing to be gained by it. So I will keep it brief this time. Yesterday I put up a link to an article about Jew Flu -- self-hating Jews. It is an interesting article but it lacks perspective. Jew Flu seems to me to be just another variety of Leftism. American Leftists hate the world they live in -- which mostly means America -- and Israeli Leftists hate the world they live in -- which is mostly Israel. And many NYC Jews just don't like being part of such a phenomenally-hated group and do their best to distance themselves from that group.

So why do some people hate the world they live in? There could be many reasons -- being born ugly, for instance. But I think that there are two major reasons. I discuss them here at length.


7 stories Barack Obama doesn't want told

Presidential politics is about storytelling. Presented with a vivid storyline, voters naturally tend to fit every new event or piece of information into a picture that is already neatly framed in their minds.

No one understands this better than Barack Obama and his team, who won the 2008 election in part because they were better storytellers than the opposition. The pro-Obama narrative featured an almost mystically talented young idealist who stood for change in a disciplined and thoughtful way. This easily outpowered the anti-Obama narrative, featuring an opportunistic Chicago pol with dubious relationships who was more liberal than he was letting on.

A year into his presidency, however, Obama’s gift for controlling his image shows signs of faltering. As Washington returns to work from the Thanksgiving holiday, there are several anti-Obama storylines gaining momentum.

The Obama White House argues that all of these storylines are inaccurate or unfair. In some cases these anti-Obama narratives are fanned by Republicans, in some cases by reporters and commentators. But they all are serious threats to Obama, if they gain enough currency to become the dominant frame through which people interpret the president’s actions and motives.

Here are seven storylines Obama needs to worry about:

He thinks he’s playing with Monopoly money

Economists and business leaders from across the ideological spectrum were urging the new president on last winter when he signed onto more than a trillion in stimulus spending and bank and auto bailouts during his first weeks in office. Many, though far from all, of these same people now agree that these actions helped avert an even worse financial catastrophe.

Along the way, however, it is clear Obama underestimated the political consequences that flow from the perception that he is a profligate spender. He also misjudged the anger in middle America about bailouts with weak and sporadic public explanations of why he believed they were necessary.

The flight of independents away from Democrats last summer — the trend that recently hammered Democrats in off-year elections in Virginia — coincided with what polls show was alarm among these voters about undisciplined big government and runaway spending. The likely passage of a health care reform package criticized as weak on cost-control will compound the problem.

Obama understands the political peril, and his team is signaling that he will use the 2010 State of the Union address to emphasize fiscal discipline. The political challenge, however, is an even bigger substantive challenge—since the most convincing way to project fiscal discipline would be actually to impose spending reductions that would cramp his own agenda and that of congressional Democrats.

Too much Leonard Nimoy

People used to make fun of Bill Clinton’s misty-eyed, raspy-voiced claims that, “I feel your pain.”

The reality, however, is that Clinton’s dozen years as governor before becoming president really did leave him with a vivid sense of the concrete human dimensions of policy. He did not view programs as abstractions — he viewed them in terms of actual people he knew by name.

Obama, a legislator and law professor, is fluent in describing the nuances of problems. But his intellectuality has contributed to a growing critique that decisions are detached from rock-bottom principles.

Both Maureen Dowd in The New York Times and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post have likened him to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

The Spock imagery has been especially strong during the extended review Obama has undertaken of Afghanistan policy. He’ll announce the results on Tuesday. The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving. No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

That’s the Chicago Way

This is a storyline that’s likely taken root more firmly in Washington than around the country. The rap is that his West Wing is dominated by brass-knuckled pols.

It does not help that many West Wing aides seem to relish an image of themselves as shrewd, brass-knuckled political types. In a Washington Post story this month, White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, referring to most of Obama’s team, said, “We are all campaign hacks.”

The problem is that many voters took Obama seriously in 2008 when he talked about wanting to create a more reasoned, non-partisan style of governance in Washington. When Republicans showed scant interest in cooperating with Obama at the start, the Obama West Wing gladly reverted to campaign hack mode.

The examples of Chicago-style politics include their delight in public battles with Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (There was also a semi-public campaign of leaks aimed at Greg Craig, the White House counsel who fell out of favor.) In private, the Obama team cut an early deal — to the distaste of many congressional Democrats — that gave favorable terms to the pharmaceutical lobby in exchange for their backing his health care plans.

The lesson that many Washington insiders have drawn is that Obama wants to buy off the people he can and bowl over those he can’t. If that perception spreads beyond Washington this will scuff Obama’s brand as a new style of political leader.



The plan to silence dissent

There is no shortage of conspiracy theories that elicit a chuckle or the rolling of eyeballs. "September 11th was an inside job." "The war on Iraq was launched to enrich Halliburton." "AIDS was created to annihilate the black community." But should we be alarmed when a theory appears plausible in an age when the previously unthinkable occurs on a regular basis?

"When the heavy hand of the State is imposed on the press, all of us lose," Barack Obama told a group of Kenyan journalists during a 2006 trip to Africa. He continued, "The media does not have a formal role in the Government, but it serves a critical function in providing information to the public so that they can hold the Government accountable."

That was then and this is now. Apparently, a present-day President Obama has a different view -- a wild-eyed view -- of a free press than did a Senator Obama now that some outlets hold him, his administration and his political allies accountable.

The Obama Administration declared war on the minority of media outlets that do not worship the political left's newest false idol immediately after Obama was sworn in. Three days into his presidency Obama warned Congressional Republicans against listening to radio host Rush Limbaugh. Amazingly, the president who offered to sit down with the thug leaders of rogue nations, such as Iran's Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, without any preconditions believed an immense threat was posed by a radio talk show host originally from southeastern Missouri.

Then the White House launched a jihad against Fox News Channel and its hosts by first boycotting appearances on the cable channel and then second, by engaging in name-calling and leveling baseless allegations. More recently, the White House brazenly attempted to marginalize Fox News Channel by enlisting the support of the heretofore compliant news media. Fortunately, competing news outlets found the backbone -- if only temporarily -- to put the kibosh on Obama's attempts to blacklist FNC from the White House press pool.

All of the Obama Administration bluster may have been just that. Supporters of talk radio breathed a sigh of relief earlier this year when an amendment introduced by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) passed with an 87-11 Senate vote that seemingly ended an attempt to implement the so-called "Fairness Doctrine." The inaptly named "Fairness Doctrine" is nothing less than government-imposed speech codes. Although the doctrine would not have likely survived Constitutional scrutiny, radio hosts and listeners alike thought a major bullet was dodged.

So, are all threats averted? Perhaps not. There may be another plan afoot to silence dissent. Instead of having the government decide which program merited "the other side" of the argument, what if there was a plan to shut down the free component of talk radio and broadcast TV?

More than 150 bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission are in the final stages of planning how to deliver broadband Internet to the estimated 3-6 million people who do not have access. A formal plan will be unveiled in early 2010 but one proposal being discussed is deeply alarming as it threatens First Amendment freedoms.

The FCC is contemplating the notion that some or all of the electromagnetic spectrum occupied by radio and TV broadcasters is the perfect real estate to launch a national wireless broadband service. The price tag is $350 billion. That is as much as nearly $120,000 per person to be connected. Apparently, the FCC has not heard of the "$99 Triple Play."

Evicted broadcasters would no longer offer free, over-the-air radio and TV, but would instead be confined to subscription platforms such as cable and satellite or the Internet. This aspect of the plan is indeed troubling. The public would be required to pay for their news, information and entertainment services and there would be no free option.

However, it gets worse. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced a measure this year that would allow the president to disconnect private broadband users during an undefined national cyber emergency.

One provision of S.773 would grant the president authority to "declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic" including that on private systems designated as critical. Not surprisingly, the bill gives the president wide discretion in designating private systems as "critical." Would an H1N1 pandemic qualify as such an emergency allowing the president to shut down voices opposing his socialized medicine plans?

Another provision of the bill is to federally-license certain information technology professionals making it illegal for those not holding such a license to access any IT systems. Obviously, the most efficient way to control the nation's broadband platforms is to control those who operate them.

Connecting the dots in this fashion would not have been contemplated as recently as one year ago. But today, no one is rolling their eyes.



On reducing inequality

Let us imagine that you are concerned about the amount of inequality there is in UK society. You wish to reduce said inequality. I might not (in fact don't) share that concern but even as the interested amateur that I am as an economist (ie, not an economist, simply an interested amateur) I might be able to offer some guidance as to how you might do this.

The first observation would be that some countries have indeed lowered inequality (and relative poverty) so to reach your ambition (which, remember, I don't particularly share) we could go and look at what they have done. The poster children here are of course the Nordic countries. And the most important thing we can say about their taxation systems is that they are very differrent indeed from what is usually proposed here:
....the countries that have been the most successful in reducing inequality don't have particularly progressive tax structures. The real gains in reducing inequality are achieved by means of well-designed transfers.

Indeed, the Nordic tax structures are not particularly more progressive than the one we currently have in the UK. Yes, they have high marginal income tax rates but they also tend to have lower capital taxation, lower corporate taxation and higher VAT than we do. That is, they have concentrated on growing the goose, taxing consumption more than we do, so as to provide the revenues to make the transfers.

Which leads us to the ritual calls here for the rich to be paying more tax, for companies to pay "their fair share" and so on, that our tax system must be made more progressive. But why, if we know that the way to reduce inequality is not through the tax system at all, should we do that?

Shouldn't we be copying the systems which really do reduce inequality?

As I say, I'm not an advocate of this inequality reduction in the first place. But for those who are there's something very odd indeed about their insistence not to do what has worked elsewhere: cut corporation tax, cut capital taxation and raise VAT. Why is that?




A small update: Yesterday I attributed the saying: "A conservative is a liberal who got mugged last night" to a NYC police chief. Nobody seems to be sure who said it first but I have noted that top vote for the originator seems to be Frank Rizzo, who rose from police chief to Mayor of Philadelphia.

Obama to detail big troop increase in Afghanistan: "After months of debate, President Barack Obama will spell out a costly Afghanistan war expansion to a skeptical public Tuesday night, coupling an infusion of as many as 35,000 more troops with a vow that there will be no endless US commitment. His first orders have already been made: at least one group of Marines who will be in place by Christmas. Obama has said that he prefers "not to hand off anything to the next president" and that his strategy will "put us on a path toward ending the war." But he doesn't plan to give any more exact timetable than that Tuesday night. Obama's war escalation includes sending 30,000 to 35,000 more American forces into Afghanistan in a graduated deployment over the next year, on top of the 71,000 already there. There also will be a fresh focus on training Afghan forces to take over the fight and allow the Americans to leave. Even before explaining his decision, Obama told the military to begin executing the force increases. The commander in chief gave the deployment orders Sunday night, during an Oval Office meeting in which he told key military and White House advisers of his final decision. At least one group of Marines is expected to deploy within two or three weeks of Obama's announcement and will be in Afghanistan by Christmas, military officials said. Larger deployments will begin early next year."

Privatize the Post Office!: "Weeks ago, in the debate over whether to euthanize what’s left of freedom in American medicine, President Obama made a stunning concession about the so-called ‘public option’ being proposed. Hoping to assure attendees of a townhall meeting that private insurers would not be threatened by the public option, he said, ‘if you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? … It’s the post office that’s always having problems.’ Yes. The post office. The ‘public option’ in mail delivery: chronically in financial trouble; chronically over budget; chronically being bailed out by taxpayers. So, don’t worry, everybody! Government expansion into our medical delivery system will be just as lumbering and inefficient as the post office is in our mail and package delivery system. Er, good point, Mr. President.”

House wealth exceeds $1 billion: "Despite a recession that depleted bank accounts nationwide in 2008, House lawmakers can still claim a tidy nest egg: a combined minimum net worth of at least $1 billion. According to a Roll Call analysis of the financial disclosures filed by House Members — 441 records comprising thousands of pages filed by Representatives, nonvoting Delegates and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico — the chamber boasts assets totaling at least $1.13 billion, while its minimum debt tallies a relatively minor $125.69 million. And the real value of their assets is probably more than twice the reported totals.”


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


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


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Leftist psychologists prove that a conservative is someone who has been mugged by reality

It was of course Irving Kristol who first said that a neoconservative is someone who has been mugged by reality and it was some NYC police chief decades back who said that "A conservative is a liberal who got mugged last night"

So it comes as no surprise that two psychologists have just done some research which showed that people warmed to GWB and military spending after 9/11. The 9/11 events were a rather large lump of reality. And both GWB and military spending offered some prospect of coping with it.

The psychologists concerned explained their results by some babble about "motivated social cognition" but I think Irving Kristol's formulation is a lot simpler and clearer. I have in any case dealt with the "motivated social cognition" nonsense in psychology some time back.

The article is "Conservative Shift among Liberals and Conservatives Following 9/11/01" by Paul R. Nail & Ian McGregor. The journal abstract is below:
Political orientation and political attitudes were measured in two independent adult samples. One sample was taken several months before the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01; the other, shortly after. Liberal and conservative participants alike reported more conservative attitudes following 9/11/01 than before. This conservative shift was strongest on two items with the greatest relevance to 9/11/01: George W. Bush and Increasing Military Spending. Marginally significant conservative shifts were observed on two other items (Conservatives, Socialized Medicine), and the direction of change on eight of eight items was in a conservative direction. These results provide support for the motivated social cognition model of conservatism (Jost et al., 2003) over predictions derived from terror management theory (e.g., Greenberg et al., 1992).


The bowing Obama reflects a fading Obama

Last week, two points in an emerging pointillist picture of a White House leaking support-not the support of voters, though polls there show steady decline, but in two core constituencies, Washington's Democratic-journalistic establishment, and what might still be called the foreign-policy establishment.

From journalist Elizabeth Drew, a veteran and often sympathetic chronicler of Democratic figures, a fiery denunciation of-and warning for-the White House. In a piece in Politico on the firing of White House counsel Greg Craig, Ms. Drew reports that while the president was in Asia last week, "a critical mass of influential people who once held big hopes for his presidency began to wonder whether they had misjudged the man." They once held "an unromantically high opinion of Obama," and were key to his rise, but now they are concluding that the president isn't "the person of integrity and even classiness they had thought."

She scored "the Chicago crowd," which she characterized as "a distressingly insular and small-minded West Wing team." The White House, Ms. Drew says, needs adult supervision-"an older, wiser head, someone with a bit more detachment."

As I read Ms. Drew's piece, I was reminded of something I began noticing a few months ago in bipartisan crowds. I would ask Democrats how they thought the president was doing. In the past they would extol, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, his virtues. Increasingly, they would preface their answer with, "Well, I was for Hillary."

This in turn reminded me of a surprising thing I observe among loyal Democrats in informal settings and conversations: No one loves Barack Obama. Half the American people say they support him, and Democrats are still with him. But there were Bill Clinton supporters who really loved him. George W. Bush had people who loved him. A lot of people loved Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. But no one seems to love Mr. Obama now; they're not dazzled and head over heels. That's gone away.

He himself seems a fairly chilly customer; perhaps in turn he inspires chilly support. But presidents need that rock-bottom 20% who, no matter what's happening-war, unemployment-adore their guy, have complete faith in him, and insist that you love him, too. They're the hard 20 a president always keeps. Nixon kept them! Obama probably has a hard 20 too, but whatever is keeping them close, it doesn't seem to be love.

Just as stinging as Elizabeth Drew on domestic matters was Leslie Gelb on Mr. Obama and foreign policy in the Daily Beast. Mr. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and fully plugged into the Democratic foreign-policy establishment, wrote this week that the president's Asia trip suggested "a disturbing amateurishness in managing America's power." The president's Afghanistan review has been "inexcusably clumsy," Mideast negotiations have been "fumbling." So unsuccessful was the trip that Mr. Gelb suggested Mr. Obama take responsibility for it "as President Kennedy did after the Bay of Pigs." He added that rather than bowing to emperors-Mr. Obama "seems to do this stuff spontaneously and inexplicably"-he should begin to bow to "the voices of experience" in Washington. When longtime political observers start calling for wise men, a president is in trouble.

It also raises a distressing question: Who are the wise men and women now? Who are the Robert Lovetts, Chip Bohlens and Robert Strausses who can came in to help a president in trouble right his ship? America seems short of wise men, or short on those who are universally agreed to be wise. I suppose Vietnam was the end of that, but establishments exist for a reason, and it is hard for a great nation to function without the presence of a group of "the oldest and wisest" who can not only give sound advice but help engineer how that advice will be reported and received.

Mr Obama is in a hard place. Health care hangs over him, and if he is lucky he will lose a close vote in the Senate. The common wisdom that he can't afford to lose is exactly wrong-he can't afford to win with such a poor piece of legislation. He needs to get the issue behind him, vow to fight another day, and move on.

Afghanistan hangs over him, threatening the unity of his own Democratic congressional base. There is the growing perception of incompetence, of the inability to run the machine of government. This, with Americans, is worse than Mr. Obama's rebranding as a leader who governs from the left. Americans demand baseline competence. If he comes to be seen as Jimmy Carter was, that the job was bigger than the man, that will be the end. Which gets us back to the bow.

In a presidency, a picture or photograph becomes iconic only when it seems to express something people already think. When Gerald Ford was spoofed for being physically clumsy, it took off. The picture of Ford losing his footing and tumbling as he came down the steps of Air Force One became a symbol. There was a reason, and it wasn't that he was physically clumsy. He was not only coordinated but graceful. He'd been a football star at the University of Michigan and was offered contracts by the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. But the picture took off because it expressed the growing public view that Ford's policies were bumbling and stumbling. The picture was iconic of a growing political perception.

The Obama bowing pictures are becoming iconic, and they would not be if they weren't playing off a growing perception. If the pictures had been accompanied by headlines from Asia saying "Tough Talks Yield Big Progress" or "Obama Shows Muscle in China," the bowing pictures might be understood this way: "He Stoops to Conquer: Canny Obama shows elaborate deference while he subtly, toughly, quietly advances his nation's interests." But that's not how the pictures were received or will be remembered.

It is true that Mr. Obama often seems not to have a firm grasp of -or respect for- protocol, of what has been done before and why, and of what divergence from the traditional might imply. And it is true that his political timing was unfortunate. When a great nation is feeling confident and strong, a surprising presidential bow might seem gracious. When it is feeling anxious, a bow will seem obsequious.

The Obama bowing pictures are becoming iconic not for those reasons, however, but because they express a growing political perception, and that is that there is something amateurish about this presidency, something too ad hoc and highly personalized about it, something . . . incompetent, at least in its first year.

It is hard to be president, and White Houses under pressure take refuge in thoughts that become mantras. When the previous White House came under mounting criticism from 2005 through '08, they comforted themselves by thinking, They criticized Lincoln, too. You could see their minds whirring: Lincoln was criticized, Lincoln was great, ergo we are great. But of course just because they say you're stupid doesn't mean you're Lincoln.

One senses the Obama people are doing the Lincoln too, and adding to it the consoling thought that this is only the first year, we've got three years to go, we can change perceptions, don't worry. But they should worry. You can get tagged, typed and pegged your first year. Gerald Ford did, and Ronald Reagan too, more happily. The first year is when indelible impressions are made and iconic photos emerge.



Obama as a one-trick pony

The Democrats are getting what they asked for. In 2004, they tried a trick. If we nominate a man who won the Purple Heart in Vietnam, they thought, we will win. Never mind that John Kerry disgraced himself in the aftermath of his service in Vietnam, making unjust charges against his brothers-in-arms and resolutely thereafter refusing to apologize to those whom he had slandered. Never mind that he had no executive experience. Never mind that, as a US Senator, he was -- to say the least -- undistinguished. They wanted to win; and they gave not a thought to what sort of President he might be.

In 2008, the Democrats did the same thing. They had on their hands an inexperienced, recently minted US Senator from Illinois who was -- as Joe Biden put it in a candid remark that typifies his propensity for speaking his mind without first thinking about the consequences -- "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Never mind, they thought, Obama's long-standing connections with William Ayers, the unrepentant mastermind of a domestic terrorist bombing campaign in the 1970s. Never mind Obama's close association with the racist demagogue Jeremiah Wright. Never mind his lack of executive experience, his unfamiliarity with the private sector, and his ignorance of the ways of Washington. With the help of the pliable press, he could be sold -- and Americans would congratulate themselves on their lack of racial prejudice if they voted for him.

Now comes the reckoning. For Barack Obama seems to be a one-trick pony. He is very good at delivering a speech if he has a teleprompter at hand, and the first and even the second time that you hear him, you will be impressed. If you bother later to read and re-read the speech you will perceive its emptiness. But few will do that, and by the time that they do, it will be too late.

That is one problem. The other is that Obama's one trick cannot often be played. As we have seen over the last few months, as he has tried to play this trick over and over and over again, the more we see of him, the less we are impressed. Franklin Delano Roosevelt never held his fireside chats more than three times a year. How many times has Obama demanded airtime from the networks in the last ten months? I shudder to think.

There is a third problem. Once in office, presidents are judged more by what they do than by what they say and how well they say it, and Barack Obama is in the process of doing a great deal of harm. His "stimulus" bill was a transparent act of grand larceny, stealing from the future in order to enrich Democratic Party constituencies now. His unlawful handling of GM and Chrysler defrauded the bondholders, rewarded the intransigents in the UAW who were largely responsible for the auto-makers' decline, and made it harder for American corporations to borrow money.

And every version of the health care reform that he backs threatens to bankrupt the country and force us to raise taxes on a grand scale. If investors remain on the sidelines, if employers are reluctant to hire, and if, in consequence, the economic recover is anemic and virtually jobless, it is to a considerable extent Obama's fault.

The simple fact that he has done nothing to rein in a patronage-mad Democratic congress is a sign of his fecklessness as President. As David Ignatius points out in today's Washington Post, in 2010, there is going to be hell to pay -- especially in Democratic strongholds with especially high unemployment, such as Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, and California.

There is in this a lesson. In 2012, the Republicans should nominate for the presidency an individual with executive experience -- who has negotiated with legislators, and who has had to make decisions and take responsibility for the consequences. Among those available, they should choose a principled defender of constitutional government and a skilled manager who recognizes the ultimate dependence of the public sector on growth in the private sector of the economy and who thinks of himself in the international arena as the guardian of American interests.



Roundup from ICJS

Israel is Europe's blind spot
Carroll: Making Israel disappear
Hackers expose climate brawl
Another Vast Jewish Conspiracy
Collaborators in the War Against the Jews: Sara Roy
Israel feels tarnished as critics apply apartheid tag
Letter to ABC re John Safran
The Jihad Seminar of Major Nidal M. Hasan
The unreasoning fearmongers
The Jew Flu: The strange illness of Jewish anti-Semitism
Not the voice to sell our values
Abbas threatens to dismantle PA
Islamists impose sharia by stealth
Migration: the true story



Heh! Harvard ignored warnings about risky investments: "It happened at least once a year, every year. In a roomful of a dozen Harvard University financial officials, Jack Meyer, the hugely successful head of Harvard's endowment, and Lawrence Summers, then the school's president, would face off in a heated debate. The topic: cash and how the university was managing - or mismanaging - its basic operating funds. Through the first half of this decade, Meyer repeatedly warned Summers and other Harvard officials that the school was being too aggressive with billions of dollars in cash, according to people present for the discussions, investing almost all of it with the endowment's risky mix of stocks, bonds, hedge funds, and private equity. Meyer's successor, Mohamed El-Erian, would later sound the same warnings to Summers, and to Harvard financial staff and board members."

National ID is the ultimate victimless crime: "I am opposed to universal governmental ID, partly because such a system is inconceivable without mandatory enforcement and the punishment of those who commit no crime other than the created one of refusing to carry government papers. Declining to put a piece of paper in your wallet must be the ultimate `victimless crime' . after all, who is harmed by the absence of a paper on your person? Authorities will argue back: society is harmed because in order secure society's safety, they must know who you are. One objection to this argument is that it is a slippery slope. If it proves anything, then it proves far too much because there is no intrusion into privacy that cannot justify once you agree with principle that minding your own business endangers others."

Some old stuff was pretty good: "Retro clothes are not vintage clothes. Retro clothes are new-made garments designed to imitate or evoke the fashions of as bygone era - often, the 1940s, '50s or '60s. Vintage fashion is the real thing: sturdy garments well made in America (usually by union labor, if that matters to you) that remind us of an era when all the best stuff, from movies to muscle-cars, was `made in the U.S.A.' It's about nostalgia, yes, but in this unrelenting recession it's also about the `recessionistas' - that's what Alison Houtte calls her growing new customer base - realizing they can get not only a distinctive look but also a better-made garment by `going vintage,' at a fraction of the price they've been paying for toss-off foreign-made garments at the big name stores."


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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)