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31 December, 2011

Blind to their Liberal Biases

David Limbaugh

I think it's very difficult for any of us to be objective about any subject, especially something we care deeply about, but my objective observation is that liberals tend to be less aware of and less willing to admit their biases.

We see this often, which I'll get to, but first, let me relate how this phenomenon most recently came to my attention.

In a conversation with a saleswoman for online college courses, I expressed my disappointment that the professor of a religion course I was considering for purchase is an avowed atheist. I said that if I were going to spend time studying the subject, I'd prefer the professor share my Christian worldview.

Don't misunderstand. I think it can be profitable to learn what nonbelieving "scholars" teach about the Bible, but the point I want to discuss here is the woman's response.

She maintained that it is preferable, for this largely secular course on the Bible, to have a professor who can approach the subject from an objective, critical and historical perspective, as if a believing professor would be incapable of that approach. But is that true?

Her error is assuming that nonbelief equates to objectivity. In fact, every human being -- and thus every professor -- has a worldview, and that worldview will inevitably influence his perception of the material. Every professor will have made critical intellectual decisions on a multitude of issues in the material, all of which will be influenced by his worldview.

For example, if you don't believe in miracles, you'd be more inclined to discount those verses of Scripture describing miraculous events, from the Virgin Birth to Jesus' converting water into wine to the bedrock Christian belief: the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Nonbelievers might be more receptive to "higher criticism" and the "documentary hypothesis" and thus less skeptical of the theory that Moses didn't write the first five books of the Old Testament. They might be quicker to focus on apparent contradictions in Scripture that critical examination often reveals are not contradictions at all.

A believer in the divine inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture will certainly bring his biases into biblical exegesis, but so will a nonbeliever. We cannot escape our biases.

But the woman insisted the secular professor is only interested in presenting the material from a critical and historical perspective. A noble aspiration, I concede, should the professor actually possess it, but nevertheless unattainable. Historians and critical readers have biases, too. They can't help it.

It's just wrong to assume that a nonbelieving worldview is more objective than a believing one. We are all blessed (or burdened) with our presuppositions, and they accompany us wherever we go.

It occurred to me that the woman's argument is analogous to the political liberals' legendary denial of bias. Indeed, many liberals don't even view themselves as liberals. Rather, they are reality- and fact-based creatures. Only conservatives allow their biases to taint their objectivity. Liberals will admit that some conservatives are rational, but to be both rational and conservative, they must be evil. They know the policies they support are wrong, objectively, but they choose to do so anyway -- or something like that.

Evidence abounds: Scholarly studies show that mainstream journalists are overwhelmingly liberal, yet many deny it, and many honestly don't even see the biases they bring to their selection and reporting of the "news." ABC's Christiane Amanpour, for example, denies her liberal biases, saying she "remains in the realm of fact." The Bush haters who deceived themselves about Bush's alleged WMD lies claimed they were reality-based when in "reality" their hatred made them stark-raving mad on the subject. A liberal college professor touting open academic inquiry banned "conservative" materials from class because she refused "to tolerate the intolerable." Members of the man-made global warming cult dogmatically proclaim a consensus despite strong dissent. Environmentalists extrapolate this mindset in their approach to scores of issues, traveling utterly quixotic paths and pursuing devastatingly expensive larks while dismissing skeptics as flat-earthers. Obama constantly refers to his ideas as self-evidently reasonable and Republicans' as driven solely by partisanship, because how could they possibly oppose his reality-based proposals?

As a conservative, I believe that many liberals proceed from good intentions, though I think their consistently horrendous results entitle us to some skepticism after a while even as to their intentions -- or at least to their ability to see past their oppressive biases. I don't believe, for example, that they are racists because their policies harm minorities, though they often do. I don't believe they automatically lack compassion just because their policies spread misery.

Yet many liberals do believe that conservatives are evil, uncompassionate racists because our policies don't fit their self-serving, narrow, shallow parameters of "good intentions." Many leftists are so possessed by a need to be morally superior that they can't abide the possibility that conservatives also have noble intentions. So it is that many who believe they are objective, fair and reality-based are far less so than the objects of their scorn.



The Wrong Kind of Minority

Leftists hate successful minorities. It's part of their compulsion to level everyone else down

Mona Charen

The Washington Post proclaimed in a recent headline another historic "first" for the United States -- the first female usher-in-chief at the White House. Stop the presses! The accompanying story reveals that the nominee hails from Jamaica, so it's probably a two-fer. Oh, boy.

The Post and other liberal organs are obsessed with firsts. The first female letter carrier to handle the Capitol Hill route will get a mention in the press. The first African-American anything is guaranteed at least a nod. You don't even have to be first to get "first" treatment. The last two Supreme Court nominees have been women, joining a court that had already seated two women (one retired). Nevertheless, the femininity of the candidates was cheerily chatted up. When Barack Obama became the first black nominee of a major party and then the elected president, dignified notice of an historical milestone would have been appropriate. But you know what happened -- the media went on an inebriated, extravagant first binge.

Funny how the first-effect only works for some. If Mitt Romney is nominated and elected, he will be the first member of a highly persecuted American minority group to be so honored. Yet no one is celebrating the possibility of the first Mormon president. Anti-Mormon bias, which has proved remarkably persistent over decades, is scarcely ever condemned.

It isn't that Mormons have not suffered. Following the religion's founding in upstate New York in 1830, the Mormons faced immediate hostility from their neighbors. Hounded by New Yorkers, the growing community moved west to Ohio, Missouri and Kansas. In Jackson County, Missouri, Mormon leaders were tarred and feathered, Mormon homes torched and Mormon property brazenly stolen.

County after county drove the Mormons out, sometimes threatening to kill even the children if they did not evacuate, culminating, in 1838, in an "extermination order" issued by Gov. Lilburn Boggs. Instructing the state militia, Boggs wrote, "The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace--their outrages are beyond all description." Thousands of Mormons were forced to flee, some with just the clothes on their backs, in the dead of winter. Illinois offered sanctuary for a time, but it was in that state that the religion's founder, Joseph Smith, was imprisoned and murdered by a mob.

The Mormons attempted to defend themselves and committed an atrocity of their own, the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857 (for which the militia leader in charge was tried and executed by the Mormons). But most of the time, the group was on the defensive. Throughout its first seven decades, the sect was harried, persecuted, expelled, reviled and chased across a continent.

The practice of polygamy stirred hostility. As a Jew though, I cannot help noticing that Mormons were also hated because they seemed to prosper economically, because they rose to the top of organizations they joined and because they were so loyal to one another.

Outsiders can surely be fair-minded enough to acknowledge that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gets results. Utah has the nation's lowest levels of welfare dependency, child poverty and single parent homes. Its students are among the top scorers in the nation, despite relatively low levels of education spending. It ranks highest for contributions to charity by the wealthy and among the lowest for incarceration and cancer rates. Prominent Mormons established the Marriott hotel chain, Jet Blue and Bain Capital (of course). Mormon Americans invented the television, word processing and the hearing aid, among other things. Mormons have distinguished themselves in entertainment, sports and politics -- where they have risen to prominence in both parties.

Polygamy having long since been discarded, anti-Mormon bias today, ironically, often focuses on the LDS Church's opposition to same sex marriage. During the contest over California's Proposition 8, which limited marriage to the bond between men and women, opponents sought to intimidate Mormons who contributed financially or otherwise to the initiative. While there has been speculation that Mitt Romney's faith might suppress support among Republicans, a recent Gallup survey found that Democrats(27 percent) were more likely than Republicans (18 percent) to say they would not vote for a Mormon candidate for president.

Mormons are obviously the wrong kind of minority. Oh, they've been persecuted. But through a strong work ethic, self-discipline, traditional morality (Yes, there's an irony there, but get over it) and group cohesion, they have triumphed for themselves and for the country. The first Mormon president would be a milestone. But don't hold your breath for the applause.



Recess Appointments To NLRB Tantamount To Declaration Of War Against Employers

While President Obama is taking a break in Hawaii, the conversation in Washington, D.C. has not stopped regarding his National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Business is furious with a purported new rule ushered in just days before Christmas with labor radical Craig Becker at the helm that allows Big Labor to ambush employers with rushed elections and forcibly unionize workers who will be denied an informed choice.

Next, there is growing concern that Obama will once again bypass Congress and recess appoint Richard Griffin and Sharon Block to the board as he did Craig Becker after his nomination was the subject of bipartisan opposition for views considered outside the mainstream. Griffin would have the distinction of being the second nominee in history to be nominated for a full term on the NLRB who came directly from a labor union, with Becker being the first. Griffin is the general counsel for International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) and serves on the board of directors for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Lawyers Coordinating Committee. He would not be a neutral arbitrator of labor-management disputes, but would continue in the mold of Craig Becker.

The AFL-CIO has been at the forefront of efforts to politicize the NLRB and use it as a vehicle to gain payback from government bureaucrats. Stewart Acuff, an official with the AFL-CIO wrote in 2010, “It [sic] we aren’t able to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, we will work with President Obama and Vice President Biden and their appointees to the National Labor Relations Board to change the rules governing forming a union through administrative action...”

Sharon Block’s nomination raises independent concerns. Most recently, Block has served as deputy assistant secretary for Congressional affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor. She reports to former Congresswoman and current Secretary Hilda Solis who is one of the fiercest partisans in Big Labor’s camp in the nation’s capital.

Solis has supported the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act which would have done away with the secret ballot election and has gone out of her way to cater to the union bosses who have been given free rein in the Obama Administration.

Under her direction, the Labor Department is considering a rule change on “persuader” activity that would change the public disclosure requirements for employers, law firms, consultants and trade associations that provide services regarding labor relations and union organizing. Current law requires reporting by employers, consultants and law firms, when they directly “persuade” or interact with employees. The law provides an exemption; however, when a law firm or consultant simply provides advice without directly interacting with employees. The proposed change virtually eliminates this “advice exemption,” so that businesses would have to provide detailed and confidential data, including possibly proprietary information about business operations and details about contracts for services with their attorneys and outside consultants.

The effect of the rule will be to restrict business’ ability to secure legal and other advice during a union organizing campaign which will be detrimental to employers who want to fairly address the issue of unionization with their employees and to employees who would be not be provided necessary information on the pros and cons of unionization before they vote....

And this brings us to the end of 2011 with widespread anticipation that this President, who has demonstrated little care for orderly process and the rule of law, could recess appoint new labor allies to the NLRB. This would enable that agency to continue its assault on workers and small businesses while rewarding the President’s largest campaign supporters, Big Labor bosses who spent nearly half a billion dollars to put him in the White House.

As Politico reported recently in an article titled, “It’s World War III at the NLRB,” the American business community would view NLRB recess appointments as tantamount to a declaration of war. It would be the end to any Obama legislative agenda for 2012 and put to rest any argument that he wants to bring Americans together to overcome the severe economic challenges we are confronting.

More here


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


30 December, 2011

Only One Candidate Is Right on The Two Most Important Issues

Ann Coulter below relaxes most of her usual acerbic tone and makes a serious argument that Romney is the only candidate who can deliver for conservatives. I think she is right. There is much in Romney's past that conservatives dislike but his turn to the Right could be solid. Most people drift Rightwards as they get older. Remember that both Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan started out as liberals

In the upcoming presidential election, two issues are more important than any others: repealing Obamacare and halting illegal immigration. If we fail at either one, the country will be changed permanently.

Taxes can be raised and lowered. Regulations can be removed (though they rarely are). Attorneys general and Cabinet members can be fired. Laws can be repealed. Even Supreme Court justices eventually die. But capitulate on illegal immigration, and the entire country will have the electorate of California. There will be no turning back.

Similarly, if Obamacare isn't repealed in the next few years, it never will be. America will begin its ineluctable descent into becoming a worthless Western European country, with rotten health care, no money for defense and ever-increasing federal taxes to support the nanny state.

So let's consider which of the Republican candidates are most likely to succeed at these objectives.

In order to allow Democrats to indignantly denounce Republicans who said Obamacare would add to the deficit, the bill was structured so that no goodies get paid out immediately. That way, when the Congressional Budget Office was asked to determine if Obamacare was "revenue neutral" over its first 10 years, government accountants were looking at a bill that collected taxes for 10 years, but only distributed treats in the later years.

Starting at year 11, those accountants will be in for a big surprise when the government starts paying out Obamacare benefits without interruption. Because of this accounting fraud, Obamacare can still be repealed. But as soon as all Americans have been thrown off their employer-provided insurance plans and are forced to start depending on the government for health care, Republicans will never be able to repeal it.

The vast complex of unionized government workers managing our health care from Washington will fight to keep their jobs (for more on this topic, see the Department of Education), voters will want their "free" government treats (for more on this topic, see Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) -- and even if they don't, there won't be a private insurance market for them to go back to (for more on this topic, see IRS rules favoring employer-provided health care).

The only way to stop Obamacare is to beat Obama in 2012, and repeal it before the health care Leviathan is born. Otherwise, starting in 2016, Republicans will run for office promising only to improve Obamacare. Newt Gingrich will be calling plans to reform it "right-wing social engineering."

All current Republican presidential candidates say they will overturn Obamacare. The question for Republican primary voters should be: Who is most likely to win?

2012 is not a year for a wild card. It's not a year for any candidate who will end up being the issue, instead of making Obama the issue. It's not a year for one wing of the Republican Party to be making a point with another wing. (And there are no Rockefeller Republicans left, anyway.) It's not a year to be gambling that America will vote for its first woman president, or that the country is ready for a nut-bar libertarian.

Running against an incumbent president in a make-or-break election, Republicans need a candidate with a track record of winning elections with voters similar to the entire American electorate.

Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich have never had to win votes beyond small, majority-Republican congressional districts.

Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have won statewide elections, but Huntsman and Perry ran in extremely red states that don't resemble the American electorate. Only Romney and Santorum have won a statewide election in a blue state, making them our surest-bets in a general election.

But if Santorum wins, we lose on the second most important issue -- illegal immigration -- and he'll be the last Republican ever to win a general election in America.

Just as Americans ought to be able to learn the perils of a welfare state by looking at Greece, we ought to be able to learn the perils of illegal immigration by looking at California.

Massive legal and illegal immigration has already so changed the California electorate that no Republican can be elected statewide anymore. Not so long ago, this was a state that produced great Republican governors and senators like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, S.I. Hayakawa and Pete Wilson.

If even Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, two bright, attractive, successful female business executives -- one pro-life and one pro-choice -- can't win a statewide election in California spending millions of their own dollars in the middle of the 2010 Republican sweep, it's buenas noches, muchachos.

And yet, almost all Republican presidential candidates support some form of amnesty for illegals in order to appeal to the business lobby.

Among the most effective measures against illegal immigration is E-Verify, the Homeland Security program that gives employers the ability to instantly confirm that their employees' Social Security numbers are legitimate. It is more than 99 percent accurate, and no employee is denied a job without an opportunity to challenge the records.

Although wildly popular with Americans -- including Hispanic Americans -- the business lobby hates E-Verify. Employers like hiring non-Americans because they can pay illegal aliens less and ignore state and federal employment laws. Any candidate who opposes E-Verify is not serious about illegal immigration. If anything, E-Verify ought to be made mandatory to get a job, to get welfare and to vote.

Kowtowing to business (while pretending to kowtow to Hispanics), Paul, Perry and Santorum oppose E-Verify. As a senator, Rick Santorum voted against even the voluntary use of E-Verify.

Jon Huntsman claims to support E-Verify, but also wants to give illegals amnesty as soon as the border is sealed -- as determined by someone other than us. Also, he gave driver's identification cards to illegal aliens in Utah. (You'd think a guy no one has ever heard of would be more careful about ID cards.)

Following his latest guru, Helen Krieble, Newt Gingrich is for amnesty, combined with second-class status for illegals. Instead of giving illegal aliens green cards, Newt proposes giving them "red cards" so they can stay, take American jobs, have children, receive welfare benefits, attend public schools -- and eventually be granted amnesty. The Republican primaries will be over before most voters realize what Newt's "red card" scheme entails.

Only Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney aren't trying to sneak through amnesty for illegal aliens. Both support E-Verify.

Numbers USA, one of the leading groups opposed to our current insane immigration policies, gives Republican presidential candidates the following grades on immigration: Paul, F; Gingrich, D-minus; Huntsman, D-minus; Santorum, D-minus; Perry, D; Romney, C-minus; and Bachmann, B-minus.

And that was before Romney said last week that Obama's drunk-driving, illegal alien uncle should be deported!

That leaves us with Romney and Bachmann as the candidates with the strongest, most conservative positions on illegal immigration. As wonderful as Michele Bachmann is, 2012 isn't the year to be trying to make a congresswoman the first woman president.



'Things Happened'

The year's highlights in shifting responsibility

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network last March, shortly before he announced that he was running for the Republican presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich reflected on his sins, which include cheating on his first two wives with women he would later marry. "At times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country," he said, "I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate."

You might have thought that Gingrich's serial adultery reflected a different sort of passion and that his inability to control it reflected poorly on his self-discipline, not to mention his truthfulness, his loyalty, and the reliability of his promises. But how can you fault him for loving his country so much that he forgot he was married?

Gingrich's depiction of his infidelity as a testament to his patriotism was one of the year's most memorable exercises in responsibility deflection. Some more highlights:

Gotta Light? In February the Justice Department, as part of its lawsuit against the major tobacco companies, demanded a "corrective statement" saying, "We falsely marketed low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes." It did not mention that the federal government, which approved the machine-based method for determining "tar" yields and pressured cigarette manufacturers to advertise those numbers, was complicit from the beginning in marketing practices it now deems fraudulent.

Bird Shot. "Will Toucan Sam go the way of Joe Camel?" The New York Times wondered after the Federal Trade Commission proposed guidelines for marketing food to children in April. "By explicitly tying advertising to childhood obesity," the Times said, the FTC was indicting "cuddly figures like Cap'n Crunch, the Keebler elves, [and] Ronald McDonald." How can food-hawking characters introduced in the 1960s be blamed for weight trends that began in the 1980s?

Poker Choker. In September federal prosecutors accused Full Tilt Poker of defrauding customers by failing to keep enough money on hand to cash them out at a time when "the company faced a growing shortfall….related to its inability to collect funds from U.S. players." The federal government deliberately created that shortfall by threatening to prosecute people for processing payments related to online poker.

Cannabis Capitulator. When she blocked implementation of Arizona's new medical marijuana law last May, Gov. Jan Brewer, a self-proclaimed champion of the 10th Amendment, blamed the Justice Department, claiming she was afraid, despite assurances from the state's U.S. attorney, that regulators overseeing dispensaries would face federal prosecution. Seven months later, Brewer, who opposed the ballot initiative that legalized the medical use of marijuana, finally admitted she was determined to thwart the will of Arizona's voters, asking a federal judge to overturn the policy they approved.

Super Zero. Last summer Congress, which had shown no signs of fiscal restraint even though it had several committees dedicated to spending, decided the solution was another committee: the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. The "super committee" was supposed to relieve Congress of responsibility for making hard budgetary decisions. And even if it failed, it would succeed, because then spending cuts would kick in "automatically" (assuming Congress let them), insulating legislators from blame. Washington's best minds are still trying to figure out how it all fell apart.




Romney takes an easy lead in Republican race: "Mitt Romney has surged into the lead in Iowa just days before the state kicks off voting to decide the Republican presidential nominee, a new poll shows. The CNN/Time/ORC survey also confirmed Mr Romney's dominance in New Hampshire, the second state to vote, leaving the 64-year-old former Massachusetts governor eyeing a possible romp to the nomination. But in a sign the Republican race remains volatile, the staunch conservative Rick Santorum tripled his showing from a month ago to finish third in the latest survey on 16 per cent. Mr Romney, who was reluctant to make a big play for Iowa after losing out to Mike Huckabee in 2008, now finds himself in pole position as his main rival Newt Gingrich falters."

That’s government for you -- by Milton Friedman: "When a man spends his own money to buy something for himself, he is very careful about how much he spends and how he spends it. When a man spends his own money to buy something for someone else, he is still very careful about how much he spends, but somewhat less what he spends it on. When a man spends someone else’s money to buy something for himself, he is very careful about what he buys, but doesn’t care at all how much he spends. And when a man spends someone else’s money on someone else, he does’t care how much he spends or what he spends it on. And that’s government for you."

Who should control the world?: "In the market economy, the buyer is the decision maker. He or she determines what gets produced, how much, and directs the pattern of change. The supposedly powerful fat cats of the corporate world are daily submitting to the wishes of the little guy with a computer and a credit card. Any company in a market can be shut down in a matter of weeks if the consumers switch loyalties. This happens every day. Nothing like this system exists in our dealings with the state."

Boom and bust madness: An empirical look at the Fed’s dollar binge: "Given the Fed’s continued actions to keep interest rates low and its reported plans to keep them that way beyond 2014, now seems a good time to revisit the deleterious effects that monetary expansion has on the economy. The data makes all too apparent the relevance of the Austrian Business Cycle in explaining the results of years of easy money."

Food fights and free enterprise: "It is sometimes said, following Milton Friedman’s insight, that business is not a friend to the free market, and the truth of this is no more evident than in recent battles between established restaurateurs and operators of mobile eateries. Once a business becomes established and enjoys a measure of success, a narrow view of its own interests can lead its principals to thwart innovation by others, and this is usually done by influencing the way laws are enacted or enforced."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


29 December, 2011

Keeping all your assets in the USA is unsafe

By keeping all your assets in the country where you live, you commit, ahead of time, to ratify whatever policy your home government might adopt, no matter how objectionable, unreasonable or pernicious that policy happens to be. If the next new mandate is "Register today to get a nail pounded into your head," you're already signed up.

Americans, by and large, run all their affairs within the confines of the US. The US economy is so large and so varied that it's easy to assume that everything you want to do with your wealth can be done without crossing any borders. And people in the US, like people anywhere, live with the habits and attitudes developed over generations. They're only human. In the case of Americans, those habits grew out of long experience with a government that was small and that generally practiced the rare virtue of following its own laws. In a happy exception to mankind's experience with rulers, there was little to fear from it.

Stay at home is still the norm for Americans, but it's a norm that is slowly fading. Every billion-dollar tick of the government debt clock, every expansion of the government's regulatory apparatus, every overreaching judicial decision made in the name of a compelling public need, every inversion of protection for citizens into license for the state and every intellectually tortured discovery of a new meaning in the Constitution's 4,400 old words leaves a few thousand more people wondering how prudent it is to consign all their eggs to a single national basket. Encounters with high-handed IRS agents and eager TSA gropers do nothing to ease that concern. And for those who listen thoughtfully, the messages from our designated leaders and their would-be replacements only hurry the dawning sense of unease.

Specific worries include exposure to predatory lawsuits, especially claims that could draw extra go-power by association with politically favored causes or legally favored groups; fear of where income tax rates might climb; the prospect of losing a family business in a regulatory battle or simply through estate tax; the fragility of financial institutions that have operated for forty years with the assurance that the Federal Reserve would rescue them from any folly; the possibility that a government desperate to protect the dollar from collapse might impose foreign exchange controls or capital controls; the memory and precedent of the forced gold sales of 1933; and the thought that a government floundering in deficits might start pilfering from IRAs and other pension plans.

But beyond those particular worries and perhaps more important than any of them is the sense that from here on, anything goes. The politicians will do whatever they find convenient, because there is no longer anything to stop them – not an electorate that is jealous of its freedoms and certainly not the Constitution, which is now just a playhouse for judicial imagineering. No one can know what's coming next from the government and the financial system it has fostered, but for many of us there is an awful suspicion that we are not going to like it.

Most Americans still have yet to stick a single financial toe across the border, but more and more are considering it. Many, perhaps millions of toes are now twitching at the thought. Their owners want to end their absolute dependence on what happens in the US. They want to prepare for whatever is coming down the road, even though they don't know what it will be. They want to be as ready as possible, even though their worries can only guess at what's ahead.

Because internationalizing your financial life means dealing with the unfamiliar, the project can seem more complex than it really is, so it's best to start with the simplest measures, even if by themselves they don't give you all the safety you're looking for. Even from a simple beginning, what you learn with each step will make the next step easier to plan. Start with the first rung on the ladder of internationalization. Then climb, at your own speed, to reach the right level of protection.

Much more HERE


The gift of giving

by Jeff Jacoby

OF ALL THE RITUALS that mark this season, none is more misguided than the complaints about how crass and mercenary the holidays have become.

The laments begin early in November, when Santa starts showing up in TV commercials. They surge during the hyperactive shopping weekend that follows Thanksgiving. By the time Christmas (and Chanukah) are actually at hand, you'd have to be in a persistent vegetative state not to hear all the scolding about how the "reason for the season" has been lost amid the buy-one-get-one sales and the over-elaborate mall displays.

Even Pope Benedict joined the chorus this year. In the homily he delivered on Christmas Eve, he deplored "the superficial glitter" of the season, urging the faithful not to confuse the "commercial celebration" Christmas has become with its "true joy and true light."

I wouldn't presume to argue with the pope about the religious significance of Christmas, and I will readily acknowledge that the holiday shopping season can certainly be stressful, expensive, and more than a little materialistic. Nonetheless, as a measure of cultural and communal health, I can't help seeing this yearly impulse to shower friends and family with presents as one of our society's most endearing and heartening traits.

Ten days ago I took my 8-year-old son Micah to a local Dollar Tree Store, where he was eager to spend his savings -- 11 dollars and change, grubbily folded into a miniature wallet -- on Chanukah gifts for his family. We had done this together last year, and Micah had been besieging me to pick an evening when the two of us could make a return trip.

I found it a wonderful experience, no irony intended. Dollar Tree isn't exactly Tiffany & Co., and in any case Micah chooses gifts with all the sophistication and refinement you'd expect from a rambunctious third-grade boy who loves bugs and can never seem to keep his shirt tucked in. The presents he picked out for his mother included a desktop picture frame for her office, glow-in-the-dark necklaces ("Mama can wear them if she goes for a walk at night"), and two boxes of Milk Duds; for his teen-age brother he found an air horn, Lemonheads, and a container of "noise putty" that emits flatulent sounds when poked. A devotee of Martha Stewart Living the kid is not.

But whatever Micah may have lacked in style and taste, he more than made up for with the unfeigned delight he brought to the whole project. He couldn't wait to turn his little clutch of dollars into presents for the people he loves. He wasn't consciously trying to be altruistic or selfless; and he's never given 30 seconds' thought to the meaning of generosity. He was simply excited by the prospect of giving -- and indeed, when the moment came a few nights later to bestow his gifts on his recipients, he was practically bouncing up and down with elation. If this is crass commercialism, let's have more of it.

Would modern society really be improved if the happiness of gift-giving were not an integral part of one special season each year? Granted, anything can be overdone, and materialism is no exception. And it is important to remember that the hustle and pressure of buying presents for loved ones doesn't reduce our obligation to give charitably and generously to the poor.

But how diminished our culture would be without that hustle and pressure. Children learn an important lesson when they see the adults in their world treat the joy of others as a priority worth spending time, money, and thought on. No one has to teach kids to be acquisitive and selfish -- that comes naturally -- but what an inestimable asset they acquire when they find out for themselves that it really is more blessed to give than to receive.

It is only a coincidence of the calendar that links Christmas and Chanukah; theologically the two holidays have little in common. But essential to both Judaism and Christianity is the principle of imitatio Dei, of striving to walk in God's ways, above all by being kind to others as He is kind to us. Isn't that what underlies the expense and scramble of our holiday gift-giving? In lavishing gifts on others, we reflect the openhandedness with which God lavishes gifts on us. Maybe that's not the entirety of the season's "true joy and true light." But if my 8-year-old's unaffected joyfulness is any indication, it makes a great start.



Occupy Wall Street becomes highly collectible

How sick is this? Empty-headed bums need to be remembered?

Occupy Wall Street may still be working to shake the notion it represents a passing outburst of rage, but some establishment institutions have already decided the movement’s artifacts are worthy of historic preservation.

More than a half-dozen major museums and organisations from the Smithsonian Institution to the New-York Historical Society have been avidly collecting materials produced by the Occupy movement. Staffers have been sent to occupied parks to rummage for buttons, signs, posters and documents. Websites and tweets have been archived for digital eternity, and museums have approached protesters directly to obtain posters and other ephemera.

The Museum of the City of New York is planning an exhibition on Occupy for next month.

“Occupy is sexy,” said Ben Alexander, head of special collections and archives at Queens College, which has been collecting Occupy materials. “It sounds hip. A lot of people want to be associated with it.’’



Is Obamacare Stopping Businesses From Hiring? Businesspeople certainly think so


President Obama says his health care “reform” will be good for business. Business has learned the truth.

Three successful businessmen came on my Fox Business show last week to explain how Obamacare is a reason that unemployment stays high. Its length and complexity make businessmen wary of expanding.

Mike Whalen, CEO of Heart of America Group, which runs hotels and restaurants, said that when he asked his company’s health insurance experts to summarize the impact of Obamacare, “the three of them kind of looked at each other and said, ‘We’ve gone to seminar after seminar, and, Mike, we can’t tell you.’ I think that just kind of sums up the uncertainty.”

Brad Anderson, CEO of Best Buy, added that Obamacare makes it impossible to achieve even basic certainty about future personnel costs: “If I was trying to get you to fund a new business I had started and you asked me what my payroll was going to be three years from now per employee, if I went to the deepest specialist in the industry, he can’t tell me what it’s actually going to cost, let alone what I’m going to be responsible for.”

You would think a piece of legislation more than a thousand pages long would at least be clear about the specifics. But a lot of those pages say: “The secretary will determine ...” That means the secretary of Health and Human Services will announce the rules sometime in the future. How can a business make plans in such a fog?

John Allison, former CEO of BB&T, the 12th biggest bank in America, pointed out how Obamacare encourages employers not to insure their employees. Under the law, an employer would be fined for that. But the penalty at present—about $2,000—is lower than the cost of a policy. “What that means is in theory every company ought to dump their plan on the government plan and pay the penalty,” he said. “So you don’t really know what the cost is because it’s designed to fail.”

Of course, then every employee would turn to the government-subsidized health insurance. Maybe that was the central planners’ intention all along.

An owner of 12 IHOPS told me that he can’t expand his business because he can’t afford the burden of Obamacare. Many of his waitresses work part time or change jobs every few months. He hadn’t been insuring them, but Obamacare requires him to. He says he can’t make money paying a $2,000 penalty for every waitress, so he’s cancelled his plans to expand. It’s one more reason why job growth hasn’t picked up post-recession.

Of course, we were told that government health care would increase hiring. After all, European companies don’t have to pay for their employees’ health insurance. If every American employer paid the $2,000 penalty and their workers turned to government for insurance, American companies would be better able to compete with European ones. They might save $10,000 per employee.

That sounded good, but like so many politicians’ promises, it leaves out the hidden costs. When countries move to a government-funded system, taxes rise to crushing levels, as they have in Europe.

Whalen sees Obamacare as a crossing of the Rubicon. “We’ve had an agreement in this country, kind of unwritten, for the last 50 years, that we would spend about 18 to 19 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) on the federal government. This is a tipping point. This takes us to 25 to 30 percent. And that money comes out of the private sector. That means fewer jobs. This is a game-changer.”

He means it’s a game-changer because of the cost. But the law’s impenetrable complication does almost as much damage. Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute is right: If you wonder why businesspeople are not investing and reviving the economy, the answer lies in all the question marks that Obamacare and other new regulations confront them with. Higgs calls this “regime uncertainty." It’s also what prolonged the Great Depression.

No one who understands the nature of government as the wielder of force—as opposed to the peaceful persuasion of the free market—is surprised by this.




American wealth eroding: "The Federal Reserve is now unleashing American banks from restrictions on dividends. This means Americans are essentially capitalizing Americans banks at a loss while banks are divvying out dividends to make it falsely appear they are solvent. Bank stockholders, including many bank executives, will now reap even larger rewards at the expense of the savings class"

Dorothy Rabinowitz’s attack on Ron Paul: "One of the more fascinating attacks on Ron Paul comes from Dorothy Rabinowitz in the December 22, 2012, issue of the Wall Street Journal. Not surprisingly, given that Rabinowitz serves on the Journal’s editorial board, she goes after Paul for his foreign-policy views. What I found interesting about the article, which is entitled 'What Ron Paul Thinks of America,' is the superficial nature of the attack. Rabinowitz’s article, quite simply, lacks any depth of analysis on the critical points she makes about Paul."

Would Ron Paul have stopped the Holocaust?: "The latest line of attack on the Texas congressman, courtesy of his ex-staffer Eric Dondero, has it that Ron Paul would not have taken us into World War II to stop the Holocaust. 'He expressed to me countless times, that ‘saving the Jews,’ was absolutely none of our business,' Dondero claims. Of course, that’s exactly how Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and the rest of America’s wartime leaders felt."

Britain’s future lies with America, not Europe: "In 1952, then-U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson said that 'Britain has lost an empire but has failed to find a role.' Sadly for Britain, it decided to renounce its longstanding global cultural, legal and philosophical links to North America and instead looked for that role in Europe. Despite its geographic proximity to Britain, the Continent is nevertheless home to a host of cultures, legal systems and governing philosophies very different from those of traditionally liberal Britain. The consequences from that bad choice have bedeviled Britain for decades."

Alcohol pricing: Better England free than England sober: "The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties institute, today condemns proposals to make it harder for poor people to buy alcohol. The proposals include higher taxes, compulsory minimum prices for drink, further controls on advertising, and power to close down retailers. The only disagreement between the three main parties is how far they wish to go."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


28 December, 2011

Israel and Christianity

Being an atheist, my church attendance these days is EXTREMELY spotty. Easter and Christmas is about it -- though Anne would be happy if we went more often. Anne is not particularly pious but, like me, she is a CULTURAL Protestant Christian. And culture accounts for a lot. A shared cultural background gives us an instinctive understanding of one-another and a similar response to many things. We are all happiest among our "ain folk", as the Scots put it. That is probably all gobbledegook to most Leftists but the loss is theirs.

I am at the moment in the grip of the joyous Christmas season -- and the hymns and carols that we sing at this time are so Israel-focused that I fail to see how any Christian can NOT be a great supporter of Israel. Pastor Hagee is sometimes berated for his extreme Israel-focus but if I lived in his town I think I might be inclined to attend any special services that he put on.

The Bible is an Israeli book. Even Luke the good physician -- who was not a Jew -- was apparently an Israeli.

So how can we not rejoice at this time over the return of descendants of its Biblical inhabitants to the "Promised Land"? We sing and read so much about that land and the personalities that emerged from it. I see Christians who are not strong supporters of Israel as fake Christians.


A Christian critique of Christmas

Weak protests about the "commercialization" of Christmas are routine and I think most of us know that most of the traditions associated with Christmas are of pagan origin but the writer below is offended by those pagan origins and sees them as sacrilegious. As with me however, her inherited culture leads her to accept most of the conventional celebrations

The very harsh words written by puritans in Boston 1679-1681 conveyed the message that the celebration of Christmas was basically a satanical practice.

In a nutshell, the puritans felt that since it was the Catholics that proclaimed Christ as being born on December 25th, it therefore was a sacrilege to follow Catholic dogma because they were heretics.

If the judge asked you if you honor Jesus Christ on the celebration of Saturnalia what would your answer be? Yes? Do you honor Christ on the same day as the pagan god? If you aren’t Catholic why would you call it Christmas, Christ-mass? And why would we want to honor our Lord and Savior on the day others are honoring Saturnalia anyway? Doesn’t God detest such practices? When Moses went up to meet God on Mount Sinai, he came back to find his brother Aaron had fashioned idols in order to honor GOD. Isn’t it obvious that God himself has already told us what honors him? Why do we believe that Christmas honors Christ? It doesn’t. It actually puts our Messiah in a boiling caldron with the rest of the false gods and there is nothing honoring in that.

I love Christmas time. I love the lights, music (sometimes), the food and traditions. I love when our families come together, and exchange gifts. But over the years my passion for the baby Jesus has suffered a massive hemorrhage, bled out, shriveled up and died. I killed the tradition of worshiping Christ during Christmas. I wouldn’t dare step foot in a church during the Christmas season now. You’ll be hard pressed to find me in a church at anytime these days. Am I now an atheist? Hardly!

Just because I refuse to mention Christ at Christmas time doesn’t make me an atheist, gnostic, or any other label you’d like to pin to my chest, I simply refuse to allow my Messiah to be grouped in with the fake sun god, Tammuz, Yule, and any other Babylonian or Viking god you can think of. There are some Messianic believers (and Christians too) who have gone so far as to never bring an evergreen tree in the house, or decorate, or make gingerbread men.

I’m not among those who refuse to celebrate the holidays. Some could say “ba humbug to you!” But really, as I said before I enjoy the tree, lights, food and traditions and sometimes the music. I don’t want that to end.

Am I satanical and pagan for having that tree? Some might say I am. I like having a Christmas tree with lights and ornaments. I like giving gifts to my children. It isn’t pagan to me, its a tradition I enjoy. So sue me. LOL I have never worshiped Yule or had his phallic symbol in our home, I’ve never put up images of Saturnalia, and I most certainly do not have any need to tell our children about Santa which is nothing more than a Norse god, and my evergreen tree all decked out with gifts below doesn’t appease any dark god of winter. If I did, then you could say I were pagan and proud. I’m not a secret pagan either. I have friends who are pagans…beautiful lovely people, but that’s not me. No, its just the traditions we’ve grown up with. Would I condemn others for doing it their way? Nope. Would I get mad if others weren’t observing the holidays the way I do? Hell no.

I find it funny how crazy Christians get over Christmas (I can safely say I was in that category for a long time, so I can speak about this from experience, not just observation). They go all out with special services, songs about Jesus’ birth, throw him a party on the 25th and condemn others who want to take Christ out of Christmas.

Why is this funny? Because they want to perpetuate the lie that he was born on the 25th of December and they get offended believing Satan (the FATHER OF LIES) is attacking the holiday. They believe there is a war on Christmas. Yeah there’s a war alright! God is waging war. He never said to honor him with lies. His Son was not born on the sun god’s birthday. Why would anyone who worships the living God choose to honor our Lord and Savior in such a manner? Aren’t we to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth? How does one reconcile themselves to the fact that the whole Christmas season is a lie? To say “Jesus is the reason for the season” is actually a profane statement. True profanity at its finest.

It took a long time for me to let go of the lie of Christmas. There isn’t anything Christ-like in Christmas, no matter how many images of the baby Jesus are on greeting cards, gifts or in television shows. No matter how angry Christians ironically become over Jesus being taken out of the season, its still a lie, and a big one at that.

I know this subject is a bit controversial, but I love talking about controversial things…Christmas being one of them. I’m not sure if I’ve offended anyone, and that is never my intention, but I’m just giving my take on what the Christmas season means to me.

This year none of my children are with me on Christmas. Two are in NJ visiting relatives, one is home with her dog that has an ear infection and one needed to work today. I set up another Christmas date for all of us which is on the 28th this year. I like the idea of not giving in to Christmas dogma. Its very liberating for my children and for us. It means that relatives can have our kids for the holidays and we can make our own very special time together. It wasn’t always like that for me, but as I’ve grown up I’ve mellowed out a bit. As I bring this blog entry to a close, I’m so excited that in a few days all my kids will be together under one roof, joking, eating, enjoy each other and opening gifts.

Have a Merry X-Mas and a Happy New Year!



Is the whole world now turning towards North Korean economic policies?

Economic historian Martin Hutchinson below is once again pointing to awkward lessons from history

The death of Kim Jong-il, dictator of North Korea since 1994, has been met with near universal condemnation both of his human rights record and his approach to economics. Yet juche, the philosophy of self-reliance underpinning the North Korean economy since his father Kim Il-sung devised it, is far from dead. Instead, as hapless populist leaders search in the current recession for alternatives to the apparently failed 1990s “Washington consensus” version of capitalism, they are in many cases turning to versions of juche, horrible as its record has been in North Korea. Maybe Kim Il-sung, like Karl Marx before him, is destined to inspire millions of deluded followers a generation or more after his death.

The North Korean philosophy of juche was first propounded by Kim Il-sung in a December 28, 1955 speech “On eliminating Dogmatism and Formalism and establishing Juche in ideological work.” Kim urged party functionaries not to import ideas wholesale from the Soviet Union, but to establish North Korea as a revolutionary nation in its own right. The ideology was developed over the next decade, alongside the Kim family’s extreme personality cult, receiving an impetus from the Sino-Soviet split of 1960, and was elaborated in an April 1965 speech, in which it was held to entail political independence, economic self-sustenance and self-reliance in defense. Kim Jong-il elaborated the ideology further in his 1982 “On the juche idea” and added an “army first” policy to it in 1996.

Juche has been held responsible for many of North Korea’s follies, including its universally hostile and deceptive foreign policy and its wayward nuclear program, although many of the Kim regime’s most unpleasant features are common to totalitarian states throughout history. However juche’s economic side, the doctrine of extreme self-reliance, minimizing international trade, investment and contact at every level, is of most interest here.

Self-reliance showed its downside in North Korea in 1994-98, when the country’s GDP halved and its populace descended into famine. However its earlier record was better. As of 1968, fifteen years after the end of the Korean War, North Korea was considerably richer than South Korea. This was only peripherally a result of juche; North Korea had inherited the bulk of the pre-war Japanese industrial plant (little of which had been destroyed by the 1950-53 war) and received considerable help including subsidized energy imports as a member of the Sino-Soviet bloc. After 1970, the subsidies declined and the Japanese equipment wore out, so North Korea entered a period of stagnation.

However the great blow to the juche economy was the fall of the Soviet bloc and the exposure of North Korea to the full force of the international market. Whereas juche had worked reasonably well within a non-market-driven economic bloc containing a third of the world’s population and much of its natural resources, as an eccentric ideology in a world of blistering free trade it proved a disaster. Since 2000, the North Korean economy has subsisted on handouts from its now much richer neighbor to the south and by blackmailing the West through its nuclear program.

There are thus lessons to be drawn from the last fifty years of North Korean economic history. First, any attempt to be self-reliant requires an economic entity that is large enough to produce most of the goods it needs, even inefficiently. North Korea on its own, without the Soviet bloc as friendly neighbors, manifestly fails on this criterion.

Second, and less obviously, juche works better in a world in which it is not particularly outlandish, in which free flow of goods and services is blocked by relatively high tariffs, and in which many other countries are practicing similar policies. In the 1950s and 1960s Britain and much of Europe had exchange controls and high tariffs both internal and external, China was an inward-looking peasant economy and India and most of Latin America were practicing policies of crude import substitution that were to hobble their economies for decades thereafter. The Soviet bloc, above all, devoted much of its output to weaponry and disabled the price mechanism through central planning. Only the United States practiced something close to free trade and unrestricted international investment, while Japan initially and the remainder of east Asia later built their economies on their export prowess to U.S. and European markets, without any corresponding domestic opening.

In the 1990s, conversely, exchange controls were a thing of the past, as was the Soviet bloc. International trade was at record highs, and international investment was finally returning to its apogee of 1914. Even more disruptively, the advent of the Internet during the decade made international supply chains far easier to manage than they had ever been before, leading to a massive boom in emerging markets that is still with us. In such a world, North Korean economic methods that had worked adequately in a more restricted world fell apart completely. Juche was much more outrageously sub-optimal in 1998 than it had been in 1968; thus the collapse of the North Korean economy in the middle 1990s.

Juche is thus a completely discredited economic ideology – except that today you can see elements of juche creeping into economic policy all over the world. Mercosur, the trade bloc including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and soon Venezuela, has just agreed to choose 100 imports on which it will impose 35% tariffs. Brazil itself has imposed a 30% tariff surcharge on imported automobiles. All five Mercosur leaders are leftists, elected in a reaction to the previous policies of economic liberalization; their natural instinct is to protect their economies from what they see as destructive global competition. Then you have the “anti-dumping duties” imposed by the U.S. on Chinese tires and the countervailing duties imposed by China on imports of U.S. automobiles. In India, the impulse to free markets under Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998-2004) is long gone; the current government has hurriedly reversed a decision to open Indian retailing a fraction further to foreign investment.

Then you have the EU, not seen by most of its keenest supporters as a free trade zone – that’s a myth cooked up for the gullible British – but as a closed system strong enough at last to repel the hated influence of the United States and Asia. The attempt to battle against market forces which correctly flag the Greek economy as hopelessly uncompetitive at current exchange rates is a classic of juche thinking. So too is the German energy subsidy system, now copied by other EU countries, which allows multiple state-favored energy inputs at non-market prices, while a certification system is used to exclude Chinese wind turbine manufacturers. Even in stock exchanges, now the leading edge of globalization, the Deutsche Boerse-NYSE deal is being stymied by regulatory opposition at the European end, while having been let through by the U.S. authorities.

The current global flowering of juche is not surprising. In the Great Depression, not only did the United States raise its tariff barriers to inordinate levels by the Smoot Hawley absurdity, but even the normally free-trading Britain tried to produce a self-reliant Imperial market through the Ottawa Agreement of 1932. The result of the latter was a nice rebound of the British economy in the 1930s, but the gradual collapse of British manufacturing in sector after sector when it was exposed to the full rigors of international competition after World War II. It must not be forgotten that no Soviet era industrial behemoth fared so hopelessly in international competition as did the 1970s British Leyland. My father’s long standing ambition was to own a Jaguar; he achieved this ambition in 1973, poor man. British Leyland’s torture of an innocent customer by its abysmal quality control of that era will not be soon forgiven!

Thus you should not imagine for a second that Kim Il-sung’s juche ideology works in terms of providing long-term prosperity. Wherever it has been tried to any but the most minimal extent it has impoverished its people, as surely as it has in North Korea. In a world where the free market is working properly, like the global economy before 1914, or that of 1990-2008, only a lunatic would attempt it. However when the global economy suffers a prolonged setback, as in the 1930s or recently, a juche approach becomes increasingly attractive politically. What’s more, if the rest of the world is itself indulging in anti-competitive activities, or blocking the free movement of goods and capital, juche becomes less sub-optimal and can even work partially, for a time. Only when the system liberalizes once more does the extent of its failure become apparent.

Maybe we will soon lift out of the current global economic problems, and the world’s attempts to reproduce North Korean economic policies will be seen as a minor blip in a free market system. But there is an alternative possibility, in which the market-distorting policies themselves do enough economic damage that the global recession becomes indefinitely extended, and growth worldwide shudders to a halt or even reverses. Indeed the globalization process, producing as it does a shift in wealth from the West to emerging markets, could in a prolonged recession provide the seeds of its own downfall. Japan, the United States and western Europe, countries that still collectively retain much of the world’s economic clout but feel their economic welfare declining, could conceivably indulge in an orgy of juche-inspired policy self-destruction.

In that case Kim Il-sung, evil tyrant that he was, will have become the leading economic inspiration of the unhappy 21st century.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


27 December, 2011

A great speech by a real entrepreneur

And all in a delightful Irish accent


Whose Country Is It Anyway?

Pat Buchanan

Half a century ago, American children were schooled in Aesop's fables. Among the more famous of these were "The Fox and the Grapes" and "The Tortoise and the Hare."

Particularly appropriate this Christmas season, and every Christmas lately, is Aesop's fable of "The Dog in the Manger." The tale is about a dog who decides to take a nap in the manger. When the ox, who has worked all day, comes back to eat some straw, the dog barks loudly, threatens to bite him and drives him from his manger. The lesson the fable teaches is that it is malicious and wicked to deny a fellow creature what you yourself do not want and cannot even enjoy.

What brings the fable to mind is this year's crop of Christmas-haters, whose numbers have grown since the days when it was only the village atheist or the ACLU pest who sought to kill Christmas. The problem with these folks is not simply that they detest Christmas and what it represents, but that they must do their best, or worst, to ensure Christians do not enjoy the season and holy day they love.

As a Washington Times editorial relates, the number of anti-Christian bigots is growing, and their malevolence is out of the closet: "In Leesburg, Va., a Santa-suit-clad skeleton was nailed to a cross. ... In Santa Monica, atheists were granted 18 of 21 plots in a public park allotted for holiday displays and ... erected signs mocking religion. In the Wisconsin statehouse, a sign informs visitors, 'Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.' A video that has gone viral on YouTube shows denizens of Occupy D.C. spewing gratuitous hatred of a couple who dared to appropriate a small patch of McPherson Square to set up a living Nativity scene."

People who indulge in such conduct invariably claim to be champions of the First Amendment, exercising their right of free speech to maintain a separation of church and state. They are partly right. The First Amendment does protect what they are doing. But what they are doing is engaging in hate speech and anti-Christian bigotry. For what is the purpose of what they are about, if not to wound, offend, insult and mock fellow Americans celebrating the happiest day of their calendar year?

Consider what this day means to a believing Christian. It is a time and a day set aside to celebrate the nativity, the birth of Christ, whom Christians believe to be the Son of God and their Savior who gave his life on the cross to redeem mankind and open the gates of heaven.

Even if a man disbelieves this, why would he interfere with or deny his fellow countrymen, three in four of whom still profess to be Christians, their right to celebrate in public this joyous occasion?

This mockery and hatred of Christmas testifies not only to the character of those who engage in it, it says something as well about who is winning the culture war for the soul of America.

Not long ago, the Supreme Court (1892) and three U.S. presidents -- Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter -- all declared America to be a "Christian nation." They did not mean that any particular denomination had been declared America's national religion -- indeed, that was ruled out in the Constitution -- but that we were predominantly a Christian people.

And so we were born. Around 1790, America was 99 percent Protestant, 1 percent Catholic, with a few thousands Jews. The Irish immigration from 1845 to 1850 brought hundreds of thousands more Catholics to America. The Great Wave of immigration from 1890 to 1920 brought millions of Southern and Eastern Europeans, mostly Catholic and Jews. As late as 1990, 85 percent of all Americans described themselves as Christians.

And here one must pose a question. How did America's Christians allow themselves to be dispossessed of a country their fathers had built for them?

How did America come to be a nation where not only have all Christian prayers, pageants, holidays and holy days been purged from all government schools and public institutions, but secularism has taken over those schools, while Christians are mocked at Christmas in ways that would be declared hate crimes were it done to other religious faiths or ethnic minorities?

Was it a manifestation of tolerance and maturity, or pusillanimity, that Christians allowed themselves to be robbed of their inheritance to a point where Barack Obama could assert without contradiction that we Americans "do not consider ourselves to be a Christian nation"?

What are these Christmas-bashers, though still a nominal minority, saying to Christians with their mockery and ridicule of the celebration of the birth of Christ? "This isn't your country anymore. It is our country now." The question for Christians is a simple one: Do they have what it takes to take America back?



Feds' War on Religion

I am very disappointed by the dissolution of religious liberties in the U.S. military. Times have sadly and radically changed since my father served in World War II, since I served four years in the Air Force and since my two brothers, Wieland and Aaron, served in the Army in Vietnam. (My brother Wieland paid the ultimate price there in the line of duty.)

I thank God that I served in the Air Force during a time in which moral absolutes and a deep reverence for God pervaded culture, especially the military. No service member was ashamed or afraid to express his faith in God or his Christian beliefs. In fact, the very thought that service members would somehow have to protect or defend their Christian faith would have seemed ludicrous.

Remember that it was only a few short decades ago when a commander in chief spoke passionately about his Christian faith. President Ronald Reagan said this before the lighting of the national Christmas tree Dec. 16, 1982: "In this holiday season, we celebrate the birthday of one who, for almost 2,000 years, has been a greater influence on humankind than all the rulers, all the scholars, all the armies and all the navies that ever marched or sailed, all put together. ... It's also a holy day, the birthday of the Prince of Peace, a day when 'God so loved the world' that he sent us his only begotten son to assure forgiveness of our sins."

The First Amendment secures our total religious rights and liberties: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The American Civil Liberties Union and like-minded groups, such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation, are not preserving First Amendment rights; they are perverting the meaning of the establishment clause (which was to prevent the creation of a national church like the Church of England) and denying the free exercise clause (which preserves our right to worship as we want, privately and publicly). Both clauses were intended to safeguard religious liberty, not to circumscribe the practicing of religion. The Framers were seeking to guarantee a freedom of religion, not a freedom from it.

I respect all religions but adhere to one. I believe what Benjamin Rush -- a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a member of the presidential administrations of Adams, Jefferson and Madison -- wrote: "Such is my veneration for every religion that reveals the attributes of the Deity, or a future state of rewards and punishments, that I had rather see the opinions of Confucius or Mohammed inculcated upon our youth than see them grow up wholly devoid of a system of religious principles. But the religion I mean to recommend in this place is that of the New Testament."

Friends, now is not the time in the history of our republic to be sheepish about our patriotism or religious convictions, as so many of our leaders are. Now is the time to demonstrate with boldness in what and whom we believe. That is the type of leader and president that we need in America's future.

Whatever your religious persuasion, don't be ashamed of it. And don't hesitate to let others know where you stand, respectfully speaking. Freedom of speech and religious liberty are your First Amendment rights. This is America. And that's one of the things that still make us a great nation. In God we trust.



Time For a Healthy Change

It’s an iron law of economics: You can’t get something for nothing. And yet politicians love to promise to hand out benefits, but are often reluctant to pay for them. So something’s got to give.

As proof, look across the pond, to Great Britain’s “free” health care system. There, patients “are facing more pain and longer waits,” the Associated Press reports. “That’s because the National Health Service is being forced to trim 20 billion pounds ($31 billion) from its budget by 2015, as part of the most radical changes made since the system was founded more than 60 years ago.” And “free” health care is only going to get more expensive, for taxpayers and patients.

The British government plans to fire some 20,000 health care workers and close a large number of hospitals. Even so, health care analysts there say hospitals are making patients wait for care, in the hope that some will decide to pay for it themselves or die while waiting.

“At some point, we’ll have to look at what the boundaries are of what governments provide and what people will be paying for themselves,” Mark Pearson, head of health at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, told AP. “At the moment, countries aren’t ready to have that discussion yet, but that breaking point will come one day.”

Maybe it’s time to have exactly that conversation here in the U.S. Medicare would provide the ideal opportunity.

“Before concluding work for the year, Congress must tackle other major issues as well, including figuring out how to avert a scheduled deep cut in reimbursement rates paid to doctors under Medicare,” the Washington Post reported on Dec. 12.

But why? The deep cut is supposed to be a feature, not a bug. In an attempt to rein in Medicare spending, Congress created a payment formula that would supposedly have trimmed reimbursment payments to doctors every year since 2003.

Instead, lawmakers have chosen to override their own price controls. “Congress has voted repeatedly to temporarily extend or increase existing reimbursement rates through deficit spending,” Peter Suderman wrote in Reason magazine. “The temporary patches have substituted for permanent fixes because no one knows how to pay for a long-term fix. But by relying on a series of temporary patches, Congress has made it even more expensive to enact a long-term fix.”

Because lawmakers have voted to cancel the annually-scheduled cuts, physician reimbursement rates are set to plunge by almost 30 percent next year. That’s the cut that the Post notes Congress intends to avoid with the latest version of what’s now called “Doc fix” legislation. But, again: why change the policy every year at the last minute? All year long lawmakers pretend they intend to change Medicare, and they end up not only preserving it, but making it more expensive.

Here’s an idea. Instead of simply passing “Doc fix” year in and year out, let’s actually fix the problem by “bending the cost curve” and holding down Medicare expenses.

Earlier this year, Rep. Paul Ryan introduced a plan that would transform Medicare for anyone under the age of 54. When these people retired, they’d be given a voucher that would be used to buy private insurance.

It’s a solid idea. Retirees could pick and choose what plan would work best for them. They’d have a personal involvement in their health care, and in holding down costs. As for whether these retirees could actually handle the responsibility, remember that they’ve been buying and selling things: houses, cars, food, all their lives. They’ve raised children, held jobs, planned weddings, run businesses. They’re certainly capable of selecting a plan that provides for their health care needs.

These plans don’t exist yet, of course. But they’d spring up if people actually had Medicare vouchers to spend. And the price competition would hold costs down much more efficiently than Congress’ failed spending caps have.

The federal government can’t go on borrowing almost half of what it spends today from tomorrow’s taxpayers. We need to change course, before an iron law of economics crushes us the way it’s already crushing democracies in Europe.



State Legislatures Take on “Judicial Hellholes” that Undermine Business

Some state legislatures are taking a stand against abusive litigation practices that drive up costs for consumers and discourage business, according to a new report from the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF). Even as it identified “judicial hellholes” where judges apply the law against defendants in a manner that is considered unfair and unbalanced, ATRF called attention to “points of light” throughout the country where state lawmakers are taking a stand against runaway litigation practices.

“State legislatures enacted nearly 50 civil justice reforms in 2011,” the report says. “These included comprehensive tort reform packages in Wisconsin, Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina, and more targeted reforms in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, North and South Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.”

Some of these reforms include new measures that guard against the use of “junk science” in court and limiting liability to landowners in cases where those who are injured were trespassing. ATRF also highlighted encouraging court rulings in jurisdictions that are typically weighted against civil defendants.

Even so, the nation has a long way to go before abusive litigation practices are brought to heal as the report makes clear. The following areas have been identified as the top “judicial hellholes” for 2011: the states of California and West Virginia, along with local jurisdictions, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, South Florida, Madison and St. Claire Counties in Illinois, and New York City and Albany, New York.

Americans for Limited Government president Bill Wilson notes that, “job creation and investment in a state is often dictated by the litigation climate within that state. Simply put, those states which give the trial lawyers free rein to drum up nuisance law suits struggle to compete for business investment with those who have reasonable tort liability rules.”

Beyond the states and localities named as “judicial hellholes,” some other jurisdictions were named as being just on edge of falling off into the abyss.

Louisiana, for example, has been placed on the “hellhole watch list” as result of so-called “legacy lawsuits” that based on contamination allegations against well sites that are highly questionable in many cases.

“This is not the first time Louisiana has been called out on the national stage for its poor legal climate, and whether we like it or not, reputation matters,” Melissa Landry, executive director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW) said. “The perception of a state’s legal climate affects how companies do business, and where they decide to invest and create new, well-paying jobs.”

The legal climate also affects each state’s competitive posture, the report notes. Although Louisiana has enormous economic potential, it is at a competitive disadvantage against neighboring states of Mississippi and Texas, which less are burdened by the threats of specious, business killing litigation.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


26 December, 2011

Hate is a powerful motivator

And it drives Leftists on continually

They just don't know when to quit. Consumed with the singular task of re-electing Barack Obama, progressives across the country will use the holiday season to propagandize their conservative relatives and friends. White House elves are directing the re-education Christmas camp efforts.

On Tuesday, the Obama 2012 campaign released an instructional video titled "Home for the Holidays: Share Why You're Working to Re-elect President Obama." Instead of relaxing with loved ones, the president's monomaniacal campaign staff and volunteers provide "pointers" and "strategies" for converting their "stubborn" families.

Not coincidentally, the operatives at MoveOn.org -- funded by Obama donor George Soros -- spearheaded a similar holiday re-programming effort at Thanksgiving. Headlined, "Your Conservative Uncle," the group urged supporters (and e-mailed public school teachers across the country whether they approved of the message or not) to "correct" family members who watch Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh.

Hark, hear the talking points.

The slickly produced Obama video spotlights testimonials from exasperated young people speaking condescendingly of their Republican-voting fathers and grandmothers. Obama, says one, is the "politician of my generation." He's a "people's man," preaches another. Those who disagree are ignorant, "stuck in their ways" and "works in progress," the campaign drones complain.

"If the conversation at the dinner table turns to politics over the holidays," they advise, "don't just quickly change the subject. As you head home this weekend, think about how you'll steer the discussion to the progress we've made over the past three years -- from health care to ending the war in Iraq -- and why the people you're passing the mashed potatoes to should support President Obama in 2012."

If those people happen to be medical device makers hit by hidden Obamacare taxes or small business-owners still wondering why Big Labor cronies got regulatory waivers while they didn't, the mashed potatoes might rightly end up somewhere other than on guests' plates.

Team Obama and their acolytes mock conservative family members who won't sing from their hymnbook, but fail to address the commander in chief's own Boy in the Bubble syndrome. The video also whitewashes away mounting left-flank gripes -- like those of former White House cheerleader and Hollywood liberal activist Matt Damon, who this week challenged the president's, er, manhood.

"I've talked to a lot of people who worked for Obama at the grass-roots level," Damon told Elle Magazine. "One of them said to me: 'Never again. I will never be fooled again by a politician.' ... You know, a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done would have been, in the long run of the country, much better."

Just like their dear leader, the Obama pep-and-prep squad is convinced that the problem is their communication of White House policies instead of the costly, failed, corrupted policies themselves. If only Grandma would watch Obama's Osawatomie speech on YouTube one more time. If only Uncle George would just be quiet and absorb one more indignant lecture from his Occupy Wall Street-championing niece or nephew.

The left's single-minded holiday soldiers remind me of journalist Ambrose Bierce's famous diagnosis: "A bore is a person who talks when you wish him to listen." There's a time for political proselytizing. There's a place for ideological battles. And there's a moment when you should give it all a rest.

It's ridiculous to squander precious time with family and friends on partisan squabbles. Shouting over turkey about the payroll tax holiday? Turning the New Year's Eve Party into a Democratic evangelical service? Severing lifelong relationships over Kabuki Beltway brawls? My Christmas wish is for a collective deep breath and a dose of perspective before America hurtles into the 2012 presidential primaries and caucuses.

This is the time to celebrate the gift of life. I'll be counting my blessings, enjoying the company of loved ones regardless of their voting records and engaging in prayerful reflection. And when a liberal family member passes the mashed potatoes, I'll have only one thing to say: Would you mind passing the gravy, too? Thanks.



The Government Grinches That Stole Christmas

‘Tis the season for every media outlet, blog, or writer to put out a “Top List” of the year. Instead of the usual top hits or highlights of the year, it’s worth remembering why this was one of the roughest years for small business owners at the hands of our own government. Herein our own list of the Grinches that tried to replace holiday cheer with a goody bag of ill-considered, overly onerous rules and regulations and other assorted job killers this year.

NLRB Speedy Election Rule: Just in time for Christmas, the National Labor Relations Board this week published its final version of a rule that will intentionally speed up elections for employees deciding whether they want to join a union—so that employers don’t actually have time to comply with all the agency’s arcane laws and talk to their employees. The result will inevitably more people in a union who have no idea what it’s going to mean for their work lives, retirement security, and ability to advance based on their own merit.

And just to throw in its own version of gift wrapping, the same NLRB is attempting to push through a rule forcing 6 million workplaces to post “notices” that are little more than glossy advertisements for joining a union. Think Normal Rockwell shills for Teamsters.

EPA: Led by Administrator Lisa Jackson, the EPA has been on an aggressive regulation push this year with rewriting air quality codes and using sustainability as argument to leverage control over business. In Texas alone new EPA rules have cost the state thousands of jobs and have halted in some cases energy production which increases the cost of gasoline. Nationwide the cost of compliance with the new EPA regulations to businesses will be in the hundreds of billions.

The Dark Angel atop the tree—ObamaCare: While not enacted in this calendar year, the costs and hidden surprises of this job killing monstrosity continue to spring forth. Once fully functional there will be a sharp increase in layoffs for employers who cannot afford to keep up with the increased costs. The repeal of this legislation is at the top of many small business owners wish list.

Gibson Guitars Raided: The Little Drummer Boy had to be thankful that he did not meet the same fate as his buddies in the guitar business. The iconic American instrument company was raided by Feds who accused the company of selling “illegal wood” that it had legally obtained. The final sour note: the government basically acknowledged the company would have an easier time manufacturing its products overseas.

Uncertainty: As business owners, we have to be planners. Profits, losses, expenses, payroll, etc all need to be mapped out and predictable so that determinations can be made about whether to expand, to hire, or to sometimes even downsize.

One of the most harmful things this Administration has done for business and jobs is to create a environment of absolute uncertainty. What new costly regulations might add to our overhead? What new taxes or mandated benefits might make the new employees unaffordable? We just don’t know, and that’s a big problem. It’s a lot having to wonder every time you make a business decision whether you’ll shoot your eye out with that brand-new Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass and this thing which tells time built right in to the stock.

If our elected representatives wanted to ring in the new year with a serious resolution for enabling economic growth led by job creation, checking this list twice—and then undoing it—would be a great gift to all those looking for a happier holiday next year.



'Dysfunctional' government is a feature, not a bug

by Jeff Jacoby

YOU DON'T NEED ME to tell you that the chattering class is appalled by the partisan gridlock and political bickering that keeps Washington from dealing efficiently with the nation's problems. Last week Gallup measured Congress's job approval at 11 percent, a new low. Heading into Christmas week, you could hardly open a paper or turn on the radio without encountering a wave of dudgeon over the latest legislative squabble -- a standoff over extending a payroll tax cut that expires on Dec. 31. "Just when you thought the mess in Washington couldn't get any messier" was the way an exasperated Washington Post editorial began, while a columnist in The Examiner pronounced the wrangling on Capitol Hill "almost a parody of Washington dysfunction."

So what else is new? Last month it was the failure of the so-called Supercommittee to agree on a package of budget cuts that was said to epitomize the federal establishment's fecklessness. In the spring and summer it was the protracted fight over the federal debt ceiling and Standard & Poor's downgrade of US Treasury bonds. Before that there were the polarizing confrontations over stimulus spending, financial-industry regulation, and Barack Obama's massive health-care overhaul.

Two years ago Newsweek was lamenting that partisan politics had turned this nation into "America the Ungovernable." The liberal newsweekly was in a lather over the political forces conspiring "to prevent President Obama from running the country effectively," and was upset in particular because Massachusetts had just elected a Republican, Scott Brown, to the US Senate. That meant another vote for the GOP's "agenda of pure nihilism," Newsweek fumed, and more of the "political impotency that has come to define the United States in the 21st century."

These days liberals think rather better of Brown, who has positioned himself as the Senate's least conservative Republican and who issues statements condemning "gridlock and partisanship" as "disgusting." When Brown broke with House Republicans over the payroll-tax extension last week, Doris Kearns Goodwin sang his praises on MSNBC: "If there were more Scott Browns … then perhaps this partisanship would not be as dysfunctional as it is because he's able to cross party lines."

Of course "this partisanship" would also be less "dysfunctional" if more Democrats decided to cross party lines. It takes two political parties to bring Congress to a standstill, after all. Either one can always speed up the legislative process by yielding to the other.

But our democratic republic wasn't designed for speed or legislative efficiency. Alexander Hamilton: Impediments to legislative efficiency were built in to the constitutional system "to increase the chances . . . against the passing of bad laws through haste, inadvertence, or design."

The Framers of the Constitution never expected Congress to clear the decks for sweeping presidential action. They weren't troubled by fears that America would be rendered "ungovernable" by the ease with which new laws or major policy changes could be delayed or derailed. What the smart set bewails today as "gridlock" or "brinksmanship" or an "agenda of pure nihilism," the architects of the American system regarded as indispensable checks and balances. They knew how flawed human beings can be, and how ardently propelled by their passions and ideals.

That was why they regarded restraint -- not speed, not deference to presidents, not bipartisan cooperation, not administrative expertise, not popular opinion -- as the linchpin of their constitutional plan. "Impressions of the moment may sometimes hurry [Congress] into measures which itself on mature reflection would condemn," Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 73. They may not have envisioned Supercommittees, Gallup polls, or MSNBC. But they knew that presidents and lawmakers would always be under pressure to act too fast, do too much, decide too quickly.

So it was essential, Hamilton said, that hurdles and roadblocks be incorporated into the constitutional structure -- "to increase the chances in favor of the community against the passing of bad laws through haste, inadvertence, or design." True, that might sometimes hold up needed change. But "the injury which may possibly be done by defeating a few good laws will be amply compensated by the advantage of preventing … bad ones."

The system was meant to be frustrating, and frustrating many have found it. Just this year, North Carolina's governor suggested that congressional elections be "suspended" for two years, so lawmakers could act without fear of being rebuked at the polls. It would be "very tempting," President Obama mused in July, "to bypass Congress, and change the laws on my own."

Such frustration is understandable. It is also one of the safeguards of American liberty. Our constitutional republic has thrived for more than two centuries, but it might never have done so without the "gridlock" and "dysfunction" we love to hate.



The legacy of the "Dear Leader"

Kim was a man on his own mission - to enrich himself, maintain power at any price, and to crush anyone who stood in his way. He was, in short, his father's son. It is hard to overstate the level of oppression he exerted on the population of the Hermit Kingdom. The abuses in North Korea under his rule were among the most severe in the world in the last 20 years.

As pro bono counsel to Havel, Elie Wiesel and former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, I worked with the Committee on Human Rights in North Korea and produced two reports on the human rights and humanitarian situation in the country.

We concluded that North Korea was committing crimes against humanity against its own people. During its late 1990s famine, some one million people and perhaps many more died, and the population remains at constant risk of starvation with some 37 per cent of children chronically malnourished.

North Korea also operates a vast gulag system, with some 200,000 people imprisoned for real or imagined offences. These camps impose a brutal regimen on their populations, including forced labour, starvation-level rations, and widespread torture.

It is estimated more than 400,000 people have died in these camps in the past two decades.




SC: DoJ nixes voter ID law: "The Justice Department on Friday rejected South Carolina’s law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, saying it makes it harder for minorities to cast ballots. It was the first voter ID law to be refused by the federal agency in nearly 20 years. The Obama administration said South Carolina’s law didn’t meet the burden under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discriminatory practices preventing blacks from voting."

“Systemic risk” for profit: "It isn’t for poor, laboring Europeans that the continent’s 'public servants' sought to swell the state. Whatever their dishonest fustian about social and economic justice, the ruling class served not to attack Europe’s private sector banks, but to accommodate them. In Europe, economic centralization has witnessed big government grow in tandem with big business, which has goaded the development of a legal and regulatory regime that disqualifies small competitors."

No, Melissa, there isn’t a Santa Claus: "Reliance on bureaucrats is a necessary part of government, but hardly desirable. Bureaucrats are supposed to serve the public. Economic science points to agency problems in public bureaucracies. Bureaucrats, as agents of the public, should serve the public. Since neither elected officials nor ordinary citizens have strong incentives, let alone enough time, to monitor bureaucrats, these functionaries have leeway to pursue their own interests, at the expense of the general public. Bureaucrats have poor reputations for public service, and deservedly so."

Patria, parenti, amici: "There is one obvious difference between nationalism and familial favoritism. Familial favoritism is a deep and ineradicable part of the human psyche, thanks to many millions of years of evolution. Nationalism -- and expansive tribal identities more generally -- pretends to be equally fundamental, but it's largely cheap talk. People happily give tons of free stuff to their children. But you need coercion to make people surrender more than a pittance to their 'fellow citizens"

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


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


25 December, 2011

A magnificent Christmas occasion

Four of us got to the sung Eucharist at St. John's cathedral in good time this morning. We arrived early so got good seats. It was a great celebration.

The opening hymn was that great hymn of faith: "O come all ye faithful". With a mighty organ located high up near the stone-vaulted ceiling and a big congregation lustily singing, the performance was as impressive a beginning to the service as one could wish. And the ecclesiatical procession with its various crosses, banners, vestments etc was so long that it lasted almost until the end of the hymn. Practically everyone associated with the cathedral must have been present and robed up.

Just about everything that could be done in an Anglican service was done, including a good bit of Anglican chant, which I rather like. It has a sort of eerie and timeless feel to it for me. I imagine that they did something similar in the temples of Isis and Osiris in ancient Egypt.

The censer was deployed energetically on several occasions, so much so that the transept was almost filled with smoke at one stage. Quite strangely however, I heard no bells during the service. "Bells and smells" normally go together

But we got to sing a lot of the great traditional hymns so that was the best part. Being an atheist, I don't participate in the prayers but I can't resist the hymns. They are a wonderful testimony to the faith that built Western civilization.




Is this the best Christmas message ever?

It may run slowly today because a lot of people will be accessing it, overloading the servers

It still reduces me to tears. When will we see the like of him again?


Scrooge: The First 1 Percenter

Ebenezer Scrooge did more good as a businessman than as an altruist

I have no idea whether Charles Dickens, if he were alive today, would have joined the Occupy Wall Street movement. Given the revulsion he expressed when America’s riff-raff had the temerity to become overly familiar on his two visits to this country, one may doubt his commitment to overthrowing society’s class structure. Despite this, he may still be considered among the movement’s intellectual forerunners. For it was he, in the person of his literary creation Ebenezer Scrooge, who gave the world a character who embodied all of the evil traits the Occupiers attribute to today’s 1 percent. In fact, Scrooge might, in many ways, be considered the literary patron saint of the Occupy movement. Who among them does not dream of a time when today’s 1 percent will find the same inspiration Scrooge did, and give away their riches to “more deserving” folk? Oh wait. The occupiers don’t want the rich to give their money away to the charities of their choice. They want the government to take the wealth of the rich and give it away according to the Occupiers’ desirers.

Either way, such actions are not really going to do much to improve the human condition. I contend that Scrooge, before he became “enlightened,” was already doing more to help his fellow man than any of the other main characters we meet in A Christmas Carol. Moreover, by giving away a substantial portion of his accumulated fortune, he drastically reduced his ability to do even more good in the world.

Scrooge was a “man of business” and evidently a shrewd and successful one. Although Dickens fails to tell us exactly what line of business Scrooge is in, a typical 19th-century “man of business” could be expected to involve himself in many endeavors — what investment advisers today refer to as diversifying one’s risk. One can infer from A Christmas Carol that Scrooge was a financier, who lent money to both businesses and individuals. He also spent long hours at the Exchange, probably speculating on commodities, buying and selling government debt, and purchasing and selling shares in various joint stock companies.

We can also infer some things about Scrooge that Dickens does not tell us directly. He left boarding school early, supposedly because his father had a change of heart toward him and wanted him home. A lack of finances may also have had something to do with it, as Scrooge’s formal education ended early and he was apprenticed as a low-level clerk to a tradesman — Mr. Fezziwig. From this low start, Scrooge exhibited a relentless drive that eventually made him rich. Along the way, his business had to survive the Napoleonic Wars, adapt to the Industrial Revolution, and fight its way through several severe economic depressions. In fact, in the year A Christmas Carol was written (1843), Britain was just coming out of a five-year economic slowdown in which only the most nimble and carefully managed enterprises survived. During Scrooge’s business life, upwards of 100 businesses failed for every one that succeeded. Scrooge must have been a very good businessman indeed.

There is no hint that, as Scrooge went about making his fortune, he was ever tainted with any scandal. He appears to be a well-respected, if not overly liked, member of the Exchange. This speaks well for his probity and recommends him as man with a reputation for fair and honest dealing with other businessmen. He probably drove a hard bargain, but that is the nature of business, and his firm’s survival as a going concern depended on it. As Scrooge is trying to keep his doors open in the midst of a great economic downturn, one should not be surprised that he is cutting firm expenses by reducing coal usage. Still, he is not being overly stingy by paying his clerk, Bob Cratchit, 15 shillings a week. According to British Historical Statistics, 15 shillings a week was about the average for a clerk at the time, and nearly double what a general laborer earned. While Cratchit may have to skimp to make ends meet, he is paid enough to own a house and provide for a rather large family. Cratchit is not rich, but by the standards of the time he is doing well. Besides, given the hard economic times, he is lucky to have any job at all. If Scrooge had not been careful with his money, his firm would have folded, and then where would Cratchit be? We may of course also infer something about Cratchit that goes unstated in Dickens’s work. His inability over perhaps two decades to advance himself or secure a better position with a more benevolent boss betrays a singular lack of ambition on his part.

Dickens doesn’t describe how Scrooge dressed. Scrooge must, however, have comported himself in a manner that was customary among those he did business with. And those petitioning him for alms had no problem discerning, from a single glance, that he was a man of some wealth. Still, Dickens tells us that Scrooge led a simple life (a simple dinner at the same restaurant every evening) and did not adorn himself with the trappings of wealth. From that we can deduce that every penny of profit was invested back into his business. And that was a very good thing.

Scrooge’s investments and lending were part of the great British capital engine that was financing the Industrial Revolution. If he was a typical “man of business,” he had recently invested capital in building railroads, establishing textile mills, building and running cargo vessels, and starting manufacturing plants. It is likely that he also was starting to invest some of his money in the United States, where British capital provided much of the early financing that helped make this nation an economic colossus.

Scrooge and his fellow “men of business” financed over 2,000 miles of railroad track in a decade. This track, in turn, greatly cut the cost of moving goods and people across Britain. In a twinkling the cost of moving coal to new industrial plants fell to rates that allowed factories to be built all over the country. This and other infrastructure improvements sparked a commercial revolution that within a generation would see a dramatic improvement in the conditions of the poor and middle class. Scrooge’s mills provided previously unimaginable amounts of cheap cloth that allowed even the poor to afford several outfits apiece. His cargo ships made Britain the richest trading nation on earth, and underpinned her unrivaled global power for a century.

More than anything else, Scrooge’s investments created jobs. A man with the wealth Dickens implies Scrooge possesses was probably making investments that employed many thousands of workers. History tells us that these “men of business” also reaped most of the rewards. They risked their capital in return for huge payoffs. These rich men of early-Victorian England were truly the 19th century’s 1 percent. Some of them did copy the nobility and squander fortunes on great mansions and unproductive land. But many, Scrooge included, took all or most of their gains and put them back into the economy. Scrooge was no miser who hoarded his money. Rather, he went every day to the Exchange to seek out new opportunities. His job — his passion — was finding places to invest. In doing so, he and others like him created a virtuous circle that not only increased their wealth, but also greatly benefited society.

There are few who doubt that the working conditions for the poor in this era were often horrid. These people were, however, leading lives far superior to those they had left behind on the farms. Otherwise, people would not have continued to leave the land in order to take their chances in the burgeoning cities. There was much that was cruel about early-Victorian society, such as children laboring under harsh conditions. Still, much of this was part of the great transition from an agricultural to an industrial society. Life was always harsh for the poor. It was only when industrialization began to make society as a whole richer that a majority of persons were able to start thinking about and caring for the more helpless among us.

It is this final result that should be laid at the feet of Scrooge. His investments began a period of growth and prosperity that, within a generation of when we assume he died, had doubled life expectancies, improved the lot of the poor, greatly increased the size of the middle class, paid for a military establishment that enforced the Pax Britannica, and propelled us into the modern age. Scrooge and the 1 percenters who followed him have enriched our lives to the point where our poor live better than medieval kings.

In the end, of course, Scrooge turned away from his previous ways, in favor of a life of altruism. If this is what makes him happy in his declining years, then he has every right to take this path. He earned the money, and he has every right to use it as he desires. Unfortunately for society, however, and particularly for the many thousands whose jobs Scrooge’s investments had underwritten, his transfer of funds to less productive causes undoubtedly cost them dearly.

But there is hope. With a bit of luck, a healed Tiny Tim, thanks to Scrooge’s generosity, will show more ambition than his father and learn the ways of business from his benefactor. Since Scrooge’s nephew demonstrates no real capacity for business, Tiny Tim might also find himself inheriting what remains of Scrooge’s fortune. If he is truly a good soul with a desire to help the greatest number of persons possible, Tiny Tim will take his inheritance and invest in the growth businesses of his era.



Santa's Not Pagan

Jonah Goldberg

As a non-Christian with a deep affection for Christmastime, I've always felt a little left out around this time of year, but not in the way you might think. I've always felt a bit out of place with the venerable conservative tradition of denouncing the "war on Christmas."

I should offer some background. When I was a kid, my parents cut out a jokey headline from a local newspaper that read "Santa Knows We're Jewish" and put it on a cardboard Christmas tree ornament. My father insisted I be raised Jewish. (I went to a Jewish day school and was duly bar mitzvahed.) My Episcopalian mother insisted we celebrate Christmas.

Ever since, I've always loved Christmastime, and it never occurred to me that when raising my own child we wouldn't have a Christmas tree. No Hanukkah bushes for the Goldbergs, please.

Anyway, this time of year conservatives bemoan the effort to scrub the public square of overt religiosity, specifically any suggestion that the big holiday we're all taking time off to celebrate is also a Christian holy day. I feel like a conservative Canadian living in America. I care a lot for a fight that's not really my own.

I think conservatives have the better of the argument, of course. Every year there are enough "war on Christmas" horror stories to lend validity to the complaints.

For instance, this year, the sage bureaucrats of Loudoun County, Va., had the brilliant idea of letting Santa be crucified outside their courthouse. And it wasn't even a jolly Saint Nick. It was a Halloween skeleton in a red Santa suit. It looked like a weird prop from a post-apocalyptic horror movie. "The zombies got Santa!"

Meanwhile, the Swedish branch of UNICEF put out a commercial depicting Santa as hard-hearted 1-percenter who scoffs at the idea of bringing presents to Third World kids. "Come on. I don't do poor countries."

And those are just the highlights. Incapable of getting around the inconvenient first six letters of the word "Christmas," more and more people have decided to duck the issue entirely. Increasing numbers of public schools insist on celebrating "winter solstice." Congress cannot send out "Christmas" cards. The governor of Rhode Island declared that the traditional Christmas tree would henceforth be christened -- whoops! I mean called -- a "holiday tree."

I have no grand solutions. I don't know how you could pass a law to fix any of this. Nor am I sure we would want to. This is a cultural problem, and the only way to fix it is to work it out in the culture. To that end, I have some small observations to mull alongside the eggnog.

While it's absolutely true that there are sincere and committed Christophobes and joyless atheistic boobs out there, one of the major culprits is capitalism itself. I like capitalism -- a lot. Heck, the best Christmas present I could get would be a Scrooge-like conversion on the part of the president after a visit from the Ghost from Socialism Past. But the downside of capitalism is that it will, eventually, encourage the commercialization of everything sacred. For instance, there's an online "dating" company dedicated entirely to facilitating adultery. It shouldn't surprise anyone that a holiday symbolized by a man who gives presents would be exploited. That doesn't mean we have to surrender to the trend, but we should recognize all of the trend's sources, not just the convenient ones.

On a different note, the supposed champions of making Christmas more "inclusive" should at least ponder the irony that they are being intolerant. If you take offense when someone says "Merry Christmas," you, quite simply, are the jerk.

And for the atheists who see "winter solstice" as some kind of victory, you might consider the fact that what you're doing is clearing the field not for glorious logic (which ain't so glorious Christmas morning -- socks are a logical gift), but a rank, petty and vastly more commercialized paganism that lacks anything like the intellectual and moral rigor of Christianity.

Intellectual defenders of a secular Christmas hammer the point that there are some vestigial Pagan frills to the Christian holiday, as if this proves something important. Indeed, in pop culture it's now a given that Santa's boss is "Mother Nature" (and his colleagues are the tooth fairy and the miser brothers). It's pretty odd that a Christian saint -- you know, Saint Nicholas -- doesn't answer to God, but to a pagan deity. And we all know paganism is such a font of tolerance. My hunch is that Santa goes right past the houses with "Santa Knows We're Pagans" signs.



Christianity May Be Eradicated in Iraq and Afghanistan, Says Chair of U.S. Religious Freedom Commission

Despite long-term U.S. military occupations aimed at establishing representative governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, Christianity now faces the real threat of eradication in those countries because of severe and persistent persecution of Christians there, according to the chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Similarly, despite the “Arab Spring” rebellion in Egypt earlier this year, the survival of Christianity is also threatened in that country because of the escalating persecution of Christians.

“We are looking at two different countries where the United States invaded, occupied, changed their governments in the last decade--Iraq and Afghanistan--where it’s possible Christianity might be eradicated in our lifetime?” CNSNews.com asked USCIRF Chairman Leonard Leo in a video interview.

“Yes,” said Leo, “and, unfortunately, that is sort of the pattern throughout the Middle Eastern region. The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year. It’s a very, very alarming situation.”

In Egypt, according to Leo, anti-Christian violence and discrimination may inspire a mass migration of that nation’s Coptic Christian population, thus achieving a strategic goal sought by radical Muslims.

“The radical Islamists would accomplish their goal, if they drove the Coptic Christians out of the country, absolutely,” Leo told CNSNews.com in an Online With Terry Jeffrey interview.

In its official report published earlier this year, USCRIF said that Christian leaders in Iraq were themselves warning of the end of Christianity in their country.

“Half or more of the pre-2003 Iraqi Christian community is believed to have left the country, with Christian leaders warning that the consequence of this flight may be the end of Christianity in Iraq,” USCIRF said in its annual report. “In 2003, there were thought to be 800,000 to 1.4 million Chaldean Catholics, Assyrian Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East members, Syriac Orthodox, Armenians (Catholic and Orthodox), Protestants, and Evangelicals in Iraq. Today, community leaders estimate the number of Christians to be around 500,000.”



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


24 December, 2011

What nut would blog on Christmas day?

I am that nut. I have the usual social engagements on Christmas eve and Christmas day but since 2002 I have always found time to put something up on this blog on Christmas day. So if family matters become heavy going, log on as an alternative activity. I will probably post to most of my other blogs as well.

Australia is in a time zone that is nearly a whole day earlier than some parts of America so in a few hours I will be heading off to a Christmas eve party with family and old friends.

If I can get up early enough, my Christmas day plans call for a visit to St. John's cathedral for the sung eucharist at 9:30 am. They do a good show there, including an ecclesiastical procession, but I can't remember whether they do "bells and smells" as well. My son has said he wants to go in order to introduce the arcana of the Church of England to his Korean girlfriend, even though all three of us are unbelievers. I took him there a few times when he was a kid and he enjoyed it. Both of us particularly like the Christmas hymns. And a great stone neo-Gothic cathedral is a remarkable environment. Definitely the best show in town on Christmas day.


A new depravity from Vienna

Vienna was where Hitler formed his antisemitic views

Freedom of speech no longer exists in Austria, as definitively proven by the Vienna high court. This week, a judge upheld the conviction against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff on the following charge: "denigration of religious beliefs of a legally recognized religion." In simplest terms, this means that Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff speaks the truth about Islam, and in Austria, as in other nations across the Western world currently transitioning to sharia (Islamic law), speaking the truth about Islam is not tolerated, and, more and more, is against the law.

What did my friend Elisabeth say that the Vienna high court ruled verboten? Elisabeth was convicted in February 2011 of "denigration" of Islam because in the course of a seminar she was teaching on Islam she stated that "Muhammad had a thing for little girls."

This statement is demonstrably true. According to an authoritative Islamic text (hadith), Muhammad married his wife Aisha when she was six years old. According to the same hadith, Muhammad engaged in sexual intercourse with his "wife" when she was nine. This, at the very least, constitutes "a thing" for little girls. It also constitutes child rape under Western law and Judeo-Christian-derived morality. In all too many Islamic societies where Mohammed's example is emulated, such child rape in "wedlock" is not a crime; indeed, it is permissible under sharia.

In fact, the court didn't contest this. In both Elisabeth's initial trial and her recent appeal, the factual basis of her statement didn't come under judicial attack. Elisabeth is right, and the court knows it. What the Vienna court has twice defined now as being outside the law of Austria is the negative opinion her remark conveyed regarding Muhammad's record of deviance from Western traditions forbidding sexual intercourse with children. (Brava, Elisabeth.) It is wrong, according to the Austrian court, to look down on sex with children if the alleged perp, centuries ago, was the Islamic prophet.

As Henrik Rader Clausen put it, live-blogging the proceedings for the blog Gates of Vienna, Elisabeth, in the court's eyes, expressed "an excess of opinion that can not be tolerated. It is a ridiculing that cannot be justified." Cannot be tolerated, cannot be justified by whom, by what? The answer is by Islamic law. It is literally against Islamic law to criticize or expose Islam or its prophet (Muhammad) in any adverse way. This prohibition against freedom of conscience is now part of Austrian law as well. That the verdict upheld against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff actually imperils the most innocent and vulnerable among us -- little girls whose molestation the courts have implicitly excused as a religious rite -- only underscores the depravity of the Vienna high court.

Where, exactly, does this leave all of the rest of us in that community of nations whose calendars, despite the press of Islamization, still culminate in Christmas? I offer in response a clarifying quotation that pegs our existential whereabouts exactly. It comes from Afshin Ellian, a Dutch columnist, law professor, and professor of citizenship, social cohesion and multiculturalism at the Leiden University, who in 1983 fled Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic Revolution in Iran.

In early 2010, Ellian, commenting on the trial of Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders for allegedly anti-Islamic statements, had this to say:

"If you cannot say that Islam is a backward religion and that Muhammad is a criminal, then you are living in an Islamic country, my friend, because there you also cannot say such things. I may say Christ was a fag and Mary was a whore, but apparently I should stay off of Muhammad."



The U.S. government’s unconstitutional restrictions on our freedom to travel

Steve Bierfeldt, director of development for Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, thought he was having a good day. At a regional Campaign for Liberty event in Missouri, Bierfeldt had sold thousands of dollars worth of conference tickets, bumper stickers, T-shirts, and books, and was now in the security line at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, waiting to catch a flight back to Washington, D.C. But the federal government had other ideas.

After discovering a metal box with more than $4,700 in cash and checks inside Bierfeldt’s luggage, officials from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) detained him for further screening. The TSA, you will recall, is the agency within the Department of Homeland Security that (according to its website) is tasked with protecting “the Nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.” Bierfeldt had an altogether different experience.

TSA agents interrogated him for more than a half hour with a series of intrusive questions: “Where do you work?” “What are you planning to do with the money?” “Where did you acquire the money?” Although he had nothing to hide, Bierfeldt valued his privacy enough to refuse to answer the questions. The officers told him he wouldn’t be able to move on if he continued to clam up. But Bierfeldt stuck to his guns, and was eventually, if grudgingly, allowed to catch his flight.

Consider the potential consequences of the TSA’s open-ended license to hassle travelers. If Bierfeldt had stayed huddled inside his home rather than risk the whims of armed interrogators, he would no longer be able to pursue his lawful employment. He would be less free to express his political views by advocating Campaign for Liberty’s values. The government in this way can eviscerate constitutional rights simply by burdening the travel of those whose ideas it disfavors.

The right to travel enables the free exercise of the other rights we most cherish. We should not have to check our constitutional freedoms at the curb simply because we decide to leave the house. Sadly, freedom of movement has been one of the most disparaged rights throughout human history, and our country is no exception. If we are ever to be truly free, then we must possess an absolute, uninhibited right to travel throughout America and the world free from interference by government.

The Freedom to Travel in American Law

Of all the inalienable rights we possess as individuals, none is as basic, fundamental, and natural as the freedom of movement and travel. As human beings, we enter this world bestowed with two legs and feet and the muscles needed to power them. Furthermore, we are given a brain and the undying yearning to discover, to know the unknown, to see what lies hidden beyond the horizon. Thus, a fundamental right of movement is inherent in our very humanity. It is altogether fitting that one of the universal symbols of freedom is a broken chain.

The freedom to travel is also central to the American national psyche. Our European ancestors settled here because they had the right to move freely from their homelands. The very history and trajectory of the United States are testament to man’s inherent right to movement and travel, from Lewis and Clark to Armstrong and Aldrin.

State restrictions on the right to travel connote that the government is the individual’s master, and not his servant. The right to own property includes being able to decide which individuals may enter upon our property, and under what circumstances. If the government usurps this ultimate right from property owners, or grants itself a monopoly over certain modes of travel, then clearly the rights of individuals extend only so far as the government, and no one else, wills them. Thus, circumvention of the right to travel is particularly antithetical to the Natural Law, and to the principle that the temporal is always subject to the immutable. Freedom subject to the government’s whim is no freedom at all. Liberty, at its core, is encompassed in the right of exit. As constitutional scholar Randy Barnett has noted, if one wishes to discover which nations offer the best protection of natural rights, one only need observe the directional flow of its refugees.

American courts have, at least in theory, declared the freedom to travel to be near absolute. The right to travel is so basic to our nature that the Founding Fathers did not believe it needed to be documented in the text of the Constitution. In Saenz v. Roe (1999), the Supreme Court stated, “We need not identify the source of [the right to travel] in the text of the Constitution. The right of free ingress and egress [to enter and leave] to and from neighboring states which was expressly mentioned in the text of the Articles of Confederation, may simply have been conceived from the beginning to be a necessary concomitant of the stronger Union the Constitution created.” In other words, the right to travel is simply implicit in the concept of freedom, and indeed in the Constitution itself.



Should it be Gingrich?

Thomas Sowell

If Newt Gingrich were being nominated for sainthood, many of us would vote very differently from the way we would vote if he were being nominated for a political office.
What the media call Gingrich's "baggage" concerns largely his personal life and the fact that he made a lot of money running a consulting firm after he left Congress. This kind of stuff makes lots of talking points that we will no doubt hear, again and again, over the next weeks and months.

But how much weight should we give to this stuff when we are talking about the future of a nation?

This is not just another election and Barack Obama is not just another president whose policies we may not like. With all of President Obama's broken promises, glib demagoguery and cynical political moves, one promise he has kept all too well. That was his boast on the eve of the 2008 election: "We are going to change the United States of America."

Many Americans are already saying that they can hardly recognize the country they grew up in. We have already started down the path that has led Western European nations to the brink of financial disaster.

Internationally, it is worse. A president who has pulled the rug out from under our allies, whether in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, tried to cozy up to our enemies, and has bowed low from the waist to foreign leaders certainly has not represented either the values or the interests of America. If he continues to do nothing that is likely to stop terrorist-sponsoring Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the consequences can be beyond our worst imagining.

Against this background, how much does Newt Gingrich's personal life matter, whether we accept his claim that he has now matured or his critics' claim that he has not? Nor should we sell the public short by saying that they are going to vote on the basis of tabloid stuff or media talking points, when the fate of this nation hangs in the balance.

Even back in the 19th century, when the scandal came out that Grover Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock -- and he publicly admitted it -- the voters nevertheless sent him to the White House, where he became one of the better presidents.

Do we wish we had another Ronald Reagan? We could certainly use one. But we have to play the hand we were dealt. And the Reagan card is not in the deck.

While the televised debates are what gave Newt Gingrich's candidacy a big boost, concrete accomplishments when in office are the real test. Gingrich engineered the first Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 40 years -- followed by the first balanced budget in 40 years. The media called it "the Clinton surplus" but all spending bills start in the House of Representatives, and Gingrich was Speaker of the House.

Speaker Gingrich also produced some long overdue welfare reforms, despite howls from liberals that the poor would be devastated. But nobody makes that claim any more.

Did Gingrich ruffle some feathers when he was Speaker of the House? Yes, enough for it to cost him that position. But he also showed that he could produce results.

In a world where we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available, the question is whether Newt Gingrich is better than Barack Obama -- and better than Mitt Romney.

Romney is a smooth talker, but what did he actually accomplish as governor of Massachusetts, compared to what Gingrich accomplished as Speaker of the House? When you don't accomplish much, you don't ruffle many feathers. But is that what we want?

Can you name one important positive thing that Romney accomplished as governor of Massachusetts? Can anyone? Does a candidate who represents the bland leading the bland increase the chances of victory in November 2012? A lot of candidates like that have lost, from Thomas E. Dewey to John McCain.

Those who want to concentrate on the baggage in Newt Gingrich's past, rather than on the nation's future, should remember what Winston Churchill said: "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." If that means a second term for Barack Obama, then it means lost big time.



French Muslim jailed for punching nurse who tried to remove wife's burqa during childbirth

A Muslim man who punched a nurse for trying to remove his wife's burqa during childbirth has been jailed in France.

Nassim Mimoune, 24, had already been expelled from the delivery room for branding the midwife a 'rapist' as she carried out an intimate examination of his wife.

Then through a window he spotted the nurse taking off his wife's burqa as she prepared to give birth. He smashed open the locked door and hit the woman in the face, demanding she replace the full Islamic face veil.

As his wife delivered a baby boy, Mimoune was ejected from the building by security men from the hospital in Marseille and arrested for assault.

A judge in the southern French port jailed Mimoune for six months on Wednesday, telling him: 'Your religious values are not superior to the laws of the republic.'



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


23 December, 2011

China trade: myths vs. reality

By Walter E. Williams

Republicans and Democrats, liberals as well as conservatives, have bought into anti-Chinese trade demagoguery. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested that tariffs against China are a "key part of our 'Make It in America' agenda." During his 2010 campaign, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called his tea party-backed Republican challenger, Sharron Angle, "a foreign worker's best friend." In a recent news conference, President Barack Obama gave his support to the anti-China campaign, declaring that China "has been very aggressive in gaming the trading system to its advantage," adding that "we can and should take action against countries that are keeping their currencies undervalued ... (and) that, above all, means China."

Republican 2012 presidential candidates have jumped on the anti-China bandwagon. Mitt Romney wrote: "If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, I will work to fundamentally alter our economic relationship with China. ... I will begin on Day One by designating China as the currency manipulator it is." Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., was even more challenging, saying, "I want to go to war with China."

Let's look at the magnitude of our trade with China. An excellent place to start is a recent publication (8/8/2011) by Galina Hale and Bart Hobijn, two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, titled "The U.S. Content of 'Made in China.'" One of the several questions they ask is: What is the fraction of U.S. consumer spending for goods made in China? Their data sources are the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Hale and Hobijn find that the vast majority of goods and services sold in the United States are produced here. In 2010, total imports were about 16 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, and of that, 2.5 percent came from China. A total of 88.5 percent of U.S. consumer spending is on items made in the United States, the bulk of which are domestically produced services -- such as medical care, housing, transportation, etc. -- which make up about two-thirds of spending. Chinese goods account for 2.7 percent of U.S. personal consumption expenditures, about one-quarter of the 11.5 percent foreign share. Chinese imported goods consist mainly of furniture and household equipment; other durables; and clothing and shoes. In the clothing and shoes category, 35.6 percent of U.S. consumer purchases in 2010 were items with the "Made in China" label.

Much of what China sells us has considerable "local content." Hale and Hobijn give the example of sneakers that might sell for $70. They point out that most of that price goes for transportation in the U.S., rent for the store where they are sold, profits for shareholders of the U.S. retailer, and marketing costs, which include the salaries, wages and benefits paid to the U.S. workers and managers responsible for getting sneakers to consumers. On average, 55 cents of every dollar spent on goods made in China goes for marketing services produced in the U.S.

Going hand in hand with today's trade demagoguery is talk about decline in U.S. manufacturing. For the year 2008, the Federal Reserve estimated that the value of U.S. manufacturing output was about $3.7 trillion. If the U.S. manufacturing sector were a separate economy -- with its own GDP -- it would be tied with Germany as the world's fourth-richest economy. Today's manufacturing worker is so productive that the value of his average output is $234,220, three times higher than it was in 1980 and twice as high as it was in 1990. That means more can be produced with fewer workers, resulting in a precipitous fall in manufacturing jobs, from 19.5 million jobs in 1979 to a little more than 10 million today.

The bottom line is that we Americans are allowing ourselves to be suckered into believing that China is the source of our unemployment problems when the true culprit is Congress and the White House.



Obama tactic failing

The more Obama pushes class warfare, the more people reject class warfare. That’s certainly not what I expected. It’s the counter-indicator effect. If he’s for it, the opposite will happen. Perhaps he should announce an Unemployment Plan instead of a Jobs Plan. It’s another one of those Obama paradoxes, like the Catch-2012. From Gallup:
Americans are now less likely to see U.S. society as divided into the “haves” and “have nots” than they were in 2008, returning to their views prior to that point. A clear majority, 58%, say they do not think of America in this way, after Americans were divided 49% to 49% in the summer of 2008….

If they had to choose, 58% of Americans would say they are in the “haves,” rather than the “have nots” group. This breakdown has held remarkably steady over the past two decades of economic boom and bust, with a record-high 67% of Americans putting themselves in the “haves” category during the strong economic times of the late 1990s.



Minister Told He Will Face Potential Arrest for Reading Christmas Story from the Bible at Capitol Christmas Tree

Rev. Patrick Mahoney to read the Christmas Story at the Capitol Tree on Thursday, December 22, at 12:00 P.M. The Capitol Christmas Tree is located on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol Building.

Rev. Mahoney met with Capitol Police officials telling them of his plans to sing Christmas Carols, read the Christmas story, pray for peace, justice and religious freedom, hold a small 5 inch Nativity Display and pray for political leaders at the Capitol Christmas Tree. Police officials told him some of his activities may be prohibited or constitute an illegal demonstration.

Rev. Mahoney contacted his attorney, Jim Henderson Senior Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, who in turn called the Office of General Counsel for the Capitol Police on Tuesday, December, 21.

After talking with the Assistant General Counsel for the Capitol Police, Mr. Henderson sent Rev. Mahoney this email:
"Your use of the Bible or the ornament (Nativity Scene) would convert your activity, in the view of the Capitol Police, into a prohibited demonstration. If you failed to discontinue that activity on police direction you would be risking ticketing or arrest."

Rev. Mahoney told Capitol Police officials he would still read the Christmas Story and hold the Nativity Display on Thursday even if it meant arrest or citation.

This threat of arrest for reading from the Bible comes in the wake of national news stories reporting that the Capitol Christmas Tree has no ornaments depicting the Christmas Story, The Nativity or Jesus.

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, states:
"It is hard to imagine that a minister, or any American, would face possible arrest or citation for reading the Christmas Story from the Bible or holding a Nativity Display in the palm of their hand in front of the Capitol Christmas Tree on the lawn of the United States Capitol Building. "Yet, this is what I am facing on Thursday at noon.

"Sadly, we are seeing a growing hostility toward public expressions of faith in the public square especially during the Christmas Season.

"We are now seeing that at the Capitol Christmas Tree where there are no ornaments of Christ or the Nativity and a minister is facing arrest for reading the Christmas Story from the Bible.

"I was told I could hold sheet music, an instrument or camera in my hand, but if I hold a Bible or small Nativity Scene that would be considered a 'prop' and cause me to face arrest or citation.

"I want to make to clear that every American should have the right to express their faith in the public square free from government intimidation or harassment.

"If that means spending time in jail for reading the Christmas Story from the Bible, then I consider that a small price price to pay."



Britain's main Leftist newspaper going broke

Guardian News & Media is to shrink the Guardian, axe its Film & Music supplement, and reduce its sport supplement to a two-days-a-week publication as it battles to stem pre-tax losses of more than £40m a year.

It will also reduce the number of pages in the Guardian’s flagship supplement G2, under wide-ranging changes to be introduced in January.

The media group, which also publishes the Observer newspaper, is briefing staff about the changes today and early next week. “As part of our digital first strategy, we have been looking in detail at how we produce our newspapers and website, and over the next few days we will be telling staff about our plans for a new, simplified production process,” a spokesman said.

“This will be introduced in January, along with some changes to the printed Monday to Friday Guardian. The changes to the paper take account of changing patterns of readership and advertising and are based on research with our readers.”

GNM will continue producing the Guardian’s sports supplement on Mondays and Saturdays, but every other day it will be folded into the main newspaper, which will itself have space squeezed due to a reduction in the number of pages. The Film & Music supplement will be replaced with a section in G2.

Last year GNM, which is propped up by the Scott Trust, went £43.8m into the red. The previous year the figure was £57.9m. The reduction in the Guardian’s activities is part of an effort to make £25m of savings over the next five years, which is also expected to include large-scale job losses.

The group is still seeking volunteers for redundancy but is expected to start the firing gun on compulsory redundancies in the new year, after too few volunteers came forward. Insiders say the company plans to cut around 100 jobs in total, although a Guardian spokeswoman said she did not recognise that figure.

GNM has cut more than 300 jobs in the last two financial years, reduced pagination and closed The Guardian's media, education and society supplements. It is also considering closing the £80m printing plant it opened just six years ago, leading to further job losses.

It has opened talks with Trinity Mirror, owner of the Daily Mirror, about shifting its Berliner printing presses to the red-top’s Watford plant.

At one point it considered abandoning its print products altogether, but Andrew Miller, chief executive of GNM’s parent company Guardian Media Group, has told staff it will continue to have a print presence “for the foreseeable future”.



Obama’s Middle Class Betrayal

Barack Obama literally can’t stop talking about the American middle class. During his unofficial 2012 campaign kickoff speech in Kansas earlier this month, he used the term “middle class” eighteen times as he derided those of us who still believe in free market principles like individual ingenuity and self-sufficiency.

“We simply cannot return to this brand of ‘you’re on your own’ economics if we’re serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country,” Obama said, passionately defending the doctrines of government dependence and class warfare that have been the hallmarks of his regime.

But beyond the not-so-thinly-disguised “us-against-us” rhetoric emanating from his teleprompter, what has Obama actually accomplished on behalf of the middle class?

Not much. Despite his administration’s unprecedented investment in the expansion of an already obscenely-big government, the middle class has wound up paying for – not benefiting from – Obama’s policies. In fact the numbers would indicate that Obama’s stated intention to “spread the wealth around” has actually produced a shrinking middle class – one with less income and more debt.

According to census data released earlier this month, a total of 97.3 million Americans are currently classified as low income. Meanwhile an additional 49.1 million Americans are currently living below the poverty line. Add those numbers together and you’ve got 146.4 million people – or 48 percent of the country – who are currently either poor or low income, an increase of 4 million people from 2009.

Within that total an estimated 44 million people – or 15 percent of the population – are currently receiving food stamps, a 69 percent increase from 2007. More than 50 million people – or 17 percent of the population – are currently on Medicaid, with Obama’s socialized medicine plan scheduled to add another 14 million to government health care rolls beginning in 2014.

Meanwhile an estimated 16 million people – or 15.6 percent of the nation’s available work force – are currently underemployed, while more than 6.2 million people have been out of work for longer than six months.

Want more evidence of the “great middle class betrayal?”

Despite a massive federal bailout of the housing industry, 10.7 million American mortgages were underwater as of September 2011 – meaning the debt on these properties exceeds their fair market value. Another 2.4 million borrowers had an equity stake of less than 5 percent in their homes.

Also, bear in mind that these dismal stats don’t include the nearly four million U.S. homes that have already been foreclosed on since the recession began in December 2007.

While Obama likes to blame his predecessor for the ongoing sluggishness of the economy, it’s important to remember that he wholeheartedly endorsed the interventionist policies championed by George W. Bush in response to the initial economic downtown. In fact he put Bush’s approach on steroids – dramatically upping the federal government’s Keynesian ante in an attempt to “stimulate” the economy.

Obviously even a cursory look at the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” revealed that the only thing it intended to “stimulate” was the growth of government – as evidenced by the fact that it created more than 30 new government programs and expanded more than 70 existing ones.

Not only that, Obama’s bailout effectively repealed America’s welfare reform laws – putting states back on the old “bounty system” that incentivized them to add names to the welfare rolls. And since then, Obama has successfully pushed for the perpetual extension of unemployment benefits – basically incentivizing workers to remain on their sofas instead of on the job site.

Who’s paying for this dramatic expansion of the dependency culture? You guessed it – the “middle class,” the very people Obama claims to be fighting for.




Portugal: Supreme Court denies US appeal for fugitive killer: "Portugal's Supreme Court has refused a request from the U.S. to extradite American fugitive George Wright, his lawyer said Thursday. Wright's lawyer Manuel Luis Ferreira said the court rejected an appeal by the U.S. against a lower court's decision that denied extradition a month ago."

France: National Assembly passes Armenian genocide censorship bill: "Turkey is fuming over French legislation that would criminalize any public denial of what the bill calls the Armenian genocide last century in Ottoman Turkey. 'We are reviewing our relations with France,' Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after the French National Assembly passed the so-called Armenian genocide bill. 'We will take our measures phase by phase depending on France's behavior from now on.'"


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


22 December, 2011

Debunking Myths about Gender and Mathematics Performance?

There is an amusing paper in the forthcoming JANUARY 2012 NOTICES OF THE AMS (American Mathematical Society) which purports to show that it is only oppression of women by society which causes females not to do well in mathematics.

The paper was of course zealous to rule out genetic differences but that does rather leave them without an explanation for Chinese excellence in mathematics. Regardless of the country in which they reside, Chinese tend to be prominent among leading mathematicians -- and China itself is a major centre of mathematical excellence. Yet China is still in many ways a very traditional society in which the very notion of gender equality would normally be scoffed at. The way they abort girl babies is surely enough evidence of that.

Anyway, the paper more or less assumes what it has to prove. In a rather self-contradictory way, the authors seem to assume that educational performance fully indexes innate ability. The paper draws its "evidence" not from IQ tests but from various international measures of educational attainment. And educational attainment is the product of many things other than IQ. Hard work anyone? Social pressures anyone? So I partially agree with the first line of their "Conclusions":
In summary, we conclude that gender equity and other sociocultural factors, not national income, school type, or religion per se, are the primary determinants of mathematics performance at all levels for both boys and girls

You note that they skate entirely over IQ.

They go on to argue that eliminating gender "inequities" is needed to lift female mathematical achievements. After decades of feminism and affirmative action it is hard to imagine how more might be done on that front in the USA other than by procrustean quota systems so the recommendation is as vacuous as it is irrelevant.

Women will always be up against their lower level of mathematical ability that IQ tests reveal so clearly. In recent years women have been pushed into mathematics to satisfy feminist dogma but few will rise to the heights.


Rabbit Raisers Defeat USDA, Won't Pay Any Fines!

This is a victory for all Americans and a warning about how hard-won such victories are under the vast bureaucracies that throttle America

Remember back in May when I reported disturbing news about John and Judy Dollarhite facing $4 million in USDA fines for selling too many bunnies? That news was followed by a dozen and a half posts about federal agents bullying the Nixa, Mo., couple as well as several others across the country - even magicians who pull rabbits out of hats! Well, there's finally some good news to report about this case.

On their Facebook page, USDA Bunny Tyranny of the Dollarhite Family, the Dollarhites announced victory Tuesday night:
"We have a signed settlement with USDA. It isn't everything we had hoped for because there wasn't an apology included for all the nightmares we have endured these several months. There is no fine. They stipulated a 2 year ban on obtaining a USDA license, which we never wanted, nor can I ever envision us wanting anything to do with USDA.

I take this as a sign that out-of-control government agencies can be brought under control when Americans band together to fight for what's right.

More here


Testing the waters of economic liberty

In 1927, seven years before the board game was created, Washington state decided to play monopoly. It gave a private interest the exclusive right to operate a ferry on 55-mile long Lake Chelan in the northern Cascade Mountains. The state apparently will defend this folly until Judgment Day, when state officials will get an earful from the Creator who -- we have Jefferson's word for this -- endowed everyone, including Jim and Cliff Courtney, with the rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The Courtney brothers' happiness would be enlarged if they could operate a competing ferry. But 84 years ago Washington state asserted a principle much favored by all of America's governments, the principle that it may parcel out certain economic liberties sparingly and only to those who can prove to government that their exercise of their liberty will satisfy some government-concocted criteria.

That principle lacks constitutional warrant and repudiates the nation's foundational philosophy. Hence the national importance of the Courtney brothers' litigation, which asks courts to correct judicial mistakes of 1873 and 1938.

The brothers live in Stehekin on the lake's northern tip and provide recreational services to people who manage to get there from Chelan on the lake's southeast end. But people can get to Stehekin only by plane or boat. And during the summer season, when the boat schedule is most convenient, the two boats operated by the state-conferred monopoly make only one trip a day in each direction, and both depart at the same time in the same direction.

But before the Courtney brothers can give travelers a better choice, they must receive from the state a "certificate of public convenience and necessity." The burden is on them to prove that the current monopolist's service is not "reasonable and adequate." At least four would-be competitors tried and failed to get such a certificate; the most recent attempt generated a 515-page transcript.

How did America reach the point where aspiring entrepreneurs, seeking to improve their lot by improving other people's choices, must approach government on bended knee to beg it to confer upon them a right -- the right to compete? How did America stray from its foundational principle that government exists to protect pre-existing rights, not to apportion such rights as it creates and chooses to bestow? Read on.

The Courtney brothers are represented by the Institute for Justice, which battles government infringements of individuals' liberties -- particularly economic liberties. In an 1873 decision, the Supreme Court (divided 5-4) defined Americans' "privileges or immunities" -- the 14th Amendment's language meaning rights -- narrowly. The court recognized only a few rights, mostly essential to national citizenship, and not including economic liberty.

In 1938, the court bowed to the progressive desire to empower government to allocate wealth and opportunity. The court decided -- without citing a supportive constitutional text, there being none -- that economic liberty should be assigned a status markedly inferior to that of "fundamental" liberties. This spurious dichotomy jettisoned America's natural rights tradition reflected in the Ninth Amendment's protection of unenumerated rights "retained by the people."

The Courtneys' litigation is a little lever that could move the entire nation back toward the Founders' vision. It will do so if it advances the presumption of liberty. This, says Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett, is the principle that the government must be required to justify its restrictions on liberty, rather than requiring citizens to prove that the liberty they wish to exercise is somehow "fundamental" and therefore not an optional gift from government.

The Courtneys deserve judicial engagement where judges actively judge in defense of economic liberty. This means active enforcement of the principle that neither Congress nor the states are entitled to determine the limits of their powers. The Constitution made this determination before the mistakes of 1873 and 1938.

Washington state's creation of the ferry monopoly is what governments have increasingly done since courts misconstrued the Constitution in a way that licenses governments to dispense particular economic favors by restricting general economic liberty. It is now routine for government to have transactions with rent-seekers -- private interests who want public power used to confer advantages on them, or disadvantages on competitors

This case from a remote region of Washington state explains much about a Washington 2,200 miles away. Start with a misbegotten constitutional principle that denigrates economic liberty as less than fundamental, and thus licenses government to ration such liberty. You end with the pandemic rent-seeking that defines the nation's capital.



Unemployment rate actually 11.04 percent

According to former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, employment needs to grow by at least 90,000 a month just to keep up with the growth of the population. But, since the fall of 2008, the civilian labor force has actually shrunk from 154.7 million to 153.8 million, a contraction of about 900,000.

It's not that fertility suddenly dropped or there was a massive plague. It should have grown by 3.24 million since then, but it didn't. Which means working age adults are simply not being counted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.

They are fudging the numbers. Adding the 900,000 contraction to the expected growth, the total civilian labor force should be 4.14 million larger than is being counted, at about 157.94 million by now. And the unemployed should be about that much more larger, since if they could be counted as working, BLS would most certainly be counting them.

So, the amount of unemployed should really be measured at about 17.443 million, instead of 13.303 million, or a rate of 11.04 percent instead of 8.6 percent. And the underemployed rate should be about 17.8 percent instead of 15.6 percent, with 28.145 million people looking for full-time work that cannot find it.



Butter-nomics: Protectionism and Food Shortages

Norway, a fully industrialized country and ranked first in the latest Human Development Index, a United Nations' metric that tries to quantify the quality of life across countries, is suffering through a butter shortage, a common food staple and an important input in the food industry. Food shortages wouldn't be out of place in places like Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and some poor Sub-Saharan nations; it is almost unfathomable that they occur in one of the most developed nations in the world.

Norwegian authorities seem puzzled by the shortage and subsequent rise in butter prices. They blame a new low-carb high-fat diet craze for the additional demand. Additionally, heavy rains during the summer affected grazing areas for cows, which resulted in reduced milk production. The shortage is especially alarming during the Christmas season, where many traditional recipes rely on significant amounts of the dairy product. Norwegians have actually resorted to churning their own butter, including a restaurant owner interviewed by The Wall Street Journal: "We have to [churn butter]. We can't get hold of any butter, not any at all. And it's right before Christmas, so we have a lot of customers. It's really strange. It takes a lot of time since we use hand mixers."

While the diet combined with unfavorable conditions for dairies has limited the amount of available domestic butter, it doesn't address the biggest issue for the limited quantities of the good: trade regulations.

Since Norway is not part of the European Union, imports from other nations are subject to tariffs and other protectionist restrictions. Butter tariffs in Norway equaled 25 kroner per kilo (about US$ 4.25), effectively eliminating any incentive to import butter from abroad. While the tariff was lowered to four kroner in December allowing Norway to import more than 750 tons of butter for consumers and 1,000 tons for industry, it will do little to solve the shortage, as it will take time for butter to become available to consumers.

The result: A black butter market. One seller on a Norwegian auction website offered 500 grams (1.1 pounds) of butter Tuesday for roughly 30 times the normal price. Two Swedes were arrested in Norway for smuggling around 550 pounds of butter into Norway. Danish and Swedish airports are selling butter at their free-duty shops. Swedish supermarkets are enticing Norwegian customers living near the border with free butter. In short, market forces and regulations have created some incredible situations in one of the wealthiest nations in the world.

The government response has been unsurprising. As Agricultural Minister Lars Peder Brekk said last week: "The market regulations are important to uphold long-term stability in the production of food in Norway." Unfortunately for the Norwegian government, only free trade creates stable markets. Complete dependence on domestic markets leaves Norway open to unexpected local calamities that could make prices volatile. Free trade distributes risk among many different countries, so an event in one country will have a smaller effect on availability and overall prices of goods. Finally, given the Norwegian government's record on butter and unwillingness to change policies, Norwegians might face shortages in other goods as well.



Some simple conservative truths

An anonymous sage asserted, "God, can't alter the past, but politicians can." It's amazing how the importance of faith in God can be written out of American history and how the Founding Fathers' treasured equal rights can be transformed into today's entitlement to equal results.

Benjamin Franklin warned, "Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship." We have so many leaks in our boat, many companies are rowing their lifeboats to a more welcoming shore! Wouldn't you love to have a budget that automatically goes up 8 percent every year no matter how much you made! If spending more than what you take in doesn't work in your home, what makes you think you can allow politicians to keep spending on your government credit card!

There's wisdom in this international proverb: "There's always free cheese in a mousetrap." Passing more and more programs to make life easier today when we don't have the funds to pay for them now or in the future is a deadly trap risking trading our treasured life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for national bankruptcy and economic chaos.

Bill Vaughan reminds us, "Money won't buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem." Whether we're funding studies on how long shrimp can run on a treadmill or whether Twitter can predict the stock market, isn't it funny how research costs expand to fill available federal budgets! Hey, let the shrimp pay for their own gym membership.

Herbert Hoover didn't know how prophetic he was when he said, "Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt." Don't you think there's something wrong with extending the payroll tax holiday to fund our "Black Friday" excesses while making future generations pay for our exploding national debt? Give to me now so others can pay later!

Will Rogers had fun with painful truths: "I remember back when a liberal was someone who was generous with his own money." When it costs you nothing to elect politicians who will take from your neighbor to do your "giving" to those in need, that's not caring--that's politically correct stealing.

Milton Friedman was another truth teller: "Congress can raise taxes because it can persuade a large number of the populace that somebody else will pay." Do you really think the "rich" don't pay their fair share when the top 5 percent of the wage earners pay more income taxes than the rest of the 95 percent of tax payers combined.

Phil Gramm made common sense fun: "Change welfare so that people riding in the wagon are not better off than people pulling the wagon." How long will hard -driving producers keep pulling the wagon when you take more and more of their earned rewards, make them pull more weight, and blame them for being the problem.

Robert Nudelman observed, "If you throw more birdseed on the ground, you'll get more pigeons." The more programs governments create and the more rewards they provide for failure, the more people become dependent on government. Washington doesn't just throw the seeds on the ground; they advertise where the seeds are!

Let's end with Harry Truman's admission, "If you can't convince them, confuse them." In the coming months, you'll hear how a failed stimulus plan actually worked, how raising taxes on the people who could start companies and create jobs is a good idea, and how giving President Obama four more years of his "hope and change" is better than returning to the founding principles that made America great. You can laugh or cry. Either way, vote for a return to sanity instead of European-style socialism.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


21 December, 2011

Feds' War on Religion

Chuck Norris

Anyone who knows me knows that for my whole life, I've been a huge supporter of our U.S. military personnel, whom I congratulate about their victory in Iraq. But when our president and officials in the U.S. Department of Defense exchange a war abroad for a religious war at home, can't we see that something else is seriously awry in this administration?

It's one thing to watch "merry Christmas" be omitted from signs in your favorite department store but quite another to see Bibles withheld from wounded warriors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. It's true! On Dec. 2, the Family Research Council reported that it had discovered a memo released in September at the esteemed military hospital, in which Navy officials announced that "no religious items (including Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit."

Thank God for those in the FRC, as well as Rep. Randy Forbes and other members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, who demanded to meet with officials at Walter Reed and in the Navy about the matter. Just a few days ago, Vice Adm. John Mateczun confessed that the memo had not been properly evaluated and was being rescinded, and Walter Reed posted a public apology on its website.

But imagine if the FRC had not found this memo. Imagine how many others like it aren't found and are circulated around the federal government.

If you think this is an isolated incident, consider the following dozen-plus examples reported in the past six months alone by the FRC and Rep. Forbes' office and a few of my own I found, which document how religious freedom and Christian liberty in particular have been limited, quarantined, omitted or outright obliterated.

--The Air Force Academy apologized for merely announcing Operation Christmas Child --a Christian-based charity and relief program designed to send holiday gifts to impoverished children around the world.

--Yet the Air Force is building an $80,000 Stonehenge-like worship site for "earth-based" religions, including "pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths."

--The Marine Corps considered tearing down a Camp Pendleton cross meant to honor fallen heroes.

--Air Force officials stripped religious curriculum from a 20-year-old course on "just war theory."

--The Department of Veterans Affairs censored references to God and Jesus during prayers at Houston National Cemetery.

--The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate passed the $662 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which included a repeal of Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which states: "Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy."

--The Department of Health and Human Services unveiled new health care rules that ignore basic conscience protections for medical workers with faith-based objections to abortion and contraception.

--Officials at HHS denied funding for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' successful program for sex trafficking victims because of the church's teaching on human life.

--Administration officials refused to intervene in the closing of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

--President Barack Obama has lobbied for the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would trample on the faith of employers in hiring, firing and promotion decisions.

--The Pentagon released new regulations that force chaplains to perform same-sex "weddings" despite their religious objections.

--Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demonized other countries' religious beliefs as an obstacle to radical homosexual rights.

--Just this past week, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation sent a letter to officials at Travis Air Force Base, demanding the removal or transfer of a Nativity scene and a menorah that are part of a larger holiday display on the base.

What is going on in the U.S. military? Why is it so difficult for the feds to understand the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, which says they "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"?

And how many of these restrictions of our religious liberties are direct results of President Obama's being in office? And if these occurred in just the past six months, imagine what would happen in another four years if Obama were to be re-elected. Our service members, as well as our devoted military Christian chaplains, deserve better.

Gone are the days when the commander in chief rallied the troops and nation with a religious presidential call as Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt did. FDR declared in his Christmas address to the nation Dec. 24, 1944 (the first Christmas after D-Day):

"Here, at home, we will celebrate this Christmas Day in our traditional American way because of its deep spiritual meaning to us; because the teachings of Christ are fundamental in our lives; and because we want our youngest generation to grow up knowing the significance of this tradition and the story of the coming of the immortal Prince of Peace and Good Will. ... We pray that with victory will come a new day of peace on earth, in which all the nations of the earth will join together for all time. That is the spirit of Christmas, the holy day. May that spirit live and grow throughout the world in all the years to come."



Why Thomas Friedman Abetted Anti-Semitism

Dennis Prager

After a lifetime of studying the left, I have concluded that leftism is a form of moral poison. It causes otherwise decent and kind people who take it into their systems to say and/or do cruel and sometimes evil things.

While not specifically about the left, a major new scholarly book, "Pathological Altruism" (Oxford University Press), explores this phenomenon of people wanting to do good things yet ending up doing bad. It applies to The New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman, who has a deep altruistic urge to bring peace to the Middle East. But because he sees the world through the liberal/left prism, he says morally reprehensible things -- statements that individuals associated with hate-filled, non-altruistic groups and ideologies would make.

In his Dec. 13 column, yet another of his attacks on Israel and its supporters, Friedman wrote: "The standing ovation (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) got in Congress this year was ... bought and paid for by the Israel lobby."

If a non-Jew had written this, he would have been severely condemned for writing something outright anti-Semitic. The notion that Jews manipulate the levers of power in Western societies for their own nefarious ends is probably the most enduring of all the West's Jew-hating myths. It was a staple of Nazi anti-Semitism and is the single most repeated charge of those in the Arab and larger Muslim worlds who seek to annihilate Israel, since its purpose is to convince people that non-Jews who support Israel have been paid off by Jews.

But Friedman, who is a Jew and a liberal, can get away with it -- even though it is so morally repulsive that Jew-haters can now assert they are merely quoting a well-known Jew. Who's going to call him on it? The New York Times?

To his credit, one congressman did condemn Friedman. Rep. Steven R. Rothman (D-N.J.) released this statement: "Thomas Friedman's defamation against the vast majority of Americans who support the Jewish State of Israel, in his New York Times opinion piece today, is scurrilous, destructive and harmful to Israel and her advocates in the U.S. Mr. Friedman is not only wrong, but he's aiding and abetting a dangerous narrative about the U.S.-Israel relationship and its American supporters.

"I gave Prime Minister Netanyahu a standing ovation, not because of any nefarious lobby, but because it is in America's vital national security interests to support the Jewish State of Israel, and it is right for Congress to give a warm welcome to the leader of such a dear and essential ally. Mr. Friedman owes us all an apology."

Friedman's charge, as Rothman points out, is not only "scurrilous, destructive and harmful" to Israel, but it is also a lie. The Congress of the United States -- including Republicans who have virtually no Jews in their district or state -- supports Israel for the same reasons Harry Truman recognized Israel against the advice of the U.S. State Department, Richard Nixon saved Israel during the 1973 War despite his anger at Jewish liberals, and Dick Cheney vigorously supported Israel despite Wyoming's having almost no Jewish population. They all believed that Israel shares America's moral values, while Israel's enemies (who happen to hate America as well as Israel) do not.

So how does Mr. Friedman, whom I assume is an honorable man and well-intentioned seeker of peace in the Middle East, write something that is equally mendacious and hateful, that abets anti-Semitism and that labels every pro-Israel congressman and senator a political whore?

Because he is a man of the left. When good people adopt the leftist worldview, they eventually support ideas and say things that are cruel. Thomas Friedman did not write this anti-Semitic libel because he is an anti-Semite. Of course he is not an anti-Semite. He wrote it because he is a leftist.

Leftism poisons everything it influences -- from journalism to the arts to universities to religion to government to male-female relations. And ultimately leftism poisons character. This does not mean that everyone with left-wing views becomes a bad person, and it doesn't mean that everyone with conservative views is a good person. Both judgments are untrue and foolish.

But it does mean that leftism leads to pathologic altruism, i.e., bad things done by people with pure intentions. Just as Mahatma Gandhi's hatred of violence led him to tell the Jews of Europe not to resist Hitler, so too has leftism led decent people who would weep at Israel's destruction to mouth the very same lies about Israel as those who seek its annihilation.



Should it be Gingrich?

Thomas Sowell

If Newt Gingrich were being nominated for sainthood, many of us would vote very differently from the way we would vote if he were being nominated for a political office.

What the media call Gingrich's "baggage" concerns largely his personal life and the fact that he made a lot of money running a consulting firm after he left Congress. This kind of stuff makes lots of talking points that we will no doubt hear, again and again, over the next weeks and months.

But how much weight should we give to this stuff when we are talking about the future of a nation?

This is not just another election and Barack Obama is not just another president whose policies we may not like. With all of President Obama's broken promises, glib demagoguery and cynical political moves, one promise he has kept all too well. That was his boast on the eve of the 2008 election: "We are going to change the United States of America."

Many Americans are already saying that they can hardly recognize the country they grew up in. We have already started down the path that has led Western European nations to the brink of financial disaster.

Internationally, it is worse. A president who has pulled the rug out from under our allies, whether in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, tried to cozy up to our enemies, and has bowed low from the waist to foreign leaders certainly has not represented either the values or the interests of America. If he continues to do nothing that is likely to stop terrorist-sponsoring Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the consequences can be beyond our worst imagining.

Against this background, how much does Newt Gingrich's personal life matter, whether we accept his claim that he has now matured or his critics' claim that he has not? Nor should we sell the public short by saying that they are going to vote on the basis of tabloid stuff or media talking points, when the fate of this nation hangs in the balance.

Even back in the 19th century, when the scandal came out that Grover Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock -- and he publicly admitted it -- the voters nevertheless sent him to the White House, where he became one of the better presidents.

Do we wish we had another Ronald Reagan? We could certainly use one. But we have to play the hand we were dealt. And the Reagan card is not in the deck.

While the televised debates are what gave Newt Gingrich's candidacy a big boost, concrete accomplishments when in office are the real test. Gingrich engineered the first Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 40 years -- followed by the first balanced budget in 40 years. The media called it "the Clinton surplus" but all spending bills start in the House of Representatives, and Gingrich was Speaker of the House.

Speaker Gingrich also produced some long overdue welfare reforms, despite howls from liberals that the poor would be devastated. But nobody makes that claim any more.

Did Gingrich ruffle some feathers when he was Speaker of the House? Yes, enough for it to cost him that position. But he also showed that he could produce results.

In a world where we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available, the question is whether Newt Gingrich is better than Barack Obama -- and better than Mitt Romney.

Romney is a smooth talker, but what did he actually accomplish as governor of Massachusetts, compared to what Gingrich accomplished as Speaker of the House? When you don't accomplish much, you don't ruffle many feathers. But is that what we want?

Can you name one important positive thing that Romney accomplished as governor of Massachusetts? Can anyone? Does a candidate who represents the bland leading the bland increase the chances of victory in November 2012? A lot of candidates like that have lost, from Thomas E. Dewey to John McCain.

Those who want to concentrate on the baggage in Newt Gingrich's past, rather than on the nation's future, should remember what Winston Churchill said: "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." If that means a second term for Barack Obama, then it means lost big time.




White House backs Biden on “Taliban isn’t US enemy”: "The White House on Monday defended Vice President Joe Biden for saying that the Taliban isn't an enemy of the United States despite the years spent fighting the militant Islamic group that gave a home to Al Qaeda and its leader Usama bin Laden while he plotted the Sept. 11 terror attacks. 'It's only regrettable when taken out of context,' White House spokesman Jay Carney said of the vice president's remarks in an interview published Monday."

The death of privacy: "There is an important case that will reach the Supreme Court early next year that also relates to how the advances in technology impact on our liberties. It involves the police use of GPS positioning devices in investigations. Currently, the police use the devices without a court order or any judicial oversight. ... For many, the sheer volume of information obtained constitutes an illegal search and is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, but the case is much more important than that."

Soaking the rich won’t grow the economy: "We tried soaking the rich in the past, but the resulting revenue loss was more than we possibly could afford today. Individual income tax rates of 20-91 percent under Eisenhower brought in only 7.7 percent of GDP. Lower tax rates of 14-70 percent from 1964 to 1981, thanks to President Kennedy, brought in 8 percent of GDP. A top tax of 28 percent from 1988 to 1990 brought in 8.1 percent of GDP. By contrast, raising the capital gains tax to 28 percent from 1987 to 1996 thwarted stock sales and clearly cost the Treasury a bundle. What was fairer about high tax rates that were not paid?"

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


20 December, 2011

An iconoclastic analysis of Europe's problems

By economic historian Martin Hutchinson

The 1957 Treaty of Rome bound the members of the EU’s forerunner to an “ever closer” union. Last week’s political developments and the previous disturbances in the market for Eurozone government bonds suggest that this aim may be a mirage, ever receding and never to be attained. Apart from considering Britain’s own position, it’s worth thinking about where the EU itself may end up.

Contrary to much euroskeptic opinion, the euro itself has not been a disaster. If the EU leadership had been wise enough to forbid Greece from entering the euro on false data (helpfully manipulated by the odious Goldman Sachs) it’s likely no “Eurozone crisis” would ever have occurred. Even had the leadership possessed the simple common sense to expel Greece from the euro in spring 2010, when it had become obvious that Greek public accounts were a tissue of lies and that the Greek people were paid about twice what they should be, it’s likely that no broader crisis would have occurred.

In reality, Ireland’s problem was one purely of obligations deriving from its banking crisis, now well on the way to being solved. Portugal and Spain had got in trouble because of years of dozy socialist governments, both now replaced. Only Italy presented a real problem, because of the debt accumulated in its sloppy socialist deficit years of 1970-96. However Italy until a month ago was competently if eccentrically run, by a government that had retained most of its popular standing, and without the atmosphere of Eurozone crisis brought about by the Greeks would probably have done just fine.

The EU authorities’ attempts to deal with the Eurozone crisis, and their proposed solution to it last week, demonstrates the real problem with EU governance. Far from examining a market-based solution to the crisis, they replaced not one but two democratically elected heads of government, in Greece and Italy. They then proposed a new treaty that, without proper legal basis (because it will not be signed by all 27 EU members) will impose another central bureaucracy on the unfortunate European people, taking yet more decision-making authority from anyone who has been elected by a democratic process.

The EU’s central problem is that its solution to everything is to impose an extra layer of government, generally unaccountable to the European people except in the most theoretical sense. It cannot be necessary to have two EU chiefs, neither of them properly elected: Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission and Herman van Rompuy, the President of the European Council. Similarly, the diplomatic bureaucracy set up by High Representative Cathy Ashton duplicates not only the existing bureaucracies of the 27 EU governments, but also an existing EU diplomatic corps.

The downside of this approach were set out in a paper last month, “Economic Performance and Government Size” by none other than the European Central Bank. This finds a statistically significant negative correlation between government size and economic growth. If governments are grouped according to their institutional quality, then the negative correlation between government size and economic growth is greater for governments of low quality. In other words, it does not matter too much whether Scandinavian governments, efficient and non-corrupt, are oversized, but government bloat matters a great deal in places like Italy, Greece and the Balkans.

The negative correlation between government size and economic growth correlates with some less sophisticated analysis I did a few years ago using OECD data, in which I found that slightly over half the variance between annual growth rates was explained by two factors: the size of government and its rate of growth – so that governments that were large and growing rapidly usually plunged their people into a pit of stagnation or even prolonged economic decline. Still, it’s nice to have my work confirmed by so august an institution as the ECB, especially as the ECB’s masters are themselves one of the world’s most intractable oversized bureaucracies.

We can draw two conclusions from the ECB research. First, the EU bureaucracy has especially bad institutional quality, compared to other governments. Its top officials are duplicated three or four times, it has almost no democratic accountability, and its decision-making is both corrupt and ideological, with very little attempt to serve the interests of its citizens. Hence the inexorable growth of EU government can be expected to have an especially large negative effect on European economic performance.

Second, and this is a more positive point, the belief of the EU leadership and most commentators in “stimulus” is cockeyed. The 2009 worldwide burst of government stimulus spending achieved almost nothing other than destabilizing the finances of many world governments; by enlarging government at the expense of the private sector it retarded rather than accelerated growth. Conversely the reversal of stimulus by fiscal tightening will be generally beneficial to economic growth, provided that tightening takes the form of reducing public expenditure. This is why the Irish fiscal tightening appears to be working, as is that in Portugal, while the fiscal tightening in Britain, which so far has taken the form mostly of tax increases, has had a detrimental effect. In Spain, the advent of a center-right government, together with presence of easy fiscal tightening targets in the spending excesses and costly environmental boondoggles of the previous government, should allow fiscal health to be restored fairly easily, given time and freedom from Brussels meddling.

Had Silvio Berlusconi been allowed to remain in power in Italy, fiscal tightening would also have taken the form primarily of reduction in public spending. Under the center-left career bureaucrat Mario Monti, it is taking the form primarily of tax surcharges on millionaires, both on income and on capital, Naturally, the principal effect of these will be capital flight and economic decline. That’s why apart from the hopeless Greece, Italy is now the country in most danger of default.

The bottom line on all this clear. Most of the peoples of Europe genuinely support the European ideal (this is less true in Britain.) However as Europe’s union has grown “ever closer” the Brussels bureaucracy has metastasized, duplicating its functions and becoming ever more Byzantine, corrupt and unaccountable. This in turn has put an ever growing burden on European economies, not simply from the cost of the bureaucrats themselves, but from the wasteful and economically counterproductive programs and regulations they devise. The EU public, asked to pay more and more in taxes to support a bureaucracy that is more and more corrupt and unaccountable and less and less in touch with their wishes, is nearing the point of open rebellion.

The new legislation, which will increase central bureaucratic control over budgets, taxation and fiscal policy and reduce still further the ability of European electorates to remove governments whose policies have failed or are contrary to their wishes, will cause unrest and dissension in most EU countries. Those with referendum provisions will attempt to circumvent those provisions, while those with parliamentary ratification procedures will find ratification of anything substantial very difficult, because of popular opposition. Already two governments, in Greece and Italy, have been removed by the EU bureaucracy and a third, the admirable Radi?ova government in Slovakia, has been destroyed by the need to fund the Greek bailout. That casualty list will be much longer before meaningful legislation providing for EU budgetary control is in place. Needless to say, it’s unlikely that markets will wait around for the snail-like pace of the EU legislative process, accompanied as it will be by successive government collapses throughout the EU.

In the months and years to come therefore, Britain, far from being isolated, may well find that the European Union, far from drawing “ever closer” is being pulled inexorably apart by the disconnect between an expansive bureaucratic Leviathan and the natural wishes of the European people to live in reasonable local autonomy, without excessive taxation and regulation. The EU was sold to its members as bringing prosperity, but in its current form it brings only economic decline. If we are lucky, Britain will find itself leading a pan-European movement to liberate the peoples of Europe from an EU bureaucracy grown monstrous. If we are not, the monster will win, and Europe will subside into a decline similar to that of the last years of the Soviet Union, with the magnificent economies of Germany and Scandinavia dragged down by endless cross-subsidization of a failure elsewhere that was not inevitable and by a bureaucratic monster whose appetite can never be assuaged.

For Britain, apart from encouraging fissiparous and anti-bureaucrat tendencies elsewhere in the EU, the main objective should be to tiptoe non-confrontationally towards membership of the European Economic Area (currently comprising Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and unofficially Switzerland). In such a status, Britain, while remaining in the Single European Market, would be bound by legislation over which it had no influence – but experience has surely by now shown that it has very little influence over EU legislation anyway. However EU control over British domestic institutions would be greatly lessened and the costs of membership reduced. Such a status would also give Britain flexibility. If the remaining countries of the EU succeeded in throwing off the Brussels bureaucracy, Britain would remain a member of an un-bureaucratic, low-cost Single Market. If on the other hand bureaucrat control tightened and the remaining EU become protectionist, impoverished and hostile, Britain could seek other relationships [NAFTA!] and would be not be dragged down by European failure.

The new EU treaty process, and the attempt to assert central fiscal control, has crystallized the position of both Britain and the EU as a whole. We should devoutly wish for its failure, and hope that both Britain and its EU friends and neighbors can gain greater freedom and prosperity thereby.



The profundity of Leftist ignorance

If Americans listen to Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, and once thing is clear--he is a man who is extraordinarily ignorant of basic economics, how jobs are created, and he abhors the free market. Reid has just reminded Americans just how little he knows (and baneful Reid has become) when, on Monday, Reid announced on the floor of the Senate that “Millionaire job creators are like unicorns,”, “They’re impossible to find, and they don’t exist.”

How silly! How delusional! How dunderheaded! How absolutely wrong!

Thousands upon thousands of jobs have been created by business owners across the United States and, while not all entrepreneurs are so fortunate, many become the "millionaires" that Harry Reid says he can't find. Having a great idea, forming a small business, working hard and watching it grow are, sadly, not part of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s knowledge base.

Reid simply doesn’t believe entrepreneurs exist. Worse yet, he goes out of his way to belittle and ridicule the very entrepreneurial spirit that has built America and made our nation so prosperous that he and his Democrat friends have ample opportunities to loot the wealth that others have created.

Reid's ignorance certainly explains why he and his fellow Democrats are so openly hostile to the business community and why they think only the government can create jobs. Yet, the real tragedy here is that Reid’s “unicorn” speech went largely unnoticed.

Small business owners create 3 out of every 4 jobs in this country. But, even after achieving success, the growth doesn't stop there. Business owners and entrepreneurs are responsible for helping others achieve business success through venture capital investing and Angel startup investing in thousands of small businesses across the country.

Ted Leonsis is a good example of a unicorn, a man who first worked and made millions (with AOL) then, re-invested those funds in new businesses (such as the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals sports franchises), then re-invested the fruits of those successes in countless small business technology startups, such as Groupon, Zipcar and Living Social. He created thousands of jobs in the process. Nor is Leonsis alone, for there are thousands of other unicorns just like him.

America is blessed with a vast network of , most of whom are wealthy people that are willing to provide an entrepreneur, the capital needed to help launch a business, build a product or service, and get it to market. Over 60,000 new businesses are launched each year in this way, creating millions of jobs in the process and serving as the engine to the American economy.

So why doesn't Harry Reid know this?

Why doesn't Harry Reid understand that what we are talking about is nothing other than the American dream?

It's a dream that has drawn countless millions to this country for centuries and is the reason why countless millions more desperately want to come to this country. It's a dream that with hard work, some tough days, weeks, months, maybe even years, with ingenuity and persistence, any good idea can become a business success.

True, this dream is not for everyone. Not everyone is willing to take risks. Not everyone is willing to sacrifice their time, their treasure, their youth to fulfilling the dream. Not everyone is willing to work fourteen hour days, seven days a week. Because, sometimes, that's what the dream takes. Nor is success guaranteed. And, there are many who try and fail. That's okay too, because the American Dream is simply the opportunity to try for the brass ring. No handouts. No guarantees. But still, Harry Reid thinks the American Dream is a myth.

So what does that tell you?

Yes, Harry Reid seems jaded and is willfully blind to the facts concerning small businesses, entrepreneurs and job creation. Reid is clearly ignorant of all the hundred of thousands of man hours that innovators and business owners have spent growing businesses that create the $14.5 trillion dollars of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for this country annually. And, it is the fruits of these "mythical" businesses that he, President Obama and others routinely shakedown for donations, and threaten, by passing arcane legislation, often in the middle of the night without much thought or debate, to make the job creator’s task even more difficult.

So what does that tell you?

First, that Americans should be concerned that someone so colossally ignorant and dangerous could rise so high in the Senate. Second, Reid's ridiculously obtuse statement shows that he is far more closely aligned with President Obama, and Democrat Marxist meanderings, because Obama doesn't believe in the American Dream either, and ridicules those who do.

Harry Reid believes that only government can create jobs and spur the economy. I know that he is wrong. And "yes, Virginia", you can thank your lucky stars that there are most certainly unicorns in America.




NE: Judge rules for railroad in drug dispute: "U.S. border officials exceeded their authority when they imposed multimillion-dollar fines against Union Pacific Corp. for failing to discover illegal drugs in railcars that crossed into the country from Mexico, a federal judge ruled Monday. U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon ordered the Department of Homeland Security to halt its fines against the Omaha-based railroad and stop seizing railroad equipment in drug smuggling that the company says was beyond its control."

Japan to buy US F-35 fighters for air force: "Japan's government on Tuesday selected the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter to bolster its aging air force, announcing it will buy a total of 42 aircraft under a multiyear deal. Japan has budgeted the cost of four fighters next fiscal year, which starts in April, said Noriyuki Shikata, deputy Cabinet secretary for public relations"

There is no virtue in compulsory government charity: "There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as 'caring' and 'sensitive' because he wants to expand the government’s charitable programs is merely saying that he’s willing to try to do good with other people’s money. Well, who isn’t? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he’ll do good with his own money -- if a gun is held to his head."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


19 December, 2011

A need for a new conservatism?

Some excerpts below from an article with which I disagree. There is a long history in conservative thought of respect for the individual and respect for individual liberty and that seems to me an ample foundation for opposing the Fascist instincts of Leftism and building a civil society. There has never been much of a conservative "philosophy" because none is needed. Cautious, humane and constructive instincts are all that is needed

The writer below also thinks that Leftists have a coherent guiding philosophy. He must not know much history. Fom Marx up until WWII, Leftists were enthusiastic antisemites, racists and eugenicists. Such views may still be in them deep down but it is far from what they now preach. Their only consistency is hunger for power over others

Modern conservatism grew up less as a return to first principles than as a reaction to the New Deal, the rise of Communism and an uneasy sense that a destructive social evolution was afoot driven by liberal intellectuals resident in increasingly powerful urban centers. Initially animated by fears over communist expansion, conservatism brought together free market economists, social traditionalists, state’s rights advocates, libertarians, anti-communists and others concerned that the original idea that was America was being lost in the headlong rush toward the implementation of the liberal schema through a vastly empowered federal government seeking control of the levers of American life.

It began to come into focus in the writings of William F. Buckley, Russell Kirk and several others as they gave voice to those whose inchoate discomfort was beginning to turn into a real fear for the loss of the American ideal. But it was mainly reaction characterized aptly by Buckley’s formulation that it was conservatism’s purpose is to stand “athwart history, yelling Stop”.

It is simply not enough to define a political project by what it is against. It must be distinguished by what it proposes. Otherwise, it is amorphous and rudderless; its effort ad hoc and issue driven to no particular end. Because conservatives defined their ideology primarily in opposition rather than in affirmation, they missed the opportunity to develop an affirmative program geared toward reaching a goal instead of one whose mission was to dismantle that of its great adversary. This matters because if conservatives are only reactionary, they do not propose an organized program aimed at establishing something. Conservatism must not merely be a revanchist project.

The Left moves relentlessly toward a defined goal while the Right, when it has the electoral opportunity, merely stops the rate of Progressive change. But it does not legislate toward a goal because it has not adequately defined one. It is not enough to say one wants “smaller government” or “lower taxes” or “less regulation”. That does not define what government conservatives want, only what they do not want. They must describe their theory of government as government that “is”, not government that “isn’t”. They need to define a political philosophy as an affirmative project that sets forth the basis for government; its legitimate functions, its purposes and its scope.



Government price fixing: health care edition

There's a very interesting recent paper which shows that the US health care system expensive as it is, is expensive because of government price fixing:
This raises the question of what exactly changed in the 1980s. Daeho Kim, a graduate student at Brown University, offers a provocative hypothesis in a new working paper. As Kim explains, a 1983 Medicare reform created the prospective payment system, or PPS, which offered fixed reimbursements for the use of a medical technology. If a physician decides to use bypass surgery as a cardiac treatment, she won’t be paid on the basis of what it cost her to perform the surgery. Instead, she’ll be paid the national average cost. This way, there is a strong incentive to beat the national average cost of performing bypass surgeries, thus lowering, in theory, systemwide costs.

But something quite different seems to have happened. A big part of the story is that providers can choose from a number of different cardiac treatments, some of which are more expensive than others. PPS encouraged them to focus on the treatments where the marginal cost — the cost of providing one more treatment, in this case — fell below the average cost, even if there are more cost-effective treatments available. Kim suggests that PPS may account for one of the most distinctive aspects of the U.S. health system — our extraordinary overreliance on costly treatments.

In short, the bureaucrats fixed the prices for a specific treatment but left the doctors and hospitals free to choose an expensive specific treatment over a cheap one. With the obvious effect that everyone now gets the most expensive possible treatment for whatever condition it is that they have.

Now one could argue that having the wise, those in government (it is to laugh again!), fixing the prices right this time would beat that problem. That is, in part, a bet that your average drone at the UK Department of Health is cleverer than your average drone at the US equivalent: good luck with that one.

But the real answer to that is that it isn't in fact possible to calculate, in the absence of a market, what is the correct price. For as Hayek pointed out, the whole thing is just too complex for that: the market is what we have to use to calculate the correct price. Thus it is impossible for the wise governors (titter) to ever get the price right: which is why we don't want them setting prices.

I'm perfectly happy for there to be government involvement in health care. I can see a valid place for social insurance, I'm entirely fine with tax-financed health care of some kind. But in order to get the right amount of the best of it we're going to have to let the idiocy of the interaction of the marketplace replace all those very clever people in offices setting the prices for us.



Obama’s NIH Stimulus Program: $390,000 Per Job ‘Created Or Saved’

The stimulus gave about $8.2 billion to the National Institutes of Health to be used for grants to universities and other research institutions.

The Government Accountability Office released a report today examining “the number of full-time equivalent (FTEs) jobs supported by NIH Recovery Act funds.” By June 2011, about 21,000 FTEs were supported by the funds. Divide $8.2 billion by 21,000, and that comes to about $390,000 per job.

And these figures don’t just reflect jobs created. They also include jobs that were “saved.”

The GAO also conducted a select sample of 50 grantees. Of those, only 29% said the funds “supported jobs that did not exist prior to receiving NIH funding.” 54% replied that the funds “supported jobs that existed prior to receiving NIH funding.” (The other 17% did not respond to that question.)

Those 50 grantees received about $911 million in stimulus funds and “created or saved” 2,365 jobs. Doing the division reveals that to be about $385,000 per job.

So, who says that the clean-energy sector is inefficient? As a prior Capital Hill analysis pointed out, the Obama Administration’s grants for green jobs came to only $135,294 per job!

On the other hand, the NIH’s heftier price tag might be worth it. So far, no Solyndra-like scandal has emerged from these grants. So far ...



Economics Reporter from New York Times Has Accidental Encounter with Reality, Learns Nothing

Earlier this year, I wrote about how the person Obama put in charge of Medicare made some very interesting observations about prices, competition, and markets, but then drew exactly the wrong conclusion about what was needed to solve the third-party payer problem in health care.

We now have another example of someone producing very good information and then failing to learn the obvious lesson. Catherine Rampell of the New York Times wrote about how politicians used to be much more willing to increases taxes.

She obviously wants readers to conclude that bad, mean, wicked Republicans are being too dogmatic because they won’t agree to big tax hikes. But the chart she prepared tells a completely different story. The only budget agreement that actually produced a balanced budget was the 1997 deal, and that deal contained tax cuts rather than tax increases!

But don’t believe me. Look at her chart.

I suppose I also should say that her chart is misleading because it accepts the dishonest Washington definition that a “spending cut” occurs any time politicians increase spending by less than previously planned.

And even if one uses that dishonest definition, the make-believe spending cuts usually evaporate very rapidly. The tax increases, unfortunately, are far more durable. And the net result is higher spending and oftentimes more red ink.

But even with those two big methodological shortcomings, her chart is a strong argument that tax increases don’t work.



Regulations FROM Dummies

Quick question: What is the most obvious thing keeping us from an economic recovery led by job creation? If you answered the increasingly burdensome mountain regulatory red tape from the government, you’d be in the heavy majority of the country who thinks that way as well. If you were to ask the current White House the same question, you’d get a completely different answer (and a list of excuses, blames, and finger pointing).

In a fantastic article this week in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Regulation for Dummies”, the Journal takes a look at the evidence of whether costly, job killing regulations have indeed increased during this Administration or not. (Hint: The answer is YES!)

This is not a shock or surprise to small business owners like myself or the millions of others around the country. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and historically have been where most job creation happens, when we are crushed by over regulation we can’t afford to expand or hire more people. To quote from the Journal:
The evidence is overwhelming that the Obama regulatory surge is one reason the current economic recovery has been so lackluster by historical standards. Rather than nurture an economy trying to rebuild confidence after a financial heart attack, the Administration pushed through its now-famous blitz of liberal policies on health care, financial services, energy, housing, education and student loans, telecom, labor relations, transportation and probably some other industries we've forgotten. Anyone who thinks this has only minimal impact on business has never been in business.

If you only listened to the President or his top staff give speeches or media interviews, you would walk away convinced that they all understand that you can’t have a serious jobs recovery when Big Government is in the way. But if you follow the news stories out of the NLRB, EPA, HHS, Commerce Dept. or any other part of the Administration, you would see job-crushing regulations emanating at a unprecedented pace. As the Journal eloquently puts it, “Mr. Obama can claim he is the progressive second coming of Teddy Roosevelt as he did in Kansas last week, or he can claim to be a regulatory minimalist, but not both. The facts show he's the former.”

The President can reference Teddy Roosevelt all he wants in his speeches, but to quote Teddy Roosevelt, “Actions speak louder than words.” If this Administration were serious about real jobs recovery and real economic growth, they would be acting to decrease regulations, cut spending, and offering small business friendly reforms.

Final question: Why does the Administration talk one way and act another? The answer is unfortunately bought and paid for by Big Labor. The President’s re-election hopes hinge on convincing the public he is in agreement with them on the problems, while satisfying the demands of Big Labor to keep their money coming in.



U.S. to leave Iraqi airspace clear for strategic Israeli route to Iran

The U.S. military’s fast-approaching Dec. 31 exit from Iraq, which has no way to defend its airspace, puts Israel in a better place strategically to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Iraq has yet to assemble a force of jet fighters, and since the shortest route for Israeli strike fighters to Iran is through Iraqi airspace, observers conclude that the U.S. exit makes the Jewish state’s mission planning a lot easier.

Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said the Iraqi military will maintain radars to monitor the country’s airspace, but it has not taken possession of American F-16s to guard that space.

“The country has a capable and improving capability to see the airspace, a viable system to provide command and control, but no system to defeat incoming air threats until it gets either the F-16s or ground-based systems or, optimally, some of both,” Gen. Buchanan told The Washington Times.

Iraq made the first payment in September for 18 F-16s that will not arrive until next fall at the earliest. This means Israel would have a theoretical window of about 12 months if it wants to fly over Iraq unimpeded by the Iraqi air force.

Retired Air ForceGen. Thomas McInerney, who advocates a U.S. strategic bombing raid to destroy Iran’s nuclear sites, agreed that Iraq’s open airspace would make it easier for an Israeli mission.

“Yes, it will be,” he said. “However, it will be much easier for Iranian forces to get to Israel through Iraq via land and air.”

Gen. McInerney said he thinks there is a good chance that Iran, stretched economically by Western sanctions and fearing threats from Israel, will launch a war against the Jewish state through Iraq.




Do we need big government?: "Federal-government spending now consumes roughly a quarter of all the goods and services produced in this country over the course of a year. Throw in state- and local-government spending, and it’s more than a third. And, according the Congressional Budget Office, unless there is a drastic change in our current policies, we are on course for government to consume nearly 60 percent of GDP by mid-century. And President Obama believes that government is still too small?"

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

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


18 December, 2011

Is Liberalism a Religion?

When people make statements that are completely at variance with reality and they continue to repeat them and you know they are not crazy, it’s only natural to wonder, what’s going on?

I’ve concluded that for some people on the left, political beliefs are like a false religion in which the parishioners become unable to distinguish myth from reality.

How else can you explain the statements of Donald Berwick, President Obama’s recess appointee to run Medicare and Medicaid, on his way out of office the other day? For starters, he claimed that the Affordable Care Act (what some people call ObamaCare) “is making health care a basic human right.” Then he went on to say that because of the new law, “we are a nation headed for justice, for fairness and justice in access to care.”

Now I can’t claim to have read everything in the 2,700-page law, but I can assure you that “making health care a right” just isn’t in there. Nor is there anything in the new law that makes the role of government more “just” or “fair.”

To the contrary, a lot of knowledgeable people (not just conservative critics) are predicting that access to care is going to be more difficult for our most vulnerable populations. That appears to have been the experience in Massachusetts, which Obama cites as the model for the new federal reforms. It’s not that Massachusetts tried and failed to expand access to care. It didn’t even try.

True enough, Massachusetts cut the number of uninsured in that state in half through Governor Romney’s health reform. But it didn’t create any new doctors. The state expanded the demand for care, but it did nothing to expand supply. More people than ever are trying to get care, but because there was no increase in medical services, it has become more difficult than ever to actually see a doctor.

And far from fair, the new federal health law will give some people health insurance subsidies that are as much as $20,000 more than the subsidies available to other people at the same level of income. In fact, the new system of health insurance subsidies is about as arbitrary as it can be.

Berwick isn’t alone in making bizarre statements about health reform. Right after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, administration health advisors Robert Kocher, Ezekiel Emanuel and Nancy-Ann DeParle announced that the new health reform law “guarantees access to health care for all Americans.”

In fact, nothing in the act guarantees access to care for any America, let alone all Americans. Far from it. Again, take Massachusetts as the precedent. The waiting time to see a new family practice doctor in Boston (63 days) is longer than in any other major U.S. city. In a sense, a new patient seeking care in Boston has less access to care than in just about every other U.S. city!

The disconnect between belief and reality is not unique to our country. With the enactment of the British National Health Service after World War II, the reformers claimed that they too had made health care a “right.” The same claim was made in Canada after that country established its “single-payer” Medicare scheme.

Yet in reality, neither country has made health care a right. They didn’t even come close. Neither British nor Canadian citizens have a right to any particular health care. A patient with a mysterious lump on her breast has no right to an MRI scan in either country. A cancer patient has no right to the latest cancer drug. A cardiac patient has no right to open heart surgery. They may get the care they need. Or they may not. Sadly, all too often they do not.

The British and the Canadians not only have no legally enforceable right to any particular type of care, they don’t even have a right to a place in line. For example, a patient who is 100th on the waiting list for heart surgery is not entitled to the 100th surgery. Other patients (including cash paying patients from the United States!) may jump the queue and get their surgery first.

Imagine a preacher, a priest or a rabbi who gets up in front of the congregation and gets a lot of things wrong. Say he misstates facts, distorts reality, or says other things you know are not true. Do you jump up from the pew and yell, “That’s a lie”? Of course not. But if those same misstatements were made by someone else during the work week you might well respond with considerable harshness. What’s the difference? I think there are two different thought processes that many people engage in. Let’s call them “Sunday morning” thinking and “Monday morning” thinking. We tolerate things on Sunday that we would never tolerate on Monday. And there is probably nothing wrong with that, unless people get their days mixed up.

In my professional career I have been to hundreds of health policy conferences, discussions, get-togethers, etc., where it seemed as though people were completely failing to connect with each other. One day it dawned on me that we were having two different conversations. Some people were engaged in Monday morning thinking, while everyone else was engaged in Sunday morning thinking.

Here’s the problem. Whether the beliefs are true or false, if people didn’t come to their religious convictions by means of reason, then reason isn’t going to convince them to change their minds.

This same principle applies to collectivism and health care. If people didn’t come to the false religion of collectivism by means of reason, you are not going to talk them out of it by means of reason. If you remember this principle, you will save yourself the agony of many, many pointless conversations.



GOP must stop apologizing

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident..." What truths? What has happened to our passion for liberty? I am concerned that we conservatives, instead of making our case as fearless champions of liberty, are too often on the defensive, preoccupied with trying to prove we aren't the demons the left says we are.

In the GOP primary contest, you'll hear one candidate scolding the others for lacking compassion, another demagoguing a rival for advocating essential entitlement reform, and another shaming an opponent for being too wealthy.

Shouldn't our side do a better job of proudly proclaiming our case for what we believe in rather than have our tails tucked between our legs, apologizing for conservatism and all too often neglecting our first principles?

Because we face an existential threat to the nation in our exploding discretionary and entitlement spending, we rightly aim our rhetoric against the deficits and the debt. That's critically important, but in the process, do we forget to explain that we favor smaller government also as a matter of principle? Do we make the case that we oppose a bigger and more intrusive government because a) it is incompatible with what we stand for -- robust political liberty -- and b) other than metastasizing and swallowing up the private sector and our individual liberties, government does only a few things well?

Likewise, do we connect the dots between our confiscatory tax policies and the diminution of our liberties, demonstrating a nexus between oppressive taxes and serfdom? Do we protest that we are already overtaxed and that an onerous tax system, enforced by a menacing federal agency, devours our political liberty?

To the contrary, instead of communicating our passion for liberty -- the bedrock principle upon which the nation was founded, lest we forget -- we spend too much time defending against the false charge that we are evil elitists protecting a tax structure that is tilted in favor of the wealthy. It's not.

We say we can't support tax cuts during tough economic times, but are we tacitly conceding that it will be just fine to tax ourselves further into oblivion once the economy turns around? How about saying, "We are taxed too much at every level, and our government's financial problems are a result of overspending, not of under-taxation, and they will be solved not by increasing liberty-choking taxes, but by cutting spending"?

We conservatives constantly complain -- and rightly so -- about the chilling effect overregulation has on the economy. But do we emphasize that this frightening explosion of power in mostly independent and largely unreviewable federal agencies represents a grave threat to our individual liberties?

Do we conservatives inspire the American people to reach for the sky, saying that a rising tide lifts all boats and that they should aspire to be the best they can be? Or do we spend too much time apologizing for inequitable distributions of the wealth?

Do we affirmatively champion the virtues of the free market and point out that greater liberty produces greater prosperity and greater prosperity means greater liberty?

When the left incites covetousness and greed by demonizing the "rich" and scoffing at capitalism's allegedly false promise that the prosperity will "trickle down," we should remind these socialists that a) it is absurd that we measure material prosperity based on how much more the other guy has instead of how much we have in absolute terms, b) a free market system, by definition, means some will do better than others, c) the idea isn't for meat scraps to trickle down from the more affluent in a zero-sum economy, but to expand the economic pie with more people producing and succeeding on their own, free of dependence on the government and retaining their dignity, d) our capitalistic system, undergirded by the Constitution and the rule of law, has produced the most prosperous society in world history, and e) the coercive command-control system they champion in the name of equalizing outcomes is antithetical to liberty and thus to America's founding principles and inevitably leads to less for everyone except for the ruling class and its cronies.

Have we gotten to the point that we can no longer preach the work ethic? Rugged individualism? Thrift? Individual responsibility?

Let's passionately attest that America is the only nation in the history of the world founded on a set of principles -- the most important of which is that we have God-given, inalienable rights centered in political liberty -- that the preservation of our liberty is not on autopilot, and that if we abandon our commitment to liberty, liberty will just as surely abandon us?



Obama EEOC Wipes Out Jobs By Making Hiring More Difficult

Obama appointees to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are killing jobs by making hiring decisions riskier and more costly. As I explain below, employers’ ability to hire based on merit has increasingly come under assault by the EEOC, as it has ordered employers to discard useful employment tests and put up with incompetent employees. It is not worthwhile setting up a business if all your sensible hiring decisions are second-guessed or vetoed by the EEOC.

When reporters write stories about the cost of regulations, they only focus on regulations found in formal codes. But most regulations aren’t formal rules, but rather agency interpretations of statutes. Typically, such agency interpretations expand the reach of a statute the agency administers, such as a statute that authorizes lawsuits by job-applicants, employees, tenants, or customers against businesses that allegedly violate the statute’s provisions. For example, the EEOC’s interpretations of anti-discrimination laws and disabilities-rights laws are not formal rules, as the Supreme Court has noted, but the courts often defer to the EEOC’s interpretations anyway. So the EEOC can dramatically increase the ability of employees, or the EEOC itself, to sue businesses under those laws, just by coming up with expansive interpretations of those laws (thus expanding its own power). The result is an increase in costly lawsuits that imposes economic burdens on employers, and discourages people from setting up small businesses or hiring new employees to work in existing businesses.

The EEOC has sued, and threatened to sue, employers who hire and fire based on merit. For example, a hotel chain was recently compelled to pay $132,500 for dismissing an autistic desk clerk who did not do his job properly, in order for it avoid a lawsuit by the EEOC that would have cost it much more than that to defend. “The EEOC says Comfort Suites dismissed the clerk when it should instead have accepted the services of a state-paid ‘job coach’ who might have ‘helped the clerk learn to master his job by using autism-specific training techniques.’” Based on a 1979 Supreme Court decision, it used to be thought that employers did not have to alter essential job requirements to accommodate the disabled, or incur more than modest expense, to comply with disabilities-rights laws; but the EEOC has progressively expanded the reach of the disabilities-rights laws since then, through ever-broader and more onerous agency interpretations of those statutes.

The EEOC has sued employers who sensibly refuse to hire as truckers people with a history of heavy drinking and alcoholism. It has done so even though if employers do hire alcoholics for such safety-sensitive positions, they will be sued under state tort laws when the alcoholic driver has an accident. The EEOC’s demand that such employers disregard histories of alcoholism is based on an extremely expansive, and dubious, interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The EEOC is suing employers over the use of criminal histories in hiring, and harassing employers who conduct criminal background checks, even though employers who hire criminals end up getting sued when those employees commit crimes while on the employer’s payroll. The EEOC’s demands thus place employers in an impossible dilemma where they can be sued no matter what they do.

The EEOC is also suing employers who don’t bend sensible workplace rules to accommodate the obese, claiming that obesity is a disability. And it is suing employers who take into account bad credit and financial histories in hiring, even though failure to take that into account can lead to lawsuits against banks and property managers by customers.

All of these burdensome mandates, and the threat of lawsuits, discourage people from setting up a business, just as regulations making it almost impossible to fire people in places like Portugal and Italy have contributed to those countries’ slow economic growth by discouraging the formation of new businesses and the hiring of additional employees. (Researchers like the RAND Institute have found that more employment-related regulation and litigation are associated with increased unemployment rates.)

The EEOC’s aggressive new stance reflects its new left-wing majority under the Obama administration, which has appointed anti-business extremists to the EEOC.

The Obama administration’s demand that businesses make risky hiring decisions reflects its general antipathy to business, which is discouraging job creation. A liberal Yale professor recounts being told by a businessman that he would not hire more employees despite having a “successful business” due to the current political and regulatory climate. “How can I hire new workers today, when I don’t know how much they will cost me tomorrow?,” asked the businessman, “referring not to wages, but to regulation: He has no way of telling what new rules will go into effect when. His business . . . operates on low margins. He can’t afford to take the chance of losing what little profit there is to the next round of regulatory changes. And so he’s hiring nobody until he has some certainty about cost.”

Boston business owner Terry Catchpole noted in The New York Times that economic uncertainty due to Obama administration policies has wiped out jobs at companies like his:

"Two years ago our executive communications company had 17 employees. Today it has seven . . . like many small businesses, we are dependent on big businesses as customers. And the big businesses that we would ordinarily depend on to become clients are sitting on their cash, because they are deathly afraid of an Obama administration that has been hostile to business . . . They have no idea where the administration’s next attack is coming from, and how much it is going to cost them to defend. So businesses do not spend money; they do not hire my company; and we cannot hire back those 10 good people we had to let go."

Democratic businessman Steve Wynn called Obama “the greatest wet blanket to business and progress and job creation in my lifetime,” saying that “the business community in this country is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the President of the United States. And until he’s gone, everybody’s going to be sitting on their thumbs.”

Obamacare’s burdens on employers may eventually wipe out as many as 800,000 jobs.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


17 December, 2011

De mortuis nil nisi bonum?

I am afraid I am going to disregard that bit of Roman wisdom. The recently deceased Christopher Hitchens has been rather eulogized in the press and elsewhere so I think the other side needs to be put.

His virulent outpouring of hate towards Christians deprives him of any right to respect in my view. If I were a Christian, I think I would see the hand of the Lord in moving him prematurely to his final destination.

Since I am an atheist, however, I note that his death from esophageal cancer was almost certainly the result of his lifelong heavy drinking and smoking. And if he had had the comfort of religion he might not have needed such props to his mood.

His brother Peter, who is very close to him in age and appearance, appears to have no particular health problems but Peter is a committed communicant of the Church of England

Peter also abandoned Leftism much sooner and more completely than Christopher. Chistopher moved towards conservatism on many issues in his later years but that inner fountain of Leftist hate never left him and he vented it on Christians. In my view atheism makes religion a matter of no concern but if you are a Leftist atheist, it seems to be grabbed as an opportunity for hate.

Despite their many differences, Peter has written a generous tribute to his brother here. I think it shows that Peter lacks the hate that drove his brother.


Should it be Newt?

His past policy positions render most conservatives unenthusiastic about Gingrich so I thought the following endorsement of him by Dick McDonald might be of interest

Let’s face it the 2012 presidential race is going to be brutal. The GOP candidate will have to be magician to overcome the resistance to massive benefit cuts in the 185 Federal welfare programs. As so many in America presently enjoy those benefits the prospect of losing them will be a major pocketbook issue. The Democrats and their pillow boys in the media will scare everyone silly with their billion-dollar ad campaign focused on “heartless” Republicans.

The GOP essentially has two potential presidential candidates - Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Both men are famously successful; Romney in the private sector as a venture capitalist and hedge fund manager at Bain Capital, savior of the Salt Lake Olympics and Governor of Massachusetts; Gingrich in the public sector as the leader of the Republican resurgence in 1994, welfare reformer, cost cutter and creator of surpluses.

The question the voters will have to answer is which man can beat Obama and then fix the economy. It is pointless to rehash their negatives – they both have too many. Therefore let’s concentrate on the two important issues.

Who Can Beat Obama?

As we are learning in the present GOP debates the people are really responding to both style and content. The people are desperately looking for the one who can be believed, presents evidence of past success in major governmental accomplishments and measures up to Obama’s level of oratory.

Although I believe Romney has improved in the debates I still find him stiff and defensive underneath his controlled demeanor. When push comes to shove I believe he would be a stiff Nixon type to Obama’s Kennedy. He doesn’t settle in for the fight and enjoy it like the historian Gingrich does. Edge to Gingrich.

Fix the Economy

Unfortunately for Romney he can’t hold a candle to Newt’s success in 1994-1988. Although he was working with a Democrat legislature and vetoed 500 bills Romney still ushered in the precursor to Obama care. Newt on the other hand was working against an immensely popular Democrat President. Romney’s popularity with moderates and independents bespeaks of a compromiser. He often speaks of sitting down with Democrats to save Social Security by extending the age of retirement and applying means testing. In my opinion the last thing the GOP needs is a compromiser to fix the economy. The problem is much bigger than one that can be reached by compromise.

Newt proved in 1994 to 1998 that he was the real deal. He was a gunslinger that faced down his opponents and did really big things – things like we face today. Many say this election is a seminal event in America. They fear that America will slide into a European nanny state unless we stop the Alinski, Cloward and Piven-train in its tracks. I agree that we have to stop it; if not now then soon. Edge to Gingrich

I believe Newt is the gun we should hire. His promise to follow up within four hours every whistle stop speech Obama makes with an opposition response until Obama agrees to Lincoln-Douglas type debates is priceless. Every time I hear Obama speak I want to go right through the TV set too. In this day of social networking this tactic will destroy Obama until he lays down on Newt’s operating table for dissection just like Douglas did for Lincoln.

The American people demand confrontation just like they do in sports. They want to see the players battle it out in front of them. The in-pocket media won’t be able to stop this tactic – they can’t cede this affair to the web.

I don’t think the final battle will go to the unsuccessful street organizer but to the historian. A historian who knows what is at stake. He will temper his demeanor, actions and proposals to create his own history of success. To do that he must make it our success first.

Via email


Congress Approves watered-down Defense Bill

The civil rights protections are a bit nebulous but they should provide a basis for appeal against any abuses. I have highlighted that part in red

Congress passed a massive $662 billion defense bill Thursday after months of wrangling over how to handle captured terrorist suspects without violating Americans' constitutional rights.

A last-minute compromise produced a truce but lawmakers said the fight's not over.

The Senate voted 86-13 for the measure and will send it to President Obama for his signature. The bill would authorize money for military personnel, weapons systems, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and national security programs in the Energy Department for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

Two provisions have created the most controversy.

One would require military custody for foreign terrorist suspects linked to Al-Qaeda or its affiliates and involved in plotting or attacking the United States. The suspects could be transferred to civilian custody for trial, and the president would have final say on determining how the transfer would occur. Under pressure from Obama and his national security team, lawmakers added language that says nothing in the bill may be "construed to affect the existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other domestic law enforcement agency with regard to a covered person, regardless whether such covered person is held in military custody."

The attorney general, in consultation with the defense secretary, would decide on whether to try the individual in federal court or by military tribunal. The president could waive the entire requirement based on national security.

The second provision would deny suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens seized within the nation's borders, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention. It reaffirms the post-Sept. 11 authorization for the use of military force that allows indefinite detention of enemy combatants.

The provision includes a Senate-passed compromise that says nothing in the legislation may be "construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States."

Conservative Republicans, Democrats and civil rights groups have warned that the provision would allow the government to hold U.S. citizens indefinitely.

"If these provisions deny American citizens their due process rights under a new, nebulous set of directives, it not only would make us less safe, but it will serve as an unprecedented threat to our constitutional liberties," said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she and several other lawmakers, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., would introduce legislation to ensure that no U.S. citizen is held indefinitely without trial.



Government Already Blocking Internet Access

By Robert Romano — Since being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, the so-called “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) has drawn strong opposition from Internet companies large and small, as well as civil libertarians and grassroots organizations. One of the major criticisms is that the legislation would give the government power to restrict access to websites that are deemed to be engaged in Internet piracy or other forms of copyright infringement.

But one thing that the American people may not be aware of is that the government, under existing forfeiture laws, is already blocking access to domestic websites in the name of protecting copyright. And in some cases they are being seized prior to any trial or even a hearing taking place.

That’s what happened to www.dajaz1.com, a popular music blog that was seized by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency for over a year, only to be returned just this month without any criminal charges being filed. ICE had to admit there was never any probable cause for the seizure in the first place.

And despite turning off the website for over a year, www.dajaz1.com has not received any compensation as a result, even though the Fifth Amendment provides for such payment.

The allegation apparently originated from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) itself, even though it turned out in the end that the allegedly infringing material had, the website says, been pre-released by music artists and record labels themselves.

Now, Congress wants to take this show on the road, and force search engines, social networks, file-sharing sites, and other Internet service providers to block access to sites overseas that it says would otherwise qualify for seizure under existing domestic forfeiture laws. Again, without any trial, a hearing, or even any notice.

In fact, the provisions of SOPA, even with the manager’s amendment, provide even less of an opportunity to challenge the decision than even the numerous domain seizures executed by ICE to date. They pivot off a mere court order without any hearing, and then result in a string of actions being taken, including blocking the website, targeting payment and ad services for the site, and removing the site from search engines.

Service providers are supposed to simply take the word of the Attorney General, and the judge who rubber-stamped the court order, that the material on the site is in fact infringing — even though it has not been proven in a court of law. Nor will it ever be proven in the case of foreign websites, since in most cases they will lack access to U.S. courts. The site overseas is simply supposed to take it in the shorts.

But, as in the case of www.dajaz1.com, what if the Attorney General gets it wrong?

The application of forfeiture laws to the seizure of Internet domain names is a fairly new practice, and was not intended under the original construction of the laws. It may not be the best first step to take.

For example, why not simply require a cease-and-desist takedown notice to the owner of a website from the intellectual property holder himself prior to civil or criminal actions being taken, or property being seized? In the case of social networks or any website that allows users to upload content, the owner of a website may not even be aware that infringing content is being posted.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) already provides safe harbor provisions for websites that provide easy takedown procedures. But even those are apparently being abused, as in the case of Megaupload, which posted a video on YouTube promoting its site, only to have Universal Media Group order it removed — even though Megaupload says the video, “The Mega Song,” the artwork, and the music contained therein were all original, and the celebrity endorsers all provided signed agreements to have their likenesses used.

Megaupload has now sued in federal district court in the Northern District of California to affirm its rights to the video and to restrain Universal from issuing any more takedown orders. For its part, Megaupload has joined the fight against SOPA.

Said Megaupload CEO David Robb, “After this demonstration of the abuse of power by UMG, we are certain that such an instrument of Internet censorship should not be put into the hands of corporations.”

If intellectual property holders are already abusing DMCA takedown procedures and federal forfeiture laws, what will stop them from abusing SOPA? Nobody likes Internet piracy, but censoring activities otherwise protected by the First Amendment in the name of copyright is a travesty.




CA: Chuck E. Cheese’s fined … for child-labor violations: "Nine Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurants -- known for their motto 'where a kid can be a kid' -- have been fined by the U.S. Department of Labor for allowing young workers to operate dangerous equipment, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Nine Bay Area branches were fined a total of $28,000 for violating federal child labor laws. The restaurants allowed minors to operate trash compactors and run dough-mixing machines, a breach of the Fair Labor Standards Act." [Note: These "children" are in their late teens, in order to be allowed to work there at all. It sounds more about union work-rules than protecting kids!]

Muslim grenade attack kills five, injures 119 in Belgium: "A grenade and gun attack in this eastern Belgian city [Liege] left five people dead, including the attacker, and 119 wounded Tuesday, authorities said. ... [Nordine] Amrani was on an elevated walkway above the square when he began throwing grenades down into the crowd and then firing, before shooting himself in the head with his revolver, the source said."

Engineer: Iran hijacked US drone: "Iran guided the CIA's 'lost' stealth drone to an intact landing inside hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone's systems inside Iran. ... Western military experts and a number of published papers on GPS spoofing indicate that the scenario described by the Iranian engineer is plausible."

France: Chirac convicted of corruption: "In a landmark decision, a French court convicted former president Jacques Chirac on Thursday of embezzling government money while he was mayor of Paris and handed him a two-year suspended sentence. The ruling against Chirac, at 79 a grandfatherly figure who is widely admired in the polls, stained a long record of political service that started under Charles de Gaulle and included two terms as president, from 1995 to 2007."

FDR’s noble lie: "Most historians when pressed on the matter now grudgingly concede that Roosevelt lied when he told the American people that he would never send their boys to fight into foreign wars, but they excuse his treachery as a 'noble lie,' a deception perpetrated against the public by the political elite to achieve a supposed greater good."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


16 December, 2011

Israel, Isaac and the Return of Human Sacrifice

Why have liberal Westerners turned their backs on the Jewish state?


As Iran races toward the bomb, many observers seem to think the greater threat is the possibility that Israel might act against its nuclear program. Which raises the question: What should it mean if, God forbid, militant Islam through force of arms, and with the supine permission of the West, succeeds in the destruction of the Jewish State?

1) That the Jewish People would no longer have their ancestral home;

2) That they should have no home.

At the Versailles Peace Conference, Woodrow Wilson stated as an evident moral proposition that each people should have the right to national self-determination. The West, thereafter, fought not for empire, nor national expansion, but in self-defense, or in defense of this proposition. But, for the Jewish State, the Liberal West puts the proposition aside.

Since its foundation Israel has turned the other cheek. Eric Hoffer wrote that Israel is the only country the world expects to act like Christians. Some Jews say that the Arabs have a better public relations apparatus. They do not need one. For the Liberal West does not need convincing. It is thrilled merely to accept an excuse to rescind what it regards as a colossal error.

The Liberal West has, for decades, indulged itself in an orgy of self-flagellation. We have enjoyed comfort and security, but these, in the absence of gratitude and patriotism, cause insecurity. This attempted cure for insecurity can be seen in protestations of our worthlessness, and the indictment of private property.

But no one in the affluent West and no one among the various protesters of various supposed injustices is prepared to act in accordance with his protestations. The opponent of "The Corporation" is still going to use the iPhone which permits him to mass with his like. The celebrities acting out at Occupy meetings will still invest their surplus capital, and the supposed champion of the dispossessed in the Levant will not only scoff at American Indian claims to land he has come to understand as his—he will lobby the City Council to have the homeless shelter built anywhere but on his block.

The brave preceptors who would like to end Poverty, War, Exploitation, Colonialism, Inequality and so on, stop at the proclamation. How may they synchronize their wise fervor with their inaction?

How may they still the resultant anxiety? The Left's answer is the oldest in the world: by appeal to The Gods. But how may The Gods be appeased? The immemorial answer is: By human sacrifice.

What is the essence of the Torah? It is not the Ten Commandments, these were known, and the practice of most aspired to by every civilization. Rabbi Lawrence Kushner teaches they are merely a Calling Card; to wit: "remember me . . . ?"

The essence of the Torah is the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac. The God of Hosts spoke to Abraham, as the various desert gods had spoken to the nomads for thousands of years: "If you wish me to relieve your anxiety, give me the most precious thing you have."

So God's call to Abraham was neither unusual nor, perhaps, unexpected. God had told Abraham to leave his people and his home, and go to the place which God would point out to him. And God told Abraham to take his son up the mountain and kill him, as humans had done for tens of thousands of years.

Now, however, for the first time in history, the narrative changed. The sacrifice, Isaac, spoke back. He asked his father, "Where is the Goat we are to sacrifice?" This was the voice of conscience, and Abraham's hand, as it descended with the knife, was stayed. This was the Birth of the West, and the birth of the West's burden, which is conscience.

Previously the anxiety and fear attendant upon all human life was understood as Fear of the Gods, and dealt with by propitiation, which is to say by sacrifice. Now, however, the human burden was not to give The Gods what one imagined, in one's fear, that they might want, but do, in conscience, those things one understood God to require.

In abandonment of the state of Israel, the West reverts to pagan sacrifice, once again, making a burnt offering not of that which one possesses, but of that which is another's. As Realpolitik, the Liberal West's anti-Semitism can be understood as like Chamberlain's offering of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, a sop thrown to terrorism. On the level of conscience, it is a renewal of the debate on human sacrifice.



The fifth horseman of the apocalypse

Spengler's gloom below stems from an assumption that present population trends will continue. He could be right. But such straight-line extrapolations are usually wrong

Population decline is the elephant in the world's living room. As a matter of arithmetic, we know that the social life of most developed countries will break down within two generations. Two out of three Italians and three of four Japanese will be elderly dependents by 2050. If present fertility rates hold, the number of Germans will fall by 98% over the next two centuries. No pension and health care system can support such an inverted population pyramid. Nor is the problem limited to the industrial nations. Fertility is falling at even faster rates - indeed, at rates never before registered anywhere - in the Muslim world. The world's population will fall by as much as a fifth between the middle and the end of the 21st century, by far the worst decline in human history.

The world faces a danger more terrible than the worst Green imaginings. The European environmentalist who wants to shrink the world's population to reduce carbon emissions will spend her declining years in misery, for there will not be enough Europeans alive a generation from now to pay for her pension and medical care. For the first time in world history, the birth rate of the whole developed world is well below replacement, and a significant part of it has passed the demographic point of no return.

But Islamic society is even more fragile. As Muslim fertility shrinks at a rate demographers have never seen before, it is converging on Europe's catastrophically low fertility as if in time-lapse photography. The average 30-year-old Iranian woman comes from a family of six children, but she will bear only one or two children during her lifetime. Turkey and Algeria are just behind Iran on the way down, and most of the other Muslim countries are catching up quickly. By the middle of this century, the belt of Muslim countries from Morocco to Iran will become as gray as depopulating Europe. The Islamic world will have the same proportion of dependent elderly as the industrial countries - but one-tenth the productivity. A time bomb that cannot be defused is ticking in the Muslim world.

Imminent population collapse makes radical Islam more dangerous, not less so. For in their despair, radical Muslims who can already taste the ruin of their culture believe that they have nothing to lose.

Conventional geopolitical theory, which is dominated by material factors such as territory, natural resources, and command of technology, does not address how peoples will behave under existential threat. Geopolitical models fail to resemble the real world in which we live, where the crucial issue is the willingness or unwillingness of a people inhabiting a given territory to bring a new generation into the world.

Population decline, the decisive issue of the 21st century, will cause violent upheavals in the world order. Countries facing fertility dearth, such as Iran, are responding with aggression. Nations confronting their own mortality may choose to go down in a blaze of glory. Conflicts may be prolonged beyond the point at which there is any rational hope of achieving strategic aims - until all who wish to fight to the death have taken the opportunity to do so.

Why do individuals, groups, and nations act irrationally, often at the risk of self-destruction? Part of the problem lies in our definition of rationality. Under normal circumstances we think it irrational for a middle-aged man to cash in his insurance policy and spend money as fast as possible. But if the person in question has a terminal illness and no heirs, we think it quite reasonable to spend it all quickly, like Otto Kringelein in Grand Hotel or his updated equivalent, Queen Latifah's character in The Last Holiday. And if we know that we shall presently die of rabies, what is to prevent us from biting everyone we dislike? Countries sometimes suffer the equivalent of terminal illness. What seems suicidal to Americans may appear rational to an existentially challenged people confronting its imminent mortality.

Self-immolation of endangered peoples is sadly common. Stone-age cultures often disintegrate upon contact with the outside world. Their culture breaks down, and suicides skyrocket. An Australian researcher writes about "suicide contagion or cluster deaths - the phenomenon of indigenous people, particularly men from the same community taking their own lives at an alarming rate". Canada's Aboriginal Health Foundation reports, "The overall suicide rate among First Nation communities is about twice that of the total Canadian population; the rate among Inuit is still higher - 6 to 11 times higher than the general population." Suicide is epidemic among Amazon tribes.

But are these dying remnants of primitive societies really so different from the rest of us? Mortality stalks most of the peoples of the world - not this year or next, but within the horizon of human reckoning. A good deal of the world seems to have lost the taste for life. Fertility has fallen so far in parts of the industrial world that languages such as Ukrainian and Estonian will be endangered within a century and German, Japanese, and Italian within two.

The repudiation of life among advanced countries living in prosperity and peace has no historical precedent, except perhaps in the anomie of Greece in its post-Alexandrian decline and Rome during the first centuries of the Common Era. But Greece fell to Rome, and Rome to the barbarians. In the past, nations that foresaw their own demise fell to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Plague, Famine, and Death. Riding point for the old quartet in today's more civilized world is a Fifth Horseman: loss of faith. Today's cultures are dying of apathy, not by the swords of their enemies.

The Arab suicide bomber is the spiritual cousin of the despondent aboriginal of the Amazon rain forest. And European apathy is the opposite side of the coin of Islamic extremism. Both apathetic Europeans and radical Muslims have lost their connection to the past and their confidence in the future. There is not a great deal of daylight between European resignation to cultural extinction at the hundred-year horizon, and the Islamist boast, "You love life, and we love death." Which brings us to Spengler's Universal Law #2: When the nations of the world see their demise not as a distant prospect over the horizon, but as a foreseeable outcome, they perish of despair. Like the terminally ill patient cashing in his insurance money, a culture that anticipates its own extinction has a different standard of rationality than does conventional political science.

Situations of this sort have arisen frequently in history, but never as frequently as today, when so many of the world's cultures are not expected to survive the next two centuries. A people facing cultural extinction may well choose war, if war offers even a slim chance of survival. That is just how radical Islamists view the predicament of traditional Muslim society in the face of modernity. The Islamists fear that if they fail, their religion and culture will disappear into the maelstrom of the modern world. Many of them rather would die fighting.



Class Consciousness Is Back

It's very rare for me to reproduce something from a Leftist source but what is said below is factual -- as all academic students of social class (of whom I am one) will attest.

The difference is that the writer below probably thinks something can be done about it. I do not. As Jesus said: "The poor ye always have with you". Most of the factors producing poverty are hereditary. From Bismarck and Disraeli on, however, conservatives have always supported some measures to alleviate the burdens of poverty

Class position affects everything: access to healthcare, education, where you live, careers, income, tax breaks, who you marry (and when), who fights and dies for our country, and on and on.

Multiple times and on multiple days, my local NPR station actually used the “c” word on the air. No, not that “c” word–it was “class.” Yes, that most unmentionable of topics: socio-economic class and how it determines the fate of millions of Americans.

Our vernacular obscures the country’s very real class divisions, with crippling–even lethal–consequences. The term “middle class” is used capaciously in the United States to include almost everyone, while the term “working class” is eschewed (it sounds way too Marxist). Even the “99%” signs and chants of Occupy protesters occlude the multiple and often stark divisions within that 99%.

Class position, of course, affects everything: access to healthcare, education, where you live, what restaurants you eat in, nutrition, careers, income, tax breaks, how much credit costs you, who you marry (and when), who fights and dies for our country, and on and on. But with our media’s national obsessions about gender, race and ethnicity, class may be the most under-covered feature of structural inequality in the country. In November, NPR-affiliate Michigan Radio aired an 11-part series called “Culture of Class,” which rolled back the stone, showing what lurks in America’s cave of inequities.

Let’s start with the legal system. “There, perhaps, is no moment in life when the difference in class is more apparent than when you are accused of a crime,” reporter Lester Graham notes in his piece on class and the courts. If you’re upper-middle class, or even truly middle class, you hire a lawyer, and the richer you are, the more choices you have.

But if you’re a low-income person and are assigned a public defender, you are especially screwed in Michigan: The state ranks 44th in public defense funding. The report also noted that in Detroit, five part-time public defenders handle caseloads up to seven times the national average for full-time public defenders; they get to spend an average of 32 minutes on each case. Graham then put a public face on these statistics: David Tucker, whose public defender was totally unprepared for court. The result? Tucker lost four years of his life in jail before his conviction was finally overturned.

In the Michigan Radio installment on military service, we were reminded (and we need to be) that we’ve been at war for the last decade. People sign up for the military, of course, out of patriotism, but many also do so because they can’t find work, especially in Michigan. And once they get out? The unemployment rate for veterans is just over 13 percent, and higher for post-9/11 vets.

We also like to think that debtor’s prison is a relic of the 19th century. Not so for the down and out. Let’s say you’ve become disabled, or lost your job, and owe child support that you can’t pay. A mother in Michigan who found herself in that situation was thrown in jail for 43 days until the Michigan Innocence Project and the ACLU got her out.

Exposés about racial segregation in housing, and especially about redlining­–banks refusing to lend money to residents of low-income, primarily African-American neighborhoods–made that practice illegal (although it still persists). But segregation based on class? Perfectly legal and widely practiced. It is low-income people who have to live next to odor and pollution-spewing factories, incinerators and garbage dumps, with the often-deadly health costs that accompany living near heavy industry. One woman living in southwest Detroit counted 17 neighbors who have died of cancer.

Indeed, the report noted that while racial segregation in housing is on the decline, between the rise of walled communities on one end of the spectrum and foreclosures on the other, class segregation is increasing. Another effect? As the series noted, “These days in many areas people end up only seeing and talking to people who make the kind of money they do, live in the size of house they do, have the cares and concerns of people just like them. They don’t interact with people of other classes. With no interaction, there’s no basis for empathy for those ‘others.’”


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


15 December, 2011

Senators Who Love the Government But Hate America

Within days after my article on due process and presumption of innocence, the U.S. Senate voted to empower the U.S. military to apprehend and detain indefinitely anyone in America, based on the whim of the soldier or military commander, and it will probably eventually include any armed agent of government including local police. As Jacob Hornberger noted, this new provision will codify the U.S. as just another one of many dictatorships throughout world history.

But, even though al Qaeda is virtually non-existent, the Washington imbeciles want to expand and extend the "War on Terror" anyway and include the entire U.S. territory as a "battlefield." How can we explain this? As Justin Raimondo speculated, the real reason for this new dictatorial power may be because these senators know that America is headed for economic collapse and civil unrest. But as I pointed out in my article on martial law, whether there are terrorists or not, or whether there is a prosperous or collapsing economy, all human beings have inalienable rights, among them the right to presumption of innocence and due process. Any government violations of those rights are crimes against the people, pure and simple.

Sen. Lindsey Graham commented that, "If you’re an American citizen and you betray your country, you’re not going to be given a lawyer," in his un-American opposition to due process and his approval of apprehending and detaining innocent civilians indefinitely. But, as I asked in my earlier article: Who will determine whether or not one has "betrayed one’s country"? Graham and the other pro-dictatorship government bureaucrats do not seem able to distinguish between someone who actually has acted (or been found guilty of acting) against one’s fellow Americans and someone who is accused of doing so.

Graham wants to empower all military personnel (and probably any armed government official) to detain indefinitely those who are merely accused of doing something, without evidence brought forward, without having a lawyer, without access to their families, no due process whatsoever. This is a banana republic dictatorship, and it is thoroughly un-American, thoroughly anti-liberty.

Additionally, Graham hinted at curtailing political expression as protected by the First Amendment, and thus, given past examples of government censorship since 9/11, Americans who criticize the U.S. government’s "war on terror" could be declared as "enemy combatants," and apprehended and detained without charges or trial. If these senators have their way, merely questioning the government’s actions and questioning the legitimacy of these wars would be considered "terrorism."

The senators are now turning the military against the American people. That is treasonous, according to the U.S. Constitution, as turning the military against the people would be the federal government’s "levying war" against the "United States," that is, the various states of the union, and thus against the people of the states. I have noted before that such treasonous acts have already occurred in America.



Poverty Doesn't Make Thieves -- Liberalism Does

Ben Shapiro

This week, the Los Angeles Times reported a wave of theft plaguing area high schools. The objects at stake? Tubas. According to South Gate High School music teacher Ruben Gonzalez Jr., thieves broke into the band room and stole nothing but tubas. A few weeks before, thieves took eight sousaphones from a Compton high school. Either the original cast of "The Music Man" is criminally eager for a revival, or these thieves are selling the horns on the black market.

Now the left loves to claim that crime waves like this are caused by poverty. If you're poor, the logic goes, you'll have to steal a loaf of bread -- or a trombone -- to feed your child. Criminality thus becomes a moral act.

There's only one problem with this logic: It's absolutely wrong.

During the Great Depression, levels of crime actually dropped. During the 1920s, when life was free and easy, so was crime. During the 1930s, when the entire American economy fell into a government-owned alligator moat, crime was nearly non-existent. During the 1950s and 1960s, when the economy was excellent, crime rose again.

In Britain, where the social safety net is more like a social swaddling cloth, crime rates other than murder are significantly higher than in the United States. Actually, the highest rate of car theft in the world is in peaceful, socialist, unicorn-riding Switzerland. Next comes New Zealand. Then Britain, Sweden, Australia, Denmark, Scotland, Italy, Canada and Norway. That's right -- the U.S. isn't even in the top ten.

Why is that? It's not that these other countries are impoverished -- far from it. It's not that their poor are Dickensian urchins following the advice of newfangled Fagins. It's that these countries have bred generations of people who think they are entitled to the property of others.

That mentality predominates in poor areas more than rich ones. There's a reason for that: Those who succeed economically in a free market system do so based on the notion that they don't deserve anyone else's property unless they work for it. They don't sit back waiting for someone to take care of them. They don't wait for welfare checks. They go out into the world and earn their way forward.

In poor areas, the opposite is true. Spend five minutes with many poor inner city kids and the sense of entitlement drips from them. Many of these folks are refugee thugs from "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre": "Work? We ain't got no work. We don't need no work! I don't have to show you no stinkin' work!" And, by the way, they don't need no stinkin' badges, either -- because the people with the badges work for them, teaching them that sense of entitlement, impoverishing hard workers on behalf of those who think they're owed something by the world.

Persistent poverty, in short, is more often than not a moral problem, not an economic one -- stealing springs from that same moral failing. That is why affordable housing, provided for free by the government, is usually covered in graffiti, trashed and burned out. You'll never see a private, single-family home treated like that by its owner.

There's a basic rule in business: If you tell people that a product is free, they treat it like it has no value. We've spent the last 70 years in this country telling our poor that money and property are free. Of course, they don't attribute any value to money or property, then. Of course, they treat others' property as though it's valueless, to be stolen or taken at whim.

The liberalism of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson and President Obama hasn't turned thieves into sudden lovers of big-band swing. It's turned more and more Americans into thieves. Don't blame poverty. Blame morality. And blame a government and a society that have abandoned the notion of responsibility for juvenile delinquency.



Job Creators Fighting Back

John Stossel

Some politicians claim that politicians create jobs. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says, "My job is to create jobs."

What hubris! Government has no money of its own. All it does is take from some people and give to others. That may create some jobs, but only by leaving less money in the private sector for job creation.

Actually, it's worse than that. Since government commandeers scarce resources by force and doesn't have to peddle its so-called services on the market to consenting buyers, there's no feedback mechanism to indicate if those services are worth more to people than what they were forced to go without.

The only people who create real, sustainable jobs are in private businesses -- if they're unsubsidized.

Some CEOs are upset that people don't appreciate what they do. So they formed a group called the Job Creators Alliance.

Brad Anderson, former CEO of Best Buy, joined because he wants to counter the image of businesspeople as evil. When he was young, Anderson himself thought they were evil. But then he "stumbled into a business career" by going to work in a stereo store.

"I watched what happens in building a business. (My store,) The Sound of Music, which became Best Buy, was 11 years (old) before I made a dollar of profit." In 36 years, he turned that store into a $50 billion company.

Tom Stemberg, founder of Staples, got involved with the Job Creators Alliance because he's annoyed that the government makes a tough job much tougher.

He complains that government mostly creates jobs -- that kill jobs. "They're creating $300 million worth of jobs in the new consumer financial protection bureau," Stemberg said, "which I don't think is going to do much for productivity in America. We're creating all kinds of jobs trying to live up to Dodd-Frank ... and those jobs don't create much productivity.

Now, Stemberg runs a venture capital business. "I helped create over 100,000 jobs myself," he said. "Pinkberry and City Sports and J. McLaughlin are growing and adding employment."

To do that, he had to overcome hurdles placed in the way by government. "All that we get is grief and more hoops to jump through and more forms to fill out and more regulations to comply with," complained Stemberg. "Fastest-growing investment segment in venture capitalism: compliance software."

Compliance is the big word in business today. Every business has to have a compliance department. But resources are scarce, so these departments suck away creativity. It's one reason that these successful businesspeople don't think they could do today what they did in the past.

Mike Whalen, CEO of Heart of America Group, said he got started with loans from banks that took a chance on an unknown: "It is not an underwriting standard that can be dictated by Dodd-Frank with 55 pages. It's kind of a gut instinct."

But John Allison, who built BB&T Corp. into the 12th biggest bank in America, says that "gut instinct" is now illegal. "It would be very difficult to do what we did then today. It was semi-venture capital thing. The government regulations (today) are so tight, including setting credit standards, particularly since the so-called financial crisis and since they ... changed the credit standards in the banking industry, making it very hard for the banks to finance small businesses."

These successful businessmen realize that in one way, they profit from the regulatory burden. They can absorb the costs. That gives them an advantage over smaller competitors.

"Somebody who wants to compete with us can't because we can afford to hire the guys that can read this stuff and to keep us in compliance with the law. They can't," Anderson said.

Politicians rarely understand this. One who learned it too late was Sen. George McGovern. After he left office, he started a small bed-and-breakfast and hit the regulatory wall he helped create. Later, he wrote, "I wish during the years I was in public office I had this firsthand experience about the difficulties businesspeople face. ... We are choking off business opportunity."

Wish they learned that before leaving office.



Port Whine: Big Labor's Occu-Punks

Michelle Malkin

Scruffy progressive protesters locked themselves together across railroad tracks, blocked traffic and shouted profanities at police on Tuesday in a coordinated "West Coast Port Shutdown." Truckers lost wages. Shippers lost business. This is what the Occupy Wall Street movement calls "victory."

Aging Big Labor bosses toasted one another from the sidelines as they declared the "rebirth of the labor movement." What's really going on? It's an old-school power grab by a decrepit union wrapped in self-deluded social media do-goodism.

Peace-loving agitators wielding guitars and iPhones may earnestly believe they stood up to corruption and stood up for workers this week. A socialist website promoted the port shutdown as an expression of "solidarity" for the workers' "struggle." One Oakland, Calif., agitator decried "exploitation by capitalism" as the shiftless busily divided their work blockages into what they called -- chortle -- "shifts."

In reality, it's the young Occupiers who are being exploited as human shields for the economy-strangling agenda of the violence-prone International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). These ignorant punks are putting the "front" in "waterfront."

Few remember now that the left's three-month-long "Day of Rage" festivities kicked off in September at the Port of Longview, Wash. -- a far cry from Goldman Sachs and the rest of New York's financial district. Unionized longshoremen stormed the port there and took a half-dozen guards hostage. They damaged railroad cars, dumped grain, smashed windows, cut rail brake lines and blocked a train for hours while the ILWU and AFL-CIO cheered them on.

The violence followed a similar outburst in July, when longshoremen tore down a chain link fence on EGT's private property and blocked railroad tracks to prevent a grain delivery -- a clear violation of the 1946 Hobbs Act, which makes it a crime to employ robbery or extortion to impede interstate commerce.

Despite breaking federal law, violating a judicial restraining order and committing systematically planned sabotage and trespassing, most of the union thugs got away with wrist slaps. The ILWU received a $250,000 fine to cover damages from the vandalism -- a fine that will be paid with rank-and-file workers' hard-earned dues money.

So, what's their beef? No, it's not about the "right" of unions to "organize." It's not about the welfare of the "99 percent." It's about one union losing its seven-decade-old grip on West Coast port operations. It's about six-figure-salaried union suits at the ILWU, established by bloody radical Marxist Harry Bridges, throwing a lawless tantrum against economic efficiency and technological progress.

The ILWU is trying to break the will of EGT Development, a multinational agribusiness that recently built a $200 million grain terminal in Longview. It's a state-of-the-art facility with unprecedented automation features that will speed unloading, increase shipping capacity and bring in tens of millions of dollars in lease and tax payments alone to the region.

EGT needs a nimble 21st-century workforce. The entitled overlords of the ILWU, who have ruled West Coast ports since the 1930s, are demanding a monopoly on the company's master control system, control over the work hour structure, excessive mandatory breaks and extortionist man-hour "premiums" to bail out the union's underfunded pension. "We've worked these elevators since 1934, and we've always been in that master console," local ILWU President Dan Coffman told public radio.

EGT refused and instead brought in an outside contractor with a different union to fill about 50 jobs. But the ILWU water-carriers in the Occupy movement don't care about those workers. Or the American farmers who have been hurt by the port saboteurs. Or the independent non-union truckers who were forced to forgo work in the name of worker empowerment. Trucker Hai Ngo of San Leandro, Calif., told the San Francisco Chronicle: "The Occupy people handed out flyers to us, but never asked what we thought before they planned this. I will lose about $350, and at holiday time that hurts. It's just a waste of our time and money, and won't accomplish anything."

Unfortunately, Ngo and blue-collar workers like him are collateral damage in the ILWU's ruthless battle for Big Labor survival. Coffman, who has stoked violence for months, vowed earlier this year that "we will fight to the end to secure what is rightfully our turf."

And now the gasping longshoremen's union has a whole new set of Occu-tools to do the dirty work for them.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


14 December, 2011

Catholic Bishops: Congress Has a ‘Moral Obligation’ to Protect the ‘Life & Dignity’ of the Unemployed

The bishops are for once being loyal to church doctrine. What they say is in accord with encyclicals from "De rerum novarum" to "Centesimus annus" -- both of which take a middle way between capitalism and socialism.

But it is the old welfare controversy all over again. Britain has welfare payments of unlimited duration for all and has ended up with a large population segment that is simply unwilling to work. In some families no-one has worked for generations. British employers constantly complain that they have to hire immigrants as no locals are interested in taking the jobs on offer. So the GOP are right to be very hesitant about falling into that trap

A new letter that was released on Tuesday by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls on Congress to extend unemployment insurance, while seemingly claiming that such protection falls under the “right to life and subsistence.”

The letter, which was sent through Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, chairman of the Conference’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, says that it is Congress’s “moral obligation” to protect the “life and dignity” of the unemployed. In a press release, the USCCB writes:
Bishop Blaire wrote that the current “pervasive economic pain” includes a median length of joblessness of 10 months, and over four job seekers for every opening. He wrote that Pope John Paul II called such conditions in “a real social disaster” and that the pope said the “obligation to provide unemployment benefits” to workers and their families is a fundamental principle of “the right to life and subsistence.”

The timing of the letter, as Commonwealth notes, is going to make it that much more contentious. House Republicans are hesitant to extend unemployment benefits, as some feel that doing to encourages people not to go out and look for employment.

A current measure under consideration that was introduced by House GOP leaders last week would reduce unemployment eligibility from 99 weeks to 59 weeks. The Hill has more regarding how some Democrats are reacting to the proposal:
At a procedural committee hearing on Monday night, Ways and Means Committee ranking member Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) warned his GOP colleagues that Democrats were furious about provisions in the must-pass measure to extend the current payroll tax rate holiday and extend and reform unemployment benefits.

“We’re headed for a confrontation on the Floor tomorrow,” Levin said in response to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp’s (R-Mich.) statement on the 369-page bill up for consideration.

The veteran lawmaker pulled no punches in a preview of Tuesday’s 90-minute floor debate, calling the provisions related to phasing back the current 99 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits a “heartless, and I think mindless and reckless way to proceed.”

This most recent letter from the Bishops follows a back and forth between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a Catholic, and the Bishops back in May. Paul had apparently written a letter to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan expressing his desire to provide facts about his budget to the faith leader (his note was in allegedly in response to a previous critique from Bishop Blaire). “We believe human dignity is undermined when citizens become passive clients living on redistributions from government bureaucracies,” Ryan wrote.

Dolan’s response to Ryan didn’t take an official stance on the House budget. “A singularly significant part of our duty as pastors is to insist that the cries of the poor are heard, and that the much needed reform leading to financial discipline that is recognized by all never adds further burdens upon those who are poor and most vulnerable, nor distracts us from our country’s historic consideration of the needs of the world’s suffering people,” Dolan wrote.



Internet piracy bill: A free speech 'kill switch'

What began as an attempt to restrain foreign piracy on the Internet has morphed into a domestic “kill switch” on First Amendment freedom in the fastest-growing corner of the marketplace of ideas.

Proposed federal legislation purporting to protect online intellectual property would also impose sweeping new government mandates on internet service providers – a positively Orwellian power grab that would permit the U.S. Justice Department to shut down any internet site it doesn’t like (and cut off its sources of income) on nothing more than a whim.

Under the so-called “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) the federal government – which is prohibited constitutionally from abridging free speech or depriving its citizens of their property without due process – would engage in both practices on an unprecedented scale. And in establishing the precursor to a taxpayer-funded “thought police,” it would dramatically curtail technology investment and innovation – wreaking havoc on our economy.

Consider this: Under the proposed legislation all that’s required for government to shutdown a specific website is the mere accusation that the site unlawfully featured copyrighted content. Such an accusation need not be proven – or even accompanied by probable cause. All that an accuser (or competitor) needs to do in order to obtain injunctive relief is point the finger at a website.

Additionally, SOPA would grant regulators the ability to choke off revenue to the owners of these newly classified “rogue” websites by accusing their online advertisers and payment providers as co-conspirators in the alleged “piracy.” Again, no finding of fact would be required – the mere allegation of impropriety is all that’s needed to cut the website’s purse strings.

Who’s vulnerable to this legislation?

“Any website that features user-generated content or that enables cloud-based data storage could end up in its crosshairs,” writes David Sohn, senior policy council at the Center on Democracy and Technology. “(Internet Service Providers) would face new and open-ended obligations to monitor and police user behavior. Payment processors and ad networks would be required to cut off business with any website that rights-holders allege hasn't done enough to police infringement.”



America's parasitical political class

Two stellar books have been published this year examining the "Political Class," that group of people which includes politicians and bureaucrats, but also and the businesses and labor unions that enable and benefit from them. They are Stealing You Blind: How Government Fat Cats Are Getting Rich Off of You by Iain Murray and Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison by Peter Schweizer. They make excellent books for Christmas even though they are far more likely to generate outrage than good cheer.

Murray's book focuses largely on the bureaucracy and why they have become an increasing threat to our freedom and our pocketbooks. Bureaucrats have a huge incentive to increase costs. In government, a bureaucrat's success -- his pay raises and promotions -- is determined not by solving problems but by finding more problems to justify ever larger budgets and staff.

Murray, a Brit by birth, saw this first hand when he went to work for the Department of Transport. "In government, performance is judged by increases in funding. The cost-cutting boss is viewed with suspicion, even outright hostility, by his peers, as letting his side down," Murray, who works at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, writes.

The success that the political class has had is evidenced by the fact that the wealthiest Congressional District in America is not in Manhattan or Beverly Hills, but in Northern Virginia. It is Virginia's 11th District, a suburb of Washington, D.C. that is home to many top-level federal workers. The district has a median household income of $80,397, nearly double the national average of almost $42,000.

Bureaucrats are now paid, on average, more than the private sector, have top-notch health and retirement benefits, and virtually iron-clad job security. The justification for this is that such people are in "public service" and good wages and benefits are needed to attract good people. But it is a myth that so-called public servants are any less self-interested than anyone else. Indeed, they often serve themselves at the expense of the public.

Murray provides numerous examples, from the federal down to the local level. One agency that looks like a disaster waiting to happen is the Transportation Safety Administration. "TSA is a reactive security operation, always fighting the last battle. Yet it doesn't even fight those battles particularly well," Murray writes. Post 9/11, TSA failed to detect Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and Umar Farouk, the underwear bomber, both of whom were fortunately subdued by passengers on their planes. But TSA's failure means more inconvenience for passengers, as we now have to take off our shoes and go through either body-scan machines or pat downs on our private areas. Despite this, testing has found that TSA screeners may miss up to 60%-75% of simulated explosives. Testing at airports that employ private security companies perform much better, with a failure rate of 20 percent. The reason is that screeners from private companies "know they will be picked on with constant covert tests and are therefore 'more suspicious.'"

TSA has grown into a 67,000-employee bureaucracy, and in February of this year the Obama administration gave TSA the right to unionize. A unionized TSA could mean even more headaches for travelers as unionized government employees are nearly impossible to fire and union contracts tend to favor pay scales based on seniority rather than performance. Some members of Congress have urged airports to take their "opt-out" option and hire private security firms. But that requires TSA approval, and like any bureaucracy protecting its turf, the agency has declared that "unless a clear and substantial advantage to do so emerges in the future, the requests will be denied." TSA Administrator John Pistole has said that he doesn't think there's any advantage to private security firms.

On the local level, there is no better example in Murray's book of the lengths to which a union will go to get its way than the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association in New York City. A major blizzard hit New York in December 2010. Wanting to send a message to the mayor about staff cutbacks and reduction in the ranks of supervisors, union heads told snow crews go slow in snow cleanup. Several neighborhoods such as Borough Park and Middle Village were targeted for poor snow removal since the residents there are wealthier and have more influence with their politicians. This may have led to the death of one three-year-old boy as the ambulance could not get to him in time. However, priority cleanup was given to the neighborhoods of agency heads and other city bigwigs.

Schweizer looks at another part of the political class: politicians and crony capitalists. Schweitzer, who works for the Hoover Institution, dubs this group "the Government Rich" for whom "insider deals, insider trading, and taxpayer money have become a pathway to wealth. They get to walk this exclusive pathway because they get to operate by a different set of rules from the rest of us. And they get to do this while they are working for us, in the name of the 'public service.'"

Members of Congress are often privy to private information, such as the likelihood that a bill that impacts a particular industry will pass, or that the SEC will approve a merger, or which private companies are in trouble. They can turn this information into lucrative stock transactions. Studies have shown, for example, that members of Congress increased their net worth by 84 percent from 2004-2006, while the rest of America averaged about 20 percent. Another study found that the average hedge fund beats the market by 7-8 percent a year, while the average Senator beats it by 12 percent.

The two examples of this behavior that have received the most press attention upon the release of Throw Them All Out are Republican Spencer Bachus, now chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Nancy Pelosi, House minority leader. During 2008, Bachus was ranking member of the Committee. Since all of the bailout legislation had to pass through his committee, he was intricately involved in discussions regarding which financial institutions were in trouble and the likely impact on the economy. According to Schweizer, Bachus used his inside information to make thousands on stock options, betting that stocks would go up or down at various times.

A good reason to read Throw Them All Out is to arm yourself against the distortions about the book promulgated by various media outlets. To his credit, 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft reported on Schweizer's finding that in 2008 Pelosi was able to buy VISA stock at its initial public offering (IPO) while credit card legislation that was troublesome to VISA was making its way to the House floor. Pelosi delayed the legislation so that it would not come up for a vote on the House floor in 2008.



Obama’s math works only in BizzaroEcon World

Last night on “60 Minutes” (HT IndianaJim) President Obama said to interviewer Steve Croft about tax cuts: "Steve, the math is the math. You can’t lower rates and raise revenue, unless you’re getting revenue from someplace else."

This answer reveals a deplorable understanding of either economics or math or both.

Revenues are the product of the “price” per unit (for example, the tax rate on a dollar of income) multiplied by the number of units for which that price is paid. If the percentage cut in the price per unit is smaller than a corresponding percentage increase in the number of units for which the now-lower price is paid, revenues don’t fall; they rise. The math, indeed, is the math.

Obama’s math works only in a bizzaro economic world – a world where changes in prices have no, or never more than a de minimis, effect on people’s behavior.

In that bizzaro world producers would never lower prices. (Why do so if lowering prices won’t result in a larger sales volume and higher revenues?) In that bizzaro world McDonald’s would charge $1,000 for each Big Mac. (Why not, if prices don’t affect people’s consumption choices?) In that bizzaro world no one would propose taxing cigarettes to discourage smoking. (Why do so if higher prices don’t affect behavior?) And in that bizzaro world no one would ever call for higher tariffs to protect domestic producers from foreign competition. (Why do so if raising tariffs does not reduce the number of imports that people buy?)

It’s one thing to question a claim’s empirical relevance; it’s quite another to dismiss it categorically as being an alleged violation of the laws of mathematics.

What sorry testimony about the “reality-based” political community that the current President of the United States believes it to be simply a matter of “math” that lower tax rates necessarily result in lower tax revenues.




Cheney calls for air strike on Iran over captured drone: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney said on Monday that President Barack Obama should have ordered an 'air strike' on Iran after they recently captured a U.S. drone. Earlier on Monday, President Barack Obama had explained that U.S. officials asked Iran to return the RQ-170 Sentinel surveillance drone. 'The right response to that would have been to go in immediately after it had gone down and destroy it,' Cheney told CNN’s Erin Burnett."

US Congress freezes $700 million in Pakistan aid: "A US Congressional panel has frozen $700m (£450m) in aid to Pakistan until it gives assurances it is tackling the spread of homemade bombs in the region. ... the freeze in aid -- part of a defence bill that is expected to be passed by Congress later this week -- could presage even greater cuts, correspondents say."

Big government scares more Americans: "Gallup just released a poll asking Americans who they fear most: big government, big business or big labor. Government terrifies more Americans than the other two combined, by a two-to-one margin."

Getting to medical freedom: "To improve medicine in the United States, we’ll first need to explain that we are far from a free market in healthcare."

Medicare Whac-A-Mole: "It is often said that you can’t put a price on health. But for decades that is exactly what the federal government has attempted. Since the birth of the entitlement, a parade of legislators and bureaucrats has been playing billion- and trillion-dollar games of Whac-A-Mole with Medicare, knocking down spending with an elaborately constructed set of technocratic payment schemes in one area only to see it rise back up in some other part of the system. Obama is merely proposing to try it one more time."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


13 December, 2011

Land of the Envious and Home of the Victim

President Obama laid out his vision of America in Osawatomie, Kansas. We are no longer, in our president’s take on things, land of the free and home of the brave. America now is land of the envious and home of the victim.

We are a land, as our president explains it, where the success of one American comes at the expense of another. Where the poor are poor because the rich are rich. And where the role of government is not to ensure “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” but to tax away wealth from those it deems to have too much and determine how to invest our nation’s resources.

The president chose to give this speech in Osawatomie because President Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, spoke there in 1910 and made a plea for more government in American life. How clever.

But in 1910 the federal government was extracting less than five cents from every dollar produced by the American economy. It was not until the 1930’s, except for the period of World War I, that this doubled to 10 cents of every dollar. After World War II, this doubled again to 20 cents.

Now, after three years under President Obama’s vision, the federal government takes 25 cents of every dollar produced by the American economy. If we throw in the costs of state and local government, barely 50 cents of each dollar of our economic output remains in the private economy.

But President Obama thinks we’re languishing because we’re still too free. The idea that “the market will take care of everything” may look good on a “bumper sticker” according to our president, but, in his words, the idea of free citizens and free markets “…doesn’t work” and “…never worked.”

Perhaps our president ought to wake from his dream, and our nightmare, and take a closer look at the country he is living in.

According to the Kauffman Foundation, which specializes in studying entrepreneurship, almost all net new jobs created in our country come from firms less than five years old.

Net new job growth in American comes from entrepreneurs. Not from government bureaucrats and not even from corporate monoliths. This entrepreneurial activity takes place at considerable risk. According to one study from Case Western Reserve University, only 30 percent of new business start-ups are still operating after ten years.

Entrepreneurs start and build their businesses with personal savings, credit cards, funds from family and friends, and loans and investments from banks and venture capitalists.

But what entrepreneur will take these risks if there isn’t upside as well as downside? Who will do it if success is punished rather than rewarded? If power seeking politicians decide that certain successful entrepreneurs have become too wealthy?

Our president cannot seem to grasp that freedom and entrepreneurship is not about “doing your own thing” but is the essence of what he calls “we’re greater together than we are on our own.”

Businesses grow by competing to serve customers.

It is also not about, to the president’s confusion, “making up your own rules.” It works when we don’t make up our on rules and live by eternal truths which prohibit theft and protect private property. Our problems start when government stops doing its job to enforce those rules and starts making up its own.

Where President Obama was correct was to say that “This is the defining issue of our time.”

Whatever solutions Republicans propose to deal with issues like government spending, taxation, healthcare, and education must flow from a core vision of what America is about.

Whoever emerges as the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 must be ready to offer a dusted off and clear vision of America that will restore our understanding of and faith in the freedom that made and makes this country great.



Is This What Democrats Want For Our Future?

Terrorist threats are on the rise, government debt threatens the world, and the value of our currency is being questioned almost daily. Is this the “fundamental change” that Democrats wanted from President Barack Obama?

Like it or not, President Obama sets the agenda for the Democrats. And it’s time for every elected Democrat – especially those in Congress – to answer some questions. Is this your idea of the American future? Is this your vision for the United States? We should be asking these questions in light of two broad areas of domestic policy:

National security policies that ignore trends of murderous behavior:

Within the first eighteen months of the Obama presidency, the United States sustained no less than three terrorist attacks on American soil. The first one quickly became known as the “Ft. Hood Massacre,” an inside job wherein Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army Major, a psychiatrist – and a devout Muslim - killed 13 Army service members and wounded 29 others, all within the confines of the otherwise “secure” Fort Hood Army Base in Killeen, Texas.

At the memorial service for the murdered service members, President Obama noted that “no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts” – implying that the Islamic faith had nothing to do with Mr. Hasan’s murderous behavior – this, despite the fact that Hasan himself claimed that he was acting in accordance with his religion.

Weeks later Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was permitted to board a Northwest Airlines jet in Amsterdam and fly to Detroit on Christmas Day, despite repeated warning signs that the passenger intended to do harm in the U.S. While the explosives that the now-famous “underwear bomber” was able to smuggle on to the flight did not detonate to their intended extent, they did nonetheless cause an in-flight explosion.

After the attack – and after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declared that “the system worked” (she admitted a day later that our air security system had failed), we were to learn that the man about whom repeated warnings were ignored was a “devout Muslim” and claimed to be operating at the direction of Al-Qaeda.

On May 1st 2010, NYPD officers were able to disarm an ignited bomb planted in a parked vehicle in Times Square. Two days later federal authorities arrested Faisal Shahzad in connection with the attack, whereupon federal agencies rushed to point out that Shahzad was an American citizen and that the attack was “home grown.” The authorities also tried to downplay the fact that Shahzad had only been a U.S. citizen for 14 months, was originally from Pakistan, and was also a self-described Muslim.

While seemingly ignoring the proliferation of terrorist attacks carried-out by people who call themselves Muslims, President Obama and members of his Administration have largely refused to acknowledge the pattern. Even this past week the Obama Administration officially classified the Fort Hood Massacre as merely a matter of “workplace violence,” as though the immense security breaches of a military compound were to be taken no more seriously than an angry outburst at any other business establishment.

Economic policies that encourage dependency and malign productivity:

President Obama’s speech at Osawatomie high school in Kansas last week is being heralded by some as his most profound speech thus far. But few of the President’s supporters have bothered to question if his rhetoric bares any resemblance to reality.

Prior to his inauguration, he claimed, America had been a nation where “those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and investments…but everyone else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren’t.”

Really? Do the President’s supporters realize that over half of the American population has private investment and savings accounts, and that such items are not merely luxuries afforded only to those “at the top?”

Elsewhere in the speech, the President noted that the upcoming election will be, in part, about “whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure a retirement.” Yet the very fact that any of us can even hope for these things demonstrates the functionality of American-styled capitalism over the past many decades.

The President, of course, ignores these economic realities. Instead, he insists that our pathway to prosperity is higher taxes, and more governmental spending of our resources – in short, more of his control over our nation’s wealth. Policies of these sorts have been painful failures for years in Venezuela, Indonesia, and his father’s homeland of Kenya. Yet the President who has positioned himself as a de facto CEO of huge chunks of the economy – with authority over everything from banks to car companies – is still vying for more control. Is this what Democrats envision for another four years – an economy that revolves around the selfish needs and desires of one man?



A "revisionist" view of the British empire

Though still a fairly mainstream view among Britons themselves

[One] might see in the experience of the British Empire some prescriptive remedies for what ails Western Civilization. How about, for instance, the idea of limited government? By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, in the 1920s the British government and its vast empire operated on a budget about 40 percent less, in constant dollars, than the state of California’s budget for 2012. Perhaps that’s not surprising when you consider that Britain ran the Sudan with a civil service of 140 men, and governed India’s then-300 million people with about 100,000 British soldiers and civil servants. (California has more than twice as many full-time state employees.)

The British Empire certainly did not go in for “nation-building” in the “let’s export the democratic welfare state” sense. The British believed they governed well, and did well for the people they governed, but they always had to ensure that the sum of benefits minus costs was in the black. The British had tremendous national interests, for instance, in Afghanistan (a potential Russian invasion route to India) and Iraq (oil), but they would never have spent a trillion dollars occupying these countries, as we have done. For the most part, they kept them in line with occasional punitive expeditions (Afghanistan) and the RAF supporting a British-imposed pro-Western monarch (Iraq).

The British Empire set a beneficial example in another sense too. It was tolerant. On issues that truly mattered — an independent judiciary, limited government, abolishing slavery and widow-burning — they enforced British standards of fair play, ordered liberty, and decency. But they were also quite content to let Arabs be Arabs, Masai be Masai, and so on. They did not politicize society or, another way of putting it, nationalize it.

They ruled with the lightest of authority, often through local elites, and had a famous affection for the “warrior races” (which they were keen to defeat and then bring on their side). As a Frenchman once marveled, “Wherever the British have penetrated we meet British officers who believe the Bedouins, the Kurds, the Ghurkhas, the Sikhs or the Sudanese, whichever they happen to command, to be the most splendid fellows on earth. The French do not share this passionate interest in other races — they only praise individuals or communities insofar as they have become Gallicized.”

George Santayana’s famous observation bears repeating: “Instinctively the Englishman is no missionary, no conqueror . . . he travels and conquers without a settled design, because he has the instinct of exploration. His adventures are all external; they change him so little that he is not afraid of them. He carries his English weather in his heart wherever he goes, and it becomes a cool spot in the desert, and a steady and sane oracle amongst all the deliriums of mankind.

Never since the heroic days of Greece has the world had such a sweet, just, boyish master. It will be a black day for the human race when scientific blackguards, conspirators, churls, and fanatics manage to supplant him.” How true. And between the British Empire and its enemies among the Bolsheviks, the National Socialists, the scientific blackguards, conspirators, churls, and fanatics, I know which side any true conservative should plant his colors.

SOURCE. See also: Politically Incorrect Guide to the British Empire


Even Officials from the Clinton Administration Agree that the United States Should Have a Lower Corporate Tax Rate

Since the Clinton Administration turned out to be much more market-oriented than either his GOP predecessor or successor, this isn’t quite a man-bites-dog story.

Nonetheless, it is still noteworthy that Elaine Kamarck, a high-level official from the Clinton White House, has a column on a left-of-center website arguing in favor of a pro-growth, supply-side corporate tax reform. Here’s some of what she wrote.
Not only have the OECD countries reduced their corporate tax rates over the years to an average of 25 percent — members of the OECD are starting in on yet another round of cuts. Canada and Great Britain, two of our closest trading partners, are moving in this direction. America has the second highest corporate tax rate of any of the developed nations. We can’t sit by while our competition is changing. A 2008 report by economists at the OECD found that the corporate income tax is the most harmful tax for long-term economic growth. A 2010 World Bank study demonstrated that corporate tax rates have a “large and significant adverse” effect on investment. And investment and economic growth equals jobs. Wage data from 65 countries over 25 years shows that every one percent increase in corporate tax rates leads to a 0.5 to 0.6 percent decrease in wages.

There are things in the rest of the article that rub me the wrong way, but I agree with everything in the above passage.

The thing that’s most striking about Ms. Kamarck’s article is that she acknowledges the link between corporate tax rates and workers’ wages, thus agreeing with me – at least implicitly – about “trickle-down economics” and the deleterious impact of double taxation.



"Stimulus" didn't work in Britain either

Labour's increased spending after the credit crunch actually harmed the economy rather than boosting it, according to a centre-right think tank.

A report by the Institute of Economic Affairs found that stimulus measures pursued by Western governments in response to the economic crisis did not work.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has repeatedly called on the Government to soften its deficit reduction plans and embark on a ‘Plan B’, which would include more public spending in an attempt to boost growth.

But the institute’s study said Plan B would be disastrous for the British economy, and that all Western economies needed drastic fiscal and tax reform if they were to overcome their sovereign debt crises.

Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: ‘We must resist the calls of those who say that one last, big spending push could get the economy back to meaningful growth.

'The opposite is true. ‘Many Western economies might well be tipping back towards recession partly because of these giant fiscal packages that were enacted in 2009, and the coalition Government must resist calls for any Plan B that involves more government borrowing and spending.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


12 December, 2011

Nigel Farage explains what is happening in Europe

Gingrich sticks by Palestinian comment, draws rebukes from GOP candidates

Gingrich is of course right. In the 19 century the Arab inhabitants of Eretz Israel were known as "Syrians"

Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich stood by his assertion that the Palestinians are an "invented people," drawing criticism from other GOP candidates.

"Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes," Gingrich said during a GOP debate Saturday night in Iowa. "We are in a situation where every day rockets are fired into Israel while the United States -- the current administration -- tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process."

"Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth,” he continued. "These people are terrorists, they teach terrorism in their schools." Gingrich added that "it’s fundamentally the time for somebody to have the guts to say enough lying about the Middle East."

He first made the "invented people" comment in an exclusive interview with The Jewish Channel.

In response to Gingrich's comments at the debate, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said, "That’s just stirring up trouble."

Many prominent Jewish Republicans view Paul as an isolationist whose opposition to tough anti-Iran actions and foreign aid, including for Israel, would be bad for the Jewish state. But Gingrich also drew criticism from GOP candidates with records of strong support for Israel.

Mitt Romney, who stands first or second in most polls, said he agreed with Gingrich's comments about Palestinian terrorism, but said the former House speaker went too far in publicly questioning Palestinian peoplehood.

"I happen to agree with most of what the speaker said," Romney responded. "Except by going and saying that the Palestinians are an invented people. That I think was a mistake on the speaker’s part." Romney warned against throwing “incendiary words into a place which is a boiling pot” -- and that doing so could make things harder for Israel.

Another candidate with strong pro-Israel credentials, Rick Santorum, followed Romney's comments with similar criticism of Gingrich.

In recent days, Gingrich's campaign issued a statement stressing that despite his comments on Palestinian peoplehood, he still favors the eventual creation of a Palestinian state. The statement, released by spokesman R.C. Hammond, declares that "Newt Gingrich supports a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which will necessarily include agreement between Israel and the Palestinians over the borders of a Palestinian state."

Hammond added, "However, to understand what is being proposed and negotiated, you have to understand decades of complex history, which is exactly what Gingrich was referencing during the recent interview with The Jewish Channel."

Gingrich's comment has been criticized in even stronger terms by an assortment of Palestinian spokesmen and liberal commentators.



Gingrich Is Inspiring—and Disturbing

The first potential president about whom there is too much information.

I had a friend once who amused herself thinking up bumper stickers for states. The one she made up for California was brilliant. "California: It's All True." It is so vast and sprawling a place, so rich and various, that whatever you've heard about its wildness, weirdness and wonders, it's true.

That's the problem with Newt Gingrich: It's all true. It's part of the reason so many of those who know him are anxious about the thought of his becoming president. It's also why people are looking at him, thinking about him, considering him as president.

Ethically dubious? True. Intelligent and accomplished? True. Has he known breathtaking success and contributed to real reforms in government? Yes. Presided over disasters? Absolutely. Can he lead? Yes. Is he erratic and unreliable as a leader? Yes. Egomaniacal? True. Original and focused, harebrained and impulsive—all true.

Do you want evidence he's a Burkean conservative? Start with welfare reform in 1996. A sober, standard Republican? Go to the balanced budgets of the Clinton era. Is he a tea partier? Sure, he speaks the slashing lingo with relish. Is he moderate? Yes, that can be proved. Michele Bachmann this week called him a "frugal socialist," and there's plenty of evidence of that, too.

One way to view this is that he is so rich and varied as a character, as geniuses often are, that he contains worlds, multitudes. One senses that would be his way of looking at it. Another way to look at it: In a long career, one will shift views, adapt to circumstances, tack this way and that. Another way: He's philosophically unanchored, an unstable element. There are too many storms within him, and he seeks out external storms in order to equalize his own atmosphere. He's a trouble magnet, a starter of fights that need not be fought. He is the first modern potential president about whom there is too much information.

What is striking is the extraordinary divide in opinion between those who know Gingrich and those who don't. Those who do are mostly not for him, and they were burning up the phone lines this week in Washington.

Those who've known and worked with Mitt Romney mostly seem to support him, but when they don't they don't say the reason is that his character and emotional soundness are off. Those who know Ron Paul and oppose him do so on the basis of his stands, they don't say his temperament forecloses the possibility of his presidency. But that's pretty much what a lot of those who've worked with Newt say.

Former New Hampshire governor and George H.W. Bush chief of staff John Sununu told The Wall Street Journal this week: "Listen to just about anyone who worked alongside Gingrich and you will hear that he's inconsistent, erratic, untrustworthy and unprincipled." In a conference call Thursday, Jim Talent, who served with Mr. Gingrich in the House from 1993 through 1999, said, "He's not reliable as a leader." Sen. Tom Coburn, a member of the House class of 1994, called the former speaker's leadership "lacking," and according to a local press report, he told Oklahoma constituents last year that Mr. Gingrich was "the last person I'd vote for for president of the United States."

Sen. Lindsey Graham told a reporter that Mr. Gingrich could be a historic president if he has "matured as a person and is, for lack of a better word, calmed down." That is as close as most of those who've worked with him get to a compliment.

Yet the reservations and criticisms of the politico-journalistic establishment are having zero effect on Gingrich's support. In a Quinnipiac poll this week he moved into a double-digit lead over Mr. Romney in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The antipathy of the establishment not only is not hurting him at this early date, it may be helping him. It may be part of the secret of his rise. Because establishments, especially the Washington establishment, famously count for little with the Republican base: "You're the ones who got us into this mess."

Republicans on the ground who view Mr. Gingrich from afar, who neither know nor have worked with him, are more likely to see him this way: "Who was the last person to actually cut government? Who was the last person who actually led a movement that balanced the federal budget? . . . The last time there was true welfare reform, the last time government was cut, Gingrich did it." That is Rush Limbaugh, who has also criticized Mr. Gingrich.

And that is exactly what I've been hearing from Newt supporters who do not listen to talk radio. They are older voters, they are not all Republicans, and when government last made progress he was part of it. They have a very practical sense of politics now. The heroic era of the presidency is dead. They are not looking to like their president or admire him, they just want someone to fix the crisis. The last time helpful things happened in Washington, he was a big part of it. So they may hire him again. Are they put off by his scandals? No. They think all politicians are scandalous.

The biggest fear of those who've known Mr. Gingrich? He has gone through his political life making huge strides, rising in influence and achievement, and then been destabilized by success, or just after it. Maybe he's made dizzy by the thin air at the top, maybe he has an inner urge to be tragic, to always be unrealized and misunderstood. But he goes too far, his rhetoric becomes too slashing, the musings he shares—when he rose to the speakership, in 1995, it was that women shouldn't serve in combat because they're prone to infections—are too strange. And he starts to write in his notes what Kirsten Powers, in the Daily Beast, remembered: he described himself as "definer of civilization . . . leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces."

Those who know him fear—or hope—that he will be true to form in one respect: He will continue to lose to his No. 1 longtime foe, Newt Gingrich. He is a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin, saying, "Watch this!"

What they fear is that he will show just enough discipline over the next few months, just enough focus, to win the nomination. And then, in the fall of 2012, once party leaders have come around and the GOP is fully behind him, he will begin baying at the moon.

There are many good things to say about Newt Gingrich. He is compelling and unique, and, as Margaret Thatcher once said, he has "tons of guts." But this is a walk on the wild side.



Why Do So Many People Automatically and Angrily Condemn Historical Revisionism?

Try pointing out that Hitler was a fairly mainstream Leftist by the standards of his day and you will know what this historian is talking about

Over the years, especially in writing for the general public, as opposed to my professional peers, I have been struck repeatedly by the frequency with which certain conclusions or even entire classes of conclusions elicit not merely skepticism, but angry denunciation. Again and again, I have been called a fool, a traitor, or an America-hater because of my commentaries on history and public affairs. Although I take no pleasure in these denunciations, I find myself not so much depressed by them as curious about them. I wonder why people react as they do, especially when my commentary rests—as I hope it generally does—on well-documented facts and correct logic.

I surely do not consider myself immune to errors, of course. But if my facts are incorrect, the critic has an obligation to say why my facts are incorrect and to state, or at least to point toward, the correct facts. If my logic has run off the rails, the critic has an obligation to state how I fell into fallacious reasoning. More often than not, however, the critic resorts immediately to name-calling and to wild characterizations of my statements and my person. Thus, I have often been called a socialist, a Marxist, a conservative, an apologist for corporations or the rich, a (modern left) liberal, or something else that by no stretch of the imagination properly describes me or my intellectual or ideological position.

Certain topics are virtually guaranteed to elicit such reactions. When I write about the welfare state and especially about government programs ostensibly aimed at helping the least-well-off members of society, I confidently expect that critics will assail me as a fascist or as an ivory-tower dweller who has no understanding of how poor people really live and no compassion for them. When I write about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in relation to U.S. economic warfare in 1939-41, I invariably attract angry personal abuse from people of delicate nationalistic sensibilities, from those chronically on the look-out for traitors, and from those who cannot imagine that the nation’s leaders, in general, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in particular, might have deliberately provoked a Japanese attack or refrained from warning U.S. commanders in Hawaii that an attack was coming.

When people are offended or otherwise greatly displeased by historical analysis, they often employ the term “historical revisionism” as a synonym for falsified, distorted, or doctored accounts that fly in the face of what they, their history teachers, and perhaps even the most respected university historians believe to have been the case.

The irony of such use of the term “historical revision,” which makes it practically a swear word, is that revisionism is and always has been an integral part of historical research and writing. As a rule, professional historians do not seek simply to pile up more and more evidence for what historians already generally believe. Historians who proceed in this way cannot expect to make much of a name for themselves. Instead, historians try to find new evidence and new ways of interpreting old evidence that change the currently accepted view. That is, they seek to revise the current orthodoxy. In doing so, they need not be ideological mavericks, although those who are may have an additional reason for their revisionist efforts. In short, revisionism is an unremarkable aspect of workaday historical research and writing. Why then do so many readers go ballistic about it?

One reason why revisionists are sometimes seen as subversives stems from the tendency of historians in general to accept the most fundamental aspects of their own society as right and desirable.




North Korea warns south over Christmas lights: "North Korea has warned the South against erecting Christmas lights near the heavily fortified border, saying it would retaliate against what it calls 'psychological warfare.' ... The two Koreas in 2004 reached a deal to halt official-level cross-border propaganda and the South stopped its annual Christmas illumination ceremony. But Seoul resumed the ceremony last December amid high military tensions with Pyongyang."

Airport sexual assault complaints prompt calls for on-site advocates: "Two New York politicians urged the Transportation Security Administration on Sunday to provide passenger advocates on site at airport screenings after four elderly women complained of intrusive searches by security agents in recent months. ... several elderly women came forward in the busy travel weeks around Thanksgiving to complain they were 'strip searched by TSA agents ...'"

CA: SFPD arrest 55 suppressing final Occupy camp: "Police cleared San Francisco's last remaining Occupy protest camp early today, arresting 55 people for illegal lodging. The encampment, on the sidewalk in front of the Federal Reserve Bank at 101 Market St., was the original Occupy protest site established in early October, but police had cleared it several times. The camp sprung up again Thursday after police removed campers from Justin Herman Plaza a block away."

Private venture gets go-ahead for February space station trip: "The next chapter in commercial spaceflight is due to open in February when SpaceX launches its Dragon cargo capsule for the first linkup of a private-sector craft with the International Space Station .... NASA is paying private space ventures hundreds of millions of dollars to design and build new spaceships for its use, with cargo flights to the space station scheduled to begin next year."

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

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


11 December, 2011

How Obama Invites the Very Disaster He Is Trying To Avert

The Obama Administration’s strong opposition to a U.S. preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities virtually guarantees we’ll suffer far worse consequences than Obama’s policy is intended to avert.

I say this because our naïve, head-in-the-sand policy leaves the Israelis no rational option other than to launch their own preemptive strike—before it's too late, to best ensure their national survival. This in the face of messianically-driven Iranian zealots who are sworn to Israel's annihilation and who could well be within months of procuring nuclear weapons.

The reality is that without resorting to large scale nuclear strikes, Israel, unlike the U.S., lacks the wherewithal to cripple Iran's retaliatory capabilities and prevent its wreaking havoc with Persian Gulf oil exports, which could drive prices through the roof and severely damage our own economy. This, of course, is exactly the opposite of what U.S. inaction is designed to do.

But a hefty spike in oil prices may be the very least damaging consequence of Obama's inaction. Consider that from the perspective of Iran's mullahs, their regime's survival will very soon be in serious jeopardy. On the one hand, the two individuals most likely to become America's next president have both pledged to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities, if not displace its regime as well. On the other hand, Israel will most probably launch a preemptive strike well before the coming U.S. election, but certainly soon thereafter if America doesn't act.

With the moment of truth fast approaching, there's a good chance the desperate mullahs will pay any price to try and obtain nuclear weapons ASAP—perhaps from North Korea or other source, and beat Israel to the punch. And since the mullahs' days may be numbered by any reckoning, they could target the U.S. and western Europe as well. For even though Iran would face virtual obliteration, radical Islam itself would still survive as would the many countries in which radical Islamics exert strong influence. And this in what would be a reshuffled world where the Great Satan and its infidel allies could no longer stand in the way of the radicals achieving their goal of an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East and well beyond. For Iran's apocalyptically-minded mullahs, it will have been a price well worth paying.

Be aware that a single Iranian nuclear missile, launched from a freighter off our coastal waters and detonated at high altitude above our heartland, could generate an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which could put America back into the early 19th century. By indefinitely paralyzing virtually our entire electric grid system and nearly everything that depends on electronics, the ultimate outcomes of the EMP would kill 70-90% of all Americans from starvation and disease within one year. This as estimated by the chairman of the congressionally-authorized EMP Commission. And shockingly, U.S. missile defenses are grossly inadequate to defend against such an attack. Nor have we taken serious steps to mitigate its consequences.

Even if one is naïve enough to be willing to risk our nation's very survival in the frightfully misguided belief that the maniacal mullahs would never dare nuke us, it is still foolhardy to risk economic disaster here at home by leaving the Israelis to go it alone respecting a preemptive strike.

Unfortunately, the Republican presidential candidates are still mostly treating the whole Iranian nuclear threat as the third rail of American politics, which in my view is a terrible disservice to the electorate. If voters were brought to understand the true dangers confronting us, I'm confident they'd overwhelmingly reject Obama's sickening appeasement of Iran and his abject refusal to urgently take all necessary steps to properly defend America and prevent nuclear doomsday. It's the late 1930's all over again, but this time we live in a far more dangerous nuclear world.

We are now in a life and death struggle with a mad dog enemy who is sworn to bring about "a world without America" and "annihilate Israel." Under absolutely no conditions can we allow either friend or foe to determine our own destiny. In a split second our beloved nation could be relegated to the trash heap of history.

Amazingly, almost our entire country is sleepwalking. Except for an occasional voice in the wilderness, there is virtually no debate or even dialogue on the pros and cons of what should be considered the most crucial issue our nation has ever faced.

America, the nuclear doomsday clock is ticking and an informed and aroused citizenry can and must help stop it from going off.



Obama’s union goon squad

This month’s decision by aircraft manufacturer Boeing to cut a deal with the International Association of Machinists (IAM) will likely result in President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) dropping its unprecedented anti-free-market lawsuit against the company.

That’s too bad. Not bad that the NLRB is dropping its action, obviously, but that Boeing’s decision to cave to union demands effectively preserves the ability of this rogue agency to intimidate other companies into similarly untenable situations in the future. Thanks to the Obama administration, unions no longer need thick-necked heavies with brass knuckles and surly dispositions to impose their will – they’ve got taxpayer-funded lawyers and bureaucrats to do their dirty work.

The Boeing-NLRB case could have produced a landmark decision in which the free market reclaimed some of its lost liberty, just as the Obamacare lawsuit, hopefully, will provide an opportunity for American citizens to reclaim some of their lost individual liberties (as well as hundreds of billions of their tax dollars).

So why didn’t Boeing fight for its right to open future manufacturing facilities wherever it pleases – free from government interference?

That’s easy: The company couldn’t anger its biggest customer. According to a 2011 CNBC report, Boeing did $19.4 billion worth of contract work for the federal government in 2010 – nearly a third of its total revenue for the year. Through the first quarter of 2011, it had already done $6 billion worth of contract work.

No wonder the NLRB was so brazen in pushing Boeing around – and no wonder Boeing settled with the union rather than allowing the issue to go to court.

Such thuggish tactics are sad but not surprising coming from our “spread the wealth around” president, who is engaging in full-time command economic class warfare against American job creators on an unprecedented scale.

“We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests, because we know that you cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement,” Mr. Obama said shortly after taking office.

Mr. Obama has done that and then some, appointing a union backer to run the Department of Labor, a Teamsters’ attorney as chairman the NLRB and a labor operative to lead his political office. He also stripped away Bush-era disclosure requirements for union leaders, bailed out the United Auto Workers in Detroit at taxpayer expense and is using his executive agencies to compel union membership under the guise of “environmental protection.”

Then there’s Obamacare. Even though this socialized medicine monstrosity has yet to be fully implemented, state governments and public-sector unions have already received $2.7 billion through one of the law’s early retiree reinsurance programs.

This steady flow of taxpayer-funded largess and preferential treatment is obviously a return on the $100 million cash investment and massive mobilization effort union leaders made on behalf of Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats in 2008. The payoff is ongoing, too, as earlier this month, Mr. Obama’s NLRB trampled on its own rules governing majority opinions in order to further limit the ability of employees to respond to union recruitment efforts.

In decrying “the overt, special-interest political agenda” of the NLRB, columnist Geoffrey Burr summed up Mr. Obama’s endgame: “The goal is simply to manipulate the rules of the game in order to increase unions’ market share,” he wrote.

Threats and manipulation are nothing new for unions, but the fact that these tactics have been adopted by government agencies tasked with impartially upholding the law and serving as neutral arbiters of disputes is appalling.

Mr. Obama has turned the federal government into a glorified union goon squad – and Boeing’s decision to acquiesce to its demands guarantees that similar threats and intimidation will be used on other companies in the future.



George Soros, Liberal Foundations Bolster Pressure Groups Opposed to Vote Fraud Investigations

Complaints about voter fraud are not rooted in reality and divert attention from electoral reforms that would invigorate America’s democratic system, lawyers with the Brennan Center for Justice have long argued. In a commentary entitled: “The Myth of Voter Fraud,” authors Michael Waldman and Justin Levitt even go so far as to equate voter fraud investigations with the search for Sasquatch.

Moreover, according to a Brennan Center report, voter fraud allegations have been used to rationalize policies that disenfranchise innocent Americans, this would include “overly restrictive identification requirements.”

But J. Christian Adams, a former attorney in the Voting Section of the U.S. Justice Department, has identified localities throughout the country that have “implausible” registration numbers.

Unfortunately, a well-funded “industry of vote fraud deniers” has worked to block any meaningful investigations, Adams told audience members at forum held at Tulane Law School.

This industry includes the Brennan Center, Demos, ACORN’s Project Vote, and the NAACP.

Some of the major financial backers supporting the “vote fraud denier industry” are the George Soros’s Open Society Institute, the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts, according to Adam’s new book entitled “Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department.”

Adams resigned from the DOJ after the department declined to pursue a voter intimidation case from the 2008 elections against members of the New Black Panther Party (NBPR) in Philadelphia. He now works as a private election lawyer and writes for Pajamas Media.

In “Injustice”, Adams describes how Obama’s DOJ deliberately avoids enforcing Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which calls for registration rolls to be purged of ineligible voters. At the same time, the DOJ is pushing “motor voter” lawsuits activated under Section 7 of the NVRA.

Congress passed Section 7 and Section 8 as a way to increase participation and as a way to combat voter fraud,” Adams said at the forum. “It was a compromise. Section 7 would not have become law without Section 8, because there would not have been enough votes in the Senate to prevent a filibuster of `motor voter.’ What we have now in the Justice Department are bureaucrats who have vetoed out that compromise from 1993. Heading into next year’s elections, I do not believe this is a place where we want to be.”

An example of this selective enforcement of the law occurred earlier this year when the Obama DOJ filed a “motor voter” lawsuit against Louisiana that was closely timed with a separate suit from the NAACP. Both suits allege state officials have failed to provide voter registration forms at health and social service agencies. Top figures in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration have said they will vigorously fight both lawsuits.

As the U.S. approaches what many believe is the most important presidential election in our nation’s history, the belief that the voting outcomes are fair is essential to the public’s acceptance of the results. The Justice Department’s refusal to enforce the entire National Voter Registration Act to ensure that only eligible voters participate is alarming in the wake of the voter fraud convictions that caused Congress to ban ACORN from receiving future federal funds.

Bill Wilson, President of Americans for Limited Government commented, “The fact that Soros is spending large amounts of money to prevent voter fraud investigations is a bright red warning light that the sanctity of our election system is under unprecedented attack, and Governor Jindal is to be commended for fighting to ensure that the vote in Louisiana is fair and honest.”



Corruption: Politicians who arrive in Washington as men and women of modest means leave as millionaires


Mark Twain famously wrote, "There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress." Peter Schweizer's new book, "Throw Them All Out," reveals this permanent political class in all its arrogant glory. (Full disclosure: Mr. Schweizer is employed by my political action committee as a foreign-policy adviser.)

Mr. Schweizer answers the questions so many of us have asked. I addressed this in a speech in Iowa last Labor Day weekend. How do politicians who arrive in Washington, D.C. as men and women of modest means leave as millionaires? How do they miraculously accumulate wealth at a rate faster than the rest of us? How do politicians' stock portfolios outperform even the best hedge-fund managers'? I answered the question in that speech: Politicians derive power from the authority of their office and their access to our tax dollars, and they use that power to enrich and shield themselves.

The money-making opportunities for politicians are myriad, and Mr. Schweizer details the most lucrative methods: accepting sweetheart gifts of IPO stock from companies seeking to influence legislation, practicing insider trading with nonpublic government information, earmarking projects that benefit personal real estate holdings, and even subtly extorting campaign donations through the threat of legislation unfavorable to an industry. The list goes on and on, and it's sickening.

Astonishingly, none of this is technically illegal, at least not for Congress. Members of Congress exempt themselves from the laws they apply to the rest of us. That includes laws that protect whistleblowers (nothing prevents members of Congress from retaliating against staffers who shine light on corruption) and Freedom of Information Act requests (it's easier to get classified documents from the CIA than from a congressional office).

The corruption isn't confined to one political party or just a few bad apples. It's an endemic problem encompassing leadership on both sides of the aisle. It's an entire system of public servants feathering their own nests.

None of this surprises me. I've been fighting this type of corruption and cronyism my entire political career. For years Alaskans suspected that our lawmakers and state administrators were in the pockets of the big oil companies to the detriment of ordinary Alaskans. We knew we were being taken for a ride, but it took FBI wiretaps to finally capture lawmakers in the act of selling their votes. In the wake of politicos being carted off to prison, my administration enacted reforms based on transparency and accountability to prevent this from happening again.

We were successful because we had the righteous indignation of Alaskan citizens on our side. Our good ol' boy political class in Juneau was definitely not with us. Business was good for them, so why would they want to end "business as usual"?

The moment you threaten to strip politicians of their legal graft, they'll moan that they can't govern effectively without it. Perhaps they'll gravitate toward reform, but often their idea of reform is to limit the right of "We the people" to exercise our freedom of speech in the political process.

I've learned from local, state and national political experience that the only solution to entrenched corruption is sudden and relentless reform. Sudden because our permanent political class is adept at changing the subject to divert the public's attention—and we can no longer afford to be indifferent to this system of graft when our country is going bankrupt. Reform must be relentless because fighting corruption is like a game of whack-a-mole. You knock it down in one area only to see it pop up in another.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


10 December, 2011

Obama's destructive and ignorant class warfare comes under attack

Self-made billionaire Leon Cooperman sent a straightforward and scathing letter to President Obama Monday.

Amidst the Occupy Wall Street movement, Capitol Hill's super committee flop, and the 2012 presidential election's focus on the debt and tax reform, the United States is struggling to find a successful solution to economic woes and political failures. Cooperman contributed his opinion to the mix in an open letter calling for reform and more accountability from President Obama.

In the letter, Cooperman outlines a number of grievances with the Obama administration. He criticizes Obama for dividing the country and promoting class warfare as a political strategy. He also claims a willingness to pay more taxes and supports productive policy debates in Congress; however, he demands Obama leads the nation and his party, rather than "pandering" to certain interest groups.

Cooperman is currently the CEO and Chairman of Omega Advisors. He worked as a banker at Goldman Sachs for 25 years before becoming CEO of Goldmans Sachs Asset Managment. He founded Omega Advisors in 1991. Cooperman was born to a plumber in the South Bronx, but now has an estimated net workth of $1.8 billion. Cooperman and his wife are signators of the philanthropic, Giving Pledge.

Full text of Leon Cooperman's Open Letter to President Obama Sent Nov. 28, 2011:
Dear Mr. President,

It is with a great sense of disappointment that I write this. Like many others, I hoped that your election would bring a salutary change of direction to the country, despite what more than a few feared was an overly aggressive social agenda. And I cannot credibly blame you for the economic mess that you inherited, even if the policy response on your watch has been profligate and largely ineffectual. (You did not, after all, invent TARP.) I understand that when surrounded by cries of "the end of the world as we know it is nigh", even the strongest of minds may have a tendency to shoot first and aim later in a well-intended effort to stave off the predicted apocalypse.

But what I can justifiably hold you accountable for is your and your minions' role in setting the tenor of the rancorous debate now roiling us that smacks of what so many have characterized as "class warfare". Whether this reflects your principled belief that the eternal divide between the haves and have-nots is at the root of all the evils that afflict our society or just a cynical, populist appeal to his base by a president struggling in the polls is of little importance. What does matter is that the divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf, at this point as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them. It is a gulf that is at once counterproductive and freighted with dangerous historical precedents. And it is an approach to governing that owes more to desperate demagoguery than your Administration should feel comfortable with.

Just to be clear, while I have been richly rewarded by a life of hard work (and a great deal of luck), I was not to-the-manor-born. My father was a plumber who practiced his trade in the South Bronx after he and my mother emigrated from Poland. I was the first member of my family to earn a college degree. I benefited from both a good public education system (P.S. 75, Morris High School and Hunter College, all in the Bronx) and my parents' constant prodding. When I joined Goldman Sachs following graduation from Columbia University's business school, I had no money in the bank, a negative net worth, a National Defense Education Act student loan to repay, and a six-month-old child (not to mention his mother, my wife of now 47 years) to support. I had a successful, near-25-year run at Goldman, which I left 20 years ago to start a private investment firm. As a result of my good fortune, I have been able to give away to those less blessed far more than I have spent on myself and my family over a lifetime, and last year I subscribed to Warren Buffet's Giving Pledge to ensure that my money, properly stewarded, continues to do some good after I'm gone.

My story is anything but unique. I know many people who are similarly situated, by both humble family history and hard-won accomplishment, whose greatest joy in life is to use their resources to sustain their communities. Some have achieved a level of wealth where philanthropy is no longer a by-product of their work but its primary impetus. This is as it should be. We feel privileged to be in a position to give back, and we do. My parents would have expected nothing less of me.
I am not, by training or disposition, a policy wonk, polemicist or pamphleteer. I confess admiration for those who, with greater clarity of expression and command of the relevant statistical details, make these same points with more eloquence and authoritativeness than I can hope to muster. For recent examples, I would point you to "Hunting the Rich" (Leaders, The Economist, September 24, 2011), "The Divider vs. the Thinker" (Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2011), "Wall Street Occupiers Misdirect Anger" (Christine Todd Whitman, Bloomberg, October 31, 2011), and "Beyond Occupy" (Bill Keller, The New York Times, October 31, 2011) - all, if you haven't read them, making estimable work of the subject.

But as a taxpaying businessman with a weekly payroll to meet and more than a passing familiarity with the ways of both Wall Street and Washington, I do feel justified in asking you: is the tone of the current debate really constructive?

People of differing political persuasions can (and do) reasonably argue about whether, and how high, tax rates should be hiked for upper-income earners; whether the Bush-era tax cuts should be extended or permitted to expire, and for whom; whether various deductions and exclusions under the federal tax code that benefit principally the wealthy and multinational corporations should be curtailed or eliminated; whether unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut should be extended; whether the burdens of paying for the nation's bloated entitlement programs are being fairly spread around, and whether those programs themselves should be reconfigured in light of current and projected budgetary constraints; whether financial institutions deemed "too big to fail" should be serially bailed out or broken up first, like an earlier era's trusts, because they pose a systemic risk and their size benefits no one but their owners; whether the solution to what ails us as a nation is an amalgam of more regulation, wealth redistribution, and a greater concentration of power in a central government that has proven no more (I'm being charitable here) adept than the private sector in reining in the excesses that brought us to this pass - the list goes on and on, and the dialectic is admirably American. Even though, as a high-income taxpayer, I might be considered one of its targets, I find this reassessment of so many entrenched economic premises healthy and long overdue. Anyone who could survey today's challenging fiscal landscape, with an un- and underemployment rate of nearly 20 percent and roughly 40 percent of the country on public assistance, and not acknowledge an imperative for change is either heartless, brainless, or running for office on a very parochial agenda. And if I end up paying more taxes as a result, so be it. The alternatives are all worse.

But what I do find objectionable is the highly politicized idiom in which this debate is being conducted. Now, I am not naive. I understand that in today's America, this is how the business of governing typically gets done - a situation that, given the gravity of our problems, is as deplorable as it is seemingly ineluctable. But as President first and foremost and leader of your party second, you should endeavor to rise above the partisan fray and raise the level of discourse to one that is both more civil and more conciliatory, that seeks collaboration over confrontation. That is what "leading by example" means to most people.

Capitalism is not the source of our problems, as an economy or as a society, and capitalists are not the scourge that they are too often made out to be. As a group, we employ many millions of taxpaying people, pay their salaries, provide them with healthcare coverage, start new companies, found new industries, create new products, fill store shelves at Christmas, and keep the wheels of commerce and progress (and indeed of government, by generating the income whose taxation funds it) moving. To frame the debate as one of rich-and-entitled versus poor-and-dispossessed is to both miss the point and further inflame an already incendiary environment. It is also a naked, political pander to some of the basest human emotions - a strategy, as history teaches, that never ends well for anyone but totalitarians and anarchists.

With due respect, Mr. President, it's time for you to throttle-down the partisan rhetoric and appeal to people's better instincts, not their worst. Rather than assume that the wealthy are a monolithic, selfish and unfeeling lot who must be subjugated by the force of the state, set a tone that encourages people of good will to meet in the middle. When you were a community organizer in Chicago, you learned the art of waging a guerilla campaign against a far superior force. But you've graduated from that milieu and now help to set the agenda for that superior force. You might do well at this point to eschew the polarizing vernacular of political militancy and become the transcendent leader you were elected to be. You are likely to be far more effective, and history is likely to treat you far more kindly for it.


Leon G. Cooperman Chairman and Chief Executive Officer



Will “International” Norms Override Civil Liberties and Protections Against Violent Crime?

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges to life sentences without parole for teenage murderers, in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs, two cases in which teen killers argue that such sentences always violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, no matter how horrible the crime.

In Graham v. Florida (2010), the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 vote citing “international opinion,” outlawed life imprisonment without parole for juveniles who commit rape, torture, and other non-homicide crimes, ruling that such sentences violate the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment. In Roper v. Simmons (2005), the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty for juveniles in all cases, including homicide cases, citing the “overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty,” although its ruling cited the existence, as a reasonable alternative to the death penalty, of the “punishment of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole,” which was “itself a severe sanction.”

Left-wing lawyers would like to ban life sentences even for adults who repeatedly torture other people to death. Earlier, New Zealand was pressured to end life without parole for adults who commit “the worst” murders, based on a supposed rule of “customary international law” against life imprisonment without parole. Citing Spanish law and supposed international human-rights norms, Spain now refuses to extradite terrorists who plot mass murder to the United States unless the U.S. agrees not to seek life imprisonment without parole.

In relying on “international opinion” to decide the case, the Supreme Court set a dangerous precedent for civil liberties, since foreign legal systems and international lawyers are often hostile to free speech, religious freedom, and other basic civil liberties, and the right of homeowners to defend themselves against criminals by wielding a knife or gun in self-defense. The U.N. Human Rights Council says there is no human right to self-defense, and that, quite the contrary, international human rights norms require “very severe gun control.”

The libertarian Cato Institute, which frequently files amicus briefs in the Supreme Court seeking to promote civil liberties and privacy rights, joined an amicus brief in the Graham case asking the court not to rely on “international norms,” since doing so would “undermine the democratic process and rule of law, casting considerable uncertainty over many U.S. laws.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute also joined that brief.

Opposition to life sentences is based heavily on snob appeal, sanctimony, and contempt for the unwashed masses. Eighth Amendment challenges to life sentences are based on supposedly “evolving” notions of decency that are not in fact shared by most contemporary Americans, who continue to support both life sentences and the death penalty in public opinion polls; and on “international” norms against life imprisonment that conflict with their own country’s traditional values.

Ultimately, even many liberals may come to regret their reliance on “international opinion,” which sets a dangerous precedent for civil liberties. In USA Today, liberal law professor Jonathan Turley discussed how international norms against blasphemy and the “defamation” of religions promoted at the United Nations are undermining freedom of speech and resulting in restrictions on speech perceived as inconsistent with Islam: “Around the world, free speech is being sacrificed on the altar of religion. Whether defined as hate speech, discrimination or simple blasphemy, governments are declaring unlimited free speech as the enemy of freedom of religion.” Turley describes cases such as the arrest of a Dutch cartoonist for depicting Christian and Muslim fundamentalists as zombies; the investigation of an Italian comedian for joking that in 20 years, the Pope will be in hell; the exclusion of a Dutch politician from Britain because he made a movie describing Islam’s holy book as “fascist”; and the prosecution of writers for calling Mohammed a “pedophile” because of his marriage to 6-year-old Aisha (which was consummated when she was 9).



Obama Takes Off the Gloves

After three years of expanding the federal government's cost and scope, the guy who campaigned on a "net spending cut" pushes for a newly activist Washington

Finally! "In Kansas," the New Jersey Star-Ledger editorialized this week, "Obama finally found his voice." By theatrically following Teddy Roosevelt's "New Nationalism" footsteps in Osawatomie, Kansas, the president had "finally seize[d] the moment," Michael Tomasky enthused at The Daily Beast. "With this speech, the President finally brings long-sought thematic and programmatic coherence to his many proposals and policy initiatives," Cornell University law professor Robert C. Hockett offered in an "expert available" press release.

The scent of sweet release wafted all over the media. "Obama appears finally to have recognized the fruitlessness of trying to govern in the post-partisan mode on which he campaigned for president," Bloomberg Businessweek columnist Joshua Green wrote. Former Bill Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich spoke for many when he said: "Here, finally, is the Barack Obama many of us thought we had elected in 2008.

This may well be true from the point of view of progressives. But the rest of us—a majority of Americans—are more apt to remember a candidate who won the election on an altogether different selling proposition.

The Teddy Roosevelt speech that Obama was attempting to update for the 21st century contained enough freedom-constricting, bureaucracy-enhancing verbiage to make libertarians shudder, but it did contain one formulation that the president would do well to heed:
[W]ords count for nothing except in so far as they represent acts. This is true everywhere; but, O my friends, it should be truest of all in political life. A broken promise is bad enough in private life. It is worse in the field of politics. No man is worth his salt in public life who makes on the stump a pledge which he does not keep after election; and, if he makes such a pledge and does not keep it, hunt him out of public life.

Arguably the most important economic policy pledge candidate Barack Obama made on the stump, repeatedly, was a vow to enact a "net spending cut" on the federal level. Here he is repeating the pledge, after the financial crisis of September 2008 and the introduction of the first major bank bailout:

Immediately after being sworn into office, President Obama obliterated this pledge, jacking up federal spending by a stunning 18 percent in fiscal 2009, to a then-record $3.5 trillion. As the Congressional Budget Office pointed out, federal spending that miserable year "rose even faster...than revenues fell." The "rate of increase was nearly three times the average growth rate of federal outlays over the previous 10 years."

Candidate Obama campaigned every day—and rightly so—against the "fiscal irresponsibility" of the Bush era. "When George Bush came into office, our debt—national debt was around $5 trillion. It's now over $10 trillion. We've almost doubled it," he complained in his second debate with Republican nominee John McCain. "We have had over the last eight years the biggest increases in deficit spending and national debt in our history."

As president, Obama tacked on another $5 trillion in debt in record time. In every measure of basic budgetary incompetence, the last three years have dwarfed the previous eight, despite the candidate convincing a majority of voters of his superior credentials as a fiscal steward. United States debt zoomed through the 100-percent-of-GDP threshold around Halloween, and as the Baby Boomers get ready to scoop up their old-age entitlements, there isn't even a proposed end to the budget leakage in sight.

And it's not just the size of government, it's the scope. Obama has given historical leeway to regulators on health care and financial reform, and (like presidents before him) is increasing his influence on executive branch enforcement at a time when his sway over the congressional branch continues to wane. All of which begs a question: If we just finished three years of a cautious and centrist Obama, what in the name of government vigor will the next 12-60 months look like?


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


9 December, 2011

You can keep your not-so-new nationalism

I’ve always found Teddy Roosevelt to be among the more repugnant of the already repulsive batch of grifters and autocrats we’ve been unfortunate enough to call “Mr. President.” He managed to combine militarism, authoritarianism and economic collectivism with a cult of the state that he called “new nationalism.” As presidential scholar Richard M. Abrams puts it in his discussion of the 26th president, “He spoke righteously for freedom but placed individual liberty in the context of a greater obligation to the nation. He acknowledged that most individuals probably preferred business as usual, to be left to cultivate their own gardens and to pursue modest livelihoods and comforts, but he viewed such an outlook with scorn.”

In economic terms, TR was obsessed with “national efficiency” — a principle he expounded in his (in)famous new nationalism speech in Osawatomie, Kansas. He called for powerful federal and state governments, with all-encompassing powers that allow for no “neutral ground” where people might hide from the government. Said he, “I do not ask for the over centralization; but I do ask that we work in a spirit of broad and far-reaching nationalism where we work for what concerns our people as a whole.”

People who disagreed with his views, he implied (or explicitly stated) were unpatriotic.

If he’d made his speech 20 years later, Teddy Roosevelt’s views could have comfortably clothed themselves in brown shirts (as could those of his cousin who was actually in office at that time).

So, when Barack Obama tramps back to Osawatomie to deliberately echo TR’s speech and views, color me nauseated. “[I]n America, we are greater together – when everyone engages in fair play, everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share. … [A]s a nation, we have always come together, through our government, to help create the conditions where both workers and businesses can succeed.”

Once again, the appeal to tribal identity, the call to submerge individual interests in the name of the greater good of the group — as identified by the speaker. And if you don’t agree with the speaker’s very specific idea of what’s good and right? Well, Teddy Roosevelt called you a “reactionary”; Obama, in our psychologized age, insists you and your co-dissidents have “collective amnesia.”

But we live in an age that’s not just psychologized, but fact-checked, and even the Washington Post called bullshit on much of Barry’s supporting evidence for his exhumed not-so-new nationalism.

On Obama’s insistence that “expensive” tax cuts for the “wealthy” are responsible for the current economic mess:
Obama certainly inherited an economic mess, and we have argued he does not deserve blame for the massive loss of jobs early in his administration. But it seems odd to keep blaming poor job growth on the Bush tax cut, especially because Obama himself pushed through a nearly $1-trillion stimulus and took other actions that have affected the economy, for better or worse.

Finally, Obama blames the Bush tax cuts for “massive deficits.” It is certainly true that the Bush tax cuts helped blow a hole in the budget. But they did not do it all by themselves. We looked at length at this issue earlier this year, assisted by new Congressional Budget Office data.

The data showed that the biggest contributor to the disappearance of projected surpluses was increased spending, which accounted for 36.5 percent of the decline in the nation’s fiscal position, followed by incorrect CBO estimates, which accounted for 28 percent. The Bush tax cuts (along with some Obama tax cuts) were responsible for just 24 percent.

And on the president’s insistence that the uber-wealthy are even more successful at tax avoidance than even the Occupiers have charged in their wildest fever-dream accusations:
“Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1 percent — 1 percent. That is the height of unfairness.”

This is a striking statistic. But the only evidence that the White House could offer for it was a TV clip of a conversation on Bloomberg TV, in which correspondent Gigi Stone made this assertion during a discussion about the tax strategies that the very wealthy use to avoid paying taxes. The TV clip was promoted by the left-leaning website Think Progress.

Stone quoted from a Bloomberg News article last month that reported on such tax strategies, which mostly involve complicated ways to defer paying capital gains taxes. But the article never made the one-percent claim. It also noted that the IRS had gotten more hostile to such transactions in recent years.

An administration official conceded the White House had no actual data to back up the president’s assertion, but argued that other reports showed that some of the wealthy pay little in taxes.

The Post even quoted Judge Learned Hand pointing out that “Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury.”

So, calls for authoritarianism founded on appeals to tribal identity, based on manufactured data. Thanks anyway, but I’ll pass.



Some things Obama left out of his speech

Jonah Goldberg

In 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama insisted that the coming presidential primary and general election campaigns "shouldn't be about making each other look bad, they should be about figuring out how we can all do some good for this precious country of ours. That's our mission."

"And in this mission," he continued, "our rivals won't be one another, and I would assert it won't even be the other party. It's going to be cynicism that we're fighting against."

I guess I missed the moment when Obama hung his "Mission Accomplished" banner. Because from where I'm sitting, it looks more like the president not only lost his battle against cynicism, he defected to the other side.

In his remarks this week in Osawatomie, Kan. -- the site of Theodore Roosevelt's famous 1910 "new nationalism" speech -- Obama laid out the themes for his re-election campaign.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denies it was an "election speech," but Obama's own campaign manager, Jim Messina, touted it as one in a fundraising email.

But such is the way of this White House. Facts are dependent variables, history the president's Pool of Narcissus, reflecting his own glory. Hence, Obama cherry-picks TR's "new nationalism" as a justification for his own agenda and proof that today's Republicans are extreme.

After all, was not TR a "Republican son of a wealthy family," as Obama put it?

Well, yes, he was. And then, he wasn't. TR left the Republican Party to promote his new nationalism philosophy and run as a Progressive - a "super socialist," in the words of The New York Times in 1913.

As a Republican president, Roosevelt had been a "trust buster." As Progressive gadfly, Roosevelt believed in making the trusts bigger, stronger and more entwined with the federal government, orchestrated by an all-powerful "Federal Bureau of Corporations."

"Concentration, co-operation and control," he explained in his acceptance speech at the 1912 Progressive convention, "are the key words for a scientific solution of the mighty industrial problem which now confronts this nation."

It's no surprise Obama would find the progressive Teddy so reasonable. Nor is it shocking that Obama would fail to explain to today's generation the true intentions of that "Republican son of a wealthy family."

And no wonder Obama thinks that low tax rates in the 1920s were a significant cause of the Great Depression. Or that he sees income inequality as the chief problem during the 1930s -- and today.

"Now, this kind of inequality -- a level that we haven't seen since the Great Depression -- hurts us all," he declared. "When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, when people are slipping out of the middle class, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom."

Except inequality isn't the cause of these problems, stagnating wages and unemployment are. But Obama wants to talk about inequality because it puts him on the convenient side of populist anger.

Sounding as if he's still running against George W. Bush, Obama laid the blame for our problems on the "most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history." Of course, he leaves out that those tax cuts also went to the middle class.

He also forgets his own favorite metric of jobs "created or saved." It's a bogus, unprovable gimmick, used to defend his failed stimulus, but who is he to say Bush's tax cuts didn't save millions of jobs after 9/11?

Obama describes the Bush years as a libertarian dystopia of "'you're on your own' economics," when we ignored vital spending on things like education and poverty programs. This is Obama's favorite straw man, and he's a kung fu master when it comes to defeating it.

He leaves out that Europe already has his preferred policies and is about to go under.

More significantly, Obama leaves out that under "compassionate conservatism," Bush was the first president to spend more than 3 percent of GDP on anti-poverty programs. Under Bush, federal spending on education grew 58 percent faster than inflation. Obama forgets that Bush fought for the biggest expansion of entitlements since the Great Society (Medicare Part D). He airbrushes away Sarbanes-Oxley, a new Cabinet agency, faith-based initiatives, etc.

"Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1 percent," Obama barked. "That is the height of unfairness." Except, when the Washington Post asked the White House for evidence to support the claim, an official confessed they "had no actual data to back up the president's assertion."

That's OK. Who cares about the facts when you're fighting to make America safe for cynicism again?



The Orwellian American Left

As I heard Barack Obama and his propaganda minister, Jay Carney, endorsing tax cuts as a vehicle for economic growth, I was reminded, again, of George Orwell's "1984" and the striking similarities between his Oceania and the American left's vision for America.

Oceania's Big Brother regime had "four Ministries between which the entire apparatus of government was divided," the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Peace, the Ministry of Love and the Ministry of Plenty. Each department was dedicated to the opposite principle suggested by its title. "Truth" disseminated lies. "Peace" promoted war. "Love" enforced uniformity of thought. And "Plenty" manipulated the economy to impoverish the people while enriching the ruling class. God was expelled and absolute truth abolished, while "doublespeak" was promoted.

Oceania's Thought Police was the Ministry of Love's enforcement arm, while the Ministry of Truth undertook the task of rewriting history in service to the Party slogan, "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

Today the left has a Ministry of Truth, because it knows that twice as many Americans identify themselves as conservatives than as liberals and so has to disguise its policies to deceive the majority. Its Ministry of Peace would be better-named the Ministry of Bipartisanship, which, in the name of reaching across the aisle with a friendly hand, slices it off with a partisan dagger. Its Ministry of Love is more aptly named the Ministry of Tolerance, which dictates one way of thinking and demonizes dissenters. The Ministry of Plenty is alive and well in the Obama administration's cadre of economic advisers.

The liberal establishment's Ministry of Truth extends throughout our culture, having taken over our educational institutions, the arts and the sciences. How slavishly our academics hew to the Party slogan. They have planted themselves in positions of cultural influence to "control the present," in order to rewrite the past (to conform to their dogma), for purposes of "controlling the future."

Our professors of history, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, philosophy, journalism, law, the hard sciences and other fields deride Western civilization and characterize our founders as Christian-mocking deists devoted to enlightenment principles of the philosophers. They speciously tie our unique freedoms to our "secular" founding to argue that we must banish God from the public square, lest we lose our liberties. In the name of academic inquiry, these academic and cultural "Thought Police" indoctrinate and intimidate students who dare deviate from their thought mandates.

Their textbooks tell us that Franklin D. Roosevelt not only was not a domestic liberal but also saved capitalism through socialism. (Talk about "doublespeak.") They say his New Deal spent us out of the Great Depression, while current historians not housed in the Ministry of Truth tell us it exacerbated our economic woes. Based on the ministry's revisionism, Keynesian economists were empowered to reflect those myths in their textbooks for a half-century. Armed with their revised lessons from history, Obama's Ministry of Plenty advocated passage of the "stimulus" bill, which was doublespeak for "rampant redistribution to its allies, sucking the oxygen out of the private sector and suppressing the economy."

The left's Ministry of Truth, with the full-throated support of the "unbiased" mainstream media, has given us such Orwellian originals as "pro-choice" while suing an 80-year-old prayer-warrior for standing outside Planned Parenthood's abortion factory to share important information with pregnant mothers to help them make a fully informed choice. The ministry seeks to shut down conservative talk radio, with the "Fairness Doctrine." It forbids private ballots for employees to vote anonymously on union membership for the purpose of intimidating them to join -- in the name of the "Employee Free Choice Act." It boasts of "budget cuts" when it slightly reduces the rate of increases in spending. It calls the budget-busting Obamacare legislation the "Affordable Care Act." It calls a bill that would further expand unemployment a "jobs bill." It fabricates and manipulates a consensus on "climate change" and ostracizes dissenters as science-averse. (In Oceania, science had "almost ceased to exist.") It conspires with its Ministry of Tolerance to describe political dissent from its effort to legalize homosexual marriage as "hate" and to brand political conservatism as "racism." While the rapacious Obama administration recklessly squanders our national wealth in its lust for power, its ministries of Plenty and Bipartisanship vilify the wealthy -- who are paying a disproportionate share of taxes -- for not paying their fair share. The Ministry of Plenty, while presiding over the destruction of the private sector, castigates job creators for hoarding all the wealth.

2012 won't be so much about two competing visions as it will be a contest of truth. Without the left's Orwellian ministers and their deputies in the press and academia, it would be a historic blowout and rejection of their vision. I'm betting it will be anyway.




The Road to Canadian Citizenship: "When we think about second passports, exotic locations such as Singapore or Uruguay often come to mind. But could it be that an American's best bet for second citizenship lies just north of the border? In the last few years, Canada has become more attractive as a destination for would-be immigrants. The country invariably scores near the top of various international life-style country rankings. For starters, Canada has a very stable political and financial system, which stood up well during the 2008 Credit Crisis. Canada is also widely recognized for its health care system (accessible to all its residents), yet it boasts the lowest corporate tax rate among the G-8 nations. Among those who have been increasingly looking at Canada as an option for residency and citizenship are high-net-worth Americans. As the U.S. debt grows to unmanageable heights and the government is increasingly applying new force and security measures, Americans are seeking refuge for safety and a chance at future prosperity."

CA: Homosexual marriage challenge: "The sponsors of California's gay marriage ban renewed their effort Thursday to disqualify a federal judge because of his same-sex relationship, but they met a skeptical audience in an appeals court panel. It's the first time an American jurist's sexual orientation has been cited as grounds for overturning a court decision."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


8 December, 2011

For Arab Christians, a wintry 'spring'

IN THE FIRST ROUND of Egypt's parliamentary elections, the hardline Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party won 36.6 percent of the vote -- a plurality -- and the even harder-line Salafist party, Al-Nour, won 24.4 percent. The Egyptian Bloc -- a coalition of liberal, social-democratic, and secular parties -- drew only 13.4 percent. So now we know what the "Spirit of Tahrir Square" looks like when it's put to a vote: In the world's largest Arab nation, the forces of sharia and jihad are winning in a landslide.

The credo of the Muslim Brotherhood is explicitly illiberal and theocratic: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." Abdel Moneim el-Shahat, a Salafist sheik and Nour Party candidate, demands a society in which "sharia is obligatory" -- an Egypt, as he explained in a public debate, with "citizenship restricted by Islamic sharia, freedom restricted by Islamic sharia, equality restricted by Islamic sharia."

Sad to say, these are the fundamentalist blooms of the Arab Spring. The Islamist ascendancy – in Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt this year, as in Gaza and (non-Arab) Turkey previously -- bodes ill for the region's moderate and tolerant Muslims. Whistling past the graveyard, the editor of The Daily Star in Beirut exhorts the world to "Celebrate the Democratic Arab Moment," and declares that the commitment of Arab societies to democratic openness and pluralism "now seems firmly affirmed." Indeed, he says, it "was never in doubt, except perhaps in the minds of lingering colonialists and racists." The anti-Islamist liberals getting wiped out in Egypt's elections might beg to differ.

Even more ominous are the prospects for the Arab world's Christians, who have been undergoing not a springtime of toleration but an increasingly frightful winter of suffering and persecution. Since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's Coptic minority has been repeatedly victimized – churches have been destroyed, homes have been vandalized, and jihadist mobs have rampaged through Christian neighborhoods. In October, Egyptian troops in Cairo's Maspero district slaughtered Christians as they protested the burning of churches in Upper Egypt. Even before the Maspero pogrom, Christians by the tens of thousands had been fleeing post-Mubarak Egypt. You don't have to be a "lingering colonialist and racist" to fear there may be even worse to come.

Egypt isn't the only Arab country whose Christian communities are being decimated by Islamist brutality.

Since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, The Wall Street Journal noted on Monday, "at least 54 Iraqi churches have been bombed and at least 905 Christians killed in various acts of violence. . . . Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled." The archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Kirkuk and Sulimaniya calls the emigration a "hemorrhage," warning that "Iraq could be emptied of Christians." In Syria, meanwhile, Catholic and Orthodox communities are terrified of what awaits them if the current regime is overthrown. According to the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, the country's archbishops were summoned to the presidential palace soon after the uprising against Bashar al-Assad began, and bluntly warned: "Either support me, or your churches will burn."

John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, has issued a genocide warning for Christians in the Middle East.

The harrying of non-Muslim minorities in the Middle East is hardly a new phenomenon – nearly all of the Arab world's Jews were driven out long ago – but the rise of radical Islam has lethally intensified the problem. Last month, Christian Solidarity International, a respected human-rights organization with deep experience in the region, warned that Christians there may be facing genocide. "The crisis of survival for non-Muslim communities is especially acute in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, Iran, and Pakistan," the group's CEO, John Eibner, wrote in a letter to President Obama, imploring him to act urgently to prevent the kind of "religious cleansing" that eradicated Turkey's "once-thriving Christian communities" a century ago.

It takes more than voting to sustain decent democratic values. Totalitarians from Hitler to Hamas, after all, have come to power via the ballot. Revolts and demonstrations may topple Arab dictators, and their replacements may be chosen in elections. But there will be no Arab Spring worthy of the name without pluralism, freedom, and tolerance.

"Such tolerance is particularly important when it comes to religion," Obama declared last May – so important that America would defend it with "all of the diplomatic, economic, and strategic tools at our disposal." Fine words. But with Islamists sweeping to power around them and human-rights activists warning of genocide, the beleaguered Christians of the Middle East need more than words.



Behind Income Inequality

Walter E. Williams

Benefiting from a hint from an article titled "Is Harry Potter Making You Poorer?", written by my colleague Dr. John Goodman, president of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis, I've come up with an explanation and a way to end income inequality in America, possibly around the world. Joanne Rowling was a welfare mother in Edinburgh, Scotland. All that has changed. As the writer of the "Harry Potter" novels, having a net worth of $1 billion, she is the world's wealthiest author. More importantly, she's one of those dastardly 1-percenters condemned by the Occupy Wall Streeters and other leftists.

How did Rowling become so wealthy and unequal to the rest of us? The entire blame for this social injustice lies at the feet of the world's children and their enabling parents. Rowling's wealth is a direct result of more than 500 million "Harry Potter" book sales and movie receipts grossing more than $5 billion. In other words, the millions of "99-percenters" who individually plunk down $8 or $9 to attend a "Harry Potter" movie, $15 to buy a "Harry Potter" novel or $30 to buy a "Harry Potter" Blu-ray Disc are directly responsible for contributing to income inequality and wealth concentration that economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman says "is incompatible with real democracy." In other words, Rowling is not responsible for income inequality; it's the people who purchase her works.

We just can't blame the children for the unfairness of income inequality. Look at how Wal-Mart Stores generated wealth for the Walton family of Christy ($25 billion), Jim ($21 billion), Alice ($21 billion) and Robson ($21 billion). The Walton family's wealth is not a result of ill-gotten gains, but the result of Wal-Mart's revenue, $422 billion in 2010. The blame for this unjust concentration of wealth rests with those hundreds of millions of shoppers worldwide who voluntarily enter Wal-Mart premises and leave dollars, pounds and pesos.

Basketball great LeBron James plays forward for the Miami Heat and earns $43 million for doing so. That puts him with those 1-percenters denounced by Wall Street occupiers. But who made LeBron a 1-percenter? It's those children again, enabled by their fathers or some other significant male. Instead of children doing their homework and their fathers helping their wives with housework, they get into their cars, drive to a downtown arena and voluntarily plunk down $100 for tickets. The millions of people who watch LeBron play are the direct cause of LeBron's earning $43 million and are thereby responsible for "undermining the foundations of our democracy."

Krugman laments in his Nov. 3 New York Times column "Oligarchy, American Style," "We have a society in which money is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people, and in which that concentration of income and wealth threatens to make us a democracy in name only." I'd ask Krugman this question: Who's putting all the money in the hands of the few, and what do you think ought to be done to stop millions, perhaps billions, of people from using their money in ways that lead to high income and wealth concentration? In other words, I'd like Krugman to tell us what should be done to stop the millions of children who make Joanne Rowling rich, the millions who fork over their money to the benefit of LeBron James, and the hundreds of millions of people who shop at Wal-Mart.



Sprung from prison, tort-bar king back raising money for Dems

See if you can guess which member of the infamous "1 percent" is the subject of this invitation to a holiday fundraiser: "For the second year in a row, the _________ will be hosting our holiday event at the stunning cliff-side estate of ____ and _____, longtime supporters of ________ candidates and causes. Guests last year were wowed by incredible architecture, panoramic views, food and drink, and tours of the ______ art collection. We are delighted to be working with them and the _______ club again. Ticket price included hors d'oeuvres, beer and wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. Proceeds will help _____ prepare for next year's elections."

Obviously, with a "stunning" estate offering "panoramic views," and a tour-worthy art collection, the couple hosting this high-dollar event are wealthy, have been politically active for a long time, and surely must command significant power and influence in one of the nation's two major political parties. And since the GOP is "the party of the rich," they must be Republicans, right? Well, guess again, because the power couple being described in the preceding paragraph, which comes from an invitation to Dec. 18 fund raiser are William and Michelle Lerach. The Lerachs are long-time Democratic contributors. Bill Lerach has been close to President Clinton, both when he was in the White House and in the years since. The Lerachs have given nearly $1.5 million to Democratic candidates, committees and causes since 1990. That total is half-a-million more than was given during the same period by George Soros.

There is another big difference between Bill Lerach and George Soros. Soros did not recently spend two years in a federal prison. It should not be forgotten that Lerach served time and repaid $7.5 million after being convicted in federal court of participating in a long-running fraud scheme hatched by him and three of his senior partners at the infamous Milberg Weiss class-action lawsuit factory in New York and California. The scheme involved bribing plaintiffs who bought stock in a corporation targeted by the law firm in return for making it lead counsel in federal court. Millions of dollars in such bribes helped produce an estimated $250 million in fees for the corrupt firm during a three-decade period that began in 1981, according to the Justice Department. The long-running bribery was so outrageous that Milberg Weiss was the first law firm ever sued by the government under the RICO organized crime statute.

When Lerach finished serving his brief time in the federal pen, he returned to his Cliffside estate in San Diego to enjoy a fortune estimated at $200 million. And as evidenced by the upcoming fundraiser there, he picked up right where he left off as a key cog in the Democratic money machine. But considering that much of Lerach's fortune was earned by breaking the law, why would any Democratic incumbent, candidate or committee accept his tainted money?



USPS' Cost-Cutting Plan Shows Need for Privatization

The Postal Service has announced how it plans to fight increased competition for First Class mail — by providing worse service. If the USPS doesn't want to deliver the mail, Congress should let others give it a try.

On Monday, the Postal Service said it will shut almost half its mail processing centers and largely eliminate next-day delivery for first-class mail. That's on top of a 1-cent postage stamp hike that goes into effect next month.

It's all part of an effort to cut $20 billion in annual costs, staunch the flood of red ink and avoid bankruptcy. Still, it's hard to see how charging more for worse service is a credible plan for success.

Even if it were, the postal service has been down this road many times in the past. In previous cost-cutting efforts, for example, it dramatically shrank the areas in which it would even strive for next-day delivery.

The result has been an ongoing deterioration of its business, a trend vastly accelerated by faxes, e-mail, online billing and new communication technologies.

But what choice does the USPS have?

On the one hand, it's weighed down by unions that control 85% of its workforce, impeding reasonable efficiency improvements. Example: In just the first six months of this year, the Postal Service spent $4.3 million paying postal workers to do literally nothing, thanks to labor agreements that require the service to keep workers on the payroll even when mail volume is low or machinery breaks down.

At the same time, lawmakers often scuttle cost-saving plans that might affect their districts. After congressmen screamed, for example, the USPS cut the list of post offices it planned to close from 3,200 to a mere 162.

The postmaster general had it right this week when he said that the USPS is in dire straits because "we are expected to operate like a business but don't have the flexibility to do so."

But the solution isn't to mindlessly cut costs or trot out more piecemeal reforms like the one working through the Senate, which will only prolong the agony. Instead, we should follow the lead of many other countries and privatize the Postal Service.

A Cato Institute report finds the consistent result abroad has been improved productivity and lower costs, without a decline in quality. Selling anything less than privatization as the solution to the Postal Service's problems would constitute mail fraud.




Blago finally nailed: "Ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for trying to auction off President Barack Obama's vacated US Senate seat and a host of other corruption charges. The Democratic governor was arrested in the midst of what prosecutors called a "political corruption crime spree" just weeks after Obama's historic November 2008 election. He was convicted of 17 corruption counts in June after his first trial resulted in a hung jury on all but one of the charges. While Obama managed to emerge untainted, the scandal shone a spotlight on the state's corruption-filled political scene and cast a shadow on his early days in office. Five of the past nine Illinois governors have been indicted or arrested for fraud or bribery"

Pearl Harbor was FDR’s back door to war: "Given that today is the anniversary date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we’ll no doubt be treated to standard interventionist articles stating what a great thing World War II was. The American people were overwhelmingly opposed to entry into World War II. That’s not surprising given the consequences of World War I. There was absolutely no reason for the United States to intervene in that war."

Our broken medical system: "Dr. Donald Berwick is the guy who ran Medicare and Medicaid for the past 17 months, and he quit last week. In his parting remarks, he said that 20 to 30 percent of health care spending is waste, yielding no benefits to patients and further clogging up a system that is, by its very nature, sluggish and tortuous. He listed five reasons that accounted for the majority of the waste he had seen ..."

Eurocracy run amuck: "We must re-establish the primacy of politics over the market.' That sentence, spoken a little while ago by Germany’s Angela Merkel, sums up the startlingly unoriginal character of the approach adopted by most EU politicians as they seek to save the common currency from what even Paul Krugman seems to concede is its current trajectory towards immolation"

The greed fallacy: "We're never greedy. Only others are greedy. This unrecognized hypocrisy allows us to use the word greed in a greedy way, to manipulate others to get what we want. But most of what people call greed is simply other people trying to honor their responsibilities."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


7 December, 2011

China, Taiwan and North Korea

China has repeatedly and belligerently advertised their “concern” about every plan the US has made to supply Taiwan with defensive weapons. To imagine Taiwan as the aggressor, as a risk to mainland China, is pure sophistry. The reverse however is everywhere evident. Yet General Liang of the People’s Liberation Army has often in the past emphatically denounced U.S. arms sales to Taiwan as seriously damaging China’s core interests.

Clearly China feels it’s their absolute right to liberate Taiwan from its successfully functioning democracy of 14 years (it originally obtained effective independence in 1945); and to do so by force. Otherwise why focus like a laser on primarily weapons deals?

The White House approach is now unlimited negotiating ladled with a liberal amount of pandering. China’s unambiguous snubs show how little this approach means to them. Yet we seem to repeat the same mistakes, again and again with Iran, Russia, China and others. They understand our weaknesses only too well and we seem to now effectively hide our strengths in order to gain international acceptance and favor.

A most simple resolution to the White House’s quandary is to call China’s bluff. Let’s drag North Korea into the discussion and link increased arms sales to Taiwan and South Korea to conducive Chinese leverage in denuclearizing North Korea – finally and transparently. Since North Korea is totally dependent on China for energy, raw materials and its economic “life blood”, China could turn off the tap and achieve critical North Korean accommodations instantaneously.

Yet it refuses. Why? Because China, not the U.S., makes demands, communicates threats and acts the Asian bully. If they refuse the U.S. demands then we still get to shore up militarily our good friends and allies Taiwan and South Korea and further help balance our budget with much needed exports. All to the good; and if they alternatively participate in pushing recalcitrant North Korea towards denuclearization – fantastic. There is no downside.

Why is the White House so oblivious to that simplicity?



Loathing Conservative Christian Candidates

Time magazine didn't mind ruffling feathers in religious America with a cover this summer that asked "Is Hell Dead?" Never mind that America is overwhelmingly Christian. Then Time found only one letter worth plucking out to feature in large, bold type from a man in Dallas: "Hell is easy to define. It would be spending eternity with evangelicals."

That sums up the secular, liberal media attitude toward America's Christian majority, and it explains why they find Republicans so objectionable when they make their religious faith part of their campaign for the presidency. Matthew Philbin and Erin Brown of the Media Research Center's Culture and Media Institute have written a new report called "Baptism By Fire" that analyzes coverage of the presidential candidates and their religious faith. Does it surprise anyone that they found a huge difference in coverage of Republicans and Democrats?

In the first ten months of 2011, network morning and evening news stories mentioned the religious faith of GOP presidential challengers more than seven times as often (143 stories to 19 stories) than they had for Democratic challengers in the first ten months of 2007. They've been 13 times more likely to be critical of the Republicans' religious beliefs than they were of Democrats just four years ago.

Did I mention Rev. Jeremiah Wright? In the first ten months of 2007, there were just six instances where stories challenged or negatively highlighted the faith of liberal White House hopefuls. The networks almost entirely avoided questions about Barack Obama's upbringing in a Muslim country and his two decades of attendance of a radical Chicago church. Likewise, audiences were reassured that Hillary Clinton's faith was important -- but only as it saw her through her husband's reckless infidelities. Primary candidates Joe Biden and Chris Dodd were never asked about their fervent voting record in favor of abortion -- even partial-birth abortion -- in full opposition to their Catholic faith.



Did FDR Provoke Pearl Harbor?

It's always been pretty obvious that the Democrat hero forced Japan into war with the USA by cutting off their oil but now we have extensive documentation of FDR's scheming -- JR

Pat Buchanan

On Dec. 8, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt took the rostrum before a joint session of Congress to ask for a declaration of war on Japan. A day earlier, at dawn, carrier-based Japanese aircraft had launched a sneak attack devastating the U.S. battle fleet at Pearl Harbor. Said ex-President Herbert Hoover, Republican statesman of the day, “We have only one job to do now, and that is to defeat Japan.”

But to friends, “the Chief” sent another message: “You and I know that this continuous putting pins in rattlesnakes finally got this country bit.”

Today, 70 years after Pearl Harbor, a remarkable secret history, written from 1943 to 1963, has come to light. It is Hoover’s explanation of what happened before, during and after the world war that may prove yet the death knell of the West.

Edited by historian George Nash, “Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath” is a searing indictment of FDR and the men around him as politicians who lied prodigiously about their desire to keep America out of war, even as they took one deliberate step after another to take us into war.

Yet the book is no polemic. The 50-page run-up to the war in the Pacific uses memoirs and documents from all sides to prove Hoover’s indictment. And perhaps the best way to show the power of this book is the way Hoover does it -- chronologically, painstakingly, week by week.

Consider Japan’s situation in the summer of 1941. Bogged down in a four year war in China she could neither win nor end, having moved into French Indochina, Japan saw herself as near the end of her tether.

Inside the government was a powerful faction led by Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoye that desperately did not want a war with the United States.

The “pro-Anglo-Saxon” camp included the navy, whose officers had fought alongside the U.S. and Royal navies in World War I, while the war party was centered on the army, Gen. Hideki Tojo and Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka, a bitter anti-American.

On July 18, 1941, Konoye ousted Matsuoka, replacing him with the “pro-Anglo-Saxon” Adm. Teijiro Toyoda.

The U.S. response: On July 25, we froze all Japanese assets in the United States, ending all exports and imports, and denying Japan the oil upon which the nation and empire depended.

Stunned, Konoye still pursued his peace policy by winning secret support from the navy and army to meet FDR on the U.S. side of the Pacific to hear and respond to U.S. demands.

U.S. Ambassador Joseph Grew implored Washington not to ignore Konoye’s offer, that the prince had convinced him an agreement could be reached on Japanese withdrawal from Indochina and South and Central China. Out of fear of Mao’s armies and Stalin’s Russia, Tokyo wanted to hold a buffer in North China.

On Aug. 28, Japan’s ambassador in Washington presented FDR a personal letter from Konoye imploring him to meet.

Tokyo begged us to keep Konoye’s offer secret, as the revelation of a Japanese prime minister’s offering to cross the Pacific to talk to an American president could imperil his government.

On Sept. 3, the Konoye letter was leaked to the Herald-Tribune.

On Sept. 6, Konoye met again at a three-hour dinner with Grew to tell him Japan now agreed with the four principles the Americans were demanding as the basis for peace. No response.

On Sept. 29, Grew sent what Hoover describes as a “prayer” to the president not to let this chance for peace pass by.

On Sept. 30, Grew wrote Washington, “Konoye’s warship is ready waiting to take him to Honolulu, Alaska or anyplace designated by the president.” No response. On Oct. 16, Konoye’s cabinet fell.

In November, the U.S. intercepted two new offers from Tokyo: a Plan A for an end to the China war and occupation of Indochina and, if that were rejected, a Plan B, a modus vivendi where neither side would make any new move. When presented, these, too, were rejected out of hand.

At a Nov. 25 meeting of FDR’s war council, Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s notes speak of the prevailing consensus: “The question was how we should maneuver them (the Japanese) into ... firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.” “We can wipe the Japanese off the map in three months,” wrote Navy Secretary Frank Knox.

As Grew had predicted, Japan, a “hara-kiri nation,” proved more likely to fling herself into national suicide for honor than to allow herself to be humiliated.

Out of the war that arose from the refusal to meet Prince Konoye came scores of thousands of U.S. dead, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the fall of China to Mao Zedong, U.S. wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the rise of a new arrogant China that shows little respect for the great superpower of yesterday. If you would know the history that made our world, spend a week with Mr. Hoover’s book.



Where Have Our Cojones Gone?

Last week in Boston, a seven-year-old boy named Mark got into a fight with a bully. The bully put his hands around the boy's throat and began to squeeze. That's when Mark fought back; he kicked his aggressor right in the family jewels. In a normal society, we'd celebrate Mark. Throw him a ticker tape parade or something. Bullies need a sharp kick to the testicles. That's how you convince them that bullying is wrong.

But in Boston, Mark was charged with sexual assault.

Just to get this straight: Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank's gay lover can run a homosexual prostitution ring from his apartment and Frank will not be prosecuted. But a boy kicks a bully in the berries and he faces expulsion from school.

It's not the bully who lost his chestnuts. It's our country.

At some point in the recent past, America moved from the Gilded Age to the Gelded Age. It's no longer considered polite to beat up bullies -- that's simply not "tolerant." All this chatter from the left about the problem of bullying -- Lady Gaga is visiting the White House this week to tell her subordinate, President Obama, what to do about it -- is so much nonsense. The left has no idea how to solve the bullying problem. They treat all violence as equal -- Mark and the bully are on the same moral plane -- and so they recommend counseling and training, as though a little classroom instruction can solve boys' basic biological urge toward aggression.

Have these people ever met little boys?

Apparently not. Lady Gaga has only met her "little monsters," androgynous pantywaists with no distinguishing sexual characteristics. She thinks that homosexual boys are "born this way," but bullies can be changed by a few sensitivity training sessions. The sad truth is that biology can only be overcome by real conditioning, not by nattering. And in the case of bullies, conditioning equals physical violence.

But in our country today, that solution is considered as bad as the problem. The left has instead come up with an alternative solution: eunichism. If male biology drives violence, we have to wash that man right out of the young boys' hair. We will train them not to use toy guns but to play with dolls. We will teach them that heterosexuality and homosexuality are equals, since all sexes are the same. We will teach them that fighting bullies is the same as being a bully. No wonder the left isn't all that upset about female genital mutilation in Muslim countries, they're busily removing the testes of our young boys right here at home.

There's only one problem with this beautiful new world of asexualism: It's idiotic. All we do is train good boys to be pansies; bullies, meanwhile, continue to be bullies. Jerry Sandusky wasn't going to stop raping little boys based on taking a few seminars -- but Mike McQueary was going to avoid reporting that rape to police if he was trained into spinelessness by the surrounding culture. The Muslim Brotherhood isn't going to stop its aggressive pursuit of worldwide Shariah if we offer its members free Lady Gaga tickets and a shopping spree at Sephora. But Western civilization will let them do it if we spend enough time decrying our own aggressive instinct.

The fact is that males' aggressive instinct is good for the world, if channeled properly. Without it, Hitler goes unpunished. Without it, millions continue to starve in the Soviet Union. The key to the aggressive instinct is training it to act along proper moral lines, not eradicating it.

The American people know that down deep. A few months back, a video went viral of a young Sydney boy, Casey Heynes, being bullied by a younger attacker, Richard. Richard punches the much larger Heynes in the face. Then he punches him again. Finally, Heynes can stand it no longer: He picks up Richard and body-slams him to the ground. Richard gets up and wobbles around, off camera. End video.

Elites of the world decried Heynes' behavior. "We don't believe that violence is ever the answer," said John Dalgleish, head of research at Kids Helpline and Boys Town. But tribute sites went up on the Internet to Heynes; videos celebrating his heroics became common fodder. As everyone who has ever faced down a bully knows, the only way to stop a bully is to show him that physical force won't get him anywhere. The only way to show him that is to beat the hell out of him.

We live in a world of bullies. So long as we continue to psychologically castrate our own boys, the bullies of the world will continue winning. We will continue asking why they hate us, and they will continue choking the life out of us. Only if we re-learn to kick them in the cojones rather than removing our own will we emerge victorious.




Invisible Americans: Overlooked millions inside job numbers: "Some politicians are saying that the latest unemployment report is good news, but it's not. It shows us that this country is still in crisis. It shows us that the government needs to act quickly and aggressively to create jobs, and to restore the lost earning power of the average American who has a job. Most of all it shows us that millions of struggling people are still invisible in the Nation's Capitol."

What free market?: "If America is indeed a free-market fundamentalist nation, it sure has a funny way of showing it. Federal, state, and local governments combine to spend roughly 40 percent of GDP. Washington indirectly spends another 12 percent of GDP by forcing businesses and consumers to comply with $1.75 trillion worth of federal regulations."

The golden years really are golden: "Despite occasional lurid stories about a grandmother eating cat food shortly before being wheeled off a cliff, the wealth gap favors ... the old! And the gap is enormous. Census data reveal that households headed by someone 65 or older have an average net worth 47 times greater than that of households headed by someone under 35."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


6 December, 2011

My Fourth Statement

Bryan Caplan

When I was promoting Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, one of the most common questions I heard was, "Are you going to have any more?" I always avoided a definite answer. But now I'm pleased to announce that my wife and I are expecting our fourth child, a baby girl, in April. She'll be named Valeria, middle name TBD (though I'm partial to Ayn and Fanya).

Back in the Baby Boom, having four kids was roughly average. But nowadays, it verges on counter-cultural. As Jonathan Last observes, "When you meet couples with more than three children today, chances are they're making a cultural and theological statement." I'm irreligious, but Last still has my number. I am indeed making a cultural statement. Having lots of kids is my way of saying all of the following:

1. People should feel grateful to be alive - and people who give the gift of life do a great thing.

2. People in the First World today should be incredibly grateful to be alive; they have a golden opportunity to build a joyful life free of mankind's historic troubles. (Corollary: People should take most of the energy they spend on complaining and reallocate it to self-improvement).

3. More people make the world a better place. Our culture greatly overblows the social costs of population - especially on the environment - and severely neglects the social benefits - especially on innovation and choice.

4. Parents' most meaningful effect is on their kids' appreciation - how their kids feel about and remember them. The key to being a great parent isn't sacrifice and suffering on your kids' behalf. It's treating them with kindness and respect, and having fun together.

5. Parental sacrifice and suffering are usually a waste of time in any case. At least in the modern First World, your kids' future depends primarily on their genes and their free will, not your "investment." (Corollary: Our four kids will be roughly as successful in school and work as they would have been if they were only children who enjoyed our undivided time and resources).

6. You can have the pride and joy of being a parent without losing the pride and joy of being an individual. While many parents would work themselves to death taking care of four kids, there's no reason to do so.

7. Kids are cute and fun. Especially my kids.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


Obamacare is already destroying jobs

In 1941, Carl Karcher was a 24-year-old truck driver for a bakery. Impressed by the large numbers of buns he was delivering, he scrounged up $326 to buy a hot dog cart across from a Goodyear plant. And the war came.

So did millions of defense industry workers and their cars. And, soon, Southern California’s contribution to American cuisine — fast food. Including, eventually, hundreds of Carl’s Jr. restaurants. Karcher died in 2008, but his legacy, CKE Restaurants, survives. It would thrive, says CEO Andy Puzder, but for government’s comprehensive campaign against job creation.

CKE, with more than 3,200 restaurants (Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s), has created 70,000 jobs, 21,000 directly and 49,000 with franchisees. The growth of those numbers will be inhibited by — among many government measures — Obama­care.

When CKE’s health-care advisers, citing Obamacare’s complexities, opacities and uncertainties, said that it would add between $7.3 million and $35.1 million to the company’s $12 million health-care costs in 2010, Puzder said: I need a number I can plan with. They guessed $18 million — twice what CKE spent last year building new restaurants. Obamacare must mean fewer restaurants.

And therefore fewer jobs. Each restaurant creates, on average, 25 jobs — and as much as 3.5 times that number of jobs in the community. (CKE spends about $1 billion a year on food and paper products, $175 million on advertising, $33 million on maintenance, etc.)

Puzder laughs about the liberal theory that businesses are not investing because they want to “punish Obama.” Rising health-care costs are, he says, just one uncertainty inhibiting expansion. Others are government policies raising fuel costs, which infect everything from air conditioning to the cost (including deliveries) of supplies, and the threat that the National Labor Relations Board will use regulations to impose something like “card check” in place of secret-ballot unionization elections.

CKE has about 720 California restaurants, in which 84 percent of the managers are minorities and 67 percent are women. CKE has, however, all but stopped building restaurants in this state because approvals and permits for establishing them can take up to two years, compared to as little as six weeks in Texas, and the cost to build one is $100,000 more than in Texas, where CKE is planning to open 300 new restaurants this decade.

CKE restaurants have 95 percent employee turnover in a year — not bad in this industry — and the health-care benefits under CKE’s current “mini-med” plans are capped in a way that makes them illegal under Obamacare. So CKE will have to convert many full-time employees to part-timers to limit the growth of its burdens under Obamacare.

In an economic climate of increasing uncertainties, Puzder says, one certainty is that many businesses now marginally profitable will disappear when Obamacare causes that margin to disappear. A second certainty is that “employers everywhere will be looking to reduce labor content in their business models as Obamacare makes employees unambiguously more expensive.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, by 2008 the cost of federal regulations had reached $1.75 trillion. That was 14 percent of national income unavailable for job-creating investments. And that was more than 11,000 regulations ago.

Seventy years ago, the local health department complained that Karcher’s hot dog cart had no restroom facilities. He got help from a nearby gas station. A state agency made him pay $15 for workers’ compensation insurance. Another agency said that he owed more than the $326 cost of the cart in back sales taxes. For $100, a lawyer successfully argued that Karcher did not because his customers ate their hot dogs off the premises.

Time was, American businesses could surmount such regulatory officiousness. But government’s metabolic urge to boss people around has grown exponentially and today CKE’s California restaurants are governed by 57 categories of regulations. One compels employees and even managers to take breaks during the busiest hours, lest one of California’s 200,000 lawyers comes trolling for business at the expense of business.

Barack Obama has written that during his very brief sojourn in the private sector he felt like “a spy behind enemy lines.” Puzder knows what it feels like when gargantuan government is composed of multitudes of regulators who regard business as the enemy. And 22.9 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or too discouraged to look for employment know what it feels like to be collateral damage in the regulatory state’s war on business.



That good ol' double standard again: What Did The Corzine Democrats Say About Abramoff?

Jon Corzine, former CEO of collapsed brokerage MF Global, has become a major embarrassment to his friends on Capitol Hill.

The former senator and governor of New Jersey has not only donated money recently to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Democratic National Committee, he has also contributed to the following U.S. representatives, the Hill notes: New Jersey’s Rush Holt, Donald Payne Frank Pallone, and Steve Rothman; California’s George Miller; New York’s Kathy Hochul, Nita Lowey, Jerrold Nadler and Charlie Rangel and Massachusetts’ Ed Markey.

Republicans are calling on Democrats to return the money. Top blogger Instapundit suggested that someone should look up what these lawmakers said in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, where considerable pressure was brought to bear on the GOP to return contributions from Abramoff and those affiliated with him.

So, Capitol Hill did some searching, dug into the archives, and came up with some rather choice morsels. Here’s Rep. Holt, on Jan 18, 2006:
Rep. Rush Holt returned to Washington today to join House and Senate Democrats in unveiling their “Honest Leadership, Open Government” Act, an aggressive reform package to reverse Republican excesses and protect the public trust.

“The Abramoff debacle has joined Teapot Dome and the Keating Five in the lexicon of Congressional corruption scandals,” said Rep. Holt. “As long as Congressional rules allow this kind of corruption to go on unabated, public cynicism about government will only grow. Our action today is designed to deal with this problem head on.”

(The Legislation) will fix the gift and travel rules that allowed the Jack Abramoffs of the world to buy Republican influence in Congress, ensuring that legislation will never again be written in back rooms by industry lobbyists.

Where has Holt been during the Solyndra mess?

On April 6, 2006, Rep. Nadler said the following at a Judiciary subcommittee hearing on lobbying reform:
The recent indictments, convictions and resignations of leading members of Congress and their staff, up to and including the former majority leader, Mr. DeLay, have cast a pall over this institution and over every one of us, whether we like it or not, whether any of us has done anything improper or not.

Unless this Congress acts and acts effectively and with credibility, the public will rightly judge this institution and its members harshly. The public will become only more cynical.

I do not believe that members are corrupted by a $50 or $75 dinner. They are corrupted by the necessity to raise large sums of campaign finance from private sources.

Any reporter out there who could ask Nadler how he feels about Corzine?

Oh, and this part of his statement wasn’t related to Corzine, but was ironic in view of what happened in subsequent years:
Bills hundreds of pages long, written in the dead of night, and brought to a vote with little or no examination by the members will always be an invitation to disaster and to corruption, because they are an invitation to payoffs for campaign contributions when no one is looking.

There was a time when legislation was actually the result of a deliberative and bipartisan process. That is, regrettably, becoming the exception, rather than the rule in this Congress. It creates bad policy and innumerable opportunities for mischief.

Do you recall Nadler protesting during the stimulus debate or during ObamaCare? Me neither.

Rep. Miller said the following after the Senate Indian Affairs Committee released its report on Abramoff on June 22, 2006:
Today, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee released a report on some of Jack Abramoff’s many contributions to the Republican culture of corruption. The report is an important contribution to our understanding of Abramoff’s illicit activities, but it is not complete. Congress must get more answers about Abramoff’s influence over its legislative affairs — in particular with regard to sweatshops in the Northern Mariana Islands.”

Let’s hope Miller will be calling for a thorough investigation into Corzine’s activities. Hope, but don’t hold your breath.



Obama Administration Denies Federal Drug Price Controls are Killing Americans

While Americans are dying because of a drug shortage problem serious enough to call a national emergency, the Obama Administration is denying that Medicare price controls are the cause.

Two hearings now have been held on the government induced prescription drug shortage in the House and another has been requested by ranking members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The Senate will hold a hearing of its own on Wednesday.

In a nation as prosperous as our own — how can we have such drug shortages? That was the question the minds of congressmen in a hearing on Nov. 30, 2011 before the House Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Health.

Four out of the five expert witnesses before the Subcommittee agreed that a Medicare price control policy has disincentivized the production of certain drugs and is at least part of the reason we now have the drug shortages that are killing Americans.

The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 introduced the “average sales price” repayment method for certain drugs. Instead of paying drug manufacturers based on the “wholesale acquisition cost,” Medicare pays based on the average price of the medication six months ago plus six percent. So, if the costs of producing the medicines increases more than 6 percent in six months, the manufacturer will have to take a loss.

The fifth expert agreed that Medicare’s price controls might be a factor, but refused to say so without further evidence.

However, the Obama Administration denies that Medicare pricing policies are a major problem. Dr. Howard K. Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services , said as much in Congressional testimony House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health on September 23, 2011.

Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) asked Dr. Koh the following question: "I had a group of oncologists in the other day … and they say they literally have to make choices about who they take care of because they don’t have the drugs available. So I asked kind of the question, “I can’t believe a company won’t make them if you have the demand for them.” And they told me that this particular type of drug–a generic—[is] priced differently in the federal government. So Medicare actually prices these drugs different than other drugs. Is what they were saying true?"

Dr. Koh’s response: "We have a role of Medicare here that reimburses according to what’s called the average sales price. So that is one factor here but we don’t view that as a significant issue in driving the shortages we’re seeing here."

Unfortunately, we have bureaucrats in the Obama Administration that believe the solution is more government control and not removing government restraints on the marketplace. Here’s a dialog between Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Dr. Koh from the same hearing:

Shimkus: "Why doesn’t the shortage of a product in this sector then send an increased price signal to manufacturers for them to then produce the good?"

Koh: "Well, we have come to learn that the standard economic principles of supply and demand…"

Shimkus: "And the question is why is that distorted? That . . . I think that is the basic fundamental question of this problem. What has distorted the fundamental principles of supply and demand? . . . but I think that is the heart of this issue." ...

Koh: "First of all, these agreements are made often through these long term contracts, and so also this whole process involves multiple stakeholders–especially and including the pharmacy benefit managers and the group purchasing organizations. So it complicates this environment and sort of does not make relevant the sort of standard supply and demand economic principles that we would see in other businesses."

So the economic principles of supply and demand are not relevant? ....


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


5 December, 2011

Civil Society or Dictatorship?

Put aside all other issues for a moment, and ignore the trivialities that dominate the airwaves and what passes for national debate in this country. The Senate this week ratified a defense authorization bill containing an amendment cosponsored by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin and Republican Sen. John McCain that would empower the military to detain American citizens captured on U.S. soil indefinitely without civil process, in addition to expanding the post-9/11 Authorization to Use Military Force and making it harder to transfer detainees out of Guantánamo.

Ten years of the war on terror, decades of the war on drugs, and a century of growing government power in general, particularly in the presidency and various police authorities, have perhaps desensitized Americans to what is at stake here. As the proverbial frogs in the pot of water, we are accustomed to rising temperatures and so do not notice when our flesh begins to boil. Yet when the Senate overwhelmingly accepts the principle that the military should displace civilian courts even for citizens captured on American soil, it has adopted a standard of justice remarkably tyrannical even compared to America’s very rocky history.

In the Civil War, the Lincoln administration detained American citizens without trial. Parts of the country constituting the United States were actually battlegrounds, littered by many thousands of bodies. Congress formally suspended habeas corpus. This was a dramatic move that has been criticized to this day. Yet the Supreme Court ruled in Ex parte Milligan (1866) that even the suspension of habeas corpus did not preclude the federal court system from intervening in the military trial of U.S. citizens, and that such military commissions of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil were unconstitutional so long as the civil courts were operating. Neither Congress nor the president could overturn this constitutional protection, the Court found.

Ah, but those were quaint times. Defenders of the kind of despotic military law being proposed today often say that even citizens do not deserve due process if they are at war with their own country. This is 100% false, at least as far as the Constitution is concerned. Indeed, the founding document of this government requires additional due process to try someone for treason:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court

But this kind of talk seems awfully soft on terrorists, doesn’t it? It is not as though the framers of the Constitution had ever confronted a formidable foreign enemy. It’s only been ten years since 9/11. Of course, by the time the Constitution was ratified, the American Revolution had been over just six years, and in that war about one percent of the American population perished—the proportional equivalent of three million Americans today, or one thousand 9/11s.

Still, this is a new kind of war, as the majority of Senators clearly believe, including almost everyone from the supposed opposition party. An amendment to remove the Levin/McCain language was rejected 61 to 37. Only two Republicans—two!—Rand Paul and Mark Kirk—voted against this blatantly unconstitutional measure for military dictatorship. If anything demonstrates that the leaders of this party claiming to stand for liberty and the rule of law are in fact almost unanimously and adamantly opposed to these principles in the most important imaginable areas, this demonstrates it beyond a reasonable doubt. Indeed, the fact that John McCain, characterized in the 2008 presidential election as a “moderate” among Republicans on questions like torture, backed this bill, should reveal beyond question that had things gone differently in that election, we would not have likely gotten any sort of reprieve from the steady descent toward total tyranny that has characterized the Obama years.

And indeed Obama, for his part, offers no true alternative to the McCain-Republican line of the war on terror. The substance of this bill is essentially in line with everything Obama has done, and, for that matter, what Bush did for eight years, although without formal Congressional codification. Glenn Greenwald notes that the horrifying reality portended in this legislation “more or less describes the status quo. Military custody for accused Terrorists is already a staple of the Obama administration.” Greenwald also helpfully explains that the media’s coverage of the Obama White House’s indications that it might veto this legislation has tended to mischaracterize the situation:
[W]ith a few exceptions, the objections raised by the White House are not grounded in substantive problems with these powers, but rather in the argument that such matters are for the Executive Branch, not the Congress, to decide. In other words, the White House’s objections are grounded in broad theories of Executive Power. They are not arguing: it is wrong to deny accused Terrorists a trial. Instead they insist: whether an accused Terrorist is put in military detention rather than civilian custody is for the President alone to decide.

The United States is not a free country, not even close. There are plenty of worse places in the world, for sure, but a key characteristic of something resembling a free society that adheres to something resembling a rule of law is that the executive branch cannot use the military to indefinitely detain people, regardless of citizenship or location, indefinitely without ever explaining itself to a court or affording the detainee some process to challenge his detention.

Even with such protections, a free country requires more—a functioning legal system that respects property rights and free exchange; civil liberties including free speech and freedom from lawless search and seizure; the freedom of people to control their own bodies, homes, and businesses; protections against involuntary servitude; and a general respect for freedom of association. In all of these areas, America has lost some of its liberties, and they all must be restored if the country is ever going to deserve the label of a “free country.”

Yet one freedom without which the whole concept of liberty is a total mirage, befitting of a black comedy and best affirmed only in Orwellian doublespeak, is the freedom from unjust, lawless, indefinite imprisonment. Since 9/11, the United States has abandoned this principle in many respects. Predictably, it was war—threat of a foreign enemy—that allowed this fundamental freedom to be destroyed, initially in large part for foreigners whose rights and dignity were never even given a significant consideration as thousands were rounded up, many tortured, many killed, many detained to this day for no crime at all but being in the wrong place at the wrong time, whether seized by Pakistani war lords in exchange for American dollars or declared terrorists by a presidential military legal system several of whose own military prosecutors have resigned in disgust with the blatant injustice of the whole enterprise.

American citizenship doesn’t guarantee due process either, of course—it did not for Jose Padilla for almost four years of detention, nor for the citizens currently targeted for assassination by the Nobel Prize-winning Constitutional law professor sitting in the Oval Office. Today we are on the verge of seeing the last bits of this retreat from civilized standards of justice codified into law. Our political culture has degenerated so much that should the courts strike down these developments, I would not be surprised to see the court decisions ignored altogether or, alternatively, a successful effort to amend the Constitution and finally give the president and his military full dictatorial power over the United States.

And for what, may I ask, did Americans finally relinquish this last claim to living under a qualitatively different kind of government from the absolutist monarchies or third-rate communist despotisms that now dot our history books as artifacts of political failure and vast human misery? Oh, that’s right. Because the terrorists hate us for our freedom.



Secretary of Defense Panetta Shows How the Obama Administration Is Selling Out Israel… and US Interests

In a major address on U.S. Middle East policy to the Brookings Institution U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave us a clear picture of the Obama administration’s view of the region. When taken along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent speech on the same subject, we now know the following regarding Obama’s policy:

It is dangerously and absurdly wrong. This administration totally and completely, dangerously and disastrously for U.S. interests misunderstands the Middle East. They are 180 degrees off course, that is heading in the opposite direction of safety.

Despite the satisfactory state of relations on a purely military level, the Obama administration is not a friend of Israel, even to the extent that it was arguably so in the first two years of this presidency.

It is now an enemy; it is on the other side. Again, the issue is not mainly bilateral relations but the administration’s help and encouragement to those forces that are Israel’s biggest enemies, that want to rekindle war, and that are 100 percent against a two-state solution. And I don’t mean the Palestinian Authority, I mean the Islamists.

And the Obama administration is also a strategic enemy of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Morocco, and Jordan. It is also a strategic enemy to the democratic opposition forces in Iran, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt.

Having analyzed and studied the Middle East for almost four decades I say none of this lightly. And these conclusions arise simply from watching what the administration says and does.

In his speech, Panetta has bashed Israel based on a ridiculously false premise. Here it is:

“I understand the view that this is not the time to pursue peace, and that the Arab awakening further imperils the dream of a safe and secure, Jewish and democratic Israel. But I disagree with that view.” Nevertheless, Israel needs to take risks and particularly, “The problem right now is we can’t get them to the damn table, to at least sit down and begin to discuss their differences.”

First, there is a peculiar phrase that I have not seen used even once to describe the Middle East events of 2011, “Arab awakening” instead of “Arab Spring.” This apparently comes from the title of a new book about these events.

But what is the origin of this phrase? The Arab Awakening was the famous book written by George Antonius (subsidized by a U.S foundation to do so, by the way) advocating Arab nationalism and opposition to Zionism in 1938. The Arab Awakening began a half-century pan-Arab struggle against Israel’s creation or existence. Might this not give us a hint of what the new “Arab Awakening” is going to do? Oh, and 1938 marks the year when Great Britain desperately tried to sell out the Jews in order to gain Arab support (for the coming war with Germany and Italy). Within two years of Antonius’s book the form the Arab Awakening took was an alliance with Nazi Germany. One of the main allies of Berlin was the Muslim Brotherhood, now coming into power in Tunisia and Egypt.

Interesting parallels. But there are three other major questions raised in Panetta’s statement.

First, does the current “Arab Awakening” imperil Israel? Yes, of course it does. By changing a reasonably friendly Egyptian government into a totally hostile Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi dominated political system closely allied with Hamas, the Gaza Strip’s ruler, and by helping establish Islamist regimes in Tunisia and Libya allied with this Muslim Brotherhood International; the changes create a four-member alliance intent on wiping Israel off the map.

Add to that Islamist domination of Lebanon by Hizballah, an Islamist regime in Turkey, and the continuing threat from Iran and you’ve got quite a regional situation.

Second, and more interestingly, why is the above true? The answer is as follows:

Democracy in theory is admirable but when you have masses imbued with very radical views, strong Islamist movements, and weak moderate ones, the election winners will be extremely radical Islamists. By winning massive victories, facing a weak (even sympathetic) United States, and seeing even more extreme forces becoming so popular (the Salafists in Egypt), the Islamists are emboldened to be even more radical in their behavior. Who’s going to stop them?

We are thus not facing a springtime of democracy but a springtime of extremism. The Islamists don’t want peace with Israel on any terms. They want its destruction.



Dear Left: Corporatism Is Your Fault

Dear members of the moderate left,

America is suffering from rampant, run-away corporatism and crony capitalism. We are increasingly a plutocracy in which government serves the interests of elite financiers and CEOs at the expense of everyone else.

You know this and you complain loudly about it. But the problem is your fault. You caused this state of affairs. Stop it.

Unlike we libertarianish people, you people actually hold and have been holding significant political power in the US over the past 50 years. What have you done with this power? You’ve greased the corporatist machine every chance you’ve gotten. You’ve made things worse, not better. Our current problems are your fault. You need to stop.

We told you this would happen, but you wouldn’t listen. You complain, rightly, that regulatory agencies are controlled by the very corporations they are supposed to constrain. Well, yeah, we told you that would happen. When you create power—and you people love to create power—the unscrupulous seek to capture that power for their personal benefit. Time and time again, they succeed. We told you that would happen, and we gave you an accurate account of how it would happen.

You complain, perhaps rightly, that corporations are just too big. Well, yeah, we told you that would happen. When you create complicated tax codes, complicated regulatory regimes, and complicated licensing rules, these regulations naturally select for larger and larger corporations. We told you that would happen. Of course, these increasingly large corporations then capture these rules, codes, and regulations to disadvantage their competitors and exploit the rest of us. We told you that would happen.

It’s not rocket science. It’s public choice economics. You recognized, rightly, that public choice economics was a threat to your ideology. So, you didn’t listen, because you didn’t want to be wrong. Public choice predicted that the government programs you created with the goal of fixing problems would often instead exacerbate those problems. Well, the evidence is in. You were wrong and public choice theory was right. If you have any decency, it is time to admit you were wrong and change. Stop making things worse.

You spent the past fifty years empowering corporations and the most unscrupulous of the rich. You created rampant moral hazard in the financial sector. You created the system that socializes risks but privatizes profit. You created the system that creates a revolving door between Obama’s staff and Goldman Sachs. There’s a reason why Wall Street throws money at Obama. It’s because you, the moderate left, are Wall Street’s biggest supporters. Oh, I know you complain about Wall Street. But your actions speak louder than your words.




Depression-era labor laws harmful in modern global economy: "Chalk up another 'victory' for unions as American Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday. The reason? High labor costs compared to its competitors. It seems the unions were demanding things such as a 10 percent signing bonus followed by 7 percent raises in each of the next three years for pilots"

The regulatory thicket: "In the seemingly endless debate about how to put Americans back to work, one solution dare not speak its name: deregulation. Yet if implemented correctly, it would provide an almost cost-free stimulus of a trillion dollars or more. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), the regulatory burden on our economy is a staggering $1.75 trillion annually. The Obama administration is apparently in denial over that figure."

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

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


4 December, 2011

The Fallacy of Liberal Intelligence

The claim that the Tories are "The stupid party" was political propaganda in 19th century Britain. Liberals think that anyone who disagrees with their utopian schemes to change the world and humanity with it must be stupid. That caution might be smart and lack of it stupid they cannot entertain.

The column below offers some good rejoinders but the best rejoinder to my mind is the fact that about 50% of those in the population with college degrees voted for that "idiot moron numbskull chimpanzee" George Bush Jr. in 2004. Yet people who have college degrees have gone right through the Left-run educational system and been certified by the Leftist professoriat themselves as intellectually accomplished! People whom Leftists themselves certify as the brightest are just as likely to vote Republican as Democrat! So it is demonstrably NOT intellectual accomplishment that differentiates the parties -- JR

By David Bozeman

One of the most annoying axioms in politics is that of the smart liberal/dumb conservative. Look for the media to ramp it up in the coming months, though the notion is so absurd it would be laughable were it not for the fact that so many people buy it. Basically, liberals are not smarter, they just (to borrow an old adage) know more that isn’t true.

Roger Simon recently penned a column on the perceived intellectual shortcomings of the Republican field, quoting Chicago mayor and former Obama advisor Rahm Emanuel (and I’m paraphrasing) that Sarah Palin seems a deep thinker by contrast. Columnist Kathleen Parker, who inexplicably passes for conservative in many papers, recently weighed in on the theme. While she doesn’t buy Paul Begala’s assessment of the GOP as the “stupid party” (and she opines that Begala doesn’t either), she writes that “scientific skepticism, the engine that propels intellectual inquiry, has morphed into the skepticism of science fueled by religious certitude.”

Jon Huntsman, she continues, committed blasphemy by stating that he trusts scientists on global warming. “It takes courage to swim against the tide of know-nothingness that has become de rigueur among the anti-elite, anti-intellectual base. Call it the Palin-ization of the GOP.” Ah, a Palin reference. How original. And by the way, Huntsman may be courageous, that doesn’t make him right.

In a nutshell, the supposed anti-intellectualism of modern conservatives is merely a rebuke of liberal dogma. The left has audaciously declared global warming, to name one issue, a closed subject, despite questionable data and ongoing doubt. Risk being compared to a Holocaust denier — now that’s courageous. British writer and journalist James Delingpole recently described the latest episode of the 2009 Climategate scandal as Climategate II, which he writes “shows the scientists at the heart of the Man-Made Global Warming industry in a most unflattering light.” He notes that the global warming scare is not about science but about political activism. Certainly, whether or not man-made global warming proves to be true, the case is far from closed.

So, could it be that the left does not embrace science so much as junk science? The Paul Begalas of the world hide their statist dreams behind the window-dressing of intellectual pedigree.

How would one of these hardcore advocates of the scientific method react if scientists discovered massive oil reserves off the coasts of Malibu or Martha’s Vineyard? Would they be considered anti-science for barring progress at the expense of their exclusive beachfront getaways?

Could one not make the case that opposing nuclear power is anti-progress and anti-science? Why are liberals, particularly feminists, so quick to shun science when differences in male and female brain structures and aptitudes are merely alluded to? In 2005, Harvard President Larry Summers suggested that males may possess an advantage in mastering science and engineering (while it is widely regarded that females enjoy a similar advantage in verbal and communication skills). After a chorus of outrage and censure by the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, the man lost his job. Now who’s the one committing blasphemy?

Intellectual bravado provides wide latitude for social and economic experimentation and daft verbal cover when things don’t go as planned. Conservatives may appear less intelligent because, in an increasingly complex world, we still defer to common sense, which is rooted in an understanding of human nature.

We are all far from perfect, thus we rely on the time-tested (but less academic) institutions of faith, family, community, limited government and the free market to keep human nature in check.



Despite What You've Heard, Unemployment Rate Rising not Falling

In "Unemployment Rate Dips to 8.6% as 487,000 Drop Out of Labor Force" I presented some quick facts on the drop in the unemployment rate.

In the last year, the civilian population rose by 1,726,000. Yet the labor force fell by 67,000. Those not in the labor force rose by 1,793,000.

In November, those "Not in Labor Force" rose by a whopping 487,000. If you are not in the labor force, you are not counted as unemployed. Were it not for people dropping out of the labor force, the unemployment rate would be well over 11%.



Obama Abandons the Working Class

An opening for Romney, if he's smart enough

There's a message here for Republicans for 2012. Ironically, it may have been outlined best by two Democratic strategists in a publication for the left-leaning Center for American Progress. In "The Path to 270: Demographics versus Economics in the 2012 Presidential Election," Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin made headlines for making official what everyone has known unofficially for some time: The Democratic Party is abandoning the white working class.

The authors therefore suggest that Mr. Obama's best demographic bet for 2012 lies in holding white college graduates. They are also up front about the vulnerability. Mostly they phrase it politely—"the perceived inability of the Obama administration's policies to spark real recovery"; "serious doubts about Democratic stewardship of the economy"; or "disenchantment on the economy."

That shouldn't be a hard sell in places like Scranton, where the 9.7% unemployment rate is the worst in the state. When the Obama stimulus came, Lackawanna County spent nearly half of the $39 million it received on education, which means teachers. The city has been deemed "financially distressed" for two decades, and just this month the mayor released a new budget that includes a 29% hike in property taxes.

If these citizens weren't bitter before, they sure have reason to be now. For the white working class, the private sector was what gave them jobs and propelled them into the middle class. Yet whether it's drilling for oil or putting up a shopping mall, today's Democratic Party seems opposed to most of the private-sector jobs that deliver opportunity to those without a college degree.

That's an opportunity for Mitt Romney. In these hard economic times, the former Massachusetts governor could be the first Republican in history to benefit from the prejudice that Republicans are the party of business.

Put it this way. If you are a Democrat or independent who has lost confidence in Mr. Obama, what might you like about Mr. Romney? You might like that he's proved himself successful in business. You might find that especially attractive if you are someone who has lost your job or worry that you might lose your job.

Alas for Mr. Romney, the winning message here will not come by accepting Mr. Obama's class approach to tax relief. The way to win is by drawing distinctions—between states that welcome investment and states that drive it away; between states burdened by a politicized and overcompensated public sector and states that are not; between an approach that divides people by race and class and one that emphasizes upward mobility for all.

Above all, the way to win is by asking Americans whether they want a future for their children that looks like Texas and Indiana—or like Michigan and Illinois?

People in places like Scranton are hungry for more than a 59-point business plan. They need an economic vision rooted in an expanding private sector. Mr. Romney appreciates that his success next November would depend in good part on his ability to attract disaffected Democrats and independents. What he may not know is that this will in turn depend on whether he comes across as a successful businessman, or merely a rich one.



Obama the unready

He wasn’t ready to be a US Senator and he wasn’t ready to be president either. And because some Americans put White Guilt above common sense and thereby elected the most unready of candidates to the office of President of the United States, our economy is at a standstill.

But even more importantly, the country has, under Obama, once again lost a sense of its place and is questioning its historical mission of being the City on a Hill for the rest of the world.

Only 18 percent of Americans now believe that the country is on the right track, according to Rasmussen. The number has never been above 47 percent since Obama took office. The country reached it’s feel good moment at the six-month mark of the Democrat takeover of Congress, and it’s been downhill for Obama ever since. He now faces an 18 precent gap between those who strongly approve of his performance versus those who strongly disapprove according to Rasmussen.

The last time the world was this demoralized, was the last time a Democrat president let things drift because he had no idea how to be president of the United States.

Obama has been lately reprising that president’s “malaise” speech, calling Americans “lazy” and generally bemoaning the country’s lack of direction.

The guy who couldn’t find his way to Congress even if a cruise missile was strapped to his backside recently sympathized with the one-tenth percent of Americans whom Occupy Wall Street think they represent, saying, according to ABCNews: “A lot of the folks who’ve been down in New York and all across the country in the Occupy movement,” says Obama, “there is a profound sense of frustration, a profound sense of frustration about the fact that the essence of the American Dream… feels like it’s slipping away.”

Bravo, Mr. Obama. Terrific job acting like Occupy Wall Street has anything to do with the American Dream. Terrific job pretending like you even understand what the American Dream is about. Spoken like a true, leftist community organizer.

If the American Dream is slipping away, though, the only replacement Obama has offered the country is the lush verbiage from the book Dreams from My Father, a mish-mash of circular logic, an American Oblomov, superfluous, inert and self-absorbed- the inverse actually of the American Dream.

“Congress needs to pass the rest of my American Jobs Act,” said Obama, after Dems and the GOP passed modest legislation aimed at making it easier to hire veterans, “so that we can create jobs and put money in the pockets of the middle class.”

But Obama’s words belie the real trouble with him: He doesn’t really have a Jobs Act. He doesn’t have a budget, a foreign policy, an energy policy, an immigration policy. Instead he only acts like he has some of these.

He’s the incomplete genesis of a community organizer.

But reading words on cue cards prepared by others isn’t a substitute for having a policy; it isn’t the same thing as being president of the United States.

Complicating things for Obama is the dilemma that is that he has never really decided in life who he really is.

“Thomas Aquinas once raised the issue of choosing between a proud man and a pusillanimous one,” writes William Manchester in Goodbye Darkness. “Take the proud one every time, he advised, because you will be sure that he will at least do something.”

Perhaps it’s time for someone to ask the relevant question: Does the life of a community organizer, which is necessarily a parochial endeavor, adequately prepare someone for the job of leading the nation?

At least in the case of Obama, one would have to say no; not because of policy, not because of ideology, not because of point of view, but rather on account of inadequate preparation. When the history of the Obama administration is written, I predict, Americans will be appalled by the pusillanimity of the man once anointed the One.

But that’s not all. Because, he not only lacks the skills, but he also lacks the conviction to be president of the United States.

A man with conviction would be either for or against Occupy Wall Street- or banks or illegal immigrants, etc- not both for and against them at the same time.

That’s what happens when a community organizer wars with the president of the United States, wholly in the person of himself.

It makes for great drama, great acting. But it makes for the poorest possible history.



Federal Housing Authority May Have 13 Billion More In Losses

The Federal Housing Administration recently gave even odds that it would need a taxpayer bailout within the next year. But the reality is a lot worse, according to one housing expert. "The FHA is effectively insolvent," said Edward Pinto, resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. The FHA denies this, calling AEI's claims "irresponsible."

The agency, which insures mortgages, has come under increased scrutiny in the last month after its recent actuarial report suggested there was a 50% chance it would need a bailout sometime next year.

The report also noted that the FHA has a $27 billion negative cash flow in its single-family program, but has $28 billion in total capital resources to offset that.

But Pinto claims that more rigorous accounting paints a bleaker picture. He points out that any private mortgage insurance company would assume that about 55% of the loans delinquent at least 60 days or in foreclosure would go to claim. As of October, FHA had 836,789 loans in that category, totaling $117 billion. Expected claims on that would be about $64.4 billion.

The FHA's most recent loss ratio, how much it pays on claims, was about 63%. That would mean the FHA would need $41 billion to pay claims, $13 billion more than its current assets.

FHA has increased its loan exposure from about $300 billion in late 2007 to more than $1 trillion now in response to private mortgage companies exiting the market in the wake of the housing bust. FHA guaranteed 24% of new mortgages in fiscal 2011 ended Sept. 30. It was 30% in 2010.

FHA's seriously delinquent rate — those loans at least 90 days late or in foreclosure — has grown since FHA has expanded into the mortgage market, from 5.5% at the end of fiscal 2007 to more than 9% in October 2011.

Pinto also notes that 17% of FHA-insured loans are at least 30 days delinquent, up from 16.8% in September. The delinquency rate for all home loans is 12.4%, according to the latest figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

FHA capital reserves were only about 0.24% of loan amounts as of September vs. about 0.5% a year earlier. Congress mandates a modest 2%. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan told lawmakers Thursday that FHA may need to raise insurance premiums for the fourth time since 2010.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


3 December, 2011

Left-sympathizing big businessmen trying to pass the buck

They blame capitalism for the extraordinarily high incomes received by many big-business chiefs and say it will provoke unrest. But many of the high incomes originate in firms that were bailed out by the government or have a cosy relationship with government.

So the high incomes concerned are not the fault of capitalism but the fault of corporatism -- the intimate connection between government and big business that Mussolini rightly envisaged as dominating the 20th century and beyond. To put it bluntly, it is our present neo-Fascist system that is creating dangerous strains, not capitalism.

If none of the big banks and other financial institutions had been bailed out and gone broke instead, most of those big incomes would have vanished too. Capitalism was not allowed to do its work of creative destruction. It is a turning back to real capitalism that is needed -- JR

A review of Capitalism at Risk: Rethinking the Role of Business

Three professors from the world's pre-eminent business school have co-written a study that at first blush seems to fall more in the genre of horror tale than business text.

Professor Bower and his colleagues note in their study the broad concerns of the 46 business thinkers that they brought together in forums on three continents, but by far the most widely held was "the tendency of capitalism, as it currently functions, to produce extreme disparities of income and wealth".

It took little to conclude that the vast accumulation of wealth by individuals compared with the stagnating fortunes of low- and middle-income workers is fuelling the backlash worldwide.

"Some leaders pointed to what they regard as excessive compensation earned by CEOs [that] strike many people as intrinsically unjustified," the authors write. The reality of growing disparities - one that is the crux of political debate within Western democracies - poses questions about capitalism's very raison d'etre.

One unidentified Asian business leader told the authors: "Herein lies a major challenge, because the world has become very much more prosperous as a result of market capitalism.

"The rich have become richer. The poor in most cases have become richer. But the gap between the rich and the poor has also grown wider … There is the growing sense of being left out, even as people are getting better off."

A European executive said: "What was the good of capitalism? Was it the fact that we were building a very large, very well-off … middle class? We are not doing this any more."

And in the US, a chief executive told the authors: "It's undeniable that in a country like ours, unfettered capitalist impulse on a global basis does seem to exacerbate the problem."

Joining the discussions were executives such as Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric, John Elkann of Fiat and Bertrand Collomb of the French group Lafarge. They included bankers and financiers, as well as the heads of conglomerates and the former US labour secretary, Elaine Chao.

That capitalism has delivered for billions is not at issue: in the last decades of the 20th century, 97per cent of countries enjoyed increased wealth, according to the World Bank. More than 450 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty.

But the executives also cited as potential threats the powerful forces within financial markets, environmental degradation, political populism, terrorism and war, fundamentalism, mass migration and pandemics.

They are quoted anonymously throughout the work.

"History tells us that when an awful lot of people are disenfranchised, they have no incentive to play by the rules, and given today's communications availability, weaponry … that's an issue we have to really think about, probably over a very long period of time," one executive said.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that many were the beneficiaries of fabulous remuneration, the business leaders do not appear to offer easy solutions to bridging inequalities. But they back business, not government, largely to ameliorate strains on the system.



Ron Paul, the prophet not honoured in his own country

"The problem came about because we spent too much, we borrowed too much, we printed too much money, we inflated too much and we over-regulated. We are looking at the collapsing of a market which is unstable. It is unstable because of the way it came about. It came about because of the monopoly control of money and credit by the Federal Reserve system and that is a natural consequence of what happens when the Federal Reserve system creates too much credit."

Internet conspiracy theorist? No, Ron Paul, candidate for Republican presidential nomination. Those words were from a speech to Congress in 2008 urging a "no" vote on TARP, the Mother of All Bailouts.

Three years later, with the crisis switching up a gear from banks to sovereigns and Europe teetering, Paul predicted "they will probably bail out Europe next".

That they did. This week, the Fed led a coterie of central banks in a dramatic market intervention which cut the cost of US dollar funding to European banks in half. Drunk on this latest round of credit shots, world stockmarkets popped up 5 per cent, as they do every time the Fed cranks up the presses.

Ron Paul was predictably unimpressed: "Bankers should take their dreaded haircut rather than making innocent people pay for their mistakes. The losses should be limited and liquidated, rather than perpetuated and rewarded. This is the only way we can recover."

Time wins more converts than reason. Despite being ignored by the mainstream media for years, Paul is now running between second and fifth in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination.

After a recent TV debate, host network CNBC took down an internet poll which had Ron Paul thrashing his rivals. His supporters were "gaming" the poll, said the network. There was no evidence.

A civil libertarian and stickler for the constitution, Ron Paul voted against Dubya's invasion of Iraq, the Patriot Act and the TARP bailout. He wants Fort Knox and the Federal Reserve audited, and the gold standard returned.

Needless to say both Wall Street and the military industrial complex - and Republicans and Democrats - are equally leery.

Fox News, which is pushing Newt Gingrich, gave Paul a spot of airtime the other day. A Barbie-blonde presenter attempted to fit him up with a sex scandal of the confected "do you deny…?" genre. It backfired.

The presenter simply couldn't nail him as Paul a) doesn't have that "girls in the hot-tub" look about him, b) has a penchant for telling the truth, and c) displays the uncommon trait of common sense.

They haven't been able to snare or discredit him yet, so they ignore him so assiduously that people are beginning to suspect he must be onto something.

He is fond of pointing to paradox, for instance the Fed lending to the banks at close to zero and then the banks lending it back to the government at 3 per cent - by buying Treasury bonds - after the government has given it to the Fed in the first place for free (by expanding the Fed's balance sheet).

If Ron Paul looked prescient for his call on Europe this week there was sure-fire vindication after the Bloomberg news agency won its freedom of information lawsuit against the Fed and revealed the central bank had funnelled $US13 billion in funds to US banks without disclosing it to Congress.

Bear in mind the Fed, unlike other reserve banks, is owned by private banks. Wall Street if you like. The Fed and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in US history a secret. Now the rest of the world can see what it was missing.

The Fed didn't tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $US1.2 trillion on December 5, 2008, their single neediest day.

The abuses are legion, well worth a read. Morgan Stanley, for instance, took $US107 billion in Fed loans in September 2008, "enough to pay off one-tenth of the country's delinquent mortgages" while it was telling everybody it was healthy. That was before TARP.

The rub with hiding things, with lax accountability, is that confidence in public institutions suffers. Indeed the capitalist system is based on trust, trust that a counterparty will pay, that an institution won't run off with your money, that you are being told the truth.



More doubts about the Breivik diagnosis

In Norway, an insanity defense requires a defendant be psychotic - so out of touch he cannot control his own actions - while committing a crime. Somehow this week, two forensic psychiatrists determined that Anders Behring Breivik, 32, was insane when he methodically killed 77 people on July 22.

Breivik has admitted that he set off a car bomb in Oslo, killing eight, then gunned down 69 people, mostly teenagers, on an island summer camp. But he has refused to plead guilty on the grounds that his actions were "atrocious but necessary" in service to his crusade to "save" Europe from Marxism and a "Muslim invasion."

The maximum criminal sentence in Norway is 21 years - although authorities can extend prison time for those deemed to be a danger to society. Thus Breivik had reason to believe that, disguised as a police officer, he could shoot up a camp full of teenagers, lay down his weapons and surrender - and he still might go free in his 50s.

If the forensics board backs up the insanity finding, a court could commit Breivik to three years of psychiatric care. It's unlikely, but he could be out in his 30s.

In an e-mail, University of Oslo psychology Professor Svenn Torgersen explained, "At least every three years, he can be assessed. If he is non-psychotic, and in addition considered no threat to other people, he will be free, and no new court case. Yes, many psychiatrists and psychologists are surprised."

Prosecutor Svein Holden supported the "delusional" finding as he told reporters that Breivik's "thoughts and acts are governed by this universe." And: "He sees himself as chosen to decide who shall live and who shall die, and that he is chosen to save what he calls his people."

Swedish forensic psychiatrist Anders Forsman, however, told the Associated Press, "It is difficult to see this as criminal insanity. He seems to have carried out the killings in a rational way. He is an efficient killing machine."

Consider these words from Breivik's terrorist manifesto: "Once you decide to strike, it is better to kill too many than not enough, or you risk reducing the desired ideological impact of the strike." For a man not in control of his thoughts or actions, he sure did what he wanted to do.

News accounts indicate that Norwegians could accept an insanity finding as long as Breivik spends the rest of his life in government custody. But Oslo deliberately prohibits life sentences, even for the most heinous crimes. Politicians boast about the nation's humane criminal justice system with its commitment to redemption.



Israel hobbling Iranian nuke threat

AN IRANIAN nuclear facility has been hit by a huge explosion, the second such blast in a month, prompting speculation that Tehran's military and atomic sites are under attack.

Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.

The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was "no doubt" that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was "no accident".

The explosion at Iran's third-largest city came as satellite images emerged of the damage caused by one at a military base outside Tehran two weeks ago that killed about 30 members of the Revolutionary Guard, including General Hassan Moghaddam, the head of the Iranian missile defence program.

Iran claimed that the Tehran explosion occurred during testing on a new weapons system designed to strike at Israel. But several Israeli officials have confirmed that the blast was intentional and part of an effort to target Iran's nuclear weapons program.

A former Israeli intelligence official cited at least two other explosions that have "successfully neutralised" Iranian bases associated with the Shahab-3, the medium-range missile that could be adapted to carry a nuclear warhead. "This is something everyone in the West wanted to see happen," he added.



Republicans aim to quash new union rules

Republicans are maneuvering to short-circuit an effort by Democrats on the National Labor Relations Board to approve rules that would quicken the pace of union elections.

The GOP member of the labor board is threatening to resign his post, which would deny the board a quorum and quash the entire process. At the same time, the House is poised Wednesday to approve a GOP bill aimed at short-circuiting moves they consider anti-business. That measure is unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate.

The developments are the latest sign of how intensely business groups are opposing any moves that could help organized labor make new inroads at companies that have long opposed unions.

At the labor board, the Democratic majority was set to take up a proposal Wednesday that would simplify procedures and shorten deadlines for holding union elections after employees at a work site gather enough signatures.




Leaping toward the Keynesian Dream: "The Fed’s latest inflationary scheme sounds like a technocratic innovation. It lowered the costs of currency swaps between central banks of the world, with the idea that the Fed would do for the globe what Europe, England and China are too shy to do, which is run the printing presses 24/7 to bail out failing institutions and economies. In effect, the Fed has promised to be the lender of last resort for the entire global economy."

Plundering wealth vs producing wealth: "In recent decades, the rich have gathered an increasing share of the total wealth in the United States. As this wealth disparity grows and especially as large numbers of the formerly middle class fall into poverty and even into homelessness, this flow of wealth from main street (from anyone not seriously wealthy) to those who already have extreme wealth, becomes more obvious -- and more suspect."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


2 December, 2011

The computerization scam

Governments seem to be suckers for computer salesmen who tell them that computerizing their operations will save them money and allow them to operate more efficiently.

It doesn’t happen. The one certainty is that the process will cost way more than budgeted and the big uncertainty is whether it will work at all. I could give innumerable examples but the one that stands out is Britain’s experience of linking all their government hospitals into one network with all the records of all the patients in the country on it. The Brits spent over 12 BILLION pounds over a period of about a decade on it. It never worked and has just recently been scrapped

Unbelievably in the circumstances, computerization is one of the far-fetched dreams of Obamacare. You would think the British experience would have engendered caution but it has not.

One of my readers is an anesthesiologist who is a computer enthusiast and an instructor for Electronic Hospital Records. He reports below one of the more successful uses of computerization in hospitals.

Its limited degree of success stems largely from the fact that a “tried and true” system was bought “off the shelf”. It is when governments order an entirely new system for themselves that the woes often become insurmountable:
We just installed Electronic Hospital Records here Nov 6. Amusing how the State Government can’t seem to do anything right – any claim that Government can do medicine “more efficiently” is laughable.

Gettling into the game late is an advantage – the EPIC system has been used successfully in U T hospitals in Texas and many other places – successfully.

So using a product that has been made better by several generations should be an advantage – but think again when State Government interferes.

Problem # 1

HER was funded by Medicare Stimulus, with a deadline; much was done in haste to meet mandated deadline, Nov 6.

Problem #2

Instead of using a product “as is”, each of multiple State Hospitals just “had to have” “custom features” that simply were not on the original system.

As I know (wife was a programmer for many years) people just can’t wish for “custom programming” and get what they want in a reasonable period of time. Multiple delays.

Problem # 3

Anesthesia machine and monitor vendors were NOT informed that EHR was planned until several months ago. Modules for the machine and monitor to “talk” to computers was ordered late; this kind of hardware must be custom ordered; it isn't sold in Radio Shack or Best Buy. When we went “live”, many modules were not yet available, so data had to be entered manually.

Problem # 4

By the “grapevine”, our system was a “low budget” version, with low level support; when a problem occurs (like computer won’t boot etc..), it may be hours before a support person shows up in the operating room; and often, personnel don’t know what’s happening because the system is so specialized. Likely support package was low budget as well.

Problem # 5.

No surprises here since, in the past, institutions have lost tons of money when new computer systems fail at billing:

ALL my records from the last 3 weeks are listed as “not closed” (records are “closed” when all signatures are checked by myself, and listed as “complete”).

Although records are listed as “closed” in my workspace, on the central system they are listed as “open”; billing cannot occur electronically with open records.

So now entire anesthetic records are printed, and searched by hand for completeness before paper records are submitted for billing; rumor has it that this system will not work properly until local software is upgraded.

EHR is better medicine – looking up patient records online is fast, no paper must be searched for and manually delivered; and paper records are often “lost” because multiple people are using them, often without the record people knowing who has the record at the moment; worst time is days post op, when records are being used by business managers for billing; to dictate reports etc. With HER, we simply search patient’s name or numbers.

But PLEASE – anyone saying EHR saves money is a fool; besides hardware, a system of IT support is needed; on top of this, the system charges a fee.


More on Breivik's "symptoms"

It is a symptom of madness if one takes a close interest in politics and history? Oh boy! I am stark raving at that rate! And if wearing a face-mask to avoid germs is mad, there sure are a lot of crazy Japanese. See the picture of Japanese students in a lecture hall above

The Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik showed signs of paranoid delusions as early as 2006, his mother has admitted in a tearful interview with forensic psychiatrists.

"He must have been insane, he became so different," Wenche Behring was quoted as saying in the psychiatric evaluation report submitted to the Oslo court. "It is hard to believe that these things happened. It's still hard to believe."

According to the report, leaked to Norway's Verdens Gang newspaper, Mrs Behring said that soon after the 32-year-old moved back in with her five years ago, he began to behave in an erratic way.

In interviews, Mrs Behring described to two psychiatrists how her son became obsessed with politics and history. "He was totally beyond reason and believed all the nonsense he said," she said.

In July, Mr Breivik killed 77 people in shootings on the island of Utoya and a bomb attack in Oslo.

By April, when he was planning the attacks, Mr Breivik had taken to wearing a face mask inside the house, fearing his mother would infect him. He often refused her cooking.

Mr Breivik was brought up by his mother, who had divorced her diplomat husband when her son was one.

More here


New Gun Company Advertisement Compares Obama to Hitler, Stalin

I am sure that the Left would like to shriek about this but after all the Bush=Hitler placards they would have a cheek to do so. I think the alarm below is overblown. Obama obviously has contempt for "bitter, clinging" gun owners but he would have to do an end-run around Congress to introduce new restrictions: Not impossible but unlikely

A gun company advertisement that warns of impending gun control compares President Obama to Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

The USAAmmo ad shows side-by-side pictures of Obama with Hitler, Stalin and other dictators who committed atrocities across the world. The ad, which is also accompanied by a video, warns that gun control is imminent and foreshadows that the U.S. could face millions in casualties if they are not allowed to defend themselves.

USAAmmo states that “tyranny is knocking down the doors of American cities daily” and that Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and other gun control advocates “are secretly conspiring American Citizens of the right to bear arms.”

Trace Williams, director of operations for USAAmmo, defended the ad that was emailed Monday. He told CBS Washington that “Obama and his various czars are infringing on the rights of Americans to own guns.”

“He’s anti-gun and he’s obviously a socialist cramming health care down American’s throats,” Williams said. “That is exactly how those people in that ad rose to power.”

Williams told CBS Washington that he doesn’t regret comparing Obama to those dictators and that his company has received “unbelievable support” since the ad was put out.

“Just look at history. Obama’s socialist agenda is geared toward depriving American citizens of their God-given rights.” He also added that sales have gone “through the roof.”

Obama promised stricter gun control laws following the January Tucson shooting where Rep. Gabby Giffords was seriously injured and six others were killed.



Incentives are life and death

By economist Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich

If there was one word to sum up the whole body of economic theory, it would have to be ‘incentives.’ People act on incentives. As William Stanley Jevons (1835–82), one of the founding fathers of neoclassical economics, put it, the whole economy is ‘a calculus of pleasure and pain.’ Greece is playing out a most macabre application of incentives.

Greece may be the madhouse of the world economy, but there is method in its madness. According to a report in The Lancet, the number of HIV infections in Greece has skyrocketed. The increase was partly due to the termination of drug rehabilitation and street-work programs as a result of government austerity measures. But there was a more chilling explanation.

Drug addicts – acting on incentives – are injecting themselves with the deadly virus to qualify for ‘benefits of €700 per month and faster admission onto drug substitution programmes.’ The incentive to get higher welfare benefits plus access to medical treatment obviously is a strong one – particularly for people who have little left to lose.

It is not the first time economic research has revealed the strange consequences of people acting on incentives. One of the classic economic papers, ‘Dying to save taxes,’ was about how some people in the United States were successfully prolonging their lives by a few days to reduce the estate-tax liability of their heirs.

Australian economists Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh came to a similar conclusion after studying the effects of the abolition of federal inheritance taxes in 1979: ‘in the very short run the death rate is highly elastic with respect to the inheritance tax rate.’ In other words, people managed to live a bit longer to beat the tax office.

Tax incentives certainly are a matter of life and death, as was confirmed by Germany’s introduction of parental benefits from 1 January 2007. Research by the University of Bolzano showed how German mothers delayed giving birth by a few days to qualify for the benefits.

Incentives matter. If policymakers kept this basic insight in mind, they would design better policies. It might also save the Greek government money it would otherwise spend on AIDS treatment.



The "Spring" that wasn't

At first glance, the Arab uprisings of this year looked to be advances for people often trapped by clerics and tyrants who have used Islam to enslave, torture and kill their people so that they can live in opulent grandeur among some of the planet's poorest populations.

Iran might appear to be the odd man out. For a start its people prefer to fashion themselves as Persians, but it has a significant Arab core. Its supreme leader seems to shun the indulgences that define the lifestyles of his neighbouring leaders, but he and his president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are still the two of the most dangerous men on earth. Ahmadinejad is mad. Barking. And soon to be nuclear armed.

This year saw movements for freedom in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco, Iran, Syria, Jordan and even Saudi Arabia.

The tyrannical states that enjoy Western support - Bahrain and Saudi Arabia - have largely survived, although Egypt fell quickly. Those who alienated the West, or threatened it, or attacked it, are gone. By the hand of their own people.

A Libyan shot dead Colonel Gaddafi, even if his convoy was trapped in Sirte by NATO airstrikes.

But the next chapter in the lives of these states is unlikely to include anything like democracy.

A greater danger is that the threatening Muslim Brotherhood will overtly or otherwise control their destinies.

A year ago I wrote that we'd do well to remember the name Sayyid Qutb, and suggested that despite being dead for almost 50 years he could yet be the most influential man of this century, in the manner that Karl Marx was the most influential man of the last century while not living to see it. The Koran-quoting assassins of the Muslim Brotherhood work to Qutb's manifesto In The Shade of The Koran.

They are bad news for honest, secular Arabs who made such sacrifices this year in the hopes of liberalism and progress that might change their destiny.

The Brotherhood plans changes, too. First they'd turn the clock back to the sixth century, and introduce sharia law; Muslim women and girls could forget about equality. Next they'd start planning for the destruction of the state of Israel.

They are well organised for today's election in Egypt and the military's bloody crackdown on protesters last week plays directly in to their hands. The poll results will give us an indication of the Brotherhood's real strength there. It can hardly be a coincidence that Cairo will also be the venue for a meeting on December 22 between the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas movements as they strike a unity deal after recent talks on "the question of a truce ... with Israel and the question of popular resistance".

They can't have been long talks: Hamas demands the destruction of Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Meanwhile, in Yemen, the vacuum left by departing President Saleh also doesn't mean freedom for his people. Jockeying for power there are his son and some tribal chiefs, with various factions of the military.

In Moroccan elections at the weekend so-called "moderate" Islamists appear to have taken the lead, as they did in Tunisia a few weeks back, but secularists failed.

And then there's Libya. Run by a murderous lunatic and his sons - one of them the captured Saif, best mate of Prince Andrew, whose mum is Australia's head of state - after 40 years the people revolted and the era of fear, torture and murder was ended.

Already the new regime is talking of sharia law. Welcome the new barbarians.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


1 December, 2011

Blocking the Paths Out of Poverty

Have you noticed how often government takes sides against the little guy?

Street vending has been a path out of poverty for Americans. And like other such paths (say, driving a taxi), this one is increasingly difficult to navigate. Why? Because entrenched interests don't like competition. So they lobby their powerful friends to erect high hurdles to upstarts. It's an old story.

Now, growing local governments are crushing street vendors.

The city of Atlanta, for example, has turned all street vending over to a monopoly contractor. In feudalist fashion, all existing vendors were told they must work for the monopoly or not vend at all.

"Vendors who used to paying $250 a year for their vending site must now hand over $500 to $1,600 every month for the privilege of working for the monopoly," wrote Bob Ewing in The Freeman. Ewing works for the Institute for Justice, the libertarian public-interest law firm that defends victims of anticompetitive regulation.

IJ has sued the city on behalf of two popular vendors.

In Hialeah, Fla., if you operate a flower stand too close to a flower store or if you're not constantly moving, you can be arrested.

Institute lawyer Elizabeth Foley says the regulations make "it virtually impossible to be an effective street vendor. You can't be within 300 feet of any place that sells the same or similar merchandise. That's absolutely ridiculous for the government to use its power to enact a law like that. ... These people are just trying to make an honest living, and the city is making it impossible to do so."

The law does seem designed to cripple street vending. "You have to be in constant motion, which is completely unsafe."

Raul Martinez, the mayor when the law passed, defended the rule. "You don't want to have everybody in the middle of the streets competing for space on the sidewalk without some sort of regulations. In the city of Hialeah, we're not overregulating anybody."

He says one purpose of the law is simple fairness: Street vendors don't pay property taxes. Brick-and-mortar stores must. "They also create jobs," Martinez said. "What we did back then is we got all the groups together and we came with an ordinance that was satisfactory to all of the parties at the time."

But they couldn't have gotten "all the groups" together because people who hadn't yet entered the business weren't included. How could they have been? No one knew who they would be. What the mayor did was get the established guys together. Such "fairness" regulation kills job growth and reduces consumer welfare because the entrenched interests write rules that cripple new competition.

Mayor Martinez argued that "you create an unfair advantage when you allow that vendor selling in the front of a flower shop to sell the same flowers that the flower shop sells, and to sell them at a much reduced price. That's unfair competition."

It's a fair point: Why open a brick-and-mortar store and pay property tax if you could save maybe $3,000 a year by selling from a cart?

"These are different types of business models," Foley replied. "A florist can offer professional arrangement. A florist can offer delivery. A florist has a bathroom. Air conditioning. A street vendor is out there on the street, and the way they compete is on price and convenience; you can drive up and get your flowers and go home quickly. There's nothing wrong with having two different types of business models competing near each other. It happens in America all the time.

"It's not legitimate for government to use its incredible power to make one business model have an unfair advantage over another."

As a libertarian, I'd say that the store owners' beef is with the local government that imposes the property tax, not the street vendor struggling to make a better life.

If government destroys all the paths out of poverty, the welfare state will look like the only way to help the poor.

Maybe, in addition to helping entrenched interests, that's the bureaucrats' goal.



Obama's Cloud-Based Transparency

Michelle Malkin

At the dawn of his administration, President Obama opined: "A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency." Magical rays of white-hot sunlight emanated from his media-manufactured halo. And then bureaucratically engineered darkness settled over the land.

For three years, White House officials have rolled out countless executive orders and initiatives touting open government. Just this week, they unveiled plans to move federal archival records from a paper-based to an electronic system. But behind the scenes, Obama's lawyers systematically have stymied public information requests, carved out crater-sized disclosure loopholes, fought subpoenas on scandals from Fast and Furious to Solyndra, and made routine the holiday document dump.

The latest meeting of the Government Accountability and Transparency Board, attended by Vice President Joe Biden, was closed to the press two weeks ago.

The Justice Department stealthily attempted to sabotage the Freedom of Information Act last month with a regulation change that would have allowed federal agencies to legally and deliberately deceive the public about the existence of requested records. After a massive backlash, DOJ retreated and sheepishly admitted that the license-to-lie rule "falls short" of the Obama "commitment" to transparency. (Actually, it's the perfect embodiment of the administration's contempt.) The same DOJ, it should be noted, banned reporters from a FOIA training workshop in 2009.

In October, the Interior Department and Energy Department spurned attempts to gain information about the administration's $1.2 billion loan guarantee to Democrat-connected solar company SunPower. The deal, championed by powerful Democratic Rep. George Miller III, was approved hours before the program expired on Sept. 30. Miller took Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on a tour of the SunPower plant last year; Miller's son is a lobbyist for SunPower. Conservative newspaper Human Events and the nonprofit legal watchdog group Judicial Watch have now filed several pending FOIA requests.

In September, State Department officials refused to go on record during a briefing on its new global government transparency program. Earlier this spring, a ceremony to honor Obama's commitment to openness was closed to the media -- after which dutiful (sup)press secretary Jay Carney boasted that his boss "has demonstrated a commitment to transparency and openness that is greater than any administration has shown in the past."

As evidence of this historic openness, Obama flacks point to farces like last week's Thanksgiving-timed release of White House visitor logs -- which even left-wing good government activists have criticized for their incompleteness. As the Center for Public Integrity reported earlier this year, the logs (which disclosure advocates forced into the public eye after suing) "routinely omit or cloud key details about the identity of visitors, whom they met with and the nature of their visits. The logs even include the names of people who never showed up. These are critical gaps that raise doubts about the records' historical accuracy and utility in helping the public understand White House operations, from social events to meetings on key policy debates."

Occasional holiday document dumps have always been a mainstay in Washington. But the agents of Hope and Change have turned the ritual into a weekly punch line. If it's Friday, it's dump day. The plan worked. As of Tuesday, no mainstream news outlet had reported on the contents of the Black Friday document trove.

None showed interest in the nearly 60 visits from Robert B. Creamer, a convicted felon and tax cheat, left-wing Huffington Post agitator, husband of Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky and vocal champion of the Occupy Wall Street movement. According to the newly released records I reviewed, Creamer was at the White House five times in August 2011 meeting with various officials, including Jon Carson, Cecilia Munoz and Stephanie Cutter.

Nor has there been interest outside conservative blogs in the five White House visits by former Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, a key Fast and Furious scandal bureaucrat, in July and August 2011, or in the five visits from former Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison, including on Aug. 18, 2011, just before the tax-subsidized firm declared bankruptcy.

Nor did any journalism ethics mavens show any curiosity whatsoever about the Aug. 5, 2011, appearance of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and her party of seven (names not identified) to visit "POTUS." Maddow made no mention of the visit on her August 5 show, which promoted the latest batch of White House stimulus proposals. According to the White House logs I reviewed, this was Maddow's fifth trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. -- and the fourth to see the president personally.

Instead, as Newsbusters noted, a Washington Post political blogger was busy trolling Twitter for help digging up "outlandish/incorrect predictions from Newt Gingrich's past." And the only documents The New York Times is interested in crowd-sourcing are Sarah Palin's e-mails.

Team Obama's data whitewashers inside and outside the White House have given "cloud-based" a whole new meaning.



Brazil gets defense contract in return for lending Obama money

How dependent has the United States government under President Barack Obama become upon borrowing money from foreign sources to support its spending?

Would you believe the answer is: "enough to exclude a long-time U.S. manufacturer from consideration for a defense contract in favor of a foreign-based manufacturer, despite the U.S. manufacturer having invested considerable time and profits earned from their other products to develop a product that specifically satisfies the government's needs?" AINonline's Chris Pocock reports:
The U.S. Air Force has apparently chosen the Embraer Super Tucano to meet the Light Air Support (LAS) requirement. Hawker Beechcraft's AT-6 was the other contender. No official announcement has yet been made, but Hawker Beechcraft said it received a letter from the USAF that excluded the AT-6 from the hotly contested competition. The company is protesting the decision to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The LAS competition was designed to produce an alternative to jet combat aircraft for counter-insurgency operations. The Air Force planned to buy 15 aircraft for a training school at Eglin AFB, Fla., but had not confirmed plans to equip any of its own squadrons.

However, the U.S. was expected to supply or sell LAS aircraft to various countries, starting with 20 for Afghanistan. It was this potential that led Hawker Beechcraft and partners to spend “more than $100 million to meet the Air Force's specific requirements,” the company said.

Last month, Hawker Beechcraft completed weapons drop tests with the AT-6, a modification of the successful T-6 primary trainer on which all U.S. military pilots graduate.

Meanwhile, Embraer teamed with Sierra Nevada Corp to offer the EMB-314 Super Tucano, and said it would assemble the aircraft in a new facility at Jacksonville, Fla.

Manufacturing.net carries the Associated Press' article, which describes the size of the contract, as well as the Hawker Beechcraft's investment in its AT-6 program (emphasis ours):
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- The Air Force has notified Hawker Beechcraft Corp. that its Beechcraft AT-6 has been excluded from competition to build a light attack aircraft, a contract worth nearly $1 billion, the company said.

The company had hoped to its AT-6, an armed version of its T-6 trainer, would be chosen for the Light AirSupport Counter Insurgency aircraft for the Afghanistan National Army Corps. The chosen aircraft also would be used as a light attack armed reconnaissance aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.

The piston planes are designed for counterinsurgency, close air support, armed overwatch and homeland security, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/ud7FDM).

Hawker Beechcraft officials said in a news release that they were "confounded and troubled" by the Air Force's decision. The company said it is asking the Air Force for an explanation and will explore all options.

Hawker Beechcraft said it had been working with the Air Force for two years and had invested more than $100 million to meet the Air Force's requirements for the plane. It noted that the Beechcraft AT-6 had been found capable of meeting the requirements in a demonstration program led by the Air National Guard.

It's all the more remarkable because the U.S. company has been laying off its workers given the current economic climate.

By contrast, Hawker Beechcraft's competition for the defense contract, Brazil's Embraer, is under investigation by the SEC into possible corrupt practices. The Wall Street Journal's Paulo Winterstein reports:
Brazil's Embraer SA, the world's No. 4 aircraft maker, said Friday that an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission into possible corrupt practices shouldn't hurt the company's chances of selling planes to the U.S. military.

The company said Thursday that it was subpoenaed by the SEC, but Chief Executive Frederico Curado said Friday the investigation in itself shouldn't affect its ongoing bid to sell Super Tucano aircraft to the U.S. Air Force. Mr. Curado said he expects the government to announce a decision within "weeks" on a contract reportedly valued at $1.5 billion.

"This is a new process for us but as far as we understand it, the investigation won't have an impact," he said in a conference call with journalists. "Restrictions in dealings with the U.S. government would come only after a conviction."

Embraer said that the SEC and U.S. Justice Department are investigating possible breaches of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits company officials from making payments to government officers to get or keep business. The company declined to give details beyond saying that the investigation is related to Embraer business dealings in three countries.

So how does the United States' federal government's need to borrow large amounts of money from foreign sources perhaps come into play in stacking the deck against of a mid-size U.S. manufacturer against the fourth-largest maker of aircraft in the world for a U.S. defense contract?

As the fifth largest major foreign holder of U.S. debt, one whose share of that debt has been growing consistently for several years, the Obama administration may well have made a strategic decision to favor Brazil's Embraer company as a reward for Brazil's growing ranking among all foreign holders of U.S. government-issued debt.

With a good portion of Embraer's Super Tucano aircraft being manufactured outside the United States, the move will increase the U.S.' trade deficit in goods and services with Brazil, which in turn, will be balanced by the U.S. government's "export" of U.S. Treasury securities to Brazil.

The move is strategic because developing Brazil as a major holder of U.S. government-issued debt would offset China's outsize influence over the United States given its status as the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities. Since China has previously flexed its muscles with respect to its interests through the markets for U.S. Treasuries, the Obama administration is likely seeking to reduce its potential influence.

That influence is substantial. Through the end of September 2011, the U.S. Treasury reports that China holds $1.15 trillion in U.S. government-issued securities directly, and another $109 billion indirectly through Hong Kong. Meanwhile, a very large portion of the United Kingdom's reported U.S. government debt holdings of $421.6 billion are actually controlled by Chinese interests. The figure currently recorded for the U.K. is largely a consequence of the nation's position as a major international banking center, which will be revised in several months time to reflect actual holdings by nation.

The bottom line is that if a comparatively small U.S. manufacturer of airplanes with a major investment in its future to develop an aircraft that can do what the U.S. government wants and can demonstrate that's the case needs to be pushed aside in favor of a foreign manufacturer with considerable ethical issues regarding its business practices, and if doing so will help it borrow more money to spend, then that's what the Obama administration will do.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.


It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” -- Thomas Jefferson

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among people who should know better, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser

“Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell’s Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope

Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted.

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

“How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values.” ? John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"