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

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

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28 February, 2011

Obama's printing of billions of new dollars likely to create an even bigger world financial crisis

Comment from an Australian expert below

Reserve Bank board member Warwick McKibbin has warned that Australia is being caught up in a global bubble that could hit us much harder than the global financial crisis and expose the weaknesses of Labor's economic settings.

Professor McKibbin told The Australian the bubble in global commodity prices and property markets in Asia threatened to dwarf the US housing market bubble that led to the GFC in 2008. He warned that the inevitable bursting of the bubble would reverse the surge in Australia's record high terms of trade, push down the dollar and leave the Reserve Bank struggling to fight off rising global inflation pressures.

"This is shaping to be much bigger than 2004 to 2007," he said in comparing the new excess of global liquidity with the global financial bubble that led to the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s. "This cycle is even bigger."

Professor McKibbin suggested the surge in global liquidity fuelled by US monetary expansion had echoes of the early 1970s surge in food, mining and energy prices that led to global "stagflation", or the combination of high inflation and high unemployment.

An internationally renowned macroeconomist at the Australian National University, Professor McKibbin has been a Reserve Bank board member since 2001. He is not expected to be reappointed by Wayne Swan when his second term ends in July following his criticisms of Labor's budget stimulus spending and now its flood levy.

His analysis suggests much of the surge in mining, energy and food prices is being driven by the near zero official interest rates and so-called quantitative easing of credit conditions in the US and Europe in the wake of the GFC.

The Reserve Bank's commodity price index has jumped 49 per cent in the past year that includes a recent 9 per cent jump driven by a surge in food prices.

Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens last week noted strong demand from China and India had fuelled the surge in Australia's terms of trade -- the ratio of the prices we get for exports compared to the prices we pay for imports -- to their highest sustained level for at least 140 years. This was producing the biggest mining development boom in a century.

But Professor McKibbin suggested that perhaps 40 per cent of this terms of trade surge was being driven by US and European monetary expansion, which is feeding generalised inflation pressures. "That is why inflation is taking off all over the world," he told The Australian.

"It is already out of the bag. As interest rates go up, a whole bunch of assets and balance sheets will get crunched, so I am not optimistic."



Safety alert forces removal of fuel from Iran reactor

In a significant setback to Iran's nuclear program, technicians will have to unload fuel from the country's first atomic power plant because of an unspecified safety concern, a senior government officer said.

The vague explanation has raised questions about whether the mysterious computer worm known as Stuxnet might have caused more disruption at the Bushehr plant than previously acknowledged. However other explanations are possible for unloading fuel rods from the core of the newly completed reactor, including routine technical difficulties.

While the exact cause of the fuel removal is unclear, the admission is seen as an embarrassment for Tehran because it had touted Bushehr - Iran's first atomic power plant - as its showcase nuclear facility and a source of national pride. When Iran began loading the fuel just four months ago, national officials celebrated the achievement.

Iran's envoy to the United Nations nuclear monitoring agency in Vienna said that Russia, which provided the fuel and helped construct the Bushehr plant, had demanded the fuel be taken out.

"Upon a demand from Russia … fuel assemblies from the core of the reactor will be unloaded for a period of time to carry out tests and take technical measurements," the semi-official IRNA news agency quoted Ali Asghar Soltanieh as saying. "After the tests are conducted, [the fuel] will be placed in the core of the reactor once again.

"Iran always gives priority to the safety of the plant based on highest global standards," Mr Soltanieh added.

He and other officials have denied any link to the Stuxnet computer virus.



There's suddenly more to the Middle East than Israel

They all warned us. The geniuses at Peace Now. The brilliant diplomats. The think tanks. Even the Arab dictators warned us. For decades now, they have been warning us that if you want "peace in the Middle East," just fix the Palestinian problem. A recent variation on this theme has been: Just get the Jews in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to "freeze" their construction, and then, finally, Palestinian leaders might come to the table and peace might break out.

And what would happen if peace would break out between Jews and Palestinians? Would all those furious Arabs now demonstrating on the streets of Cairo and across the Middle East feel any better? Would they feel less oppressed?

What bloody nonsense.

Has there ever been a greater abuse of the English language in international diplomacy than calling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the "Middle East peace process?" As if there were only two countries in the Middle East.

Even if you absolutely believe in the imperative of creating a Palestinian state, you can't tell me that the single-minded and global obsession with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the expense of the enormous ills in the rest of the Middle East hasn't been idiotic, if not criminally negligent.

While tens of millions of Arabs have been suffering for decades from brutal oppression, while gays have been tortured and writers jailed and women humiliated and dissidents killed, the world -- yes, the world -- has obsessed with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As if Palestinians -- the same coddled victims on whom the world has spent billions and who have rejected one peace offer after another -- were the only victims in the Middle East.

As if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has anything to do with the 1,000-year-old bloody conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, or the desire of brutal Arab dictators to stay in power, or the desire of Islamist radicals to bring back the Caliphate, or the economic despair of millions, or simply the absence of free speech or basic human right throughout the Arab world.

While self-righteous Israel bashers have scrutinized every flaw in Israel's democracy -- some waxing hysterical that the Jewish democratic experiment in the world's nastiest neighborhood has turned into an embarrassment -- they kept their big mouths shut about the oppression of millions of Arabs throughout the Middle East.

They cried foul if Israeli Arabs -- who have infinitely more rights and freedoms than any Arabs in the Middle East -- had their rights compromised in any way. But if a poet was jailed in Jordan or a gay man was tortured in Egypt or a woman was stoned in Syria, all we heard was screaming silence.

Think of the ridiculous amount of media ink and diplomatic attention that has been poured onto the Israel-Palestinian conflict over the years, while much of the Arab world was suffering and smoldering, and tell me this is not criminal negligence. Do you ever recall seeing a U.N. resolution or an international conference in support of Middle Eastern Arabs not named Palestinians?

Of course, now that the Arab volcano has finally erupted, all those chronic Israel bashers have suddenly discovered a new cause: Freedom for the poor oppressed Arabs of the Middle East!

Imagine if those Israel bashers, during all the years they put Israel under their critical and hypocritical microscope, had taken Israel's imperfect democratic experiment and said to the Arab world: Why don't you try to emulate the Jews?

Why don't you give equal rights to your women and gays, just like Israel does?

Why don't you give your people the same freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to vote that Israel gives its people? And offer them the economic opportunities they would get in Israel? Why don't you treat your Jewish citizens the same way Israel treats its Arab citizens?

Why don't you study how Israel has struggled to balance religion with democracy -- a very difficult but not insurmountable task?

Why don't you teach your people that Jews are not the sons of dogs, but a noble, ancient people with a 3,000-year connection to the land of Israel.

Yes, imagine if Israel bashers had spent a fraction of their energy fighting the lies of Arab dictators and defending the rights of millions of oppressed Arabs. Imagine if President Obama had taken 1 percent of the time he has harped on Jewish settlements to defend the democratic rights of Egyptian Arabs -- which he is suddenly doing now that the volcano has erupted. Maybe it's just easier to beat up on a free and open society like Israel.

Well, now that the cesspool of human oppression in the Arab world has been opened for all to see, how bad is Israel's democracy looking? Don't you wish the Arab world had a modicum of Israel's civil society? And that it was as stable and reliable and free and open as Israel?

You can preach to me all you want about the great Jewish tradition of self-criticism -- which I believe in -- but right now, when I see poor Arab souls being killed for protesting on the street, and the looming threat that one Egyptian Pharaoh may be replaced by an even more oppressive one, I've never felt more proud of being a supporter of the Jewish state.




“Free” public radio is anything but: " As an example of how much begging public radio does, Wisconsin Public Radio — a network of 32 stations programmed by seven regional stations – reported that 13 percent of its total budget in 2009 was used for fundraising. Additionally, the network’s website reveals that 25 percent ($1.94 million) of the revenues garnered from listener and corporate donations ($6.25 million and $1.58 million, respectively) are directly allocated to fundraising. State taxpayers cover a big chunk of public radio’s bill through subsidies to state universities and colleges that house transmitters, offices, studios, and utilities. One publicly supported station in Michigan told me that this arrangement amounts to 12 percent ($405,159) of its annual budget. Wisconsin Public Radio has a similar 10 percent ($1.6 million) “indirect/in-kind” arrangement."

Public enemy No. 1: Government unions: "Wealth creators, big and small, pay government teachers. They, in turn, pay the unions, who turn around and agitate for raising taxes on their benefactors. This hapless taxpayer cannot withhold his coerced contribution, cannot leverage it to improve the product and, in general, has no real representation at the negotiating table."

Anti-Obamacare constitutional amendment: "So far twenty seven states have joined in the lawsuit against Obamacare. That is more than a majority, and most of the distance towards the thirty seven states that would be required to pass a constitutional amendment. The last time a constitutional amendment was almost passed by a convention of the states was the repeal of prohibition. In order to maintain the precedent of constitutional amendments being passed first in congress, the congress acted quickly to pass the amendment before the states would."

Crony capitalism again: "I’ve reported on a remarkable little window company, Serious Materials. Somehow, that little company got personal endorsements from both President Obama and Vice President Biden. ... of all the window companies in America, why does just that one get Presidential and Vice Presidential attention, plus a special tax credit? Maybe because Serious executives gave thousands of dollars to the Obama campaign? Maybe because the energy department official who gives out government grants, Cathy Zoi, is the wife of the Vice President of Policy of Serious Windows?"

Governor Walker’s Coolidge moment: "Targeting public unions is unwise, rash and retrograde. That's the take in some quarters on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to curtail collective bargaining for public-sector unions in his state, Wisconsin. ... On Salon.com, contributor Stephanie Taylor described Walker's effort to strip away long-standing public-sector bargaining rights as 'a step backward, not forward, in the march of American progress.' Such analysis has it backward. Walker's decision to reduce public-union powers isn't rash. It is overdue."

This Time, It's Different: "When the Los Angeles Times signs on to efforts to reform government-worker pensions -- in part by (gasp!) requiring workers to contribute more to their own retirement and raising the retirement age -- it's not just a surprise. It signals the rapid approach of fiscal armageddon. The linked op/ed actually does a good job at explaining why the current course is unsustainable, and for that reason alone, it's worth a read. Going forward, one of Republicans' most important challenges will be to explain to the American people why this crisis is real, and why it requires big changes."

That Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is proof that there is no justice in this world: "The most entertaining documents relate to a trip Kennedy took to Latin America in 1961. He visited a number of countries, accompanied by his "political counselor." In each country, Kennedy met with prominent Communists or other left-wing leaders. The U.S. Ambassador to Mexico was outraged that Kennedy wanted to bring such people to the embassy--this was the heart of the Cold War, after all--and he refused, telling Kennedy to arrange his own interviews somewhere else. A State Department official in Peru described Teddy as "pompous and a spoiled brat." By the time he got to Chile, Kennedy apparently was tired of political work, so he "made arrangements to 'rent' a brothel for an entire night" in Santiago."

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. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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)


27 February, 2011

Proof that Islam rots your brain

Twenty-five thousand years ago, haplogroup R2 characterized by genetic marker M124 arose in southern Central Asia. Then began a major wave of human migration whereby members migrated southward to present-day India and Pakistan. Indians and Pakistanis have the same ancestry and share the same DNA sequence.

Here’s what is happening in India:

The two Ambani brothers can buy 100 percent of every company listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) and would still be left with $30 billion to spare. The four richest Indians can buy up all goods and services produced over a year by 169 million Pakistanis and still be left with $60 billion to spare. The four richest Indians are now richer than the forty richest Chinese.

In November, Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark Sensex flirted with 20,000 points. As a consequence, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries became a $100 billion company (the entire KSE is capitalized at $65 billion). Mukesh owns 48 percent of Reliance.

In November, comes Neeta’s birthday. Neeta turned forty-four three weeks ago. Look what she got from her husband as her birthday present: A sixty-million dollar jet with a custom fitted master bedroom, bathroom with mood lighting, a sky bar, entertainment cabins, satellite television, wireless communication and a separate cabin with game consoles. Neeta is Mukesh Ambani’s wife, and Mukesh is not India ’s richest but the second richest.

Mukesh is now building his new home, Residence Antillia (after a mythical, phantom island somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean). At a cost of $1 billion this would be the most expensive home on the face of the planet. At 173 meters tall Mukesh’s new family residence, for a family of six, will be the equivalent of a 60-storeyed building. The first six floors are reserved for parking. The seventh floor is for car servicing and maintenance. The eighth floor houses a mini-theatre. Then there’s a health club, a gym and a swimming pool. Two floors are reserved for Ambani family’s guests. Four floors above the guest floors are family floors all with a superb view of the Arabian Sea. On top of everything are three helipads. A staff of 600 is expected to care for the family and their family home.

In 2004, India became the 3rd most attractive foreign direct investment destination. Pakistan wasn’t even in the top 25 countries.

In 2004, the United Nations, the representative body of 192 sovereign member states, had requested the Election Commission of India to assist the UN in the holding of elections in Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah and Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan. Why the Election Commission of India and not the Election Commission of Pakistan? After all, Islamabad is closer to Kabul than is Delhi.

Imagine, 12 percent of all American scientists are of Indian origin; 38 percent of doctors in America are Indian; 36 percent of NASA scientists are Indians; 34 percent of Microsoft employees are Indians; and 28 percent of IBM employees are Indians.

For the record: Sabeer Bhatia created and founded Hotmail. Sun Microsystems was founded by Vinod Khosla. The Intel Pentium processor, that runs 90 percent of all computers, was fathered by Vinod Dham. Rajiv Gupta co-invented Hewlett Packard’s E-speak project. Four out of ten Silicon Valley start-ups are run by Indians. Bollywood produces 800 movies per year and six Indian ladies have won Miss Universe/Miss World titles over the past 10 years.

For the record: Azim Premji, the richest Muslim entrepreneur on the face of the planet, was born in Bombay and now lives in Bangalore . India now has more than three dozen billionaires; Pakistan has none (not a single dollar billionaire).

The other amazing aspect is the rapid pace at which India is creating wealth. In 2002, Dhirubhai Ambani, Mukesh and Anil Ambani’s father, left his two sons a fortune worth $2.8 billion. In 2007, their combined wealth stood at $94 billion. On 29 October 2007, as a result of the stock market rally and the appreciation of the Indian rupee, Mukesh became the richest person in the world, with net worth climbing to US$63.2 billion (Bill Gates, the richest American, stands at around $56 billion).

Indians and Pakistanis have the same Y-chromosome haplogroup. We have the same genetic sequence and the same genetic marker (namely: M124). We have the same DNA molecule, the same DNA sequence. Our culture, our traditions and our cuisine are all the same. We watch the same movies and sing the same songs.


Pakistan is a ferociously Muslim country; India is predominantly Hindu


Hate-A-Rama: The Vulgar, Sexist, Racist, Homophobic Rage of the Left

Michelle Malkin

Barack Obama's new era of civility was over before it began. You wouldn't know it from reading The New York Times, watching Katie Couric or listening to the Democratic manners police. But America has been overrun by foul-mouthed, fist-clenching wildebeests.

Yes, the tea party movement is responsible -- for sending these liberal goons into an insane rage, that is. After enduring two years of false smears as sexist, racist, homophobic barbarians, it is grassroots conservatives and taxpayer advocates who have been ceaselessly subjected to rhetorical projectile vomit. It is Obama's rank-and-file "community organizers" on the streets fomenting the hate against their political enemies. Not the other way around.

The trendy new epithet among Big Labor organizers who've been camping out at the Madison, Wis., Capitol building for more than a week to block GOP Gov. Scott Walker's budget reform bill: "Koch whore." Classy, huh? It's a reference to the reviled Koch brothers, David and Charles, who have used their energy-industry wealth to support limited-government activism.

A left-wing agitator based in Buffalo who impersonated Koch in a prank phone call this week used the slur to headline his "gonzo journalism" report. (If a right-leaning activist had perpetrated such a stunt, he'd be labeled a radical, stalking fraudster. But that's par for the media's double-standards course.)

The 20-minute phone call undermined the grand Koch conspiracy by exposing that Walker didn't know Koch at all. No matter. "Koch whore" is the new "Halliburton whore." The Captains of Civility are sticking to it. And the sanctimonious "No Labels" crowd is missing in action -- just like Wisconsin's Fleebagger Democrats.

Sexual vulgarity is a common theme in the left's self-styled "solidarity" movement. Among the Madison pro-union signs the national media chose not to show you: "Buttholes for Billionaires" (complete with a photo of Walker's head placed in the middle of a graphic photo of someone's posterior) and "If teabaggers are as hot as their Fox News anchors, then I'm here for the gang bang!!!"

Last month, GOP Lieutenant Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch was subjected to similar misogyny for her outreach efforts to private businesses. Liberal WTDY radio host John "Sly" Sylvester accused her of performing "fellatio on all the talk-show hosts in Milwaukee" and sneered that she had "pulled a train" (a crude phrase for group sex).

At an AFSCME rally in Providence, R.I., on Tuesday, an unhinged pro-union supporter picked an unprovoked fight with a citizen journalist taping the event for public access TV. His eyes bulging, the brawler yelled: "I'll f**k you in the a**, you faggot!" After several unsuccessful minutes of trying to calm their furious ally down, the solidarity mob finally started chanting, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, union-busting's got to go" to drown out his intimidating vow to follow the cameraman outside the building. Criminal charges are now pending against him. None of the local media who covered the event thought to mention the disruption in their coverage.

In Columbus, Ohio, supporters of GOP Gov. John Kasich's fiscal reforms were confronted with a fulminating union demonstrator who railed: "The tea party is a bunch of d**k-sucking corporate butt-lickers who want to crush the working people of this country."

In Denver, Colo., Leland Robinson, a gay black tea party activist and entrepreneur who criticized teachers unions at a Capitol rally, was told by white labor supporters to "get behind that fence where you belong." They called the 52-year-old limousine driver "son" and subjected him to this ugly, racially charged taunt: "Do you have any children? That you claim?"

Tea party favorite and former Godfather's Pizza President Herman Cain is another outspoken black conservative businessman who has earned the civility mob's lash. Two weeks ago, a cowardly liberal writer derided Cain as a "monkey in the window," a "garbage pail kid" and a "minstrel" who performs for his "masters." Monkey. Parrot. Puppet. Lawn jockey. Uncle Tom. Aunt Thomasina. Oreo. Coconut. Banana. We minority conservatives have heard it all.

In Washington, D.C., a multi-union protest at the offices of conservative activist group FreedomWorks resulted in one young female employee, Tabitha Hale, getting smacked with a sign by a barbarian wearing a Communications Workers of America T-shirt -- and another FreedomWorks employee getting yelled at as a "bad Jew" for opposing public union monopolies and reckless spending.

In the wake of the Tucson massacre, Obama urged the nation "to do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations." He pushed for "a more civil and honest public discourse."

As Big Labor-backing MoveOn.org (the same outfit that smeared Gen. David Petraeus as a traitor) prepares to march on all 50 state Capitols this weekend, where's the Civility Chief now? AWOL.



Some theology below
Barack Obama, the Tea Party, and the Threat of Race: On Racial Neoliberalism and Born Again Racism

Author: Enck-Wanzer, Darrel

Source: Communication, Culture & Critique, Volume 4, Number 1, March 2011, pp. 23-30(8)


This essay engages the racist rhetoric of the U.S. Tea Party and President Barack Obama's (non)response as both emblematic of what David Theo Goldberg and others call racial neoliberalism. While Obama's detractors certainly deserve attention for their invective discourse, Obama also warrants critique for operating within a racially neoliberal discursive field binding him to antiracial (not antiracist) responses to racist discourses. This essay first stakes out the conceptual terrain of racial neoliberalism and addresses the relationship between racial neoliberalism, antiracialism, and racial threat to elucidate its significance for discourse about race. How the Tea Party's racist rhetoric functions and how Obama's reaction further reinforce the hegemony of racial neoliberalism are explained using this critical analytic.

There's a lot of verbose nonsense like that coming from academe. And guess whose tax dollars are paying for it?


How bureaucrats think

When faced with actual real cuts in their budgets, managers in either the private or public sector have some basic priority decisions to make.

Do you use these cuts as an opportunity to cut the average employees from your staff with the idea that when times are less lean, you can replace them with employees with a higher upside?

Do you evaluate programs and eliminate those that are not meeting expectations, contributing to the bottom line, or are simply “vanity” projects that fall into the want rather than need category?

Do you cut salaries and benefits across the board in an attempt to keep your staff intact, knowing that you might lose key personnel who leave because they have better offers or prospects for growth?

Do you lay off staff for a couple of weeks of unpaid furlough?

One option that few would consider would be shutting down your entire operation for almost two months, and then trying to restart from scratch after that length of time.

Yet, listening to the professional left react to the House passage of the Continuing Resolution, and the reaction of public employee unions in Wisconsin and elsewhere, you would think that this is the only alternative.

Shut down, doomsday, our indispensable jobs not being performed for a long time rather than setting priorities and funding needs over wants.

To demonstrate the point, the National Labor Relations Board announced that the $50 million cut they received in the House Continuing Resolution would mean they would have to shut down for 50 days. Of course, 176 House Republicans voted to defund the NLRB entirely, so the 50 days should seem reasonable in that light.

It is instructive that the fear mongering management style of the left never considers anything but the “shutdown solution,” in their attempts to rally people to continue the growth of government.

If the NLRB was managed like a business, they would use the $50 million in cuts to weed out the 20 percent poorest performers from their ranks, and narrow the focus of their efforts to only the most mission critical agenda items. But instead, they threaten a 50 day shutdown, because every staff member is equally valuable.

Of course, the reason the NLRB is facing this level of budget cut is because it is in classic liberal overreach mode, attempting at every turn to rejuvenate the Democratic base through creating a European style workplace. They aren’t pursuing this agenda because that is a model that works, but because it increases the power of Big Labor and the Democratic Party. So, naturally, a cut in their budget would be viewed as a direct assault on this power grab, which can only be met with the most extreme rhetoric.

To give an idea on why 176 Republicans voted to put the NLRB out of business entirely, just look at one case pending before the NLRB that threatens to overturn the Dana Corp. decision that provides for secret ballot union elections, and its ramifications for worker rights.

Under current law, if an employer and a union jointly agree to certify the union for the employees, those employees who were never consulted or voted on whether they wanted to be represented by that or any union, have the right to demand a union certification election. Seems like a reasonable approach to the law, since the imposition of a union on employees through some dubious agreement between the employer and a random union clearly violates those workers rights to self-determination in the workplace.

However, Big Labor objects and the NLRB is currently considering a case that would effectively take the employee choice out of the process, sticking them with a union that they might neither want nor need.

This paternalistic approach that pushes workers out of the union organizing process might be an ideal solution to Big Labor’s problem that they are being uniformly rejected by private sector workers across America, but it is hardly empowering the workers.

Upon further review, perhaps the NLRB shutting down for at least 50 days might be the best solution if they are going to continue rampaging against workers right to choose? It certainly makes the vote of the 176 House Republicans to shut them down completely understandable.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

A marvellous story

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner has spent the past decade delivering a highly effective counterpunch to terrorist organisations across the globe by using her own brand of "lawfare".

First, she and her group of lawyers at the Israel Law Centre in Tel Aviv track down the terrorists’ financial pipelines, then they set about suing the banks, institutions and charitable fronts used to facilitate the flow of funds. In doing so, the 37-year-old Israeli attorney and mother of six has taken on some of the world’s biggest banks – the Arab Bank, the Bank of China, and American Express – and to date has recovered a whopping $120 million for the victims of terrorist attacks.

Darshan-Leitner has also won judgments worth more than $1 billion against groups including Hamas and Hezbollah. While the terrorists themselves do not pay up, Darshan-Leitner and her team have been able to close the spigot on many of their supply lines and reduce the risk of attacks on Israel by as much as 60 per cent, according to Israeli intelligence. There is real potential, she believes, for the victims of the two Bali bombings to launch civil actions against the terrorists and their backers. It is her mantra that “money is the oxygen of terrorism and if we can stop the flow of money, we can reduce terrorism”. On a recent tour in Australia, where she met senior politicians, Darshan-Leitner explained how she does it.

Q. Who are the main terrorist groups and states bankrolling terrorist attacks?

A. Hamas. PLO. Islamic Jihad. Hezbollah. And state regimes that support terror such as Iran, Syria, North Korea.

Q. Of course, it’s not the terrorists who you are forcing to pay up, but the banks handling their money.

A. Terrorist organisations don’t come to court. No, we’re going after bank accounts, shares, assets that are in the hands of third parties, and even grabbing houses. In cases against the banks, we’ve been very successful in sending a shockwave through the international financial systems. We have sent the message that if you provide financial services to terror groups or to the front charities that they hide behind, you could incur massive financial liability from the victims’ cases.

Q. You’ve funnelled the money raised from these cases to terrorist victims.

A. Nothing, it must be said, is ever going to bring a loved one killed in an attack back to life. However, I think that every case in which we have had an opportunity to actually recover funds for families who lost a breadwinner is really important. In some instances the families were in financial distress because the husband or wife had been killed. Taking funds away from the terrorists and getting them to the victims provides some measure of justice and compensation.

Q. You have taken two British banks, Lloyds and Barclays, to court, forcing them to shut down accounts of Islamic charities providing money to the families of suicide bombers. Some would argue that cutting off financial aid to these families is simple guilt by association, that you’re punishing innocent people.

A. They are not being punished. But you must stop the flow of money going to any connection to a terrorist organisation. If you give money to the family of a suicide bomber you actually encourage the next suicide bomber to carry out an attack because he knows his family will be supported from now until the end.

Q. But surely a terrorist organisation can simply bank its money through an Islamic financial institution and shift money around?

A. Yes, a terrorist group can still use an Islamic bank. The problem is where the money goes once it leaves the Islamic bank. You need an international bank to facilitate the money transaction. For instance, if a Palestinian bank wants to trade in euros or shekel you need a correspondent bank in Israel or Europe. No bank would be willing to do that. And the amount of money Hamas can smuggle through tunnels in suitcases is about a tenth of what can be wired through a bank.

Q. You have just launched a $5 million class action against former president Jimmy Carter and publishing company Simon & Schuster, alleging that his 2006 book, Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid, has an anti-Israel agenda. What do you find most objectionable about the book?

A. The problem with the book is not that it was anti-Israel; Carter is perfectly entitled to express his opinion. The cause of action arose because Carter and his publisher have been marketing the book as accurate and truthful, when in fact the book is replete with inaccuracies, misrepresentations, mistakes and lies. We sued under the consumer protection laws as it’s a fraud on the reading public.

Q. Some would see this as a clear-cut case of you trying to quash free speech.

A. We have repeatedly said that Carter is entirely free to express his opinion. Our suit is based upon the misrepresentations that Carter and his publisher have made to the public. They continue to insist the book is truthful and we claim it’s a fraudulent misrepresentation on the public. It has nothing to do with free speech. It has to do with false advertising and fraudulent commercial speech.

Q. Speaking of Carter, his presidency was haunted by the hostage crisis in Tehran. Was this the beginning of the struggle against radical Islam?

A. The Muslim Brotherhood, the same one we hear about in Egypt, has been working to overthrow Arab governments and establish a pan-Islamic region since the 1930s. The Iranian Revolution was one of their most successful achievements in that unrelenting struggle. The fact is that Carter’s administration completely failed to recognise the threat from extremist Islam and essentially allowed Khomeini and his followers to ride the coat tails of the Iranian democratic movement into absolute power.

Q. In Iran in 1979, radical Islamicists posed as democrats but then established a theocratic dictatorship. Do you think the Muslim Brotherhood pose the same threat in Egypt, given they won at most 20 per cent of the vote in the last election with members standing as Independents?

A. Twenty per cent may not look like a scary number, but no other opposition party in Egypt is as well organised and well funded as the Muslim Brotherhood. If an election were held today, the Muslim Brotherhood would win a lot more than 20 per cent of the vote. The only hope is that the new leaders will not be worse than Mubarak. If the Muslim Brotherhood take over, it will be bad not just for Egypt but the world.

Q. In 2008, you helped launch a campaign to save the life of a Palestinian man accused of helping Israeli intelligence. What happened to him?

A. The Palestinian Authority hunts down anyone it suspects of providing the Israeli security services with information about terrorist organisations. Sometimes the terror groups just execute the suspects in the streets. In this case they arrested the man, gave him a 15-minute trial and sentenced him to death. We mounted an international campaign in the media to save his life. We demanded that the Palestinians not carry out the execution and that he be provided a fair trial. In the end we saved him – but he received a life sentence.

Q. A PM chosen by Hezbollah governs in Lebanon. In Iraq, radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is throwing his political weight around. Palestinians voted in Hamas. In terms of the spread of radical Islam, it’s a fairly bleak picture is it not?

A. It is. We do have a fear of the future in Israel. The increased strength of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the revolution in Egypt, the extreme mullahs in Iran, the uncertainty in Iraq and the instability in Jordan now. It all puts Israel into a very uncomfortable position.

Q. Israel is a tiny country of 7.5 million surrounded by giants – Iran (73 million), Egypt (82 million), Saudi Arabia (26 million), Syria (21 million). Do you see the country becoming increasingly besieged in the years ahead?

A. I am a daughter of generations and generations of Jews. We have gone through crises, pogroms, disasters and holocausts since the beginning of creation. We have survived 5000 years to date and we’ll survive another 5000 years.

Q. Do you see any lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the decades to come?

A. The Palestinians are not preparing their citizens to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state. Their leaders and media are still inciting their people against Israel on a daily basis. Issues to which they are not willing to compromise include the status of Jerusalem and the insistence on having an armed military force. Until the Palestinians are willing to make real concessions, there can be no enduring peace.



America won't easily let you go, either

There are many countries in less financial trouble than the USA (Australia and Canada, for starters) so some Americans may be thinking of greener pastures. Emigrating, however, is not as difficult as it was for citizens of Communist countries but it still does have its barriers

The reason Americans are, by far, the most oppressed and controlled is because even if you leave the US you are still under control of the US Government and obligated to pay taxes in the US, for life, no matter if you never return to the US. Even if you surrender your US passport, something which is highly recommended but difficult to do, they still claim a period of 10 years whereby they can tax you. And that's not even to mention that it is illegal to leave the US in order to avoid paying taxes!

That's why for most people who leave their home country it is called "expatriation". But because it is so difficult for Americans to get out of the grasp of the US Government, the more appropriate term is "defection".

Americans in some ways are even less free than North Korean citizens. North Korean citizens are welcomed by most banks and brokerages in the world whereas Americans are persona non grata almost anywhere outside of the United State because the US Government has stated to the world that if you open an account for an American citizen you will have black helicopters on your roof the next morning.

If you live in the US and haven't noticed all of the above, noticed the "cash sniffing dogs" at most major airports checking Americans on their way out of the US.

And don't think you can even escape the claws of the US Government by killing yourself. Suicide is illegal! And they even have a tax specifically for people who die. Land of the free!

If you have yet to begin internationalizing your IRA, as guided by my colleague, Terry Coxon's, excellent book and services called Unleash Your IRA, what exactly are you waiting for? What further proof do you need to see that at the very least your government is a dangerous pickpocket and does not have your own personal interests in mind?

If you haven't begun to get a second passport or at least residency in many of the beautiful destinations we have recommended to subscribers in the TDV newsletter such as the Dominican Republic, Argentina, New Zealand, Thailand, Mexico and Malaysia, what are you waiting for? Don't tell me you believe the propaganda as read to you from teleprompters by Barack Obama or Katie Couric, telling you of how dangerous these other places are?

And if you don't have the money/assets to do any of these things, beg or borrow a few thousand dollars to invest in gold, silver or the precious metals, agriculture or uranium stocks we discover each month in our newsletter which have brought nearly 100% gains within 6 months to many and potential for much more as the US dollar is destroyed by Ben Bernanke. It's not like he hasn't told you he is going to do it. It's amazing how most people miss the most obvious things.

You can still internationalize your IRA. You can still legally get a second passport and you can still legally buy gold bullion offshore and foreign real estate. Don't wait until it isn't legal... then it will be much harder or impossible.



Terror threats rising as FEMA orders $1 Billion in dehydrated food

Terror threats appear to be on the rise as FEMA has rushed a $1 Billion order of dehydrated food in the event of attacks on domestic targets in the US. This is also coming on the heels of one of the largest terror drills performed by the US Navy on American soil, as Operation Solid Curtain is taking place this week.

In an article Tuesday from the Beaufort Observer, many of the largest suppliers of dehydrated foods in the country are dropping their distributors and customers to dedicate their resources to supplying a billion dollar FEMA request and purchase.

One of the nation's largest suppliers of dehydrated food has cut loose 99% of their dealers and distributors. And it's not because of the poor economy. It's because this particular industry leader can no longer supply their regular distribution channels. Why not? Because they're using every bit of manufacturing capacity they have to fulfill massive new government contracts. Look, the government has always been a customer of the industry to some extent. But according to our sources, this latest development doesn't represent simply a change of vendor on the government's part. It's a whole new magnitude of business.

And that's not all. Apparently, even though they've cut off their regular consumer markets, the industry leader I've just mentioned still can't produce enough survival food to meet the government's vast requirements. How do we know? Earlier this month, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) put out a Request for Proposal, or RFP, for even more dehydrated food. The RFP called for a 10-day supply of meals - for 14 million people. That's 420 million meals. Typically, FEMA maintains a stockpile of about 6 million meals. Why the sudden need to increase the stockpile by 420 million more? (And that's in addition to whatever our aforementioned industry leader is supplying.) It almost seems like they're trying to stock a modern day "Noah's Ark," doesn't it?

Single functions or events such as FEMA requesting a purchase of survival food might not stand out as peculiar when it is their responsibility to ensure they are mission ready for unforseen events in the US, but couple this with other pieces of the puzzle, such as the Navy drill of Solid Curtain, which is intended for: ...nationwide "drill" involving all military, and it's a drill based on a severe terrorist attack.

and the public had best be aware of something major potentially occurring on our soil in the near future. Global events across the world such as the revolutions and protests, the rising spike in oil, the falling dollar, food shortages, and unrest in Wisconsin and Ohio, are bringing us to the point where crisis may take place, whether from domestic or foreign sources.

Terror alerts have been raised by FEMA in the past month, and this new special order of dehydrated food, at the magnitude of $1 Billion dollars in taxpayer money, should be a call for everyone to prepare on your own for any potential crisis.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Public Unions Force Taxpayers to Fund Dems

Everyone has priorities. During the past week, Barack Obama has found no time to condemn the attacks that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has launched on the Libyan people.

But he did find time to be interviewed by a Wisconsin television station and weigh in on the dispute between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the state's public employee unions. Walker was staging "an assault on unions," he said, and added that "public employee unions make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens."

Enormous contributions, yes -- to the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign. Unions, most of whose members are public employees, gave Democrats some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest public employee union, gave Democrats $90 million in the 2010 cycle.

Follow the money, Washington reporters like to say. The money in this case comes from taxpayers, present and future, who are the source of every penny of dues paid to public employee unions, who in turn spend much of that money on politics, almost all of it for Democrats. In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party.



ObamaCare Is Already Damaging Health Care

Many of its changes don't kick in until 2014. But the law is forcing dramatic consolidation and reducing choice in the industry.

The Republicans who now control the House of Representatives hope to repeal or defund ObamaCare, but the law has already yielded profound, destructive changes that will not be undone by repeal or defunding alone. Active steps and new laws will be needed to repair the damage.

The most significant change is a wave of frantic consolidation in the health industry. Because the law mandates that insurers accept all patients regardless of pre-existing conditions, insurers will not make money with their current premium and provider-payment structures. As a result, they have already started to raise premiums and cut payments to doctors and hospitals. Smaller and weaker insurers are being forced to sell themselves to larger entities.

Doctors and hospitals, meanwhile, have decided that they cannot survive unless they achieve massive size—and fast. Six years ago, doctors owned more than two-thirds of U.S. medical practices, according to the Medical Group Management Association. By next year, nearly two-thirds will be salaried employees of larger institutions.

Consolidation is not necessarily bad, as larger medical practices and hospital systems can create some efficiencies. But in the context of ObamaCare's spiderweb of rules and regulations, consolidation is more akin to collectivization. It means that government bureaucrats will be able to impose controls with much greater ease.

With far fewer and much larger entities to browbeat, all changes in Medicare and Medicaid policies will go through the entire system like a shock wave. There will be far fewer individual insurers, doctors, hospitals, device makers, drug manufacturers, nursing homes and other health-care players to resist.

Many doctors and hospitals have decided that they cannot survive unless they achieve massive size—and fast.

There is little mystery how the government will exercise its power. Choices will be limited. Pathways to expensive specialist care such as advanced radiology and surgery will decline. Cutting-edge devices and medicines will come into the system much more slowly and be used much less frequently.

This is why simply defunding enforcement of the individual mandate and other upcoming directives will not be enough: Given all this consolidation, limits on treatment choices are already becoming hardwired into the system. Lawmakers must take concrete steps to stop and reverse this.

On the provider end, this means enacting tax and other economic shields for insurers and providers that choose not to succumb to the financial pressure encouraging consolidation. It means unwinding all of the rules—about data compilation, reporting and compliance requirements, and information technology—designed to increase overhead to the point that only massive and easily regulated provider organizations can survive.

Legislators will have to scrub the 2,700-page ObamaCare law line by line to remove all of the disincentives for medical practices, hospitals and others to remain smaller and independent.

On the consumer end, reform means re-establishing choice at all levels of the system. Lawmakers at a minimum should change the individual mandate so that people can choose what type of coverage they buy. To do this, legislation has to ensure that all consumers have access to a menu of options for varying types of coverage, and that they are free to purchase policies across state lines. There should also be tax breaks for people who purchase medical care not covered by their insurance, so there is reasonable chance of escaping government-imposed limits on treatment choices.

System-wide, collectivization will be dismantled only by limiting the power of government agencies to determine what care gets funded. That means new legislation to supersede Section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires herding everyone into "qualified plans" and forcing doctors (via fines, penalties and nonpayment) to follow care guidelines determined by the secretary of Health and Human Services.

ObamaCare is already doing great damage, even years before its individual mandate and other controls kick in. Its systematic undoing is an urgent necessity.



Voices of Moderation

Thomas Sowell

Moderation-- at least verbal moderation-- is suddenly in vogue.

President Obama's rhetoric has moderated, even if his policies and practices have not. Among Republicans, voices of moderation are warning that the party cannot win elections without having a "big tent" and reaching out to Hispanics, for example. Recently, talk show host Michael Medved has suggested that Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin should moderate their attacks on Obama.

Moderation is fine-- if it is not carried to extremes. But some moderates seem to think that it is always a good thing to tone down your words. Yet history shows that muffling your message can mean forfeiting many a battle to extremists.

No one has had more of a mixed and muffled message than Senator John McCain, which is why Barack Obama is President of the United States.

Republican moderates warn their fellow Republicans that they need to move away from the Ronald Reagan approach, in order to attract a wider range of voters. But Ronald Reagan won two consecutive landslide elections-- and he couldn't have done that if the only people who voted for him were dedicated conservatives.

What Reagan had was a clear, coherent and believable message. Even voters who did not agree with him 100 percent could respect that and prefer it to the alternative.

He didn't have to offer earmarked goodies to each special group, in order to get their votes. Pandering can gain you some votes but lose you many others.

After the tragic murders and attempted murders in Tucson, some Democrats and the media have promoted the notion that sharp political criticism somehow provoked the shootings. There is not a speck of evidence to support that notion.

Such evidence as there is points in the opposite direction, because the individual charged with the crime did not follow talk radio or Sarah Palin.

This same political game was played after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which was blamed on the "hostile" conservative atmosphere in Dallas. But the atmosphere in Dallas did not kill JFK. A bullet from a far-left kook killed him.

The criticism-causes-violence notion plays right into the hands of those Democrats who have done outrageous things in Washington, and who now insulate themselves from the outrage they provoked by equating strong criticism with fomenting violence.

Apparently some moderate Republicans don't realize that you can't buy your opponents' assumptions and then try to oppose the conclusions that follow.

Conservative talk-show host Michael Medved recently criticized Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Dinesh D'Souza for depicting Barack Obama as someone who does not love this country, and who is deliberately doing things to undermine it, at home and abroad. Medved declared, "it's particularly unhelpful to focus on alleged bad intentions and rotten character when every survey shows more favorable views of his personality and policies."

Are public opinion polls the way to determine the truth? If so, we can all outsource our thinking to Gallup and Zogby.

Michael Medved also cites other presidents of the past, whose errors or even sins did not mean that they were unpatriotic. But does anyone seriously believe that this tells us anything about Barack Obama, one way or the other?

Like some others, Michael Medved seems to think that Obama's pragmatic desire to be re-elected means that he is not an ideological extremist. But Hitler and Stalin were pragmatic and that did not stop them from being extremists.

Finally, there is the argument that Republicans will have a harder time winning the next election if they are "perceived as running against the presidency." But Rush Limbaugh and Dinesh D'Souza are not running for office, and it is not certain that Sarah Palin will be either.

And nobody is running against "the presidency." They will be running against Barack Obama.

Are we not to consider a possibility with deep and painful implications for the future of this nation, for such feeble reasons as these? Or just because moderation is a Good Thing?



California teachers' pension system is insolvent

Propped up only by increasing taxpayer contributions

As California school districts anticipate possibly the worst budget crisis in a generation, many will try to lighten their burden by enticing older teachers into retirement. But as more and more teachers retire -- with a pension averaging 55 percent to 60 percent of salary -- they will be straining a system that already can't meet its obligations.

The California State Teachers' Retirement System is sliding down a steep slope toward insolvency. The threat isn't to teachers who have retired or plan to, but to the people of California. Taxpayers, who already pick up 23 percent of CalSTRS expenses, will be increasingly burdened as the giant pension system fails to meet its obligations.

"We're on a path of destruction," said Marcia Fritz, president of pension-reform group California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility. And merely rejiggering formulas for new employees won't rescue the system, she said. Simply put: "We overpromised."
Among those promises, "Californians have typically given their public employees richer retirement benefits" than have other states, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

Despite the looming disaster, CalSTRS is like an ocean liner that's slow and complicated to change course. Gov. Jerry Brown hasn't mentioned overhauling the system that benefits one of his major supporters, the teachers union. Nor has the Legislature taken up the issue.

CalSTRS, a $146.4 billion system, provides the retirement of public-school teachers and administrators. Like its sibling pension system, CalPERS, which provides for non-teaching state employees, CalSTRS' collections don't meet its obligations to current and future retirees.

Although CalPERS has imposed higher contributions, reformers say CalSTRS' formulas can be revised only by legislation, a statewide initiative or possibly a constitutional amendment and litigation -- not to mention immense political will. Courts have ruled that retirees are guaranteed the pensions promised them when hired.

Twin reports issued earlier this month amplify the alarm. The Legislative Analyst's Office suggested that the state gradually decrease its share and move toward either cost-sharing with teachers or creating a hybrid retirement system, with reduced pensions and a 403(b) savings program -- the public- and nonprofit sector's equivalent to 401(k) retirement accounts.

And actuaries for the state Teachers Retirement Board calculated that contributions would have to increase 77 percent to make the system sound.




After 9/11, US gave more visas to Saudi students: "Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, the Saudi student arrested Thursday on charges that he planned to build bombs for terror attacks inside the United States, was granted a U.S. student visa after qualifying for a generous scholarship sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, according to the indictment against him. Aldawsari was one of more than 10,000 Saudi students granted student visas in 2008, an NBC News analysis of the visa program shows."

This is what a broke democracy looks like: "The specifics of the Wisconsin fight aren’t why it’s so important. Collective bargaining rights for public unions may or may not be the right battlefield on which to settle a state’s fiscal future. But Republican Gov. Scott Walker is showing a long-term sophistication, beyond the specifics of this fiscal year’s bottom line, in trying to limit the growth of government spending by preventing collective bargaining by public sector unions. Such 'bargaining' is often a charade where both sides support each other financially at a third party’s expense (the taxpayer, that is), as is often the case between public sector employees and politicians."

Stay unreasonable: "The administration just announced that it expects this year's budget deficit to be $1.65 trillion. Thus, the House's budget cuts amounted to 3.6 percent of the deficit. Think about that: Republicans just cut less than 4 percent of the spending that we don't have the money to pay for. Heck, our budget deficit for last month was $48 billion, so apparently we've covered January. Whew! What part of 'broke' do the Democrats not understand?"

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

All Your Thoughts Are Belong To U.S.

That seems to be the import of the ruling by federal Judge Gladys Kessler in upholding the Obamacare mandate in a suit brought by a group of private plaintiffs in Mead v. Holder:
As previous Commerce Clause cases have all involved physical activity, as opposed to mental activity, i.e. decision-making, there is little judicial guidance on whether the latter falls within Congress’s power....

However, this Court finds the distinction, which Plaintiffs rely on heavily, to be of little significance. It is pure semantics to argue that an individual who makes a choice to forgo health insurance is not “acting,” especially given the serious economic and health-related consequences to every individual of that choice. Making a choice is an affirmative action, whether one decides to do something or not do something. They are two sides of the same coin. To pretend otherwise is to ignore reality.

Our thoughts are now actions. There literally is nothing the federal government cannot regulate provided there is even a hypothetical connection to the economy, even if the connection at most is in the future.

Our thoughts are now actions. Whoops, I already said that. I just can't get over it. The following sentence has now become a justification for regulating decision-making even where the decision is just to do nothing: "The Congress shall have power.... To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes"

I think I'm going to be ill. Which of course, is now subject to regulations to be promulgated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

More analysis by Aaron Worthing at Patterico, where Patrick Frey has decided to take a short break from blogging, which means he has decided not to engage in economic activity and thereby subjected himself to federal regulation.

And even more analysis at Volokh Conspiracy, where Orin Kerr has decided not to take a break from blogging, and thereby subjected himself to federal regulation.



The alternative to unions

MY COLLEAGUE asks an excellent question: if stronger private-sector unions aren’t in the cards in America, then what? What other force do progressives think might play the role unions played in the postwar era, providing greater negotiating power for the working and middle class, so that they can try to claw back some of the 52% of all US GDP growth from 1993-2008 captured by the top 1% of the income scale and organise politically for concerns like universal health insurance?

Greater negotiating power? The effect of unions, to the extent they are effective at all, is to make it harder for people to find work in particular areas. Unions try to raise wages above what they would otherwise be. Employers respond by trying to substitute capital for labor or more skilled workers for less skilled workers.

You want negotiating power? Get educated. Get a skill. What keeps wages up in a world of 7% unionization in the private sector is that I have alternatives. So stay in school and study something serious that has value alongside whatever else you’re interested in. Or study something interesting that has little market value. But if you do that, don’t complain about your low salary and lack of a union.

The bottom line–you don’t need a union to protect you from your employer. You need alternatives–you need to have a skill that more than one employer values. If you have no skills, you are in trouble and the union won’t help you either except at the expense of other workers.

Some of the money the top 1% captured (in parts of the financial sector, for example) was unearned and came at the expense of the rest of us. Most of it, I suspect, though this is an empirical question, benefited the rest of us. I’m thinking of Facebook execs, Google execs, Lebron James and Lady Gaga. They’ve done wonderfully well in the last 20 years because they have a very large market for their skills.

Stop whining about inequality, per se. If it bothers you, get to work, get a skill, start a business and tell your representatives to stop bailing out losers in the financial sector.



More NBC lies

The old lie about Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s daughter supposedly being killed in a 1986 raid ordered by then-President Reagan is back. Several stories in U.S. and foreign media about the turmoil in Libya have discussed Gaddafi’s rule in Libya, involvement in terrorism, and the time when we had a President, Ronald Reagan, who ordered military retaliation against pro-terrorist dictators.

On Monday’s NBC Nightly News, reporter Andrea Mitchell said Libya was “accused of bombing a Berlin nightclub frequented by U.S. soldiers” and that “Ronald Reagan retaliated, ordering an air strike against Gaddafi’s tent, accidentally killing his young daughter. Gaddafi escaped unharmed.”

Mitchell showed Gaddafi visiting someone in a hospital. Mitchell had also flashed a photo of Gaddafi standing next to a girl—the “daughter”—who looked about six or seven years old.

In fact, he had no daughter. It appears that Gaddafi “adopted” the girl after the strike in order to generate sympathy for himself after the raid. The phrase, “adopted daughter,” is the usual formulation that we found in reports about the raid. Mitchell omitted the “adopted” part.

Contrary to Mitchell’s claim about Libyan involvement in the nightclub bombing being just an accusation, John Koehler’s book, Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police, documents the Libyan role, with East German support, in the La Belle bombing in Berlin in April of 1986. Koehler says the East Germans were operating with the knowledge and approval of the Soviet intelligence service, the KGB.

Mitchell also neglected to note that the bombing killed two Americans and a Turkish woman and injured well over 200 persons, including 41 Americans.

But the alleged death of Gaddafi’s “daughter” was the worst part of the broadcast. The fact that stories about this alleged dead daughter are still appearing this many years later shows how easy it is to fool the major media.

As we noted in a 2004 column, “Back in 1986, before the bombing of Libya, Time magazine had carried a photograph of Gadhafi and ‘three of their sons’ but no daughter. After the raid, Time said that an 18-month-old girl, ‘reportedly’ his adopted daughter, had been killed. The New York Times reported that she was 15 months old. The Washington Post said she was a year old.”

So we have a girl, anywhere from a year to six or seven years old, allegedly being killed. The Libyan regime was probably the source of the various claims.

Former USA Today reporter Barbara Slavin, who was in Libya at the time, set the record straight. “His adopted daughter was not killed,” she told me. “An infant girl was killed. I actually saw her body. She was adopted posthumously by Gadhafi. She was not related to Gadhafi.”



Good doctors, bad doctors

The article below refers to the war on pain-relief specialists by the DEA. Doctors are an easier target for the DEA than actual drug runners. So those doctors are bad apparently. But the doctors handing out fraudulent sickness certificates at Wisconsin union rallies are heroes, apparently

Patient’s rights advocate Siobhan Reynolds is currently under criminal investigation simply for speaking out against the federal prosecutions of doctors accused of writing pain medication prescriptions the government claims have “no medical purpose.” Indeed, the government has demonstrated a propensity to pursue doctors across the country with criminal charges, often over a wide array of activities conveniently lumped into over-expansive accusations of fraud.

Imagine my surprise, then, when on camera and in daylight, doctors in Wisconsin have been writing fraudulent “excuses” for teachers who have been demonstrating at the state capitol over recent moves by the governor and the legislature to abolish collective bargaining for public-employee unions. (The teachers claim they were sick, which is why they were not in the classrooms.) Indeed, the doctors have not even tried to cover their actions. One observer quoted by the MacIver Institute, Christian Hartsock, said:

I asked this doctor what he was doing and he told me they were handing out excuses to people who were feeling sick due to emotional, mental or financial distress. They never performed an exam – he asked me how I was feeling today and I said I’m from California and I’m not used to the cold, so he handed me a note.

Other doctors held up signs offering to sign excuse notes for teachers. They not only signed their names but also included their Wisconsin medical license numbers, as required on a medical form. They seemed proud of what they are doing.

Open Fraud

Nothing is being done about this open fraud so far, and I cannot say I am surprised. The Obama administration has been front and center in this whole protest, even helping to coordinate some activities. (The White House now is denying it played any role, but the tweets from Organizing for America and Brad Woodhouse, the Democratic Party communications director, paint a much different scene.)

The reason I make this point is that the teachers clearly have engaged in activities approved by the Obama administration, yet to be at the capitol without taking personal leave, the teachers have called in sick. Since they are not really sick, they are engaging in fraud, and therefore any doctor who knowingly writes an excuse note for someone he or she has not examined is writing medical document with “no medical purpose” — which violates federal criminal fraud statutes. The videotapes are evidence of federal crimes.

I will stop here and point out that I have written against these statutes for years, precisely because they are so expansive and so easily applied that any prosecutor wanting to get someone can do so without any problems. Levrenty Berias’s “Show me the man and I will find the crime” threat is now firmly established at the U.S. Department of Justice as a legal doctrine.

Even though these fraud statutes tend to be, well, fraudulent, they are applied against doctors every day. Last fall, I saw a childhood friend of more than 50 years sentenced to what in effect is a life term in federal prison for “writing prescriptions for which there was no medical purpose.” The DOJ is persecuting Siobhan Reynolds merely because she spoke out against similar prosecutions.

Yet here were have doctors on camera breaking the law — with impunity — purely for political reasons, and the Usual Suspects are not interested. The same people who will move heaven and earth to destroy the career and family of a well-respected doctor like William Hurwitz apparently don’t care that doctors are committing real fraud to help unionized teachers break the law.

So there we have it. Engage in behavior that this government considers to be politically acceptable and get a free pass to break the law. Everyone else gets to go to prison.



An interesting graphic



A conservative Jew is a bad Jew? "In addition to hitting women during their Wednesday protest, cameras caught another member of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) union harassing an employee about his religion at a protest outside FreedomWorks’ Washington, D.C. offices. As employees engaged with the lively group of protesters, one stepped forward out of the crowd to point her finger, calling the male employee a “bad Jew.” [An unusual Jew, certainly .... Video at link]

Vicious Leftists: "On Wednesday, members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) took their labor union protests to the Washington, D.C. offices of FreedomWorks, a conservative activist organizations. One of the young conservatives at the scene was Tabitha Hale, a tea party activist, blogger and FreedomWorks employee. As Hale filmed a heated debate between one of her colleagues and a CWA union organizer, the man violently smacked Hale and her camera away. Fortunately, Hale was not seriously injured in the altercation."

The myth of corporate cash hoarding: "American nonfinancial corporations were 'sitting on' $1.93 trillion in liquid assets at the end of last year's third quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Board. This has become one of the most frequently echoed statistics, viewed as indisputable evidence that U.S. business leaders are unduly timid or evil. ... Like so many statistics used to score political points, this datum de jour has been totally misunderstood. The chorus of media outrage about supposedly excessive corporate cash reveals nothing about the financial health of any U.S. business. It simply reveals appalling ignorance of elementary accounting."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Culture versus Economy

IN THE LAME DUCK CONGRESS, the forces of the left were unable to raise tax rates on "the rich." They will stay unchanged for two more years. But the left was able to overturn "don't ask, don't tell," the law circumscribing speech affecting homosexuals in the military.

There's a pattern here. Conservatives prevail when the economy is the issue (I omit Obamacare, which if not overturned will deliver a serious blow to the economy). But we lose when it comes to what used to be called "social issues." It seems conservatives have lost every culture-war battle since the contraceptive pill was introduced 50 years ago. Here is a brief, recent history:

1. Speaking at the GOP convention in 1992, when George Bush Sr. was nominated, Pat Buchanan reported that we were in a "cultural war." He mentioned women in combat as something that should be resisted.

2. He was immediately accused of declaring a culture war. He was identified as an aggressor for noticing the assault that was under way.

3. Irving Kristol, the conservative commentator who died in 2009, said in 2001: "We in America fought a culture war and we lost."

4. Last November, the Family Research Council, a group in Washington that continues to mount rearguard actions in the culture war, was called a "hate group." The accusation came from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that itself bristles with hate -- hatred of the normal.

The real target of the culture war is the Judeo-Christian orthodoxy that prevailed in Western culture for millennia -- until recently. Orthodox Jews and a Catholic remnant are its principal upholders today. The Episcopalians and other major Protestant denominations have surrendered and in many instances have become culture warriors themselves -- opposing what they once supported. It's the same for Jews of the "reformed" congregation, or of none.

Recently the Family Research Council issued an "Index of Belonging and Rejection," based on 2008 Census data. It shows the percentage of American children who grow up in intact homes, with both birth mother and biological father legally married to one another until the child becomes a teenager.

Broken down by region and racial and ethnic groups, the figures are shocking. Nationwide, only 45 percent of youths grow up with both parents. For whites it's 54 percent. Blacks are down to 17 percent. Asian Americans are doing best, at 62 percent. The out-of-wedlock birthrate for blacks was 26 percent in 1965 when Daniel Patrick Moynihan identified the problem and was promptly accused of racism for his pains. Today the out-of-wedlock birthrate for blacks is 72 percent. It's 28 percent for whites and 40 percent for the nation as a whole. (The white illegitimacy rate was 3 percent in 1965.)

We are living in the midst of a revolution that few want to talk about even though, if not reversed, it will spell the end of Western Civilization. Accompanying this revolution has been the collapse of fertility rates, especially in Europe. This demographic revolution, aided by contraception and abortion, ensures that income transfer programs will not be sustainable for much longer -- perhaps no more than another 10 years in Europe.

There is little discussion of these issues in the press. The Wall Street Journal keeps a weather eye out for approaching economic icebergs but has little to say about the culture war and its implications. But economy and culture can't be kept separate for long. When children grow up without fathers, taxpayers foot the bill, girls grow up to imitate their mothers, and the boys join gangs and in many cases go to prison.

In Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age, Kay Hymowitz reported that "it is largely low-income twenty-somethings who are having a baby without a wedding ring." The women forgoing husbands "are precisely the ones who can least afford to do so." She also said that "virtually all" children whose families earn more than $75,000 a year "are living with both parents."

The culture war presses on with undiminished zeal. The FRC's "Index" has not been reported by the major media, who focus obsessively on "the drop in teen births." It is not the age but the marital status of parents that matters

FOR SOME YEARS, there has also been an organized pretense that male/female differences are more acculturated than real. With good training and propaganda it is imagined that such differences can be eliminated. Hence the push to house college students without regard to gender -- not just on the same dorm but in the same room. The earlier goal, to thrust women into combat, was similarly motivated.

The feminist ideologues will certainly fail in their campaign to homogenize gender. Male and female will remain starkly differentiated, as always. It's remarkable, though, that the attempt has been made, showing the fanaticism of the feminists. They have gone so far as to play into the hands of promiscuous men who have long embraced sex without consequences, otherwise known as the Playboy Philosophy. With a few exceptions, feminists have reinforced the sexual revolution rather than countered it. They see inequality of any description as an abomination and as something that must be stamped out.

Homosexual activists show a comparable fanaticism. They won't rest until their goal -- moral approval by the pope -- has been achieved. Feeble as the Catholic hierarchy has been since the Second Vatican Council, especially on sexual matters, such a surrender in Rome is not in the cards. The repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" may itself have unintended consequences. Some of those who engage in homosexual activity fear being "outed" by other gays more than they fear "straight" disapproval. The pretense is that "openness" is the desideratum where gays are concerned, but the whole subject remains fraught with taboos. We'll see what happens.

It may well be that not much will happen, as those urging DADT repeal have said. The inborn male-female attraction is so strong that those who do not experience it at all are few -- certainly far less than the touted 10 percent of the population. Homosexuals may well pose more of a threat to each other than to society at large.



Times’ Slanted Wisconsin Coverage Contrasts With Their Treatment of Tea Party

In 2009 and 2010 the New York Times covered protests against the Obama administration’s stimulus spending bill and health care plan as the barely legal revolt of an unwashed and uncivil band of reactionaries determined not only to halt what the paper considered progress but also to thwart democracy. But anyone looking at the Times’ front page article on Saturday describing protests against the effort by Wisconsin’s newly elected governor and legislature to balance the state’s books got a very different view of a protest movement.

According to the Times, the activities of the Wisconsin public sector unions — whose expensive benefits have put their state on the brink of bankruptcy — are nothing less than the moral equivalent of the demonstrations in Tunisia that brought down an authoritarian dictatorship. As the headline “Wisconsin Leads the Way as Workers Fight Cuts” indicates, the whole focus of the piece is an effort to portray the unions and their Democratic allies as revolutionaries who are on the cutting edge of a movement that will, in effect, reverse the verdict of last year’s election.

There are two points to be made about this coverage.

First, the portrayal of the unions and their Democratic Party allies, who have attempted not so much to defeat the Republican program but to prevent the legislature from even meeting to vote, as the progressive movement that represents the will of the people is absurd. This fight is about the will of the people but it is the public sector unions and the Democrats who are trying to thwart that will.

As is the case with many other states, Wisconsin is going broke because past governments have let public employee unions have their way in collective bargaining. The result is an extraordinarily generous package of health-care and pension benefits that few, if any, in the private sector (where workers rarely are paid as much as government workers these days) enjoy.

Governor Walker wants those public employees to begin contributing to their health-care costs and their pensions the way almost everyone who is not a government employee must. And he wants to curb the ability of these unions to hold the government hostage by ending their right of collective bargaining. That is a setback for unions but the alternative is the budget chaos that is bankrupting state governments around the nation. The unions may use the rhetoric of the workingman but they are actually seeking to retain benefits that enrich their members at the expense of hardworking taxpayers who aren’t as lucky.

Moreover the idea that these unions are fighting oppressive Republicans is a joke. Contrary to the Times, the governor of Wisconsin and the Republicans in the legislature there are not the moral equivalent of Tunisian or Egyptian autocrats. They were voted into office by the people and what they are doing is exactly what they promised the electorate they would do once they gained office. It is the unions and the Democrats who are the reactionary defenders of an untenable and frankly undemocratic status quo, not the Republicans who advocate change.

Second, and just as important for those who watch the media, the Times’ flattering portrait of the protesters ignores the extremist and violent rhetoric that has characterized the union demonstrators. As we noted Friday, unionists and the Democratic Party activists who have been bused in to help them have compared Governor Walker to Adolf Hitler and the Republicans to Nazis, as this video illustrates. Yet the Times has ignored that aspect of the story even though such rhetoric and demonstrators’ signs were the focus of much of their coverage of Tea Party protests.



Liberal Political Operatives, Worried About Republican Oversight, Seek to Discredit Rep. Darrell Issa

In their usual "ad hominem" way. Defamatory accusations are all they've got

One gained the reputation as “Dr. Death” for his political tactics. He is joined by political operatives who worked for Democratic candidates such as Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer, and Jerry Brown, and lent their know-how to the unsuccessful campaign to legalize marijuana in California. These political operatives have launched a campaign to discredit House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

Members of the San Francisco-based political strategy firm SCN Strategies started an organization called Third Lantern, with a Web site, issafiles.com, which purports to show already public documents about Issa’s past. “The Third Lantern is a new organization formed to warn fellow patriots of a new threat to democracy from Mr. Issa’s deeply partisan investigation,” the Third Lantern press release said. “The Third Lantern will shed light on Mr. Issa’s misuse of taxpayer funds and show he is not qualified to be a credible investigator.”

The organization plans to run TV ads in the future, but thus far is not saying who is financing the initiative. SCN Strategies has been heavily involved in Democratic politics, but has traditionally worked on behalf of a candidate or group.

During the 2010 campaign season, many Democrats alleged that Issa would engage in partisan witch hunts of the Obama administration. However, since becoming chairman, all the investigations Issa has announced have had a nonpartisan flavor. The committee has announced plans, for example, to investigate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s contribution to the housing crisis in 2008, the administration’s response to the Freedom of Information Act and corruption in the Afghanistan government. The committee most recently subpoenaed information about Countrywide VIP mortgage loans.

The president of Third Lantern, according to the group’s press release, is Averell “Ace” Smith with SCN Strategies. Sean Clegg and Dan Newman, also of SCN Strategies, are overseeing the anti-Issa project, as is Jeff Millman of Los Angeles. Millman began his career in 2005 as an aide to Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn. He went on to be the press secretary for the California Democratic Party in 2006.

Smith worked for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2008, and helped her win the California and Texas Democratic primaries that year, according to several news reports. The San Francisco Chronicle marveled at his and his firm’s ability to go after opponents, with its tongue-in-cheek “Chronie Awards” on Nov. 5, 2010. “The Hot Political Shop Award: To the Dr. Death of Political Opposition Research – Ace Smith – and his SCN crew (Dan Newman and Sean Clegg),” the Chronicle wrote.

Democratic strategist Chris Lehane made Godfather-like comparisons about SCN in a Los Angeles Times article published on May 3, 2008. “I believe that every life lesson in politics can be extrapolated from ‘The Godfather,’” Lehane told the L.A. Times. “Some people are Fredos; at game time they disappear. There are Sonnys, who yell and scream. The most effective ones are the Michael Corleones. Very quiet, they know under which rib to insert the knife. Ace is a Michael Corleone.”

A May 12, 2007 Chronicle story was headlined “Clinton’s man in California is pro at digging up dirt.” That story quoted Garry South, a former advisor to former California Gov. Gray Davis, who called Smith “the best op research guy in America on either side of the aisle. He digs under every rock.”

Most of the information on the anti-Issa Web site had been widely reported when Issa was a candidate for office, such as charges for car theft in 1972 that were dropped and questions about his business that burned down in 1982, for which Issa was never charged.

“As Congressman Issa begins his frivolous investigations, The Third Lantern, will conduct our own examination of Mr. Issa’s behavior and prove he lacks credibility as a congressional investigator,” Smith said in a statement. “The Third Lantern will release documents which will shed light on Mr. Issa’s history and demonstrate that he is solely motivated by partisan rancor of the lowest order.”

Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella said this is not in keeping with President Barack Obama’s call for “talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” “The American people are not interested in this kind of destructive politics-as-usual attack that only serves to advance an agenda of divisiveness and pettiness,” Bardella told CNSNews.com. “It’s beyond hypocritical for the very people embarking on this misguided campaign to launch a McCarthy-esque fishing expedition against Chairman Issa, while refusing to disclose where their funding is coming from.




Let teachers tantrum … then fire them: "When our son would tantrum -- as all toddlers do at least once -- we would calmly carry him to his room; explain that we did not want to see or hear such ugliness; and give him permission to rejoin us in the common areas of the home once he 'finished.' Soon ... then sooner ... then soonest, he finished and the tantrum phase ended. Toddlers are much more sensible than many teachers."

Wisconsin: Battle for the soul of America: "It is hard to overstate what is at stake in the dramatic showdown between Wisconsin’s teachers and their Republican governor and legislature. The political and economic course of our country hinges on how the issue of public sector unions is resolved, in Wisconsin and elsewhere. For the sake of our country’s political and economic future, Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican colleagues need to prevail in the current contest with the Wisconsin teachers’ union and their allies."

Hyper-chutzpah: "The classic illustration of chutzpah is a man who murders his parents, then at trial throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan. But what word would you use to describe the person who not only murders his parents but consumes their body parts, then goes to an adoption agency in search of new ones? ... This is about the best description possible of Bob King, the new head of the United Auto Workers union."

Zogby poll: Majorities Say States Can Cut Employee Salaries & Void Collective Bargaining Agreements: "Two-thirds of likely voters agree that state legislatures have the authority to cut state employee salaries and 52% agree they can void collective bargaining agreements to reduce spending. Voiding collective bargaining agreements is also seen as preferable to continuing to pay state employees at current levels or layoffs of state workers in order to reduce spending and control deficits. These results come from a Zogby Interactive poll conducted from Feb. 18-21, 2011."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Mrs Obama

I was right in my judgment yesterday that Mrs. Obama would fret about not being invited to the forthcoming Royal wedding in Britain. We read:
Even after it was clear that Prince William and Kate Middleton would not be sending a wedding invitation to the White House, Michelle Obama still appears not to have given up hope. "If I get invited, I'll go," the First Lady said on the Live With Regis and Kelly Show on American television. She conceded, however, that, as things stand, she had not been invited


It's looking bad in Egypt

Professor William Jacobson of Cornell Law School writes that "the yuppie revolution in Egypt is over." He points to the return to Cairo, in triumph, of Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who had been exiled by Mubarak. al-Qaradawi spoke to a crowd of, reportedly, more than a million Egyptians in Tahrir Square on Friday.

Sheik al-Qaradawi has been whitewashed somewhat in the liberal press, but he is a hard-core radical Muslim. Discover the Networks has the details. Here is al-Qaradawi on the Jews, in January 2009:
Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them - even though they exaggerated this issue - he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hands of the believers.

And on the United States and its efforts in Iraq:
All of the Americans in Iraq are combatants, there is no difference between civilians and soldiers, and one should fight them, since the American civilians came to Iraq in order to serve the occupation. The abduction and killing of Americans in Iraq is a [religious] obligation so as to cause them to leave Iraq immediately.

To be fair, al-Qaradawi did include some conciliatory words in his speech on Friday. For example, he included Egypt's Copts in his greeting. But his audience knows perfectly well what he stands for. Professor Jacobson posted this video, via Israel Matzav. One of the chants you hear translates, "To Jerusalem we go, for us to be the Martyrs of the Millions."

To Jerusalem we go? That could be a big problem for both the U.S. and Israel, whose security policies have long rested on the historic peace between Egypt and Israel.

One of the western media's favorite Egyptian rebels is Google executive Wael Ghonim. No surprise there: if you had to choose among radical clerics like al-Qaradawi, hooligans like those who assaulted Lara Logan, and a suave, Westernized Google exec, whom would you want to interview? Ghonim was present on Friday and intended to address the crowd, but he was barred from the platform by al-Qaradawi's security. He left the stage in distress, "his face hidden by an Egyptian flag." Is Ghonim Egypt's Kerensky? Well, at least Kerensky got to rule for a while.

I very much hope I am wrong, but I am getting a here-we-go-again sense about events in Egypt and, I am afraid, through much of the region.



Barack Hussein Alinsky

Pat Buchanan

As a large and furious demonstration was under way outside and inside the Capitol in Madison last week, Barack Obama invited in a TV camera crew from Milwaukee and proceeded to fan the flames.

Dropping the mask of The Great Compromiser, Obama reverted to his role as South Chicago community organizer, charging Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin legislature with an "assault on unions."

As the late Saul Alinsky admonished in his "Rules for Radicals," "the community organizer ... must first rub raw the resentments of the people; fan the latent hostilities to the point of overt expression."

After Obama goaded the demonstrators, the protests swelled. All 14 Democratic state senators fled to Illinois to paralyze the upper chamber by denying it a quorum. Teachers went on strike, left kids in the classroom and came to Madison. Schools shut down.

Jesse Jackson arrived. The White House political machine went into overdrive to sustain the crowds in Madison and other capitals and use street pressure to break governments seeking to peel back the pay, perks, privileges and power of public employee unions that are the taxpayer-subsidized armies of the Democratic Party.

Marin County millionairess Nancy Pelosi, doing a poor imitation of Emma Goldman, announced, "I stand in solidarity with the Wisconsin workers fighting for their rights, especially for all the students and young people leading the charge."

Is this not the same lady who called Tea Partiers "un-American" for "drowning out opposing views"? Is not drowning out opposing views exactly what those scores of thousands are doing in Madison, banging drums inside the state Capitol?

Some carried signs comparing Walker to Hitler, Mussolini and Mubarak. One had a placard with the face of Walker in the cross hairs of a rifle sight. Major media seemed uninterested. These signs didn't comport with their script.

In related street action, protesters, outraged over Congress' oversight of the D.C. budget, showed up at John Boehner's residence on Capitol Hill to abuse the speaker at his home.

And so the great battle of this generation is engaged. Between now and 2013, the states are facing a total budget shortfall of $175 billion. To solve it, they are taking separate paths.

Illinois voted to raise taxes by two-thirds and borrow $12 billion more, $8.5 billion of it to pay overdue bills. The Republican minority fought this approach, but was outvoted and accepted defeat.

Wisconsin, however, where Republicans captured both houses and the governor's office in November, and which is facing a deficit of $3.6 billion over the next two years, has chosen to cut spending.

Walker and the legislature want to require state employees, except police, firemen and troopers, to contribute half of their future pension benefits and up to 12.6 percent of health care premiums.

Wisconsin state workers and teachers enjoy the most generous benefits of state employees anywhere in America. According to the MacIver Institute, the average teacher in the Milwaukee public schools earns $100,000 a year -- $56,000 in pay, $44,000 in benefits -- and enjoys job security.

The Battle of Madison, where Obama, Pelosi, the AFL-CIO, Jackson, the teachers unions and the Alinskyite left are refusing to accept the results of the 2010 election and taking to the streets to break state governments, is shaping up as the first engagement in the Battle for America. What will be decided?

Can the states, with new governments elected by the people, roll back government to prevent a default? Or will the states be forced by street protests, work stoppages by legislators, and strikes by state employees and teachers to betray the people who elected them? Will they be forced to raise taxes ad infinitum to feed the government's insatiable appetite for tax dollars?

In short, does democracy work anymore in America?



Dude, Where's My Theory of Everything?

Bryan Caplan

Almost all traits run in families. But why? People have literally debated the question for thousands of years. Is the cause nature/heredity/genes, nurture/upbringing/parenting, or some mixture of the two?

Until a few decades ago, the debaters basically just chased their own tails. And then... enlightenment happened. Social scientists finally discovered a Rosetta Stone to disentangle nature from nurture. Or to be precise, they discovered two Rosetta Stones. The first was the twin study: comparing identical to fraternal twins. The second was the adoption study: comparing adoptees to their adopted families - and occasionally their biological families as well.

Since then, researchers have used these Rosetta Stones to decipher a massive list of mysteries. As I recount in my forthcoming book, twin and adoption researchers studied human health, intelligence, happiness, success, character, values, appreciation, and more. Their answers are beyond surprising. With a few important exceptions, they learned that nature handily wins its ancient cage match with nurture, especially in the long-run. Traits run in families primarily due to heredity, not upbringing. The mighty effects that people ascribe to parenting are largely imaginary.

Faced with these achievements, you'd expect almost any social scientist to be impressed, even awed. But not Tyler Cowen. His reaction, instead, is to complain that twin and adoption methods don't contribute more.* Who cares if you've solved the ancient nature/nurture debate? He wants a Theory of Everything.

I submit that this is both unreasonable and ungrateful. Behavioral geneticists don't have a Theory of Everything. No one does. But behavioral geneticists have answered many important, age-old questions. How many other sub-disciplines in social science can say the same?

Now I'll reply to Tyler point-by-point. Tyler's in blockquotes, I'm not.
"Culture" and "genes" are two major factors determining individual outcomes, toss in parenting, and if you wish call parenting and culture two parts of "environment." It is obvious that culture matters a great deal, and this comes from knowledge which existed prior to rigorous behavioral genetic studies.

... "The culture word" may be overused and abused, but still the power of culture is evident.

If "culture" just means "everything besides heredity and upbringing," then Tyler's clearly right. Identical twins raised together are hardly ever literally identical, therefore other stuff matters. A lot. But if you define culture more falsifiably, things get complicated very quickly. Sure, there are traits like accent that clearly stem from humans' tendency to copy each other. And yes, you can't be "bookish" unless your society has books. Nevertheless, many allegedly cultural traits could easily be genetic, and we don't yet have a Rosetta Stone to disentangle the two.

Tyler continues:
If twin adoption studies seem to show that parenting does not matter much, I think:

1. Matter for what and for whom? Parenting matters a lot for language and religion and obedience and also one's sense of "how the world works," and those factors matter to parents even if they don't always matter to researchers and economists. The word "matters" is going to carry real weight here; in my admittedly extreme pluralist view, "doesn't affect adult income" does not translate into "does not matter."...

Sigh. In my book, which Tyler not only read but blurbed, I cover the twin and adoption evidence not just for income, but for an entire Parental Wish List: health, intelligence, happiness, success, character, values, and appreciation. Religion falls under "values," and the punchline is that parenting has a big but superficial effect. Parents strongly affect what you say your religion is, but have little long-run effect on your intrinsic religiosity or observance. I don't discuss language, but it's pretty clear how a twin or adoption study would play out: You can make your kid semi-fluent in another language with a lot of effort.
2. We already know that culture matters a great deal in shaping what kind of adults children become, but often individual families cannot much affect the broader culture a child is raised in. It's sometimes the individual family which is impotent, not the surrounding culture as a whole.

Plausible. I've made such arguments myself. But twin and adoption methods are poorly designed to test such claims, and it isn't reasonable to expect them to.
3. Most parents are deep conformists. There isn't always a lot of cross-sectional variation in adoption studies. Even if most parenting strategies don't matter (if only because they are not varying much), if a child is raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, or in a strict American-Chinese family, or among the Amish, that probably matters, even adjusting for genes.

The adoption studies can be showing that a) most parents don't so much shape a child's culture at the margin, or b) that environment doesn't much matter in light of the power of genes.

Twin and adoption studies measure the effects of the kinds of parenting that people in the First World frequently use. I say this repeatedly in my book. If you want to do social policy or weigh whether to join the Amish, it's an important limitation. If you want to answer the kinds of questions that most parents in the First World are actually asking, it's not.

And if you want to call the vast majority of Western parents a bunch of "conformists" and claim that their parenting is all basically the same, give credit where credit is due. On the surface, parenting styles seem to vary widely. The only reason anyone would conclude that these diverse approaches are roughly equivalent is by reasoning backwards from their effects. And the only reason anyone would conclude that these effects are small is twin and adoption evidence itself.

* Tyler singles out "twin adoption studies," which is normally a synonym for "separated twin studies." But his critique applies to ordinary twin and adoption studies as well.




White House Backing Away from Wisconsin?: "Rasmussen reports that 48% of likely voters agree with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, while 38% agree with the government union protestors. Perhaps it's not surprising that, in light of those numbers, that The White House is trying to play down the reports of its involvements in the protests. Either way, perhaps some of the most insightful discussion of the stand-off has come from PajamasMedia's Richard Pollock, who explains why involving themselves in the Wisconsin protests has been a significant strategic miscalculation for both The White House and Democrats generally."

Public sector unions a menace to society: "There is a movement sweeping the nation to restrict or end the ability of public-sector employees to use collective bargaining as a way of strong-arming more money and benefits from an already overtaxed public. This is a much-needed reform to a system that is draining the fiscal life out of the states. Perhaps years of watching government employees get richer on the backs of workers in the real world who continue to see drastic cuts is sparking this movement."

Commerce is a people’s revolution, daily: "The big-box book business has begun to crumble with the bankruptcy filing of book-selling behemoth Borders. The Chapter 11 filing indicates the company is looking to restructure its debts and continue on. But as in the case of bankrupt Blockbuster, there may not be anything to restructure, with both of these old-technology companies destined for liquidation and futures of little more than Wikipedia entries chronicling each company's past glories."

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. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Confirmed: Australian leader invited to Royal wedding, but not the Obamas

This will burn Mrs. Obama up. Sarko and Carla won't be very happy either

Invites to April's royal wedding are in the mail - first-class of course - and while the gold-embossed, thick white cards have started to arrive in Europe, at least two Australians still eagerly await the postie's visit. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her partner Tim Mathieson are on the official guest list of 1900 for the April 29 Westminster Abbey wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Although the list hasn't been released publicly by the palace, a spokesman for Ms Gillard on Sunday confirmed that Australia's prime minister and Mr Mathieson are awaiting their invitation. "The Prime Minister looks forward to receiving and responding to the formal invitation," he said. Governor-General Quentin Bryce will also receive an invitation, according to media reports, as one of several Commonwealth governors-general on the guest list.

Forty international crowned heads have been personally invited by the Queen to attend the wedding, including the Emperor of Japan, the King of Malaysia, the King of Thailand, the King of Jordan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the Sultan of Brunei, London's The Mail newspaper reported yesterday. However, US President Barack Obama and French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy are understood not to have been invited, the paper added.

More than 1000 of the guests will be friends of the prince, 28, and his princess-to-be, 29, and will stretch to celebrities including David and Victoria Beckham. The prince has also invited around 80 guests linked to organisations for which he is either patron or president, including the UK Football Association, Centrepoint (the homelessness charity for which his mother was patron), and wildlife conservation group, the Tusk Trust.

The gilt-edged invitations, stamped with a gold "EIIR", which begin "The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by The Queen to invite ..." were sent out on last week.

Some guests will attend only the 11am ceremony, while 600 have been invited to a lunchtime reception at Buckingham Palace, before a more intimate family and friends affair - dinner for 300 - at the palace, for which a separate invitation will be issued.

The invitation asks that men wear "uniform, morning coat or lounge suit" to the ceremony.



March of the Medical Marxists

I'm just like everybody else. For months I listened to and watched "town meetings", originally cobbled together in the home districts of senators and representatives, simply and transparently for the purpose of rubberstamping Barack Obama's obsessive Marxist lust (an obsessive lust he shares with Hillary Clinton and many another tired, threadbare old collectivist) to nationalize an institution that they refer to as "healthcare".

Somehow, astonishingly, those town meetings didn't go quite the way our elected representatives (and I use both terms loosely) had expected they would. People showed up by the tens of thousands to deliver a message the politicians didn't want to hear, and it quickly became clear that a vast majority of individuals in this country don't want the government to have anything to do with where, how, or from whom they get medical attention or anything else, a message that the other side ignored, causing an historically unpreceented electoral upset.

It would seem even more astonishing if observers and commentators on both sides of the issue recalled that public speaking and personal confrontation invariably show up on surveys as items that the average individual fears more than death. The citizens who spoke out had to overcome both fears to face the politicians and tell them where to get off. Frankly, I didn't know we still had it in us, as a people.

And yet—because the politicians invariably pay less attention to historians than they do to politically trendy scientists, and even less attention to the voters who placed them in office and pay their salaries—despite widespread vocal opposition, despite a century of embarrassing miserable failure, despite immeasurable human suffering and conspicuously needless death everywhere else on this glorified mudball, like it or not, America is going to try medicine socialist style.

"But why would anybody want to do an idiotic thing like that?" I pretend to hear you asking. Well, partly because there's mountains of cash—uncountable trillions, potentially—and job security in it for properly-connected accomplices to this gangster government who can afford to fly themselves and their families somewhere else for medical treatment. Somewhere that doesn't have medicine socialist style.

Let's stop saying "socialized medicine". Let's be more specific. Let's be more accurate. Let's be more precise. Let's be more truthful. Let's call the thing exactly what it is.

What is it? Well, back when she was Queen, Hillary Clinton wanted to jail you for paying your doctor privately. That's right, part of her marvelously "humane" healthcare plan was to have you kidnapped by uniformed thugs if you made your own arrangements with a physician. If we'd made her Empress, she assured us, you wouldn't be allowed to work—when the flaming hell did we start needing goverment permission to work?—if you couldn't produce documents proving you were legally insured.

Obamacare, of course, will be completely different. It will be the warmly beloved IRS who leans on those miscreants who are willfully non-compliant.

So let's not call it socialized medicine. Instead, let's call it beat-you-up-and-kill-you-if-you-won't-go-along, coercive medicine. (Although how anybody can call it "medicine"—if they beat you up and kill you if you won't go along—I haven't quite figured out. And apparently neither have they.) Let's agree to call it medicalized Marxism.

For decades I had been saying that there's huge and terrible anger simmering just below the surface of American life. Year after year, decade after decade, century after century, the Productive Class have labored to supply everything necessary and good in our society—from diesel fuel to lemon meringue pie, from the wheels that take us from one place to another, to our homes where we find refuge and comfort—only to have the rewards of their labor snatched away by rapacious parasites intent on controlling every moment and aspect of their lives.

Yet it is the same Productive Class who are the first to be blamed—by elements of a Non-Productive Class that couldn't tell a cotter pin from cottage cheese—for everything, real and imagined, that is said to be wrong with that society, from bad taste in color, cars, and clothing, to acid rain, air pollution, depleted ozone, and global warming.

To the average politician, newspaper columnist, hairsprayed TV commentator, or Hollywood airhead, suburbia is a kind of despicable, disgusting, fetid swamp to be crawled out of, rather than as close to Utopia as humankind has ever come, the locus of all the wishes, hopes, and aspirations of a people whose only wish is to be left the hell alone.

And all these idiots—congressthings and others of the so-called "dominant culture" who believe they own us—can think of is how to suppress that anger for another year, another decade, another century. They desperately want to deny that their opposition is significant and serious. They want to dismiss it as stupidity, right-wing racism, and childish ingratitude. Or the result of having attended all the wrong schools. It never occurs to them to consider what that anger might really be about, or that it might be justified. They simply want it managed. It's probably too late for that, but they'll be the last to know.

As I've also been saying for more than 40 years, as frequently and loudly as I can, America's Productive Class has always been compelled to suffer for its excessive—and suicidally self-destructive—politeness. Perhaps that era is at long last ending.

I've listened to conservative talk radio every day since Barack Obama was elected, not just to Rush Limbaugh, but some of the others, as well. Along the way, I've noticed one element astonishingly absent from their arguments against Obama and his Marxist cohorts trying to regiment medical practice—and, through that, everything else—in America. That element is individualism.

The arguments I hear from them are utilitarian and collectivist in character: socialized medicine is bad for the economy; socialized medicine is bad for society; socialized medicine is bad for families; socialized medicine is bad for doctors and nurses; socialized medicine is bad for small business; socialized medicine is bad for hypothetical Grandma in her steam punk iron lung, and for poor old Cousin Wilbur, whose intellectual elevator never quite made it to the top of the building.

I guess it shouldn't surprise me. Thanks to Robert LeFevre, I've been calling conservatives by their proper name—right-wing socialists—for decades. But it does surprise me, and makes me a bit sad.

The first mistake that they make (and they always make it) is that they accept the enemy's premises and vocabulary, giving up half the battle before it's even fought. It is not "socialized medicine" that we're up against here—to many a misguided individual, ignorant of history, that makes it sound kind of warm and fuzzy—but government control, through brute force and the threat of brute force, of those ultimately personal, private acts of seeking and delivering medical attention.

Your doctor often knows things about you that you wouldn't want anybody else—possibly including your own family—to know. But for nasty, perverted reasons all their own, having mostly to do with their psychopathological desire to control every aspect of everybody's life, the Obamas, Reids, and Pelosis of this world are eager to stick their noses in your intimate orifices and learn everything your doctor knows about you. As a human being, you are entitled to more privacy than that.

But mostly, as many pundits have been saying, it's about power at the lowest, minutest zit-squeezing level conceivable. It might be difficult for a normal individual to understand why somebody would yearn for complete control over every aspect of another human being's life, but there you are: sooner or later, a lens behind every bathroom mirror.

Make no mistake about it, this heartfelt yearning for absolute control is psychosexual in character, and about as sick and perverted as it can be. Every stuttering, broken-voiced pencil-neck who ever got turned down by a cute cheerleader, every pimply-faced fat girl who ever imagined she was being laughed at by the captain and his whole football team, these are the mental midgets and moral cripples who are looking forward, from under the rocks they currently inhabit, to ruling us tomorrow. You've seen plenty of their species already, down at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Get ready to see a lot more of them.

All political jargon to one side, however, medicalized Marxism is unsatisfactory if for no other reason than this: I don't want it. It violates my unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human rights.

Medicalized Marxism is wrong because it forces me to do what I don't want to do. It keeps me from doing what I do want to do. It imposes duties on me that I don't want imposed. It denies me (and you, and everybody else, too) the uncountable advantages of acts of capitalism between consenting adults.

There's nothing wrong with medicine that can be fixed by "single payer" healthcare and I don't know anyone I respect who wants it. Let's make a better start, calling it by its right name: compulsory, collectivist, going-through-the-motions medicine. I've seen how it "works" in other countries, and in the US military. It is an evil and deceptive program the real objective of which is to give very bad people complete, minute control over every moment and detail of our lives.

They want to live their lives through ours, beginning with the splendid and absolutely limitless excuses that medical Marxism provides.

Believe me, I grew up with it in the American military, and I've seen it in full flower in England, as well. It isn't about providing you with services, it's about denying you services, since that's the cheesy little thrill that is all many bureaucrats ever get out of life. People want power over the lives of others not because they believe themselves uniquely capable of directing those lives, but because they know they're incapable of directing their own lives and find it easier in this culture to try directing the lives of others, instead.




Are the Wisconsin protests backfiring?: "Protests in Wisconsin over public sector compensation cuts have been the big story this week. Over at The Daily Caller, I explain why some of the tactics that union members and supporters are using are actually backfiring. The teacher sickout is classic bad PR. The parents who have to find and pay for last-minute daycare are now less likely to side with teachers’ unions, not more"

Excuse notes from docs at protests draw scrutiny: "Doctors who wrote medical notes over the weekend excusing protesters at the Wisconsin Capitol from work are getting slammed with angry phone calls and profane e-mails from people telling them they deserve to be thrown in jail, one doctor said Sunday. The physicians wore lab coats Saturday as they stood on a street corner and offered medical notes to the tens of thousands of protesters who paraded past them."

Business bans TSA agents — will more follow?: "KC McLawson works for a cafe near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and since the body-scan and patdown controversy last November, her boss has taken extraordinary measures to ensure the TSA knows of his displeasure. 'We have posted signs on our doors basically saying that they aren’t allowed to come into our business,' she says. 'We have the right to refuse service to anyone.'”

Denmark: Court rules against hippie enclave: "The Danish government yesterday won a legal battle against a freewheeling neighborhood that has remained largely self-governing since its creation by hippie squatters four decades ago. ... The decision ends a six-year legal standoff and means the government can go ahead with plans to 'normalize' the neighborhood and tear down scores of ramshackle homes built at the site without permits."

The truth about housing prices: "The idea that economic recovery can’t happen unless our housing prices return to pre-recession levels makes no sense. First, as the chart below shows, for most of American history housing prices grew at a relatively slow rate. It was only in the last 15 years that prices exploded. The factors behind this sudden change are a mixed bag of government policies that encouraged homeownership and cheap interest rates and a willingness by banks to lend to people who could only realistically afford to pay if housing prices doubled every two years."

A “right” to healthcare requires force: "The notion of a 'right to healthcare' is the boldest and most fundamental claim offered in defense of the new federal healthcare law. Indeed, Obamacare should be judged by whether it is consistent with the protection of rights. If the law cannot pass that test, the debate should end –- and it must be repealed as an unjust means of striving to satisfy other social, economic or political agendas."

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. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Unions' Fight in Madison Is a Disgrace

The Democratic/government-union days of rage in Madison, Wis., are a disgrace. Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan calls it Cairo coming to Madison. But the protesters in Egypt were pro-democracy. The government-union protesters in Madison are anti-democracy; they are trying to prevent a vote in the legislature. In fact, Democratic legislators themselves are fleeing the state so as not to vote on Gov. Scott Walker's budget cuts. That's not democracy.

The teachers' union is going on strike in Milwaukee and elsewhere. They ought to be fired. Think Ronald Reagan PATCO in 1981. Think Calvin Coolidge police strike in 1919.

The teachers' union on strike? Wisconsin parents should go on strike against the teachers' union. A friend e-mailed me to say that the graduation rate in Milwaukee public schools is 46 percent. The graduation rate for African-Americans in Milwaukee public schools is 34 percent. Shouldn't somebody be protesting that?

Governor Walker is facing a $3.6 billion budget deficit, and he wants state workers to pay one-half of their pension costs and 12.6 percent of their health benefits. Currently, most state employees pay nothing for their pensions and virtually nothing for their health insurance. That's an outrage.

Nationwide, state and local government unions have a 45 percent total-compensation advantage over their private-sector counterpart. With high-pay compensation and virtually no benefits co-pay, the politically arrogant unions are bankrupting America -- which by some estimates is suffering from $3 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

Exempting police, fire, and state troopers, Governor Walker would end collective bargaining over pensions and benefits for the rest. Collective bargaining for wages would still be permitted, but there would be no wage hikes above the CPI. Unions could still represent workers, but they could not force employees to pay dues. In exchange for this, Walker promises no furloughs for layoffs.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is also pushing a bill to limit the collective-bargaining rights of teachers for wages and wage-related benefits. Similar proposals are being discussed in Idaho and Tennessee. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich wants to restrict union rights across-the-board for all state and local government workers. More generally, both Democratic and Republican governors across the country are taking on the extravagant pay of government unions. Why? Because taxpayers won't stand for it anymore.

In an interesting twist on this story, even private unions are revolting against government unions. Private unions pay taxes, too. And they don't have near the total compensation of the public unions. It's no wonder they're fed up.

So, having lost badly in the last election, the government-union Democrats in Wisconsin have taken to the streets. This is a European-style revolt, like those seen in Greece, France, and elsewhere. So it becomes greater than just a fiscal issue. It is becoming a law-and-order issue.

President Obama, who keeps telling us he's a budget cutter, has taken the side of the public unions. John Boehner correctly rapped Obama's knuckles for this. If the state of Wisconsin voters elected a Chris Christie-type governor with a Republican legislature, then it is a local states' rights issue.

But does President Obama even know that the scope of collective bargaining for federal employees is sharply limited? According to the Manhattan Institute, federal workers are forbidden to collectively bargain for wages or benefits. Instead, pay increases are determined annually through legislation.

Meanwhile, Gov. Scott Walker said it would be "wise" for President Obama to keep his attentions on Washington, not Wisconsin. "We're focused on balancing our budget," he said in a television interview. "It would be wise for the president and others in Washington to be focused on balancing their budget, which they're a long ways from doing."


Obama should stay out. And Governor Walker should stand tall and stick to his principles. A nationwide taxpayer revolt against public unions can save the country. Otherwise, the spiraling out-of-control costs of state public-union entitlements will destroy the local fisc, just as surely as the unreformed federal entitlements of Social Security and health care are wrecking our national finances.



An Assault on Taxpayers by fat-cat unionists

Where can one find a safe environment for children? As political props for union activists, of course, holding prefabricated signs demanding the state go broke funding increasingly inferior yet increasingly costly education. OK, by education I mean pensions. But isn't it nice to see kids thinking for themselves?

Now, as easy as it is to blame unions, it's not enough. We have a bigger problem, and that's monopoly. Every year government grows, each time a state assigns itself new duties, the monopoly expands. Education is just the worst example.

Whatever you may think of the politics of private-sector unions -- now less than 7 percent of the work force -- they function in a competitive environment. Public sectors, on the other hand, have artificial leverage that no other workers in the nation enjoy.

In Wisconsin -- where union sign wavers have yet to get the memo that Nazi imagery is no way to embrace the new era of civility -- lawmakers are attempting to reform bargaining rights of about 170,000 public-sector workers in unions. More precisely, they want to restrict union members to bargaining for wages rather than take taxpayers hostage with unsustainable pensions and benefit demands every few years.

Wisconsin's fight is just a harbinger, of course. A recent Pew poll on states found that state pension systems have a combined $1 trillion in unfunded liability. In other words, every U.S. household may have the honor of subsidizing someone else's public service an extra $8,800.

The counterargument is familiar. These folks are sacrificing healthy salaries by choosing to teach your children rather than greedily chasing riches that they would almost certainly realize if they took their talents to the private sector. (Funny, isn't it then, that when we try to inject competition into education, it's met with anger and scorn by the people who sacrifice without it.)

But according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report -- a new one is due next month -- state and local government employees, all told, are already making approximately $12 more per hour than private workers. Last year, a USA Today analysis found that federal employees' average compensation had grown to be more than double what their private-sector counterparts were making. Public service, indeed.

Immunity from economic downturns and market fluctuations is a rarity in America -- though we've been doing our best via bailouts. The problem isn't that government workers are trying to get theirs; it's that the arbitrary reward is often tied to the vociferousness of the worker's demand rather than reality.

Certainly, how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker fares in this battle will be an important signal to the rest of the nation. Some places, such as Colorado, only recently have allowed state workers to organize. Other states are facing pension nightmares. Who knows? States may begin privatizing and allowing competitive outsourcing of jobs. States must, because nationally we're headed in the other direction.

"Some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where they're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions," explained President Barack Obama, who, unlike governors, can (and does) borrow trillions. The numbers, though, tell us that public-sector unions are the ones assaulting taxpayers and brittle state economies. And the more we grow the state monopoly the worse it will get.



How ObamaCare Kills Medical Innovation

Now we know what rationing will look like under Obama Care, with the FDA's decision to ban doctors from prescribing the drug Avastin to patients with breast cancer. And it's only the beginning.

This first step, impeding the use and development of life-saving medicines will lead to even more dramatic decisions to delay, prevent or withdraw care from those in real need of health care.

But, there had to be a legitimate reason for the Obama Administration's Food and Drug Administration's decision to prevent the use of Avastin, right? If rationing is a legitimate reason to you, then the answer is yes.
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration banned doctors from prescribing Avastin, a potent but costly drug, to patients with advanced-stage breast cancer. According to the FDA, the drug doesn't offer 'a sufficient benefit in slowing disease progression to outweigh the significant risk to patients . . . .'

Ponder the FDA's justification -- there wasn't "sufficient" benefit in relation to Avastin's risks. Sufficient according to whom? For your wife, mother or daughter with terminal breast cancer, how much is an additional month of good-quality life worth? Why shouldn't she be able to spend her own money on her health care to try to go forward another day, month or year?

All new medicines are expensive. In fact, the first edition of practically every innovation is the most expensive version of whatever it is. But as long as there are risk takers and people willing to pay higher prices, why shouldn't we let these forces try to advance progress in drugs and medicine? Should we care that new drugs are so expensive? The story of the discovery of penicillin is instructive. Let's examine this FDA justification by posing the question, should we have stopped the advance of health care in 1945 when penicillin was discovered?
The discovery of penicillin is attributed to Scottish scientist and Nobel laureate Alexander Fleming in 1928. He showed that, if Penicillium notatum were grown in the appropriate substrate, it would exude a substance with antibiotic properties, which he dubbed penicillin. This serendipitous observation began the modern era of antibiotic discovery . . . .

The challenge of mass-producing this drug was daunting. On March 14, 1942, the first patient was treated for streptococcal septicemia with U.S.-made penicillin produced by Merck & Co. Half of the total supply produced at the time was used on that one patient. By June 1942, there was just enough U.S. penicillin available to treat ten patients.

A moldy cantaloupe in a Peoria, Illinois, market in 1943 was found to contain the best and highest-quality penicillin after a worldwide search. The discovery of the cantaloupe, and the results of fermentation research on corn steep liquor at the Northern Regional Research Laboratory at Peoria, Illinois, allowed the United States to produce 2.3 million doses in time for the invasion of Normandy in the spring of 1944. Large-scale production resulted from the development of deep-tank fermentation by chemical engineer Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau . . . .

Penicillin production emerged as an industry as a direct result of World War II. During the war, there was an abundance of jobs available in the U.S. on the home front. The War Production Board was founded to monitor job distribution and production. Penicillin was produced in huge quantities during the war and the industry prospered.

In July 1943, the War Production Board drew up a plan for the mass distribution of penicillin stocks to Allied troops fighting in Europe. At the time of this plan, 425 million units per year were being produced. As a direct result of the war and the War Production Board, by June 1945 over 646 billion units per year were being produced....

Talk about a decline in unit costs! Production of penicillin dramatically increased from 2 doses in 1942 to over 646 billion doses in 1945 -- just three short years. This is a declining unit cost curve in the extreme. The discovery of Penicillin is a perfect example of how future beneficiaries benefit forever thereafter from the initial high cost and complications of perfecting drugs and medicines.

Unequal outcomes are what propel economic progress in every way. The steam engine for ships and trains produced huge reductions in the cost of moving people and goods around the world or across the territory -- and unit costs are still dropping.

Unequal outcomes always result from huge increases in productivity. And, productivity always results in lower long-term costs of the produced items. Market economies create this rise in productivity and lower unit costs whereas Socialistic economies always "tax success" and destroy this process.




Freshmen spur GOP-run House to big spending cuts: "The GOP-run House, jolted by freshmen determined to drive down the deficit, snatched $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs while shielding coal companies, oil refiners and farms from new federal regulations. Passage early Saturday of the $1.2 trillion bill, covering every Cabinet agency through Sept. 30, when the current budget year ends, sent the measure to the Senate, where it faces longer odds, and defied a White House veto threat. The largely party-line vote of 235-189 was the most striking victory to date for the 87 freshman Republicans elected last fall on a promise to attack the deficit and reduce the reach of government."

House votes to overthrow 'czars': "The House voted Thursday to dethrone nine White House "czars." Republicans successfully added an amendment to the continuing resolution that would leave President Barack Obama's senior advisers on policy issues including health care, energy and others out of a job. The vote was 249-179. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) offered the amendment that blocks funding for various policy advisers to combat what he called "a very disturbing proliferation of czars" under Obama.

Laws also deserve to be scrutinized: "I believe that when you are serving on a jury, it is your duty to not only judge the facts of the case (in other words, to decide if the accused person actually did what they are accused of), but also whether the law the person is accused of violating is a good law or not. This has been the cornerstone at the foundation of the legal system America inherited, whether judges like it or not."

Where's the stimulus?: "A bill to jump start the economy. That was the main idea behind the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the "stimulus bill," which became law two years ago today. However, the nation is still waiting for the bill's promised jolt. "Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs," President Obama told a joint session of Congress, a week after signing the bill in 2009. Economists have debated whether the plan actually accounted for that many jobs, but there's little doubt the economy did not get a "jump start." A stutter start would be more like it."

Congressional testimony on the stimulus: "Over the last two years, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has injected over half a trillion dollars into the US economy in hopes of spurring recovery and creating jobs. The results have been deeply disappointing."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Hatred: The Hallmark of the Progressive-Left

Frank Salvato

Just over a month ago, President Obama took to a stage in Arizona to decry what he perceived as the caustic nature of political discourse in our country. On this issue, and very few others, we agree. But Mr. Obama was delinquent in pointing out the individuals and organizations – the factions – responsible for stoking the fires of discontent and, dare I say, hatred. The unspoken reason for this omission is because most – if not all – of the caustic rhetoric – the unbridled hatred – comes from the Progressive Left and there are myriad examples to prove the point beyond argument.

Hate of the Person

Recently, amid the chaos and violence of the Egyptian upheaval, CBS News’ Lara Logan, a seasoned war correspondent, was brutally beaten and sexually assault for a period of time. It wasn’t until a group of Muslim women and approximately 20 Egyptian soldiers came to Ms. Logan’s aid that the assault was stopped. Ms. Logan was hospitalized for her injuries and evacuated to the United States where she was hospitalized further.

In the face of this unacceptable attack on a woman who was trying to report to the world the events taking place in a land in turmoil, Nir Rosen, an alleged journalist who has been published by Time Magazine, The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine – liberal and Progressive publications, one and all, submitted the following “Tweets” upon hearing the news of Ms. Logan’s assault:

“Jesus Christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger." “Look, she was probably groped like thousands of other women.”

Mr. Rosen, who was forced to immediately surrender his title of Fellow at New York University’s Center on Law and Security for his hatred, later offered the “Sorry, I was insensitive” defense.

The fact remains, that was the initial response by Mr. Rosen and, thus, we all must understand that his “Tweeted” sentiments are, in fact, his true sentiments. The hate – the misogynistic hate – he spewed toward a woman who was sexually assaulted and beaten at the hands of a vicious mob cannot be erased and must be recognized for what it is: It is who Mr. Rosen is, period. He is a hater...and he is a Progressive.

Recently, at a rally to protest the Koch Brothers – two people who spend a considerable amount of money to champion Conservative causes, but nowhere near what George Soros spends to advance the cause of Progressive globalism – occasional New Media Journal contributor Christian Hartsock asked people in the crowd how they felt about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Their answers demonstrated a hatred for Justice Thomas that rivaled the hatred of those who celebrated the Ku Klux Klan:

“Put him back in the field...He’s a scumbag, he’s a dumb-sh*t scumbag. Throw him back in the field.” “We cut off his toes, one by one, and feed them to him.” “I don’t know, I’m all about peace, but I say torture.” “What do we do with him? String him up! And his wife too, let’s get rid of Ginny...[Then we can] start all over...Scalia...who are the other assholes? String him up...Thomas...his wife...Scalia...Roberts, oh my god...” “Hang him.”

While these people were protesting two American citizens, natural born American citizens, who observe their right and obligation to engage the governmental process – incredible, in and of itself – they called for the lynching, torture and maiming of a United States Supreme Court Justice, his wife and his fellow Conservative Justices simply because they held a different political opinion than they did. The racial hatred speaks for itself.

I could go into every instance where the Progressive-Left smeared, defamed and lied about President George W. Bush over the years but there isn’t enough space here to do justice to the injustice incurred by Mr. Bush and his family.

The ironic thing about the hatred of the Progressive-Left is that it is the Progressive-Left that not only professes the need for tolerance (no, that’s not a laugh line) but they are the ones that insisted on advancing hate-speech legislation, yet the powers that be never inflict that non-freedom of speech on any of their transgressions.

Hate of the Country

That the Progressive-Left hates the United States of America – and everything it stands for less their right to wreck havoc over the US Constitution – is more than evident. From President Obama’s continuous apology to the world for perceived wrongs committed by our country, to the elitists in higher education who systematically brainwash as many students a possible against the opportunity presented by Capitalism and a free market system, to Progressive-Leftists like Code Pink, so devoid of reality that they believe radical Islamist violence is caused by US foreign policy (please explain the Islamist violence in Indonesia, Africa, China and Russia please), the Progressive-Left’s hatred for our country leaves at least me asking: Why the hell do you want to live here if it is so horrible a place?

The truth of the matter, when it comes to hate, is this: The Progressive-Left is very good at screaming that Conservatives or the Tea Party or people who practice their faith are budding with repressed hatred; that they are intolerant, uninformed, mean-spirited, organized and hate-filled. But over the years I have come to understand one very important thing. If the Progressive-Left accuses you of something, it is out of guilt; it is because they, themselves, are guilty of the charges. If you don’t believe me, just ask Lara Logan, Clarence Thomas, Sarah Palin or George W. Bush.

Maybe that’s why they hate religion so much...it facilitates a conscience.



Obama kowtows to China

VOA radio broadcasts to China signing off, while Beijing boosts propaganda

The Obama administration will cancel shortwave radio broadcasts by Voice of America into China this year, as Beijing is expanding its propaganda operations in the United States and around the world.

Critics of the broadcasting cuts, announced Monday, said major reductions in staff and shortwave broadcasts will sharply curtail an important outlet for unfiltered news and information for large numbers of people in China, especially areas such as Tibet and western Xinjiang province, where pro-democracy forces are opposing Chinese rule.

“This is another alarming sign that America is cowering before China‘s gangster regime,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The Chinese people are our greatest allies, and the free flow of information is our greatest weapon.”

The cuts were outlined as a cost-cutting measure in the fiscal 2012 budget report of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA’s parent agency. The plan calls for shifting the focus from shortwave to digital media, such as Internet broadcasts.

If Congress approves the plan, all shortwave VOA radio and television broadcasts in Chinese, under way since 1942, will end on Oct. 1.

The U.S. government will continue to operate Radio Free Asia, a less official and smaller news operation that will continue broadcasts into China and other closed states in Asia. It also is facing budget cuts that officials say will limit its effectiveness.

However, Voice of America has a much wider audience and larger reach that will be sharply curtailed by the shift to the Internet because many Chinese in rural areas or regions facing central government punishment do not have access to the Internet or cell phones.



The Film That's "Too Hot" for Public TV

As Congress debates federal funding for public TV and radio, Mary Grabar has written a column for Pajamas Media about how telling the truth about the Castro regime in Cuba is not an assignment that the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has wanted to take on.

She focuses on how Agustin Blazquez, a Cuban exile, ran into a series of roadblocks from PBS and its parent, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), when he requested funding for films on life under the Castro dictatorship and Castro’s murderous accomplice Che Guevara. Not only did public TV refuse to fund the anti-communist films, public broadcasting would not consider airing them.

His new documentary,“Che: The Other Side of an Icon,” also got the label “too hot” for public TV. It is a response to what Blazquez calls “the pro-Che propaganda in the popular press.” He explains, “It profiles the life of the man killed in Bolivia, as well as ‘Che,’ the icon, who lives on today. It presents the real man behind the myth, his legacy and why he has become so popular among the youth, revolutionaries and terrorists of the world. It explores the dangers of believing in Che’s carefully constructed fake public image.”

The film includes interviews with people who worked directly with Che, knew his family in Argentina and Havana, and who were knowledgeable about his personal background and philosophy. It documents how Che was not a hero but a sadistic killer.

Grabar’s column takes a look at the film and examines how Blazquez faced opposition from public TV to telling the truth about Castro’s communist revolution. She reports,

“He learned that grants and prizes for documentaries in his series ‘Covering Cuba’ would not be forthcoming. The latest, and seventh, titled “Che: The Other Side of an Icon,” was produced on a budget of $14,000. Only about $4,000 of that was from a non-profit that he had started himself. He had submitted a more typical budget of $494,000 to CPB-PBS (Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Broadcasting System). Blazquez had no success with the publicly supported organization, nor did he with the taxpayer-supported American Film Institute in his other projects. In fact, he could not even get an airing on POV (Point of View), the program created by PBS specifically for the purpose of airing ‘controversial’ films.”

Blazquez provided me with some additional details, saying about the Che film offering, “I mailed the 104-page proposal to CPB on Monday, April 2, 2007. On Tuesday, May 8, 2007, John Prizer from CPB called me about 6:35 p.m. to notify me that they rejected my project. The next day Prizer talked to my proposal advisor and told him, ‘PBS won’t do a project like that.’”

Grabar describes the interference he gets on college campuses. “Dead silence is what mostly greeted Blazquez when he contacted over 100 campuses for the screening of his first film,” she says. “Subtle impediments in the form of last-minute room changes and announcements torn off walls were placed in his path at the two campuses where he did manage to get permission to air his documentary.”

Disgusted by the pro-Castro bias of public TV, Blazquez has some advice, which is pertinent since taxpayer funding for public TV and radio is now a big issue on Capitol Hill. “My advice to the American public in general is not to donate a penny” to the CPB or PBS, he says, and “to demand all taxpayer funds be denied” to public broadcasting.



No Laughing Matter

According to Barack Obama’s ten-year budget, the $14 trillion national debt will increase every single year and never be repaid.

But don’t believe your lying eyes. When Obama delivered his budget to Congress, he boldly suggested that “[B]y the middle of this decade our annual spending will match our annual revenues. We will not be adding more to the national debt.” Everyone laughed.

A fourth grader could easily calculate that on average the White House promises to add $1.088 trillion to the national debt every year for ten straight years. It will hit $15.459 trillion the end of this fiscal year, and then rise to $26.346 trillion by the end of FY 2021. So, what is Obama talking about?

He was using an accounting gimmick, called the “primary deficit,” that does not count the average annual $572.6 billion of net interest owed on the public debt. Nor does it count the average $275.8 billion owed in interest on the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

All told, by not counting interest, the White House is attempting to avoid talking about some $848.4 billion being added to the debt every year. Neat trick.

Of course, the only way interest payments can be avoided is if the principal balance on a debt is paid early. Otherwise, those payments are simply added to the gross debt — the total owed.

The hilarity carried forward into the White House briefing room. There, the White House’s pretense that we are not adding to the debt was easily exposed by ABC News’ Jake Tapper in an exchange with Obama’s green, new Press Secretary, Jay Carney.

Tapper said, “The president seems to think that borrowing money to pay the interest on the debt is not adding to the debt. I don’t understand that math.” He wanted Carney to explain it to him. Now, the whole White House press corps was laughing at the Administration.

Carney replied, “What the president made clear is that we need to get to a place — and his budget absolutely does this — where we are no longer spending more than we’re taking in.” Except, making interest payments is spending. Everyone knows that. It’s a real obligation that must be paid, or the nation would default.

Tapper tried again, saying, “I assume when the president calls for an adult conversation, he means that conversation should be forthright and politicians shouldn’t be hiding behind cute language such as ‘We will not be adding more to the national debt,’ even if hundreds of billions of dollars are being added to the national debt in interest — paid on debt that President Obama helped, himself, create.” Ouch.

Now, Tapper was questioning the White House’s maturity to carry on an “adult conversation” as promised with the American people. Carney dodged, simply regurgitating the tired line to Tapper that the debt “has been created over a number of years, as you know. And we came in here with an economic crisis, the likes of which, I daresay, I think nobody in this room has ever seen, and which threatened to head straight into a depression if we didn’t act.”

Now, the White House was making excuses. Carney’s very first press conference was not going well. Tapper was eating him for lunch, and then went in for the kill, finally asking of Carney, “Just to button this, you think that, ‘We will not be adding more to the national debt,’ is a statement that stands [up] to scrutiny?”

Carney quickly replied with a straight face, “Absolutely, absolutely.” Really?

More like absolutely absurd. What a lousy liar. A better campaign commercial could not have been contrived by the Republican National Committee for 2012.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Revolutionaries with American Passports

In the excerpt below Peter Berger attempts to explain why some Americans fall in love with authoritarian regimes. His explanation may well be part of the story but I think that for many young Leftists it is rather simple: They hate America and need to find some alternative to it. So they look to regimes that are most unlike America.

That those regimes are in most ways very unattractive explains why most American Leftists don't emigrate to their nirvana but rather remain safely at home. That way they can build castles in the air about their supposed "alternative" society without having to face all the realities of it.

The fools who do put their money where their mouth is generally don't stay for long. The famous philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein migrated to Soviet Russia in 1935 but lasted less than three weeks there

But why do American Leftists hate America? There are a variety of reasons which I set out here but both political stance and tendency to happiness are highly hereditary -- so many are simply born whiners whom nothing suits -- JR

For over fifty years now, cohorts of young, well-educated Americans have become supporters of a long string of bloody revolutions and tyrannical regimes, united by the two traits of socialist ideology and hostility to the United States. What is one to make of this?

Any identity is better than none.

For reasons which are not mysterious and which can be analyzed sociologically, modernity undermines taken-for-granted identities. No longer an unavoidable destiny, an individual’s identity increasingly becomes a matter of choice. This can be experienced as a great liberation, especially in its early phases. It can also be experienced as a burden. There is a deep human longing for certainty concerning the things that matter most —among which, as Immanuel Kant classically formulated it, is an answer to the question “Who am I?”

As a result, there is a market for any movement that purports to provide a certain identity, one that can be relied upon beyond the precarious products of individual self-construction. That is the great attraction of all totalitarian movements. It is the psychological benefit of all fundamentalisms —religious or secular. The promise is always the same: “Come and join us. And we will give you what you have longed for —you will know who you really are.” The promise is kept —if and as long as the individual adheres to the ideology of the movement. Part of such adherence may be the denial of realities that contradict the ideology.

I think that the psychology of the Westerners who convert to radical Islamism is quite similar to that of the leftists discussed above. Of course this type of Islamism has distinct disadvantages, not only the unpleasant possibility of being killed in Waziristan if one takes the conversion to an active conclusion, but also a rigorous sexual code that has little appeal for those raised in post-1960s Western societies.

Leftist [loyalties] rarely get you killed. Very few Americans have volunteered to join guerrillas in the jungles of Latin America. And, even while wearing Che Guevara T-shirts, these “soldiers of the revolution” can enjoy the sexual freedom allowed in Western democracies. They also have the freedom to proclaim their new identity with impunity. In important sectors of elite culture this identity can even be a passport to prestige and tenure.

Despite the poor prospects, reason should not be discarded in efforts to pry individuals out of the St. Vitus dance. It is comforting to recall Freud’s view, that “the voice of reason is quiet but persistent.” But I know of one contingency that has a good chance of de-converting these revolutionaries with Western passports —if they actually reside for a while in the totalitarian society they had admired from afar.



Mitch Daniels, Indiana's Republican governor, says what must be done to rescue America from stagnation and decline

America, he said, faces "a survival-level threat," a new "Red Menace" consisting of ink. No enterprise, public or private, "can remain self-governing, let alone successful, so deeply in hock to others as we are about to be." Some people accept or "even welcome" a "ballooning of the state" that consigns America to "a gray parity" with other profligate nations. Such people believe history is controlled by a "leftward ratchet," always -- never mind "the Reagan Interruption" -- moving toward a more powerful state.

For such people, the task now is merely defensive: The Obama administration's spending commitments -- e.g., the health care law is designed to "engulf private markets and produce a single-payer system or its equivalent" -- will produce a leviathan state and reduce the American world pre-eminence some people deplore.

Focusing on earmarks (a "pernicious practice" but a "trifle") and "waste, fraud and abuse," says Daniels, trivializes the task of administering "bariatric surgery" to a "morbidly obese" government. He favors restoring to presidents the power to impound appropriated funds ("you'd be amazed how much government you'll never miss"). But the big twofold task is to reform entitlements and produce economic growth -- "a long boom of almost unprecedented duration."

Americans must say "an affectionate thank-you" to the last century's major social welfare programs -- then sunset them, after those Americans "currently or soon to be enrolled" in them have passed from the scene. Social Security and Medicare should be updated to conform to Americans' "increasing longevity and good health." Medicare 2.0 should respect Americans' dignity and competence by empowering them to make "their own decisions" by delivering its dollars directly to individuals, and expecting them to "pay for more of their routine care like the discerning, autonomous customers we know them to be."

To spur economic growth, we must "untie Gulliver": "The regulatory rainforest through which our enterprises must hack their way is blighting the future of millions of Americans." Barack Obama's recent executive order to prune the forest was, Daniels said, akin to the world's leading rap music producer suddenly expressing alarm about obscenity. And Daniels thinks conservatives' "first thought" should be about "those still on that first rung of life's ladder":

"Upward mobility from the bottom is the crux of the American promise, and the stagnation of the middle class is in fact becoming a problem, on any fair reading of the facts. Our main task is not to see that people of great wealth add to it, but that those without much money have a greater chance to earn some."

Author of the most succinct characterization of the Obama agenda ("shock-and-awe statism"), Daniels has practiced the lean government he preaches. Under him, Indiana has its fewest state employees since 1978, the nation's lowest state government employment per capita, the lowest effective property taxes and the third-lowest per capita spending. So he has the credentials to counsel conservatives about the need to compromise in the interest of broadening the constituency for difficult reforms.

"Change of the dimension we need," says Daniels, "requires a coalition of a dimension no one has recently assembled," including people who "surf past C-SPAN to get to SportsCenter." Which may mean ideological dilution: "Purity in martyrdom is for suicide bombers" and "King Pyrrhus is remembered, but his nation disappeared." Daniels has "no interest in standing in the wreckage of our Republic saying 'I told you so' or 'You should've done it my way.'"

He reminded his listeners that when he was serving Ronald Reagan, the president admonished him and others that "we have no enemies, only opponents." The case for less strident conservative rhetoric is practical: "As we ask Americans to join us on such a boldly different course, it would help if they liked us, just a bit."

Do not, Jefferson warned, undertake great departures on "slender majorities." Conservatives criticized Democrats for doing just that regarding health care. Big changes, Daniels knows, will require a broad majority, perhaps one assembled after 2012 by someone with his blend of accomplishments, aversion to pandering and low-key charisma of competence.



Liberty, 21st Century-Style

Jonah Goldberg

Finally, the national conversation about democracy is relatively mature and serious. Save for some TV news anchors, just about everyone seems to understand that democracy is a tricky thing.

That skepticism was hard earned. The last decade provided painful lessons for everyone, on both sides of the ideological aisle. Liberals, who were once naively optimistic about democracy promotion, turned dour when President Bush became naively optimistic about it. And then supporters of Bush's freedom agenda learned a tough lesson from, among other things, the disastrous-but-democratic elections that put a terrorist junta in charge of the Gaza Strip.

Hence the irony of so many small-"d" democrats quietly celebrating the fact that Egypt is living under undemocratic martial law, rather than democratic Islamic law as interpreted by a Muslim Brotherhood caliphate.

This new consensus -- that democracy is about more than mere lever-pulling on Election Day -- is progress.

Democracy is essential to a liberal order, but it is less important than the rule of law, honest courts, individual rights (including property rights), and the institutions -- legal and cultural -- that nurture them.

George W. Bush famously proclaimed that the desire for freedom burns in every human heart. I'm sympathetic to such notions and the statecraft that drives such pronouncements. But that doesn't get us very far. What drives the urge for liberty?

The notion that we all crave personal liberty is a fairly new notion, historically. Most of the calls for freedom over the centuries have been in the context of national, not personal, liberation. The 20th century began with an atrocious war allegedly fought over something called "self-determination," but the "self" in question wasn't the id, ego or super-ego, or the individual soul. The "self" in "self-determination" referred to the captive nations of Europe.

Freedom fighters have generally battled for the collective right to fly a national flag, not the individual right to burn one. Conservatives loved the movie "Braveheart," with all of its beautiful language about freedom, but it's worth remembering that the freedom the Scots fought for was the freedom to replace the authoritarian traditionalism of the English with the authoritarian traditionalism of the Scots.

The great change, as Francis Fukuyama chronicled in his book "The End of History and the Last Man," has been the evolution of individual self-determination. Fukuyama borrows a term, "thumos," from the ancient Greeks to explain the transformation. Thumos, or "spiritedness," encompasses the instinct for justice, respect, integrity.

"People evaluate and assign worth to themselves in the first instance, and feel indignation on their own behalf," Fukuyama writes. "But they are also capable of assigning worth to other people, and feeling anger on behalf of others."

Indignation, the driving passion of all revolutions, shares a root with "dignity," a person's -- and a people's -- sense of self-worth. A major cause of Middle Eastern political stagnation, for instance, has been that Arab and Muslim dictators have linked their people's self-respect with the Palestinians' plight.

More positively, in our own country, the Civil Rights movement and the women's movement were, at their core, what Harvard philosopher Harvey Mansfield calls "honor-seeking movements."

To understand continuity between the old conception of liberty and the modern one, you need to understand that freedom in the West mostly means "free to be me." Freedom in much of the rest of the world remains "free to be us."

The genius of liberal democracy is that it allows both conceptions to flourish simultaneously, often in healthy tension. Far from perfect, liberal democracy offers the most people the most respect possible.

The tumult in Egypt and throughout the Middle East is a generational conflagration between different conceptions of thumos -- old and modern, Muslim and nationalist, collective and individual. In the long run, I'm not too worried about liberal democracy's prospects in the Middle East. Modernity brings prosperity, and prosperity fuels an insatiable appetite for respect, and that demand for respect is what topples tyrannies.

I'm more concerned about what is happening here. Thumos continues to evolve in Western democracies, which is not the same thing as saying it continues to improve.

Our current fiscal woes, not to mention the riot of dysfunction that often goes by the name "political correctness" and the thumos-on-the-cheap that we call the self-esteem industry, are in no small part attributable to the perversion of our sense of self-worth. For millions of Americans, it seems that respect must be paid in the form of cash tribute. How else to explain the inviolable sanctity of our aptly named "entitlement" system?

Great civilizations die when the people believe their personal dignity demands more than the society can possibly provide. Sadly, that conversation has barely begun.




Sweden overtakes US in competitiveness: "Sweden is the world’s second most competitive country, the World Economic Forum said in its annual ranking, hailing the Scandinavian country for its transparent institutions, efficient financial markets and the world’s strongest technological adoption. Switzerland topped the overall ranking in The Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011. Sweden overtook the US and Singapore this year to be placed 2nd overall." [Sweden has had a conservative government for some time]

Poll: 51% of GOP primary voters believe Obama born abroad: "In a shocking finding, more than half of GOP primary voters believe President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, according to a new poll. Fifty-one percent of 400 Republican primary voters surveyed nationwide by Public Policy Polling said they ascribe to the controversial birther conspiracy theory — despite the fact that the state of Hawaii has posted [a computer printout of] Obama’s certificate of live birth."

Proof of government inefficiency: "Over the past 40 years, the manufacturing sector has more than doubled production while cutting one-third of the workforce, whereas government adds more and more personnel without actually making government services more effective. Imagine, then, how much money government can save, and how much more the private sector can produce, if those 12.4 million excess government workers were in the private workforce."

Obama’s sea of red: "In the days and weeks leading up to the release of his budget, President Obama and his spokesmen warned us that it would contain 'tough choices' and 'painful cuts.' Having increased government spending by 21.4 percent during his first two years in office, Obama would now be intent on imposing 'fiscal discipline.' Hah! By the administration's own estimates, Obama's $3.7 trillion budget would raise this year's budget deficit to $1.65 trillion, the largest pool of red ink since the end of World War II."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

The GOP's Paul problem

There's a fantastical "this can't be really happening" feeling to the continued extent and power of Ron Paul's popularity among the most dedicated young activists within the Republican Party, not only to those like me who've been largely cheering him from the margins of the margins of American political power for decades, but also for those who have been actively trying to drive him off even those margins.

Herewith, a survey of some recent flailings at Ron Paul's repeat CPAC poll victory, and the ever-larger impact of Pauls--both Ron in the House (and the prospective GOP presidential field) and now Rand in the Senate.

* Young Americans for Freedom follows in the kicking-out-of-the-Right spirit of their founding father William Buckley and boots Paul from their advisory board; as Dave Weigel notes at Slate, internal division results, including YAF's own "coordination intern" quitting, and a public dustup with rival right-youth group Young Americans for Liberty, more reliably Paulite.

* Right-wing radio dude Kevin McCullough sputters at Fox News's site about the "bizarre nature and overall oddity" of a right-wing political gathering that gave so much play to Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, accusing the libertarian leaning of disrespectfully "hijacking" CPAC's "mission," moaning about an "unabated" libertarian streak.

Look, if the excited politically motivated younger folk who actually show up at conventions about politics and activism dig Paul and Johnson, it just might behoove the GOP powers to mind them rather than distance themselves from something as apparently unconservative as limited government--but something there is about a libertarian that makes even simple political horse sense go out the window; as McCullough declares: "libertarians are the worst form of political affiliation in the nation."

* Bernie Quigley at The Hill thinks that the more palatable Johnson rather than Ron Paul will be the ultimate successful standardbearer for the libertarian tinge of the GOP on the national stage, but notes that hysterical reactions against them (though he is focusing on prog-liberal angst, the same is true of trad-right angst) are "prelude to a nervous breakdown." And he sums up the surprising rise of Paul Power:
"What the Pauls have achieved was unimaginable just five years ago, when Ron Paul’s diatribes before Congress were dutifully transcribed only in small, esoteric libertarian journals. Today, if this week’s CPAC convention in D.C. is any indication, libertarianism is the creative rising karma in the Republican Party."

* Right-wing thought leader Donald Trump accuses Paul of un-electability; Paul asks, how many elections has Donald Trump won? (That the anti-Ron Paul forces are actually using an argument that depends on admitting there is any scintilla of a possibility of a hope he could win the presidential nomination is kind of staggering.)

* Ron Paul makes it clear that he's more radical than the right-wing's Tea Party populist troops on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," complaining that:
some Tea Partiers aren’t measuring up when it comes to the tough defense and entitlement program cuts he believes are needed to save the United States from economic cataclysm. “They don’t want you to touch Social Security. They don’t want you to touch anything but Obamacare,” Paul says. “Some of them are real Republicans and they wouldn’t dare touch Bush’s increase in medical care costs, you know, prescription health programs.” “They treat the symptoms and they don’t look at it philosophically,” he adds.

* Jim Antle reported in the Guardian on the tensions between the Paulite CPACers and the others, including Paul fans booing Bush-era GOP heroes Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld:
The event attendees were mostly social conservatives. The audience was more willing to contemplate Pentagon budget scrutiny – but still more hawkish than not and very concerned about radical Islam. The boycotts did not hurt attendance: the conference attracted more than 11,000 conservative activists and its DC venue was packed with people.

But the hostility between Ron Paul's supporters and everyone else was palpable. When Paul won the straw poll, about half the crowd shouted "Ron Paul!" – but the other half booed. When Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who is being targeted for a possible Tea Party challenge in 2012, attempted to defend his vote for the Wall Street bailout, Paulites cried out, "Liar!" This prompted a Hatch supporter to sternly remind the audience, "As conservatives, we can disagree without being disagreeable."

Like I noted after his last CPAC poll victory, there's a strong likelihood that if you didn't vote for Paul, you hate him--he was likely few people's second choice (except maybe Johnson voters).

Why can't the powers that be of the Right handle Paul? I explained this last year after his unexpected first CPAC poll victory, and nothing has changed except his continued and expanding popularity, and that of his senator son, make it all the more ominous:
There’s a very good reason anyone with any skin in the game of the status quo—politician, commentator, or citizen—has to find it very difficult to take Paul seriously. That so many citizens and activists in the Tea Party movement are taking him seriously is scaring the establishment for good reason.

Paul doesn’t just represent an opposition politician, he represents an absolute denial that “the system” makes any sense, has any justice, or is sustainable. It is this radical oppositionism that makes it so easy for standard issue pundits to just write his fans off as nuts and a bit scary.

Newsweek started to get at this important aspect of the Paul phenomenon, noting that “tea-partiers, Paulites, etc. seem less interested in finding practical solutions to Washington's endemic problems than in tearing down Washington itself. As the 2010 elections approach, this nihilistic feeling will only grow stronger.”

That’s because the radical solutions that the Paul worldview demands—an end to overseas military adventurism, ending government’s ability to manipulate paper currency, severe cuts in spending on all the myriad income-shifting promises Washington has made the past 80 years—don’t register as “practical solutions” to (for lack of a better word) the establishment. They seem like nihilism, though they are actually a belief in the American Constitution.

Any standard Republican or movement conservative really can’t take Paul seriously without massive cognitive dissonance. You mean, we really really have to obey the Constitution, we really can’t keep borrowing and inflating forever?

Signs like the CPAC vote of a significant number of politically active youngsters believing in Ron Paul are indeed a sign of an apocalypse of sorts for the world that most politicians and pundits know. If Ron Paul is right, then everything they know is wrong.

Matt Welch will be on MSNBC tonight about all this Ron Paul business. Nick Gillespie on libertarian power at CPAC. More from Gillespie on Paul's CPAC speech.



ObamaCare and the Medicaid Mess

States need relief from the program's inflexible rules and escalating costs

Facing growing resistance to Medicaid costs, the Obama administration's Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, sent a letter to states last week noting the "urgency of your State budget concerns" and suggesting some minor program changes to save money. They aren't enough.

At roughly 21% of total state spending, Medicaid is already the single largest item in state budgets, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. Between 2008 and 2009 (the latest year for which figures are available), annual spending growth on the program nearly doubled, growing to 9% from 4.9%.

Medicaid currently covers 53 million people at an overall cost of $373.9 billion (states are responsible for about half). But starting in 2014, ObamaCare rules will add about 20 million more, according to Richard Foster, the program's chief actuary.

Yet state budgets are already being squeezed. Washington state, facing a $5.7 billion budget hole, has ordered the Medicaid program to cut its budget by 6.3%. The state cannot reduce eligibility to enroll without jeopardizing federal funding altogether. Its only option is to eliminate "optional benefits" (not federally required) such as dental services and speech therapy—one of the options suggested in Ms. Sebelius's letter. That sounds good, but it's not enough. "Even if we eliminate every single optional benefit, we still don't get there," Doug Porter, the state's Medicaid director, told Governing magazine.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, right, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, center, and Massachusetts Health and Human Secretary Judy Ann Bigby in Boston in 2009. The overhaul of the Massachusetts health-care system included significant expansion of Medicaid, and the overhaul is costing the state far more than expected.

In response to Arizona's projected $1.1 billion deficit, Gov. Jan Brewer has announced she will seek a special waiver from Health and Human Services allowing her state to remove 250,000 childless adults and about 30,000 parents (with incomes between 50% and 100% of the poverty line) from the 1.3 million individuals currently on its Medicaid rolls. The state estimates the savings at $545 million—assuming the feds grant the waiver.

To consider what the expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare might do to the states, take a look at Massachusetts and Tennessee. In 2006, Massachusetts overhauled its entire health-care system, including a significant expansion of Medicaid. This expansion is costing the state far more than expected. Gov. Deval Patrick approved a record-setting $9.6 billion to cover its share of Medicaid costs last July. It wasn't enough. He's already gone back to the legislature twice, adding almost $600 million in additional funds.

Tennessee's experience is also illuminating. Between 1994 and 2004, it expanded its Medicaid program, called TennCare, to cover roughly one in four residents. The price tag reached a quarter of the state budget by 2004, and the consulting firm McKinsey projected that the program would consume 91% of state revenues by 2008. Ultimately, Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, declared the program a failure and kicked approximately 200,000 people off the rolls.

A number of Medicaid reforms are being discussed, especially replacing federal matching revenues with block grants. The grants would cover only mandatory services such as hospital and physician costs—and would come without any other federal strings attached.

Medicaid also could be transformed from a permanent entitlement into a temporary assistance program, much like the welfare reform of 1996. States could provide premium support for health insurance but put a time limit on benefits, and they could expect enrollees to prove that they are either working or on the hunt for employment.

Critically, Medicaid reform should allow states to experiment with the eligibility for and design of their health-care services. In 2007, for example, Gov. Mitch Daniels created the Healthy Indiana Plan, which funded 95% of the cost of consumer-directed health savings accounts for low-income residents. Healthy Indiana now covers about 43,000 low-income people not otherwise eligible for Medicaid under federal rules. The program is also popular among state employees. It's funded by cigarette taxes and Medicaid dollars thanks to a federal waiver. Mr. Daniels has asked the Obama administration for permission to use Healthy Indiana as a way to expand the state's Medicaid program.

Medicaid has been a joint federal-state mess for so long that we don't know exactly what states would do if allowed to innovate. But we certainly know what the consequences and the costs will be if they aren't.



Dead by the Hand of Labor

The long term impact of the labor movement on the U.S. economy is now becoming clearer with each passing day and it can best be described as an ugly blot on our republic. What should be evident to all is that widespread unionization of the workforce has not been a positive influence on our economy or on our political institutions. A quick inventory tells us that labor unions have all but destroyed the steel industry, the auto industry, the movie industry, the teaching profession, the construction trades, and the legal profession and have seriously damaged many others.

It’s time everyone understood that, to interfere with the smooth and efficient operation of an employer’s business is, in the strictest sense of the word, theft; that there are no constitutional protections that allow one man to acquire the property of another through coercion; that there is no right to interfere with or dictate the rules or methods by which an employer conducts his/her business; and that there is no right to cause the property of another to decrease in value through work stoppages or boycotts. If workers are unhappy with their pay or with the conditions of their employment, they do have another right to rely on… they have a right to find work elsewhere.

In his book, And the Wolf Finally Came: The Decline of the American Steel Industry, John Hoerr, of BusinessWeek, describes what happened to the U.S. Steel industry at the hands of I.W. Abel and the United Steelworkers of America. Hoerr tells us, “By the early 1980s, American steelworkers were the best-paid industrial workers in the world. From 1967 to 1979, total hourly employment costs in the steel industry rose 180 percent, or an annual rise of 12.1 percent, while the industry's productivity grew barely 2 percent a year. When this cozy, anticompetitive world was punctured by lower-cost foreign steel, the union had only one answer: import barriers."

Now that once-great industry, the symbol of American economic superiority, is gone, and so are hundreds of thousands of its jobs. It was strangled to death by the steelworkers union.

What steelworkers have done to the steel industry, autoworkers have done to the auto industry. As Robert J. Dewar, a former Ford Motor Company general foreman tells us in his book, A Savage Factory: An Eyewitness Account of the Auto Industry’s Self-Destruction, “the UAW arsenal easily outgunned management. Production was sabotaged. Critical employees were absent when high production was most needed. Tools mysteriously disappeared. Bad quality was run purposely. The weakest, least desirable employees were protected with the full power of the labor contract. When management and the UAW stood eyeball to eyeball, management always backed down – they had to – productivity and profitability hung in the balance.”

The only unionized sectors of our economy that have continued to grow and prosper, through good times and bad, are defense-related industries and government bureaucracy… sectors of our economy that are unaffected by the same economic realities that govern decision-making in other sectors of our economy. But there is little mystery to it.

So long as the world remains a dangerous place for freedom-loving people and the United States must maintain a prohibitive military machine, the amount of money spent to support the defense industry will remain sacrosanct and defense contractors will pay whatever their unions demand.

So long as unions continue to soak their members for hundreds of millions of dollars in dues, they will continue to purchase the loyalty of liberals and Democrats who will support every uneconomic advantage that unions demand.

So long as Democrats continue to expand the size and scope of government, expanding the bloated bureaucracy and creating jobs for hordes of unionized government workers, we have little hope of controlling spending or reducing our national indebtedness.

So long as the unholy alliance between labor unions and the Democrat Party exists, and so long as liberals and Democrats continue to put the interests of union bosses ahead of the national interest, our economy will continue to suffer and our nation will continue on the decline.

So long as the docile American taxpayer remains willing to pick up the tab for this incestuous relationship, and so long as unions are allowed to function as if they have no responsibility for the national interests, we have little chance of leaving anything of value for future generations. Unless we bring labor unions under control, as Governor Haley is attempting to do in South Carolina, the epitaph on our national tombstone will read, “Dead by the hand of labor.”


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Moral conservatism makes fiscal conservatism possible

Conventional political wisdom tells us that there are social conservatives and then there are fiscal conservatives. This is a canard. Though we appear determined to learn this lesson the hard way, the tenets of conservative philosophy cannot be split down the middle.

A moral, productive people are necessary to maintain a healthy society - you cannot have one without the other. They are wholly dependent upon one another, not upon government. At the end of the day, there simply is no adequate substitute for personal responsibility. Man cannot achieve as a dependent what he can achieve for himself.

Not only are the social and the fiscal inseparable, to a large extent it is social conditions that are directly driving our economic dilemma. America has been fundamentally transformed (disintegrated) by progressive fashions and trends. Within the last several decades these trends broke up the family unit, said it wasn't needed anymore. Fathers were driven away for larger welfare payments. Mom was "liberated" and sent back to work. The stigma once connected to divorce and abortion was removed. Within all these shifts, we find the deliberate weakening of morality and an absence of personal responsibility at the heart of the matter.

With our tacit consent the progressives consequently built a dependent class, a permanent underclass demanding an ever-growing safety net. Today, the plague has grown so severe that we send children to public schools during the summers just to insure they are fed.

As a result of society's supposed "enlightenment" our families are both smaller and more fractured, increasing the demand for public care of the elderly in lieu of the greater family involvement that was instilled in the society of our past. All along the way we continue to dip into a bottomless public treasury that is non-existent.

The public education racket

Then there's the damage to our public education system. Though we have thrown unprecedented sums of money at our education problems, data proves that the more we are forced to pay the less we actually get.

The nation suffers from too much extortionist college loan debt, even though not all students should be directed to higher degrees, too many students lacking basic "life skills", and the escalating costs of remedial courses required to deal with declining skills.

Many states and locales are finally dealing with the harsh reality that there's no longer enough money to go around. Though a myriad of problems contribute to driving up costs in public education the factor that no government agency or amount of tax-dollars can overcome is the utter lack of basic values a child is taught at home.

Paying for the sins of others

We all pay more for the lack of morality exercised by a few. Many retail items we consume are necessarily marked-up to cover losses from shoplifting. Similarly, insurance premiums, credit card interest rates and banking fees are higher due to irresponsible behavior. In the financial arena everything from greedy financial executives to growing trends such as bankruptcy and foreclosure cost everyone.

Progressive trends have even pressured local and federal law enforcement to abdicate its responsibilities, leading to a nation over-run with 12 million undocumented aliens. So many that we're told we could not possibly shoulder the expense of effectively dealing with the problem. This too is a moral issue because it is a breach of social contract and public trust. Worse yet, it is the attempted removal of the stigma of illegality.

Hand-in-hand with our laze-faire attitudes on immigration we have subsequently experienced increasing demands on our systems of education, health care, law enforcement and incarceration.

America has become collectively conditioned to ignore the pain, suffering and emotional scars that come with immoral behavior. While we may have learned to bear the social costs, there are growing concerns that the accompanying economic price may prove insurmountable.

The next time someone tells you they are a fiscal conservative, ask them to explain just how that line of thinking works.



Dodd-Frank 'help' hurts bank customers

"I'm from the government, and I'm here to help." Ronald Reagan called those "the nine most terrifying words in the English language" – and with good reason. Nowhere do we see good intentions go awry more regularly than in the hallowed halls of government. Case in point: bank fees. You'll likely be paying more in the coming months, if you're not already, for many ordinary transactions.

Banks are looking at how they can slap additional fees on credit cards and checking accounts, as well as ways to make more money from ATMs and debit-card purchases. Why? No, it's not old-fashioned greed. After all, these institutions are competing with each other for your business. They want to attract customers.

Unfortunately, though, they're coping with the fact that last year's much-heralded financial "reform" legislation – better known as Dodd-Frank, after its congressional champions – is dictating what they can and can't charge for certain transactions.

As part of Dodd-Frank, The Wall Street Journal recently noted, the Federal Reserve has proposed limiting what banks can charge for debit-card purchases, from an average rate of 44 cents a transaction, to seven to 12 cents – a drop of as much as 84 percent. Great, you may be saying, I'd like to pay less.

But banks can't, and won't, just kiss this revenue goodbye. The amount being reduced goes to the financial institution that issues the card, and the loss of this income may cause certain card issuers to either drop their cards or limit their availability.
That's why these institutions are looking at other ways to make up the lost funds. "We don't want to raise fees on our customers, but unfortunately, regulation is forcing us to do it," a spokeswoman for Chase bank told the Journal.

One of the stated purposes of Dodd-Frank was "to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices." Debit-card fees aren't fun, but they're hardly abusive. And even if they were, now we have government trying to "protect" us in typically inept fashion. We'll wind up paying as much as before, if not more, just at different times and for different reasons. Thanks for the "help," Uncle Sam. Government to the rescue, huh?

The problems with Dodd-Frank don't end there. The law also created a Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, which, we were told, would protect consumers from unfair practices. But the new bureau is no mere watchdog. It has broad powers to limit the financial products and services that banks can offer consumers. Yes, the government will "protect" you by limiting your access to certain financial products, even in situations where you know and understand the risks.

Making credit more expensive and harder to get is not exactly a help to consumers. But that's the practical effect of Dodd-Frank.
Worse, we won't know the full impact of the legislation for some time to come. It required nearly a dozen government agencies to write hundreds of rules, reports and studies – and, as they say, the devil's in the details.

In an effort to get some handle on the impending costs, House Republicans recently asked nine of these agencies to detail how much it will cost them to enforce Dodd-Frank. "It is our responsibility to ensure that federal agencies have the tools they need to carry out congressional mandates," House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., and Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, told regulators. "In addition, it is our responsibility to ensure that mandates are not overly burdensome or wasteful of taxpayer money."

Indeed it is. Here's another tip: Stop being so "helpful." Our wallets really can't take much more.



America's nonsensical tax system

Take my situation as an example. First, in an income tax system that made sense, I would be expected to pay the same percentage of my income in taxes as everyone else. That is the only fair way to operate an income tax system in a free country where everyone is supposed to be equal under the law. If the tax rate is 10 percent, then the person making $1 million would pay $100,000 and the person making $10,000 would pay $1,000. That is called fairness.

Unfortunately, our income tax system is a so-called “progressive” system where the more you make, the higher percentage you have to pay. Not very fair, but that is what we have.

My gross salary, then, puts me in the 25 percent marginal tax bracket. In a tax system that makes sense, I would be expected to pay 25 percent of my salary in taxes.

But no. The federal government decided to use the tax code to punish those who are not married. Because I am married, I actually drop into the 15 percent tax bracket. I should be expected, then, to pay 15 percent of my gross salary in taxes.

Not so fast. There are a gazillion tax deductions, exemptions and credits. Many of these have nothing to do with sound fiscal policy and exist merely for political reasons to achieve some social engineering result, which is certainly no way to run an income tax system.

After applying all the deductions for which I am eligible, I dropped into the 10 percent tax bracket. So, again, in a fair and sane system, I should be expected to pay 10 percent of my income in taxes.

Wait, now we add in the credits, which drops my tax burden to zero. While it sounds insane that someone with my salary would not owe any federal income taxes, it gets worse.

My employer, acting as a tax collector for the federal government, took $14 out of my paycheck in 2010 to cover any potential income tax I might owe. In a sane system, I would get a check from the government for $14 and we would call it even. Not so in 21st century America.

Instead of me paying the federal government a percentage of my income, the government is sending me a check not only for the $14 it took from me but for an additional amount equal to 12.04 percent of my gross pay.

Instead of me paying 25 percent in taxes, the government is paying me 12.04 percent. That is simply backward and there are probably millions of taxpayers similarly situated as I am.

Liberals want to increase taxes on the rich. That makes no sense. According to the IRS, in 2008, the top 1 percent of tax returns paid 38 percent of all federal individual income taxes, more than the bottom 95 percent, but earned only 20 percent of adjusted gross income.

Yet, a middle-class wage earner such as myself in a household near the national median for income, netted a 12.04 percent windfall.
Where is the fairness in that?

Perhaps, instead of taking more money from the rich and giving it to workers such as myself, why not stop the tax giveaway? No matter how many credits or deductions a person has, the federal government should not be returning more than it took for that year.

It is insane for the federal government to send millions of people thousands of dollars every year as part of its tax system. It is supposed to be tax collection, not a tax giveaway.

I fear for the future of any government that thinks sound fiscal policy includes borrowing $1.5 trillion every year while passing out free money to a large percentage of its citizens.




"Senior" journalist, Elizabeth Drew, has a carping article in The NY Review of Books telling us how good old sincere Obama is being persecuted by the evil GOP. Keith Burgess-Jackson takes her apart. He starts out: "Elizabeth Drew fancies herself a journalist, but she is little more than a political hack".

A reminder that most Egyptians are Muslims: "Top CBS foreign correspondent Lara Logan suffered a "brutal" sexual assault at the hands of a mob in Egypt while covering the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak, her US network says. "She and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into a frenzy," CBS said in a statement. "In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. "She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers." [Western women are fair game to Muslim extremists]

Iranian regime suppresses Communist demonstration: "Iranian riot police fired tear gas and paintballs at protesters holding anti-government demonstrations in Tehran on Monday, websites and witnesses said, while an Iranian news agency reported that a gunshot killed a bystander. The report by the Fars news agency said a number of people were also wounded by the gunfire and blamed the outlawed former rebel group, the People's Mujahedeen of Iran"

The state never apologizes: "The federal law allowing for attorney fees limits recovery to individual and corporate defendants under a certain net worth. Congress intended the law to encourage small businessmen to challenge unfair regulatory actions. The FTC’s decision in Isely’s case effectively nullifies this. ... Leibowitz’s precedent sends a clear signal that no small businessman has any hope of winning anything more than a Pyrrhic victory against the FTC: Even a person who prevails in litigation will face financial ruin to pay their attorney fees."

A growing burden: Taxes and fees on wireless service: "Wireless users across the United States continue to face excessive and discriminatory federal, state, and local taxes and fees on their wireless bills. After several years in which taxes and fees on wireless users stabilized and even fell slightly, the trend toward higher impositions resumed between 2009 and 2010. Wireless users now face a combined federal, state, and local tax and fee burden of 16.3 percent, a rate two times higher than the average retail sales tax rate and the highest wireless rate since 2005."

Secret sex offender list: Is your kid on it?: "Other sex offender lists, as horrific and unjustified as they may be, at least wait until someone is convicted of a crime, even if the law itself is ludicrous. But this list requires no conviction, only a faceless bureaucrat who thinks their conclusion is 'reasonable.'"

High-speed pork: "Far from serving 80 percent of Americans, Obama's trains will serve only about 8 percent. High-speed rail's main market is downtown-to-downtown travel. But little more than 7 percent of Americans work in big-city downtowns, and fewer than 1 percent live there. Few aside from this fairly wealthy elite will regularly ride high-speed trains. For the few who use it, high-speed rail will substitute an expensive form of travel for much more affordable forms."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

On Egypt the Left are all neo-cons now

The Left are consistent only in their hatred of the society in which they live

The future of Egypt following the departure of president Hosni Mubarak remains opaque.

No one can currently predict whether it will end up as a democracy with free elections, a military dictatorship, or an Islamic theocratic tyranny.

But the Western Left has known one thing for certain from the very start of the protests: that the tyrannical dictator Mubarak had to go, that the protesters in Tahrir Square were all on the side of freedom and that the convulsions presaged a joyous new dawn of democracy and human rights.

This was despite the serious risk of an Islamist takeover in Egypt, with the consequent extinction of human rights for the Egyptians worse than anything under Mubarak's clearly repressive regime. And it was also despite the fact that opinion polls have suggested that many, if not most Egyptians harbour Islamist, anti-Western and ferociously anti-Jewish ideas.

Nevertheless, Western progressives were shouting for regime change. At which point it began to seem that, like Alice, one had somehow been transported through the looking-glass.

For during the past seven years, Western liberals have fulminated without remission that George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Tony Blair were criminally out to lunch to pretend that democracy could ever come to Iraq through ousting a dictator.

The neo-con article of faith, that the Arab or Islamic world, could or should embrace democracy and human rights, was held up as an example of cultural imperialism, racist bigotry or insanity, or all three.

But suddenly everyone in the bien-pensant world has apparently become a neo-con.

The US, they now fulminated, had been criminally obtuse in propping up the dictator Mubarak rather than helping turn Egypt into a democracy.

So what was the difference? Simple. Saddam Hussein was an enemy of the West; Mubarak was an ally. So progressives claimed that getting rid of the former was a crime against humanity, while not getting rid of the latter was a crime against humanity. Got that?

It would doubtless be uncharitable to add that, throughout this supposedly diabolical Mubarak presidency those same liberals saw no problem taking vacations rubber-necking round the Pyramids or steaming up the Nile. No boycott, divestment or sanctions movement there; such censure is never applied by the Left to any of the tyrannies of the Middle East, of course, only against the sole democracy in the region: Israel.

Nor do the double standards stop there. When the people of Lebanon made their pitch for democracy against the crushing oppression of Hezbollah, Western bien-pensants were totally indifferent. When the people of Iran made their pitch for democracy against the savage cruelties of the Islamic regime, the bien-pensants were totally indifferent. But when the Egyptians took to the streets, the bien-pensants all but wetted themselves with excitement.

What was the difference? If the Lebanese and Iranians had succeeded, the West would have been strengthened. But the risk still remains that the canny Muslim Brotherhood will bide their time before pouncing and coming to power in Egypt, which would of course furnish another major threat for the free world.

And this is the most frightening thing of all in this back-to-front universe: the way in which the West has sanitised the Muslim Brothers and even, in the case of the Obama administration, actually tried to push them into power.

When it wasn't flip-flopping over whether Mubarak should stay or go, the White House first said it wouldn't mind if the Muslim Brothers became part of the Egyptian government.

Then it urged the inclusion of "important non-secular actors" - code for the Muslim Brothers - in a "more democratic" Egypt. And then it was revealed that its proposal for the immediate transfer of power called for the transitional government to include the brotherhood.

What madness was this? The Muslim Brothers' goal is to Islamise the world. They are religious fascists. While certainly there are millions of Muslims around the world who do want to live under democracy, the Brothers are totally against any secular rule at all and stand for an extinction of human rights. They are fanatical Jew-haters. In the 1930s they were effectively created as a political force by the Nazi Party, with which they formulated a final solution for Palestine by ridding it of its Jews, an agenda continued today by their offshoot, Hamas.

Today, they are no less the mortal enemies of the free world. Their leaders have declared war on America, gloating that the US is "experiencing the beginning of its end and is heading towards its demise", and that "resistance is the only solution".

They support al-Qa'ida terrorism "against the Americans and the Zionists". They declared that after Mubarak they would dissolve the peace treaty with Israel.

They support Hezbollah, make overtures to Iran, and openly employ a strategy of simulating moderation to gain power though democratic means in order to destroy democracy.

If Egypt is eventually taken over by the brotherhood, Jordan will be next, and both will turn into Iran/Gaza in a matter of a few years. Oh, and the Brothers are also busy Islamising Britain and America. Yet on both sides of the pond, significant elements of the political and defence establishment have decided that the Muslim Brothers are basically peace-loving, sensible, pragmatic chaps who are useful allies against the men of violence.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that the double standards of the Left result from its deep hatred of the Western society whose basic values they wish to overturn. Whether during the French Revolution or the Stalinist purges, the Left has repeatedly sided with the extinction of human freedom and refused to accept the monstrous evidence of its own credulousness.

Among political and defence elites, moreover, the stranglehold of multicultural victim culture, the influence of revisionist "scholars" such as John Esposito or Karen Armstrong who sanitise Islam, and the deep desire to take the path of least resistance - plus the reflexive view that the real threat to the world is not the Islamic jihad but the state of Israel - means that the establishment meets the Left on the same side of the looking-glass.

Has there ever been a civilisation more bent on collective suicide than the contemporary West?



The Great Jobs Recession Goes On

The recession is officially over but unemployment remains high

There is no life in our jobs market. The recession officially ended in June 2009, but the Great Jobs Recession continues apace. Not since the government began to measure the business cycle has a deep recession been marked by such high levels of unemployment and underemployment, and followed by such anemic job growth. More jobs were lost in the recession of 2007-09 than in the previous four recessions combined—and this time it is an agonizingly slow business to replace them. Of the 8.8 million jobs lost during the downturn, roughly 900,000 were recovered in 2010, and many of these were temporary census positions. Since last June, employers have added a net of only about 284,000 jobs.

The recent headline news that the unemployment rate has fallen by 0.4 percentage point to 9 percent reflects somewhat more activity in manufacturing and retail, but less work in construction, transportation, and warehousing. The 9 percent was thus not bad news, but it was not good news either, since we need 130,000 new jobs each month just to meet the needs of new entries to the labor force and we gained only a dismal 36,000 in January. That comes on top of last year's disappointing monthly job creation rate of only 75,000 on average. Altogether, the 9 percent headline figure is an illusory portrait of the situation across the country, representing 13,863,000 men and women out of work. What happens if you add to that the 8.4 million "involuntary" part-time employed, whose hours have been cut back? Then you get a household unemployment rate slightly under 17 percent.

Turn the percentages into people again. In January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we had 2.8 million people only "marginally attached" to the labor force. A million or so of these are counted as the "discouraged," people who have given up altogether. The other 1.8 million have looked for work in the last 12 months without success but are not counted in the labor force because they haven't tried to get a job in the last four weeks for any number of personal reasons, such as family sickness, school responsibilities, weather, and travel problems. While the headline unemployment figure is down, the number of "marginally attached" increased by 300,000, and the decline in the rate from 9.4 to 9 percent is primarily because these workers have just dropped out of the market. But they haven't dropped out of life in America. They represent a colossal waste of energy and talent, as well as a loss of spending power.

It all adds up to a shocking figure: More than 25 million Americans are now either jobless or underemployed. That's nearly twice as many Americans out of work as there were in the black year of 1933—13 million then. (Only in one year before 1940 and the war did unemployment dip below 8 million.) Of course, the labor force was much smaller then, so the unemployment rate was higher. In the Great Depression, between one third and one quarter of the working population didn't have jobs.

Our real unemployment rate in 2011 is almost twice what it was before the onset of the recession in 2007, and at the current pace, it looks as if it will take until late 2016 to make up for the net job loss to date of 7.5 million. What is normal at this stage of the typical recession cycle is not only that job losses would be reversed, but that a new record high would be reached. As the economist David Rosenberg points out, after the dot-com bubble burst and with far less government stimulus in the last so-called jobless recovery, we had already recouped 62 percent of the aggregate decline in unemployment. This time around we have managed to recoup a mere 12 percent, despite the most stimulative fiscal and monetary policy in the history of America.



TSA Thugs at work again

By Mary Theroux

I am frequently stopped on the street and asked for directions. In my volunteer stints I quickly establish an easy rapport with the diverse people with whom I come in contact. I get warm returning smiles in shops and restaurants. In short: most people apparently view me as non-threatening. It has thus been surprising to learn that in the eyes of the TSA I am viewed as but a common criminal, and may be treated accordingly, with impunity and without recourse.

My adult stepson and I traveled together last week to the Midwest. As we made our way through security at the Oakland airport, I was directed towards one of the new, “enhanced” screening machines. Being aware of the health concerns these untested machines have raised—especially given my having undergone medical X-rays earlier in the week—I refused. As the TSA agents held me in waiting for the “female assist,” for the “pat-down,” I advised them that they might, in the interest of their own health and safety, want to investigate the dangers of working near the machines.

My stepson had preceded me through security through the regular screening machine, and as I was ordered to “assume the position,” took out his camera phone to record the proceedings. A TSA Officer told him to stop, and when my stepson asked on what authority, was told that it is against TSA “procedures.” I advised my stepson to not argue with the agent and he quit recording. Meanwhile, from the moment I was stopped to go through the enhanced screening machine, throughout the “pat-down,” and as we left the area, I carried on an extremely loud, running verbal protest against the proceedings as invasive and unconstitutional, attracting the attention of other passengers in the area—most of whom looked uncomfortably away.

Once “cleared,” my stepson and I went to the boarding area, then boarded our flight and settled down in our seats near the rear of the plane. Ten minutes prior to take-off, a blue-uniformed TSA Supervisor, accompanied by two men wearing brown uniforms (21st-century Brownshirts?), and a man in a plain suit came down the aisle and told my stepson he had to go with them. I explained that he had simply been trying to provide loving support as I resisted being treated as a criminal, and outlined the urgency of our trip. The plain-suited official told the TSA Supervisor that all they needed was name and flight information, so I handed him our boarding passes, bearing both. The TSA Supervisor officiously insisted we had to leave the plane with him. With take-off time growing ever closer, we accompanied the four agents to the jetway, where a large, second plain-suited man and an airport employee also waited. Both left as I launched into a protest of the proceedings.

The four men who had boarded the plane encircled us on the jetway just outside the plane. The plain-suited official reiterated that all they needed was name and flight information—which they had in hand—but the TSA Supervisor insisted he needed our drivers licenses. As he recorded our information from these on his clipboarded form, I recorded the names of the officials present from their ID badges: the blue-uniformed TSA Supervisor Darrel Robinson and plain-clothed Supervisory Transportation Security Officer Michael Simmons.

After Supervisor Robinson had returned our drivers licenses, I asked if we were free to reboard, to which he gruffly replied “In a minute.” After a few more moments, we were “released,” and reboarded the plane without further ado. As I later learned, this constitutes being under arrest, and I guess time will tell to what extent I now have a “record,” since I was advised of nothing, provided no information as to why we had been summarily ordered off of our flight, or to what use our identification information was going to be made.

Yet the entire incident made absolutely no sense: following our having cleared security, my stepson and I had spent at least 25 minutes in the waiting area of the small Oakland airport, on a day with few passengers travelling, and thus could have been easily approached well before we boarded the flight. We had already been cleared—even through their enhanced security techniques—and had thus established, by their own standards, our innocence and the safety of the other passengers. We had violated no laws: TSA’s own website says:

TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or slowed down.

My stepson was sitting, 6 feet away from where my person was being violated during the “pat-down,” and turned off his cell camera when told to by a male TSA agent not involved in the procedure—if this slowed down their process it was by their discomfort with having their actions recorded, not our interference.

Yet this uniformed contingent chose to board the plane after all of the flight’s passengers had been seated, to make an extremely public show of escorting us from the plane, enacting proceedings heretofore understood to be those reserved for suspected criminals, in front a captive audience.

What other possible purpose, then, than a very deliberate, public show of force making it clear to all witnessing the spectacle that those who will not submit quietly will be made examples of?

But such bullying is not the least unpredictable. Investing petty clerks with arbitrary and unchecked powers always leads to their visiting ever-increasing humiliations and violence on the politically impotent. As this past 10 years of escalating “homeland security” well confirms, thuggery not resisted grows ever more bold. Tunisia’s recent uprising may have been sparked by a young man who set fire to himself after being harassed by a low-level government official, as Egypt’s was by three policemen killing a young man posting evidence of their petty corruption on YouTube, but the fuel for each had been built up over decades of tyrannies small and great. The only question here is how far down the road we blessed with a heritage of security in our own persons and property will quietly submit before turning on “our” Brownshirts and saying “No. Go.”


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Why are Obama's policies so destructive?

Obama knows that his economic policies are productive of neither liberty as traditionally conceived by Americans nor prosperity. He would have to be, not just the most incompetent president ever, but among the most dense of human beings, for given the extensive exposure that he has had to both Keynesian and neo-Marxian philosophy -- anyone who takes the time to read his memoirs, particularly his first, and who considers the worldview of the people with whom he has surrounded himself for most of his life would know this -- he could only know by now full well the fruits that these policies promise to reap.

But from this it doesn't follow that Obama anticipates the ruination of America as such. There can be no doubt, I think, that he wants to preside over an America that is morally superior and, hence, better, than the country that elected him two years ago. The problem, though, is that the America of Obama's imaginings is radically unlike the America to which most of its citizens have an acquired affection and even more unlike the America within which their ancestors made their home. That is, the "fundamental transformation" that Obama wants to visit upon America demands nothing more or less than the death of America as it is currently constituted; only once America as a living reality is eliminated can America as Obama's ideal be substituted for it.

The philosopher Ronald Dworkin once said that "a more equal society" -- a society the resources of which are equally "distributed" -- is better than the contrary, even if its citizens prefer inequality. Anyone who has paid any attention at all to Obama must know that he couldn't agree more with this thought.

So, our president does indeed think that as a people, Americans will be "better" in the wake of the "fundamental transformation" that he wants to impose upon us. So the O'Reillys and Medveds are correct in this respect. However, neither Rush, myself, nor the large numbers of Americans who love the liberties which our forefathers labored indefatigably to bequeath to us are likely to receive much consolation from this. After all, the fact remains that his intentions aside, our president is determined to see the historic nation that is the real America go the way of the dinosaur.



States Cutting Medicaid, Fear ObamaCare's Mandate

With many states facing serious budget strains, Medicaid programs face some of their toughest cuts ever. But states will have even tougher choices to make in 2014 when ObamaCare forces states to vastly expand Medicaid rolls.

Medicaid already has become a bigger and bigger share of state government spending. So even though the federal government provides about two-thirds of the total funding — the share differs widely from state to state — governors and legislatures still have to pare the program to close big budget shortfalls.

But President Obama's policies are making that harder. The 2009 stimulus package provided short-term cash to states to shore up Medicaid. But in exchange, states had to agree to never cut their Medicaid eligibility levels or risk losing all of the federal funding for Medicaid. That's just the appetizer. When ObamaCare fully kicks in, states will have to expand Medicaid to 133% of the federal poverty level.

Medicaid has been slowly eating up a greater portion of state budgets. In 2000, it averaged just over 19% of state spending; in 2010 it was just under 22%. It now exceeds state primary and secondary education spending, which is about 20.8%.

States can cut reimbursement rates to providers. But they are already extremely low. Fewer and fewer doctors and other providers accept Medicaid patients. So states are increasingly looking at ways to cut benefits.

• Arizona recently cut the organ transplants that Medicaid pays for.

• In California, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed limiting Medicaid beneficiaries to 10 doctor visits per year and 6 prescriptions per month.

• In Georgia, GOP Gov. Nathan Deal proposed eliminating Medicaid coverage of dental, vision and podiatry care for adults.

• South Carolina will not only do that, but is also cutting back on many other services such as hospice care and insulin pumps for Type 2 diabetes, and reducing annual home health visits from 75 to 50, among others.

• Washington state is reducing home-based health care reimbursement.

• In New York and Florida, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Republican Gov. Rick Scott have proposed steep Medicaid cuts. New York's Cuomo has yet to release details, while Scott proposed moving Medicaid into managed care plans.

"States can't reduce eligibility, so they are going to be reducing provider rates and slashing benefits," said Brian Blase, a health policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "When Medicaid expands in 2014, this will get worse for states because it is estimated that an additional 20 million people will be enrolled in Medicaid."

But others see the possibility of even further benefit cuts when ObamaCare's Medicaid mandate kicks in.

"We were already looking, before ObamaCare, at a Medicaid budget that was unsustainable," said Ashley Landess, president of the conservative South Carolina Policy Council. "This has compounded the problem times 10."



Liberals in the Helping Professions

Hopefully no federal grant money was elicited in order to discover that most psychologists and social workers are politically liberal democrats. This was the conclusion posited by Professor Jonathan Haidt at the annual conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and it’s one of those truisms that often get funded as a “study” in order to prove what’s already obvious.

The notion that liberalism is the more compassionate political bent is a classic case of cognitive dissonance. It was after Lyndon Johnson’s very liberal Great Society programs that black family life began to seriously deteriorate. In 1940, the illegitimacy rate among blacks was 40 percent; today that has climbed to over 70 percent and 90 percent in the inner city.

Children being raised without a father is the key prognosticator for failure in school, subsequent un-employment and a host of other problems, notably addiction, crime and incarceration. The unintended consequence of Johnson’s liberal welfare allocations and other support systems was the growth of a nanny state to replace the role of fathers in black families, plunging them into cultural as well as financial disarray. The loss of incentive and personal responsibility has proved to be chaotic and intractable for the black underclass yet the canard that liberals are more caring about minorities remains.

When psychologists and social workers deal with hard core addicts, they understand the benefits of tough love and the hindrance that enablers pose. Yet when it comes to public education, the remedy is usually to throw more money at a failing system. The liberal conception of what has caused the deterioration in our public school systems is a string of excuses such as: insufficient funding, lack of infra-structure, unqualified teachers, bloated class size – everything but the obvious change in the student and parent bodies in the schools and the change in what is demanded of them.

Before we introduced instruction of English as a second language, children from other countries were immersed in English and usually learned it within the year. The policy of allowing Hispanic students to remain in ESL classes indefinitely has been an abysmal failure, doing nothing more than guaranteeing overpayment to adjunct teachers who would not qualify for any other academic instruction.

Our standards of acceptable schoolwork have plummeted to below failure as students get promoted from grade to grade without proficiency in rudimentary English or math. Yet the very liberal Teachers’ Union insists on maintaining the status quo as if the current annual Dept of Education budget of 21 billion dollars is not an outright insult to every taxpayer who pours his hard-earned money into a slough of despond.

Liberals are responsible for the abandonment of the core curriculum and rote learning in favor of progressive, more creative approaches such as team work instead of individual accountability. Liberals favor portfolios and projects over tests, though recent studies have shown that testing is the most effective way to solidify the retention of information.

Liberals stress students’ rights over teachers’ rights and have made it overly complicated, if not impossible, to discipline both students and teachers. The traditional pedagogic methods incorporated by parochial schools drawing from the same poor neighborhoods of New York produce an almost perfect graduation rate whereas our public high schools graduate less than half of their student bodies. Is this a boon to the disadvantaged?

Aside from Catholic schools, the institution that has probably done the most to turn around the lives of poor, unskilled young people is the Armed Services which for the past fifty years has provided education, training and transformative lessons to empower young men and women to build their own lives.

Yet this is the institution most maligned on elite campuses which profess concern for countering the forces of discrimination and leveling the playing field through affirmative action.

Unions, a liberal concept designed to protect the workers are now sometimes the most hostile to including minorities so that certain trades that would be within their reach remain closed to them.

Professor Haidt was able to persuade the psychologists and social workers that they should set a goal of being more welcoming to conservative thinkers within their fold so as to encourage true diversity of thought.

I would add that giving credence to successful precepts of religious insititutions, the military and conservative political thought would be a welcome addition to all the professions comprising our lopsidedly liberal, often unhelpful, helping professions.




Egypt sets six-month target for elections: "Egypt's new military rulers tried to reassure protesters they were sincere about political reform, announcing they were suspending the constitution, dissolving parliament, and setting a six-month target for full elections. But after the army sent shock waves through the remaining protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square by sending in troops to clear them away early Sunday morning, the Council also reasserted that it had seized power only to give it up. It announced a new constitution would be drawn up and subjected to a referendum. The current constitution, effectively set aside on Friday when Hosni Mubarak's resignation left the country without a president, made it virtually impossible for independent political parties to challenge the ruling National Democratic Party."

All aboard the money train: "The reality of the grand plan for high-speed rail, packaged with all of its 'helping hand for the worker' rhetoric, is very much at variance with the Vice President’s statement today. Although a meaningful transference of wealth will accompany this prodigious public works project, it’ll manifest as the same kind of regressive redistribution that the state’s intervention consistently creates. Billions will be siphoned from the average worker, and, sure, some will go card-punching, construction union wage-earners, but on balance the managers will reap the windfall of our contemporary patronage."

The death of bookshops?: "Stricken US bookseller Borders, which has struggled with a long-term shift towards digital sales in the publishing industry, is poised to declare itself bankrupt after failing to reach a deal with bankers over liabilities of more than $1bn (£625m). Shares in Borders dived 32% on Wall Street on Friday as reports emerged of a chapter 11 bankruptcy filing as early as [Monday] or Tuesday. The prospect of insolvency at the chain, which has 674 US stores employing 19,500 people, comes 14 months after Borders' UK arm went bust, with a loss of 1,100 jobs."

Japan eclipsed by China as world’s second economy: "Japan lost its 42-year ranking as the world's second-biggest economy to China in 2010, with data out Monday showing a contraction in the last quarter due to weak consumer spending and a strong yen"

GOP propose cuts to US State Department, UN: "A Republican budget plan would cut billions of dollars in spending on the State Department and foreign programs, including US contributions to the United Nations. The proposed cuts, announced Friday, are part of an overall Republican effort in the House of Representatives to reduce spending by $100 billion over the next seven months. Leaders in the Democrat-controlled Senate say the proposals are unrealistic. The planned cuts to State Department and foreign operations amount to $3.8 billion, or an eight percent reduction from last year."

Ron Paul popular among conservatives: "Texas Rep. Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll Saturday, taking 30 percent of the vote in a huge and divided field for his second victory in as many years. In second place was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who took 23 percent of the vote. ... After Paul and Romney, no candidate received more than 6 percent of the vote. Former New Mexico Gary Johnson and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie both hit that mark, tying for third place."

“Paranoid Lawyer Syndrome” or, how tort liability is destroying America: "Tort liability is the biggest problem in America that is almost never mentioned. On the rare occasion that it is, it is considered a 'side issue' instead of recognizing that it is the mountain of lawsuits, and the insurance needed to 'protect against them' that America’s economy and society are being smothered beneath. Our economy, our open society and our basic Freedom is either threatened, already damaged or destroyed by this nightmare."

Federalism in action: "One of the benefits of federalism is that it allows the various states to experiment. If Texas wants to try fiscal discipline while California engages in fiscal incontinence, the rest of the states can watch and judge which fiscal policy is most productive of wealth and happiness for citizens generally. We see this happening now before our very eyes, as most of the states grapple with budget deficits."

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. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


13 February, 2011

Why you should not hold your assets in U.S. dollar deposits

As the excerpt below sets out, you will soon discover that Mr Obama is stealing them from you. Inflation is the silent thief. Obama will fund his spending from your savings. The more dollars he prints, the less your dollars will buy. Even the Mexican peso could well hold its value better than the U.S. dollar in the near future.

So? Invest now in the shares of companies not likely to go under in the panic to come. Or spend your money now on something you want: A reliable new Japanese car? An extension to your house? Something income-producing? The Chinese are ditching greenbacks for gold but that's a gamble.

Or maybe in a worst case scenario (galloping inflation COULD trigger an economic collapse akin to the Great Depression) a cellar full of canned food and bags of rice? I could live for a long time on canned food and boiled rice. Canned chili con carne is not great but it makes a reasonable meal when tipped on top of cooked rice. In my student days I once lived for 6 months on a big paper sack of skimmed milk powder. Oats for making porridge breakfasts are cheap and sustaining too. Maybe keep a goat for the milk. You don't even have to cook rolled oats. Just soak it for a while and it becomes muesli.

I myself have always kept a relatively small cash float -- even though I live in Australia and Australian governments have never been as irresponsible as Mr Obama. Australian dollars have already risen substantially against the American dollar as the smarties realize what is happening. Australia is run on the old-fashioned monetary principles that America USED to follow.

The US is hurtling toward out-of-control inflation while the political class tries to convince the hoi polloi that inflation is not a problem. Government-generated CPI data show tame inflation. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke claims deflation, not inflation, is the danger to the economy.

Despite government propaganda every shopper knows inflation is already a serious problem. The Financial Times presented annual price increases for various items, which included the following:

* heating oil +41%
* copper +59%
* silver +91%
* palladium +212%
* corn +91%
* wheat +79%
* cotton +143%

These data indicate that inflation is upon us. The magnitude of these numbers suggests hyperinflation.

The effects of inflation are not limited to the US and not limited to rising prices. Spiraling food costs have been cited as a factor in political upheaval in several countries, including most recently Egypt. The US Federal Reserve, although it may be argued to be a primary driver, is not alone as a producer of inflation. As pointed out by the Daily Bell there is plenty of blame to go around:

"Central banks have pumped something like US$20 to US$50 TRILLION into the world's economy to try to reinflate economies that collapsed in 2008".

The divergence between what governments want you to believe regarding inflation and what is painfully obvious grows larger with time. In the US obvious anomalies in government reports, especially unemployment and claims that an economic recovery is underway, make the reports incredible. Few citizens believe that the recession ended 19 months ago. That claim contradicts what they experience every day.

The Federal Reserve has tripled the money supply in an effort to protect the banking system and the economy. Currently, most of this money sits in the banking system as excess reserves which could be lent out, potentially at ten-fold leverage. At some point, these banks will lend these funds out. Then, via the Daily Bell, the Fed must take decisive and rapid action:

As this currency begins, finally, to circulate, price inflation must result, unless such money is quickly removed. Central bankers have continuously claimed that excess currency can be removed from the larger economy before it does its inflationary damage ...

Inflationary damage is already evident as per the numbers above. Unless the removal of these excess funds occurs in a timely fashion, the country runs the risk of hyperinflation.

Mr. Bernanke has stated on many occasions that he is prepared to withdraw these funds before they can create damage. It is not clear what Mr. Bernanke considers damage, but one might think that rising food and energy costs might qualify. Surely uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt should qualify, if in fact they can be attributed to Central Bank policies.

The reality is that Mr. Bernanke is unable to reverse the time bomb he has placed in the banking system. To suggest otherwise reflects either duplicity or unlikely ignorance on the part of Mr. Bernanke. He will not be able to withdraw the funds he put into the banking system



Big price rises starting to filter through at the retail level too

An inflationary tide is beginning to ripple through America's supermarkets and restaurants, threatening to end the tamest year of food pricing in nearly two decades. Prices of staples including milk, beef, coffee, cocoa and sugar have risen sharply in recent months. And food makers and retailers including McDonald's Corp., Kellogg Co. and Kroger Co. have begun to signal that they'll try to make consumers shoulder more of the higher costs for ingredients.

Stater Bros. has seen the prices it pays for cereal rise 5% in recent months. The chain has passed about half the increase on to consumers while making up for the rest by trimming other expenses, such as what it spends on cell phones and delivery truck tires.

Kraft Foods Inc., Sara Lee Corp. and General Mills Inc. already have said they'll raise prices on certain items. Starbucks Corp. backtracked on an August announcement that it would hold coffee prices steady, saying in September it would boost prices of larger and hard-to-make drinks. This week, cereal maker Kellogg hinted that it will be raising prices, without disclosing specifics.

Grocery chains Safeway Inc. and Kroger have said they'll pass supplier increases along to consumers.

Domino's Pizza Inc. is letting consumers decide whether they're willing to pay more. The company is offering two medium, two-topping pizzas for $5.99 each but has recently offered the option of converting one of them to a premium pizza, with more toppings, for an extra $2—a price increase, in effect.

At BJ's Restaurants, a casual-dining chain, prices early next year will be 2.5% higher—but only after upgrading its table settings and decor. "In this business, you can't just raise prices without improving the overall dining experience," BJ's Chief Financial Officer Greg Levin said in October.

Food prices are rising faster than overall inflation. The consumer price index for all items minus food and energy rose 0.8% over the year to September, the lowest 12-month increase since March 1961, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The food index rose 1.4%, however. The U.S. Agricultural Department is predicting overall food inflation of about 2% to 3% next year.

Worries aren't all on the low-end. Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, a three-unit chain in the Chicago area, said that in the last four months, the price it pays for a New York Strip steak rose to $23 per pound from $19 per pound. It's reluctant to pass that cost along. "I think there's a ceiling on how much people are willing to pay for a meal and for an individual piece of steak," said Gregg Horan, Gibsons' director of operations.

Ken Harris, a consumer foods-marketing consultant with Kantar Retail, said some food makers are targeting specific, low price points at retail—such as $1—and reconfiguring package sizes and products to fit the price.

That can backfire when commodity costs rise swiftly. Early this year, Ben Tabatchnick, founder of Tabatchnick Fine Foods Inc., a maker of high-end frozen soups, decided to release a new line designed with a suggested retail price lower than his other products. The 11.5-ounce soups, which started appearing in stores nationwide in October, are smaller than his typical 15-ounce Tabatchnick-brand products and carry a price tag of $1.99.

But in the last two months, Mr. Tabatchnick says his costs for vegetable oils, sugar, dried beans and other ingredients jumped 20% to 30%. "It's going to reduce the [profit] margin dramatically on the product," he says. "We're stuck."



He hasn't got a clue

Think back a long time ago. Stretch your mind, and go all the way back to January 21st, 2011. On that day, the President of the United States spoke to an audience at a General Electric plant in Schenectady, NY and said, among other things: "We're going back to Thomas Edison's principles… We're going to build stuff and invent stuff..(thunderous applause)."

Yes, President Barack Obama said that. And never mind that one of Thomas Edison’s most profound inventions, the light bulb, is about to be outlawed by the Obama Administration. In a rather uncharacteristic moment of enthusiasm and support of for-profit American enterprise, the President made an appeal to American ingenuity and ambition and seemed to conclude that right now we need more of both.

But fast-forward a bit to last Monday, February 7th. That’s when the President addressed an audience of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (again) and had a rather different attitude towards American success.

Speaking of the improving balance sheets at many American companies, President Obama stated: “The benefits can’t just translate into greater bonuses and profits for those at the top. They have to be shared by American workers, who need to know that expanding trade and opening markets will lift their standards of living, as well as your bottom line…”

“Share the profits” in 2011 sounds eerily like “spread the wealth around,” circa 2008. In both cases, the President was speaking the language of economic collectivism – “socialism” being the more loosely defined term of choice for this type of rhetoric – and it should be disturbing to every American.

Barack Obama is, of course, facing enormous pressure from the American electorate over the high unemployment rate. After all he’s done to try and “fix” the economy – an $800 billion economic “stimulus” bill, the “Making Home Affordable” mortgage fix, a credit card “reform” law, and of course his landmark healthcare “reform” law – unemployment still remains unacceptably high, even by his own assessment.

The President’s frustration with unemployment is understandable. But his contemptuous tone for American businesses is counterproductive, even for his own pursuits. “Start hiring, or else” is not the way to incentivize businesses to assume financial risks and liabilities (and hiring new workers entails risks and liabilities). It doesn’t incentivize anybody to “build stuff and invent stuff” either, yet President Obama seems not to understand this.

But even if one does not try to see things from the business owner’s vantage point, consider how different the President’s language is in this instance, from the common language of the marketplace. For the record, American workers generally don’t just “get some of the profits” from their employer. Workers perform certain tasks for an employer, and in return workers receive a wage. Employers benefit from the labor of a worker, and in return pay the wage. And investors, those who freely choose to take risks with their money to allow a business to try and grow wealth with it, are paid a dividend if and when the company is profitable.

Historically, Americans have celebrated the fact that in our economic system one can “move up.” If you work hard and produce for your employer, it is likely that you can garner opportunities to earn more (either that or take your skills and talents to another place of business that can offer you a “better deal”).

President Obama, however, seems to assume that those at the top of a business enterprise - the managers, the executives, the owners- have necessarily achieved their position of authority by unjust means and they need to be punished for their achievement. This, by the way, is very similar to the economic views of our President’s father, Barack Hussein Obama Senior, who while working in the communist government of Kenya once proposed a 100% taxation rate for the “richest” in his country.

But his “share your profits” and “start hiring or else” moment aside, just days before his speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce our President took the hostility towards business owners to an entirely new level. In what has been described as an “unprecedented” and “controversial” maneuver, the White House set up a program earlier this month with the U.S. Department of Labor and the American Bar Association, wherein workers who feel they have been treated wrongly by their employer can call a toll-free number, and get assistance from an attorney who will represent them against their employer on a contingency basis.

Some people, including our President and Vice President, see this as a pathway to “justice” for middle class workers, yet to believe this one must assume that every “complaint” against an employer is legitimate. Interestingly, the Obama Administration does not appear prepared to offer this same kind of “free legal help” to business owners- which again takes us back to the President’s very hostile assumptions about business owners and leaders in the first place.

“Share your profits” and “sue your boss” are not policies for economic growth. As long as this kind of hostility continues to emanate from the White House, the President’s need for more hiring will likely go unfulfilled.



Obamacare Waivers Mount, Still

Why does anybody need a waiver to a law that’s been ruled unconstitutional? We don’t know; ask the Department of Health and Human Services. On Wednesday, HHS updated its Web site to show that it has now granted 915 waivers to Obamacare’s requirements on benefit limits in health insurance plans. The waivers allow employers to continue offering plans with annual limits on the dollar amount of benefits provided. These so-called mini-med plans are an affordable option for many workers, but they would become unavailable without the waivers.

The waivers are certainly good for the 2.4 million folks who still get to choose an affordable insurance plan, but what about the other 99 percent of Americans with private insurance? If it’s generally acknowledged that this provision makes health insurance more expensive, why not let all consumers have the option of getting mini-med plans?

The answer, of course, is that if everybody could escape from government-designed health insurance, then everybody would. And besides, the HHS Web site explains, “Annual limits waivers are temporary. In 2014 annual dollar limits will be prohibited and mini-med plans will no longer be necessary.” Viola. Since they’re prohibited, nobody will want them anymore.

At National Review, Philip Hamburger notices that the practice of giving favored constituents waivers to burdensome laws bears a striking resemblance to the granting of dispensations during the Middle Ages. This practice once belonged to popes and kings, but was restricted heavily following the English Revolution of 1688. Further, notes Hamburger, the U.S. Constitution “did nothing to authorize delegation of the suspending power to the executive” which raises the question of whether such waivers are even constitutional.

Of course, Judge Roger Vinson in Florida recently ruled Obamacare unconstitutional over a different provision of the law (the individual mandate), and if that ruling holds up on appeal, then nobody will need a waiver anyway.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Abraham Lincoln 'tried to deport slaves' to British colonies

Abraham Lincoln’s reputation as the great champion of America’s slaves has taken a battering amid new evidence that the revered president wanted to send many of them to toil in British colonies in the Caribbean.

Academics Phillip Magness and Sebastian Page claim that documents uncovered in British archives show that Lincoln was rather less enamoured by the prospect of a racially-united America than is often assumed.

The 16th U.S. president is widely lionised in the U.S. for winning the American Civil War for the Union and bringing an end to slavery.

Although earlier historians have conceded that he did propose sending some of the freed slaves to new colonies, they have dismissed it as a ruse designed to placate racist voters. However, according to evidence from the British legation in Washington that has turned up at the National Archives in Kew, the president was deadly serious about black colonisation right up until his assassination in 1865.

Mr Magness and Mr Page say that just after Lincoln announced the freedom of three quarters of America’s four million slaves with his historic 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, he authorised plans to set up freedmen’s settlements in what is now Belize and Guyana.

And even as black soldiers were dying for the Union cause and a mission to send 453 freed slaves to colonise a pest-ridden island off Haiti met with a disastrous small pox outbreak, Mr Lincoln was secretly authorising British officials to recruit what could have been hundreds of thousands of blacks for a new life on the sugar and cotton plantations of Central America.

Papers show Lincoln personally met agents for the then-colonies of British Honduras and British Guiana and authorised them to go into the camps of the recently-freed slaves and find recruits. One of the agents, John Hodge, assured the British ambassador that 'it was [Lincoln’s] honest desire that this should go ahead'.

Lincoln also considered a plan to get thousands of black soldiers out of the way after the civil war ended by sending them down to Panama to build a canal.

The new evidence, contained in a forthcoming book entitled Colonisation After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement, is causing ructions in the U.S. over the legacy of its most revered president. Some neo-Nazi websites have seized on it as evidence of Lincoln's anti-black inclinations.

However, Mr Page, a Fellow of The Queen’s College, Oxford, insisted that it was wrong to conclude Lincoln was a racist. Blacks had been lynched during recent race riots in New York and the president was motivated by a fear that the freeing of black slaves would cause serious racial strife, said Mr Page.

In addition, Lincoln always made clear the emigration would be voluntary, he said. 'I don’t think it was ever about any personal dislike for blacks,' Mr Page said.

'That said, that’s not to let him off the hook because if you’re backing black colonisation you’re kind of putting your blessing on racism. But he saw strife coming.'

In the end, records show that Lincoln’s plans were foiled, largely because of the reluctance of the British government who feared the pro-slavery South might win the Civil War and sue Britain for its lost slaves. At the same time, the U.S. Congress was upset about the failure of the Haiti project and another attempt to colonise land in Panama.

America is sensitive to accusations that it has ever behaved as a colonial power, a label it prefers to stick on Britain and other European countries. Mr Magness admitted that historians had 'tended to downplay' Lincoln’s commitment to colonisation as it did not 'mesh' with his image as the Great Emancipator of the slaves.



Indian movies versus Islam

Ten years and two wars after 9/11, America’s struggle against Islamist terrorism is nowhere close to succeeding. If a superpower like America can’t vanquish the scourge, is there any force in the world that can?

There might well be: Bollywood, India’s flamboyant film industry. Just as the Beatles and rock ’n’ roll helped bring down the Kremlin, Bollywood might prove to be the undoing of Osama bin Laden and his noxious brand of Islamic fundamentalism.

Conventional wisdom holds that Communism collapsed because America ruined the Soviet economy by embroiling it in an arms race that it couldn’t afford. In fact, the West won the Cold War less because it pointed nuclear missiles at the Soviet people, and more because it won their hearts and minds. And in this it was aided by its music and pop culture, which gave it unrivaled soft power. It made young people feel that while they were huddled behind the Iron Curtain in a world of drab conformity, next door one helluva of a party was going on.

No less an authority than Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev acknowledged to Paul McCartney that the Beatles paved the way for perestroika and glasnost — his vain attempts to save Communism by reforming it.

But can Western pop culture do the trick against radical Islam? Unlikely. American culture, despite its alleged ubiquity, doesn’t have the same transformative power in Eastern countries that don’t share the West’s ethnic, religious and cultural background. MTV and Hollywood are certainly watched in the Arab world — but their appeal is more voyeuristic than aspirational; it stems from a curiosity about how exotic people in alien countries live, not from any inclination to emulate them. But Bollywood’s allure, rooted in shared heritage, values and political issues, is different. And India’s economic success makes its pop culture even more compelling.

The Middle East is Bollywood’s third-largest overseas market, and growing so rapidly that many Bollywood movies now hold premieres in Dubai on opening night. A Universal Studios-like Bollywood theme park is expected to be a major draw for regional tourists.

But the Muslim country most in the grip of Bollywood mania is Pakistan, India’s cultural twin in every respect but religion. As with the Beatles under Communism, the more that aggressive Pakistani authorities have tried to purge Bollywood from their soil, the more its popularity has grown. During the country’s four-decade-long ban on Indian movies, Pakistanis smuggled VHS tapes and installed satellite dishes. The ban was finally lifted in 2008 — and the Bollywood scene in Pakistan exploded. Not only have Bollywood movies been playing to packed houses, but Indian movie stars — despite Islam’s taboo against idol worship — are treated like demigods. The latest fad among Pakistan’s nouveau riche is Bollywood-themed weddings in which the bride and groom dress like a movie’s stars and hold their reception in elaborate tents patterned after the movie set.

Both Hollywood and Bollywood idealize true love that conquers all. But the obstacles that Hollywood’s lovers face — affairs, commitment-phobia, previous lovers — have nothing to do with the concerns of people in traditional Muslim countries. They can relate far better to Bollywood’s paramours, whose chief impediments are familial demands, given that arranged marriage is still a revered institution in that part of the world. Bollywood certainly encourages young lovers to follow their hearts — but by convincing their families of the rightness of their cause, not by turning their backs on them. A typical Bollywood movie ends with lovers returning home after tying the knot.

But there is another reason for Bollywood’s appeal in the Islamic world. Since its inception, some of Bollywood’s biggest stars have been Muslims. Currently, the industry’s three top male leads are Muslims — all with the last name Khan. Bollywood’s most respected music composer, A.R. Rahman, who won an Oscar for his score in “Slumdog Millionaire,” is also a Muslim, as are many of Bollywood’s best lyric and script writers.

The success of these Muslims has profound implications for the emergence of a moderate Islam. They have a very different attitude toward their faith from the one prescribed by radical Islamists. Some of them are more observant than others (movie gossip circles are always abuzz over which member of the Khan troika is more serious about his faith). But ultimately their faith is about their spiritual elevation, not Taliban-style subordination. For example, “Slumdog”’s Rahman has composed qawwalis, the devotional songs embraced by Sufis, who practice a mystical version of Islam. The best Sufi music now comes from the Indian subcontinent, partly because of Muslims in Bollywood. By showcasing these artists, Bollywood demonstrates to Muslims everywhere that the demands of modernity don’t require them to abandon their traditions. Islamists understand this well, which is why they have been known to launch vicious broadsides against Bollywood.

America so far has relied mostly on hard power to defeat the Islamist threat. This strategy depends on it killing more terrorists than it is producing. If its calculus of attrition doesn’t pan out, it won’t mean that there is nothing left to resist Islamist extremism. The soft power of Bollywood will slowly but surely do its work.



Progressives are Arrogant

Progressivism is all about arrogance. And that arrogance manifests itself in the various policy prescriptions that progressive politicians routinely profess from their high government offices in Washington, D.C.

These progressive bureaucrats and politicians in Washington love telling people how to do things. They think up regulations all day long to try and direct your life in the direction that they see fit.

Just look at Michelle Obama. She regularly preaches to all Americans the type of diet everyone should maintain. Of course, she doesn’t have to follow her own recommended diet, but the rest of us should. How does she make this so? She gets a bill passed that requires the FDA to regulate our meals more.

Progressives are also naturally inclined to be always worried about myths and magic. Need an example? Net neutrality.

This regulation from the progressive wing of the Obama administration comes to us from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) where the Chairman, Julius Genachowski, must be sitting around in his office all day long worrying about things that aren’t happening.

You see, the regulations known as “net neutrality” is derived out of the fear that Internet service providers (ISP’s) will suddenly start playing “nanny” and regulating the websites that you visit. Of course, there have been virtually no documented instances of this happening, but the regulating progressive bureaucrats must regulate anyway. Currently, the FCC is exploring how to implement such net neutrality regulations on the rest of us.

Fear and magic are the driving forces behind progressive policy making. If something requires magic to occur, then it will be regulated because according to a progressive, it could possibly occur. It matters little difference to them that magic does not exist.

Just look at the arguments that politicians routinely threw around following the extension of what is known as the “Bush tax cuts.” Many progressive politicians seriously argued that by voting for the extension of the existing tax code, they were enacting new and even lower tax rates. Of course that is not true, but it did not stop them from committing a little rhetoric magic. Politicians suggesting that they had lowered your taxes could be found all over Washington, D.C. in the aftermath of that vote.

The progressive mindset lurks in both parties in Washington, D.C.. Government nannies and worrywarts always emerge to “fix” the wrongs of the world. While their fixes never seem to work, there is never a shortage of these progressive experts to tell the rest of us how to do things.

What is most surprising is that we are even allowed to vote anymore. Progressive politicians have had their hands on the levers of power for quite some time, and during that time they have not found a single thing in society that they could trust a private citizen to do without the help of the government. But when it comes to voting, at least they haven’t touched that. Yet.



'I Didn't Raise Taxes Once': Refreshing the President's memory

Bill O'Reilly's Fox interview with President Obama on Sunday was fascinating, and not merely because Mr. Obama made clear he's an ardent fan of these pages. What really caught our attention was the President's claim that "I didn't raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years."

The Presidency is demanding, and with the Egypt mess and his other duties, perhaps Mr. Obama has forgotten some of his tax achievements. Allow us to refresh his memory. In his historic health-care bill, for example, there is the new $27 billion "fee" on drug companies that is already in effect. Next year, device manufacturers will get hit to the tune of $20 billion, and heath insurers will pay $60 billion starting in 2014—all of which are de facto tax increases because these collections will be passed on to consumers as higher costs. Of course, these are merely tax increases on business.

As for tax increases on individuals, perhaps he forgot the health-care bill's new 0.9 percentage point increase in the Medicare payroll tax for families making over $250,000 and singles over $200,000. That tax increase takes effect in 2013, as will the application of what will be a 3.8% Medicare surtax (up from 2.9% today) to "unearned income" for the first time. This is a tax hike on investment and interest income, which will reduce the incentive to save and invest.

Mr. Obama also told Mr. O'Reilly that he hasn't moved to the "center" since November's Democratic election defeat, saying "I'm the same guy." Save for a couple of tactical retreats that he couldn't avoid, we agree with him. As the President said recently in the State of the Union, he's going to insist on raising taxes again on people making over $200,000 when his deal with Republicans in Congress expires in 2012. Definitely the same guy.



What are we saving in Afghanistan?

Australian conservative Hal G.P. Colebatch is re-evaluating

It has recently been reported from Afghanistan that a one-legged Afghan Red Cross worker and physiotherapist, Said Musa, 45, is shortly to be hanged by the government, or what passes for the government, for having converted to Christianity.

No defense lawyer will represent him. Some were reported to have dropped the case after receiving death threats. He has been held for about eight months in Kabul prison and reportedly tortured.

He was arrested last May while trying to find sanctuary in the German Embassy following renewed waves of persecution of Christians. He is said to have been offered a reprieve if he denied Christianity but has refused to do this. All this has been known in the West for some time...

What are we doing allying in war with these barbarians? What evidence have they given us that they are actually a better government than the Taliban would be? How does propping them up as a government in Afghanistan, even if we win the war there, benefit us or humanity?

It is hard to see any need at the present time to spend our soldiers' lives in defense of a regime that stinks to high heaven of vile savagery, a regime which plainly cares nothing for our values and plainly cares nothing even for what we think of it, and which in fact shows by its deeds that it regards the Judeo-Christian West and its ideas and values as abomination and a mortal enemy.

More here

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Guess How Ugly The U.S. Unemployment Rate Would Be At 2000 Participation Levels

The participation rate is the number of people in jobs plus the number looking for a job. Conditions are so bad in the USA at the moment that a lot of people have given up looking for work. That reduces the participation rate and -- crazily -- makes the unemployment figures look better than they are: Because only those "participating" are counted

The decrease in the participation rate in the U.S. economy has left our understanding of what the real unemployment rate is a little cloudy. The latest unemployment report showed huge revisions, but little reality, as to where we really stand.

Albert Edwards of Societe Generale has put together this chart to provide a little context. It shows what the U.S. unemployment number would look life if we were at the peak participation rate of 67%, which occurred around 2000.

At that participation rate, unemployment would be about 4 percentage points higher than the current headline figure of 9%. Edwards says that 4% is the equivalent of 6.7 million more unemployed people.

So if the participation rate increased 3% (from its current 64% to 67%), unemployment would actually be 13%. That gap is partially made up of long-term, structurally unemployed construction workers left behind after the housing bust, and is a significant number.



What Obama didn’t say in his sermon to the Chamber of Commerce

In his recent sermon to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Barack Obama came across as the most pedestrian, pedantic, preachy, and professorial president since Woodrow Wilson left Princeton to go into politics and eventually the White House. His ivory-tower comments accomplished the Herculean task of making George W. Bush look smart by comparison and have sullied the reputations of his alma maters of Columbia and Harvard.

He was an embarrassment to himself, to his supporters, and to all graduates of Columbia and Harvard. It was even more embarrassing when you consider what he didn’t say.

First, he didn’t mention the good news that manufacturing output in the USA has increased 120 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1970.

Much of this achievement was the result of productivity improvements; that is, producing more with fewer people. Approximately 19 million Americans were employed in manufacturing in 1970, versus about 12 million today, for a decline of 36.8 percent. It sounds counterintuitive, but such productivity gains are necessary for higher wages and societal wealth.

The problem is that new manufacturing businesses and factories aren’t coming on line fast enough to take up the slack in manufacturing employment caused by productivity gains. There are many reasons for this, but Obama didn’t address the following ones.

* The USA leads the world in the ratio of lawyers to total population. For example, the USA has 281 lawyers per 100,000 people, while France has 30 per 100,000 people. Obama is a lawyer, and so is half of Congress. All of these lawyers and lawyer-politicians excel at driving businesses and factories offshore with excessive litigation and regulations.

* If the growth in government employment at the state and local levels had kept pace with population growth since 1946 instead of exceeding it, there would be 12.4 million fewer government workers today. Coincidentally, this number is about equal to the number of manufacturing workers who have lost their jobs due to productivity gains. Or maybe it isn’t a coincidence. Capital that is taken by the government for excess public-sector employment is capital that can’t be invested in new businesses and plants.

* Measured by stagnant SAT scores and a huge increase in per-pupil K-12 spending over the last 50 years, the productivity of public schools has declined by 70%. Universities have seen similar declines in productivity, due to a flood of student loans and grants, which remove the incentive for colleges to do more with less.

* It’s a well-known fact that most American students are deficient in math and science and are taking easy majors in college instead of majoring in science and engineering. But even students with the intellect and academic achievement to major in science and engineering are choosing more lucrative disciplines, especially finance. For example, five percent of Harvard undergraduates majored in finance in the 1960s, versus 20 percent now. They are going where the profits are. In the 1970s and 1980s, finance companies accounted for about 15 percent of all U.S. profits. By 2005, they accounted for 25 percent.

* Much of the finance industry operates as a government-sanctioned cartel, with profits virtually guaranteed by Federal Reserve policies and the real and implied backing of the federal government in the event of a financial meltdown. Obama preaches about obscene salaries and the need for companies to share their profits, but he is in bed with the cartel and embraces corporatism instead of true free-market capitalism.

* His selection of General Electric chief executive Jeffrey Immelt to be his business guru is telling. GE is one of the largest nonblank financial institutions in the country, a result of taking cash from its industrial businesses for decades to fund its financial arm of GE Capital. During the recent financial meltdown, GE Capital was able to issue billions of dollars in new debt at below-market interest rates because the debt was backed by the federal government’s Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program--or more accurately, it was backed by you and other taxpayers. Even the industrial side of GE engages in corporatism by lobbying for subsidies for “green” initiatives.

* Obama used his political connections to land a $200,000 job for his wife Michelle in public relations at a Chicago hospital when they lived in the Windy City. Later as president, he lambasted the profits and executive salaries of the health care industry, an industry that is half-socialist and half-corporatist.

In closing, it’s difficult to decide what’s worse: what Obama said to the Chamber of Commerce or what he didn’t say. Either way, he should have worn a black uniform during his address in honor of Mussolini, whose corporatism he emulates.



Billions spent on programs without knowing if they work

One of Washington's biggest lies about federal spending will be endlessly repeated in coming weeks by President Obama, congressional Democrats, special interest advocates and the liberal mainstream media. The myth is that the federal budget really cannot be cut except on the margins because government programs are managed efficiently, with minimal waste, fraud and abuse, and they deliver essential services that cannot be provided any other way.

Two reports focusing on federal job training programs -- one from the Government Accountability Office and the other from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. -- that were made public Wednesday put the lie to such claims.

Nine federal agencies simultaneously operated at least 47 work force training programs at a cost of $18 billion in 2009. That total represented a $5 billion increase since 2003, thanks to added funding from Obama's economic stimulus program. Here are some examples from among many Coburn cited on how those tax dollars were spent:

* Grants to an admitted thief: In West Virginia, Martin Bowling -- an admitted thief with a long rap sheet -- was the main beneficiary of a $100,000 federal worker training grant, and was put up for another federal job training grant worth $1 million by his mother, a state official at the time.

* Tampa Bay binge: The Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance in Florida used federal job training funds for lunches at Hooters, valet parking for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (topped with $9 dollar slices of cheesecake), $20 delivery fees for cupcakes, $443.99 on flowers, 300 koozie drink holders and more.

* $4 for bureaucrats, $1 for workers: A Montana trade union that was supposed to manage a half-million-dollar federal job retraining grant spent four times as much on salaries as it did training displaced workers.

* Ghost employees: A U.S. Department of Labor official approved fraudulent invoices for ghost employees in exchange for cash bribes and a vehicle paid for by a Jobs Corps contractor.

* Job training executives frequent casinos during work hours: Iowa work force executives conspired to enrich themselves with $1.8 million in bonuses -- paid for with federal funds -- while engaging in sexual relationships and frequenting casinos during work.

Do any of the 47 programs achieve their goals? The government doesn't know, according to GAO: "Only five programs have had an impact study completed since 2004 to assess whether outcomes resulted from the program and not some other cause. Almost all federal employment and training programs, including those with broader missions such as multipurpose block grants, overlap with at least one other program in that they provide similar services to similar populations."

These results emphasize the truth of Coburn's observation that "we create new programs with great fanfare, then never bother to measure their effectiveness." So politicians and others who claim in the weeks ahead that a $4 trillion annual federal budget can't be cut by hundreds of billions of dollars simply aren't telling the truth.



Deliberate Leftist blindness

The arrest of abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell at his grisly Philadelphia abortuary “wasn’t about abortion.” Feminists and other liberals insist there’s no association and if you say there is, you’re a hateful, misogynist bigot who would deny women their constitutional rights.

Gosnell and others are charged with murdering seven babies by cutting their spines with surgical scissors. Clinic workers familiar with Gosnell’s habits testified to the grand jury that he killed hundreds of babies by this method or just by “slitting their necks.” He’d been doing this for decades and would be still if federal agents hadn’t burst into his clinic. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“The investigation began last February, after federal and state drug agents and Philadelphia police raided the clinic at 3801 Lancaster Avenue on suspicion that Gosnell was illegally dispensing narcotic painkillers. (The federal drug-trafficking investigation is ongoing.) What they found, according to the report, was ‘filthy, deplorable, and disgusting’: Blood on the floor. The stench of urine. Cat feces on the stairs. Semi-conscious women moaning in the waiting or recovery rooms, covered with blood-stained blankets. Broken equipment. Blocked or locked exits.”

Abuses at the clinic were reported over and over for decades, but regulatory agencies ignored them. For some macabre purpose, Gosnell preserved amputated feet of the babies he killed. There were lines of them on shelves throughout the “clinic.” Investigators found little corpses in freezers. One worker at the clinic said Gosnell tried to joke as a baby squirmed while he cut its throat saying it acted like a chicken with its head cut off. How could abortion clinic inspectors fail to act all those years? The Sargent Shultz routine of politically-correct liberals in government and the mainstream media for whom abortion is sacrosanct: “I see nothing. I know nothing.”

If you can believe abortion Doctor Gosnell isn’t about abortion, you can believe radical Muslim Doctor Malik Hasan shooting forty-three US soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas while shouting “Allahu Akbar!” wasn’t about Islam. Liberals insisted fifteen months ago when the massacre occurred that there was no association. If you still insist there was, you’re an intolerant, hateful, racist, Islamophobic bigot.

The denial reached absolutely unbelievable proportions. According to a report by US Senators Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins, the federal government knew Hasan exchanged emails regularly with radical imam Anwar Al Awlaki of al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula and ignored it. Fellow officers knew of his radical Muslim beliefs because he was anything but secretive about them, but he was not arrested. He was not imprisoned. He was not courtmartialed. No. He was promoted! He was actually promoted by politically-correct, multicultural officers afraid of giving offense to a Muslim. We’re talking about our senior military here in a state of war with radical Islam. If we’re afraid even of offending them, how are we going to defeat them?

As the Lieberman/Collins report puts it: "The officers who kept Hasan in the military and moved him steadily along knew full well of his problematic behavior . . . They collectively had sufficient information to have detected Hasan's radicalization to violent Islamic extremism but failed both to understand and to act on it.”

Are you with me so far? Okay. Let’s take it one step further. If you can believe Dr. Gosnell isn’t about abortion and Dr. Hasan isn’t about Islam, then you’ll also believe that hundreds of homosexual priests raping thousands of altar boys for decades wasn’t about homosexuality. If you still believe it was, you’re a hateful, homophobic bigot. In spite of report after report after report that upwards of forty percent of Catholic priests were homosexual and 85% of their victims were adolescent boys, the mainstream media outlets like The Boston Globe, which broke the story, insist homosexuality had nothing to do with it.

Abortion, multiculturalism, homosexuality. Are there three more sacred cows in politically-correct America? I don’t think so. Whenever they report on these things, we can expect our mainstream media’s Sargent Shultz routine to continue for as long as most Americans remain willing to accept it.



ObamaCare Is Starting to Unravel

The egg that is the president’s health care reform legislation is starting to crack. A court has ruled the bill unconstitutional. The Senate has moved to repeal by a huge margin the onerous paperwork nightmare the bill imposes on small businesses. More significantly, a select group of Democrat senators are looking for ways to legislatively roll back the individual mandate provisions of the law -- undermining key partisan unity that is keeping the law in place.

Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.), Joe Manchin (W.V.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) (aka the “vulnerable caucus”) -- all of whom are up for tough re-election battles in 2012 and who represent states Obama lost in 2008 -- are poised to give Republicans the votes necessary to decimate a major provision of the legislation.

Republicans are at a critical strategic juncture. Repeal of the individual mandate is like breaking a leg of a three-legged stool -- the chair will topple.

Facing the reality that outright repeal is not possible in the Senate this year, Republicans should begin breaking the bill up, forcing critical votes on its most unpopular provisions. The Senate vote on repealing the onerous 1099 provision on small businesses found 17 Democrats willing to defend the provision. Other provisions are harder to support.

It’s a strategy that has succeeded before. In 2000, Republicans tried to pass a major tax-cut bill to send to the president but had trouble getting it out of the House, due to unified Democrat opposition. Democrats railed against “tax cuts for the rich” and held together on the big package. Instead, the Republican leadership broke up the provisions of the bill and brought them to the floor individually.

Each provision passed with large number of Democrat votes -- the same provisions Democrats had voted against in the larger context. The time has come to do the same with health care. Start with the individual mandate. Then move on to rationing.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Obama's contempt for the constitution

An administration that has no respect for Congress, the courts or the Constitution has been found in contempt for reissuing a drilling moratorium that a U.S. district judge found overly broad.

The Obama administration's trouble with the courts has continued with a judge's ruling last week that the Interior Department's reinstating of a drilling moratorium followed by a de facto moratorium via an overly restrictive permitting process constituted contempt.

The administration had issued a drilling moratorium in May in waters deeper than 500 feet after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig off Louisiana that resulted in the spill of more than 4.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

In June, Martin Feldman of the Eastern District Court of Louisiana struck down Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's original moratorium, saying it was overkill based on flawed reasoning. "If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are?" Feldman asked in his ruling. "That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed and rather overbearing."

Feldman further asked: "Are all airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines?" The administration's answer still seems to be yes, as offshore oil rigs find their way to other shores, and communities dry up along with the oil business that sustained them.

So the administration went back, rearranged a few words and a few deck chairs, and reissued its moratorium. That one was officially lifted in October, although the permitting process, which mysteriously includes shallow-water wells, has had the effect of continuing the moratorium.

Feldman was not amused. "Each step the government took following the court's imposition of a preliminary injunction showcases its defiance," the judge said in his ruling. "Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the reimposition of a second moratorium . .. provides this court with clear and convincing evidence of its contempt."

Feldman even accused the administration of outright lying, pointing out that "at the hearing on the first moratorium, in response to a question by the court, the government's answer then was wholly at odds with the story of the misleading text change by a White House official, a story the government does not now dispute."

As we have noted, now-departing climate czar Carol Browner's office edited a May 27, 2010, report to President Obama by a panel of experts brought together by the administration to review offshore drilling safety. The report was altered to make it seem like the panelists supported the administration's six-month drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico when they did not.

It is not so much that the Obama administration differs with the law, but that it considers itself above it — even above the Constitution. Successive smack-downs by the courts on ObamaCare's health insurance mandate as unconstitutional are a result of its overreach. It's also being challenged in its use of EPA regulations to go around the will of Congress and the sovereignty of the states.

We remember last year's State of the Union address in which Obama lectured the justices of the Supreme Court sitting in front of him that they had "reversed a century of law" by lifting restrictions on corporate and union spending in federal elections. Justice Samuel Alito visibly shook his head and mouthed the words, "Not true."

As Feldman noted in his original ruling, the drilling moratorium was groundless on both the law and the facts. The moratorium is driven by ideology and not safety. Its purpose was to further the administration's war on domestic energy production, including a seven-year ban on offshore drilling off both coasts and the eastern Gulf.

It includes putting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off-limits and designating oil- and gas-rich Alaskan waters as critical polar bear habitat in the face of an exploding bear population. It continues to place energy-rich lands in the West off-limits in a nation starved for energy and jobs.

In 2012 the American people should also hold the Obama administration in contempt.



Passenger Trains: Clearly the Change We've Been Waiting For

At last month's State of the Union, President Obama said America needs more passenger trains. How does he know? For years, politicians promised that more of us will want to commute by train, but it doesn't happen. People like their cars. Some subsidized trains cost so much per commuter that it would be cheaper to buy them taxi rides.

The grand schemes of the politicians fail and fail again. By contrast, the private sector, despite harassment from government, gives us better stuff for less money -- without central planning. It's called a spontaneous order. Lawrence Reed, of the Foundation for Economic Education, explains it this way:

"Spontaneous order is what happens when you leave people alone -- when entrepreneurs ... see the desires of people ... and then provide for them.

"They respond to market signals, to prices. Prices tell them what's needed and how urgently and where. And it's infinitely better and more productive than relying on a handful of elites in some distant bureaucracy."

This idea is not intuitive. Good things will happen if we leave people alone? Some of us are stupid -- Obama and his advisers are smart. It's intuitive to think they should make decisions for the wider group.

"No," Reed responded. "In a market society, the bits of information that are needed to make things work -- to result in the production of things that people want -- are interspersed throughout the economy. What brings them together are forces of supply and demand, of changing prices." Prices are information.

The personal-computer revolution is a great example of spontaneous order.

"No politician, no bureaucrat, no central planner, no academic sat behind a desk before that happened, before Silicon Valley emerged and planned it," Reed added. "It happened because of private entrepreneurs responding to market opportunities. And one of the great virtues of that is if they don't get it right, they lose their shirts. The market sends a signal to do something else. When politicians get it wrong, you and I pay the price.

"We have this engrained habit of thinking that if somebody plans it, if somebody lays down the law and writes the rules, order will follow," he continued. "And the absence of those things will somehow lead to chaos. But what you often get when you try to enforce mandates and restrictions from a distant bureaucracy is planned chaos, as the great economist Ludwig on Mises once said. We have to rely more upon what emerges spontaneously because it represents individuals' personal tastes and choices, not those of distant politicians."

Another way to understand spontaneous order is to think about the simple pencil. Leonard Read, who established the Foundation for Economic Education, wrote an essay titled, "I, Pencil," which began, "(N)o single person on the face of this earth knows how to make (a pencil)."

That sounds absurd -- but think about it. No one person can make a pencil. Vast numbers of people participate in making the materials that become a pencil: the wood, the brass, the graphite, the rubber for the eraser, the paint and so on. Then go back another step, to the people who make the saws and machinery that are used to make the materials that go into a pencil. And before that, people mine iron to make the steel that makes the machines that make the materials that go into a pencil. It's all without central direction, without these people even knowing they are all working ultimately to make pencils. Thousands of people mining, melting, cutting, assembling, packing, selling, shipping -- and yet you can buy pencils for a few pennies each.

That's spontaneous order, and it's replicated with every product we buy, no matter how complex. The mind boggles.



Planned Parenthood, Spiked

Those censorious liberals who truly hate the very existence of the Fox News Channel denounce it for being a political organization, not truly a news network. Behind that line is decades of liberals being able to strangle, smother and spike news stories they didn't like. Liberals defined what "news" was and what it wasn't. They're still at it today.

Take the pro-life group Live Action. On Feb. 1, they released shocking videos showing what they found when they brought hidden cameras into Planned Parenthood clinics, with a man and woman posing as pimp and prostitute. An office manager was taped telling the "pimp" how to evade the law, such as lying about prostitutes' ages if they were children 14 or over. Any younger, and the clinic would be obligated to report to the authorities. "We want as little information as possible," she said conspiratorially.

That matches very nicely with the mindsets of ABC, CBS and NBC, which absolutely refused to acknowledge the existence of this damning video. (Fox News did cover it, and so did CNN.)

The same gaggle of broadcast TV watchdogs that has mustered endless outrage over the notion that the Catholic Church would fail to alert authorities about sexual abuse of minors is utterly uninterested in the sexual abuse of minors when someone more pleasing to secular progressives -- like that abortion factory Planned Parenthood -- is caught on camera.

Live Action has been exposing Planned Parenthood since 2007. You would think that by 2011, their clinic personnel would be more careful. It is just the opposite. Their disinterest toward statutory rape and child sexual abuse is shocking.

The latest Live Action exposes began with a visit to a clinic in Perth Amboy, N.J. The office manager advised the "pimp" that underage girls should lie about their age to get around any troublesome questions about statutory rape. She also insisted an underage girl is "entitled to care without mom knowing what the hell is going on."

This woman has now been fired. But lying and squashing information is apparently Planned Parenthood policy. Another video broke, this time from Falls Church, Va., where a clinic worker told the man, "We don't necessarily look at the legal status, like I said. Abortion appointments do require photo ID. It's nothing as far as records. It's just photo ID that's ever going to be required."

In Roanoke, Va., a Planned Parenthood staffer suggested the man consider going to the Health Department with his little girls, since it would be cheaper and easier: "They're discreet. They're confidential. They, you know, don't tell people what's going on, because -- frankly -- it's nobody's business."

The video exposes continued. In Charlottesville, Va., another clinic worker sympathized with the pimp: "Anybody here can help you. Everything here is confidential. We can't give any information out."

The networks refused to acknowledge these stings. But it's not a matter of journalistic principle, objecting to hidden cameras. It's all about politics.




Job openings fall for second straight month: "Employers posted fewer job openings in December, the second straight month of declines. That's a sign hiring is still weak even as the economy is gaining strength. The Labor Department said Tuesday that employers advertised nearly 3.1 million jobs that month, a drop of almost 140,000 from November. That's the lowest total since September. Openings have risen by more than 700,000 since they bottomed out in July 2009, one month after the recession ended. That's an increase of 31 percent. But they are still far below the 4.4 million available jobs that were advertised in December 2007, when the recession began."

House seen blocking healthcare funds: "The U.S. House of Representatives is likely to vote to block funding for President Barack Obama's signature healthcare overhaul when it takes up a budget plan next week, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor said on Tuesday. "I expect to see one way or other the product coming out of the House to speak to that and to preclude any funding to be used for that," Cantor said at a news conference, referring to an effort to block implementation of the health-care law. House Republicans aim to pass a spending measure next week that would immediately cut at least $32 billion from the government's $3.7 trillion budget"

Probe clears Toyota electronics over runaways, lawsuits remain: "A U.S. government probe cleared Toyota Motor Corp's electronics of causing unintended acceleration, a big victory for the world's top automaker as it seeks to recover from the hit it took over runaway vehicle accidents. The findings vindicated Toyota's position that it had identified and fixed the only known safety problems with popular vehicles like the Camry by focusing on mechanical issues with accelerator pedals and the risk that floormats could trap the pedal in the open position."

IL: ACLU slams Chicago’s surveillance system: "A vast network of high-tech surveillance cameras that allows Chicago police to zoom in on a crime in progress and track suspects across the city is raising privacy concerns. Chicago's path to becoming the most-watched US city began in 2003 when police began installing cameras with flashing blue lights at high-crime intersections. The city has now linked more than 10,000 public and privately owned surveillance cameras in a system dubbed Operation Virtual Shield, according to a report published Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union."

The drug war is expanding: "There is no question that the war on drugs is a failure. In spite of decades of prohibition laws, threats of fines and/or imprisonments, and massive propaganda campaigns, drugs are available and affordable. The Mental Health Services Administration — a government agency — has reported that marijuana, ecstasy, and methamphetamine use has recently increased."

Regulation without representation: "Regulatory agencies enact more than 3,500 new regulations in an average year. A new federal rule hits the books roughly every two hours, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Compare that with Congress, which passes fewer than 200 pieces of legislation per year. Only Congress has the power to legislate in the American system of government, but Congress never actually votes on most regulations."

The Wallison dissent: "Wallison, as you may know, is one of the few experts wanting to put most of the blame for the crisis on government pressure on Freddie, Fannie, and the banks to reduce lending standards. One of the criticisms leveled at this view is that it is impossible to blame U.S. housing policy for foreign housing bubbles. As you can see, Wallison's comeback is that foreign housing bubbles did not produce as much financial devastation, because mortgage credit standards were not as heavily compromised as in the U.S."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Another wonderful story about the Gipper

The 100th anniversary of his birth has brought to the fore many stories about him. The one below is from "Dr Sanity", a female psychiatrist

I vividly recall the day I met President Reagan almost exactly 20 years ago. It was one of the saddest days of my life. I was at the Johnson Space Center memorial service for the Challenger astronauts on the Friday after the Challenger accident. The President had come to JSC to honor the fallen crew and to heal the nation.

As the crew surgeon for that mission, I accompanied the families of the crew to a private meeting with President and Mrs. Reagan before he spoke to the large crowd of employees and officials. I felt a little out of place at this private meeting, so I tried to stay off to the side as, one by one, Reagan greeted all the immediate family members and talked with them.

Much to my surprise, after he visited with them for a while, he walked over to where I was standing. Apparently he had asked who I was, because he addressed me as "Doctor" and held out his hand, saying, "It must be especially hard for you today to have lost those who looked up to you as their doctor and who put their trust in you." He said it very quietly and his sincerity and genuine concern for what I was experiencing resulted in bringing tears to my eyes. Until that moment, I had managed to keep it all together and not show my feelings in public.

The next thing I knew, the President of the United States had put his hand on my shoulder and was comforting me; telling me that he understood my loss and that he knew I had been trying to be strong and take care of all the family members of the crew; but that he could see I was suffering too.

I had voted for Reagan in both the '79 and '84 elections (it was the first time I had voted Republican instead of Libertarian), but it wasn't until that moment that I truly understood the personal power of the man; his genuine warmth and the depth of his concern for someone he didn't even know. He instinctively seemed to understand that I had deliberately put aside my personal feelings about the tragedy because I had the awesome responsibility of taking care of all the crew family members (who were also my patients).

It crossed my mind even then, that he was telling me how much he identified with my situation and the responsibilities of my job. He had an entire nation to take care of, but it didn't mean he didn't personlly mourn for those who had died. It could be that I read too much into what he said, but I don't think so. He could have ignored me since I was standing off to the side from all the family members. But he went out of his way to find out who I was and then chose to come over to me.

I remember telling him in a choked voice how much his understanding meant to me and he looked at me with those clear, direct eyes of his and said, "You will be able to handle it. I know you will."

It seemed that I stared into those eyes for a long time (but it was probably only seconds) and then he turned away and signaled to the others that it was time to start the memorial service.

I actually got to stand on the platform while he spoke. This had been the spot prearranged for me to be so I would be able to observe the families in the front row and be ready to respond if they needed me. I couldn't have been more than ten feet or so away from the President during his remarks.

I never spoke to President Reagan again, but at the end of the ceremony; after the missing man formation of T-38's had flown overhead, I accidently caught his eye, and he winked at me.

I will always remember his kindness and strength.



The End of the Imaginary Age of Civility

After the Tucson shooting, liberals lectured America, and especially conservatives, on the alleged need for more civility (even though there was no evidence that the shooter was influenced by any uncivil political rhetoric, and the shooter was not a conservative).

But the new era of civility didn't last long, if it ever existed at all. Some of the very people who loudly demanded civility from others quickly returned to their own deeply-ingrained habit of trash talk and hate-filled vitriol.

Liberal actor and activist Richard Dreyfuss set up a project to promote "civility in political discourse" after the shootings. When he was asked about a liberal radio host's yearning for the death of the "dirtbag" Dick Cheney, he praised it as "beautifully phrased," endorsing an intemperate diatribe that also branded Cheney as an "enemy of the country," and a "freakin' loser."

The liberal lobbying group Common Cause, which had hectored America about the need for civility, helped organize a demonstration outside a conference in California where participants called for the lynching of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Liberal Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) helped usher in the new Age of Civility by likening Republicans to Nazis like Joseph Goebbels.

The Washington Post and New York Times enlisted two prominent practitioners of trash talk to lecture America about the need for civility. Al Sharpton preached about the "dangers of inflammatory rhetoric" in the Washington Post, despite his own past history of helping incite a deadly race riot, and a court judgment against him for defamation arising out of the Tawana Brawley hate-crime hoax.

Ex-congressman Paul Kanjorski (D) lectured about the need for "civility" in the Times, despite his October 2010 statement that Florida governor Rick Scott (R) should be shot.

The Post op-ed writers who endorsed the calls for civility then paved the way for yet more civility, both by branding conservatives as spiteful lobotomy patients, and by insinuating that opponents of gun control are collectively guilty of subversion and nativism, writing that "the descriptions of President Obama as a `tyrant,' the intimations that he is `alien' and the suggestions that his presidency is illegitimate are essential to the core rationale for resisting any restrictions on firearms."

Even as it prattled about the need for civility, the New York Times editorial board directed readers to its earlier diatribe that baselessly accused Republicans, the Tea Party, and conservative media of creating a climate of "division" and "anger" that made the Tucson shootings possible. The Times did so even though a column by its own David Brooks had earlier pointed out that there was "no evidence" that the shooter was influenced in any way by conservatives.

While the Post and the Times don't seem at all concerned about the death threats recently made by liberal activists against Republican lawmakers in Florida and in Wisconsin, they are very up in arms about factual references to the health care law as being "job-killing" (a claim based partly on Congressional Budget Office findings that Obamacare would reduce the size of the American labor force by perhaps 800,000 people).

The Post's Dana Milbank seems to think that criticizing the killing of an inanimate object (like a job) is violent rhetoric, and he recently wrote a long, sanctimonious editorial devoted almost entirely to the alleged incivility of referring to Obamacare as "job-killing," which he regards as rhetorical "poison."

Since the big-government policies they favor typically wipe out jobs (like the $800 billion stimulus package, which wiped out jobs in America's export sector, while subsidizing foreign green jobs, and which the CBO admitted would shrink the size of the U.S. economy in "the long run"), it's not surprising that liberal journalists like Milbank would want to squelch discussion of "job-killing" policies.



How About More Freedom at Home First?

Watching the wave of unrest in the Middle East, there are lessons to consider regarding how we view the world and how we manage our lives here at home. I'd call it getting perspective on what you can control and what you can't.

Washington is filled with "experts" who are more than ready to tell us the future and how to control it, whether we are talking about health care, retirement, energy, environment, or what have you. The fact that they are wrong 100 percent of the time never seems to discourage us from going down the same path again and again.

On the other hand, there are things we can do that are far more useful ways to use our brains. We can identify the correct principles by which to live and allow those to guide how we conduct our affairs.

Getting back to the Middle East, the most effective thing we could have been doing, and can do now, is set an example. If we want to promote freedom, how about starting at home?

The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal publish annually an Index of Economic Freedom in which they rank 179 nations by economic freedom -- size of government, regulations, tax and trade policy, monetary policy, etc. The Index rankings correlate almost perfect with prosperity. The more a nation is economically free, the more prosperous it is likely to be.

When the Index was published in 2010, it showed that the nation with the biggest drop in economic freedom among the world's 20 largest economies was none other than the United States. The drop was so large that the U.S. was re-categorized from the top tier of "free" economies and dropped to the second tier of "mostly free."

It turns out that the most important thing we could have been doing -- staying free ourselves we haven't been doing.

If we'd been doing what we should have, we'd set an example for others, we'd have better judgment regarding what is wrong with them, and we'd be more prosperous and therefore stronger and more influential.

If we can't solve our own problems, how can we solve those of others? If we don't know what freedom is here, how can we know what it is elsewhere?

It's time to get perspective about what we can do, what we can't do, and get our own house in order.



Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood

My concern (as well as that of many others who are watching this revolt go down in real time) is this: if Mubarak splits then who, pray tell, is going to fill that governmental vacuum? ElBaradei? George Washington? George Michael? Rumpelstiltskin? Ron Paul's Egyptian cousin Abdul Rafiki Paul? Who? I won't even venture to guess what unlucky person gets that temporary gig, but I will go out there on a limb and tell you what political party, I believe, is going to rule that roost. Y'all ready? Drum roll, please: The Muslim Brotherhood. They seem to be the only polity over there that has their crap together. And I do mean crap.

So, who is this Muslim Brotherhood? Well, if you listen to the wizards on the Left they're just some dudes in the Middle East trying to make sense of it all politically and create a better tomorrow "for the people."

Now, I'm not an expert on Egypt, or all things Islamic, but I can use Google. When the news feed started pouring in and the eager Egyptian "freedom fighters" started "freeing" Cairo and demanding that Mubarak get the hell out of Dodge, I heard the Muslim Brotherhood's name get dropped on FOX News, so I opened my MacBook, went to Google, and typed in MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD to see if there was something funky about these folks.

From a prima facie standpoint, the name "Muslim Brotherhood" sounds innocent enough. I mean, they're not named the Muslim Mother Snatchers, or the Islamic Incinerators, but rather the Muslim Brotherhood. Brotherhood sounds sweet enough, don't it now? Who could find anything wrong with an organization whose name connotes acting with warmth and equality toward one another.

So I Googled `em up, and here's what I found: First of all, their flag is kind of a disturbing amalgam of swords, a Koran and squiggly writing. I wonder what the squiggly writing says under them swords? Hmmm.

Then secondly, and more importantly, Shariah: The Threat to America (thanks to Frank Gaffney) states the following:

* "The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928. Its express purpose was two-fold: (1) to implement Sharia worldwide, and (2) to re-establish the global Islamic State (caliphate). (DG: Uh, that doesn't sound democratic to me-especially if I were a chick, happened to be boinking my neighbor, or if I were a homosexual. Sharia, I hear, has zero democratic policy toward the aforementioned, as in, "Silence! I kill you!")

* "Therefore, Al Qaeda and the MB have the same objectives. They differ only in the timing and tactics involved in realizing them." (DG: Still not getting the democratic vibe.)

* "The Brotherhood's creed is: `God is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.'" (DG: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot).

* "It is evident from the Creed, and from the Brotherhood's history (and current activities) . that violence is an inherent part of the MB's tactics. The MB is the root of the majority of Islamic terrorist groups in the world today." (DG: The NYT never told us this.)

* "The Muslim Brotherhood is the `vanguard' or tip-of-the-spear of the current Islamic Movement in the world. While there are other transnational organizations that share the MB's goals (if not its tactics)-including al Qaeda, which was born out of the Brotherhood-the "Ikhwan" is by far the strongest and most organized. The Muslim Brotherhood is now active in over 80 countries around the world." (DG: I wonder if they're in America? Nah.)

Yikes. It appears the Brotherhood's history isn't democratic and that they put the "ick" in radical Muslim fundamentalism. When I say they're fundamentalists, I mean that in the classic sense of the word: namely, no fun, mostly dumb, and quite mental.

I'm sure many who are stuck in Egypt want true freedom. And when I say freedom, I mean from all forms of oppression, including the worst form of subjugation: Sharia law. However, I fear those who really want freedom from Mubarak's dictatorship are going to quickly become slaves of Sharia, via the Muslim Brotherhood, whether they like it or not. Call me judgmental, but I smell Sharia all over this thing, and I believe life is really going to begin to suck for secular Egyptians, Israel, America and the rest of the world that wants nothing to do with Islamic enslavement.




FL: Gov. Scott unveils plan to cut $5 billion in spending: "New Republican Gov. Rick Scott received wild applause from about 1,000 tea party activists when he said the $65.9 billion budget proposal he rolled out Monday would cut government waste and lower taxes. Scott is proposing $5 billion in spending cuts in the next budget year beginning July 1 and another $2.6 billion more the following year."

The US is NOT the freest country in the world: "Whether you take a holistic approach to freedom or analyze any number of specific categories the United States of America consistently is proven not to be the freest country. Countries in Scandinavia, Western Europe [and] the English Speaking Far East do much better comparatively when examined either way but often still prove far from ideal. Americans can and should see the assaults on their freedoms as an opportunity to improve and live up to the legend we all grew up believing"

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Why Genesis chapter 1?

Genesis chapter 1 tends to be something of an embarrassment to Christians because of the quite false claim that it represents the earth as having been created in 7 periods of 24 hours. That is simplistic. In the Hebrew scriptures the word for "day" was from time to time used metaphorically (e.g. Genesis 31:40), just as it is in modern English. It can refer to any period of time. When old guys like me say: "In my day ... ", we are not referring to 24 hours -- more like decades.

There is however some cause for embarrassment if one knows what Genesis chapter 1 really is. I have forborne from mentioning it so far out of respect for my Christian readers but in the end I think it is important that knowledge buried in scholarly publications should be brought into public view. So I am now breaking my self-imposed embargo. Readers at this point may wish to decide if they should continue reading.

For a start, it is clear that chapter 1 (plus the first three verses in chapter 2) is a late tack-on, and a glaring one at that. It is the first of two different accounts of creation and has major textual differences from the original account given from Genesis 2:4 onward. The really glaring difference is the use of the divine name. In the rest of the Torah, the divine name (Yahveh; Jehovah) is used freely in the original Hebrew text. Eventually, however, pietism took hold and use of the divine name came to be regarded as disrespectful. "Elohim" (God) and "Adonay" (Lord) came to be used instead. We see something similar among modern Jews, where the usage "G-d" is now common.

So what do we see in Genesis 1? Complete avoidance of the divine name. And from chapter 2 onwards the name is used freely. So chapter 1 is clearly from a later era.

But what could have motivated something as serious as a distortion of the original creation account? Sun worship. It was an attempt to explain why Israelites had accepted the 7 day week of the sun worshippers.

The 7 day week originated in ancient Babylon (or perhaps earlier) in recognition of the 7 movable objects in the sky: The 5 movable stars (planets) plus the sun and the moon. Something as exceptional as stars that moved indicated to ancient minds that those stars must be gods -- so each star had to have a day dedicated to him. And the biggest object in the sky -- the sun -- had to have a day too. And as he was obviously the boss, his day had to be particularly holy. And to this day many of us regard Sunday as holy.

The Israelites didn't go down without a fight, however. They resisted the sun worshippers by saying in effect: "OK. If you celebrate the first day of the week as holy, we will celebrate the last day of the week as holy". And so they did and so they still do.

They were however stuck with the fact that everybody by then divided up the week into 7 days and they also knew perfectly well why. So they had to invent another story about how the 7 day week arose. Hence Genesis chapter 1. And the new story, of course, explained why the 7th day was particularly holy.

So it's all rather simple if you know your ancient history. What saddens me a little is that Christians have reverted to the old sun-worshippers day as their holy day.

Footnote: The account above is a basic outline but there are also some interesting details. Although Genesis chapter 1 is a late addition, it did not of course spring out of the blue. It would in fact seem to be the product of a very long debate.

The seven-day creation story is of course also mentioned in the ten Commandments of Exodus. And in that passage, the divine name IS used. So clearly, the story itself is much older than Genesis chapter 1. The Hebrews had to deal with sun-worshippers from the beginning so their retort to the sun-worshippers went back a long way too.


Civility: A Two-Way Street

With civility all the rage now, many of us who participate in daily discourse are imposing speech codes on ourselves. CNN will no longer say “crosshairs,” of course (I feel safer already), and news outlets across the country are monitoring the content at their online message boards.

One could argue that the Internet could stand a fumigation regimen, but the knee-jerk reaction to Tucson (and, let’s face it, the November elections) has been to shame the citizenry into tempering their dialogue. But does anyone shake their fingers at our elected officials who far too often express contempt for the very Americans they purport to serve?

Congressman Jim Moran (VA) recently summed up the 2010 elections to much the same pro-slavery, anti-black sentiments prevalent during the Civil War. Numerous other examples abound, with far too many to recount here, from candidate Barack Obama lamenting the suspicions of the “typical white person” to his famous “private” comment concerning fearful Americans clinging to their guns and religion.

There exists a significant degree of animus among the ruling class toward ordinary Americans, even among some on the right, but the preponderance festers on the left. Who would be more likely to enjoy a down-home barbeque with a factory worker, Sarah Palin or Barbara “Call me Senator” Boxer? Who invests more faith in the industriousness of average Americans, Rush Limbaugh or the smarmy Bill Maher?

Indeed, leftist power holders and their champions in the media consider the passions of ordinary Americans a nuisance. Consider Pima County sheriff Clarence Dupnik after the Tucson tragedy, blaming the country’s heated rhetoric for the actions of one dangerous, disturbed individual. To liberals, their words and policies don’t merely match the public orthodoxy, they define it.

Power in general and liberalism in particular are always in fashion — thought-control chic — and to question their edicts is akin to wearing white socks with a tuxedo. Isn’t it liberals who typically inform the public that debate on certain subjects, such as the teaching of evolution, global warming and the inherent evil of corporate CEOs is now closed?

Like an exclusive society founded on admiration for their own benevolence and intellectual superiority, ruling class elitists know that if everyone can join their country club, then what have they got? Harry Reid once famously complained of the smell of visitors to the capital in the summer. The affinity they feign for average Americans only puffs up their own sense of self-importance, and they maintain their grip by shaming the ingrate masses into silence.

If, as a self-governing people, we decide to soften the tenor of public debate, then the burden falls on the servants of the people as well as on the nation at large. We don’t bow to autocrats in this country, nor do we take marching orders from the haughty neighbors up the road. Ideally, the nation’s wealth and power belong to the producers and not to smooth-talking snake-oil salesmen whose dominance in public life hinges on charisma over substance and tactic over principle. Only as long as everyday Americans assert their voice will we reclaim our heritage as a Constitutional republic governed by and for the people.

Someone once noted that a society is defined not by the aspirations and pretenses of its leaders but by the character of its everyday citizens. Their hopes and values define a great nation that candidate Obama vowed to “transform,” but we don’t need the pieties of arrogant rulers to prosper, only a heightened belief in ourselves as a free people and a resolve that our leaders will try to emulate us and not the other way around.



Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged - Future Fact Disguised as Fiction

The downhill spiral into an entitlement abyss has been so gradual, so subtle at times, it was difficult to see. We have gone from “those who do not work, do not eat” to “a chicken in every pot” to a mindset of entitlement. People wait for tax “refunds” of money they didn’t pay, or a food and rent subsidy paid “courtesy” of Uncle Sam, based merely on the fact they woke up this morning.

Having grown up in a household where we were taught to achieve through hard work and education, I have struggled for years with the mentality of the union worker whose job security is not based upon the ability of his mind and muscle, but upon his ability to pay his union dues. I have grown increasingly frustrated with parents and grandparents whose children and grandchildren are taught how to fill out an entitlement application, not a job application. The words “entitled”, “free” and “deserve” are my three most hated words in the English language. The phrase “there is no such thing as a free lunch” has lost its meaning as the hardworking taxpayer, home owner and parent are put through the mechanisms of guilt to provide the “free lunch” (substitute health care, education, transportation and housing).

Recently, on an unusually chilly weekend, I curled up with “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. The book has been touted for years as a primer on rational, conservative thought. Settling in for what I thought would be a dry, outdated tome of philosophy dressed up as an out-dated, dark tale, what I got was “future fact disguised as fiction”. The storyline of Dagny Taggart’s quest to find the designer of a motor, a stroke of genius that would save her railroad, laced with the romance between Taggart and d’Anconia and Taggart and Reardon, was one I could not pull away from. It was the entwined philosophy, the basis for which the story was wrapped around, that made a roller coaster of emotions and renewed understanding. It was frustrating and exhilarating, as it mirrored life in its current form, whether it is government handouts to other nations, government entitlements to its own citizens – designed to make them more dependent upon government, to the mindset of people I come across in my daily life. At one point, I threw the book at the wall.

Much like the government Rand characterized in “Atlas Shrugged”, the “public” has become a populace of mind-numbed robots unable to think for themselves. Government attempts to dictate our actions right down to how much salt to put on our baked potatoes. Free enterprise is collapsing under the weight of government regulations, union demands and taxes. Income is redistributed between the producers and the moochers via “taxes”, fees and fines. The “free” government funded education system has created not independent-minded, industrious graduates, but a generation of “progressive” sheep, chanting the mantra of big government.

It is the absurdity and reality of what we have become on a national and industrial level that so many focus on when they read Atlas Shrugged. However, it was another facet of the story that sent the book hurling at breakneck speed towards the living room wall, sending my dachshund scrambling for cover. The book is filled with characters who are a product of the government, colleges, public schooling and media mind-numbing indoctrination. Phillip Reardon believed, along with his mother, that he was entitled to his “fair share” of his successful brother’s income for no other reason than he felt “entitled” to Henry Reardon’s charity through guilt.

I recently read a letter from a young woman and mother of two, addressed to her father. She blamed him for her failures, which stemmed from being raised to believe she was “entitled” to cars and a weekly allowance because, like Phillip, she lacked the ambition to gain an education and she refused to work for “minimum wage”. The constant demands ruined two businesses before he finally closed and sealed the checkbook, walking away. Her failures in life stem not from failed efforts, but, in her own words – and those of her mother, grandmother and aunt – from not getting her “fair share” of everything her father worked for. It is a cradle to the grave mindset that “progressives” – from grandparents to your child’s university professor – have produced, creating a generation of non-producers who have no concept of a hard day’s work. These wait for their unearned “entitlement”, without a clue where the funds for the “entitlement” come from. Yes, parents, many of you are as responsible for this moocher mindset as professors and politicians.

In today’s guilt-ridden society, nothing is anyone’s fault and everyone should pay for the theoretical injustices done to them. Think you are a descendent of a slave – a normal practice of the day? Demand your check. Live an irresponsible lifestyle that produced children you cannot provide for? Demand your check. Digging ditches and washing dishes “cramp your style”? Find a disability and demand your check. Government programs pay more than any job you are qualified to fill? Demand your check. Government coffers running dry? Demand that those working pay more and the industries pay more until the entire entitlement system is turned upside down and collapses upon itself.

With a compelling philosophy and gripping story that not only captivates and entertains, Rand provokes individual thought. There is a light at the end of the train tunnel for the Dagney Taggarts, the Hank Reardons and the Francisco d’Anconias of the world. There is a glimpse into the dismal future that awaits the looters and moochers and the answer to the most quoted question of the last seventy years: “Who is John Galt?”



Sens. Hatch and Enzi call for Obama to rescind nomination of former AFL-CIO, SEIU lawyer to NLRB

Sens. Mike Enzi, Wyoming Republican, and Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, are calling on President Barack Obama to rescind the nomination of former top AFL-CIO and SEIU employee Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

In a joint letter to Obama obtained by The Daily Caller, Enzi, the ranking Republican on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and fellow committee member Hatch, wrote that Becker’s conflicts of interest with his previous union employers have led them to believe he is incapable of being a fair arbiter of labor relations.

In their letter, Enzi and Hatch wrote that Becker has abused his power since his recess appointment and urged the president to reconsider his nomination.

“He has led the Board to re-open and reverse settled decisions, made discrete cases a launching point for broad changes to current labor law, and used an 18 year-old petition to initiate a rulemaking proposal that likely exceeds the Board’s statutory authority,” the letter reads. “At the same time, the NLRB is threatening four states with lawsuits based on constitutional provisions protecting secret-ballot union elections that were adopted by the voters of those states. Yet, the Board has ignored provisions in other states that conflict with federal law but benefit unions over employers, including state laws that restrict employers’ free speech rights during the union organizing process.”




MA: More get waivers of health insurance: "Massachusetts regulators granted more exemptions last year to residents who said they could not afford the health insurance required by the state, waiving the tax penalty for more than half of those who appealed, according to state data. Of the 2,637 people who applied, 63 percent received an exemption with 107 cases pending, up from 44 percent the previous year."

Simpson: Entitlements on autopilot = economy crush: "President Obama's calls for a five-year freeze on discretionary spending, as well as Republican demands to turn back the budget clock to 2008 spending, will save 'peanuts' and do nothing to turn around the country's 'sacrosanct' entitlement culture, one head of the president's deficit commission said Sunday. Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, who was appointed by Obama along with former Bill Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles to lead the president's panel for reducing the nation's debt, said leaving Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on auto pilot will crush the U.S. economy."

Another TSA nightmare: "The writer Andrew Ian Dodge shares his painful experience at the hands of the TSA at this link. The TSA inflicted prolonged pain on him through completely unnecessary 'kneeding and prodding' of his scar from a 'colon cancer operation that went from' his crotch to his sternum. He still hurt a day later. Dodge wrote about the TSA’s recent decision to block competing private companies from performing airline security screening, even though private airport screeners do better on customer-satisfaction and passenger-happiness measures than TSA employees."

Why can’t Obama do the math on jobs?: "President Obama has a message for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today: You have an obligation to start creating jobs. The government has done what it needs to do and any failure lies with the private sector. Indeed, the job numbers are bleak. Unemployment fell last month, but only because Americans have given up looking for work in record numbers. On net, 319,000 quit looking for work and left the work force in December. In November, it was even worse, 434,000. Over 1.5 million American have left the workforce since August."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Why Reagan Triumphs Over Other Presidents, Even Today

What always strikes us is how comfortable and secure Ronald Reagan was in himself, on the trail, in the Oval, in meetings with strangers in the Roosevelt Room, in the general give and take of a public life. This authentic wholeness of life made the 'communicating' so compelling, the reducing to core principles so constant, effortless and nearly automatic. His humor, self-reflection and self-deprecation all natural, healthy, transparently honest. A mature man at home with himself and his country, seamlessly.

People of a certain persuasion took this to be the mark of a simpleton, or at best a simple person, too dumb to be properly awed and humbled by the great minds and their received high wisdom. Someone whose norm was to take decisions, indeed about quite complex matters, without protracted debate, or sonorous, self-inflating or lecturing tones must be a cretin or someone’s puppet. These were people who had not read the record, the writings, the early Reagan, the whole biography along the way, and finally the diaries. Intellectuals and wannabes (certain editorialists and anchors come to mind), who could not bother. They could not actually deal with the accumulated facts -- nor with the larger fact that, first California, and then virtually the entire country disagreeably disappointed them by checking the Reagan box, repeatedly!

At the end, Americans turned out in probably unprecedented numbers, all over the country, from every corner, class, age and political party of the American tapestry. From coast to coast, at every overpass, intersection, sidewalk and window, and in the Capitol Rotunda line for days and nights they stood. The press was astonished, but ever mindful of the ratings, managed to bite their tongues and give it solid coverage. They had little choice. The people were checking the Reagan box one last time. Not out of habit or instruction, but out of deep respect -- the resonation in them of the authentic voice that had led and inspired them, as it also had hundreds of millions around the world, the free and the newly freed.

This was the man who believed in them as he believed in himself -- a man of confidence not trimmed by fear. By every indice we have he lifted the country, its confidence, its standing, its economy, productive capacity and innovation, its social mobility and its national security. These two things are not unrelated.

What strikes us by starkest contrast is the degree to which many recent presidents, notably Clinton and Obama (and the angry scold Jimmy Carter too, just because he’s too self-righteous to go away), are deeply wounded people, insecure -- in need of office for themselves, as psychological salve, not as service. A sort of self-medicating at our expense; it verges on the sociopathic at times (not only with interns). There is an unsettled need to prove or expunge something personal (we don't mean birth certificates or donor records).

Among other things, this makes their expressions relating to patriotism, the military, American exceptionalism, values and history; freedom, markets and the whole American project and prospect seem to ring hollow to the common ear. The required expressions come out of them sounding stingy and, strained, not generous or heartfelt -- or in the current case, not even personally believed.

For this sort of politician (most?) it all is principally about themselves. The focus is on their imagined exceptionalism, their personal struggle and triumph. In their mind, the nation pales in comparison and fails to live up to their expectation. The dissonance becomes clear, regularly -- not only in times of performance of Presidential duties, speeches, times of national tragedy or pressured decisions -- but in the off-hand remarks, the flip answers, the bizarre strained analogies (Sputnik?).

These are not whole men; they may not be "hollow men" -- but they are not the man in full. And they are not Ronald Reagan, nor can they play him on a podium, no matter how much mid-term reading they do, hunting uncomprehendingly for clues.



Sarah channels Reagan to combat 'road to ruin'

Sarah Palin opened a celebration of what would have been Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday by declaring that the United States was lurching towards a "road to ruin", saying the nation had become so weighed down by debt and excess government that a new direction was urgently needed in Washington.

For Mrs Palin, a speech on Friday at the Reagan Ranch Centre offered an opportunity to connect herself to the late president, the "Great Communicator" and Republican icon.

She used the appearance - one of the highest-profile Republican platforms in months - to rally conservatives by drawing parallels between government expansion under President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s and Mr Obama's administration. "Reagan saw the dangers in LBJ's Great Society," Mrs Palin said. "He refused to sit down and be silent as our liberties were eroded by an out-of-control centralised government that overtaxed and overreached in utter disregard of constitutional limits."

Mrs Palin spoke on Friday night to about 200 people at a banquet of the Young America's Foundation, a group that owns Rancho del Cielo, which served as the Western White House in the Reagan administration.

She reprised themes of Mr Reagan's 1964 speech "A Time for Choosing," which he gave two years before being elected governor of California. She reminded her audience that he, too, was "mocked, ridiculed and criticised" before his conservative vision became accepted Republican doctrine. But she stopped short of casting herself explicitly as his heir.

"No, there isn't one replacement for Reagan, but there are millions who believe in the great ideas that he espoused," Mrs Palin said. "There's a whole army of patriotic Davids out there, across this great country, ready to stand up and to speak out in defence of liberty."



January's Unemployment Report Was A Snow Job

The January employment report was a complete snow job. Abominable winter blizzards across the country caused 886,000 workers to report “not at work due to bad weather,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is 600,000 more than the normal 300,000 not at work for the average January of the past decade.

So the bad weather has distorted the numbers. The actual 36,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls and the 50,000 gain in private payrolls really don’t have a snowball’s chance at being accurate. The 1 million people in January who wanted a job but didn’t look for one because of “other” reasons hints again at the bad-weather distortion. So does the 4.9 million jump in the part-time workforce.

As for the 9 percent unemployment rate, it’s not likely to last as more people are recorded reentering the labor force in the months ahead. The household employment survey (on which the unemployment rate is based) increased 117,000 in January, following a near 300,000 gain in December.

On the plus side (if anything can be believed in these numbers), average hourly earnings increased by four-tenths of 1 percent -- a much bigger gain than in recent months. Over the past year, wages are rising 1.9 percent.

But here’s a key point: Manufacturing jobs in January rose by nearly 50,000. That’s consistent with the blowout ISM manufacturing report for January published a few days ago. Manufacturing has been the biggest surprise in the recovery. Additionally, the ISM non-manufacturing services report was also gangbusters for January.

These reports are more accurate and more significant than today’s jobs calculation. And if you piece them together with record-breaking profits, which are the mother’s milk for stocks, business, and the whole economy, it’s hard not to conclude that the pace of recovery is actually picking up steam -- despite the lackluster jobs performance.

The downside of the upside is mounting inflation pressure. Both ISM reports registered very strong prices paid. Those outsized price increases are picking up the huge commodity-price increases that Ben Bernanke continues to ignore.

Bond-market rates have moved up to 3.64 percent for the 10-year Treasury and 4.73 percent for the 30-year. Those rising yields are signaling inflationary growth. Along with soaring commodity prices, the abnormally steep Treasury yield curve is signaling the Fed to stop creating new dollars with its QE2 pump-priming.

Right now, stronger economic growth, higher profits, and rising inflation continue to help the stock market, which actually increased today after the weird jobs report. But the risk here is that reported inflation for the CPI may rise faster than anyone thinks. And that could take a bite out of stocks and the recovery.



The NYT has a glass jaw

Leftists can't cope with being told that they are wrong (rage is the normal response) so we must not be too surprised to hear that the NYT "Letters to the Editor" policy is that you can't say that they are wrong

A colleague of mine at Mayer Brown — Andy Pincus, generally a liberal fellow and a big fan of the New York Times — reported to me an interesting fact about the New York Times letter-to-the-editor policy, and I thought it was worth mentioning.

Pincus represents the petitioner in AT&T v. Concepcion, a pending Supreme Court case regarding the Federal Arbitration Act. The question in the case is whether it violates the Act for California to refuse to enforce arbitration clauses that don’t permit either class arbitrations or class actions in court, but include incentives that help plaintiffs vindicate their own individual claims. (The briefs are here.)

Three weeks after oral argument, the New York Times editorialized against Pincus’s position, and asserted that “courts applying law of at least 19 other states have reached the same conclusion as California, including five federal appeals courts.” Pincus and his co-counsel sent a letter to the editor addressing this and other statements in the editorial (complying with the Times’ 150-word limit). Two sentences read:

"The Times is just wrong in asserting that 19 states ruled arbitration agreements like AT&T’s unenforceable. Courts in six of those states upheld AT&T’s provision; courts in four others upheld agreements less fair than AT&T’s"

A week passed with no response. In the meantime, the Times published a letter from counsel for the other side expressly agreeing with the editorial (“As your editorial correctly explains ....”). Still, no opposing views appeared. Then the Times did get back to Pincus, asking for approval of an edited version of the above sentences:

"You assert that 19 states ruled arbitration agreements like AT&T’s unenforceable. Courts in six of those states upheld AT&T’s provision; courts in four others upheld agreements less fair than AT&T’s."

This revision deleted the statement that the Times was wrong in its interpretation of the views of 19 States on the issue. Pincus responded that the revision was unacceptable and suggested a slight modification to soften the sentence in question (substituting “The Times incorrectly asserts” for “The Times is just wrong”).

The Times: “We cannot say ‘incorrectly’ because that is the province of corrections, in which case I would forward the letter to the corrections editor and it could not be considered as a letter. We prefer to consider your letter a clarification on the editorial. OK to go with what I sent?”

Pincus: “Our letter’s key point is that the editorial was wrong in what it said about the cases. I’m happy to think about other ways to say that — but it is the key point.” Too bad, said the Times: “In that case, I think you should forward the letter to Carla Robbins, the deputy editorial page editor, for possible correction. We won’t be able to consider it as a letter.” And that was that.

Pincus didn’t seek a “correction” because it seems unlikely that the Times would have issued a correction with regard to matters of opinion about interpreting judicial opinions (and of course corrections appear in a generally little-read section; letters to the editor appear on the editorial page). He wanted to argue to readers that the Times was wrong, not persuade the corrections editor of that (since such persuasion was highly unlikely). Yet the Times policy appears to say that such arguments that the Times is wrong are off-limits to the editorial page.

Now the Times is of course entirely free to publish or not publish any letter to the editor it wishes; and naturally, it can publish only a small fraction of those it receives. Still, it seems to me that a “no saying we’re wrong” policy with regard to letters to the editor is not a wise exercise of editorial judgment. And in any case, readers might find it useful to know that this is indeed the Times policy.




The real Reagan rises: "Martin Anderson works in an ivory tower -- literally. From high above Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Anderson contemplates Ronald Reagan's legacy as his centennial arrives on Feb. 6. Asked if he thinks Reagan's stature has risen since he left office in 1989, Anderson says, 'I don't just think so. I know so.' Reagan's reputation has grown, largely thanks to the scholarship of Anderson and his wife, Annelise, both former Reagan aides and Hoover colleagues of mine."

Go down, pharaoh: "What a pathetic old brute Hosni Mubarak has become. Here he is telling ABC that he'd love to give up power, really he would, but he's afraid Egypt would collapse into chaos without his steady hand at the wheel. Meanwhile, the country has been doing a pretty good job of keeping order while Mubarak's state withers away, as neighbors band together to direct traffic, clean the streets, treat the wounded, and protect lives and property. It's Mubarak and his mobs who have been the fountainhead of chaos: Again and again, protesters have captured a looter, a vandal, or a stone-throwing, machete-wielding goon, only to discover he was carrying police ID."

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. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Why have our brains shrunk?

A reasonable summary below of something that has been a puzzle for the last few years. I offer my solution to the puzzle at the foot of the article

Human brains have shrunk over the past 30,000 years, puzzling scientists who argue it is not a sign we are growing dumber but that evolution is making the key motor leaner and more efficient.

The average size of modern humans -- Homo sapiens -- has decreased about 10 percent during that period -- from 1,500 to 1,359 cubic centimeters, the size of a tennis ball. Women's brains, which are smaller on average than those of men, have experienced an equivalent drop in size.

These measurements were taken using skulls found in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. "I'd called that a major downsizing in an evolutionary eye blink," John Hawks of the University of Michigan told Discover magazine.

But other anthropologists note that brain shrinkage is not very surprising since the stronger and larger we are, the more gray matter we need to control this larger mass. The Neanderthal, a cousin of the modern human who disappeared about 30 millennia ago for still unknown reasons, was far more massive and had a larger brain.

The Cro-Magnons who left cave paintings of large animals in the monumental Lascaux cave over 17,000 years ago were the Homo sapiens with the biggest brain. They were also stronger than their modern descendants.

Psychology professor David Geary of the University of Missouri said these traits were necessary to survive in a hostile environment. He has studied the evolution of skull sizes 1.9 million to 10,000 years old as our ancestors and cousins lived in an increasingly complex social environment.

Geary and his colleagues used population density as a measure of social complexity, with the hypothesis that the more humans are living closer together, the greater the exchanges between group, the division of labor and the rich and varied interactions between people. They found that brain size decreased as population density increased. "As complex societies emerged, the brain became smaller because people did not have to be as smart to stay alive," Geary told AFP.

But the downsizing does not mean modern humans are dumber than their ancestors -- rather, they simply developed different, more sophisticated forms of intelligence, said Brian Hare, an assistant professor of anthropology at Duke University. He noted that the same phenomenon can be observed in domestic animals compared to their wild counterparts.

So while huskies may have smaller brains than wolves, they are smarter and more sophisticated because they can understand human communicative gestures, behaving similarly to human children.

"Even though the chimps have a larger brain (than the bonobo, the closest extant relative to humans), and even though a wolf has a much larger brain than dogs, dogs are far more sophisticated, intelligent and flexible, so intelligence is not very well linked to brain size," Hare explained.

He said humans have characteristics from both the bonobo and chimpanzee, which is more aggressive and domineering. "The chimpanzees are violent because they want power, they try to have control and power over others while bonobos are using violence to prevent one for dominating them," Hare continued. "Humans are both chimps and bobos in their nature and the question is how can we release more bonobo and less chimp. "I hope bonobos win... it will be better for everyone," he added. [Since bonobos are an endangered species that is a bizarre wish. He must be a Greenie]


There was a poorly understood brain mutation occurring just before the rise of civilization -- a mutation that is now widespread except in Africa. It seems likely that the mutation led to increased brain COMPLEXITY, which obviated the need for a large brain and led to the higher average IQ that underpins civilization. It also of course explains the lower African average IQ


British Leftist leader shows true Leftist character

Ed Miliband has dishonestly tried to portray himself as a man of the people, coming from a struggling background. But his father was for most of his life a prominent Marxist academic of Jewish origin

A man who was at school with Ed Miliband has revealed how he hit the now Labour Leader in the playground for allegedly calling him a ‘Turkish b*****d’.

Kevin Mustafa decided to speak out after Mr Miliband described his schooldays at his ‘tough’ comprehensive in an interview last week. The politician said he had been on the receiving end of blows at Haverstock School in Chalk Farm, North London, yet refused to name his tormentors.

But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Mr Mustafa was one of them and he recalls he struck out after the alleged racist abuse. He said: ‘We had a bit of a ruck in 1984 in the playground. I just lost my rag that day. He was a very opinionated person back then. I am not proud.’

Mr Mustafa, 40, who is now a gardener, was one of Mr Miliband’s classmates from 1981 to 1986. He said: ‘We did not agree on something and I belittled him and dismissed him as if what he said was a stupid comment. In retaliation, he lashed out with verbal abuse. ‘He called me a Turkish b*****d so I hit him. I gave my reasons as to why I did it but was dismissed and I was suspended for three days.’

Recalling their school days, Mr Mustafa, from Barnet, North London, claimed the young Ed Miliband ‘was a very stuck-up person looking down his nose at everybody’. He added: ‘He was not a friend of mine but we sat in the same class. Although he was no better than us he had quite a high opinion of himself. He tried to come across as if he was more intelligent. Most of the time we let it pass but I lost my rag that day.’

In his interview with Piers Morgan for GQ magazine, Mr Miliband, who described himself as a ‘square’ who had loved playing with his Rubik’s Cube, was keen to draw a distinction between his state school upbringing and that of Old Etonian David Cameron. Asked whether he considers himself posh, he replied: ‘I was brought up in a middle-class home but my parents were refugees and I went to a comprehensive school, so not that posh, no.’

His family home in Primrose Hill was one of the foremost Left-wing salons of the Seventies and Eighties, where politicians and academics attended dinner parties given by his father Ralph, a leading intellectual and professor of politics.



More charming behaviour from "sensitive" British Leftists

Labour party MPs who mocked disabled Tory were like 'hyenas going for the kill'

Cruel Labour MPs have been accused of behaving like ‘hyenas going for the kill’ when they mocked a disabled Tory MP speaking in a Commons debate. They pulled faces, made gestures and laughed in an attempt to humiliate Conservative MP Paul Maynard, who has cerebral palsy.

Last night, Labour’s Tom Blenkinsop said he was among a group of Labour MPs told to ‘calm down’ by the party’s whip David Hamilton during Blackpool MP Mr Maynard’s speech. Middlesbrough MP Mr Blenkinsop, 30, a former trade union official, insisted he was not one of those who taunted Mr Maynard.

The incident occurred in October during a debate on the abolition of the Child Trust Fund, a scheme set up by Gordon Brown and widely considered to have failed. The Coalition was attacked by Labour, and in particular by women Labour MPs, for abandoning it.

The jeering of Mr Maynard, who said the scheme had not worked, went unnoticed at the time, but surfaced yesterday in an interview with the Blackpool MP.

He refused to identify any of the Labour culprits. However, using eyewitness accounts, the official Parliamentary report Hansard and televised footage of the Commons, The Mail on Sunday has identified the MPs who took part in the debate.

Mr Maynard said: ‘They were constantly intervening, trying to put me off my stride, which may be normal parliamentary tactics. ‘But some were pulling faces at me, really exaggerated gesticulations and faces. ‘Only they know for certain whether they were taking the mick out of my disability. But it certainly felt like it. That is why politics is held in such low esteem.’

A senior Labour MP told The Mail on Sunday: ‘What they did was disgusting. It was obvious that Paul was upset but they sensed a weakness and went for the kill like a pack of hyenas.’

Outraged Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle, the Deputy Speaker, tried to protect Mr Maynard from the jibes and told Mr Hamilton to order Labour MPs to stop tormenting him.

Mr Maynard, 35, who entered the Commons at the last Election, had barely started his speech when Labour’s Kate Green, MP for Stretford, tried to intervene. When Mr Maynard carried on speaking, Scottish Labour MP Gregg McClymont shouted: ‘Give way!’ Mr Maynard told him: ‘If you calm down and let me finish I will happily give way. Learn some manners.’ Mr Maynard subsequently gave way to Labour MP Catherine McKinnell.

But it was when he refused to do so for Stella Creasy, another Labour MP, that some male Opposition MPs started mocking Mr Maynard openly by pulling faces and imitating his speech and mannerisms.



Made in the U.S.A.

by Jeff Jacoby

IN ECONOMICS AS IN APPAREL, most fashions come and go. But like the navy blazer or the little black dress, bewailing the decline of American manufacturing never seems to go out of style.

They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks. Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain't coming back

So sang Bruce Springsteen in "My Hometown," a hit song from his 1984 album, "Born in the U.S.A.". More than a quarter-century later, that sentiment (if not the song) is as popular as ever.

"You know, we don't manufacture anything anymore in this country," says Donald Trump in an interview with CNNMoney. "We do health care; we do lots of different services. But . . . everything is made in China, for the most part." The Donald has his idiosyncracies, but on this issue, he is squarely in mainstream.

A recent Heartland Monitor survey finds "clear anxiety about the decades-long employment shift away from manufacturing to service jobs," National Journal's Ron Brownstein reported in December. The "decline of US manufacturing" is giving Americans a "sense of economic precariousness" -- only one in five believe that the United States has the world's strongest economy, versus nearly half who think China is in the lead. "Near the root of the unease for many of those polled is the worry that the United States no longer makes enough stuff." When asked why US manufacturing jobs have declined, fully 58 percent cite offshoring by American companies to take advantage of lower labor costs.

There's just one problem with all the gloom and doom about American manufacturing. It's wrong. Americans make more "stuff" than any other nation on earth, and by a wide margin. According to the UN's comprehensive database of international economic data, America's manufacturing output in 2009 (expressed in constant 2005 dollars) was $2.15 trillion. That surpassed China's output of $1.48 trillion by nearly 46 percent. China's industries may be booming, but the United States still accounted for 20 percent of the world's manufacturing output in 2009 -- only a hair below its 1990 share of 21 percent.

"The decline, demise, and death of America's manufacturing sector has been greatly exaggerated," says economist Mark J. Perry, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "America still makes a ton of stuff, and we make more of it now than ever before in history." In fact, Americans manufactured more goods in 2009 than the Japanese, Germans, British, and Italians -- combined.

American manufacturing output hits a new high almost every year. US industries are powerhouses of production: Measured in constant dollars, America's manufacturing output today is more than double what it was in the early 1970s. So why do so many Americans fear that the Chinese are eating our lunch?

Part of the reason is that fewer Americans work in factories. Millions of industrial jobs have vanished in recent decades, and there is no getting around the hardship that has meant for many families. But factory employment has declined because factory productivity has so dramatically skyrocketed: Revolutions in technology enable an American worker today to produce far more than his counterpart did a generation ago. Consequently, even as America's manufacturing sector outproduces every other country on earth, millions of young Americans can aspire to become not factory hands or assembly workers, but doctors and lawyers, architects and engineers.

Perceptions also feed the gloom and doom. In its story on Americans' economic anxiety, National Journal quotes a Florida teacher who says, "It seems like everything I pick up says 'Made in China' on it." To someone shopping for toys, shoes, or sporting equipment, it often can seem that way. But that's because Chinese factories tend to specialize in low-tech, labor-intensive goods -- items that typically don't require the more advanced and sophisticated manufacturing capabilities of modern American plants.

A vast amount of "stuff" is still made in the USA, albeit not the inexpensive consumer goods that fill the shelves in Target or Walgreen's. American factories make fighter jets and air conditioners, automobiles and pharmaceuticals, industrial lathes and semiconductors. Not the sort of things on your weekly shopping list? Maybe not. But that doesn't change economic reality. They may have "closed down the textile mill across the railroad tracks." But America's manufacturing glory is far from a thing of the past.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Subhuman parents

Feel sorry for their children

Like so many other couples these days, the Toronto-area business executive and her husband put off having children for years as they built successful careers. Both parents were in their 40s — and their first son just over a year old — when this spring the woman became pregnant a second time. Seven weeks in, an ultrasound revealed the Burlington, Ont., resident was carrying twins. “It came as a complete shock,” said the mother, who asked not to be named. “We’re both career people. If we were going to have three children two years apart, someone else was going to be raising our kids. ... All of a sudden our lives as we know them and as we like to lead them, are not going to happen.”

She soon discovered another option: Doctors could “reduce” the pregnancy from twins to a singleton through a little-known procedure that eliminates selected fetuses — and has become increasingly common in the past two decades amid a boom in the number of multiple pregnancies.

Selective reductions are typically carried out for women pregnant with triplets or greater, where the risk of harm or death climbs sharply with each additional fetus. The Ontario couple is part of what some experts say is a growing demand for reducing twins to one, fuelled more by socio-economic imperatives than medical need, and raising vexing new ethical questions.

It's hard for me to fathom a society that would embrace this sort of thing. It's a new low and we'd already sank to new depths. Seriously sick and twisted stuff.



Unemployment Numbers Don't Add up to a Growing Economy

Strange statistics: The unemployment rate supposedly dropped sharply last month to 9 percent. But the economy generated only 36,000 net new jobs. Gallup says unemployment rose to 9.8%

Americans for Limited Government Director of Communications Rick Manning, former Public Affairs Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Labor, today issued following statement on today's unemployment report:

"It simply is not credible that the unemployment rate could drop by .4% with only 36,000 jobs created. This supposed drop is at least partially a result of the Obama Administration changing the methodology for determining who was in the workforce. This change in methodology coupled with a massive drop in the top line unemployment rate leaves the data open to the perception that they may have been politically manipulated.

"However, taking the numbers at face value, the Obama Administration cannot avoid the harsh reality that their economic policies have resulted in almost one million people leaving the workforce in the past two months alone. The January reported decline of 504,000 is a startling indictment of the failure of the past two years, as Americans have voted with their feet to leave the workforce.

"The bottom line is that our nation needs to create more than 100,000 jobs a month for sustained economic growth, and this report reveals that the main driver of the unemployment rate decline is that Americans are giving up on the American dream of getting a job and making a better life for their families.

"In the past year, more than two million Americans have left the labor force with the labor participation rate dropping from 64.8% to 64.2%. The labor participation rate when Obama took office in January 2009 stood at 65.5% when Obama took office in January 200%.

"This is a devastating indictment of the Obama economic policy, and if not reversed will have severe implications for our nation's economic future."



Kwikset, Green Chemistry and Taxes: The Business Wasteland That Is California

Hugh Hewitt

Many readers don’t want to hear another horror story about doing business in California. Because I live and practice law in California, I am perhaps more sensitive than other pundits to the ongoing collapse of the state’s economy, and I also have a front row seat to the parade of regulatory insanities that march by on a near-weekly basis, even as the businesses that once made the state an economic titan line up to head east.

Earlier this week I wrote on the so-called "Green Chemistry Initiative” for the Washington Examiner, and one of my law partners quickly emailed to let me know that wasn’t even the worst business news out of the state that week! Gary Wolensky subsequently posted at HughHewitt.com about the California Supreme Court’s decision in Kwikset Corporation v. The Superior Court of Orange County, and the phone has been ringing and email in-box filling up since then with exclamations of disbelief. The decision opens the doors to thousands of new nuisance lawsuits against every product on every shelf in California, even as the new “green chemistry” regulations when they appear in final form will apply to all products sold in the state. 2011 is opening with a double feature horror flick for job generators even as the state careens towards unofficial but very real bankruptcy.

None of this made it into Governor Jerry Brown’s state-of-the-state address Tuesday night. The always charismatic Category 5 political force delivered a characteristically interesting and provocative talk, but not a paragraph of it dealt with the underlying woes besetting the state: No one in their right mind would start a new manufacturing concern here.

And why would they? There are a dozen states with not just better tax and regulatory legal regimes, but far, far better systems. Florida doesn’t have an income tax, for goodness sake, much less one that is in double digits. Texas doesn’t threaten every manufacturer and every purveyor of every product with “green chemistry” labeling regulations in excess of 90 pages. The Supreme Court of Arizona isn’t going to decree that lawsuits can proceed regardless of any allegation of actual injury.

California has become a giant experiment in how to kill job creation, and with the jobs all the tax revenue those jobs produce and all the good things those tax revenues support like public education and roads.

The state has fundamentally gone off the rails, and almost certainly will have to hit bottom before it can begin to rebuild.

Here’s the text of Jerry Brown’s speech. Read it and weep for California. It is mostly an argument on why the legislature should authorize an appeal to the people to extend “temporary” tax hikes. Brown is demanding that the Republican legislators in the state clear the way for a vote on the extension. They should do no such thing, as the voters overwhelmingly rejected just such a set of tax hikes less than two years ago. Going back for another “no” vote wastes time and diverts attention from the fact that California is a bloated state government with enormous unfounded pension liabilities and chaotic laws and budget rules.

Why would anyone take the new governor seriously when the absurd “green chemistry” regulations lurk, while legions of small time bureaucrats sit on permit applications, while the Coastal Commission routinely blocks ready-to-build projects and the schools refuse to adopt even the most basic reforms to empower charter schools to educate children.

If there was anything approaching a real investigative media in the state, story after story would flow revealing shocking stories of waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayers and businesses along the lines of the City of Bell scandal. Not all of them would involve trucks of misspent money, but also misspent time and effort. Just this week the Alliance Defense Fund had to sue the Los Angeles School District to force the district to allow a fifth grader to sing a Christian-themed song in an annual talent show. Just this week the absurd show-down over the Delta smelt continued, with the Los Angeles Times calling the fish “the most powerful player in California water.” Just last month, tens of millions in so-called “stimulus funds” were designated to purchase an existing train station as a sort of salve to disappointed special interests.

And now the California Supreme Court has declared open season for gold-digging plaintiffs.

California makes Greece look well run. The level of competence of many of the legislators is downright scary, and even America’s most interesting recycling project, Jerry Brown, seems out of new and novel ideas. There is no plan for the unfolding fiscal crisis, no serious budget cutting underway, no federal bailout on the horizon -- just an accelerating march towards a fiscal cliff, punctuated by new bursts of judicial and regulatory excess along the way.



Does Jimmy Carter Deserve To Be Sued?

In a suit filed in federal court in New York, former president Jimmy Carter, along with his publisher, Simon & Schuster, is being sued by five readers of his 2006 book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." The suit alleges that the defendants violated New York's consumer protection laws by committing "deceptive acts in the conduct of business, trade, or commerce."

The plaintiffs, who hope to be considered a class, were "members of the reading public who thought they could trust a former president of the United States and a well-established book publisher to tell the truth..."

Does Carter deserve this trouble? Oh, yes, he deeply, richly deserves it. Should the suit prevail? More on that in a moment.

Carter has preened that "my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents." Considering that he had four years as leader of the free world, the post-presidency claim sounds more like a bleat than a boast. And even still, it's false.

In fact, no former president including Richard Nixon has behaved as dishonorably as Carter. His post-presidency has been marked by truckling to America's enemies (North Korea, Syria, the PLO, Nicaragua) and actively impeding U.S. foreign policies of which he disapproved. Before the first Gulf War, for example, when President George H. W. Bush was attempting to assemble an international coalition to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, Carter wrote a letter to the U.N. Security Council urging members not to cooperate with the U.S.

Carter's apologies for the United States make Obama's seem chauvinistic. Meeting with Haiti's dictator Raoul Cedras, Carter allowed as how he was "ashamed of what my country has done to your country." And explaining why other Americans took a skeptical view of Syria's Hafez al-Assad and North Korea's Kim II Sung, both of whom, he wrote, "have at times been misunderstood, ridiculed, and totally condemned by the American public," Carter surmises that this is in part because "their names are foreign, not Anglo-Saxon."

And then there is Carter's festering abhorrence of the Jewish state, which reached its fullest expression in "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." The title expresses his sympathies and antipathies succinctly. It's a book about a land -- Israel -- that Carter would prefer become "Palestine." How else to interpret the latter part of the title -- "Peace Not Apartheid"? The leftist/Islamist slur against Israel is that it is a racist, apartheid state akin to South Africa and therefore lacking in legitimacy. Carter embraces this calumny.

And more. So much more. The book is a skein of falsehoods. Carter repeatedly gets history wrong -- as when he suggests that Israel attacked Jordan in the 1967 war. In fact, Israel pleaded with Jordan to remain neutral as it fought off Egypt and Syria. But Jordan elected to join the other Arab states in attempting to obliterate Israel. It lost Jerusalem and the West Bank as a consequence.

The former president surely knew, when he wrote this sentence, that it was completely untrue: "The unwavering official policy of the United States since Israel became a state has been that its borders must coincide with those prevailing from 1949-1967." In fact, no U.S. government, including Carter's, insisted on withdrawal to what Abba Eban called "Auschwitz borders."

Carter also repeatedly insinuates that U.N. Resolution 242 calls for such a withdrawal -- another lie. The resolution does speak of withdrawal, but was carefully crafted (against the objections of the Soviets) not to call for such a total pullout.

Carter writes that in the years since the Camp David accords, "The Israelis have never granted any appreciable autonomy to the Palestinians." Obviously, patently false. Concerning the 2000 Camp David/Taba negotiations, Carter suggests that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority rejected a compromise. But as former State Department chief negotiator Dennis Ross has countered, "Their (Israel's) government, meaning the cabinet, actually voted for it ... This is a matter of record, not a matter of interpretation." Carter's good friend Arafat walked away and started the second Intifada.

The former president's sloppiness -- or mendacity -- shows up on nearly every page of the book. He claims that an Arab document, the so-called "Prisoners Proposal," called for "a unity government with Hamas joining the PLO, the release of all political prisoners, acceptance of Israel as a neighbor within its legal borders... "

Or not. Here is Abdel Rahman Zeidan, a Palestinian minister, on the BBC: "You will not find one word in the document clearly stating the recognition of Israel as a state."

There's more. Carter's distaste not just for Israel but also for Jews is reflected in some of his anecdotes, as is his inexplicable attraction to autocrats and thugs in positions of power.

But a lawsuit is not the way to deal with this. The First Amendment trumps all. The courts cannot police books for accuracy -- not in America. But the rest of us can.



No Reservations: The Case for Dismantling the Indian Bureaucracy

If ever a federal agency were a candidate for termination, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) would make for a good choice. The BIA combines patronage and ethnic separatism into a single package, wasting sizable tax dollars in the process. Yet few in Congress have the stomach for a fight with supporters of the bureau, now with a roughly $2.7 billion annual budget. That’s not the only Indian agency in need of serious downsizing.

In recent decades, the agency has become a conduit through which tribal leaders and their allies can accrue money and influence. It’s a variation on what public choice economists call “regulatory capture,” in which firms – especially large ones – effectively dictate policies and practices to the regulator, so as to maximize competitive advantage.

There are now 565 federally-recognized Indian (including Alaskan) tribes in this land of ours, representing nearly two million persons. Indian territories comprise some 55 million surface acres. Crucially, a tribe operates under a federal grant of sovereign status. Taken as a whole, Indian tribes are a loose confederacy of mini-nations, each with its own elected tribal government overseeing courts, schools, job training, health care, infrastructure development, and on due occasion, casinos. Within their respective reservations, tribal leaders enjoy enormous power. Too often, they and employees use this power as a cover for corruption. Recent cases abound.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

The Politics of Saving 'Granny'


In a speech last Friday defending his health-care law's effect on seniors against GOP attacks, Mr. Obama said, "I can report that Granny is safe." She may not feel that way if she's one of the 700,000 seniors whose private Medicare Advantage insurance policy was not renewed last year because her insurance provider quit the business.

There will be more non-renewals in 2011. This year's funding cuts to Medicare Advantage will be $2 billion; next year's will be $6 billion. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimate that half of those with Medicare Advantage policies-seven million seniors-will lose their coverage eventually. And 60% the doctors surveyed by the nonprofit Physicians Foundation said health-care reform would "compel them to close or significantly restrict" the number of patients in their practices, especially those on Medicare or Medicaid.

Granny's daughter, son and grandchildren are not all that safe, either. Providers such as Guardian Life and the Principal Financial Group are dropping their health-insurance businesses. And companies will be tempted to drop coverage for their employees and dump them onto the government's tab.

No taxpayer is safe, either. Last week Richard Foster, CMS's chief actuary, confirmed to Congress that ObamaCare's Medicare cuts couldn't be used to reduce both Medicare's unfunded liability and to pay for ObamaCare's expense. Since the Obama administration is relying on this double counting to rig the numbers, Mr. Foster's testimony was particularly damaging.

What the country most needs-and what the GOP must now advocate-is a fundamentally new approach to containing health-care costs.

The most promising model for Medicare comes from Clinton Budget Director Alice Rivlin and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.). Under their plan, starting in 2021 those turning 65 and going on Medicare would get a fixed contribution to use to purchase insurance, allowing them in many instances to keep their existing coverage. Consumers will be in charge.

Annual support would grow at the same yearly rate as the economy plus 1%. Medicare payments would be adjusted by income, geography and health risk. Poor seniors would get extra help for out-of-pocket expenses.

This bipartisan model builds on the success of the Medicare prescription drug benefit passed in 2003. This market- and competition-oriented experiment gave seniors a fixed sum they could use to purchase drug insurance coverage. In response, drug companies and insurance providers flooded the market with options that drove prices for consumers down.

Though more seniors signed up for the benefit, signed up quicker and used it more than expected, the program costs much less than estimated (the original Congressional Budget Office estimate was $552 billion for the first 10 years, but the estimated cost is now $385 billion). Competition and consumer choice are far more effective in containing costs than is bureaucratic price-setting.

We're at an unprecedented moment. The huge historic advantage Democrats have enjoyed on the health-care issue has evaporated. ObamaCare is increasingly less popular. Its unpopularity is up nine points in the last month, to 50%, in a Kaiser/Harvard survey. The public is now taking a close look at what the Republican Party might have to offer.

The Rivlin-Ryan alternative plan is bold and not without risk. Past efforts at entitlement reform haven't been successful. Having worked in the Bush White House during the 2005 Social Security battle, I know of what I speak. Still, the Rivlin-Ryan plan is right on substance. And unlike 2005, it may also be the right moment.

Thanks in good measure to Mr. Obama's profligacy, the entitlement crisis is no longer a vague, abstract concern. More and more Americans understand the current course leads to a disaster for the nation's finances. And so the public may be willing to go places and do things that in the past it may not have.

This is an unusual and fluid moment. My hunch is voters are more inclined than ever to reward the political party that addresses entitlement reform-and more inclined than ever to punish the one that fiddles while America's fiscal house burns.



Obama Invites Crisis If He Ignores Ruling

The decision by federal judge Roger Vinson striking down President Obama's signature health care law effectively ends ObamaCare unless some higher court overturns it.

In spite of this overwhelming rebuke of the law, some Birkenstock-wearing legal analysts are trying to argue that Vinson's ruling could be ignored by the administration. That's why this week's action by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is so significant. Van Hollen has taken the proper step of following the law, which now says that ObamaCare is unconstitutional in its entirety, relieving Wisconsin of any obligation to follow it.

It is the responsibility of every state attorney general in the nation to follow Van Hollen's lead, and halt any actions to implement this unconstitutional law. To do otherwise will open states up to legal liability.

The earthquake-like impact of Judge Vinson's ruling and Van Hollen's appropriate response is obvious; unless Vinson's ruling is either stayed or overturned, the nation is now free from any compulsion to follow the dictates coming out of Washington on this issue.

Instead of accepting continued implementation of the law from Washington, all states should join with the American people in demanding that Barack Obama cease and desist from ignoring the federal court and continuing any actions that implement this invalidated law.

Failure of the Obama administration to stop all activity related to the law that the federal court held to be unconstitutional would create a potential constitutional showdown between the two branches rarely seen in our nation's history. When coupled with the state's refusal to submit to federal regulations implementing a law that has been stripped from the books, our nation is looking at a potentially historic fight not only between branches of government but between the states and the federal government.

Back in the 1970s, it was openly asked what would happen if President Nixon simply refused to hand over the taped conversations from the Oval Office in spite of the demands of the federal courts. Of course, that speculation proved unnecessary as Nixon did turn over the tapes, and resigned from office.

Today, Obama stands at the same decision point that Nixon did - whether to follow the law or not.

As a former professor of constitutional law, Obama clearly understands the consequences of continuing to implement law that has been invalidated, and in case the implications of the federal court ruling were lost on him, the Wisconsin attorney general's decision to cease and desist all activity in Wisconsin related to the law should serve as a reminder.

Ultimately, the rule of law must prevail in this instance. Unless and until Judge Vinson's decision is overturned by a higher court, the federal government must follow it.

Failure to do so would unnecessarily throw our nation into its worse constitutional crisis since the Nixon impeachment. It is up to Obama whether he wants to subject both himself and our nation to that kind of turmoil. For the sake of our nation, let's hope he takes his oath of office seriously, averts a crisis, and follows the law of the land.



The Obama waivers start to spread

We already have more than 700 waivers to the requirements of ObamaCare in place, with 40% of those affected being in unions. Now we see waivers beginning in another area of the Obama administration's key policy areas - greenhouse gas emissions. In January, the administration began enforcing new EPA rules on new or expanding power plants, and within just a few weeks, announced the first waiver of those rules:
The Obama administration will spare a stalled power plant project in California from the newest federal limits on greenhouse gases and conventional air pollution, U.S. EPA says in a new court filing that marks a policy shift in the face of industry groups and Republicans accusing the agency of holding up construction of large industrial facilities.

According to a declaration by air chief Gina McCarthy, officials reviewed EPA policies and decided it was appropriate to "grandfather" projects such as the Avenal Power Center, a proposed 600-megawatt power plant in the San Joaquin Valley, so they are exempted from rules such as new air quality standards for smog-forming nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Hey, you know what else Barack Obama did in January? He picked GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to lead his new jobs commission. Does that sound like a non-sequitur to you? Let Timothy Carney explain the details of the Avenal Power Center:
The proposed Avenal Energy project will be a combined-cycle generating plant consisting of two natural gas-fired General Electric 7FA Gas Turbines with Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSG) and one General Electric Steam Turbine.

GE: They bring good waivers to life!

The Obama administration seems very eager to impose regulation on everyone except their bestest buddies. If these policies are so bad that Obama's friends and political allies need waivers to get around them, then perhaps they shouldn't be in place at all. And perhaps the Obama administration should learn something about the rule of law, rather than the rule of whim - or as the rest of us call it, The Chicago Way.



Liberal Bouquets for Dead Conservatives

Jonah Goldberg

The only good conservative is a dead conservative. That, in a nutshell, describes the age-old tradition of liberals suddenly discovering that once-reviled conservatives were OK after all. It's just we-the-living who are hateful ogres, troglodytes and moperers.

Over the last decade or so, as the giants of the founding generation of modern American conservatism have died, each has been rehabilitated into a gentleman-statesman of a bygone era of conservative decency and open-mindedness.

Barry Goldwater was the first. A few years ago his liberal granddaughter produced a documentary in which nearly all of the testimonials were from prominent liberals like Hillary Clinton and James Carville. Almost overnight, the man whom LBJ cast as a hate-filled demagogue who would condemn the world to nuclear war became an avuncular and sage grandfather type. Down the memory hole went one of the most despicable campaigns of political demonization in American history. Even Sarah Palin hasn't been subjected to an ad in the New York Times signed by more than 1,000 psychiatrists claiming she's too crazy to be president (though I don't want to give anybody any ideas).

Then there was William F. Buckley, the founder of National Review, the magazine I call home. For more than four decades, Buckley was subjected to condemnation for his alleged extremism. Jack Paar (the Johnny Carson/Jay Leno of his day for you youngsters) was among the first of many to try to paint Buckley as a Nazi. Now, Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times book review section, who is writing a biography of Buckley, insists that Bill's life mission was to make liberalism better.

But it's Ronald Reagan who really stands out. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, the Gipper is enjoying yet another status upgrade among liberals. Barack Obama took a Reagan biography with him on his vacation. A slew of liberals and mainstream journalists (but I repeat myself) complimented Obama's State of the Union address as "Reaganesque." Time magazine recently featured the cover story "Why Obama (Hearts) Reagan." Meanwhile, the usual suspects are rewriting the same columns about how Reagan was a pragmatist who couldn't run for president today because he was too nice, too reasonable, too (shudder) liberal for today's Republican Party.




Healthcare insurance: Solution or problem?: "Leftists think that if they can just force everyone to buy health insurance their dreams for universal health care would come true. But why insurance? Insurance only exacerbates the problem. Insurance increases the demand for medical services. Insurance for every medical expense is the primary reason why heath care is so outrageously expensive today. If we got groceries the same way we now get health care, the cost of food would explode."

New initiative: Kill the “kill switch” bill: "The 'Internet kill switch' bill was promoted by Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins in the last Congress. The bill would have granted President Obama the power to shut down much of the Internet in the event of a 'cybersecurity emergency.' The good news is that Congress adjourned before passing it. The bad news is that, on the very same day Egypt's dictator Hosni Mubarak imposed an Internet blackout on his country, Collins announced her intention to re-introduce the bill."

US Senate votes to rescind IRS reporting measure: "The Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to rescind a measure in last year's healthcare law that expands business transaction reporting requirements to the Internal Revenue Service. ... Small firms and the self-employed are up in arms about the provision that, starting next year, they will have to submit 1099 tax forms on purchases of goods and services that total more than $600."

Senate would criminalize laser targeting of planes: "Pointing handheld lasers at aircraft -- a growing problem that aviation officials warn could lead to a crash -- would become a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison under an amendment approved by the Senate on Thursday. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., the sponsor of the amendment, said he was responding to a surge in incidents in which people have pointed at aircraft powerful lasers capable of temporarily blinding pilots"

Court hears challenge to Voting Rights Act: "Conservative legal activists are set to renew their campaign to overturn the nation's landmark Voting Rights Act, arguing before a federal district judge in Washington on Wednesday that states and local jurisdictions should no longer be forced to justify voting changes to the Justice Department or a federal court. The lawsuit, brought by officials in Shelby County, Ala., revives a constitutional challenge aimed at the heart of the 1965 law, a challenge that many analysts called the most important issue of the year when it reached the Supreme Court in 2009."

HI: Rights Commission to review tip policy: "A restaurant has attracted the attention of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission with a notice that it will add a 15 percent gratuity to the checks of patrons who don't speak English. ... The Waikiki restaurant told KITV that its customer base includes many international travelers who, by custom, do not tip. The restaurant says it's merely trying to help its customers and wait staff. About 17 percent of the nearly 7 million tourists who visited Hawaii last year were from Japan, where people do not leave tips in restaurants."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Leftists can dish it out but can't take it

In their egotistical way, they think that they should have a monopoly of violence and threats of violence. They can wish death on conservatives but they get all teary if conservatives wish death on them

If you promote violent leftist insurrection for a living, should you be surprised when anonymous members of the public threaten you with violence?

Apparently. Take the case of Marxist professor and community organizer Frances Fox Piven, a frequent target of conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck.

In the Nation magazine just last month, Ms. Piven expressed outrage that Wall Street bankers weren’t being dragged from their homes and led to the guillotine because of the country’s high unemployment rates and an anemic economy. “So where are the angry crowds, the demonstrations, sit-ins and unruly mobs? After all, the injustice is apparent,” she wrote. Ms. Piven‘s next words ought to send a chill down the spine of every American.

“Local protests have to accumulate and spread - and become more disruptive - to create serious pressures on national politicians. An effective movement of the unemployed will have to look something like the strikes and riots that have spread across Greece in response to the austerity measures forced on the Greek government by the European Union, or like the student protests that recently spread with lightning speed across England in response to the prospect of greatly increased school fees.”

Shocked staffers at the Nation report that the publication’s website has been flooded with angry comments, expletives and unprintable threats against Ms. Piven‘s person.

But instead of recognizing the root causes of this backlash, Occidental College professor and activist Peter Dreier points his finger at Mr. Beck, Ms. Piven‘s most persistent critic. Mr. Beck has railed against Ms. Piven almost daily on his cable TV show for the past two years, calling her “an enemy of the Constitution.”

It is a harsh but nonetheless accurate epithet directed at someone who sees the Constitution as an inconvenient obstacle standing in the way of socialist utopia. It should be noted that Ms. Piven‘s only objection to Karl Marx‘s opus is that it is too vague to achieve radical social transformation. “The Communist Manifesto, was really too general for the purposes that we need to put the strategic work to today,” she told a 2009 radicals conference in Germany. Apparently she views her work as an improvement on Marx‘s approach to extremist rabble-rousing.

Yet Mr. Dreier denounces Mr. Beck for “vitriol” and accuses him of orchestrating a “hate campaign” against Ms. Piven in order to “stir people to aggressive and hateful action.” For her part, Ms. Piven repeatedly has said Mr. Beck is a scapegoating racist and liar....

Ms. Piven is a committed revolutionary, not just an abstraction-spewing parlor radical. She is honorary chairman of the Trotskyist-founded Democratic Socialists of America. She also is active in other left-wing groups and is a member of the board of Project Vote, the notorious voter-fraud-prone ACORN affiliate that once employed Barack Obama.

It needs to be said that the beauty of the American system is that it allows the violence that historically has accompanied political jockeying to be sublimated - turned into peaceful competition between rival ideas.

Like the late Saul Alinsky, Ms. Piven and her ilk reject that thinking. They want to burn America to the ground.

It’s time they stopped blaming Mr. Beck for educating the public about their intentions.



I can balance the budget

John Stossel

The Congressional Budget Office says the current year's budget deficit will be a record $1.5 trillion. It also says that over the next decade we're on track for annual deficits of "only" $768 billion. I suspect the CBO has hired Rosy Scenario to do the bookkeeping, but let's take that number at face value.

I'm now going to balance the budget, with the help of some experts. I'll begin with things I'm most eager to cut. Let's privatize air traffic control. Canada did it, and it works better. Then privatize Amtrak. Get rid of all subsidies for rail. That'll save $12 billion.

End subsidies for public broadcasting, like NPR. Cancel the Small Business Administration. Repeal the Davis-Bacon rules under which the government pays union-set wages to workers on federal construction projects. Cut foreign aid by half (although we should probably get rid of all of it). So far, that's $20 billion.

Oops. That doesn't dent the deficit. We have to do much more. So eliminate the U.S. Education Department. We'd save $94 billion. Federal involvement doesn't improve education. It gets in the way.

Agriculture subsidies cost us $30 billion a year. Let's get rid of them. They distort the economy. We should also eliminate Housing and Urban Development. That's $53 billion more.

Who needs the Energy Department and its $20 billion sinkhole? The free market should determine energy investments.

And let's end the war on drugs. In effect, it's a $47 billion subsidy for thugs in the black market.

I've already cut more than six times more than President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address. His freeze of nondefense discretionary spending would save only $40 billion.

But my cuts still total only $246 billion. If we're going to get rid of the rest of the CBO's projected deficit, we must attack the "untouchable" parts of the budget, starting with Social Security. Raising the retirement age and indexing benefits to inflation would save $93 billion. I'd save more by privatizing Social Security, but our progressive friends won't like that, so for now I'll ignore privatization.

The biggest budget busters are Medicare and Medicaid, and get this: the 400 subsidy programs run by HHS. Assuming I take just two-thirds of the Cato Institute's suggested cuts, that saves $281 billion.

How about the Defense Department's $721 billion? Much of that money could be saved if the administration just shrank the military's mission to its most important role: protecting us and our borders from those who wish us harm. Today, we have more than 50,000 soldiers in Germany, 30,000 in Japan and 9,000 in Britain. Those countries should pay for their own defense. Cato's military cuts add up to $150 billion. I've now cut enough to put us $2 billion in surplus!

As you see, the budget can be cut. Only politics stand in the way.



Food and failed Arab states

By Spengler

Even Islamists have to eat. It is unclear whether President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt will survive, or whether his nationalist regime will be replaced by an Islamist, democratic, or authoritarian state. What is certain is that it will be a failed state. Amid the speculation about the shape of Arab politics to come, a handful of observers, for example economist Nourel Roubini, have pointed to the obvious: Wheat prices have almost doubled in the past year.

Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer, beholden to foreign providers for nearly half its total food consumption. Half of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day. Food comprises almost half the country's consumer price index, and much more than half of spending for the poorer half of the country. This will get worse, not better....

Egypt is wallowing in backwardness, not because the Mubarak regime has suppressed the creative energies of the people, but because the people themselves cling to the most oppressive practices of traditional society. And countries can only languish in backwardness so long before some event makes their position untenable.

In this case, Asian demand has priced food staples out of the Arab budget. As prosperous Asians consume more protein, global demand for grain increases sharply (seven pounds of grain produce one pound of beef). Asians are rich enough, moreover, to pay a much higher price for food whenever prices spike due to temporary supply disruptions, as at the moment.

Egyptians, Jordanians, Tunisians and Yemenis are not. Episodes of privation and even hunger will become more common. The miserable economic performance of all the Arab states, chronicled in the United Nations' Arab Development Reports, has left a large number of Arabs so far behind that they cannot buffer their budget against food price fluctuations.

Earlier this year, after drought prompted Russia to ban wheat exports, Egypt's agriculture minister pledged to raise food production over the next ten years to 75% of consumption, against only 56% in 2009. Local yields are only 18 bushels per acre, compared to 30 to 60 for non-irrigated wheat in the United States, and up 100 bushels for irrigated land....

After 30 years of stability, the price of wheat has had two spikes into the $9 per bushel range at which very poor people begin to go hungry. The problem isn't production. Wheat production has risen steadily - very steadily in fact - and the volatility of global supply has been muted....

It wasn't the financial crisis that undermined dysfunctional Arab states, but Asian prosperity. The Arab poor have been priced out of world markets. There is no solution to Egypt's problems within the horizon of popular expectations. Whether the regime survives or a new one replaces it, the outcome will be a disaster of, well, biblical proportions.

The best thing the United States could do at the moment would be to offer massive emergency food aid to Egypt out of its own stocks, with the understanding that President Mubarak would offer effusive public thanks for American generosity. This is a stopgap, to be sure, but it would pre-empt the likely alternative.

Otherwise, the Muslim Brotherhood will preach Islamist socialism to a hungry audience. That also explains why Mubarak just might survive. Even Islamists have to eat. The Iranian Islamists who took power in 1979 had oil wells; Egypt just has hungry mouths. Enlightened despotism based on the army, the one stable institution Egypt possesses, might not be the worst solution.



Do Only the Rich Get Richer?

This is an old and familiar saw – but one that doesn’t cut it.

Review the history of Americans who’ve become rich as entrepreneurs. A large percentage – my guess is a great majority of them – began life in modest circumstances.

Perhaps the most famous fabulously rich American of all time is John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. He hailed from a poor, hard-scrabble farm in upstate New York, then moved with his family as a young boy to Ohio. He began his career at the age of 16 in Cleveland as a bookkeeper. He was quite the opposite of wealthy.

Or Andrew Carnegie. The son of a Scottish weaver, he immigrated to America, with nearly nothing, at the age of 13. Almost immediately he began his career – as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill. No riches here that launched Carnegie.

Or Aaron Montgomery Ward. He began his career working in a barrel factory at the age of 14; later he advanced to laboring in a brick yard. Even later, he earned his living as a traveling salesman. No riches here that launched Montgomery Ward.

Going back a few generations, consider John Jacob Astor. (See also here.) He was born in Germany, the son of a butcher, and worked in his brother’s factory making musical instruments. He did not amass any fortune until he came to the U.S. and started his fur-trading business.

Likewise for Cornelius Vanderbilt, descended from Dutch indentured servants and a man who quit school at the age of 11 to work on ferries. His family was of only modest means.

Or Gustavus Swift. He was the son of a farmer; he began his career as a butcher’s apprentice.

J.P. Morgan is something of an exception to the above cast of entrepreneurs. His father was a partner in a London investment firm.

More recently, Steve Jobs hails from a modest background. (Bill Gates is more like Morgan on this front; his father is a partner is the well-known law firm of Preston Gates & Ellis.)

I could go on, listing famous rich business people. I’m quite certain – without having yet done a detailed study – that the history of these people thoroughly disproves the tired adage that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

Others can be added to the above list. Henry Ford (born on a farm); Richard Sears (son of a blacksmith); F.W. Woolworth (born on a potato farm); RCA’s David Sarnoff (born to poor Jewish parents in Minsk); IBM’s Thomas Watson (son of a small rural merchant). As I said, I could go on and on.

SOURCE. (See the original for links)



NY: Cuomo slashes spending, freezes taxes in budget: "New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a radical state budget on Tuesday that would lay off nearly 10,000 state workers and cut billions from education and Medicaid programs to eliminate a $10 billion deficit. The Democratic governor also proposed no new or increased taxes in the $132.9 billion budget plan, which would shrink the current budget ending March 31 by 2.7 percent."

The diversity divide: "Contrary to the apparent belief of some on the left, everything that comes from the right does not have racist overtones. What is racist is to cry 'racism!' at every available opportunity. What’s worse is that it’s become the battle cry of those who have nothing left -- no facts, no ideas, no basis in reality -- with which to fight. And sadly, it’s a weapon of some potency."

Food panic: "Rising food prices are the latest excuse for bashing market speculators. Around the world, these devils are the scapegoats for otherwise ill-conceived market manipulations by governments everywhere. There’s no doubt that the consequences of soaring food prices are significant -- from creeping inflation in the developed world to social unrest in the Arab world to real hunger in the impoverished world. However, speculators can only succeed when the fundamentals are in their favour. And that means either supply is artificially constricted or demand is wastefully encouraged."

Real world complexity: "What meets the eye in any marketplace -- meets the eyes even of experts -- is only a tiny tip of an immense iceberg of complex feedback loops, unique and often fleeting bits of knowledge, and countless adjustments of cou[n]tless people, none of whom could describe in detail exactly what they’re doing any more than even a world-class sprinter could describe in detail all that he does with his muscles when he sprints. Even the best models of an economy or of an industry capture, at most, only this tiny tip of this immense iceberg of feeback loops, knowledge, and adjustments."

Why tax cuts stimulate the economy: "First, tax cuts boost business everywhere. Employers who are struggling to pay their bills (including national and local taxes), are not likely to think about hiring more people. But a tax cut would make a crucial marginal difference to them. And remember: if every small business in the country had the confidence to hire one extra person, unemployment would be zero"

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

Planned Parenthood Exposed on Video – Again!

Live Action, a group self-described as “a youth led movement dedicated to building a culture of life and ending abortion,” is well-known for producing hidden-camera videos exposing illegal Planned Parenthood activity. In the video released today, they expose a Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey nurse caught on tape aiding a pimp running an underage sex ring. Here’s the story, according to a Live Action news release:

"A Planned Parenthood manager in New Jersey coaches a man and a woman posing as sex traffickers how to to secure secret abortions, STD testing, and contraception for their female underage sex slaves, and make their whole operation “look as legit as possible” in an undercover video released this morning.

Clinic manager Amy Woodruff, LPN, of Planned Parenthood Central New Jersey’s Perth Amboy center, warns the pimp and his prostitute to have their trafficked underage girls lie about their age to avoid mandatory reporting laws, promising, “even if they lie, just say, ‘Oh he’s the same age as me, 15,’…it’s just that mainly 14 and under we have to, doesn’t matter if their partner’s the same age, younger, whatever, 14 and under we have to report.” She says, “For the most part, we want as little information as possible.”

Woodruff also recommends how the pimp can get his prostitutes cheaper contraception by claiming they are “students”: “If they’re minors, put down that they’re students. Yeah, just kind of play along that they’re students–we want to make it look as legit as possible.”

If one of the young trafficked girls needs an abortion, Woodruff refers the pimp and prostitute to the Metropolitan Medical Association, where “their protocols aren’t as strict as ours and they don’t get audited the same way that we do.” The prostitute in the video asks how long after the abortion until the girls can have sex again, and when Woodruff says “minimum of 2 weeks,” she asks what sex acts the girls could still do to make money. Woodruff advises, “Waist up, or just be that extra action walking by” to advertise sex to potential clients.

Sex trafficking is punishable under federal law and carries a potential life sentence. The new video is released by Live Action, a pro-life new media organization led by 22-year-old Lila Rose. The video airs just days after Planned Parenthood’s leadership suspected the sting operation and sought an FBI probe of Live Action in order to deter the release of the exposé. Live Action is sending full footage to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, NJ Attorney General Paula Dow, officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and other law enforcement officials, requesting federal and state investigations into Planned Parenthood’s sexual abuse and sex trafficking cover up.

“This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Planned Parenthood intentionally breaks state and federal laws and covers up the abuse of the young girls it claims to serve,” said Lila Rose, president of Live Action. “Time and time again, Planned Parenthood has sent young girls back into the arms of their abusers. They don’t deserve a dime of the hundreds of millions they receive in federal funding from taxpayers. Congress must cease funding and the Department of Justice should investigate this corrupt organization immediately.”

Live Action has previously released more than a dozen hidden camera videos from ten states and shows the alarming trend of illegal Planned Parenthood activity including cover-up of sexual abuse of minors, the skirting of parental consent laws, citing unscientific and fabricated medical information to convince women to have abortions, and Planned Parenthood’s willingness to accept donations earmarked to abort African-American babies.

SOURCE. (Video at link)


Spilled Milk and bureaucratic over-reach

By Thomas Sowell

Despite the old saying, "Don't cry over spilled milk," the Environmental Protection Agency is doing just that.

We all understand why the Environmental Protection Agency was given the power to issue regulations to guard against oil spills, such as that of the Exxon Valdez in Alaska or the more recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But not everyone understands that any power given to any bureaucracy for any purpose can be stretched far beyond that purpose.

In a classic example of this process, the EPA has decided that, since milk contains oil, it has the authority to force farmers to comply with new regulations to file "emergency management" plans to show how they will cope with spilled milk, how farmers will train "first responders" and build "containment facilities" if there is a flood of spilled milk.

Since there is no free lunch, all of this is going to cost the farmers both money and time that could be going into farming-- and is likely to end up costing consumers higher prices for farm products.

It is going to cost the taxpayers money as well, since the EPA is going to have to hire people to inspect farms, inspect farmers' reports and prosecute farmers who don't jump through all the right hoops in the right order. All of this will be "creating jobs," even if the tax money removed from the private sector correspondingly reduces the jobs that can be created there.

Does anyone seriously believe that any farmer is going to spill enough milk to compare with the Exxon Valdez oil spill or the BP oil spill?

Do you envision people fleeing their homes, as a flood of milk comes pouring down the mountainside, threatening to wipe out the village below?

It doesn't matter. Once the words are in the law, it makes no difference what the realities are. The bureaucracy has every incentive to stretch the meaning of those words, in order to expand its empire.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has expanded its definition of "discrimination" to include things that no one thought was discrimination when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. The Federal Communications Commission is trying to expand its jurisdiction to cover things that were never included in its jurisdiction, and that have no relationship to the reason why the FCC was created in the first place.

Yet the ever-expanding bureaucratic state has its defenders in the mainstream media. When President Obama recently mentioned the possibility of reducing burdensome regulations-- as part of his moving of his rhetoric toward the political center, even if his policies don't move-- there was an immediate reaction in a New York Times article defending government regulations.

Under a headline that said, "Obama May Find Useless Regulations Are Scarcer Than Thought," the Times writers declared that there were few, if any, "useless" regulations. But is that the relevant criterion?

Is there any individual or business willing to spend money on everything that is not absolutely useless? There are thousands of useful things out there that any given individual or business would not spend their money on.

When I had young children, I often thought it would be useful to have a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica for them. But I never bought one. Why? Because there were other little things to spend money on, like food, clothing and shelter.

By the time I could afford to buy a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the kids were grown and gone. But at no time did I consider the Encyclopedia Britannica "useless."

Weighing benefits against costs is the way most people make decisions-- and the way most businesses make decisions, if they want to stay in business. Only in government is any benefit, however small, considered to be worth any cost, however large.

No doubt the Environmental Protection Agency's costly new regulations may somewhere, somehow, prevent spilled milk from pouring out into some street and looking unsightly. So the regulations are not literally "useless."

What is useless is making that the criterion.



5 Reasons Liberals Aren't As Happy as Conservatives

Did you know liberals aren't as happy as conservatives? Of course, you did. How could you not know it after listening to them incessantly wail, gripe, whine, and complain about everything? But, let's bring....drumroll, please -- the science! First, here's the Pew Research comparison between Republicans and Democrats:

The survey, released this week, points out several disparities based on lifestyle, beliefs and political persuasion:

* Republicans are happier than Democrats.

* People who worship frequently are happier than those who don't.

* The rich are happier than the poor.

* Whites and Hispanics are happier than blacks.

* Married people are happier than the unmarried...

About 45 percent of Republicans said they were very happy, compared with 30 percent of Democrats. Republicans have been happier in surveys going back to 1972, the Pew study notes.

Here’s more from Arthur Brooks:

In 2004, people who said they were conservative or very conservative were nearly twice as likely to say they were very happy as people who called themselves liberal or very liberal (44 percent versus 25 percent). Conservatives were only half as likely to say they were not too happy (9 versus 18 percent). Political conservatives were also far less likely than liberals to express maladjustment to their adult lives. For example, adults on the political right were only half as likely as those on the left to say, “at times, I think I am no good at all.” They were also less likely to say they were dissatisfied with themselves, that they were inclined to feel like a failure, or to be pessimistic about their futures. Further, a 2007 survey found that 58 percent of Republicans rated their mental health as “excellent,” versus 43 percent of political independents and just 38 percent of Democrats.

Want to be a miserable person? Be a liberal. Want to have a happy life? Be a conservative. Why is that the case? There are a number of reasons for it.

1) Conservatives believe in personal responsibility: One of the tragic facts of life is that nobody cares as much about you as you do. That's why, if you want to have a good life and be a happy person, you're going to have to take care of it yourself. Conservatives get this. Liberals? Not so much.

Liberals spend a lot of time playing the victim and trying to come up with ways to get someone else to fix their lives. "Well, if the government forced some rich guy to give me more of his money, then all my problems would be solved! If our society could just make this change, then we could all dance in the moonlight with faeries and unicorns! If the government just added one more program, then we could teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, hold it in our arms, and keep it company!"

One of the biggest keys to happiness is accepting that if you want to be happy, you need to take personal responsibility for everything in your life so you can do something about it. On the other hand, you want to be unhappy? Act like liberals and expect other people to show up and fix your problems.

2) Conservatives are more religious than liberals: There's a school of thought, largely embraced by liberals, that says religion is an archaic, largely arbitrary set of rules that do little more than keep you from doing all the "fun stuff" in life. That view leads to not taking your religious views very seriously at best and atheism or agnosticism at worst.

On the other hand, here's an alternate view, one that many conservatives hold. Religion, particularly Christianity, isn't out-of-date or arbitrary at all. Moreover, religion doesn't keep you from doing all the "fun stuff" so much as it keeps you from committing sins that may be fun for a season, but ultimately end in sorrow.

We're right, they're wrong and that's another big reason why so many of us are happy and so many of them are not.

3) Conservatives are more likely than liberals to get married: Despite everything you hear about divorce and unhappy marriages, people who are married are much more likely to be happy than those who are single:

In 2004, 42 percent of married Americans said they were very happy. Only 23 percent of never-married people said this, as well as 20 percent of those who were widowed, 17 percent of divorced people, and 11 percent of those who were separated (but not divorced) from their spouses. Married people were six times more likely to say they were very happy than they were to say they were not too happy.

Conservatives tend to place a considerably higher value on marriage than liberals do. To conservatives, marriage is the bedrock of society, whereas to liberals, it's not all that important. This is one of the reasons we have huge battles over gay marriage. Conservatives think it's dangerous for society to tinker with such an important tradition while liberals don't think marriage is all that valuable. It's also why "conservatives are twice as likely to be married."

Twice as likely? Why, it's almost as if conservatives believe all that stuff they're saying about marriage being the "bedrock of our society.” Too bad liberals don't look at it the same way. They'd be happier people.

4) Liberalism just doesn't work very well in the real world: If you spend your whole life advocating ideas that make people's lives worse, that fall apart at the first touch of reality, and that rely on a government that's inevitably slow, stupid, and ineffective, it's not going to be conducive to your happiness. Liberal policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them. That's what happens when you back political policies based on how they make you feel about yourself.

Conservatives don't have that problem. We support policies based on what works. The better you understand the world and how it works, the easier life is going to be for you. On the other hand, if you spend your whole life trying to slam a square peg into a round hole, it's not likely to lead to contentment.

5) Liberalism has turned into an extraordinarily harsh, divisive, angry ideology: As a political philosophy, liberalism is centered around hatred and divisiveness. Liberals don't promote their ideas so much as they try to turn people against those who get in the way of their ideas.

Liberals lie to minorities and tell them that conservatives hate them, they tell women that men hate them, they tell the poor they should hate the rich. They try to pit the successful against the unsuccessful, the workers against the corporations -- and they regularly talk about their own country like it is one of the most godawful places on earth. That means liberals are, at best, extraordinarily cynical people who're willing to manipulate people for political gain -- and at worst, it means that they believe all this nonsense, which would make the world seem to be a very unpleasant place indeed. If you spend your life seething over a litany of grievances you've created from scratch in your own head, then you're probably going to be an Eeyore instead of floating on Cloud 9.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 February, 2011

After an early stutter, George VI did his best to defeat the Nazis

Conservative Australian historian and commentator Gerard Henderson offers some remarks below about "The King's Speech" which, like mine on Jan. 28, put the events covered in the movie into the context of their times

The Battle of Britain ended seven decades ago but fire is still being directed at the royal family over its role in the period leading up to World War II. This has been ignited by the well-earned success (so far) of The King's Speech - which has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including best picture.

Isaac Chotiner in The New Republic and Christopher Hitchens in Slate have accused the film of rewriting history with respect to the attitude of Edward VIII (who abdicated in December 1936) and George VI (formerly the Duke of York) to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime in Germany.

The criticism is that The King's Speech underplays Edward's flirtation with nazism both before and after the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939 and neglects to mention George's support for the policy of appeasement pursued by Neville Chamberlain when he became prime minister after Stanley Baldwin resigned in May 1937.

Both critiques have validity but both are overstated. The most serious historical howlers in The King's Speech are the depiction of Baldwin stepping down due to his inability to handle Hitler and the representation of Churchill as an opponent of Edward VIII.

Baldwin was persuaded to hand over the keys to 10 Downing Street by Chamberlain, who believed that it was his turn. Churchill was perhaps the strongest supporter of Edward and appeared to tolerate his determination to marry the much-divorced Wallis Simpson. As Frances Donaldson pointed out in her 1974 book Edward VIII, one of the finest royal biographies written, Churchill's "ill-judged championship of the king did great, if only temporary, harm to his political career".

However, the likes of Chotiner and Hitchens make their own misjudgments when assessing The King's Speech - which, as the film acknowledges, is merely based on a true story. The abdication was not about foreign policy. Nor, indeed, any kind of policy.

As Edward said in his resignation speech, he renounced his duty as king because he "found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility … as I would wish without the help and support of the woman I love". In short, it was all about him. Edward was prepared to abdicate in favour of his brother Bertie despite the fact that he was a shy man with a bad stutter who felt unsuitable for the job. Narcissists do not care about such matters.

Edward VIII's allegiances were clear. They were not to his family or his people or to Hitler. They were to him alone. If Edward had wanted to implant fascism in Britain he would have remained at Buckingham Palace. Edward and Mrs Simpson had a soft spot for nazism but this had no impact on British foreign policy.

It is true that George VI was a dedicated supporter of appeasement, as was his wife Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mother). And critics of the royal family are correct in pointing out that the king and queen acted inappropriately in September 1938 when they stood with Mr and Mrs Chamberlain on the Buckingham Palace balcony after the prime minister returned from meeting Hitler in Munich with the (false) promise of peace in our time.

Where the Chotiner and Hitchens critiques lack balance turns on their failure to concede that appeasement enjoyed wide support in 1937, 1938 and for most of 1939. In time, Chamberlain declared war on Hitler and George VI publicly supported his prime minister. Certainly, when Chamberlain stumbled in 1940, George VI did not favour Churchill taking over the position. But as Andrew Roberts documents in Eminent Churchillians, by Christmas 1940 Churchill enjoyed the strong backing of his king.

In other words, the king became one of Churchill's fans. Moreover, as William Shawcross points out in Queen Elizabeth: The Queen Mother, Elizabeth acknowledged towards the end of her life that the invitation for the Chamberlains to appear on the palace balcony in 1938 had been a mistake.

Hitchens has a background on the left. He knows better than most that when Britain and the Commonwealth nations went to war with Germany in 1939 the only real opposition came not from one-time conservative appeasers. Rather, opponents of the war effort at the time essentially comprised of those on the left, who were members of the Communist Party or fellow travellers with Joseph Stalin's communist dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

World War II began following the signing of the Nazi Soviet Pact in August 1939, as a consequence of Hitler and Stalin dividing Eastern Europe between them. This made possible Germany's invasion of Poland, with the Soviet Union's consent. This led to a collapse of Chamberlain's policy of appeasement and demonstrated the wisdom of Churchill's long-standing warnings about nazism.

In September 1939, one-time appeasers such as prime minister Robert Menzies in Australia declared war. However, those who wanted to leave Hitler alone at the time included such well-known Australian communist writers as Frank Hardy and Katharine Susannah Prichard, due to their support of the Nazi Soviet Pact. They decided that nazism had to be defeated only after Germany attacked the Soviet Union in mid 1941.

The central political message of The King's Speech is not ahistorical. The royal family, among others, initially misjudged Hitler. Yet, in the end, they played their part in defeating nazism.



Government 'investment' doesn't create jobs; the private sector does

With unemployment remaining above 9 percent and showing no signs of going down any time soon, there's lots of talk in Washington about job creation. For President Obama and congressional Democrats, unemployment is an opportunity for government "investment" in massive public works projects such as manufacturing solar shingles and building high-speed rail lines. At best, such big-spending projects by the federal government mainly create temporary jobs while building things of dubious consumer value. More often, these government spending projects funnel tax dollars to Democratic political allies like the unions that benefit from Project Labor Agreements. These PLAs bar nonunion workers, thereby driving up costs to taxpayers.

The problem is that big-government public works projects allow Washington politicians in both political parties to claim to be "doing something" about high unemployment. But the reality is that every dollar spent by government is one less that is available for the private sector to invest in new businesses and technologies that spur the creation of permanent jobs. Indeed, if increased government spending were the solution to high unemployment, the U.S. economy would be short of workers. Just since the last two years of the Bush administration, the federal budget has grown 36 percent, from $2.7 trillion to $3.7 trillion annually. Discretionary spending has gone up 25 percent. The Heritage Foundation's Brian Reidl projects that the national debt will grow nearly $20 trillion by 2021, reaching 100 percent of gross domestic product that year. The annual budget deficit will exceed $1 trillion every year for the next decade.

But it's exactly that tidal wave of federal spending, along with the trillions borrowed from China and other overseas creditors and thousands of pages of new federal regulations, that's preventing the economy from creating new jobs and growth. House Speaker John Boehner got it exactly right on "Fox News Sunday" when he said, "There has been a spending spree going on in Washington these last couple of years that is beyond control. ... By running up the debt by spending money we don't have, running up these huge budget deficits, we create more uncertainty in the private sector. This is where cutting spending will create jobs because it is going to bring greater fiscal responsibility here in Washington, D.C." The speaker repeated over and over again during the interview that the American people want government spending reduced so that jobs can be created. After the midterm elections, it's a wonder that the Beltway crowd needs reminding.



It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35)

A story from a practicing Christian:

While hitting the release button to open the trunk, I saw Mrs. BH bend over and pick something up off the ground. I met her at the back of the car and began loading the groceries while she stood reading what appeared to be a receipt. She looked at me and said simply, "I just found $40."

As I loaded the last bag, she thought it might be a good idea to perhaps go back and turn the money in to the cashier listed on the receipt. I countered with the idea to place a call to the store from home letting them know that we'd found the money and that if someone could describe the items listed on the receipt, we'd make arrangements to return it. We got back in the car and Mrs. BH continued to study the receipt for clues that might lead us to its owner. I began to scan the parking lot for signs of a distressed shopper.

Since we were idling in front of the store, I decided to circle around and park the car in an area that offered the best vantage point of the location where the money had been found and resumed my scanning. I saw a lady in a golden colored sweatsuit who seemed to be looking for something but was then distracted by a man with grocery bags heading back toward the entrance of the store. I watched to see if he appeared to be looking for something and was disappointed when he stopped at a vending machine to buy a soda and return to his car. I then looked back to where I'd last seen golden sweatsuit lady but she was gone.

Minutes passed and though we saw numerous people walking to and fro, we saw no one that seemed to be concerned about lost money. We talked about how we were sure that someone would be missing the $40 especially in these tough times and again started wondering aloud as to our options when I saw her once again. Golden sweatsuit lady. She was heading back toward the store's entrance. And she was definitely scanning the ground, definitely looking a bit distressed.

I eased the car forward while exclaiming to Mrs. BH that I think this lady was the one. Rolling my window down, she caught my eye and I signaled to her. She came to the side of the car and I asked her simply, "Are you looking for anything by chance?". She immediately said, "I lost $40". Mrs. BH quickly reached across me to hand her the money along with the receipt. Tears welled in the woman's eyes and in my own. She reached in to hug me and I returned the hug. She thanked us and told us she was working but on break and that she had somehow dropped the cash on her way out of the store. She looked at us both with tangible relief and softly said, "That was my gas money". I said something like, "No, that is your gas money" and she thanked us once again while quietly saying numerous times, "God bless you". And He did.

We thanked her, shaking her hand one last time and then drove away with an inexpressible joy.



Trade Agreements are Good for America

There’s no question that we live in global environment. We buy products from all nations, eat foods from all around the world and interact daily with people from all different countries. It is important that America participates in this changing world, or it will be left behind. The more America opens up to the idea of trade agreements with other countries the more competitive and productive it will be.

“The world’s changed. It’s not enough to just buy American you need to sell American all throughout the world,” says U.S. Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) in an exclusively interview with Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “Unfortunately this past Congress and the White House have refused to help us level the playing field.”

Rep. Brady is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade. He is a firm believer in trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

“South Korea, Colombia and Panama are together worth almost $13 billion of new sales for our U.S. goods and services,” Rep. Brady went on to say. “So we are going to create a lot of jobs and find new customers that will help us get out of this economic recession, if we can open those markets. The President has indicated that he is willing to move South Korea, he needs to move all three and go beyond that—open those new markets and let us compete.”

In a hearing before the Committee on Ways and Means on Jan. 25, The Council of the Americas, which is a business organization representing some 190 member companies invested in and doing business throughout the Western Hemisphere, issued a statement of strong support to expand trade and investment throughout the Americas.

“Unfortunately we don’t have agreements with China, Europe, and other parts of the world, but other countries are reaching those agreements, shutting us out and putting us at a disadvantage,” Rep. Brady says. “The more agreements that give us two-way trade, a level playing field, the better it is for us.”

Trade agreements that America are involved in, like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), help to stimulate our economy by manufacturing goods and services here in the U.S. and by providing jobs. “Most of our deficit in trade is with countries we don’t have trade agreements with,” Rep. Brady explains to ALG. “The ones we actually reach agreements with we sell more goods and services. In fact, we have a big surplus of sales.”

Though America exposing itself to more trade agreements would not cure the nation’s economy on its own, it would be a step in that direction.




FL: Federal judge declares ObamaCare “void” in its entirety: "A federal judge in Florida ruled on Monday that President Obama’s health-care reform law exceeds Congress’s authority under the Constitution’s commerce clause. US District Judge Roger Vinson declared the 2,700-page reform measure 'void' in its entirety, while concluding that the law’s individual mandate requiring all Americans to buy a government-approved level of health insurance was a 'bridge too far."

CA: Hundreds march outside Koch brothers’ retreat: "Hundreds of environmentalists, union members and liberal activists converged on Rancho Mirage on Sunday to rally against what they see as the influence of two of the nation's leading financial backers of conservative causes. The protestors waved signs condemning 'corporate greed,' chanted slogans and surged toward a line of helmeted police officers at the entrance to a resort where billionaires Charles and David Koch were holding a retreat for prominent conservative elected officials, major political donors and strategists."

Obama’s regulatory deja vu: "Presidents Clinton and Reagan both signed executive orders requiring that proposed federal regulations be implemented only if their economic benefits exceeded the costs of complying with them. Reagan even established a branch within the Office of Management and Budget — the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) — to make sure executive branch agencies complied. The executive orders by and large were ineffective."

TSA shuts door on private airport screening program that exposed TSA’s inefficiency: "The Transportation Security Administration has shut the door on a private airport screening program that was making the inefficient agency look bad by outperforming it in safety, innovation, and customer satisfaction. The TSA’s action was praised by a liberal union that expects to unionize the TSA, the American Federation of Government Employees. ... Previously, the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government screeners with private contractors. 16 airports did so. 'But on Friday, the TSA denied an application by Springfield-Branson Airport in Missouri to privatize its checkpoint workforce, and in a statement,' TSA head John 'Pistole indicated other applications likewise will be denied.'”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

"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)

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

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)

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

"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.

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.

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

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

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

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.

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.

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

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"