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

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

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31 January, 2011

Egypt may be worse without Mubarak

Sayyid Qutb. Remember that name. You'll hear it often in coming months and years. Indeed, he may end up being the most influential person of the 21st century. He's been dead 46 years. But Karl Marx was the person who most influenced the 20th century he did not live to see.

Qutb's influence is more menacing than Marx. The radicals of the Muslim Brotherhood that are these days inspired by his manifesto, In The Shade of The Koran, will be central to the riots and violent chaos in Cairo.

It has always been the ultimate aim of the likes of Qutb and the Koran-quoting assassins he inspires to die advancing the cause of Islam. It goes without saying that an Egypt led by Islamic theocrats would attack Israel, unleashing god knows what.

The world understands Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak corruptly keeps government and that some of his people are illegally repressed. But that draconian rule has kept Egypt stable and its Islamic core under control. After losing wars with Israel, it decided to join the modern world in accepting that country's right to exist, even if Egyptian Muslims still see it as an enemy.

Under Mubarak, Egypt has helped keep the peace first won by his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, and Israel's Menachem Begin in 1979. For daring to barter peace with Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Sadat in 1981. Mubarak that day bravely took on the leadership, and pledged to recognise all treaties with Israel, and they have been trying to kill him ever since.

While these days some are inclined to smile at some of the absurdities uttered by Qutb -- he once wrote that jazz was "music that the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy" -- his influence is on enemies of ours who mean business. Al-Qaida for one.

Qutb was hanged with Brotherhood mates who'd been planning to assassinate Egyptian leaders. That's the good news. The bad is he is a hero to people who plan to hurt us.



What saving the nation will cost


National debt is over $14 trillion, the federal budget deficit is $1.4 trillion and, depending on whose estimates are used, the unfunded liability or indebtedness of the federal government (mostly in the form of obligations for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and prescription drugs) is estimated to be between $60 and $100 trillion.

Those entitlements along with others account for nearly 60 percent of federal spending. They are what Congress calls mandatory or nondiscretionary spending. Then there's discretionary spending, half of which is for national defense. Each year, non-discretionary spending consumes a higher and higher percent of the federal budget.

The spending path that Congress has chosen for the past half-century is unsustainable and will end up with economic collapse but little or nothing can be done about it unless I'm grossly wrong about the American people. Americans who detest our country and those who love our country are hell-bent, wittingly or unwittingly, on destroying it.

You say, "Williams, that's not only insulting but shows little trust as well. Explain yourself!"

For the past 30 years, federal tax revenue has averaged 18 percent of the GDP. Federal spending, nearing 30 percent of our GDP, is the problem. To get our economic house in order, there must be large spending cuts, not only in so-called discretionary spending but in nondiscretionary spending as well.

To put this in perspective: Defense spending is called discretionary and totals $685 billion. Our deficit is $1.4 trillion. Defense spending could be eliminated, and we'd still have a huge deficit. Any congressman unwilling to make cuts in entitlement spending is not to be taken seriously about sparing our nation from economic collapse.

Millions of Americans don't want their entitlement touched, many of whom are senior citizens. Seniors will tell you that they were forced into Social Security and Medicare, and any congressman talking about cutting those and other entitlements will face their wrath at the ballot box.

By the way, according to one study, "Until recent years, Social Security recipients received more, often far more, than the value of the Social Security taxes they paid. For workers who earned average wages and retired in 1980 at age 65, it took 2.8 years to recover the value of the retirement portion of the combined employee and employer shares of their Social Security taxes plus interest."

Seniors are not the only group who can put the fear of God into politicians. There are massive corporate handouts via programs like the Export-Import Bank, Agriculture Department business and farm subsidies, and the Small Business Administration. There's massive Department of Education spending on K-12 education and higher education. The list of federal programs, described as taking the earnings of one American and giving them to another, numbers in the thousands.

Everyone who receives government largesse and special favors deems his needs as vital, deserving, proper and in the national interest. It is entirely unreasonable to expect a politician to honor and obey our Constitution and, in the process, commit political suicide.

What's even worse for our nation is that voters ousting a politician who'd refuse to bring, say, aid to higher education back to his constituents is perfectly rational. If, for example, he's a Virginia politician and doesn't bring grants back to his constituents, it doesn't mean Virginian taxpayers will pay a lower income tax. All that it means is that Marylanders will get the money, instead. Once legalized theft begins, it pays for everyone to participate. Those who don't will be losers.

That's the nation's dilemma. The most important job for people who want to spare our nation from economic collapse is not that of persuading politicians to do the right thing but to convince our fellow Americans to respect the limits of our Constitution. In his speech to Virginia's ratifying convention, James Madison said, "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it."



State of the police state: Everything’s illegal

Libertarians understand that America isn’t "becoming" a police state because America is already a police state. Those still holding onto the fantasy that American is the "Land of the Free" should consider these few examples among thousands.

Prohibited paper-presenting

Beloved rights activist Julian Heicklen refused to attend his court appearance on Monday but reported Wednesday that a Tyranny Fighter was there. She related that (a) the Assistant US Attorney charged Heicklen with "distributing literature without a permit," a violation of a Homeland Security regulation, and (b) the judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

Think about that. When did it become a requirement to get some bureaucrat's permission to distribute Fully Informed Jury Association pamphlets to people who voluntarily accept them while both are standing on public property?

Then think about this. The DHS makes a rule criminalizing the act of one person giving another person a piece of paper with words on it and the American legal system has no qualms about enforcing this mere rule as though it takes precedence over the Bill of Rights. That’s a police state.

Watching cops? Watch out!

Two young men were abused by cops for taping cops. In Tarpon Springs FL William Kilgore taped officers arresting a drug suspect. When a cop demanded he turn over the tape Kilgore refused.

As the cop was arresting Kilgore and confiscating his camera Kilgore's friend, Tommy Frane, began recording the arrest with his cell phone. So the cop stole Frane's phone as well. Neither had been interfering with the police. That’s a police state.

Valley of Veggies

Dekalb County GA sued a farmer for growing too many vegetables on his own land. He faces nearly $5,000 in fines. Even after the county changed the zoning law (magnanimously granting him bureaucratic "permission") they're still demanding the $5,000.
The farmer never harmed, threatened, or defrauded anyone. That's a police state.

Yet, for reasons entirely beyond the comprehension of freedom-loving libertarians, Americans who call themselves "patriots" continue to praise, defend, excuse, justify, and rationalize the nation's cops, bureaucrats and politicians, and eagerly support the freedom-killing abomination known as the Patriot Act, which Congress is likely to extend rather than repeal on February 28. That's a brainless state.



The American Nomenklatura: What the Tea Partiers are up against

(The "Nomenklatura" was the name for the privileged class in the old Soviet union)

This week, as President Obama has been busy consolidating his alleged pivot to the center, I've been reading Joshua Berman of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. His 2008 book Created Equal contrasts the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly the Torah, with the legal order that predominated in the rest of the Near East at the time.

Berman writes:

"The new order articulated in [the Pentateuch] stands in contrast to a primary socioeconomic structure prevalent . throughout . the ancient Near East: the divide between the dominant tribute-imposing class and the dominated tribute-bearing class. These two groups, the exploiters and the exploited, are opposite sides of the same coin. The dominant tribute-imposing class consists, in short, of the political elite.This class includes not only the nobility but all who benefited by association with it: administrators, military and religious retainers, merchants, and landowners who directly or indirectly benefited from state power. What all of these have in common is that they all participated in the extraction of produce, or surplus, from the dominated tribute-bearing class: agrarian and pastoral producers, slaves, unskilled workers . Their production was drawn as surplus in the form of taxation, slave labor, rent, or debt service."

Reading about dominant tribute-imposing tribes and their exploitation of dominated tribute-bearing classes by means of debt, tax and mandated labor, seemed strangely similar to modern times. It seems that Washington is not as far removed from Ur, Nineveh, Cairo or Babylon as we would hope. It seems also that our emerging system of central control is not what its advocates claim: It is not new; it is ancient. It is not post-modern; it is pre-Torah.

I was a guest on National Public Radio earlier this week, where I debated a left-of-center law school professor. The host asked me whether President Obama could deal with the tension between his agenda of higher government spending and targeted development and the business interests of new advisors with business backgrounds such as former JPMorgan exec Bill Daley, and current General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt. "What tension?" I asked. Why in the world would a past TARP recipient and future green energy recipient like GE object in the slightest to Obama's vision of a world of targeted government "investments" in what he believes to be the industries of the future?

The fact that Immelt is a Republican is as beside the point as the fact that Daley is a Democrat. Increasingly our nation is divided, not between Rs and Ds, but between TIs and TBs: tribute imposers and tribute bearers. The imposers are gigantic banks, agri-businesses, higher education Colossae, government employees, NGO and QUANGO employees and the myriad others whose living is made chiefly by extracting wealth from other people. The bearers are the rest of us: the people who extract wealth from the earth, not from others.

What is the difference between crony capitalism and socialism? Not much. Both systems are based on a lack of appreciation of individual liberty. Both systems depend on elaborate centralized bureaucracies. In both systems, large proportions of people work for the government. Does it really make that much difference whether the government money is reported as W-2 income as opposed to 1099 income? Don't the favored people become rich under socialism?

Recently I read We, the Living, which is the closest thing to an autobiography that Ayn Rand ever wrote. It gives a portrait of her life as a young woman in the early stages of the Russian revolution. What she describes is a world dominated for a brief period by idealistic revolutionaries, for whom it is clear Rand holds some degree of admiration, but before long she sees the same faces running things. The men who manipulated power under the controlled economy of the Czar ended up doing the same thing under the Reds. Like Pasternak's Komarovksy in Doctor Zhivago, the most ambitious rise to the top. Not the most intelligent or the most creative, but the most ruthless. This is the nature of all centralized regimes.

Now the U.S. is not Russia, and the differences are more than I can count. There is a respect for human life that is far greater here, and Americans are far more acclimated to personal liberty. Our public sector is much smaller, proportionately, than theirs. Our balance of tribute imposers and tribute bearers is better. But in those portions of our society that are dominated by government, portions that are growing, the dynamic is fundamentally the same. They are both palace cultures, and the Law of Palace Cultures is this: Power is directly proportionate to proximity to the throne.

Does anyone seriously believe that Bill Daley, son of the founder of Chicago's great political machine, is something other than a crony capitalist? That he became president of a Baby Bell phone company, created by government fiat, protected by state public utility regulators because of his knowledge of telecommunications technology and not because of his association with power? Does anyone believe that when JPMorgan purchased a regional Chicago bank, which required both federal and especially state regulatory approval, that Daley's political credentials were irrelevant?

The Daleys of the world, the Rubins of the world, the Rahm Emmanuels of the world who rotate out of commerce secretary, treasury secretary, White House chief of staff positions and into positions at the top of investment banks, government-regulated utility monopolies and various GSEs are our nomenklatura. They are the members of our permanent ruling class. They are tribute imposers. The fact that they wrap themselves in the rhetoric of street-level populism just means that they are poseurs in addition to being imposers.

Are the Republicans, like Immelt, just as bad? No, but they are almost just as bad. And almost just as bad is not nearly good enough.


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)


30 January, 2011

Obama's Failed Policies Get Media Pass

Just one day after President Obama talked about winning the future, a report from the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program finds that the Obama administration's failed policies have put the nation even more at risk of future financial bailouts.

But the serious nature of the economic and financial crisis-and the failure of Obama's Big Government programs to solve it-continues to be played down by the major media.

The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) issued a report finding that TARP's main goals of "increasing lending" and "promoting jobs and economic growth" have been "largely unmet." Even more disturbing, the report finds that Obama's nearly two-year-old Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) program is a failure.

All of this evidence was presented at a hearing of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday.

The NBC Nightly News covered the shocking information without once uttering the words "President Obama" in connection with the documented failures. Anchor Brian Williams said the inspector general had concluded that "the government's effort to help Americans save their homes" was a failure.

The government? This is "The Obama HAMP," as noted by one website.

The website promises: "The funds the Obama Administration has made available for this program come from YOUR tax dollars. Take advantage of this program while it is still available! You will be able to lower your rate as low as 2%, obtain a fixed lower monthly payment, and save your home from foreclosure."

Get your "Obama loan modifications," promised another website.

But the Inspector General report finds that this Obama program's failure to preserve homeownership has had perhaps "the most devastating consequences." It said the HAMP "has been beset by problems from the outset and, despite frequent retooling, continues to fall dramatically short of any meaningful standard of success."

The report that followed on the NBC Nightly News by Lisa Myers noted that one person who was supposed to be helped by the program ended up facing foreclosure anyway. Obama officials had said the program would help 3-4 million people, but the number of "mortgage modifications" now stands at only 522,000. It is not clear how many of those people supposedly benefiting from HAMP through reduced mortgage payments subsidized by the taxpayers will actually end up facing foreclosure in the long run.

So the taxpayers will lose even more money and the homeowners will lose their homes. This is a lose-lose program guaranteed to create even more of an economic and financial crisis.

The Inspector General report notes, "HAMP's failure to have a material impact on the foreclosure crisis has many causes, starting with a rushed launch based on inadequate analysis and without fully developed rules, which has required frequent changes to program guidelines and caused unnecessary confusion and delay. Perhaps most fundamentally, Treasury has steadfastly refused to adopt meaningful goals and benchmarks..."

While Myers did note that "the Obama Administration official managing the program calls it a success," an incredible statement considering the evidence presented in her own report, there was no effort on the part of the NBC Nightly News or other liberal media to contrast Obama's optimistic or "Reaganesque" tone during the State of the Union with the actual facts on the ground and the evidence of his policy failures.

In terms of the broader economic and financial picture, Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, said that while TARP saved some big firms from failure, the government actions "encouraged future high-risk behavior by insulating the risk-takers who had profited so greatly in the run-up to the crisis from the consequences of failure, and gave an unwarranted competitive advantage, in the form of enhanced credit ratings and access to cheaper credit and capital, to institutions perceived by the market as having an implicit Government guarantee."

"In many ways," Barofsky said, "TARP has thus helped mix the same toxic cocktail of implicit guarantees and distorted incentives that led to disastrous consequences for the Government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs)-the Federal National Mortgage Association (`Fannie Mae') and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (`Freddie Mac')."

So the bailouts that were started by Bush and continued under Obama run the risk of generating even more bailouts in the future.



Go girl!

Palin issues scathing response to Obama speech

Sarah Palin has issued a scathing response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, attacking his economic policies and "recycled rhetoric," which she says no longer inspires hope.

In a lengthy missive on Facebook, Palin didn't mention the call for unity that Obama made in his speech Tuesday.

Rather, she focused her attention on his economic proposals, calling his ideas for investments in areas like high-speed rail "half-baked." She says they'd put the nation on a "bullet train to bankruptcy." She also said Obama doesn't understand that debt is the biggest problem facing the nation.

She noted the speech was dubbed "Winning the Future," and suggested that the acronym of that title, "WTF," is an apt way to describe the speech.

SOURCE. Read the whole thing here. She really nails it.


Winning the Future

Finally, an issue all Americans can rally behind: winning the future! Surely most of us would like to be victorious down the road. The alternative is losing the future, and that doesn't sound very good, does it? If the future is lost, then what will become of us?

Thus, President Obama's new mantra, "winning the future," got immediate traction. His State of the Union speech was full of optimistic ways that we can win. Most of those ways involve "investing" in stuff like education, infrastructure jobs and alternative fuels. "Investing," of course, is the new word for government spending. The president doesn't want to spend anymore; he wants to "invest."

So Obama's speech was uplifting to say the least. We are going to beat those Chinese people in the marketplace, and our kids will be smarter than those Korean kids. Yes, we can! And the federal government's checkbook will lead the way.

In response, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan essentially said "no, we can't." We're broke. How uplifting is that?

Obama is a liberal man who is convinced that a large federal government can, indeed, improve the lives of most Americans. With a $14 trillion debt, however, Obama can no longer trumpet expanding the federal apparatus, but that doesn't mean he's against it. Let's take the high-speed train deal as an example.

The president loves the idea of these trains, and they do work well in places like Japan. But over the past 10 years, the government-run Amtrak outfit has lost an astonishing $13 billion. So what makes Obama believe that pumping even more tax money into high-speed rail will be good for the country? Talk about losing the past.

And then there's ethanol. Tons of federal money spent, little to show for it. T. Boone Pickens, a very savvy guy, tried wind power. He got blown away. The complexity of wind-driven energy makes it almost impossible to market.

As some of you know, I am a simple guy. My questions are not complicated. So here's another one regarding the winning thing: Didn't the Soviet Union want to win the future? I think they did. The pinheads in Moscow spent gazillions of dollars trying to dominate the world. And exactly how did that giant central government-run operation turn out? I believe it evaporated, did it not? Huge bureaucracies are not set up for winning the future. They exist to tell folks what to do and to take their money.



When is civilization going to learn . . .

. . . that government spending makes things worse, not better?

You can, perhaps, forgive the policy makers of the early 20th century for not knowing this. Throughout the Western world, big government was in. Technology was allowing government to get bigger, and to do more, and people figured, "Well, why shouldn't it do more?" There are problems in society that need to get fixed, and maybe it's government's role to fix them. After all, government could do big things. Government could build great dams. Government could electrify country farms previously lit by candle and kerosene. All it needed to do was tax enough money, or borrow it or print it, and—with its monopoly of force and law—arrogate the resources and land it needed, and government could do just about anything.

Herbert Hoover, the great engineer, had done great things prior to becoming president. Through force of will, organization, and careful planning, Hoover believed that great things could be done. And he did great things, including feeding millions of starving people. He took this mentality and his many successes with him to the White House and, through his policies, helped cause the Great Depression. Franklin Roosevelt took over, Hoover's name was blackened, and then Roosevelt and his gang proceeded to make most of the same mistakes Hoover did, only worse, more, and bigger.

Of course, during this moment of history where big government was in vogue, fascism was as well, with open fascisms in Europe and more than a whiff of it here at home. But ignoring that, for the time being . . . on strictly economic grounds, the people of that day may perhaps be forgiven. A bigger government, taking greater control over the economy, had never really been tried before. The theories were new. This was a modern era, and it was time for new ideas to be tried, people believed.

That said, we now have a century of data, and the data are clear: The ideas failed.

More economic freedom means more prosperity. Less economic freedom correlates to less prosperity. Large government, spending large amounts, tends to hinder, not help economic growth. The body of evidence is, at this point, so overwhelming on the subject that in a completely rational world, we would no longer even be having the discussion. This is not, however, a completely rational world, and we'll probably need a century of intellectual combat to completely undo a century of ideological errors (though I am hopeful that we may be able to speed up the process).

The 2011 Index of Economic Freedom has fired another salvo in that struggle—and a fairly convincing one. Ambassador Terry Miller, in Chapter 1 of The Limits of Government, provides some compelling charts data and charts on these issues.

The firtst is on government spending levels and how they correlate to growth. The trend and correlation are unmistakable:

Miller acompanies that chart with, in part, this text:
"The 2011 Index results demonstrate clearly that for many of the countries of the world, particularly those that experienced the inevitable results of state economic control under Communist systems in the past, policy solutions that would re-regulate economic activity or undo the integration of economies in a globalized trade and investment market hold little attraction.

Their skepticism is justified. Countries that reduced government spending had economic growth rates almost two percentage points higher in 2009 than countries whose government spending scores worsened, and countries with the highest rates of government spending had gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates 4.5 percentage points lower on average than countries where government spending was best contained. (See Chart 1.)"

The evidence is not just that economically freer countries enjoy more prosperity, higher standards of living, more political freedom and tolerance, etc., though the evidence is out there for those factors as well. But it's also very specifically that more government spending correlates with less growth. Stimulus spending, for example, appears not only to fail to do what it sets out to do (stimulate), it also appears to have the opposite effect. Needless to say, though the situation is always more complex than a single chart can report, with trendlines like that, correlation is almost surely causation, at least in part.

Miller goes on to provide several other charts in this chapter, including this striking one:

There are deviations, obviously. The one outlier on the Y axis (GDP per person) is not the economically freest. The economically freest (X axis) does not have the absolute highest GDP/person. But again, the trendline is unmistakable.

The trend also appears to be geometric as you move along the X axis. In other words, each "investment" a country makes in economic freedom (moving further right on the x axis) produces not only an increase in per person GDP, it produces a greater "rate of return" on that "investment" for each move further down the line towards the freest end.

With data like these, I keep going back to the question, "Why are we even still having the discussion?"

And then I remind myself, once again, that we do not live in a fully rational world.



Housing and Urban Development money went to belly dancer parties, sex offenders, dead residents

In the more than 3,000 public housing agencies nationwide funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and particularly inside the 172 that HUD considers the most troubled, ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity found a struggle to combat theft, corruption, and mismanagement. According to the report, one official embezzled $900,000 and bought a mansion. Other funds went to support sex workers.

In other words, this is a perfect illustration of why recommending cuts to such assistance programs is not heartless but actually wise -- waste is rampant:
The problems are widespread, from an executive in New Orleans convicted of embezzling more than $900,000 in housing money around the time he bought a lavish Florida mansion to federal funds wrongly being spent to provide housing for sex offenders or to pay vouchers to residents long since dead.

Despite red flags from its own internal watchdog, HUD has continued to plow fresh federal dollars into these troubled agencies, including $218 million in stimulus funds since 2009, the joint investigation found.

The ultimate victims of such mismanagement are impoverished Americans who rely on federally funded local public housing agencies to provide them with a clean, safe place to live.

"We're failing these tenants, we're failing the taxpayers," said Kenneth Donohue, who recently retired as the HUD inspector general in charge of rooting out waste, fraud and abuse from the federal housing program.

Forget accusations about trying to eradicate the social safety net by making budgetary cuts. By providing more money to ineffective, wasteful programs, bureaucrats commit that very crime -- except they also take taxpayer money with them.


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)


29 January, 2011

Sen. Paul says tea party holds power on Hill

To those who predicted that the tea party movement would get swallowed up by Washington, Sen. Rand Paul says the cynics have got it completely backward — it’s the tea party that has co-opted Capitol Hill.

The Kentucky Republican said in an interview that President Obama and most lawmakers have lined up behind the tea party’s drive to end earmarks, while House and Senate Republicans are pushing bills to cut spending and repeal the president’s health care overhaul — two more of the movement’s top priorities.

Mr. Paul is a leading member of one of the most closely watched new class of lawmakers to hit Capitol Hill in a long time — tea party activists and political newcomers whose energy helped usher in a GOP majority in the House and an expanded Republican minority in the Senate.

“People asked whether we would be co-opted by Washington, I think we are co-opting Washington,” Mr. Paul told The Washington Times, just hours after he and two colleagues held the first meeting of the Senate‘s Tea Party Caucus, which they said would serve as the liaison between the grass-roots movement and the people it helped propel to power.

“The president of the United States has been co-opted by the tea party,” Mr. Paul told the more than 200 people in attendance. He noted that in his State of the Union address Mr. Obama vowed to veto bills that include earmarks and to undo part of the health care law that imposes burdensome tax filing requirements on businesses.

Mr. Paul, whose crushing defeat of an establishment Republican in the primary and his victory in the general election epitomized the tea party’s rising influence last year, said he supports the new House practice of requiring lawmakers to cite constitutional authority for each bill they offer. He has also introduced a 12-page bill that he said will cut $500 billion in federal spending immediately.

Dwarfing the other cost-cutting proposals on the table, Mr. Paul‘s plan would gut the Education and Energy departments and impose across-the-board spending cuts, including in the Pentagon‘s budget. He dismissed criticism that his plan is too radical.

“Most of official Washington thinks that is way too dramatic, but, guess what — it’s not enough,” Mr. Paul said. He argued that Mr. Obama‘s plan to freeze some domestic spending over the next five years “falls completely flat” because it affects only about 12 percent of the budget and does not begin to roll back the dramatic spending increases of the last two years.



Civility? What Channel?

Frank Salvato

What’s all this talk about civility taking hold in the American political arena? Evidently, Progressive talker Stephanie Miller, who, I guess, has a syndicated radio show – amazing what passes for talent these days on talk radio – didn’t get that memo...strange, too, as her leader, Pres. Obama took to the airwaves after the Tucson tragedy to admonish everyone who was throwing rhetorical bombs under the guise of “political debate.” Yet, for Ms. Miller, it’s full speed ahead with the name-calling and the deprecating jokes.

Mediateite.com reports that while discussing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH):
“...Miller and her show’s producer, Chris Lavoie, mentioned her earlier joke about Barack Obama making ‘the Boehner cry’...”
Miller pronounced the Speaker’s name “Boner.”
“And then came an observation about Boehner’s warm glow – an observation that, of course, acts as rather juicy bait for conservatives who will (we’re guessing) most certainly ask why it’s excusable to make comments about the Speaker’s skin color:
“’And then the other big thing I noticed – I’m sorry cause you know you can’t help the visual, okay – Boehner is a darker color than the President.’
“Lavoie then chimed in with quite a specific observation:
“’I tweeted last night that if he wore and avocado green tie, he would totally be a 1970’s kitchen.’”

That’s nice. Isn’t it?

Truth be told, when one honestly compares the rhetoric of the Progressive Left, the Democrats and the Right – the main word here is honestly and yes I did separate the Progressives from the Democrats – we arrive at only one outcome consistently, and that is that the overwhelming majority of caustic rhetoric comes from the Progressive faction of our political spectrum.

Politico.com reported in February of last year, well before the Tucson tragedy, that Progressive talker and admitted Socialist, Ed Shultz, said this of former Vice President Dick Cheney:
“You’re damn right, Dick Cheney's heart's a political football. We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him...Do you realize that if you had five heart attacks, hell, you wouldn't get past two heart attacks and they’d dump you...But because you're a war criminal and because you are on the take from Halliburton...you can get the best healthcare on the face of the earth.”

One has to wonder where all that Leftist tolerance has disappeared to. On a more measured note, but nevertheless just as dishonest and disingenuous, former (it feels good to say that) MSNBC pundit Keith Olbermann denigrated the Tea Party Movement, challenging:
“Let me ask all of you who attend these things, how many black faces do you see at these events?”

He continued,
“Why are you surrounded by the largest crowd you will ever again see in your life that consists of nothing but people who look exactly like you?”

Ironically, and simply to make a point, ACORN whistleblower Anita Moncrief recently announced the creation and launch of the nation’s first Black Tea Party group. One has to wonder whether Mr. Olbermann can wipe the self-pity from his eyes long enough to see the different “colors” involved in the Tea Party Movement, or whether his arrogance just sees Conservatives and those who want to protect the Constitution as gray.

But why should we be surprised at the vitriol coming out of the Progressive Left? Progressives are the ones who gin-up discontent around the world. From Greece to San Francisco, France to the G20 summits and World Trade Organization events wherever they take place, if there is a loud, obnoxious, bull-headed protest event, complete with posters depicting someone as Hitler and denouncing Capitalism in favor of wealth redistribution and Che Guevara, there you will find Progressives, in all their disgruntled, arrogant, elitist glory.

Now, you may be asking why I separate the Democrats from the Progressives. After all, they both come from the Left side of the aisle, right?

Wrong. Progressives exist on both sides of the aisle; they simply have found it easier to take-over the Democrat Party. Nancy Pelosi, the majority of the Congressional Black Caucus (can you imagine if there was a Congressional White Caucus? Whoa!) and all of the mini-me special interest caucus leaders routinely are found to be members of the House Progressive Caucus – 70 House members, along with two Senators comprise the whole of the Progressive contingent. Compare that to the rest of the Democrat side of the aisle which numbers 123, including 26 Blue Dog Democrats.

My point? If you want to truly arrive at civility in the American political arena, all we really have to do is separate the infiltrating Progressives from the true Democrats and spotlight the Progressives for whom and what they are: caustic malcontents hell-bent on diminishing our Constitutional Republic to a Socialist Democracy. All we have to do is encourage true Democrats to...take back their party. That achieved – and only then – can we return to the days of civil, spirited and honest debate in the American political arena.

And so it goes...



The Aim Of Blood Libels

Caroline Glick

Palin's characterization of the Left's appalling assault on her and her fellow conservatives as a "blood libel," was entirely accurate. Moreover, as her previous use of the term "death panels," in the healthcare debate brought clarity to an issue the Left sought to obscure, so her use of the term "blood libel," exposed the nature of the Left's behavior and highlighted its intentions.

By warning about "death panels," Palin exposed the fly in the ointment of government healthcare. Government control will induce scarcity of healthcare and government rationing will necessarily follow. That rationing in turn will be undertaken by panels of government officials empowered to decide who gets what care. Her remark focused the debate on the flaws in the program in a way no other had.

In the case of her use of the term "blood libel," Palin exposed the Left's attempt to criminalize conservatives and make it impossible for conservatives to either defend themselves or pursue their alternative policy agenda.

A blood libel involves two things. First, it involves an imaginary crime. Second, it involves the accusation that an entire group of people is guilty of committing that crime that never occurred.

Classically, of course, blood libels have been used against Jews. Anti-Semites accused Jews of killing Christians for ritual use of their blood. Jews had murdered no one and Judaism has no ritual involving the use of human blood. Yet repeatedly entire communities were criminalized and persecuted based on these blood libels.

By criminalizing the entire community based on false allegations regarding a never-committed crime, anti-Semites made it impossible for Jews to go on about our lives. If we sought to deny the charges, we gave them credibility. If we ignored the charges, our silence was interpreted as an admission of guilt. And no matter what we did, the blood libel firmly attached the stench of murder to a completely innocent Jewish community.

Just as their Israeli counterparts did in the wake of Rabin's assassination, so the American Left seeks to attach a sense of criminality and violence to the American Right in order to make it socially and otherwise unpalatable to support or otherwise identify with it.

By calling the Left out for its behavior, Palin exposed its agenda. But the logic of the blood libel remained. Trusting the public's ignorance, and the liberal Jewish community's solidarity, the leftist media in the US immediately condemned Palin for daring to use the term, hinted she was an anti-Semite for doing so, and argued that by defending herself, she was again inciting violence.

MANY CONSERVATIVE thinkers and politicians have long viewed Palin as a liability. By remaining in the spotlight, they allege, Palin is helping the Left. They argue that the media have already destroyed her ability to communicate with non-conservatives. And since she is viewed as a conservative leader, by failing to shut up, she is making it impossible for other potential leaders who the media don't despise to connect with the swing voters they will need to unseat Obama in 2012.

While alluring, this position does more than harm Palin. It renders the 2012 elections irrelevant.

It doesn't matter whether these conservative thinkers support Palin. What matters is that by telling her not to defend herself from libelous attacks, they are accepting the Left's right to criminalize all conservatives. If she is not defended against a patently obscene effort to connect her to a madman's rampage in Tucson, then conservatives in the US are signalling they really don't want to control US policy. They are saying that if a Republican is elected in 2012, he or she will continue to implement Obama's radical policies.

In certain ways, Palin is a revolutionary leader and the Tea Party movement is a revolutionary movement. For nearly a hundred years, the Left in its various permutations has captured Western policy by controlling the elite discourse from New York and Los Angeles to London to Paris to Tel Aviv. By making it "politically incorrect," to assert claims of Western, Judeo-Christian morality or advocate robust political, economic and military policies, the Left has made it socially and professionally costly for people to think freely and believe in their countries.

What distinguishes Palin from other conservative leaders in the US and makes her an important figure worldwide is her indifference to the views of the Left's opinion makers. Her capacity to steer debate in the US in a way no other conservative politician can owes entirely to the fact that she does not seek to win over Leftist elites. She seeks to unseat them.

The same can be said of the Tea Party. The reason it frightens the Left, and the Republican leaders who owe their positions to their willingness to accept the Left's basic agenda, is because it does not accept the Left's policy agenda.

The Left's campaign against Palin is not just about Palin. If she is discredited for standing up to blood libels then no one in the US or anywhere else can expect to succeed in moving past the failed and dangerous leftist policy agenda. But if she is defended, then a world of possibilities opens up for all of us.


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)


28 January, 2011

"This rather odd little German dynasty"

That is the extraordinary description that Christopher Hitchens gives to the British Royal family. Clearly he retains a lot of hatred from his Leftist days. Sad that a man with only a little longer to live is trying his best to be remembered as a shrill abuser. Most of us mellow with age.

His rage arises from the success of the British movie, "The King's Speech". He resents that the movie is a feelgood story rather than meticulous history. He points out ways in which the movie glosses over the rough edges of the times it describes. Hitchens calumniates Edward VIII, George VI, Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain. His central point is that they were all nicer to Hitler than he, with the wisdom of hindsight, would have been.

Hitchens is of course partly right in that Edward VIII was very weak character and Chamberlain was very badly mistaken. But the first thing that Hitchens completely and quite dishonestly ignores is the tenor of the times in which all four moved. Hitler and the Fascists were at the time widely admired outside Germany, particularly among the political Left. The description of Mussolini by FDR as "that admirable Italian gentleman" perhaps best captures the mood of the times. Harvard, too, was pro-Nazi. Churchill was one of the few who stood against that mood.

Secondly, Hitchens fails to remark the vast public antipathy towards war that prevailed in England at the time. After the horrors of WWI, almost every living soul in Britain considered another European war unthinkable and wished that no stone be left unturned to avoid such a war. In his policy of appeasement Chamberlain was simply representing the nation that he led.

So Edward VIII's undoubted enchantment with Hitler and George VI's support for Chamberlain were well within the normal range of opinion for the times. Neither man had Hitchens' luxury of seeing events from the vantage point of the year 2011.

Hitchens is also enraged that Churchill supported Edward VIII for a time. But Churchill was by that time quite conservative and in a monarchy support for the King is simply normal conservative practice.

Hitchens accuses the makers a popular movie of distorting history but it is Hitchens the historian who is the biggest distorter of all -- JR


The Myth of a Divided America

By David Bozeman

A prevailing myth, common among both liberals and conservatives, is that America is sharply divided, with roughly 35 percent of us liberal (though most polls put that number around 20), 35 percent conservative, with the remaining 30 that could go either way. You know the drill: Because we are so polarized, we must find common ground, we need to work together, and, in the spirit of unity, we have got to blah, blah, blah…

True, we certainly appear divided, but our tradition of robust, spirited debate should be as much a source of pride as it is a cause for national handwringing. In fact, we remain a people galvanized behind such defining concepts as individual initiative, responsibility, free enterprise and American exceptionalism.

We like our trucks big and our cars fast (so you know what you can do with your Cap & Trade). We devour excess, and we lovingly reward our kids with Happy Meals and bestow Wal-Mart gift cards to friends. If the above choices seem crass and commercial, America offers such a wide array of options in both lifestyle and thought that we are truly the envy of the world. The epic conflict today lies not among classes of citizens but between a relatively tiny cadre of elitists in Washington and the rest of this country.

America is largely a friendly nation, and our political discourse is among the most civil in the world. Our citizens are not at war with each other but are merely resisting attempts to “transform” (candidate Barack Obama on numerous occasions in 2008) a great nation.

Liberalism constantly butts heads with America’s most cherished defining traditions and institutions: prayer, Christmas, the Boy Scouts and our military (by way of banning many college ROTC programs). It is liberals who audaciously claim dominion over large segments of our nation’s economy. It is liberalism that advances itself not by the tacit acceptance of large majorities of the electorate but by judicial fiat and incrementalism.

The overriding point, however, is not that America is a center-right nation. In fact, on issues such as the minimum wage, entitlements and maybe a few others, we tend to lean left. And, unfortunately for Republicans, our votes don’t always reflect our ideological balance, which is where Democrat presidents tend to hit the hard wall of reality. President Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, is learning that continued electoral success rests on moving to the center and abandoning (or at least concealing) his hard left agenda. Republicans, on the other hand, who stay to the right and offer the starkest contrasts, tend to succeed beyond their wildest expectations.

But, again, what matters is not so much America’s left/right make-up. We define ourselves less on ideological persuasion than on common-sense values. And we are not divided, at least not to the extent that some in the media would claim.

A free people tend to resolve their differences peacefully, whether as individuals or groups. The idea of two Americas would tend to benefit those power-hungry pointy-heads who always place themselves above the fray and whose recipe for calm typically entails one particular side ceding or diluting their free speech in the name of “civility.”

Indeed, always beware of those who emphasize and foster division. It is the motives of career politicians, pundits and activists and not the honest concerns and conflicts of average Americans that demand scrutiny. We are not as much divided as we are under siege and only our cherished freedom to publicly accuse our ruling classes will sustain us as a nation and as a beacon for the rest of the world.



The ‘HealthStat’ Seduction

The community-policing model of health care is at odds with any notion of limited government

If professional writing were the guild it often appears to be, Atul Gawande would be a scab. A surgeon and professor, Gawande also writes beautifully for The New Yorker about health care.

His latest article, “The Hot Spotters,” focuses on what Gawande claims is a revolutionary approach to health care. In Camden, N.J. — hardly a garden spot in the Garden State — just 1 percent of the people who used the city’s medical facilities accounted for 30 percent of the costs. One patient had 324 hospital admissions in five years. Another single-handedly cost insurers $3.5 million.

A third fellow, weighing 560 pounds, with both an alcohol and a cocaine problem, spent more time over a three-year period in the hospital than out of it. But thanks to work by a crusading doctor, Jeffrey Brenner, the man was pulled back from the brink, cutting his hospital visits dramatically.

Brenner’s theory is that we can save billions by delivering better health care to the sickest people. Brenner was inspired by the CompStat approach used by police in New York City during the 1990s to tackle crime where it is most concentrated. Just as cops got out of their cars and walked a beat in the worst areas, under Brenner’s “HealthStat” approach doctors and nurses get out and get involved in the lives of the sickest patients.

Brenner’s results are impressive. All it takes is a near-religious dedication to getting involved in the nitty-gritty of patients’ lives.

In a similar effort, a clinic formed by Atlantic City’s casino workers’ union and its biggest hospital treats only the patients with the highest medical costs. The clinic often hires health “coaches” from outside the health-care profession, because too many of the professionals have become bureaucratized, trained to say “no” to almost any question.

Gawande recounts how one such coach — a former Dunkin’ Donuts cashier named Jayshree who speaks Gujarati — helped a seriously ill Indian immigrant get well enough to use a walker instead of a wheelchair. Why did this patient listen to Jayshree after she wouldn’t take similar advice about diet and exercise following her first two heart attacks? “Because she talks like my mother.”

A preliminary study found that the Atlantic City effort achieved real cost savings. But it was also lucky, statistically speaking. A single heart transplant for any one of its gravely ill patients would have wiped out all of the savings.

Still, Gawande’s enthusiasm is infectious, and so is the passion of professionals like Brenner. Where Gawande falls short is in explaining how all of this justifies “Obamacare” (apparently he hasn’t gotten the memo about not using that term).

Yes, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act funds pilot programs like Brenner’s, but it also fuels the sort of bureaucracy that even Gawande and Brenner concede strangles innovation. It makes insurance companies into even more sheltered monopolies — health utilities, in effect — and appeases many of the political constituencies that stand to lose money from this style of counterinsurgency medicine.

Also, we know that Obamacare incentivizes corporations to dump their most expensive patients onto public exchanges. Which means taxpayers will pick up a much bigger tab than we were told.

Given these disappointments with the latest cures for the system, perhaps a little skepticism about the ability of “hot-spotting” to make it all work out is in order, too.

But what I find most striking about Gawande’s celebration of the community-policing model is how at odds it is with any notion of limited government. He is tone-deaf to those who might bristle at the idea of medicalizing society.

In Camden, Brenner wants to put social workers in “hot spot” buildings so residents can be coached daily about their diet and exercise and harangued to quit smoking. He cajoled the 560-pound alcoholic drug addict to resume church attendance.

This all sounds fine, from a medical perspective. But citizens are not patients.

Brenner is a private citizen doing heroic work. But if this model were to be nationalized, you would in effect have agents of the government serving as lifestyle coaches and health “mothers.” Surely you don’t have to be a “tea partier” to find that creepy.



Government’s “Other” Gluttony

When will our leaders get the message? All told, both parties have added more than $8 trillion (and counting) to the national debt over the last ten years – an avalanche of deficit spending that has our nation fast approaching fiscal Armageddon.

Given the dimensions of this looming crisis, it’s understandable that the debate in Washington, D.C. is focused almost exclusively on dollars and cents. Yet as limited government advocates continue to drive this fiscal dialogue, it has become increasingly apparent that we cannot turn a blind eye to the government’s “other” gluttony –its voraciousness with respect to gobbling up our individual liberties.

That loud sucking sound you hear in cities and towns all across America isn’t just money being vacuumed out of your wallet or pocketbook – it’s the steady vacuuming up of our once-inalienable rights.

This trend goes much deeper than the unconstitutional individual mandate of “Obamacare,” which would force Americans to pay fines of up to 2.5 percent of their annual income if they decline to purchase insurance.

It’s about Americans being physically molested by Homeland Security agents and having their laptops and cell phones seized without probable cause. It’s about the FCC infringing on freedom and commerce on the internet while the SEC is empowered to seize and liquidate financial institutions all over the country on a whim. It’s about the Federal Reserve investing trillions of dollars in secret while government at all levels continues inventing new definitions of “public use” to take away your private property.

It’s about overzealous politicians of both parties handing down overreaching legislation to overpaid bureaucrats and overstepping judges. It’s about the creation of convenient enemies, the cultivation of fear – and never letting a crisis go to waste.

“It’s sometimes easy to lose perspective of just how extreme and outrageous certain erosions are,” author Glenn Greenwald noted in a recent piece about warrantless computer seizures at America’s borders. “One becomes inured to them, and even severe incursions start to seem ordinary.”

More here



House GOP considers “privatizing” Medicare: "Months after they hammered Democrats for cutting Medicare, House Republicans are debating whether to relaunch their quest to privatize the health program for seniors. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is testing support for his idea to replace Medicare with a fixed payment to buy a private medical plan from a menu of coverage options. Party leaders will determine if the so-called voucher plan will be part of the budget Republicans put forward in the spring."

For the budget crisis, a fake solution: "The latest Obama plan would cut projected outlays by an estimated $400 billion in the next decade, and the Republican alternative would cut spending by $2.5 trillion. It's a measure of our predicament that these enormous sums wouldn't make a lot of difference, even if they were achieved. They're the equivalent of trying to empty a swimming pool with a tablespoon."

The gambling question: "So, the state of Florida has set itself up as a protector of the morals of Floridians. But if gambling is a vice, as most people in Florida — including gamblers — would acknowledge, then why does the state allow it at all? If gambling is immoral then it is immoral. Whether it is done in a state-approved and state-regulated gambling facility or done in secret in the privacy of one’s home is irrelevant. ... On the one hand, the state tries to discourage gambling, but on the other hand wants people to gamble so it can get revenue for its coffers."

Race: An interview with Eugene Robinson: "Eugene Robinson contends in his new book that black America has changed, going from one fairly unified group with a common set of goals (civil rights, economic empowerment) to four different groups: the Transcendent, the Mainstream, the Emergent and the Abandoned. He outlines each group and writes that in order to understand where they are going in the 21st century, black Americans need to understand where they are now."

State of the world: Will 2011 be the next 1989?: "Almost nobody saw the collapse of communism coming. Despite a plethora of scholarship after the collapse suggesting that it was inevitable, you would be hard pressed to find analysts in the 1980s who thought the Iron Curtain was about to come down. So as unlikely as a serious of democratic revolutions spreading through the Middle East might seem from our current vantage point, the chances that the Cold War would come to a (practically) bloodless conclusion so swiftly seemed equally unlikely."

FTC resorts to carjacking: "The Federal Trade Commission forced a Georgia woman to sell her car as punishment for selling cosmetic contact lenses over the internet without first asking for customers’ prescriptions. In papers filed last week with a federal court in Atlanta, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, acting on the FTC’s behalf, accused Da Young Kim, the sole owner and manager of Gothic Lens LLC, of failing to obey the Commission’s rules governing the sale of contact lenses. The FTC fined Kim $50,000, but due to her limited financial resources, the Commission seized her car in lieu of payment." [Government protection of a monopoly]

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)


27 January, 2011

Obama and his imbalanced ledger

FACT CHECK: A tricky juggling act as Obama urges more spending and a freeze on spending

The ledger did not appear to be adding up Tuesday night when President Barack Obama urged more spending on one hand and a spending freeze on the other.

Obama spoke ambitiously of putting money into roads, research, education, efficient cars, high-speed rail and other initiatives in his State of the Union speech. He pointed to the transportation and construction projects of the last two years and proposed "we redouble these efforts." He coupled this with a call to "freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years."

But Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut, and some of the areas he identified for savings are not certain to yield much if anything.

For example, he said he wants to eliminate "billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies." Yet he made a similar proposal last year that went nowhere. He sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request, even though Democrats were then in charge of both houses of Congress.

A look at some of Obama's statements Tuesday night and how they compare with the facts:

OBAMA: Tackling the deficit "means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit."

THE FACTS: The idea that Obama's health care law saves money for the government is based on some arguable assumptions.

To be sure, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the law will slightly reduce red ink over 10 years. But the office's analysis assumes that steep cuts in Medicare spending, as called for in the law, will actually take place. Others in the government have concluded it is unrealistic to expect such savings from Medicare.

In recent years, for example, Congress has repeatedly overridden a law that would save the treasury billions by cutting deeply into Medicare pay for doctors. Just last month, the government once again put off the scheduled cuts for another year, at a cost of $19 billion. That money is being taken out of the health care overhaul. Congress has shown itself sensitive to pressure from seniors and their doctors, and there's little reason to think that will change.

OBAMA: Vowed to veto any bills sent to him that include "earmarks," pet spending provisions pushed by individual lawmakers. "Both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it."

THE FACTS: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has promised that no bill with earmarks will be sent to Obama in the first place. Republicans have taken the lead in battling earmarks while Obama signed plenty of earmark-laden spending bills when Democrats controlled both houses.

It's a turnabout for the president; in early 2009, Obama sounded like an apologist for the practice: "Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that's why I've opposed their outright elimination," he said then.

OBAMA: "I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits."

THE FACTS: Republicans may be forgiven if this offer makes them feel like Charlie Brown running up to kick the football, only to have it pulled away, again.

Obama has expressed openness before to this prominent Republican proposal, but it has not come to much. It was one of several GOP ideas that were dropped or diminished in the health care law after Obama endorsed them in a televised bipartisan meeting at the height of the debate.

Republicans want federal action to limit jury awards in medical malpractice cases; what Obama appears to be offering, by supporting state efforts, falls short of that. The president has said he agrees that fear of being sued leads to unnecessary tests and procedures that drive up health care costs. So far the administration has only wanted to pay for pilot programs and studies.

Trial lawyers, major political donors to Democratic candidates, are strongly opposed to caps on jury awards. But the administration has been reluctant to support other approaches, such as the creation of specialized courts where expert judges, not juries, would decide malpractice cases.

OBAMA: Praised the "important progress" made by the bipartisan fiscal commission he created last year.

THE FACTS: The panel's co-chairmen last month recommended a painful mix of spending cuts and tax increases, each of them unpopular with one constituency or another, including raising the Social Security retirement age, cutting future benefit increases, raising the gasoline tax and rolling back popular tax breaks like the mortgage interest deduction. But Obama has yet to sign on to any of the ideas, even though he promised when creating the panel that it would not be "one of those Washington gimmicks."

Obama missed another chance Tuesday night to embrace the tough medicine proposed by the commission for bringing down the deficit. For example, the president said he wanted to "strengthen Social Security for future generations" -- but ruled out slashing benefits or partially privatizing the program, and made no reference to raising the retirement age. That left listeners to guess how he plans to do anything to salvage the popular retirement program whose trust funds are expected to run out of money in 2037 without changes.

OBAMA: As testament to the fruits of his administration's diplomatic efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons, he said the Iranian government "faces tougher and tighter sanctions than ever before."

THE FACTS: That is true, and it reflects Obama's promise one year ago that Iran would face "growing consequences" if it failed to heed international demands to constrain its nuclear program. But what Obama didn't say was that U.S. diplomacy has failed to persuade Tehran to negotiate over U.N. demands that it take steps to prove it is not on the path toward a bomb. Preliminary talks with Iran earlier this month broke off after the Iranians demanded U.S. sanctions be lifted.



State of the Union shows Obama is now pro-business. He should be pro-growth

By Donald J. Boudreaux, professor of economics at George Mason University

In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama urged greater US competitiveness. But there's a big difference between cozying up to businesses and promoting policies that foster economic growth

Much is being made of president Obama’s new-found friendliness toward business, punctuated by his call “to make America the best place on Earth to do business” in last night’s State of the Union address. While moderates seem pleased, liberals dislike it, and conservatives suspect that the president isn’t sincere.

As an economist, I worry that Mr. Obama is sincere. But my concern about the president’s cozying-up to business differs greatly from the concern that animates the political left.

Contrary to popular presumption, being friendly to business is not the same as being pro-economic growth or pro-free-market. Adam Smith explained that a nation is wealthy only if its people have ready access to goods and services that make their lives healthy, comfortable, and enjoyable. The greater this access, the wealthier the nation.

Of course, to make available the goods and services that consumers want requires businesses. Unfortunately, throughout history, businesses have too often been saddled with excessive taxes and regulations in well-intentioned but misguided attempts to help workers and consumers.

Economists (especially the free-market variety) – concerned always to keep outputs of goods and services as high as possible – typically defend business against counter-productive government interference. We economists do so, however, not because we have special fondness for business. We do so because we understand that government interference in business often results in fewer goods and services for ordinary men and women – as consumers – to enjoy.

In short, an economy’s success is best measured by how well it pleases consumers, not by how well it pleases businesses.

Surprise: Businesses don't like competition

Each business sees matters differently. It wants to profit as much as possible. In a free market, businesses profit only by pleasing consumers. But a business that obtains special favors from government can profit without pleasing consumers. And it’s here that trouble starts.

Consider Obama’s commitment to make America more “competitive.” (He used variations of the word “compete” nine times in his address as part of his argument that American firms and workers are threatened by their foreign counterparts.) “Competition” sounds good. But businesses don’t like competition; they like protection from competition – along with subsidies, special tax breaks, and other government favors that relieve them from the need to cater energetically to consumer demands. So a pro-business president is prone to curry favor with businesses by shielding them from competition.

Tariffs and other import restrictions are examples of pro-business policies. They increase the bottom lines of those businesses that no longer must compete vigorously against foreign rivals. Such pro-business policies are also anti-consumer and anti-market. They rob consumers of choice; they shrink consumers’ spending power by enabling protected businesses to raise prices; and they stymie economic growth, in part by channeling entrepreneurs’ efforts into lobbying government for favors and away from figuring out how to build better mousetraps.

The irony is that such policies – which really should be labeled “crony capitalist” – are often labeled “competitiveness” policies. Because these policies increasethe profits of some domestic businesses, they are mistakenly believed to make the domestic economy more “competitive” when, in fact, they make it less so.

This abuse of language is further fostered by the habit of speaking of international trade using sports and martial metaphors, such as “level playing field” and “trade war.”

Trade: Why everyone wins

Trade, though, is neither a sport nor a battle. It’s simply what happens when two or more consenting adults exchange with each other on terms that each party to the trade finds agreeable. Unlike in football games or shooting wars, in which the victors win only by making others lose, in trade every party to every exchange wins; every party gains.

And these gains only increase as trade expands across borders. It’s true, as Obama recalled, that there was “a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn’t always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors.” But don’t be blinded by nostalgia. That was also a time of far fewer miracle drugs, of more expensive clothing, of automobiles that broke down frequently, of televisions that cost an arm and a leg and received only four channels, and of no cellphones, personal computers, and the Internet.

The fact that trade is mutually beneficial means that Obama’s and others’ concern about America’s increasing trade with foreigners – especially today with China – is unjustified. Americans aren’t losing in these trades, and the foreigners aren’t defeating us.

Yes, America has a trade deficit. But contrary to popular myth, this fact does not mean that America is economically “uncompetitive.”

An American trade deficit means that foreigners are keen to invest in America. And that’s just what they’re doing, in a big way – bigger even than in China, a nation whose impressive economic growth is interpreted by many Americans as a threat to our economy.

Did you know that in the decade from 2000 through 2009, the total amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) received by China was $686 billion, while the total amount of FDI received by the U.S. was $1.8 trillion – by far the largest inflow of capital from foreigners received by any country on earth? America’s receipt of FDI dollars exceeded China’s by 162 percent. On a per-capita basis, the figure is even greater: The amount of FDI America received per person from 2000 through 2009 was ten times (!) greater than was received by China.

So when Obama said in his speech on Tuesday night that “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world,” he wrongly implied that America currently doesn’t do so well in the international economy. But it does – which is not to say that there isn’t a lot of room for improvement.

The president is correct that tax and regulatory reforms – along with reining in Uncle Sam’s deficit spending – are in order. Especially welcome is his call to lower corporate tax rates. And if calling such reforms “competitiveness policies” improves their chances of being implemented, I’m all for it.

But let’s not be fooled into thinking that America’s current economic troubles are caused by America’s open participation in global trade. Keeping straight about this fact will guard against our turning a blind eye to politicians who try to pass off policies that are pro-business as policies that are pro-growth.




Gov: ‘No Barack Obama birth certificate in Hawaii’: "Nationally-syndicated radio personality/entertainment reporter Mike Evans, a man self-described as a long-time friend of Gov. Neal Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), made the Drudge Report today after he made a shocking claim on Minneapolis’ KQRS-FM radio morning show Jan. 20. In short, Evans told the show host that Governor Abercrombie told him, “There is no Barack Obama birth certificate in Hawaii. Absolutely no proof at all that he was born in Hawaii.”

Rand Paul unveils plan for $500 billion in budget cuts: "Critics lashed out Wednesday at a proposal by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul to slash numerous federal programs, including food stamps, to save $500 billion in a single year. ... Paul introduced legislation in the Senate on Tuesday that would slash $42 billion from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food stamp program -- a 30 percent reduction from the current funding level. It also would eliminate numerous other programs, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Paul said the proposal, which also would cut $16 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, would roll back federal spending to 2008 levels and eliminate what he considers the most wasteful programs."

Putin: Retribution “inevitable” for airport attack: "Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed 'retribution is inevitable' for the suicide bombing that killed 35 people at Russia's busiest airport, while President Dmitry Medvedev demanded robust checks at all transport hubs and lashed out at the airport for lax security. ... No claims of responsibility have been made for the attack Monday at Domodedovo Airport, which also left 180 people injured. Suspicion is likely to fall, however, on Islamist separatist insurgents from Chechnya or elsewhere in Russia's restive Caucasus region who have been battling Russian authority for over 15 years."

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 January, 2011

Spend, spend spend

A large chunk of President Obama’s State if the Union Address was focused on jobs, as it should have been. He acknowledged the American people want the focus of his administration and the new Congress going forward to be on job growth. He emphasized his belief that the way to grow the economy is to compete economically with the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They're investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, China became home to the world's largest private solar research facility, and the world's fastest computer.

Obama also emphasized government investment in green energy jobs, calling for the complete removal of subsidies for oil companies and giving those subsidies to green energy initiatives. This government intervention and manipulation of the market will only result in higher energy costs, loss of jobs due to rising costs and less efficient use of tax payer dollars. You can read more about the move by the Obama Administration to favor green energy over fossil fuels here.
With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's.

Obama credited the free enterprise system for driving American innovation, but what we know is that innovation has been stifled by government regulation. In order to reach this goal, Obama will have to acknowledge that red tape does not create jobs and only makes it more difficult for business owners to hire new workers. Obama vowed to take a look at burdensome regulation while keeping close the option to implement what he called necessary legislation to regulate business.
To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I've ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I will not hesitate to create or enforce commonsense safeguards to protect the American people.

Overall, Obama tied government regulation/de-regulation, investment/spending, global competitiveness and green jobs initiatives to the overall economy and jobs picture. With so many calls for "investment" and subsidizing an inefficient green energy/job plan, it is hard to believe Obama is taking his calls to tackle the deficit seriously.



Rep. Michele Bachmann Gives her Response to SOTU

Denying that her speech was in competition with the official GOP response, Rep. Michele Bachmann delivered a brief but upbeat answer to President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday. She had clarified to CNN earlier that the Tea Party Express had invited her to speak approximately a month ago and she had had no idea that networks would pick up the speech.

Using a collection of charts to show the troubling trends in the national deficit and U.S. employment percentages, Bachmann criticized Obama's plan for economic recovery -- basically, spend more -- and took on spending levels in general, saying deficits were unacceptably high under President Bush but exploded under President Obama.

Bachmann had a list of specifics on policies Obama could adopt: stop the EPA from a job-killing cap and trade policy, support a balanced budget amendment, turn back some of the 132 regulations imposed in the last two years that could cost at least $100 million, repeal ObamaCare in favor of free market solutions, and adoptan energy policy that increases production and diminishes foreign oil dependence.

She and the president both talked about American innovation, but Bachmann said the way to do that is by reducing the tax and regulatory burden on job creations. They also both mentioned medical malpractice reform (Obama credited the GOP with the policy initiative).

While the president referenced personal success stories of individual Americans, Bachmann drew on the example of Americans fighting against repression with the famous image of soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima, displayed on a screen behind her towards the end of the speech.



My State of the Union Address

John Stossel

President Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty and gave his report on the state of the union last night. Here's mine:

We're in deep trouble. You know why. Our debt has passed $14 trillion, and yet our current spending plans will make that worse. The U.S. debt will reach Greek levels in just 10 years.

But do not despair. If we make reasonable cuts to what government spends, our economy can grow us out of our debt. Cutting doesn't just make economic sense, it is also the moral thing to do. Henry David Thoreau had it right when he "accepted(ed) the motto ... that government is best which governs least."

So what should we get rid of? We start by closing the Department of Education, which saves $100 billion a year. Education ought to be in the free market. It's insane to take money from states only to launder it through Washington and then return it to states.

Next, we should close the Department of Housing and Urban Development: $41 billion. We had plenty of housing in America before a department was created. Let's get government out of that business.

Then we eliminate the Commerce Department: $9 billion. A government that can't count the votes accurately should not try to negotiate trade. Trade should be free. Free trade creates prosperity. And since trade should be free, we should eliminate all corporate welfare and all subsidies. That means: agriculture subsidies, green energy subsidies, ethanol subsidies and subsidies for public broadcasting. None of these is needed.

I propose selling Amtrak. Taxpayers will save money, and riders will get better service. Why is government in the transportation business? Let's have private companies compete to run the trains.

And we must finally stop one of the biggest assaults on freedom and our pocketbook, the war on drugs. The drug war is really a war on our own people. The ends do not justify the means.

Now the biggest cuts. Republicans propose to cut discretionary nonmilitary spending. Good. But why stop there? That's only 15 percent of our budget. We must cut more. That means cutting Medicare, Social Security and the military.

I know. Medicare and Social Security are popular, but they are unsustainable. We must privatize Social Security and slowly replace Medicare with vouchers.

And that brings me to Obamacare. The only way to cut costs and still have medical innovation is to free the market. So I propose that we repeal Obamacare immediately. Then we must do more: We must repeal all government interference in the medical and insurance industries, including licensing. All that impedes competition.

Now, military spending. Do you recall what candidate Obama said about the war in Iraq? "I will bring this war to an end in 2009. So don't be confused."

But I am confused. We're two years past 2009, but we still have 48,000 troops in Iraq. We must shrink the military's mission to truly national defense. That means pulling our troops out of Germany, Japan, Italy and dozens of other countries. America cannot and should not try to police the entire world. We can't afford it, and it's not right.

Those cuts will put America on the road to solvency. But that's not enough. We also need economic growth. Our growth has stalled because millions of pages of regulations make businesses too fearful to invest. Entrepreneurs don't know what the rules -- or taxes -- will be tomorrow. This discourages hiring.

All destructive laws must go. I again propose the Stossel Rule: For every new law passed, we must repeal two old ones.

We need to progress to an America that cherishes individual freedom. That means a government limited by the Constitution, one that protects our shores and our persons but otherwise stays out of our way. We should take seriously the words of another president, Thomas Jefferson, and embrace "a wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned -- this is the sum of good government."

That's my State of the Union address.



The Biggest Lie in American Politics

Ben Shapiro

For decades, liberals have used "big business" as a bugaboo. Leftists say corporations are mean, heartless and cruel -- and what's more, they're inherently capitalist and conservative. When the economy tanks, liberals blame right-wing corporations; when the regulatory state fails, liberals claim that corporations have perverted the system.

In reality, corporations aren't conservative. They aren't capitalist. They're after the nearest buck. And when the nearest buck can be obtained simply by playing footsie with the federal government, big business becomes an emissary of the government.

To achieve its ends, the federal government employs two methods: the carrot and the stick. The carrot is special regulation and legislation benefitting certain businesses; the stick is heavy regulation designed to threaten businesses into compliance with federal mandates.

This last week provided proof in spades that big business has become a tool of the state. On Jan. 18, the Federal Communications Commission OK'ed the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal. In order to obtain permission for that merger, however, the FCC required that Comcast fulfill certain conditions: NBC and Telemundo will need to add 1,000 hours of local news; Comcast must subsidize low-income Internet access to the tune of $10 per month for 2.5 million low-income households; and most egregiously, Comcast must increase Spanish-language programming.

Comcast, seeking to confirm the $30 billion deal, went along with the regulatory blackmail. And so Comcast became an active part of the liberal program to reach out to Hispanics, the poor, and a news media that desperately needs government interventionism in order to survive.

In the same vein, Republican entrepreneur Donald Trump caved in to Democrats this week in an attempt to protect his business interests. While The Donald is no fan of President Obama -- he says that China is "laughing at our leadership" and that Obama is letting China "get away with murder" -- he willingly forked over a $50,000 check to Rahm Emanuel's Chicago mayoral campaign. No doubt Trump's Chicago real estate holdings had something to do with the contribution.

When the government isn't taking away, it's giving. This week, President Obama conferred knighthood on Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, by appointing him to head his Economic Advisory Panel. In the recent past, Immelt has vacillated between criticism and praise of the Obama administration -- last July, he said that Obama was anti-business, while in December, Immelt praised Obama's outreach to business. Immelt's wild swings between antipathy and peonage to the Obama administration closely mirror the administration's treatment of GE: In general, when GE gets a handout, Immelt is a happy camper.

This relationship has worked beautifully for the government. GE has utterly abandoned its capitalistic, entrepreneurial past. Instead, it has embraced the roller coaster ups-and-downs of government subsidization. Immelt doesn't believe that the main job of government is to keep the hell out of a company's way -- he believes instead that government should become a "partner" in crime. According to Washington Examiner columnist Timothy Carney, GE has spent $65.7 million on lobbying, outpacing its competition by leaps and bounds.

GE and Comcast aren't alone in their desire to cozy up to the federal government. Google, once an entrepreneurial superstar, now links arms with the Obama administration by pushing "net neutrality," a scheme designed to run its competitors out of business via government regulation. Like GE, Google has one of its own inside the Obama administration -- Andrew McLaughlin, Google's former top policy executive, is currently deputy chief technology officer of the Obama administration. He has already been called on the carpet for asking Google to use its power to help out his new White House buddies.

Welcome to today's corporate America, where business takes a back seat to politics. The stock market now swings wildly based on Ben Bernanke's moods; the banking system teeters each time Barney Frank sneezes; titans of American industry scrape and bow for the scraps from Obama's dinner plate. Corporations are no longer capitalist but statist. Next time liberals cite the misdeeds of big business to complain about the ills of capitalism, inform them that big business is more a representative of government than it is of the free market.




Does favoring free enterprise mean favoring “business?”: "The idealistic Left is undoubtedly upset with Obama's new turn, but are these people really naive enough to believe that there is such as thing as a big government that is somehow untainted by the backing of big business? As for the chamber-of-commerce Republicans, can they really be fooled into believing that such moves amount to a new friendliness on the part of Obama to the interests of the private sector?"

Ventura sues TSA over pat-down; Quotes 4th Amendment: "Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura sued the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration on Monday, alleging full-body scans and pat-downs at airport checkpoints violate his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Ventura is asking a federal judge in Minnesota to issue an injunction ordering officials to stop subjecting him to 'warrantless and suspicionless' scans and body searches."

Stop the debt limit doomsaying: "Democrats, left-wing advocacy groups, and the mainstream media are salivating over the debt-limit fight as a way to undermine the fiscal credibility of the newly elected Republican House majority. Some Republicans have threatened to vote against raising the debt ceiling if significant spending cuts aren’t passed as well; the Left argues that if they make good on this threat, they will severely damage the fiscal health of the country. This argument, however, overstates the risk of not increasing the debt ceiling and recklessly spreads fear in capital markets."

Three cheers for the House of Lords: "People argue that the Lords is undemocratic, has no mandate, and therefore shouldn’t delay the will of the government. But without the unelected Lords making trouble for the coalition, this would be close to an elected dictatorship."

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 January, 2011

Burns Night tonight

As I usually do, I will be celebrating the birth of a great poet tonight -- a pleasant break from politics. So I have put up all my blogs earlier in the day than usual.

Haggis here we come! I may put up something about it all on my personal blog later on.

Do Leftists celebrate Burns Night? I doubt that many do. It is only grievance that turns them on.


The Assassination Attempt You Have Not Heard Of

The American Thinker brings us word of an attempted assassination you probably have never heard of.

It happened in September of 2010 in Missouri. A 22 year old named Casey Brezik, wearing a bullet proof vest, charged toward Missouri’s Democratic Governor Jay Nixon with a knife and attempted to slash his throat.

In light of the media’s race to talk about the right’s climate of hateful rhetoric, you have probably guessed by now that Casey Brezik was an anti-Christian, anti-capitalist Leftist who participated in a number of leftwing protests. He was also a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic.

Luckily for all involved, Brezik was high on pot at the time and got confused. Instead of slashing the Governor’s throat, he slashed the throat of a community college dean he took for the Governor. Jack Cashill, writing at the American Thinker, notes:
In his “About Me” box on Facebook, Brezik listed as his favorite quotation one from progressive poster boy, Che Guevara. The quote begins “Our every action is a battle cry against imperialism” and gets more belligerent from there.

On his wall postings, Brezik ranted, “How are we the radical(s) (left) to confront the NEW RIGHT, if we avoid confrontation all together?”

As good as his word, Brezik marched on Toronto in June 2010 to protest the G20 Summit, where he was arrested, charged, and deported. “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED,” he boasted.

Given what we have seen come out of Arizona, we can establish two things as fact. First, had Governor Nixon been harmed in any way, the media would have immediately begun lamenting the tea party movement and “political rhetoric.” Second, had the injuries been as they were, but Brezik had listed himself as a Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh fan on his Facebook wall, the media would have covered this exactly as they covered Arizona.


Conservatives have long regarded the US media as biased, but this revelation establishes that it is wholly corrupt. There's no longer any question


Trade Deficit Blues

Ever since the Christmas holidays, I have been unable to sleep. Every night I pace the floors in anxiety. The cause of my concerns? My purchase of a Christmas present for myself — an easy chair. No, it’s not guilt over my new comfort that is causing my distress. Rather it’s the fact that there is now an imbalance of trade between me and the company from which I purchased the chair.

You see, all my life I’ve been taught that an imbalance of trade is something really bad, something to be dreaded. So, here I went and spent hundreds of dollars on an easy chair from a retail company here in Virginia. Yet, at no time since then has that company purchased anything from me. We now have a serious imbalance of trade and there doesn’t seem to be any possibility that such imbalance is going to be rectified anytime soon.

In fact, if truth be told, that’s not the only reason I am now so nervous. While obsessing over the trade deficit between me and that chair company, I concluded that there must be an imbalance of trade between Virginia and Florida. Now, mind you, I don’t know which state is on the favorable end of the trade imbalance and which is on the unfavorable end. I just am certain that there has as to be an imbalance of trade between the two states.

My hunch is that given the popularity of Disney World, it is Florida that is winning out. But since I am an American, I’m concerned for whichever state happens to be on the losing end of the trade deficit, even if it’s Florida. Something has to be done to rectify the trade imbalance between our respective states. Isn’t it possible that the state on the losing end could be drained of all its wealth if the trade imbalance between the two states is allowed to worsen?

In fact, I’m shocked that the mainstream media doesn’t even report on the trade imbalance between Virginia and Florida on the front page of the newspaper. They seem to recognize how serious and how dangerous an international trade imbalance can be. After all, they never cease reminding us of the horrible dangers to America arising from the trade deficit with China.

I do find it interesting that the mainstream media never seems to be too concerned about those countries with which the United States has a favorable balance of trade. You’d think the media would be concerned about the people in those countries. But I suppose that since the mainstream media is composed of Americans, they’re only concerned with countries that are beating us, not the countries that we are defeating, in the never-ending trade war between nations.

Needless to say, all of above is written in the spirit of ridicule. The so-called trade imbalance is one of the most ridiculous notions that have ever been conceived. I don’t really pace the floors over the fact that the chair store and I have a trade imbalance, and I couldn’t care less about the trade imbalance between Virginia and Florida. For that matter, I couldn’t care less about the trade imbalance between China and the United States, or the trade imbalance between the United States and any other country, favorable or unfavorable. I just don’t care about trade imbalances.

Suppose the federal agency that reports trade data were to be abolished and that Americans were no longer kept apprised of the trade statistics between China and the United States. It would be the best thing that could ever happen. No longer would statist economists, public officials, and the mainstream media lose sleep over the trade deficit between the two countries. No longer would they be pacing the floors, night after night, worrying about what to do about the trade deficit.

Without all that trade data, the attitude toward trade between nations would be the same as it is between me and the chair company or between Virginia and Florida. No one would care. People would simply live their lives as they ordinarily do, making their purchases and conducting their businesses. Neither China nor the United States would fall into economic collapse over a trade deficit any more than Virginia or Florida (or any other states) fall into economic collapse owing to their trade deficit.

What really matters is the concept of economic liberty. Americans (and everyone else) should be free to buy whatever they want from whomever they want and spend or invest their money anywhere they want. It’s their money, after all. It doesn’t belong to the state or to society.

Forget the trade deficit between me and that chair company, between Virginia and Florida and between every other state, and between the United States and every other country. Forget international trade negotiations and treaties. Instead, just unilaterally repeal and dismantle every restriction on the freedom of the American people to dispose of their own money the way they wish. It doesn’t matter whether trade between individuals, states, or nations balances or not. All that matters is the fundamental, natural, God-given right of people to freely trade with others anywhere in the world.



Senate folly

I doubt that Harry will get support from his own troops for this. There must be some who can foresee the new rules being used against them in two year's time. It is a big ask to ask Leftists to think ahead but presumably some can manage it a little

As if the 111th Congress was not bad enough with Harry Reid's near super-majority in the Senate, the 112th could be far worse if Senate leadership gets their desired rule changes.

In what is best described as an attempt to sabotage (perhaps unwittingly) the Senate's long standing role as a "cooling plate" for public policy, the Democrats have proposed a series of rule changes that would significantly weaken the minority party's ability to delay, modify, or defeat controversial legislation.

The Democrats, eager to continue to pass more of their rejected Big Government agenda, have devised a procedural plan to shove more statist schemes down our throats.

Make no mistake; these proposed changes are a direct attack on our country's long tradition of defending the minority against what Madison would have called the tyranny of majority "factions."

Even though at times, Senate procedure seems arcane or even silly, these procedures are in place with intention passed on straight from the Founding Fathers - to make the Senate a bulwark against tyranny by a narrow majority and to guarantee senators reach at least a minimal consensus to pass controversial legislation.

Senator Tom Udall (NM) proposed the rules package the Senate is most likely to move forward with. In layman's terms, the proposal would do the following:

* Shorten the debate time on judicial nominees from thirty hours to just two hours. This would significantly weaken the serious scrutiny that judicial appointees should receive.

* Eliminate the ability of a senator to place a "hold" on freedom-stealing legislation.

* Several proposed changes to Senate filibusters would significantly weaken or destroy the procedure altogether.

As we experienced with numerous legislative fights over the past two years, the filibuster on cloture motions helped defeat egregious legislation such as DISCLOSE Act, Police-Firefighter Forced Unionism, Cap and Tax, an even worse health care law, and many more items on their statist agenda.

If Harry Reid and his cohorts get their way, the Senate will turn into the House on steroids. A frequent talking point from Democrats is, "The House passed 400 more bills than the Senate during the 111th Congress; therefore, the Senate is broken." Do not fall for the rhetoric. That is precisely what the Senate was intended to do — act as a "cooling plate" for the "heated passions" of the House.

Unfortunately, Reid and his statist allies are actively seeking to cut a deal with Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass at least some, if not all, of their changes. They have threatened to pursue a "nuclear option" (appeal to the Vice President to suspend the current rules and pass new chamber rules by a simple 51 vote majority) if the Republicans refuse to support their proposals.

You see, in 1959 the Senate was declared a "continuing body," meaning their rules stay the same from Congress to Congress unless a two-thirds majority votes to change the rules on the first legislative day. However, the likelihood of 13 Republicans supporting the measure is so unlikely the only way for Democrats to pass these rules are by cutting a deal or "going nuclear."

If the rules package passes, the long-protected minority party's rights in the Senate will be decimated. In reality, their proposed changes are more likely to make the Senate even more dysfunctional than what they currently consider "broken."



At Least Some People Get It

The Obama administration continues to scratch its collective head over what to do about creating jobs. After the disastrous failure of the numerous mega-billion-buck bailouts intended to lower the unemployment rate, even the now happily departed lame-duck Congress refused to pass another massive pork bomb. The Obamanistas, devoted Keynesians all, have pushed through more spending more quickly than any other administration in history. The national debt, which stood at $13 trillion on June 2, 2010, closed the year at $14 trillion. So we have spent beyond the dreams of Keynes’ avarice, and the unemployment rate still hovers near 10%.

Meanwhile, up in the Great White North, our Canadian friends have shown the way. For the fourth year in a row, they are lowering their federal corporate tax rate. It has just been dropped to 16.5%. This is less than half the American federal rate of 35%. Amazing, considering that Canada is sometimes supposed to be the pure welfare state, while we are the pure capitalist one.

And it won’t stop there. In 2012, the Canadian federal rate will drop to 15%, bringing the combined federal and provincial rate on businesses to about 25%. Back in 2000, the combined Canadian corporate income tax rate was 42.6%, so the decline has been dramatic.

Besides cutting the corporate tax rate, the Canadian government has eliminated corporate surtaxes as well as levies on capital.

All these incentives, combined with Canada’s healthy financial sector — Canada never created crazy government agencies to encourage and then purchase bad mortgages (it apparently grasps the concept of moral hazard!) — are enticing increased business investment. Spectra Energy of Houston, for example, has decided to invest $2 billion in Canadian energy and infrastructure projects. The Citco Group, a financial firm, has decided to open its only North American bank in Canada. And the big accounting firm KMPG has moved many of its operations to Canada.

American corporate taxes remain the second highest in the industrialized world. Our competitors to the north have grasped the idea that to tax an activity is to deter it. The Canadians obviously want more business, not less. And the reason they want more is that they grasp the fact that business creates jobs.




Taxpayers Paying Fannie’s, Freddie’s Legal Bills: "“Since the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, taxpayers have spent more than $160 million defending the mortgage finance companies and their former top executives in civil lawsuits accusing them of fraud. The cost was a closely guarded secret until last week, when the companies and their regulator produced an accounting at the request of Congress…. The legal payments show no sign of abating. ” [But the big bucks raked in by the executives over the years are safely beyond the taxpayers’ reach]

Obama regime steps up abuse of whistleblower: "Military officials at Marine Corps Base Quantico today increased the isolation of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning by detaining Manning’s friend and regular visitor David House at the base entrance until visiting hours were over. ... [According to Bradley Manning Support Network founder Mike Gogulski] 'Immediately following a rally by more than 150 supporters at Quantico last week, Brad was put on suicide watch for two days for reasons his counsel could only conclude were punitive ...'"

Republicans press for Senate vote on health care: "Senate Republicans want to box majority Democrats into allowing a health care repeal vote even if GOP lawmakers expect to be on the losing side. 'We need to have a vote on it because we promised the people we would,' Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday on 'Face the Nation' on CBS."

Portugal: Voters pick conservative president, shun government: "Portugal elected its conservative president to a second term Sunday, delivering a harsh political setback to the minority Socialist government which is struggling to contain an acute economic crisis. Anibal Cavaco Silva, who is supported by the main opposition Social Democratic Party, collected 53 percent of the vote compared with 20 percent for second-placed Socialist Party candidate Manuel Alegre, official figures showed with 98 percent of districts returning."

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 January, 2011

Ike's Admonition

Ken Connor

The 50th anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's famous farewell address to the nation has prompted much discussion about the prescience of his message. Has Eisenhower's vision of an America dominated by a military-industrial complex come to fruition? What would he think about our current military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan? Has Eisenhower's address been wrongly interpreted, misapplied, or misunderstood over the decades? Eisenhower's granddaughter, Susan, offered her perspective on the address in an op-ed for The Washington Post:
"While the farewell address may be remembered primarily for the passages about the military-industrial complex, Ike was rising above the issues of the day to appeal to his countrymen to put the nation and its future first. 'We . . . must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.'"

The lessons that Susan Eisenhower takes away from her grandfather's speech prompted me - as I'm sure it has many others - to read President Eisenhower's address for myself. And like Susan, what I found most insightful and inspirational about Ike's words were his emphasis on the importance of balance in our approach to and expectations of government, the obligations of national identity and intergenerational bonds, and the need to remember and preserve the spirit of faith and democratic values that undergird the American experiment:
"Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. . . .

But each proposal must be weighed in light of a broader consideration; the need to maintain balance in and among national programs - balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages - balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between the actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration."

Unfortunately, it seems that in the half century that has elapsed since Eisenhower's address we have forgotten - or forsaken - this critical principle of balance and are at risk of becoming the "insolvent phantom" of Eisenhower's tomorrow.

There can be no denying that America has truly become a nation of "spectacular and costly action." We have, both individually and collectively, become a society of blind consumers and reckless spenders that looks to government as the guarantor of our comfort and security. Unable to distinguish between our wants and our needs, we've driven ourselves to the very brink of financial insolvency.

A spirit of greed and a lack of concern for the long-term consequences of our actions was the root of the huge Wall Street/mortgage/banking crisis of 2008 and the subsequent bailouts. Those same attitudes are at work in the funding crises involving entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. They are evidenced by the reigning influence of a "global corporate" complex that is aided and abetted by Washington, insulated from accountability for wrongdoing, and singularly focused on profits to the exclusion of all other concerns.

Were Eisenhower alive today, he might wonder what has happened to the America he knew - a land of "free and religious people" who still embraced the Judeo-Christian values of piety, thrift, personal responsibility and diligence at the heart of the American spirit. Today's America is increasingly reflecting a rigid secularism fiercely antagonistic to religion and her offspring, morality and ethics. Virtue is being rejected as an antiquated notion, and individualism reigns. Everywhere we turn, we are faced with the looming consequences of our shortsightedness, self-indulgence, and hubris, and we are willing to do just about anything to avoid accountability for our actions. For decades now, the preferred method has been to kick the can of responsibility down the road - leaving the problem for the next generation to solve - rather than do the hard work of changing how we think and how we live in the here and now.

Every election cycle, aspiring politicians ask the American people for their support and promise that they are the leaders who will, once and for all, set America back on the path towards stability, solvency, and success. But even the most honorable and hardworking politician can't do this alone. It requires the support of a nation committed to a revolution in how we think and act, from the blue collar working man to the high-powered corporate CEO. Given the trajectory we are on, unless everyone gets on board, we will inevitably slide into mediocrity and hopeless indebtedness.

Fifty years from now, when America celebrates the 100th anniversary of Eisenhower's speech, I pray that my own grandchildren will be able to rejoice in the fact that their nation was able to change course before it was too late.



Note to Conservatives: Guard Your History

Critics forget that the Gipper had to deal with a Democrat majority Congress

February 6th marks the 100th birthday of President Ronald Reagan, and while his legacy as the pre-eminent conservative of the 20th century remains not only unshaken but sturdier than ever, his ideological heirs had better guard the truth of the 1980's from those who typically rewrite history to suit their own ends.

Conservatives, who typically feel more at home in the realms of military and business, readily concede art and academia to the left. Little wonder that Calvin Coolidge is widely regarded as a docile country bumpkin who slept his presidency away, and Warren Harding, the scandalous bootleg-gin swilling philanderer has transformed the real 29th president who, according to some accounts, literally worked himself to death.

Revisionists today would like history to recall that Ronald Reagan was not the conservative the modern right makes him out to be. A May 2010 Newsweek piece entitled "Even Ronald Reagan Was Not a Reagan Conservative" cites numerous tax increases, a skyrocketing budget deficit and the size of the federal government (versus the Clinton years), among other actions during his presidency, to prove that modern-day conservatives would have booted the Gipper much like they did George W. Bush into his second term.

Point of fact: conservatives, particularly those who were around at the time, will concede (albeit reluctantly) that the Reagan Revolution lost some of its steam in the second term, thus enabling the Democrats to regain the Senate in 1986. Nonetheless, his early tax increases were enacted with the understanding that the Democrat-controlled House would make spending cuts - for which we're still waiting. (Is it just me or does bi-partisanship usually work to the detriment of America's best interests?)

As to the growth of government, even if the Newsweek claim is true, power is not measurable in the mere number of federal employees - a more streamlined, more outsourced, more efficient Nanny-state is still just that. The entrepreneurial, can-do spirit that Reagan unleashed is what sustained America's economy for a generation.

To understand Reagan (and Newsweek and other outlets clearly don't) demands context. In 1980', America and the GOP itself had seldom seen such a powerful, likeable conservative on the national stage, and it took an epic loss in the 1976 primary to finally secure the nomination four years later. No talk radio, no Internet, no cable news - conservative dialogue was mostly limited to National Review and PBS's The Firing Line. With a massive Democrat majority in the House and an entrenched federal bureaucracy, Reagan was able to cut top marginal tax rates from around 70 percent to just under 30 percent and also gave businesses investment tax credits and depreciation deductions.

He not only forged a path for future Republican leaders, he set the bar and he raised it high. The point is not whether Reagan would be a conservative by modern standards, his greatness is earned because he refused to surrender American prosperity and pre-eminence when such senile blather was not couth and not cool, not in the Washington establishment and not even in his own party.

Now that the liberal brand has clearly fallen out of favor, we're hearing more and more that labels don't matter, that victory is won not on the extremes but in the center. Don't be fooled - Reagan's impact on modern conservatism is incalculable, and while he may have surrendered some details, he never let go of his vision, and that is why his name, and not Gerald Ford's or Bob Dole's or John McCain's, is synonymous with American exceptionalism. Reagan's memory belongs not just to historians - of either the left or the right - but to the fruitful, law-abiding Americans in whom he invested so much faith. The truth of his purpose and legacy is the ultimate gift to a free people on his 100th birthday.



Another revelation about Obamacare

Americans are already experiencing the chaos that the new law has created in our regional healthcare markets, which has led to health insurance costs rising as much as 40% in some cases, just since its passage.

But another key reason why Obamacare cannot be left in its current form can be found in research conducted by our government itself. No, the claims of congressional Republicans "killing Americans" are not to be taken seriously. But President Obama's attempt at caring for our health may be sickening, and even endangering, the American work ethic.

According to none other than the Congressional Budget Office, many of us have decided we no longer will have to work as much as we once did, given all the "assistance" we can get via Obamacare. This is not just political "spin" or partisan punditry. It comes directly from Douglas Elmendorf, the Director of the non-partisan C.B.O., a federal agency within the legislative branch of our government that employs people to analyze government policies, and consider their impact on the federal budget, and on the economy. The C.B.O. likely produces some of the most objective, "fair," and non-politicized data that we receive from our government.

Speaking at a little-noted event at the University of Southern California's Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, Mr. Elmendorf noted that, outside the healthcare sector of our economy, the greatest impact of the Obamacare agenda will be in the labor market. It was October 22nd, just days away from the big midterm election, and Elmendorf's presence at this conference, and his remarks at the conference, did not receive nearly the amount of press attention that they deserved.

Mr. Elmendorf stated that, in some cases, Americans will simply choose not to work, because their needs for healthcare will be provided by the enhanced Medicaid funding that is provided for in the Obamacare law. As Journalist Matt Cover noted at CNSNews.com (he was one of few journalists that actually reported on this event), this assessment of Obamacare by Mr. Elmendorf coincided with former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's remarks in May 2010. Recall that last year, then-Speaker Pelosi insisted that Obamacare would allow "artists" to "quit their day job" and pursue their art, free from the constraints of having to provide for one's self, because the government would now take care of artists' healthcare needs. That all sounded so good, right? It seemed like President Obama was making good on his agenda of, as he likes to say in his folksy fashion, "gettin' people some help."

But notice the gravity of what Mr. Elmendorf is describing. He's talking about Medicaid, a social care program from our federal government that is intended to offer short-term assistance to poor and lower income households. And the head of the C.B.O., the individual described as the "top accountant to Congress," is making the observation that we have, as a result of Obamacare, given increasing numbers of Americans a reason not to work (or to not work as much), and to choose instead to avail themselves to a "free" government welfare program.

The promises of Obamacare - reduced health care costs, universal access, a balanced federal budget - are illusory. Yet given the ways with which Obamacare was "sold" to voters, it is now apparent that politicians in our federal government have incentivized (some) people to consume more than they produce, and have assured them that it is their "right" to do so.

Obamacare must be struck down, and meaningful "reforms" must replace it. In its current form, it is the drug that is leaving the patient more sickly.



High-speed rail is a fast way to waste taxpayer money

Where can the new Congress start cutting spending? Here's one obvious answer: high-speed rail. The Obama administration is sending billions of stimulus dollars around the country for rail projects that make no sense and that, if they are ever built, will be a drag on taxpayers indefinitely.

When incoming Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio canceled high-speed rail projects, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood refused to let them spend the dollars on other forms of transportation and sent the funds instead to California and other states.

Walker argued that Wisconsin didn't need $810 billion for a 78-mile line between Madison and Milwaukee because there's already a transportation artery -- Interstate 94 -- that enables people to get from one city to the other in a little more than an hour (I once drove that route to have dinner in Milwaukee).

Kasich's rationale? "They tried to give us $400 million to build a high-speed train that goes 39 miles an hour." Train boosters countered that its top speed was 79 miles per hour -- about the same as many drivers on Interstate 71.

High-speed rail may sound like a good idea. It works, and reportedly even makes a profit, in Japan and France. If they can do it, why can't we?

A look at some proposed projects gives the answer. Take the $2.7 billion, 84-mile line connecting Orlando and Tampa that incoming Florida Gov. Rick Scott is mulling over.

It would connect two highly decentralized metro areas that are already connected by Interstate 4. Urban scholar Wendell Cox, writing for the Reason Foundation, found that just about any door-to-door trip between the two metro areas would actually take longer by train than by auto, and would cost more. Why would any business traveler take the train?

Much more HERE



Report: Fraud plagues global health fund: "A $21.7 billion development fund backed by celebrities and hailed as an alternative to the bureaucracy of the United Nations sees as much as two-thirds of some grants eaten up by corruption, The Associated Press has learned. Much of the money is accounted for with forged documents or improper bookkeeping, indicating it was pocketed, investigators for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria say."

NM: Man beats TSA on ID case: "Capitol Hill software developer, civil liberties advocate, member of the Hill's Chamber of Commerce and, yes, frequent CHS commenter Phil Mocek announced this weekend that he was acquitted of all charges stemming from his arrest after refusing to show identification to TSA agents at the Albuquerque airport in November 2009. Mocek was in New Mexico this week to be tried on misdemeanor charges including concealing his identity from officers who responded when he tried to pass through airport security without an ID in the 2009 incident. ... It took the New Mexico jury all of an hour to find Mocek not guilty."

Dangerous bath salts? "When Neil Brown got high on bath salts, he took his skinning knife and slit his face and stomach repeatedly. Brown survived, but authorities say others haven't been so lucky after snorting, injecting or smoking powders with such innocuous-sounding names as Ivory Snow, Red Dove and Vanilla Sky. Law enforcement agents and poison control centers say the bath salts, with their complex chemical names, are an emerging menace in several U.S. states where authorities talk of banning their sale."

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)


23 January, 2011

An interwar German novel was the forerunner of a great Leftist lie

Probably the most influential piece of anthropological writing in the 20th century was Coming of age in Samoa, written in 1928 by Margaret Mead. I read it myself in my long-gone teens. After the work of Derek Freeman, however, there is no doubt that it is a pack of lies.

Those lies were however influential. Like most anthropologists, Mead was strongly Leftist and one of the great "achievements" of the 20th century Left was to tear down morality. Mead was central to that enterprise. Her book purported to show that there was no restrictive sexual morality in Samoa and that free love was normal there. And Samoan society in general was presented as some sort of Garden of Eden. The take-home message, therefore was: "If the Samoans can do it, so can we". So Mead gave pseudo-scientific justification to Leftist rejection of existing standards and helped portray defenders of moral standards as ignoramuses.

The entire controversy is now old hat, of course, though some anthropologists still make excuses for Mead and continue to praise her. Some, such as Hiram Caton, carry their denial to the point of claiming that Freeman was mad, in the usual Leftist ad hominem way. I myself had an exchange with Caton over that. See here and here.

I write this post, however, to point out something I have recently discovered: Mead was not the first to use Samoans to make totally fictional propaganda points. I refer to The Papalagi (Der Papalagi), a book by Erich Scheurmann published in Germany in 1920, which contains descriptions of European life, supposedly as seen through the eyes of a Samoan chief named Tuiavii. As an anthropologist, Mead could well have heard of it.

The book is a patent fiction but not everyone wants to believe that. It has been popular among Greenies and their ilk even in recent times. Scheurmann depicted Samoa as a primitive Garden of Eden too. The return to a romanticised rural past was of course a well known feature of German National Socialist (Nazi) thought so it should be no surprise that Scheurmann was well-regarded by the Nazis and wrote propaganda for them.

Some desire for a simpler life and an addled rejection of modernity is also at the core of the modern-day Green/Left. It is remarkable how little the Left has changed in that regard. That a book by a Nazi sympathizer should be at least the forerunner, if not the inspiration, of a great Leftist lie should surprise no-one who knows how "Green" the Nazis were or how misanthropic modern-day Greenies are.


Castro and Obama: An interesting email

I remember asking dad about Castro when I was about 9 years old. I asked , "Is Castro a good guy or bad?" Dad said he couldn't tell!! This was about 1955. We were living in Louisiana at the time . Dad was in the army there. Cuba was fairly close and in the news a lot. The Cubans were asking the same question! Ike was president.

This past July, we had the pleasure of sharing a summer barbecue with a refugee from Cuba. Our dinner conversation was starkly different than most.

This refugee came to the United States as a young boy in the early 1960s. His family was more fortunate than most as they were able to bring a suitcase and $100 when they fled Castro's newly formed revolutionary paradise.

We began with a simple discussion about our country and the direction it has taken since Barack Obama came to power. We shared the usual complaints about the sour economy and liberal social engineering emanating from the rulers in Washington .

But then he said it. The sentence came naturally. I assume it was unplanned. But it carried the weight of a freight train. "You know when Castro took power, none of us knew he was a Communist."

We sat stunned. He continued, "Yes, we all thought he was a patriot, a nationalist. Before the revolution he didn't sound like a radical."

The comparison at this point was easy, and I interjected, "You mean just like Barack Obama?" He responded, "Yes, just like Barack Obama."

He continued, "We were all shocked as the government just continued to grab more power. First they said the revolution is over, so please turn in your guns. We all complied."

"I remember my uncle saying after it started, 'Castro will only nationalize some of the big industries, he will never come and take our family hardware store. 'But that is exactly what happened, Castro started with the sugar mills and the large industries, but they eventually came and knocked on the door of our family hardware store. My family had run this store for generations. They said we now own the hardware store, you work for us. And that nice, large four-bedroom home you own, it is now our property also, and you can move yourself and five children into two rooms of the house because others are moving in with you."

The lesson learned from this discussion is a lesson most Americans refuse to hear. Political leaders can lie about their agenda and once in office they can take totally unexpected turns.

If you had asked us three years ago if we thought General Motors would be nationalized, we would have never believed it. We could never contemplate a country where the rule of law, the most fundamental building block of a justice society would be evaporating just like it did in Castro's Cuba in the early 1960s.

But the news of injustice keeps increasing. Black Panthers are not charged with wrongdoing by the U.S. Department of Justice because their crimes are against whites. The bondholders of GM are stripped of their assets without due process by the government. The U.S. borders are overrun with crime and illegal activity and the leaders in D.C. act as if it is important to protect the lawbreakers while the innocent are killed and overrun. When local communities attempt to enforce the law, they are ridiculed and threatened as racists and bigots. They are sued by the very administration entrusted with enforcing the law.


Israel treated as a Banana Republic

Two documents reported on this week shed a troubling light on the US government’s attitude toward Israel. The first is a 27-page FBI search warrant affidavit from 2004 targeting then-senior AIPAC lobbyist Steve Rosen, published Wednesday in The Washington Times. The second is WikiLeaks’ leaked secret State Department cable from October 2008 signed by then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice directing US officials to spy on Israel.

Both indicate that in certain quarters of the American government, Israel is viewed as at best a banana republic and at worst an enemy of the US.

The text of the FBI affidavit directed against Rosen makes clear that the FBI had no particular reason to suspect that he was an Israeli agent or was harming US national security. Rosen’s activities during his tenure as AIPAC’s senior lobbyist as described in the affidavit – meeting with government officials, journalists and Israeli diplomats – were precisely the type of activities that lobbyists in Washington routinely engage in.

Despite this, the FBI followed Rosen for five years and indicted him and his AIPAC colleague Keith Weissman on felony charges under the all-but-forgotten 1917 Espionage Act. The FBI probe and subsequent trial harmed AIPAC’s reputation, destroyed both men’s careers, and did untold damage to the reputation of both the State of Israel and its American Jewish supporters. That it took five years for the Justice Department to drop these outrageous charges is a testament to the strength of the FBI’s commitment to criminalizing American Jewish advocates of a strong US-Israel alliance.

And then there is Rice’s secret cable. Just days before the 2008 presidential elections, the secretary of state instructed US diplomats in Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well as the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA to conduct a massive espionage operation against Israel. The sought-for information covered all aspects of Israel’s political system, society, communications infrastructures and the IDF.

Regarding the IDF, for instance, among other things, diplomats and spies were asked to gather intelligence on planned Israeli military operations against the Palestinians, Lebanon and Syria, and to probe the attitudes of military commanders.

They were also told to gather information on “IDF units, equipment, maintenance levels, training, morale, and operational readiness[;] IDF tactics, techniques and procedures for conducting conventional and unconventional counterinsurgency and counterterrorist operations[; and] Israeli assessment of the impact of reserve duty in the territories on IDF readiness.”

As for political leaders, among other things, Rice instructed diplomats and spies to provide detailed information about government plans; influences on politicians; how politicians decide to launch military strikes; what Israel’s leaders think about the US; and much more.

Rice also sought information about various aspects of Israeli society. She instructed US diplomats and spies to gather information on everything from “Information on and motivations for any increased Israeli population emigration from Israel” to detailed information on Israeli “settlers” in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights.

Regarding the “settlers,” among other things, Rice wanted information on “Divisions among various settlement groups[;] details on settlement-related budgets and subsidies[;] settlers’ relationships with the Israeli political and military establishment including their lobbying and settlement methods.”

Rice expressed deep interest as well in all details related to Israel’s military and nonmilitary communications infrastructure. For instance, she directed US officials to gather information on “Current specifications, vulnerabilities, capabilities, and planned upgrades to national telecommunications infrastructure, networks, and technologies used by government and military authorities, intelligence and security services, and the public sector.”

Finally, Rice wanted personal data on Israeli leaders. She asked for “official and personal phone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses of principal civilian and military leaders.”

Taken side-by-side, the first striking aspect of the US’s fabricated Israeli spy scandal on the one hand and its massive espionage operation against Israel on the other hand is the shocking hypocrisy of it all.

But hypocrisy isn’t the real issue. The real issue exposed by the documents is that the US is carrying out a deeply hostile policy against Israel in the face of massive public support for Israel in the US.

That is, whereas two-thirds of Americans support Israel, a minority constituency in the US government treats Israel with scorn and hatred.



Health Care Reform: We can’t all live at the expense of everyone else

Critics have noted many flaws in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul: It's too expensive, too intrusive, too coercive, and too complex. But one central defect that accounts for much of the other mischief: the pretense that making us all better off is a miraculous, cost-free bonanza.

The 19th-century French economist Frederic Bastiat foresaw schemes like this when he wrote, "Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." That illusion lies at the heart of the new program.

The president has gone to great lengths not to disguise this element but to celebrate it. He said early in the debate that the additional cost of the program could be paid with taxes on the rich. He vowed to oppose anything "that is primarily funded through taxing middle-class families"—which he plainly regards as the moral equivalent of drowning puppies.

But why shouldn't middle-class families bear the cost of a largely middle-class entitlement? When a typical family buys a new car, it doesn't expect someone else to make the payments. If health care reform showers so many blessings on ordinary Americans, ordinary Americans ought to be more than willing to pay the bill. If they are unwilling, maybe some rethinking is in order.

The Easter Bunny approach is not unknown among Republicans, either. They too like to hand out tasty treats. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in November the GOP would keep some parts of the health care reform, like requiring insurers to take applicants without regard to pre-existing conditions and to let parents keep children on their policies up to age 26. But those provisions are popular partly because their actual cost is invisible.

The general flaw also makes for particular flaws. One of those is the requirement that health insurance companies cover some 45 preventive care services at zero cost to patients—everything from depression screening to diet counseling.

As Obama has put it, "insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies, because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives." In other words, it's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Sure. And Obama is a leprechaun. Some preventive measures, such as vaccinations, save more in medical expenditures than they cost. But the idea that all preventive care pays for itself is an alluring myth.

Rutgers economist Louise Russell says that as a general matter, it doesn't save dollars. On the contrary, she noted in a 2009 article in the journal Health Affairs, "prevention usually adds to medical spending." Four out of five preventive options, she says, "add more to medical costs than they save."

But Americans have not learned to accept the word "no" when it comes to health care, and the administration has no desire to teach them. Two years ago, a federal panel dropped its recommendation that all women begin regular mammograms at age 40 (based on risks and benefits, leaving aside costs). In deference to the ensuing protests, the health care plan mandates coverage of breast cancer screening at age 40 anyway.

Consider this a harbinger: Under Obama's program, if patients and doctors demand something, the government will make sure they get it.

Many people, of course, put great importance on prevention. They'd rather get inoculated against the flu or shingles to avert a possible spell of sickness. They'd rather get screened for prostate cancer or cervical cancer if there's even a small chance it will save their lives. But if they value such options so highly, why is it outrageous to ask them to remit something for the privilege? Letting insurers impose a co-payment or a deductible would have the effect of inducing patients not to completely disregard the issue of cost.

One of the chief ills of our health care system is that it encourages excessive consumption of medical services, which drives up total spending and wastes resources. But the preventive-care provision amounts to throwing a drowning man a hose.

If the goal is to restrain spending and make insurance affordable for all, a health care system has to put at least some direct costs on patients. We can't all live at the expense of everyone else. But we can all go broke trying.



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 January, 2011

Just another far-Leftist Jew who hates Christians

The addled-brain rant below has been taken seriously enough to warrant several replies (e.g. here). But it really deserves no reply. What oozes from it is hate and contempt towards Christians -- and that is still common among American Jews. Let the many attacks by the ADL on Christian observance and discourse stand as one pointer to that.

The rant below is hate speaking, not reason. It is a sad thing that being Jewish in America is a strong predictor of the politics of hate -- Leftism -- but it is also a fact and knowing that fact helps one to understand and dismiss the lies of Seymour Hersh. Hersh has run out of real scandals to expose so now he is inventing one. And what he invents shows what is in his heart.

Note that I have said nothing derogatory about all Jews. But I hope I have been as derogatory to Leftist Jews as they deserve. I have nothing but admiration for the small but brilliant band of Jewish-American conservatives, some of whom I quote frequently

The only thing that could perhaps be noted in mitigation of Hersh's hate is that on other occasions he has shown that he doesn't like his fellow Jews much either. Maybe he is just a mental case upon whom we should take pity.

The journalist Seymour Hersh has uncovered some sinister conspiracies during his long career, but his latest revelation is drawing some puzzled reactions and denunciations.

In a speech this week in Doha, Qatar, Hersh advanced the notion that US military forces are directed and dominated by Christian fundamentalist "crusaders" bent on changing "mosques into cathedrals".

An account of the speech in Foreign Policy magazine says Hersh alleged that General Stanley McChrystal, the retired head of the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command and briefly the top commander of US forces in Afghanistan, was among several senior officers who were supporters of exclusive Catholic organisations such as Opus Dei and the Knights of Malta.

Neoconservative advisers to the former president George Bush believed "we're gonna change mosques into cathedrals", Hersh, a writer for The New Yorker, said in the speech. "That's an attitude that pervades, I'm here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command."

The command is the part of the military focused on missions to kill enemy leaders, primarily in Afghanistan and Iraq. Its operations are almost always secret.

He added: "This is not an atypical attitude among some military - it's a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They're protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century."

As for the President, Barack Obama, Hersh said he had been blind to the drift in America's foreign policy. "Just when we need an angry black man," he said, "we didn't get one."

A spokesman for General McChrystal said he "is not and never has been" a member of the Knights of Malta, an ancient order that protected Christians from Muslim encroachment during the Middle Ages and has since become a charitable body.

The spokesman, David Bolger, said Hersh's statement linking the general to the group was "completely false and without basis in fact".

Hersh's attempts to link the religious groups to the Pentagon brought a denunciation from the Catholic League president, Bill Donohue, who said Hersh's "long-running feud with every American administration … has disoriented his perspective so badly that what he said about the Knights of Malta is not shocking to those familiar with his penchant for demagoguery".

Pentagon sources say there is little evidence of a broad fundamentalist conspiracy within the military. Although there have been incidents in which officers have preached to subordinates, the military discourages partisan religious advocacy.



A Big Step Forward for Civil Discourse

MSNBC has declined to renew Keith Olbermann's contract. It's an ironic coda to the last two weeks of left-wing inveighing about the supposed right-wing "climate of hate," isn't it? In any case, the linked report suggests there had been long-simmering tension between MSNBC's biggest name and those in the network who had to work with him. The discord must have been pretty extreme for the network willingly to part with their biggest audience draw.

What's more, though the linked piece notes that those at Comcast played no role in the decision to let Olbermann go, it's also true that the deal providing Comcast with majority control of NBC is imminent -- and Comcast is likely to be much less tolerant of hijinks like Olbermann's than GE was.

Obviously, I wish Olbermann well, personally. But it can't be denied that his disappearance from the airwaves -- along with his hysterical denunciations of various conservatives and Republicans as "the worst person in the world" and all that -- is a great leap forward for the much-ballyhooed cause of "civility." Who would have thought that MSNBC would lead the way into the brave new "nolabel" world?



Has Massachusetts Experience Put ObamaCare On A Path To Repeal?

Of the 410,000 newly insured in Massachusetts, three in four are either paying nothing or very little for their insurance. They've also been successful in continuing to pull down massive subsidies from Washington to support the overhaul.

Spending has exploded. Medicaid, a problem in every state, is destroying Massachusetts. The health overhaul was really Medicaid expansion, and with the rolls up nearly 25% since 2006, Massachusetts is struggling to pay the bills.

The other promises turned out to be bogus as well. Despite the near-universal insurance, the state still spends $414 million on uncompensated care, an expense that Romney and his architects promised would disappear. Emergency-room use has not dropped as predicted. From 2006 to 2008, emergency room use under Mass Care increased by 9%. And private employer insurance costs, far from dropping, have continued to increase.

A 2010 study published in the Forum for Health Economics & Policy found that health insurance premiums in Massachusetts, prior to its overhaul, increased at a rate 3.7% slower than the national average. Post-overhaul, they are increasing 5.8% faster.

The individual mandate, as onerous as it is, is set at a level to encourage gaming the system. A family with an income of $55,000 in 2014 will face the choice of paying $4,428 a year for health insurance or a $550 fine. Given that insurance will be available on demand, it's rational to pay the fine until a serious illness strikes.

Indeed, there is no strong demand for insurance among the uninsured. The individual market has existed for years and is lightly subscribed. The new high-risk pools created by ObamaCare are very undersubscribed. Bureaucrats projected that 375,000 would sign up by now. The actual number is 8,000.

The lie that Massachusetts never promised to control costs is amplified by the belief that Obama's plan would do so. Other than price controls, commissions recommending best practices and a stealth HMO program for Medicare renamed Accountable Care Organizations, there's little to control costs in the near term.

This brings us back to the Bay State, where politicians, bureaucrats and health policy sages have embarked on what they bill as phase two of the health care overhaul. Now that nearly everyone is insured, the effort is to replace the decentralized reimbursement system with a global budget.

In other words, give hospitals and doctors a pool of money and tell them to make do. Change the incentive from providing the best possible care to the best care the bureaucrats can possibly afford.

"Clearly we are going to have less resources," Gary Gottlieb, CEO of Partners Health Care in Massachusetts, recently told a medical conference. "The most extraordinary ICU and the most extraordinary technology, without necessarily the evidence that it extends life ... is not going to be accessible to us." A government-run HMO. Welcome to your future.



No, Ezra Klein, ObamaCare Wouldn’t Have Saved Child

An old lie revived by a Leftist. How desperate are you if you have to go back to events of 2007 to make a point and then still fail to say anything reasonable?

Ezra Klein invokes a heartbreaking analogy to criticize the GOP for seeking to repeal ObamaCare. But this sad case has nothing to do with the new health law. Klein writes:
In February 2007, Deamonte Driver died of an infected tooth. But he didn’t really die of an infected tooth. He died because he didn’t have consistent insurance. If he’d had an Aetna card, a dentist would’ve removed the tooth earlier, and the bacteria that filled the abscess would never have spread to his brain. Deamonte Driver was 12. His insurance status wasn’t his fault.

Except that there is nothing in ObamaCare that would make Deamonte Driver eligible for Aetna or any other form of private insurance. What’s more, Klein surely knows this.

As the Washington Post article about Driver that Klein links to clearly states in the fourth sentence, Driver’s family had “lost its Medicaid.” Driver’s mother had been moving around homeless shelters, and she suspected “that the paperwork to confirm their eligibility (for Medicaid) was mailed to the shelter in Adelphi, where they no longer live(d).”

Under ObamaCare, if you earn less than 100% of the federal poverty level, you are only eligible for Medicaid. You are not eligible for a premium subsidy to help you buy private coverage on an insurance exchange. Presumably, someone like Driver’s mother who is living in homeless shelters is making less than 100% of the federal poverty level.

The only people who qualify for either Medicaid or a premium subsidy are those between 100% and 133% of FPL. Klein knows this, as Ron Pollack of Families USA helpfully explained it to him.

Despite this, Klein says that the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) “means health-care coverage for more than 30 million Americans,” that “the repeal legislation Republicans are pushing does nothing to replace the coverage the Affordable Care Act would give to those people,” and, thus, that the GOP offers no “solution for the Deamonte Drivers of the world.” He further knocks Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., for complaining that he had to wait 28 days for his congressional health insurance to kick in. “(Harris) knows his taxpayer-subsidized insurance is important. But what about Driver’s?” Klein asks.

Nice try, but ObamaCare doesn’t offer any solution for the Deamonte Drivers of the world either. In fact, to the extent that Medicaid played a part in his death (Driver’s mom had difficult finding a dentist because few dentists accept Medicaid due to its lousy reimbursement rates), ObamaCare puts more Deamonte Drivers at risk by expanding Medicaid to 133% of FPL.

And there is one other thing in the article that gives the lie to Klein’s claim that with an “Aetna card” Driver’s tooth would have been removed “earlier.” As the article notes:
When Deamonte got sick, his mother had not realized that his tooth had been bothering him. Instead, she was focusing on his younger brother, 10-year-old DaShawn, who “complains about his teeth all the time,” she said. ...

It was on Jan. 11 that Deamonte came home from school complaining of a headache. At Southern Maryland Hospital Center, his mother said, he got medicine for a headache, sinusitis and a dental abscess. But the next day, he was much sicker.

Eventually, he was rushed to Children’s Hospital, where he underwent emergency brain surgery. He began to have seizures and had a second operation. The problem tooth was extracted.

If a mom doesn’t realize that her child’s teeth are bothering him and the child doesn’t receive regular dental checkups (Deamonte didn’t, according to the article), then chances are very slim that he’d ever have a bad tooth removed until it was too late.

That was all right there in the article for Klein to read. Perhaps the next time he wants to pull on readers’ heartstrings he should do it without pulling a fast one.



The Philadelphia Horror: How Mass Murder Gets a Pass

Let's give the "climate of hate" rhetoric a rest for a moment. It's time to talk about the climate of death, in which the abortion industry thrives unchecked. Dehumanizing rhetoric, rationalizing language and a callous disregard for life have numbed America to its monstrous consequences. Consider the Philadelphia Horror.

In the City of Brotherly Love, hundreds of babies were murdered by a scissors-wielding monster over four decades. Whistleblowers informed public officials at all levels of the wanton killings of innocent life. But a parade of government health bureaucrats and advocates protecting the abortion racket looked the other way -- until, that is, a Philadelphia grand jury finally exposed the infanticide factory run by abortionist Kermit B. Gosnell, M.D., and a crew of unlicensed, untrained butchers masquerading as noble providers of women's "choice." Prosecutors charged Gosnell and his death squad with multiple counts of murder, infanticide, conspiracy, abuse of corpse, theft and other offenses.

The 281-page grand jury report released Wednesday provides a bone-chilling account of how Gosnell's "Women's Medical Society" systematically preyed on poor, minority pregnant women and their live, viable babies. The report's introduction lays out the criminal enterprise that claimed the lives of untold numbers of babies -- and mothers:

"This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy -- and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels -- and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it."

Echoing the same kind of dark euphemisms plied by Planned Parenthood propagandists who refer to unborn life as "fetal and uterine material," Gosnell referred to his deadly trade as "ensuring fetal demise." Reminiscent of the word wizards who refer to the skull-crushing partial-birth abortion procedure as "intact dilation and evacuation" and "intrauterine cranial decompression," Gosnell described his destruction of babies' spinal cords as "snipping."



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 January, 2011

Democrat Congressman: Republicans Like Nazis For Opposing Obamacare

Rep Cohen was talking to an empty chamber so even his fellow Democrats presumably see him as of no account -- one of their few wise judgments. They might want to ask him about where that "civility" has gone though.

His comments of course have no resemblance to the truth. Hitler was a socialist who SUPPORTED the expansion of the State into all services. If there is any historically accurate comparison to be made, it is the Democrats who are like Hitler in their policies

Note that the video editors have added on to the end of the video a scene that looks remarkably like the culmination of one of Hitler's Nuremberg rallies in the 1930s. One comparison deserves another.


Leftist hubris heading for a fall

It takes a worried man to sing a worried song, and in a recent speech that seemed like Larry Summers's swan song, the president's now-departed economic adviser warned that America is "at risk of a profound demoralization with respect to government." He fears a future in which "an inadequately resourced government performs badly, leading to further demands that it be cut back, exacerbating performance problems, deepening the backlash, and creating a vicious cycle."

The idea that America's problem of governance is one of inadequate resources misses this lesson of the last half-century: No amount of resources can prevent government from performing poorly when it tries to perform too many tasks, or particular tasks for which it is inherently unsuited.

Actually, government is not sufficiently demoralized. The hubris that is the occupational hazard and defining trait of the political class continues to cause government to overpromise and underperform. This class blithely considers itself exempt from the tyranny of the bell-shaped curve - the fact that in most occupations a few people are excellent, a few are awful, and most are average.

In fact, the bell curve is particularly pertinent to government. Surgeons achieve eminence by what they do "in office" - in operating rooms, performing surgery. Politicians achieve eminence simply by securing office - by winning elections, a skill often related loosely, if at all, to their performance in office.

James Q. Wilson, America's preeminent social scientist, has noted that until relatively recently, "politics was about only a few things; today, it is about nearly everything."

The vicious cycle that should worry Summers is the reverse of the one he imagines. It is not government being "cut back" because of disappointments that reinforce themselves. Rather, it is government squandering its limited resources, including the resource of competence, in reckless expansions of its scope.

Summers leaves a federal government funded by a continuing resolution. Congress has been so busy passing gargantuan legislation to expand government's responsibilities that it has not had enough time, energy or sense of responsibility to pass a budget. And the pathologies of expanding government are becoming worse because of two concepts Summers mentioned in his valedictory - Baumol's Disease, and Moynihan's Corollary to it.

William J. Baumol, Princeton economics professor emeritus, said that in certain economic sectors - e.g., labor-intensive service industries - productivity will increase, if at all, more slowly than in the rest of the economy. The late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's corollary was that such services - e.g., teaching, nursing, the performing arts - tend to migrate to the public sector.

Moynihan noted that if you want a string quartet, you must hire four musicians with four instruments, just as in Chopin's day. "Productivity," said Moynihan, "just hasn't changed much. And when it does - e.g., playing the Minute Waltz in 50 seconds - it doesn't seem to work right." Actually, lopping 10 seconds off the waltz subtracts from musicians' productivity.

Moynihan noted a danger to his party in the tendency for the "stagnant services" to become government services: "The Democratic Party is identified with this very public sector in which relative costs are rising. By contrast, the Republican Party is identified with the private sector where relative costs are declining." The public sector's involuntary tendency to become, regarding productivity, a concentration of stagnation is a reason for government to become more circumspect than it has been about the voluntary acquisition of vast new responsibilities, such as micromanagement of health care's 17 percent of the economy.



Obama's Social Security Talk Is Turning Voters Off, Pollsters Say

President Barack Obama's apparent willingness to consider cuts in Social Security benefits may be winning him points with Washington elites, but it's killing him with voters, who see the program as inviolate and may start to wonder what the Democratic Party stands for, if not for Social Security.

A post-election poll by Celinda Lake's Lake Research Partners found that, by a margin of 3 percentage points, Americans now trust Republicans in Congress more than Democrats when it comes to Social Security -- surely the first time since the program became a signature issue for the Democratic Party in the 1930s. The poll found confidence in Democrats on the issue dropping 14 points just since January 2007, accompanied by a 13-point increase for Republicans.

The public favors congressional Republicans over Obama on Social Security by an even larger 6-point margin. Obama's 26-percent rating is not only less than half Bill Clinton's (53 percent), it's even lower than that of George W. Bush (37 percent), whose proposal to privatize the program went down in flames.

The pollsters had no doubt that the turnaround stems from statements by Obama and other Democratic leaders expressing their openness to cuts in Social Security. "It's the rhetoric that says things like, 'Everything is on the table,'" said Lake. "That's not how the public feels. This isn't a policy debate in the public's mind, this is a core value."

The pollsters also noted a huge disconnect between the inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom that the deficit must be addressed through entitlement cuts and what voters think.

And while increasing the Social Security retirement age is considered a fairly benign change inside the Beltway, 7 in 10 voters oppose the idea, most of them very intensely, said Lake. Opposition is particularly strong among such groups as young voters, women under 55, non-college graduates, independent women and rural voters -- in other words, those much sought-after swing voters.

"Raising the retirement age is a great thing for wealthy professionals, and a terrible thing for low-income women and working men," said EPI's Ross Eisenberry. It's easy for professionals to imagine working a few extra years; much harder for people whose jobs are physically demanding or highly unpleasant.



Obama good for conservatism

America’s debate about government’s proper size and purposes has proceeded against the backdrop of European disorders, such as rioting by French young people. Some of them, although they have not yet entered the labor market (unemployment is 25 percent among those under 25), are indignant that when they do, they will have to remain in it for two extra years because the retirement age has been raised to 62.

Such demonstrations of government-induced decadence—a.k.a. the entitlement mentality—have provided counterpoints to the Great Unraveling. That has been the fate of American liberals’ agenda in the 24 months since Barack Obama’s inauguration. That event was supposed to launch a long liberal epoch, something unknown since the one that ended in 1938, when the nation recoiled against Franklin Roosevelt’s overreaching, which included his attempt to “pack” the Supreme Court by enlarging it. Because the episode that ended in 1938 had lasted only six years, counting it as an “epoch” amounts to defining “epoch” down. Today, the long list of liberal disappointments is still growing:

Organized labor’s top priority—“card check” legislation to make unionization of workplaces easier by abolishing workers’ rights to secret ballots—is dead. So is the environmentalists’ dream of a cap-and-trade regime—or, failing that, a carbon tax. The Environmental Protection Agency, which seems determined to do by regulation what Congress will not do by legislation concerning limits on emissions, is provoking a contest with Congress over supremacy—a contest the EPA cannot win because Congress cannot afford to lose.

The near invisibility and complete futility of last month’s Cancún conference on climate change marked the exhaustion of a U.N. delusion: It was that almost 200 nations were going to negotiate a treaty unanimously requiring a few of them to bribe the rest to reduce greenhouse--gas emissions—and that 67 U.S. senators would vote to ratify it.

Things that liberals thought would be gone by now include: Guantánamo, the Patriot Act, and the Bush tax rates. Having denounced extension of those rates as “odious,” what adjective has The New York Times reserved for, say, genocide?

Regarding the rates applicable to high earners and large estates, most Americans seem to be channeling Mark Twain. When a journalist suggested that the vast wealth of one of Twain’s friends, a Standard Oil executive, was “tainted,” Twain replied, “It’s doubly tainted—t’aint yours and t’aint mine.”

People who, 24 months ago, thought Obama would inaugurate a new New Deal subscribed to the theory that economic difficulties propel Americans leftward. The New Deal experience suggests otherwise:

In the 1932 presidential election, three years past the October 1929 stock-market crash, and with unemployment at 25 percent, the Socialist Party received a paltry 2.23 percent of the popular vote and the Communist Party received 0.26 percent. By 1940, the Depression had proved to be durable in spite of New Deal measures. Or perhaps because of those measures: America’s longest slump was the first to be combated by federal-government activism. In any case, in 1940 the Socialist Party received 0.23 percent and the Communist Party received 0.1 percent.

Conservatism continues to benefit from Washington’s most conspicuous foray into industrial policy—its misadventures with Detroit. The federal government is buying about one in four Ford and General Motors hybrids. The public, always a disappointment to Washington, is not buying enough of them. But Washington is offering a $7,500 tax credit to induce people to buy the hybrid-electric Chevrolet Volt.

Yet a GM ad says, “When you buy a Chevrolet, we’ll invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and tree-planting programs.” Question: Should GM pay back the $26.4 billion it still owes tax-payers before it indulges in trendy spending of other people’s money on tree plantings?

GM’s CEO Dan Akerson says his company is handicapped by government limits on executive compensation at firms that receive federal bailouts. Last year his salary and stock package of $9 million was $8,820,300 more than it should have been: $179,700 is the highest pay for civil servants, which is what executives at such firms are.




PA: Abortion doctor, staff charged with eight murders: "An abortion doctor in Philadelphia has been charged with eight murders, including seven babies who prosecutors say were born alive then killed with scissors. Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, and nine employees from his West Philadelphia Women's Medical Society were arrested Wednesday. He and his staff also are charged with killing a woman who was given a lethal dose of Demerol."

SCOTUS hears “state secrets” case: "For the first time in decades, the Supreme Court took up a dispute over the government's 'state secrets' privilege, hearing arguments Tuesday in a claim brought by defense contractors against the government. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. officials have increasingly invoked 'state secrets' arguments, notably in matters involving warrantless surveillance and interrogation of prisoners, to keep sensitive information out of court."

America not cheesy enough? "While food riots have begun emerging across the globe as a result of surging food prices, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has decided to funnel 12 million dollars into the popular pizza chain Domino’s Pizza, in what has become known as a secret government bailout. The bailout came from an organization known as Dairy Management, a marketing creation of the USDA. What was the result of the millions funneled into the troubled business? A large-scale marketing revolving around pizzas being made made with 40% more cheese, an attempt to re-design the Domino’s Pizza brand name in partnership with the United States government."

US House: Conservatives call for drastic budget cuts: "House conservatives vowed Thursday to slash domestic programs well beyond the already steep spending cuts promised by GOP leaders, the first sign of fissure between old-guard Republicans and tea-party-backed newcomers. A proposal unveiled by the Republican Study Committee, whose conservative members make up about three-fourths of the House GOP conference, called for bringing domestic agency budgets down to the 2006 levels in place when Republicans last controlled Congress"

SCOTUS: Federal contract workers must submit to background checks: "It is reasonable and proper for the federal government to perform background checks of those who work under government contracts, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. The court rejected a challenge from contract workers that their privacy rights were violated by open-ended questions about them or detailed queries about past drug use. The court said it was proper to extend to contractors the kind of background checks federal workers undergo."

America's economic collapse is already happening -- in the State and local governments: "Austerity has arrived in America. At this point, it is not a formal, mandated austerity like we have seen in Europe, but the results are just the same. Taxes are going up, services are being slashed dramatically, thousands of state and city employees are being laid off, and politicians seem to be endlessly talking about ways to make even deeper budget cuts. Unfortunately, even with the incredibly severe budget cuts that we have seen already, many state and local governments across the United States are still facing a sea of red ink as far as the eye can see."

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 January, 2011

Why the Left Hates Sarah Palin‏

The boiling hatred towards such a cheerful, good natured, spontaneous, pleasant person as Sarah Palin that is coming from the Left is certainly remarkable. I think that the reason is obvious. They hate the fact that she is happy. Leftists are all full of misery and hate. And they think their misery is virtuous! But there are other things entwined with that so I put up below several explanations by others. Firstly, the inimitable Evan Sayet:

It just happened again. I spend a fair amount of time at my local coffee shop. I like to do my writing outside and, besides, it gives me an opportunity to try and initiate political conversations with the people who pass by — my hope always being to begin to enlighten them as to what conservatives really believe (and not just what the leftist media tells them.)

Today, the conversation turned to Sarah Palin and my latest acquaintance blurted out: “Oh I hate her.” Since she did not yet know my politics, and since we were in Los Angeles, it is clear that she expected to hear back what you usually hear back in this city: “Yeah, I hate her, too.” Instead, I asked her why.

At this point I could have predicted her response because it’s the same response you get from liberals no matter who on the Right you’re talking about: “Because she’s stupid.” I replied: “Being stupid is no reason to hate someone, but tell me, which one of her policies do you disagree with?” It wasn’t hard to predict her response: “All of them!”

I continued to push. “Well, then, if it’s all of them, it should be easy for you to name one.” Her reply? “They’re too many to list.” “So don’t list them, just give me one,” I said.

This went on for awhile until my new acquaintance finally admitted that she didn’t know any of Ms. Palin’s policies. Before she ran off – Democrats always run off when asked to provide facts to justify their hatred for Republicans – I looked her in the eyes and said, “If you don’t know any of her policies, perhaps you should look into them.” She promised she would. She won’t. If there are two things you can count on with Democrats, they are filled with hate and empty of facts.

But it got me to thinking. Given that these people don’t know any of Ms. Palin’s political positions, what is it about her that they hate? It has to be her life story. Now, to all decent people, Ms. Palin’s life story could not be more laudable. She married her high school sweetheart to whom she remains married and with whom she is apparently still in love.

In the harshest of climes, she and Todd started a small business which, apparently, they ran well enough to purchase a home and raise a family. Despite the long hours required to run a family business and raise children, when Ms. Palin saw that the public schools were not doing a good job in educating her children, she joined the local PTA and was so effective there that the people who knew her best – and in small towns like Wasilla there are very few secrets – elected her to be their mayor.

Apparently, Ms. Palin was so effective in that job that the mayors of the other small towns and big cities elected her president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors. After a highly successful stint as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, she ran an uphill battle against an entrenched Republican governor and was elected to the top position, Governor, of the largest state in the nation. She did that job so well that her approval ratings – despite having ruffled the feathers of the leading political family in Alaska – bordered on 80 percent.

As Ms. Palin’s political horizons continued to grow, she found out she was pregnant with her fourth child, a baby with Downs Syndrome. Despite knowing in advance that this child would require even more attention and care than other kids, Ms. Palin opted to give her child – Trig – life.

So, given that those who hate – hate!!! – Ms. Palin know nothing more than these facts about her, what is it about Ms. Palin’s life story that generates this blind loathing? The answer is that, at every turn, Ms. Palin’s story debunks the myths of victimization and self-centeredness that is at the heart of the modern liberal ideology.

First, Ms. Palin is married with children. The Democrat Party’s treasured storyline is that women with children – especially those who take care of them themselves – are oppressed, victimized and doomed to a life without personal fulfillment. Ms. Palin’s life proves them wrong and the Democrats hate her for this.

If Ms. Palin were a Democrat she would have offed the last child before he was born so that she could have more “me” time to pursue her own wants and pleasures. There is clearly something very “wrong” with this woman who allowed her “special needs” child to live. They hate her for that.

One of the most obvious demographic differences between the Left and the Right is that people without children – those too self-centered and jealous of others stealing “their” attention, angry and hate-filled “feminists,” radical homosexuals and school children too young to have started a family — are just about guaranteed to pull the lever for anyone with a “D” next to their names. Those married with children are just as assured to pull the lever for someone from the Right.

And Sarah Palin ran a small business. Democrats don’t run businesses. In fact, Democrats don’t do anything. If you eliminated from the voting roll everyone who did nothing other than talk – the academic, the newscaster, the actor, the politician – and those who game the system, collecting welfare and years of unemployment benefits and “workman’s compensation” and food stamps, how many people would be left voting Democrat?

Let’s put it this way, if having had a job – having done something that required either physical labor or risking one’s own money – were a prerequisite to work in the White House, Barack Obama would have to fire 94 percent of his top advisers. That’s a real number. Ninety four percent of Obama’s top advisers have never done anything like run a small store, paint a bridge, wire a house for electricity or anything else other than flap their lips.

This is the genesis of the notion that Palin is “stupid.” Liberals are convinced that there’s something “the matter” with people who have jobs. This is what they mean by “What’s the Matter with Kansas,” Kansas being a place where people work – Hollywood, Cambridge Massachusetts, the TV studios in Manhattan are places were people talk. To the liberal, anyone who has a job must be stupid, after all, not everyone is as good a talker as they are, but surely everyone can find one excuse or another to sit at home and collect welfare.

In fact, to the modern liberal, anyone who has a job is not just stupid, he (or she) is dangerous. These people “cling” to their guns and their religion because they toil for their reward. These people are constantly on the verge of violence, whether it’s an attack like the one they caused in Tucson (according to the leftist script) or just by going home and beating their children. Consider the lyrics of “the working man’s troubadour” by Bruce Springsteen:

Early in the morning/factory whistle blows
Man rises from bed and puts on his clothes.
Man takes his lunch, walks out in the morning line
That’s the work, the workin’, that’s the workin’ life.

End of the day/Factory whistle cries
Man walks through them gates with death in their eyes.
And you just better believe, boy, somebody’s gonna get it tonight.
(Why?) Cause that’s the work, the workin’ that’s that workin’ life!

Sarah Palin is stupid and dangerous because, well, to those who have made their millions by doing nothing other than talking, that’s the work, the workin’ that’s the workin’ life. Just in case you think that’s just one example of Springsteen’s take on anyone who has a job, consider the horrors of his “daddy” who “worked his whole life, for nothing but the pain.” In this song, “Adam Raised a Cain,” daddy, of course, beats his children, “now he walks these empty rooms searching for something to blame.”

And, in fact, it gets worse because, clearly, a child who is beaten is going to continue that cycle of violence and beat his child (“you inherit the sins/you inherit the flames”). So, even to the most sympathetic leftist like Springsteen, not one, not two, but three generations are destroyed all because “daddy” had to go to work.

And they hate Sarah Palin because she joined the PTA and made things better. No, no, that’s not supposed to happen. Schools (read: the teachers’ union) need more money, only more money will solve the problems in the schools. Sarah Palin must be destroyed!

And, finally, they hate Sarah Palin because she was a successful mayor and governor. The Democrat Party narrative is that the American people are too stupid to successfully govern themselves and need Harvard and Yale elitists to dictate to them how they should live their lives. If a graduate of the University of Idaho can successfully run the biggest state in the union, then so can a kid who graduated from Texas A & M or even a kid with a degree from Eureka College.

If Democrats disagreed with Ms. Palin on the issues that would be one thing. But they don’t merely “disagree” with her, they hate her and they hate her without caring one whit about where she stands on the issues. They hate her because she is living proof that everything about the Democratic Party narrative is a lie and for this reason she cannot be allowed to be liked — because if Democrats liked her, they might actually listen to her policies.



Palinoia, the Destroyer: What's behind the left's deranged hatred?


Why does their hatred of her burn so hot? Ask them, and they'll most likely tell you: Because she's a moron. But that is obviously false. To be sure, her skills at extemporaneous speaking leave much to be desired. But that can be said of a good many politicians on both sides of the aisle, including George W. Bush, John Kerry and, yes, Barack Obama. And don't get us started on the man who defeated her for the vice presidency.

Whether or not she is presidential timber--and we are inclined to think that she is not--there is no denying that she is a highly accomplished person. She is also a highly accomplished woman, what in an earlier age would have been called a feminist pioneer: the first female governor of the malest state in the country, the first woman on the presidential ticket of the party on the male side of the "gender gap." Having left politics, whether temporarily or permanently, she has established herself as one of the most consequential voices in the political media.

They say she is uneducated. What they mean is that her education is not elite--not Harvard or Yale, or even Michigan or UCLA. They resent her because, in their view, she has risen above her station.

Professional jealousy and intellectual snobbery, however, only scratch the surface of the left's bizarre attitude toward Palin. They explain the intensity of the disdain, but not the outright hatred--not why some people whose grasp of reality is sufficient to function in society made the insane inference that she was to blame for a madman's attempt to murder Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

This unhinged hatred of Palin comes mostly from women. That is an awkward observation for us to offer, because a man risks sounding sexist or unchivalrous when he makes unflattering generalizations about women. Therefore, we are going to hide behind the skirts of our friend Jessica Faller, a New Yorker in her 30s of generally liberal politics. Over the weekend, she wrote us this analysis of Palin-hatred, which she has generously given us permission to quote:
I am starting out with a guess that this stems from her abrupt appearance on the national scene during the McCain-Obama race. She appeared out of nowhere and landed squarely in a position of extreme attention and media power. Her sex appeal might not have been as much of an issue had she been a known entity with a tremendous, watertight political résumé.

Even lacking that, her sex appeal might not have been such an issue if her demeanor on the campaign trail had been more, well, conservative. But here is this comely woman, in a curvy red suit, giving "shout-outs" during the debate with Joe Biden, giving controversial interviews without apology, basically driving in there, parking the car, and walking in like she owned the place.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing. But she couldn't have pulled it off if she were a gray mouse in a pantsuit, and because the devil in the red dress wasn't orating like a professor, it roused an unquenchable forest fire of rage and loathing in the breasts of many women, perhaps of the toiling gray mouse variety, who projected onto her their own career resentments and personal frustrations.

I am amazed at how people still abhor her. I personally do not. I don't feel she would be a good choice to run this country, but she does not deserve the horrific treatment she gets. I can tell you, being privy to the endless, incendiary rants this past week about her, coming from hordes of liberal women--age demo 25 to 45--they rip her to pieces, they blame her for everything, and the jealousy/resentment factor is so clear and primal. I've never seen anything like it.

We'd say this goes beyond mere jealousy. For many liberal women, Palin threatens their sexual identity, which is bound up with their politics in a way that it is not for any other group (possibly excepting gays, though that is unrelated to today's topic).

An important strand of contemporary liberalism is feminism. As a label, "feminist" is passé; outside the academic fever swamps, you will find few women below Social Security age who embrace it.

That is because what used to be called feminism--the proposition that women deserve equality before the law and protection from discrimination--is almost universally accepted today. Politically speaking, a woman is the equal of a man. No woman in public life better symbolizes this than Sarah Palin--especially not Hillary Clinton, the left's favorite icon. No one can deny Mrs. Clinton's accomplishments, but neither can one escape crediting them in substantial part to her role as the wife of a powerful man.

To the extent that "feminism" remains controversial, it is because of the position it takes on abortion: not just that a woman should have the "right to choose," but that this is a matter over which reasonable people cannot disagree--that to favor any limitations on the right to abortion, or even to acknowledge that abortion is morally problematic, is to deny the basic dignity of women.

To a woman who has internalized this point of view, Sarah Palin's opposition to abortion rights is a personal affront, and a deep one. It doesn't help that Palin lives by her beliefs. To the contrary, it intensifies the offense.

It used to be a trope for liberal interviewers to try to unmask hypocrisy by asking antiabortion politicians--male ones, of course--what they would do if their single teen daughters got pregnant. It's a rude question, but Palin, whose 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy coincided with Mom's introduction to the nation, answered it in real life.

Recently we were at a party where a woman in her 60s, a self-described feminist, called Palin a "moron" for having encouraged her daughter to carry her child to term and "to marry the sperm donor." Even apart from the gross language, this was a completely irrational thing to say. First, that Palin's values are different in no way reflects on her intelligence.

More important, why is Bristol Palin's decision to carry her child to term any of this lady's business? Those who claim to be champions of privacy and choice need to do some serious soul-searching if they have so much trouble tolerating the private choices of others.

What about male Palin-hatred? It seems to us that it is of decidedly secondary importance. Liberal men put down Palin as a cheap way to score points with the women in their lives, or they use her as an outlet for more-general misogynistic impulses that would otherwise be socially unacceptable to express.

Liberal women are the active, driving force behind hatred of Sarah Palin, while liberal men's behavior is passive and manipulative. In this respect, feminism has succeeded in reversing the traditional sexual stereotypes. If this is the result, you have to wonder why anyone would have bothered.



Evil hates goodness

Evil can manifest when people project their own badness and shame onto another.

People on the left hate Palin for one simple reason: because she is everything they are not. She is their polar opposite because her life journey has diverged from the prescribed liberal path.

Palin was raised to be self-sufficient and independent since "idle hands are the devil's tools." Little Sarah was up at the crack of dawn, hunting with her dad; in sharp contrast, liberal kids like me were still fast asleep.

Palin didn't have life handed to her on a silver platter, like so many in the ruling class. Instead, Sarah balanced school, chores, jobs, and sports. While liberal girls like me were glued to the boob tube, Sarah had no time for sloth.

Palin attended church with her family on Sundays. On Sunday morning, young liberals like me were recovering from Saturday night.

From her devout Christian upbringing, Sarah learned to be a good girl. In contrast, I learned everything I needed to know about how to be a modern girl from the monthly Playboy Magazine, which was conspicuously displayed on our living room table.

Sarah dated and then married her high school sweetheart; I learned that my body was a commodity that I "owned." And I could use my body -- and allow it to be used -- to temporarily still the pangs of loneliness.

There's a lyric from a Matt Maher song that always moves me to tears. It's when he cries out to God: "Where were You when sin stole my innocence?"

When I hear these words, an unspeakable pain cuts through me. I feel the ache of something stolen from me -- something precious, never quite recovered. And there are countless others out there, similarly robbed, though they have no idea what has gone missing.

And then, out of the blue, Sarah Palin, like a majestic bird in flight, swooped onto the scene of a depraved and deprived nation. With her children and grandchild, her religion and her patriotism, Sarah is the antithesis of everything the progressives stand for. Palin is not just pro-life, but she emanates life -- and good, clean living.

And what does the left do? They try to drag her through the mud to sully her. The hardcore among them want to eliminate her, even if this means putting her life at risk.

The progressives "joke" about gang-rape, make pornographic movies about her, and leer at her legs. (Would any of this be tolerated against Michelle Obama?)

Palin's church was torched during the primary, a vicious crime that was hushed up by the MSM. And now, with the smears about Tucson, death threats against Palin have soared.

Yes, leftists attack Palin because they envy her beauty; and true, she's a political threat. But the main reason for the hatred is something deeper and darker.

Leftists loathe Palin because she has retained something that was stripped from them years ago: a wholesomeness, a purity of heart. People on the left despise Palin because she shines a bright light on their shame and unworthiness, which they try desperately to deny.

The progressives, like that brutal gang of abandoned girls, want to drag Palin down into the gutter with them; they want to spoil her. Of course, their efforts will be futile; Palin is fueled by a Spirit that isn't simply her own.

The left knows only how to point fingers, and threaten, and menace. Why? They are lost, abandoned children as well; they have shunned the only Force who could wash them clean and bring them home again.

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)


19 January, 2011

Obama still doesn't understand regulation

It’s a relief President Obama, in an Op-Ed in today's Wall Street Journal, acknowledges that the free market is “the greatest force for prosperity the world has ever known.” It certainly is.

The President now says there are some rules “that are just plain dumb” and he’s going to “remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation.” I hope he means it. But even if a president does want cutback, it won’t be easy. Managing regulatory bureaucracy is like pushing string. Regulators want to regulate. Just last year, federal bureaucrats alone added 80,000 pages of brand new rules.

It’s intuitive to believe regulation protects us and makes commerce fairer. I once believed that. But then I became a consumer reporter and I watched regulation fail. Now I know it almost always does more harm than good.

In his Op-Ed, the President praises “common sense rules” like child labor laws and “our most recent strictures against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies.” But what he calls “common sense” has unintended consequences. Stopping credit card companies from imposing penalties on customers who pay late didn’t make those costs disappear.

Since the politicians “protected” us, credit card interest rates rose nearly 2% ... while other interest rates dropped. JPMorgan Chase simply cut off 15% of its customers. Those who want credit will now have to go to pawn shops or payday lenders that charge annual interest of more than 200%. How does that help poor people?

Child labor laws passed to protect children from dangerous factories now keep strapping teenagers out of air-conditioned offices. Labor Department rules are so onerous that businesses that could legally employ teens often don’t. Wendy's won’t even consider hiring anyone younger than 16 because the regulations require time-consuming record keeping, and carry the risk of a big fine. It's “safer” just not to hire young people. How does that help kids?

My friend Sheldon Richman, editor of The Freeman, helped convince me that almost all regulations are unnecessary. In this article, he points out that politicians always say:

“We need more regulation. When free-market advocates point out that the problems were caused by government’s systematic and deliberate weakening of market discipline in order to promote corporate profits through home ownership regardless of income or creditworthiness, the other side seems to want to say, “If we have proper regulation, we don’t need market discipline."

But chanting “regulation” and “oversight” is not a solution to anything... Even if we assume the regulatory body would be populated by honest, disinterested people (a wild assumption, we should realize by now), how would they know what to do? As noted, markets are complex beyond imagination... Sitting in an ivory tower and writing regulations for a complex market is a recipe for stagnation…



129 Million Lies About ObamaCare

“129 Million People Could Be Denied Affordable Coverage Without Health Reform” blares the title of the piece of propaganda thinly disguised as a “study” released this morning by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The purpose of the propaganda was, of course, to generate scary headlines on the eve of the House GOP’s vote to repeal ObamaCare, likely scheduled for tomorrow. The Washington Post and other media promptly granted HHS its wish.

The purpose sure wasn’t sober, high-quality research. While the title shouts that 129 million people could be denied coverage, the so-called study defines preexisting conditions to include those “that would result in an automatic denial of coverage, exclusion of the condition, or higher premiums.” But paying higher premiums is not the same as being denied coverage.

Furthermore, the preexisting conditions are taken from a list of conditions that either qualify a person for a state high-risk pool or could result in a denial of private insurance. But neither of those are the same as saying that someone will be denied private coverage. For example, Crohn’s disease is on the list for high-risk pools, but some private insurers cover it.

Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, is even harsher: “This is appalling,” he said. “This is the most mendacious piece of work I’ve seen out of there is twenty years. The most charitable thing you can say is (the Obama administration) takes credit for things this law doesn’t do. The less charitable thing is they are simply lying.”

Haislmaier points out that many of the things the study claims that ObamaCare ends were already illegal under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. For example, the study claims that prior “to the Affordable Care Act, in the vast majority of States, insurance companies in the individual and small group markets could deny coverage, charge higher premiums, and/or limit benefits to individuals based on preexisting conditions.”

Haislmaier points out that this was true only in the individual market. In the group market, HIPAA limits the denial of coverage to those with preexisting conditions to 12 to 18 months. Those who have been previously insured can get that amount reduced even further. Says Haislmaier, “They either don’t know the law or they deliberately portrayed it as something it isn’t.”

Indeed, the authors make these “unaware-of-HIPAA” errors throughout the study:

—Between 50 and 129 million non-elderly Americans have at least one preexisting condition that would threaten their access to health care and health insurance without the protections of the Affordable Care Act.

Wrong. Haislmaier reiterates that many of those people are in the group market and thus covered by HIPAA.

—In addition, workers with a preexisting condition may be less able to change jobs for fear of losing that coverage.

Wrong. Under HIPAA, if you previously had “creditable coverage,” you can switch to the plan of another employer.

—Individuals with these conditions would at least get charged a higher premium but could also have benefits carved out or be denied coverage altogether.

Wrong. Under HIPAA, an employer group can be charged higher premiums than other groups, but an employee within that group cannot be charged higher premiums than the other employees.

“It’s not like this is rocket science,” said Haislmaier. “They have people at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services who deal with implementing HIPAA!”

He also notes this gem in the “study”: “The new health reform law has already banned lifetime limits in private insurance and has restricted annual limits for group and new individual market plans before banning such limits in 2014.”

Haislmaier notes, “Except when they didn’t by giving waivers to everybody who had a plan with limits,” referring to the more than 100 businesses and unions that had received administration waivers from ObamaCare at the end of last year.

“Might you want to check with the front office before issuing this? So now they are claiming credit for something that, administratively, their own department has undone.”

Ultimately, this study is useless save as an indication of how desperate the Obama administration is to salvage its highly unpopular health care overhaul.



Leftist activism as machismo

One of the under-reported stories from the 1960's is a fundamental change that took place at that time in the male rite of passage. Ever since the first humans began the arduous trek from primitive tribal societies to civilized society, the male adolescent's progression to adulthood included some rite which demarcated childhood from manhood. Most of the time this rite of passage was explicitly designed to evince the young prospective man's physical prowess and courage. There is a clear line of communication from the young tribesman who was expected to kill a lion or bring down a buffalo by himself and the British aristocrat training at Sandhurst. There were always those who did not take part in such rites, but for the culture's elites, evidence of courage were considered a sine qua non to entry into adulthood.

The mass mobilizations of the last centuries allowed everyman to take part in this rite of passage. The Bands of Brothers of WWII, in the retrospective popular imagination, were the apotheosis of courage under fire, solidarity, and steadfastness.

During the Vietnam War the children of the elites, to a much greater extent than in previous wars, avoided serving. This was especially prominent in the children of the liberal elites. As with any complicated and conflictual behavior, all sorts of psychological reactions ensured.

Via the beauty of the reaction formation, the covert anxiety felt by many was transmuted into its opposite. The moral of the Vietnam War struggle, for the counter-culture,l was that the truly brave fought against the unjust, imperialistic war. However, beneath the defensive bravado, the anxiety persisted. Mark Rudd documents this in his Washington Post op-ed over the weekend:
In 1970, when I was 22 years old - the same age as Jared Loughner - I was a founder of the Weather Underground, an offshoot of the antiwar group Students for a Democratic Society. That spring, a small contingent of the Weathermen, as we were known, planned to plant three pipe bombs at a noncommissioned officers' dance at Fort Dix, N.J. Our intention was to remind our fellow Americans that our country was dropping napalm and other explosives on Vietnam, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. I wasn't among the bombmakers, but I knew what was in the offing, and to my eternal shame, I didn't try to stop it.

I considered myself an agent of necessity in a political revolution. I'm not sure if Loughner, who seems to suffer from mental illness, can be considered an agent of anything. But I'm sure that if, as alleged, he pulled the trigger, he had convinced himself that he was doing what needed to be done.

At his age, I had thought myself into a similar corner. My willingness to endorse and engage in violence had something to do with an exaggerated sense of my own importance. I wanted to prove myself as a man - a motive exploited by all armies and terrorist groups. I wanted to be a true revolutionary like my guerrilla hero, Ernesto "Che" Guevara. I wanted the chant we used at demonstrations defending the Black Panthers to be more than just words: "The revolution has come/Time to pick up the gun!"

Mark Rudd's use of his own experience to somehow illuminate any aspect of the Tuscon shootings is curious at best. What is more interesting is that he cannot yet question his own politics:
On March 6, 1970, the Weather Underground's bombs, assembled in a New York townhouse, exploded prematurely. Ted Gold, Diana Oughton and Terry Robbins - three brilliant and passionate young people who had decided that they must become terrorists - were killed. Only by their deaths was the greater tragedy we were plotting avoided. Emotionally shattered, I dropped out of the Weather Underground but remained a fugitive until 1977.

After I turned myself in, I spent the next 25 years trying to figure out why I had made so many disastrous decisions as a young man. One of my conclusions was to pursue only nonviolent action - righteous action still, but without anger or brutality.

It was never Mark Rudd's goals that were problematic, only his means, yet once the Left determines that its goals no longer justifies its means, it is no longer a revolutionary force, but an emasculated one. If you are fighting oppressors who are tormenting the innocent and helpless, every means must be used; after all, true heroes will risk all to protect the innocent. The young Leftist must either question his assumptions or condemn himself as a coward.

Some in the modern Left believe they can attain their goals by stealth; the election of 2010 has made that problematic. At this point the Left is being repudiated throughout the Civilized world. As Walter Russell Meade has pointed out, the Social Welfare model of the last half of the 20th century has failed and we have not yet found a new model.

The great problem for the Left is that they have failed spectacularly. The Soviet Union is now a kleptocracy surviving off oil; China is a State run Corporation; Cuba can barely feed itself and its much vaunted healthcare system is a shambles for all but the well connected who can obtain western (Capitalist) medical care; Venezuela is going off a cliff despite its oil; everywhere Socialism has been tried it has failed to do anything but terrorize and consign its people to perdition.

For the new generation of Mark Rudds, who have not yet surrendered their Utopian ideology, there are few options for exhibiting their courage. They can engage in mindless violence with the anarchists; they can support the oppressed by joining the murderers fashioned in the image of those most lovely of sociopathic killers, "Che" or Yasser; or they can attempt through subterfuge to achieve an impossible dream which has already been repudiated.

The true heroes, men and women of courage, are those few willing to stand up against barbarism in defense of our way of life. This is an intolerable state of affairs.




Iran bans production of Valentine’s Day gifts: "Iran has banned the production of Valentine's Day gifts and any promotion of the day celebrating romantic love to combat what it sees as a spread of Western culture, Iranian media reported. The February 14 celebration named after a Christian saint is not officially banned but hardliners have repeatedly warned about the corruptive spread of Western values. Under Iran's Islamic law, unmarried couples are not allowed to mingle."

CA: Is Berkeley ready to pay for sex change operations?: "While the country’s cities and states are cutting employment benefits, Berkeley City Council members will decide Tuesday whether to set aside taxpayer dollars for city workers to get sex-change operations. The vote, expected this evening, would permit the city to dole out $20,000 in cash stipends from its general budget to pay for the surgeries -- even as a city auditor warns of ballooning employee benefits costs. A new City Manager's report states that the city has unfunded liabilities totaling as much as $252 million."

Do you have a “right” to a job, home or healthcare?: "Americans have always been passionate about their rights. Whether conservative or liberal, we vigorously assert and defend them when we debate national policies like health-care reform or extending unemployment benefits. Unfortunately, the concept of 'rights' is often poorly understood across the ideological spectrum. Some conflate rights with responsibilities. Others label any benefit they think people should have as a right. ... In the Founders' vision, government's sole legitimate purpose is to protect our rights."

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 January, 2011

Why Leftists Are Far Likelier to Use Political Violence Than Conservatives

The background of this topic is the belief systems of Conservatives versus Modern Liberals. Consider the following demarcations.

A. Modern Liberalism, aka Socialism

What is fashionably called “liberalism‚” today is not what the term originally meant 150 years ago, when it was used to describe the philosophy of freedom. The Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment all influenced the creation of original liberal theory. For example, the Founding Fathers were all political liberals and the writing of the Declaration and Constitution were the high points of the ideas of political liberalism. But at the turn of last century, socialists began referring to themselves as “liberals‚” and they poisoned the term from its original meaning, allowing leftists to exclusively adopt the term.

B. Conservatism, aka Classical Liberalism

Early writers of Classical Liberalism and the Enlightenment were fixated upon expanding freedoms in every conceivable arena. This was during the ending of the Renaissance, when the Reformation suddenly burst open doors closed by the Church for a thousand years.

The tenets of Classical Liberalism are listed by Amy Sturgis:

"An ethical emphasis on the individual as a rights-bearer prior to the existence of any state, community, or society;

The support of the right of property carried to its economic conclusion, a free-market system;

The desire for a limited constitutional government to protect individuals’ rights from others and from its own expansion; and
The universal (global and ahistorical) applicability of these above convictions."

Real Conservatism is not a violent movement, even though it does espouse a strong military for defensive purposes. But it does so for defensive purposes. Further, while Conservatism supports the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, this is also done for self-defense. To say that a person who supports gun rights is therefore violent would be like saying a surgeon’s goal is to hurt people because he uses knives on them.

Overall, American Conservatism is fixated on our democratic constitutional republic, believing only by following a well-established Rule of Law can we all be safe. Further, freedoms also results from keeping government small and its powers trimmed so that citizens might maximize their own rights. Property is considered sacrosanct, which is the foundation of our capitalist system. So, needless to say, murdering politicians is not a Conservative value.

Moving Beyond Defamation

It is intellectual apostasy to claim Conservative means the same as violent extremism without bothering to study the history. In fact, the opposite is true when one considers that all of last century’s Marxist revolutions were achieved by a minority in a bloody ascension. Also, remember 200 million innocents were killed by leftists like Mao and Stalin making liberalism the most violent and murderous belief system in history. The entire Inquisition killed 30,000 people, while Chairman Mao by himself murdered 77 million!

The reason leftists are willing to murder in the name of politics is because they normally do not believe in God, a hereafter, or even any classic definition of morality. So whatever is done, as long as it serves Marxism, it is good.

According to P.H. Vigor’s A Guide To Marxism, since religion cannot deliver any sense of morality, it is up to humanism to create standards. But, as Virgor notes,

"Moreover, in any discussion involving ethics or morality, the fundamental point for a Marxist is that there is no such thing as an absolute Right and Wrong. Right and Wrong are relative for a Marxist: a thing which is wrong at one time, and in one set of circumstances, will be right in another…It is therefore simply not possible to settle an argument with them by reference to ethical principles—by saying, for instance, that the consequence of a particular policy would be murder, and you cannot commit murder. From a Marxist standpoint, you can—in certain circumstances"

The point here cannot be made too vigorously. There is no moral center found in socialism, Marxism, anarchism, or communism, as we discover in the Bible’s Ten Commandments. There is therefore no such thing as absolute wrong or right action to a true leftist. So,where resistance to Marxism is encountered, a sincere leftist always has the option of picking up a weapon to further his “liberalism.” In fact, virtually every Marxist revolution has involved murderous attacks to gain power.. And this is why leftists will always be infinitely more dangerous than Conservatives.



the G.O.P. Can Cut and Survive

The "Realpolitik" article by Ramesh Ponunu below is controversial but his recommendations are probably right as a short-term strategy. In the long term, vision and principles are also important however

THE new Congress is less than two weeks old, but pundits from across the political spectrum are already urging the newly empowered Republicans to take on Medicare and Social Security.

Conservatives argue it’s the only way to make good on the party’s limited-government rhetoric. Centrists say it’s the only plausible way to bring the budget into sustainable balance. Even some liberals are telling the Republicans to demonstrate the courage of their anti-spending convictions.

Reforming these programs is vital to our nation’s long-term fiscal health — which is why Republicans should resist this advice and leave the issue alone. Reform is impossible this year or next unless President Obama takes the lead on it. What’s more, Republicans have no mandate for reform, and a failed attempt will only set back the cause.

Some Republicans are understandably eager to take on these entitlements. “The third rail is not the third rail anymore,” Representative Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, said in December.

Maybe he’s right. But Republicans have gotten a painful shock every time they have decided it’s finally safe to take on entitlements. Ronald Reagan suffered a defeat in his first year when he tried cutting Social Security’s early retirement benefits. Newt Gingrich’s 1995 Republican revolution fizzled when President Bill Clinton fought him over Medicare cuts. President George W. Bush’s effort to reform Social Security in 2005 ended any political momentum he brought to his second term.

Would-be reformers should draw two lessons from this history. The first is that reform can’t be sprung on the electorate. Reagan hadn’t campaigned on cutting Social Security in 1980, nor did the Gingrich Republicans promise to reduce the growth of Medicare.

Today is no different: while some Republican candidates in the last election spoke forthrightly about the need to rein in these programs — notably Representative Ryan himself, but also new Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky — most of them didn’t.

As a result, if Republicans spend much of the next two years fighting over these programs, voters who depend on them are going to be unpleasantly surprised. Keep in mind that most voters oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare, so they are likely to be very nervous about any proposals to restrain their growth, especially if opponents portray such cuts as excessive. Even worse, most members of Congress are not well informed about these programs, so they’ll have a hard time soothing public anxieties.

The second lesson is that presidential support for reform is a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition for success. As John Boehner, the new speaker of the House, said himself on election night, governing from Capitol Hill doesn’t work — the president has to set the agenda.

If Mr. Obama delivers a good-faith proposal for Social Security, for example in this month’s State of the Union address, then by all means Republicans should offer a serious counterproposal and, depending on their differences, negotiate. If he doesn’t, then Republicans should wait on a new president in 2013.

But they should do more than wait: in the event of presidential inaction, reformers should blame Mr. Obama for the lack of progress and work to make entitlements a litmus-test issue in the Republican presidential primaries. The goal should be to nominate someone willing to make a strong case for reducing entitlement growth as part of a larger strategy to restore American prosperity.

True, reform won’t generate the near-term budget savings the federal government needs to avoid a fiscal crisis this decade. Even the boldest plans phase their cuts in gradually, and they exempt people who are at or near retirement.

But that doesn’t mean that all action on entitlements can be deferred. Medicaid is wrecking state budgets and is set to expand thanks to the Democrats’ new health care law. It is also more politically vulnerable than Social Security or Medicare, which offer benefits to everyone who reaches old age. As they try to undo the health care law, Republicans might also consider capping Medicaid’s growth and sending the savings back to the states. It would be a mistake, however, for Republicans to take the same approach to Social Security or Medicare.

Instead, they should show their budget-hawk bona fides by making spending cuts elsewhere.

They should begin by freezing or cutting government payrolls, including in the legislative branch — something Republicans have already started doing. Message: the federal government is not just imposing sacrifices but sharing them. Then they should get control of the discretionary, or non-entitlement, portions of the budget, which are small only in comparison with entitlements. Only after winning those fights, and probably electing a new president, should the old-age entitlements be up for reform.

There are times when it is admirable for a politician to support legislation for the public good even if it will cost him his own re-election. Some of the Democrats who voted for the new health care law and then lost in November probably feel that way. But that tradeoff made sense only because they knew they could actually pass the law.

There is no point to Republicans’ endangering their seats for legislation, however worthy, unless they have a good shot at getting a presidential signature on it. They will get their answer in the next State of the Union address.




Zogby Interactive: 45% of Voters Say Race Relations Have Worsened Since Obama Took Office: "More than two-fifths (45%) of likely voters say race relations have worsened over the two years that Barack Obama has been president, while 13% see an improvement and 37% see no difference. There was no statistically significant difference in responses between white, African-American and Hispanic voters. Most likely to say race relations have worsened are: voters who are more likely to vote for Tea party endorsements (78%), conservatives (75%), Republicans (68%), NASCAR fans (58%), weekly Wal-Mart shoppers (57%), those who attend religious services weekly or more often (54%) and military veterans (54%). Most likely to say race relations have improved are: liberals (28%), Democrats (24%)"

Mark Levin Threatens to Sue Chris Matthews, Others: "Conservative talk radio host Mark Levin said he would file a lawsuit against anyone in the media who tries to link him to the shootings in Arizona, as Chris Matthews did earlier in the week. On MSNBC’s “Hardball” Tuesday night, Matthews essentially blamed Levin and talk radio host Michael Savage for creating a climate of hate that led to the Tucson shootings that killed six and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. On Wednesday, Levin — an attorney — told his listeners: “I’m waiting for an allegation that is very specific against me because I’m going to sue. I don’t care if they’re bloggers, I don’t care if they’re television hosts, I don’t care if they’re radio hosts. I’m going to drag your a** into federal court."

Governors: We are all conservatives now: "The dismal fiscal situation in many states is forcing governors, despite their party affiliation, toward a consensus on what medicine is needed going forward. The prescription? Slash spending. Avoid tax increases. Tear up regulations that might drive away business and jobs. Shrink government, even if that means tackling the thorny issues of public employees and their pensions.... “The rhetoric has grown very similar,” said Scott D. Pattison, executive director of the nonpartisan National Association of State Budget Officers. “A lot of times, you can’t tell if it’s a Republican or Democrat, a conservative or a liberal.”

Group targeting Glenn Beck funded by Soros: "An organization leading a crusade demanding Fox News fire host Glenn Beck is backed by philanthropist George Soros and is tied to many of the liberal activists that Beck routinely excoriates on his highly rated program, WND has learned. Jewish Funds for Justice, or JFSJ, a charity that campaigns for social change, delivered a petition with 10,000 signatures to Fox News this past week in protest of a program in which Beck specifically targeted Soros, calling the businessman the "puppet master." JFSJ deemed the show anti-Semitic. JFSJ is funded by Soros' Open Society Institute. In 2009, the Open Society provided a $150,000 grant to the JFSJ and its associated group, the Funder's Collaborative on Youth Organizing. In 2010, the Open Society provided a $200,000 grant to last a period of two years."

Krugman’s incoherent moral stance: "The idea that we belong to government is obscene and harks back to an age when Caesars, monarchs, tsars, Pharaohs and such were believed to have been given their realm by God and everything within that realm, including all the human beings, therefore belonged to them. Later these slaves and serfs began to be called subjects, implying that they were all subject to the will of the government. This is were serfdom and even taxation have their origin. Now we have, in 21st century America, one of the most prominent commentators and educators reiterate this horrendous outlook. Incredible. But it gets even worse."

Government restrictions versus free market regulation: "Only monopolies or those involved in limited and restricted markets can afford to provide poor products or services at high prices. If they try that in a market where true competition exists, they will drive business to their competitor. If they don’t listen to the complaints and concerns of their customers, they will drive business to their competitors. Of course, the biggest monopoly is government. Perhaps that explains why so many seem to have a problem with government."

No to state bailouts!: "Many states can't pay their bills. Their unfunded obligations total trillions of dollars. Some of these states will want a bailout from Congress. Do you want to pay for this, or should the politicians and the unions who created these messes feel the pain instead of you?"

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 January, 2011

Are racists cuddly?

That question would seem to be answered in the affirmative by the research below. As I have had a great deal published in the academic literature on "ethnocentrism", I feel I should point out an important flaw in the research: It studies something that does not exist!

"Ethnocentrism" is a theory, not a concept. It postulates that people who like their own group look down on other groups. But all the evidence over many years of research shows that not to be true. Liking for your own group does NOT mean that you look down on other groups. Patriots are not necessarily racist and some people are generally benevolent, for instance -- i.e. some people who greatly appreciate their own group greatly appreciate at least some other groups too.

A further problem is that the research below used experimental tasks as its measures of "ethnocentrism". But experimental tasks have a very poor record of generalizing and so are a poor index of stable personality or attitude syndromes. A carefully validated questionnaire would have been a better (though still far from perfect) measure.

So the research is a very poor answer to the question it poses and the last sentence in the abstract below would seem to be totally unfounded. In short, the research is largely vitiated by its psychometric naivety -- a very common problem in experimental psychology.

Nonetheless, from all the things we know about oxytocin, it is probably true that oxytocin facilitates within-group trust, cooperation, and coordination.
Oxytocin promotes human ethnocentrism

By Carsten K. W. De Dreu1 et al.


Human ethnocentrism—the tendency to view one's group as centrally important and superior to other groups—creates intergroup bias that fuels prejudice, xenophobia, and intergroup violence. Grounded in the idea that ethnocentrism also facilitates within-group trust, cooperation, and coordination, we conjecture that ethnocentrism may be modulated by brain oxytocin, a peptide shown to promote cooperation among in-group members. In double-blind, placebo-controlled designs, males self-administered oxytocin or placebo and privately performed computer-guided tasks to gauge different manifestations of ethnocentric in-group favoritism as well as out-group derogation. Experiments 1 and 2 used the Implicit Association Test to assess in-group favoritism and out-group derogation. Experiment 3 used the infrahumanization task to assess the extent to which humans ascribe secondary, uniquely human emotions to their in-group and to an out-group. Experiments 4 and 5 confronted participants with the option to save the life of a larger collective by sacrificing one individual, nominated as in-group or as out-group. Results show that oxytocin creates intergroup bias because oxytocin motivates in-group favoritism and, to a lesser extent, out-group derogation. These findings call into question the view of oxytocin as an indiscriminate “love drug” or “cuddle chemical” and suggest that oxytocin has a role in the emergence of intergroup conflict and violence.



The evil consequences of the Left's hate-filled class war

I put the article below up late last year. It was written before the Tucson shootings. I am re-posting it here because I think it shows very clearly that the accusations coming from the Left about the Tucson shootings are just projection. They are seeing in conservatives what they do themselves

We often take the class warfare rhetoric of the Left for granted these days, inured to its wickedness by its ubiquity in the media and academia. For most on the Right the class and race warfare rhetoric espoused by leftists is simply another point to debate and an easy explanation for leftist political stances and social mores. But this ideology of hatred does more than affect tax policy, it costs lives. America’s streets run red with the blood of the innocent cut down by the foot soldiers of the secret war America’s Left has initiated.

Clay Duke, the man who opened fire on a Florida school board, was one such foot soldier. But he was also a victim. That the mentally ill Duke took his cues from leftist groups like Media Matters is verified by Duke’s own words. What shocked people more was the reaction of his supposedly sane wife who, having just heard that her husband committed suicide after attempting to murder several innocent men and women, told news crews that her mentally disturbed husband should be an example to all Americans. She called for a violent class war.

I may be unkind to point out the obvious here but it’s clear that this deranged man not only adopted the class warfare rhetoric of the Left, but was enabled by his radical wife. Fortunately for his would-be victims Duke only ended up killing himself, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a victim here. Duke needed help and those closest to him were so mired in their Marxist fantasy world that he ended up dead and his friends and supporters (yes, there are supporters of Clay Duke) continue their radical passion play.

But this has distracted attention from an even more disturbing story. In Cape Cod a series of fires are being blamed on an arsonist who leaves a very telling calling card. From the Cape Cod Times:
Police and fire officials are investigating an arson fire in Sandwich that has a disturbing similarity with a suspicious incident in Barnstable.

In both cases, the arsonist left a calling card, the message, “(expletive) the rich” at the scene.

At 3:30 a.m. on Nov. 24, flames engulfed an unoccupied home still under construction at 16 Boulder Brook Road in Sandwich. Only the exterior of the house had been completed. The home, which was valued at $500,000, had a three-car garage and three bedrooms, but no plumbing or electric service, Sandwich Fire Chief George Russell said.

The heavy damage burned much of the evidence. But the state Fire Marshal’s Office was recently able to rule that an arsonist had set the fire, Russell said.

The following week, on Dec. 2, incendiary devices were found at 43 Trotters Lane in Marstons Mills, law enforcement officials said.

At Trotters Lane, the message “(expletive) the rich,” was clearly spray painted on a fence on the property, Barnstable police Det. John York said.

York said a similar message had been found at the Sandwich property. Sandwich officials have declined to provide details about that case.

“F*@k the rich” is a common battle cry for radicals, including Libertarian Communists and Anarchists of all stripes, even ones who are admittedly well off themselves. But class warfare in America has little to do with actual class, it is simply a call for violence against those who oppose neo-Marxist policies. That is why these mighty “class warriors” tend to be the children of well-off families.

On May Day of this year there was a riot in Asheville, North Carolina organized by a Black Bloc cell. The very left-leaning city’s residents expressed surprise that their stores were attacked, going so far as to claim they were “on the same side” politically. Several people contacted me to tell me that the riot was organized by the local anarchists and socialists using radical bookstores for planning meetings and the dozen or so rioters arrested turned out to be local college kids.

A few months later an anarchist named Casey Brezik slit the throat of a Missouri community college dean in a blitz attack launched during a special event featuring Governor Jay Nixon. Brezik, like Duke, was mentally unstable and his family had declared him an endangered missing adult. While they worried about their missing loved one, local anarchists were providing Breznik with shelter and drugs and setting him loose on the public. It turned out that he had been arrested at the G-20 for assaulting a police officer, but Canada only held him for two days before deporting him back to us.

Like Duke, this “class warrior” was little more than a mentally disturbed weapon used by leftists to inflict as much destruction as possible on innocent Americans.

Racial division is a key strategy of class warfare, and the Left is adept at stirring up racial animosity. The recent riots in Oakland were organized by the Revolutionary Communist Party, who also played a hand in organizing violent clashes between police and illegal immigrants in Westlake, California. In both cases the RCP used racially charged incidents to stir up “revolution” and class war.

But protests turning into riots are the least consequence of the Left’s racially divisive class war.

Over the summer Des Moines was plagued with a series of racially motivated attacks at the Iowa State Fairgrounds where whites were attacked at random by black teens who police reported said it was “beat Whitey night.” Several police officers were attacked and in at least one incident a teen girl brazenly assaulted a woman in front of police for no reason other than her race.

A 4th of July “flash mob” in Philadelphia also included racially motivated assaults on random people.

In the once “up and coming” upper Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood, a 200 member strong Latino motorcycle gang has been terrorizing the well-to-do residents and the police have been powerless to stop them.

More disturbing were the 2007 murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsome. The young white couple was kidnapped, raped, and tortured in a racially charged murder many dubbed the Knoxville Horror. Christopher Newsome was sodomized then dragged to some nearby railroad tracks where he was shot and set on fire. Channon Christian then endured several hours of “horrific” sexual torture before being hog-tied and left with a plastic bag tied over her head in a dumpster where she slowly suffocated.

And while that case became the focus for racial debate the crime had more to do with class envy and the racial divisions promoted by the Left producing criminals with a sense of entitlement to their criminality if the victim is easily perceived as an “oppressor.” The Left stoked the fires of animosity by portraying calls for the five murderers to face hate crimes as racist themselves.

Too many on the Right have been lulled into complacency by the dreary pronouncements of the Left. We think that because there isn’t massive, sustained civil unrest that the Left’s class war is just an idea, a theory that drives the push to reinstate the death tax. But the class war dreamed of by the Left is here and its casualties are the thousands of mugging victims, rape victims and murder victims that we read a few lines about in the local crime blotters. Houses burned, Americans dead and whole sections of our cities given over to the near lawlessness and we still won’t accept that a “class war” has begun?

What will it take for America to wake up and see that the poison the Left has spewed into our culture is killing us?



The widening fight against public-sector unions

by Jeff Jacoby

In New Jersey, freshman Governor Chris Christie has been locked a battle royal with his state's powerful teachers unions. In California, Oakland's new mayor began her first full day in office by demanding that unionized police officers, who pay nothing toward their pensions, be required to contribute 9 percent of their salaries.

In New York, federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into whether Sanitation Department workers purposely paralyzed the city with a work slowdown during last month's blizzard. In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick infuriated public-safety unions by replacing costly police details with civilian flaggers at many construction and repair sites.

Now the Midwest is poised to become a major theater in the war against insatiable government unions.

Within days of taking office in 2005, two Republican governors -- Mitch Daniels in Indiana and Matt Blunt in Missouri -- issued executive orders rolling back collective-bargaining rights for state workers. Because public-sector unions in those states had been granted the right to bargain collectively through executive orders in the first place, Daniels and Blunt had only to rescind their predecessors' actions.

Even before he was sworn in last week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had fired a shot across the bow of his state's public-sector unions. Speaking to the Milwaukee Press Club, he said he would consider using "every legal means" to weaken those unions -- from decertifying their exclusive right to bargain on behalf of state employees to modifying state law.

"You are not going to hear me degrade state and local employees in the public sector," Walker said. "But we can no longer live in a society where the public employees are the haves and the taxpayers who foot the bills are the have-nots." More than 50 years ago, Wisconsin was the first state to enact a public-sector collective-bargaining law, and killing it outright might be too tall an order even for a governor whose party controls both houses of the legislature. But Walker and like-minded lawmakers may well succeed in excluding from collective bargaining the most highly-abused benefit categories, such as pensions and health insurance.

In Ohio, meanwhile, incoming Governor John Kasich has long made ending public-sector collective bargaining a priority. In 2009 he said he wanted to "break the back of organized labor in the schools," and last month he underscored his conviction that government workers who go on strike should be fired.

More here



House panel wants Homeland Security documents: "A House committee has asked the Homeland Security Department to provide documents about an agency policy that required political appointees to review many Freedom of Information Act requests, according to a letter obtained Sunday by The Associated Press. The letter to Homeland Security was sent late Friday by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee."

An extremist and proud of it: "I knew I was an extremist from the time Barry Goldwater announced that 'Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.' That’s because an extremist is just someone who holds a set of positions that is internally consistent, uncompromising, and demands full integrity"

The evils of the drug war: "Most everyone is familiar with the disastrous consequences of the war on drugs: drug gangs, drug lords, drug suppliers, gang wars, muggings, robberies, thefts, corruption of judges, prosecutors, and law-enforcement officials, murders, assassinations, overcrowded jails, asset forfeiture, and on and on. The fact is that nothing good is produced by the war on drugs. All the results are bad."

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)


16 January, 2011

Royal snub for the Obamas

It was announced several weeks ago that Mr. and Mrs. Obama had not been invited to the forthcoming Royal wedding in Britain. I reproduce below a commentary of unknown authorship on the matter. I have tidied up a few infelicities in it.

Despite official denials, the non-invitation is obviously a slight to the Obamas personally -- principally motivated, one imagines, by the airs that the bumptious Mrs Obama customarily gives herself. What a contrast Mrs. Obama is to the ladylike and discreet Laura Bush! The observation below that Mrs. Obama has "no class" is obviously subjective but in this case richly deserved, I think. That she apparently once called the mother of the groom an "over-sexed clothes-horse" would by itself be fatal. Prince William is devoted to the memory of his late mother, Princess Diana.

I am not sure that all the allegations below are well-sourced -- some would have to be speculation -- but they seem plausible. That Mrs. Obama is burnt up about the non-invitation has to be true, I think

Michelle is livid over the snub and Obama can’t believe it… "What is happening and what can I do about it?" seems to be the thoughts in Obama’s head. Meanwhile, William and Kate have it together.

Prince William and Kate Middleton are planning a royal wedding in April, 2011. It appears that Prince William personally told the wedding planners to strike the Obamas from the guest list. He apparently stated, "He did not want Michelle Obama trying to pull her center of attention ploy trying to upstage Kate on Kate’s wedding day".

Sources reveal that William states, "She may run Obama, but she doesn’t run him or England". The Democrats and Obama would like to play the race card as they have done so many times in America, but it is difficult when other black heads of states are invited to the wedding and will be warmly received.

Now, what are the future King of England’s reasons for snubbing the Obamas to the world and making them a laughing stock? It has nothing to do with America beyond our being so stupid as to elect such a low class imperfection to the office of President and First Lady. The decisions that they make can and will affect the world.

Secondly, Michelle called the Prince's mother Diana an over-sexed clothes horse and further stated that she, Michelle, was more popular than Diana ever was.

Thirdly, Michelle Obama showed her butt at every major social function endeavoring to be the Queen in the limelight. In other words, just a lack of class.

Fourthly, the Queen, William’s grandmother also has her reasons. Obama refused to bow to her, but a few days later bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia . Michelle manhandled her by becoming too familiar by putting her arm around her. The Queen only shakes hands with gloves on… That is the tradition and it is still honored by the Royals. The Queen said to her staff, "Never allow that woman to be in the same room with me again" and she meant every word of it.

The gifts from Obama and Michelle were both tacky and in poor taste… It is all a matter of class. In addition the Queen supported Prince William in his decision, due to the fact the word is out about the lavish booze parties at the White House, the expensive vacations and state visits that cost the American tax payers billions of dollars unnecessarily when the American people need the resources… We here can’t decide if it is just low class, no class, big a_s or all that has just been mentioned.

The Obamas are desperately trying to make it a slight against America. Every past Head of State has always been invited… This is not a state function and William is not yet a Sovereign. It is just a multi-million dollar private wedding and the Obamas have been royally snubbed by the British Royals; not America , just the present classless leaders…


Tone down the rhetoric?

Sarah Palin Effigy Hangs in West Hollywood



Leftist hate speech leads to death threats against Tea Party leader

And the only insanity the threatening guy suffers from is his extreme Leftism

Tucson tea party leader Trent Humphries was threatened today during an interview with ABC. While Trent was speaking at the event, an audience member screamed, “Trent Humphries, you’re dead!”

ABC News held a town hall event today in Tucson, Arizona. Local officials, friends and heroes were at the event. News anchor Christiane Amanpour was the host. The segment will air tomorrow. ABC gathered members from the Tucson community to discuss the tragic shooting last Saturday that wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and left 6 people dead.

State Representative Terri Proud was at the event sitting between Trent and the violent audience member. Terri was there to speak about the local gun laws. She described the scene to me just minutes ago:
Trent Humphries, the Pima County tea party leader, stood up to speak during the event. He was being very respectful. Trent told the audience that before we start placing blame on individuals we need to get all the facts.

Trent then told everyone that one of those killed during the shooting was his neighbor and that he was affected like everyone else by the tragedy…

While Trent was speaking- And it was planned that he would speak- one member in the audience and reportedly one of the victims of the tragedy started screaming, “Trent Humphries you’re dead!” The police immediately escorted him out. On his way out he screamed, “You’re all whores.”

The ABC producer said he was not sure if they will show incident tomorrow, or not.

Trent was finished with his statement and sat down. Terri said she was concerned since she was sitting right between Trent and this violent leftist. Trent sat down and ABC continued with the taping. Two police officers jumped in immediately to remove the violent leftist.

Trent Humphries has been receiving death threats all week since the national media and their leftist cohorts began blaming the tea party for the shooting by the leftwing pothead. Currently, government officials are checking his mail for him due to the threats.

Please keep Trent and his young family and all the Tucson tea party members in your thoughts and prayers.

UPDATE….. The unhinged leftist J. Eric Fuller (above) was charged with with threats and intimidation and he also will be charged with disorderly conduct.



Voices of patience and wisdom

by Jeff Jacoby

IN THE EIGHT DAYS since the deadly shootings in Arizona, the nation has been engulfed by a tidal wave of rhetoric and reaction, much of it unnecessary, ungracious, or unfortunate. But amid the flood of words, two voices have spoken with an uplifting decency and grace that should make them memorable long after the hue and cry of the past week has ended.

One of those voices was that of President Obama, whose remarks at the memorial service in Tucson Wednesday night were humane and eloquent, unmarred by the acrimony that has ricocheted back and forth in the political echo chamber. The president spoke movingly about each of the victims whose lives were cut short. He gratefully hailed by name those whose heroism and quick thinking prevented even more lives from being lost. And with no hint of self-interest or rationalization, he urged all Americans not to "use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other."

Obama is the leader of his party and an agile partisan combatant, and there are those who would have him make political hay out of the atrocity in Arizona. Within hours of the killings, Politico was quoting "one veteran Democratic operative" whose advice to the White House was to "deftly pin" the bloodshed in Tucson on the "overheated rhetoric" of conservative activists in the Tea Party.

But the president rose above such sentiments. "Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together."

Obama has been fairly criticized for many things, and many Americans will doubtless have more reasons to fault him as he gears up for re-election over the next two years. But unlike Bill Clinton after Oklahoma City, no one will be able to charge Obama with exploiting the massacre in Tucson for political gain. "More than at any other point in his presidency," wrote one of his fiercest critics, former George W. Bush aide Pete Wehner, following the memorial service, "Mr. Obama was president of all the people and spoke beautifully for them."

Dallas Green wipes away a tear while seated next to his father John Green and mother Roxanna Green during the funeral service for their daughter, 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, in Tucson, Ariz.

Not even the president, however, could match the goodness, dignity, and large-heartedness of John Green, whose 9-year-old daughter, Christina, was the youngest victim of suspect Jared Loughner's rampage.

Speaking through tears as he was interviewed on NBC's "Today" show and on the Fox News Channel, Christina's father refused to pin his daughter's murder on the "climate of hate" and "vitriolic rhetoric" so many others were eager to indict. Unlike the local sheriff who seized the moment to smear Arizona as "a Mecca for prejudice and bigotry," John Green said the killings were "such a random act, such a rare thing to happen in Tucson, Arizona, which is a wonderful city -- and the northwest side is a wonderful community."

The chattering class spent much of the past week calling for new laws and tighter regulations. There were proposals for -- among other things -- a ban on carrying guns within 1,000 feet of a member of Congress; resurrecting the long-discredited broadcast Fairness Doctrine; funding more outpatient clinics to treat the mentally ill; and prohibiting ammunition clips that hold more than 10 rounds. John Green endorsed none of them. "We don't need any more restrictions on our society," he said. New laws and limitations cannot prevent every horror, and if we want to live "in a country like the United States, where we are more free than anywhere else, we are subject to things like this happening."

No one would have faulted Green if, in his heartbreak, he had raged against the monster who shot Christina. Instead he expressed gratitude for "the friends and family we have surrounded ourselves with in this tragedy," and added, with almost incomprehensible generosity: "If maybe that fellow who was shooting everybody -- if he had had some friends and family around him, maybe this wouldn't have happened."

Like most people, Americans talk too much and think too little, especially when it comes to the sins and sorrows of others. There is "a time to keep silence and a time to speak," Ecclesiastes teaches. When a tragedy like the one in Tucson strikes, most of us would do well to keep silence, and to leave the speaking for those with the humanity and wisdom to say something meaningful.



Political Pundits Surprisingly Good At Getting Inside Mentally Unbalanced Shooter's Head

According to media analysts, the nation's TV commentators and political pundits have proved uncannily accurate when describing the deeply disturbed inner thoughts of accused Arizona gunman Jared Loughner. "It's strange, but when it comes to getting inside the mind of this human being who seems to possess no empathy, sense of morality, or hold on reality, and who is motivated only by personal animus and self-glorification, the nation's major political pundits have been amazingly adept," said Horizon Media analyst Bob Cullen, who has studied extensive tape of commentators on all major TV news programs and found their remarks on "what the killer is thinking" to be consistently thorough and detailed across the board.

"It's almost as though they have some way of knowing, firsthand, exactly what this demented and highly dangerous individual with the eyes of millions upon him is going through." Researchers at Horizon Media also reported that a number of prominent TV pundits appeared to be mimicking the exact same chilling gleam in Loughner's eye for what they could only speculate was "dramatic effect."

The Onion


Intellectual diversity and dissent essential to keep organisations healthy

Comment from Australia. Kevin Rudd is the recently deposed Prime Minister of Australia

On his journey to the Lodge, Kevin Rudd argued that Friedrich Hayek, a favourite political philosopher of his opponents, held the twin beliefs that people are naturally selfish and that this was a good thing. In fact, Hayek believed the converse - that our evolution in small bands on the African savannah had produced a species that was naturally given to group solidarity. And Hayek thought that was a bad thing - an obstacle to building a free, modern society.

A brief glance at our world, both today and through history, confirms our natural tendency to solidarity. With brief interludes in ancient Athens and Rome, it took until the 16th century before the penny dropped that society might function without unanimous agreement about the nature of God and the universe - as Elizabeth I put it, providing Englishmen were loyal and law abiding, she need not look into their souls.

It took more centuries for the idea of factions within government to be accepted and ultimately institutionalised. But still the revolution seems only half won.

Among the carnival of dissent and struggle in the marketplace for money and ideas, which has brought humans as close as we have yet come towards a free, meritocratic society, most organisations are run as Good Queen Bess's tyrannical dad, Henry VIII, would have run them - by fiat, with dissent hushed up if it is tolerated at all.

Of course, to get things done, organisations can't be riven with faction and indecision. But just as a Catholic could be a loyal subject of Queen Bess, so dissent within a company can respect its authority and need for decision. It should be possible for an employee to say something like this: "I opposed the dividend policy the company agreed on. I may do so again. But more a majority supported it and I support our firm's need to make and stick by clear decisions."

As James Surowiecki observes in The Wisdom of Crowds, to be wise, a crowd must embody diversity of opinion, some preferably open means of capturing those insights over as wide a range as possible, and independence of individuals within the crowd.

The more such qualities are lacking, the more tenaciously organisations gravitate towards what George Orwell called groupthink, reminding us that Surowiecki's book was offered as a foil to the mid 19th-century book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. That book's topics included markets' endlessly recurring cycles of euphoria and gloom, alchemy, the crusades and other human high points.

Groupthink and complacency feed on each other, and often prevent organisations learning except in a 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)


15 January, 2011

Blame Righty: A Condensed History

Michelle Malkin

I agree with President Obama. When it comes to politicizing random violence, he and his supporters have been "far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than" they do. Recognition is the first step toward reconciliation. It's time to recognize the poisonous pervasiveness of the Blame Righty meme.

For the past two years, Democratic officials, liberal activists and journalists have jumped to libelous conclusions about individual shooting sprees committed by mentally unstable loners with incoherent delusions all over the ideological map. The White House now pledges to swear off "pointing fingers or assigning blame." Alas, the Obama administration's political and media foot soldiers have proved themselves incapable of such restraint.

In April 2009, a disgruntled, unemployed loser shot and killed three Pittsburgh police officers in a horrifying bloodbath. The gunman, Richard Poplawski, was a dropout from the Marines who threw a food tray at a drill sergeant and had beaten his girlfriend. Was this deranged shooter who pulled the trigger to blame? Nope. Despite evidence that Poplawski's homicidal, racist tendencies manifested themselves years before Obama took office, lefty publications asserted that the real culprit of the spree was the "heated, apocalyptic rhetoric of the anti-Obama forces" (according to mainstream liberal Atlantic Monthly pundit Andrew Sullivan), along with Fox News and Glenn Beck (according to mainstream liberal journalist Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly online).

That same month, a sick, evil man named Jiverly Voong ambushed an immigration center in Binghamton, N.Y. Recently fired from his job, Voong murdered 13 people, critically wounded four others and then committed suicide. The instant psychologists of the left knew nothing about the disgruntled man of Vietnamese descent and undetermined political affiliation. But within hours of the shooting, liberal mega-website Huffington Post commenters had overwhelmingly convicted GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, the National Rifle Association, Fox News, Lou Dobbs and yours truly. Liberal radio host Alan Colmes pointed his finger at the "huge anti-immigrant backlash in this country" -- never mind that tens of millions of legal immigrants and naturalized citizens have coped with hardship, overcome racism and embraced assimilation without going bloody bonkers.

In June 2009, a depraved, elderly anti-Semite named James von Brunn gunned down a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in D.C. Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent and lefty Center for American Progress think-tank fellow Matthew Yglesias immediately invoked the Obama administration's report on right-wing extremism, leading to a wider chorus of condemnations against the tea party, talk radio and the entire GOP. The truth? Von Brunn was an unstable, equal-opportunity hater and 9/11 Truther conspiracy loon who bashed Jews and Christians, George W. Bush and Fox News, and had also threatened the conservative Weekly Standard magazine.

In late August 2009, as lawmakers faced citizen revolts at health care town halls nationwide, the Colorado Democratic Party decried a window-smashing vandalism attack at its Denver headquarters. State Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak singled out tea party activists and blamed "people opposed to health care" for the attack. The perpetrator, Maurice Schwenkler, turned out to be a far-left transgender activist/single-payer anarchist who had worked for a labor union-tied political committee and canvassed for a Democratic candidate.

In September 2009, Bill Sparkman, a federal U.S. Census worker, was found dead in a secluded rural Kentucky cemetery with the word "Fed" scrawled on his chest with a rope around his neck. The Atlantic Monthly's Andrew Sullivan rushed to indict "Southern populist terrorism, whipped up by the GOP and its Fox and talk radio cohorts" in an online magazine post titled "No Suicide," which decried the "Kentucky lynching." Liberal author Richard Benjamin blamed "anti-government" bile. New York magazine fingered conservative talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh, "conservative media personalities, websites and even members of Congress." So, who killed Bill Sparkman? Bill Sparkman. He killed himself and deliberately manufactured a hate crime hoax as part of an insurance scam to benefit his surviving son.

In February 2010, ticking time-bomb professor Amy Bishop gunned down three of her colleagues at University of Alabama-Huntsville, and suicide pilot Joseph Andrew Stack flew a stolen small plane into an Austin, Texas, office complex that contained an Internal Revenue Service office. Mainstream journalists from Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart to Time magazine reporter Hilary Hylton leaped forward to tie the crimes to tea party rhetoric. Never mind that Bishop was an Obama-worshiping academic with a lifelong history of violence or that Stack was another Bush-hater outraged about everything from George W. Bush to the American medical system to the evils of capitalism to the city of Austin, the Catholic Church and airlines.

In May 2010, liberal New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to preemptively pin the Times Square bombing attempt on "someone with a political agenda that doesn't like the health care bill or something." The culprit was unrepentant Muslim jihadist Faisal Shahzad.

In August 2010, Democratic supporters of Missouri Rep. Russ Carnahan blamed a "firebombing" at the congressman's St. Louis office on tea party suspects. The real perpetrator? Disgruntled progressive activist Chris Powers, who was enraged over a paycheck dispute.

President Obama wisely counseled the nation this week at the Tucson massacre memorial that "bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath." But as the progressive left's smear-stained recent history shows, criminalizing conservatism is a hard habit to break.



Blood Libel? Oy Vey

David Harsanyi

Wasn't it moving to see progressive tweetdom and punditry unite in the defense of Jewry -- in the Middle Ages? As a member of this most oppressed minority, I personally want to thank you.

After all, how dare she? The media are so sick and tired of Sarah Palin's shtick (that's one of the words we use in private) that they created a stampede to Wikipedia to quickly figure out just how divisive this "blood libel" thing, whatever it means, could be to American discourse.

Now, just for the record, we Jews haven't been using the blood of gentile kids for our baking needs in at least a couple of decades, but in historical terms, blood libel refers to false accusations that Jews were murdering children to use their blood in religious rituals -- and an excuse for anti-Semitism. It was heavily utilized in the Middle Ages by some Christians and, with a few modifications, is a regular smear in the Muslim world today.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of Israel antagonists at J Street (an outfit that USA Today accidentally referred to as "a political organization for Jews and supporters of Israel"), spoke for hundreds when he claimed that "the term 'blood libel' brings back painful echoes of a very dark time in our communal history when Jews were falsely accused of committing heinous deeds" and demanded that Palin "retract her comment, apologize and make a less inflammatory choice of words."

Really? Memory? Inflammatory? Painful echoes? Jews, well, we can be offended like it's 1257. If blood libel is really a distasteful parallel, it is only because we have intimately familiarized ourselves with the idea through a History channel documentary about the crusades.

And if our institutional memories make us so thin-skinned, there are far more tangible reminders of genocide when we hop into our fancy German cars (which we do a lot, because we're in charge of everything). Or it is certainly as offensive as the heinous deeds of Sarah Palin, which include, among many other transgressions, talking.

And as Jim Geraghty of National Review helpfully noted, the term "blood libel" has been used many times by pundits and journalists from both sides of the ideological divide, including the esteemed Frank Rich of The New York Times, over the years.

Liberal Alan Dershowitz, as sensitive as they come to anti-Semitism (both real and imagined), said in a statement that "there is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term to characterize what she reasonably believes are false accusations that her words or images may have caused a mentally disturbed individual to kill and maim. The fact that two of the victims are Jewish is utterly irrelevant to the propriety of using this widely used term."

Now, feel free to be annoyed or enraged by Palin or her views. Feel free to question whether she had any idea what a blood libel was before this week. But this kind of indignation over an analogy is infantilizing what were once serious sensitivities.

Perhaps if self-proclaimed spokespeople for Jews everywhere like J Street focused on genuine anti-Semitism around the world, their little partisan cabaret would be more plausible.

Blood libel is the fiction-laden, anti-Israel Goldstone Report. Blood libel is the flotilla incident near Gaza. Blood libel is the Egyptian state media's peddling the idea that shark attacks were the handiwork of Jews and other state-run Arab media's blaming AIDS on Zionists. There are plenty of genuine things to get offended about in the world if you're Jewish.



Elected Officials Flunk Constitution Quiz

When the Republican House leadership decided to start the 112th Congress with a reading of the U.S. Constitution, the decision raised complaints in some quarters that it was little more than a political stunt. The New York Times even called it a "presumptuous and self-righteous act."

That might be true, if you could be sure that elected officials actually know something about the Constitution. But it turns out that many don't. In fact, elected officials tend to know even less about key provisions of the Constitution than the general public.

For five years now, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute has been conducting a national survey to gauge the quality of civic education in the country. We've surveyed more than 30,000 Americans, most of them college students, but also a random sample of adults from all educational and demographic backgrounds.

Included in the adult sample was a small subset of Americans (165 in all) who, when asked, identified themselves as having been "successfully elected to government office at least once in their life" -- which can include federal, state or local offices.

The survey asks 33 basic civics questions, many taken from other nationally recognized instruments like the U.S. Citizenship Exam. It also asks 10 questions related to the U.S. Constitution. So what did we find? Well, to put it simply, the results are not pretty.

Elected officials at many levels of government, not just the federal government, swear an oath to "uphold and protect" the U.S. Constitution. But those elected officials who took the test scored an average 5 percentage points lower than the national average (49 percent vs. 54 percent), with ordinary citizens outscoring these elected officials on each constitutional question. Examples:

* Only 49 percent of elected officials could name all three branches of government, compared with 50 percent of the general public.

* Only 46 percent knew that Congress, not the president, has the power to declare war -- 54 percent of the general public knows that.

* Just 15 percent answered correctly that the phrase "wall of separation" appears in Thomas Jefferson's letters -- not in the U.S. Constitution -- compared with 19 percent of the general public.

* And only 57 percent of those who've held elective office know what the Electoral College does, while 66 percent of the public got that answer right. (Of elected officials, 20 percent thought the Electoral College was a school for "training those aspiring for higher political office.")

Overall, our sample of elected officials averaged a failing 44 percent on the entire 33-question test, 5 percentage points lower than the national average of 49 percent.

The fact that our elected representatives know even less about America's history and institutions than the typical citizen (who doesn't know much either) is troubling indeed, but perhaps helps explain the lack of constitutional discipline often displayed by our political class at every level of our system.

When elected officials take an oath "to protect and defend the Constitution," shouldn't they know what they are swearing to?



History spot

Above is one of the most famous campaign posters from the Democratic party. It is from the 1866 Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. Hiester Clymer (D) versus James White Geary (R) suggests that a vote for Clymer is for the white man while a vote for Geary is for the ‘negro’



An interesting comparison with the Tucson shootings: "On this week's Townhall.com Weekend Journal, Dennis Prager takes listeners back to August 2010, when a black man in Manchester, Connecticut murdered 8 whites and told the 911 operator that he wished he could have killed more. Of course, the media was silent, few in America heard about this massacre, and there were no fingers pointed at liberals, Democrats or the MSM for their consistent race-baiting "vitriol" of blame whitey rhetoric. No doubt that if there were any dots to connect between an assassin and the daily media/political drum beat it would have been from this horrible event."

MSNBC Marches Ahead With Its Own Set of Facts: "Here’s a graphic MSNBC was using yesterday in its coverage of the Tucson shootings [above]. It’s a powerful image. I saw it at the gym on a number of muted televisions, and it stuck with me. It’s also complete bullshit. There is zero evidence that political rhetoric had any influence on Jared Loughner. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that he had no interest in politics at all. So does the truth simply not matter at MSNBC? This is just an egregious assault on reality."

The Decline of Courtesy: "The Wall Street Journal's Eric Felten writes about "Courtesy's Sad Substitute" -- specifically, "hypercorrectitude," as illustrated by the silence vigilantes on Amtrak's "Quiet Cars." The phenomenon Felten diagnoses is the same one that has come to govern sexual contact between young people at politically correct places like universities. In part because of the erosion of universally-understood standards for proper behavior between the sexes, the whole concept of "sexual harassment" came into being. And once that happened, "hypercorrectitude" took over, to such an absurd extent that, at some universities, specific verbal consent is required before each distinct act of a sexual nature that transpires between two people."

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 January, 2011

How the Left lost it: They need the lies

The accusation that the tea parties were linked to the Tucson murders is the product of calculation and genuine belief -- a belief that the Left need to prop up their self esteem and self-righteousness

There has been a great effort this week to come to grips with the American left's reaction to the Tucson shooting. Paul Krugman of the New York Times and its editorial page, George Packer of the New Yorker, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, Jonathan Alter of Newsweek and others, in varying degrees, have linked the murders to the intensity of opposition to the policies and presidency of Barack Obama. As Mr. Krugman asked in his Monday commentary: "Were you, at some level, expecting something like this atrocity to happen?"

The "you" would be his audience, and the answer is yes, they thought that in these times "something like this" could happen in the United States. Other media commentators, without a microbe of conservatism in their bloodstreams, have rejected this suggestion.

So what was the point? Why attempt the gymnastic logic of asserting that the act of a deranged personality was linked to the tea parties and the American right? Two reasons: Political calculation and personal belief.

The calculation flows from the shock of the midterm elections of November 2010. That was no ordinary election. What voters did has the potential to change the content and direction of the U.S. political system, possibly for a generation.

Only 24 months after Barack Obama's own historic election and a rising Democratic tide, the country flipped. Not just control of the U.S. House, but deep in the body politic. Republicans now control more state legislative seats than any time since 1928.

What elevated this transfer of power to historic status is that it came atop the birth of a genuine reform movement, the tea parties. Most of the time, election results are the product of complex and changeable sentiments or the candidates' personalities. What both sides fear most is a genuine movement with focused goals.

The tea party itself got help from history —the arrival of a clarifying event, the sovereign debt crisis of 2010. Simultaneously in the capitals of Europe, California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and elsewhere it was revealed that fiscal commitments made across decades, often for liberally inspired social goals, had put all these states into a condition of effective bankruptcy.

This stark reality unnerved many Americans. The tea partiers' fiscal concerns were real. Despite that, a progressive Democratic president and congressional leadership spent 2009 and 2010 passing the biggest economic entitlement since 1965 and driving U.S. spending to 25%, or $3.5 trillion, of the nation's $14 trillion GDP. A public claim of that size hasn't been seen since World War II.

They expected to take losses in November. What they got instead was Armageddon. Suddenly an authentic reform movement, linked to the Republican Party, whose goal simply is to stop the public spending curve, had come to life. This poses a mortal threat to the financial oxygen in the economic ecosystem that the public wing of the Democratic Party has inhabited all these years.

The stakes for the American left in 2012 couldn't possibly be higher. If then, and again in 2014, progressives can't pull toward their candidates some percentage of the independent voters who in November abandoned the Democratic Party, they could be looking in from the outside for as many years as some of them have left to write about politics. A wilderness is a terrible place to be.

Against that grim result, every sentence Messrs. Krugman, Packer, Alter, the Times and the rest have written about Tucson is logical and understandable. What happened in November has to be stopped, by whatever means become available. Available this week was a chance to make some independents wonder if the tea parties, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Jared Loughner are all part of the same dark force.

Who believes this? They do. The divide between this strain of the American left and its conservative opponents is about more than politics and policy. It goes back a long way, it is deep, and it will never be bridged. It is cultural, and it explains more than anything the "intensity" that exists now between these two competing camps. (The independent laments: "Can't we all just get along?" Answer: No.)

The Rosetta Stone that explains this tribal divide is Columbia historian Richard Hofstadter's classic 1964 essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." Hofstadter's piece for Harper's may be unfamiliar to many now, but each writer at the opening of this column knows by rote what Hofstadter's essay taught generations of young, left-wing intellectuals about conservatism and the right.

After Hofstadter, the American right wasn't just wrong on policy. Its people were psychologically dangerous and undeserving of holding authority for any public purpose. By this mental geography, the John Birch Society and the tea party are cut from the same backwoods cloth.

"American politics has often been an arena for angry minds," Hofstadter wrote. "In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority."

Frank Rich, Oct 17: "Don't expect the extremism and violence in our politics to subside magically after Election Day —no matter what the results. If Tea Party candidates triumph, they'll be emboldened. If they lose, the anger and bitterness will grow."

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Tuesday in the Huffington Post: "Jack's death forced a national bout of self-examination. In 1964, Americans repudiated the forces of right-wing hatred and violence with an historic landslide in the presidential election between LBJ and Goldwater. For a while, the advocates of right-wing extremism receded from the public forum. Now they have returned with a vengeance—to the broadcast media and to prominent positions in the political landscape."

This isn't just political calculation. It is foundational belief. So, yes, Tucson has indeed been revealing. On to 2012.



The dishonest NPR

Not that that's any surprise

The movement to defund public broadcasting has done very well over the past several months. In the wake of the firing of Juan Williams from National Public Radio (NPR), it seems as if the effort to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, including NPR, is finally within reach.

Inside of Congress, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) has been fighting to get legislation that would completely stop public broadcasting from receiving any taxpayer funding. Rep. Lamborn attempted to pass legislation last year, but in the Democrat-controlled Congress it fell flat on its face. With the new GOP-controlled Congress though, Lamborn’s legislation H.R. 68 and H.R. 69 have a solid chance of success.

This increased chance of success has now led NPR to fabricate and release bogus information to the public that is solely aimed at discrediting the legislation that Rep. Lamborn has brought forth. NPR, realizing that the days of living off the taxpayer dime could well be coming to an end by 2013, released a bizarre response to The Hill indicating that Rep. Lamborn was attempting to regulate the news desks at NPR and public broadcasting radio stations nationwide.

According to NPR, "Congressman Lamborn’s legislation is an intrusion into the programming decision-making of America’s public radio stations. His legislation will disrupt and weaken the free and universal public media system that serves 170 million Americans each month… This legislation would ultimately dictate the daily editorial schedules and news programs of nearly one thousand public radio stations across America.”

Apparently they have not read the 7 pages of legislation, which you can read here H.R. 68 and H.R. 69 for yourself. You will notice there is no such language that NPR reports to have read.

Nowhere inside of H.R. 68 or H.R. 69 is authority granted to Rep. Lamborn or any other government official to regulate the program decision-making at NPR. The legislation strictly calls for a complete “prohibition” of taxpayer dollars to the Corporation of Public Broadcasting including NPR.

To be more specific H.R. 69 more explicitly bans any funneling of federal money through non-Federal entities back to NPR.



The money to fund Obamacare is just not there

Lost amid the partisan posturing over the proposed repeal of ObamaCare is a stark, unavoidable fiscal reality. Put simply: Our leaders have no choice but to scrap this socialized medicine monstrosity and start from scratch with a free-market approach.

Not only are ObamaCare’s unprecedented infringements on our civil liberties clearly unconstitutional, but American taxpayers cannot afford the new law’s expanded entitlements — particularly not in light of our current debt crisis and the impending Baby Boomer crush.

The federal budget is caught in a pincer — leaving no room for ObamaCare or any other new spending. In fact the only way to escape the trap is to dramatically reduce the size and scope of government — immediately.

Also our economy is clearly in no position to absorb hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases — something President Obama seemed to understand last month when his lame duck Congress extended Bush-era tax relief to all income brackets.

The question Obama and his diminished D.C. legions now must answer is this: If it was wrong to raise taxes during the lame duck session in December, what makes it wise to do so now?

With even the most optimistic Keynesians (such as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke) now predicting that the U.S. economy could take as long as five years to achieve “sustained declines in the unemployment rate,” ObamaCare’s tax hikes loom even larger as job killers. This is particularly true of the tax increase on upper income earners — many of whom invest their money in partnerships and LLCs that in turn fuel small business growth.

Astoundingly, the same fiscal liberals who added more than $4 trillion to the national debt over the last two years are now not only raising taxes through ObamaCare — but feigning outrage over the “deficit spending” that would result if the program were repealed.

In support of this twisted logic, the Keynesian number-crunchers over at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced last week that repealing ObamaCare would add $230 billion to the national debt over the coming decade.

Think about that statistic for a moment — what the CBO is saying is that the largest expansion of government in decades is not only free, but will actually save taxpayers $230 billion. Talk about “something for nothing.” Obviously these assumptions are pure fantasy — like the numbers the CBO released in March 2010 on the eve of ObamaCare’s initial passage. But how were they computed?

First, the CBO is assuming that the $770 billion worth of “revenue enhancements” included in ObamaCare will have no adverse impact whatsoever on the nation’s economy — which is betting against history. Second, the CBO presumes that Congress will actually follow through on its promise to cut $540 billion from Medicare — which is betting against common sense.

Additionally, the CBO estimates double-count Medicare savings, CLASS Act revenue, Social Security revenue and fail to incorporate the impact of so-called “doc fixes,” which erase billions of dollars in additional “savings.” “Garbage in, garbage out,” Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) said of the CBO report.

He’s not the only one voicing skepticism. “The CBO, CMS, and even the IMF have all discredited the idea that ObamaCare would reduce the deficit, because they all question the sustainability of ObamaCare’s spending ‘cuts,’” writes Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. “The spending cuts (actually, reductions in future spending growth) in the law were never going to take effect anyway,” Cannon adds.

Finally, when did our leaders decide that blocking a tax hike was somehow a net cost to government? Have they deluded themselves to the point that they think new programs and new taxes cannot be eliminated because doing so would be “too expensive?”

Obviously so — or else we wouldn’t be where we are today, staring down a fiscal Armageddon the likes of which human civilization has never seen.

If our Republic is to survive this fiscal storm, then our leaders need to stop fabricating numbers and start confronting them. For example, they could recognize that the elimination of entitlement spending produces savings — not costs. And more importantly, they could recognize that in light of government’s mounting debt and the millions of new Medicare and Social Security enrollees projected over the coming decade – there is simply no room for any additional spending.




Make the system work for you rather than against you: "I think I won’t be looking for a white-market job whereby I work half of the year to pay taxes. Rather, I’ll continue to work in the black and grey markets, and shop there when I can. If I am unable to make ends meet, then I say bring on the food stamps. If I go to the emergency room again, I’ll have the County pay for it. And then I’m going to rub it in the noses of those who work half the year paying taxes by reminding them that this is their system. If they don’t like it, they can always pull a John Galt and let the whole system come crashing down."

Your 401k is a sitting duck: "[Kirchner's Argentinian] government expropriated ('nationalized') the $24 billion private pension funds industry in order to save the public system, forcing citizens to trade their savings for Argentinean Treasury bills of dubious creditworthiness. I suggested then that such a thing might happen in the US, where Americans have many billions put aside in various retirement vehicles — a tempting target for any cash-starved government. I think that dark day is growing closer."

Corporations and the federal government’s bass ackwards priorities: "Many people have come to believe that to be pro business, pro free market is tantamount to being pro corporation. This is not so. In fact, I believe just the opposite. I think that being pro corporation is being anti business. I think that being pro corporation is being anti free market, in fact it’s tantamount to being anti freedom in general."

Honor for a man with no honor: Jack Murtha: "Mabus' decision has unleashed a continuing torrent of opposition from many former sailors and Marines. They say that naming a vessel for Murtha rewards a lawmaker who called for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq in late 2005 during the war's toughest days, and one who was implicated in bribery and pork-barrel politics. And that isn't the worst of it, according to sailors and Marines: putting Murtha's name on an amphibious warship designed to carry 700 Marines is outrageous, they maintain, given Murtha's 2006 charge that Marines in the Iraqi city of Haditha "killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

Blame for the tragic Arizona shooting was premature, misplaced: "As soon as the tragic news broke, and before any clear details or evidence of the gunman's possible motivation had emerged, progressives swiftly and reflexively moved to hold Sarah Palin and the Tea Party responsible. Conspicuously absent, was the level-headed, fact-based, critical thinking, unmarred by prejudice, that so many progressives insist they exemplify."

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 January, 2011

America's Enduring Strength

In her statement below Sarah Palin is right to call the accusations directed against her a "blood libel". The original blood libel was the attribution to Jews of murders that they did not commit. She has been held responsible by the hysterical Left for murders she did not commit. The abusive Leftist commentators put themselves in the company of centuries of antisemites. And we know where the hatred that is antisemitism led -- JR

Like millions of Americans I learned of the tragic events in Arizona on Saturday, and my heart broke for the innocent victims. No words can fill the hole left by the death of an innocent, but we do mourn for the victims’ families as we express our sympathy.

I agree with the sentiments shared yesterday at the beautiful Catholic mass held in honor of the victims. The mass will hopefully help begin a healing process for the families touched by this tragedy and for our country.

Our exceptional nation, so vibrant with ideas and the passionate exchange and debate of ideas, is a light to the rest of the world. Congresswoman Giffords and her constituents were exercising their right to exchange ideas that day, to celebrate our Republic’s core values and peacefully assemble to petition our government. It’s inexcusable and incomprehensible why a single evil man took the lives of peaceful citizens that day.

There is a bittersweet irony that the strength of the American spirit shines brightest in times of tragedy. We saw that in Arizona. We saw the tenacity of those clinging to life, the compassion of those who kept the victims alive, and the heroism of those who overpowered a deranged gunman.

Like many, I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.

President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.

The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.

Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure.

As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, “We know violence isn’t the answer. When we ‘take up our arms’, we’re talking about our vote.” Yes, our debates are full of passion, but we settle our political differences respectfully at the ballot box – as we did just two months ago, and as our Republic enables us to do again in the next election, and the next. That’s who we are as Americans and how we were meant to be. Public discourse and debate isn’t a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional.

No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.

Just days before she was shot, Congresswoman Giffords read the First Amendment on the floor of the House. It was a beautiful moment and more than simply “symbolic,” as some claim, to have the Constitution read by our Congress. I am confident she knew that reading our sacred charter of liberty was more than just “symbolic.” But less than a week after Congresswoman Giffords reaffirmed our protected freedoms, another member of Congress announced that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.

It is in the hour when our values are challenged that we must remain resolved to protect those values. Recall how the events of 9-11 challenged our values and we had to fight the tendency to trade our freedoms for perceived security. And so it is today.

Let us honor those precious lives cut short in Tucson by praying for them and their families and by cherishing their memories. Let us pray for the full recovery of the wounded. And let us pray for our country. In times like this we need God’s guidance and the peace He provides. We need strength to not let the random acts of a criminal turn us against ourselves, or weaken our solid foundation, or provide a pretext to stifle debate.

America must be stronger than the evil we saw displayed last week. We are better than the mindless finger-pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy. We will come out of this stronger and more united in our desire to peacefully engage in the great debates of our time, to respectfully embrace our differences in a positive manner, and to unite in the knowledge that, though our ideas may be different, we must all strive for a better future for our country. May God bless America.



Falsely accusing the Tea Party of murder

Sean Collins

Liberal commentators’ rush to blame the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords on heated political rhetoric exposes their censoriousness and intolerance

America was shocked to hear on Saturday about the gunman who shot Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head at her public meeting outside a Safeway supermarket in Tucson. Nineteen others were wounded, six fatally, and as I write Giffords remains in critical condition.

As this sad and tragic event reverberated across America, political commentators sought to find a larger meaning. Even though all the facts weren’t in, a theme quickly emerged: this violent act was the result of a malicious tone in the country’s political discourse. A New York Times headline, ‘Bloodshed puts new focus on vitriol in politics’, summed up the prevalent discussion. Even Clarence Dupnik, the local sheriff in Tucson, was moved to make a broader observation: ‘The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous, and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.’ Rhetoric ‘may be free speech’, said Dupnik, ‘but it’s not without consequences’.

Dupnik and others did not identify any one group as the source of the vitriol, but that was really unnecessary: everyone knew that this referred to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. Many on the liberal-left felt no compunction to hold back. Before the name of the gunman was revealed, prominent blogger Markos Moulitsas tweeted: ‘Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin.’ Moulitsas also blamed ‘the American Taliban’, thus capitalising on an assassination attempt to get in a plug for his book of that title.

Superficially, the shooting at first seemed it might be a political act that directly implicated the Tea Party. Giffords is a Democrat, and she narrowly retained her seat in November after a heated contest against a Tea Party-backed candidate. When Giffords’ father was asked if she had any enemies, he replied, ‘Yeah, the whole Tea Party’.

Last year, Sarah Palin’s political action committee produced a map that showed a series of contested congressional districts with gun targets trained on them, and Giffords’ was one of them. Even Giffords herself seemed to have warned about violence, when she criticised Palin in March for using such gun-related imagery: ‘We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realise that there’s consequences to that.’

Given these observations, it was understandable for people to start to raise questions. There was obviously a political dimension to the attack, considering it was an attempt to kill an elected representative. But that did not necessarily mean that it was political in content, nor that a certain group could be blamed for it. And as time elapsed and we learned more about the accused gunman, the theory of a political act fell apart.

For it is becoming clear that 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner is a deranged individual, not a political ideologue. He did not espouse Tea Party ideology, nor is there any evidence that he was inspired by Palin. His ramblings on YouTube and MySpace were incoherent nonsense about mind control, grammar and creating a currency. If anything, as many conservatives pointed out, there was as much evidence pointing to Loughner being a disgruntled liberal (no Tea Partier would name The Communist Manifesto as one of his favorite books, said Republican senator Lamar Alexander). It turned out that Moulitsas’ Daily Kos website also had Giffords on a target list with a bullseye, and a liberal constituent on his site declared her ‘dead to me’ - and so Kos moved promptly to pull both pages off the site.

In no way can Palin and the Tea Partiers be held responsible for this senseless act. Some might find Palin’s gun cross-hairs map distasteful, but it is a metaphor not an explicit exhortation for violence. For decades both parties have used military rhetoric to describe their political campaigns. The Democrats recently used maps with bullseyes and missiles on them (see here).

Even if the shooter had been a paid-up member of the Tea Party who declared ‘I did it because I saw Palin’s gun-sight map’, Palin and the Tea Party would not be culpable. Only the person who pulled the trigger is responsible. People are not brainwashed robots taking commands. Just as video games and movies do not cause individuals to undertake acts of violence (despite what ‘media effects theory’ says), politicians’ words do not automatically create killers. Between rhetoric and deed, there is a human being with a brain who makes a particular decision. In the case of Loughner, however, it appears we have a mentally unstable individual who was probably incapable of comprehending a political message, never mind acting on it.

As Loughner’s story emerged over the weekend, it became clear to most liberal commentators that he was a lunatic, not a messenger sent from the Tea Party. Yet that did not stop them from finding the organisation at fault. The front page of today’s Times (London) has a photo of a peace activist in Tucson with a placard saying ‘Hate Speech = Murder’. Gary Younge in the UK Guardian articulated an argument that was rapidly spreading in liberal circles: ‘True, the rampage apparently emerged from his confused, unstable and troubled mind. But it was also the byproduct of a polarised political culture underpinned by increasingly vitriolic, violent and vituperative rhetoric and symbolism…. The connection between this rhetoric and Saturday’s events are not causal but contextual. The shooter was not likely to be acting under direct instructions but in an atmosphere that made such an attack more likely rather than less.’

We see this same formulation repeated over and over: ‘Yes, Loughner may be a deranged individual, but the Tea Party’s violent rhetoric is still to blame.’ Rather than prove causality or influence, this liberal argument posits that such evidence is not necessary, because the danger is inherent in the ‘context’ or the ‘atmosphere’ itself. This approach is even worse than traditional effects theory, which at least has attempted to demonstrate a connection, however dubious, between media and actions. Now, the liberal argument presents a nebulous concept of ‘atmosphere’ with no links between groups or individuals and the sentiments that are assumed to prevail in politics. From this perspective, words somehow create a febrile, unpredictable ambience out of which strange events might mysteriously emerge.

Before Saturday’s assassination attempt on Giffords, the predominant liberal view tagged Tea Party members as gun-toting racists or lunatics. Media reports of Tea Partiers carrying guns or a sole person shouting a racial epithet were claimed to represent the entire movement. In April, former president Bill Clinton indicated that he thought anti-government protesters like the Tea Party were potentially violent. He used the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing to warn that Tea Party-style rhetoric could encourage a repeat.

Essentially, the liberal response to Loughner’s shooting spree was to force-fit it into this pre-existing narrative – even if the facts did not support it. That’s why Moulitsas could, without any evidence, quickly conclude ‘Mission Accomplished, Sarah Palin’.

Their calls to silence the Tea Party are anti-democratic. The use of inflammatory language – including military imagery - is not only a long-standing practice used by all parties, but a right that should be defended. The current discussion of the Tea Party erroneously conflates ‘extremism’, ‘anti-government sentiment’ and ‘political passion’ with mindless acts of violence.

Unconfident of winning political debate and fearful of the distant masses, liberal elites are trying to use the Tucson shooting to defeat their opponents with smears rather than intellectual arguments. You don’t have to agree with the Tea Party (and I don’t) to see that it is important to oppose these false accusations of murder.



The Authoritarian Media

The New York Times has crossed a moral line

After the horrific shooting spree, the editorial board of New York Times offered a voice of reasoned circumspection: "In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions . . .," the paper counseled.

Here's how the sentence continued: ". . . from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East."

One of the first to point an accusatory finger at the Tea Party movement and Sarah Palin was the Times's star columnist, Paul Krugman. Less than two hours after the news of the shooting broke, he opined on the Times website: "We don't have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was."

In the column, Krugman blames the massacre on "eliminationist rhetoric," which he defines as "suggestions that those on the other side of a debate must be removed from that debate by whatever means necessary." He rightly asserts that "there isn't any place" for such rhetoric. But he falsely asserts that it is "coming, overwhelmingly, from the right."

But Krugman's assertion that such rhetoric comes "overwhelmingly from the right" is at best wilfully ignorant. National Review's Jay Nordlinger runs down some examples on the left:
Even before [George W.] Bush was elected president, the kill-Bush talk and imagery started. When Governor Bush was delivering his 2000 convention speech, Craig Kilborn, a CBS talk-show host, showed him on the screen with the words "SNIPERS WANTED." Six years later, Bill Maher, the comedian-pundit, was having a conversation with John Kerry. He asked the senator what he had gotten his wife for her birthday. Kerry answered that he had taken her to Vermont. Maher said, "You could have went to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one stone." (New Hampshire is an early primary state, of course.) Kerry said, "Or I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone."

(This is the same Kerry who joked in 1988, "Somebody told me the other day that the Secret Service has orders that if George Bush is shot, they're to shoot Quayle.")

Also in 2006, the New York comptroller, Alan Hevesi, spoke to graduating students at Queens College. He said that his fellow Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer, would "put a bullet between the president's eyes if he could get away with it."

Much 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)


12 January, 2011

This is rich

The New York Times has given liberal Congressman Paul Kanjorski, who called for the death of Republican Governor Rick Scott, a soapbox to preach about the need for “civility” in the aftermath of the Tucson shootings, and an end to “violent confrontation” and the negative “political climate”. Excerpt below:

... even in this post-9/11 world, the shooting of Ms. Giffords was especially shocking, because it was so personal. She was hunted down far from the symbolic halls of power while performing the most fundamental responsibility of her job, listening to her constituents.

We all lose an element of freedom when security considerations distance public officials from the people. Therefore, it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation.



The Progressive “climate of hate:” An illustrated catalog, 2000-2010

By Michelle Malkin

The Tucson massacre ghouls who are now trying to criminalize conservatism have forced our hand. They need to be reminded. You need to be reminded.

Confront them. Don’t be cowed into silence. And don’t let the media whitewash the sins of the hypocritical Left in their naked attempt to suppress the law-abiding, constitutionally-protected, peaceful, vigorous political speech of the Right.

They want to play tu quo que in the middle of a national tragedy? They asked for it. They got it.

A comprehensive illustrated primer in 8 parts:

V. LEFT-WING MOB HATE — campus, anti-war radicals, ACORN, eco-extremists, & unions
VIII. HATE: CRIMES — the ever-growing Unhinged Mugshot Collection

Much more HERE


Getting something free Isn't Freedom: Handouts to the Healthy Only Hurt

Ralph Peters

My childhood was spent in the hardscrabble world of Pennsylvania’s coal towns, where hard-working anthracite miners drove the economy. As my awareness of the world around me grew, from the 1950s into the early 1960s, I was struck again and again by the pride of the men who worked underground in a dangerous profession: Those who avoided work were considered a blot on the community, and being forced onto “the dole” for any reason humiliated not only the immediate family involved, but even distant relations. Men expected to earn their way, taking pride in maintaining their simple “company” houses as best they could, and dressing their wives and children anew each Easter.

Ours was no ideal society (beware anyone who tells you an ideal society can be fabricated from human material). It was, by and large, a dirty blue-collar world, dangerous below ground and rough-edged above. But those miners had a pride and shared a comradeship I only encountered again when I served in our military. When troubles came, family members aided one another. When the need was too great for blood kin to relieve, communities pulled together. The question in every mind regarding an injured miner was, “When will he be able to go back to work?” As brutal as it was, the coal man’s work let him stand up straight and look any man in the eye.

An incident that shocked me then only seems quaint today, given the collapse of our social values: I was, perhaps, eight. The year would have been 1960. My mother and aunt were visiting in Lehighton, and I had been dragged along, barricaded into the backseat behind parapets of comic books. A summer evening softened the harshness of a hillside street lined with row houses. Jingling and trailing exhaust, an ice-cream truck appeared, conjuring shrieking children from every side. We stood in line, I got my chocolate cone (vanilla was for sissies), and my mother opened her purse to pay. Just then, a boy of about my age, wearing a hand-me-down t-shirt, sidled up to my mother and asked, “Lady, would you buy me an ice-cream cone?” My mother got him one, but we all were shocked. The boy had begged. It simply wasn’t done. My mother’s family first enjoyed indoor plumbing when the boys came home from the Second World War with money in hand, and a family of twelve had crammed into a two-bedroom house—but no one begged for anything, not ever. You went hungry first.

Then came the well-intentioned, disastrous programs of The Great Society. By the end of the 1960s, the miner’s pride lay shattered and the dream of the able-bodied blue-collar worker back home was to qualify for “total disability,” while retaining sufficient health to do some illicit work on the side (for cash payment) to supplement the beer budget. Lawsuits came into fashion, too. The Great Society’s message was “You’re entitled.”

It was the most-seductive, most-destructive and most-pernicious message our government had sent since the Dred Scott case prolonged slavery. Instead of giving us a more-equitable society, it destroyed the urban-black family; erected dependency walls around ghettos, barrios and rust-belt company towns; vanquished the blue-collar work ethic in innumerable communities; and put us on the road to our present state of whining, demanding, parasitic, morbid obesity. Congratulations.

Again and again across the decades, I witnessed the narcotic, enslaving effects of a government-provided “free lunch” for able adults: Members of my own family wondered who they could sue for imagined injuries; obese military wives paralyzed health clinics by treating them as social hubs—dragging in their children for every minor affliction, since there was no cost to do so (a mere five-dollar-per-visit fee would have cleaned out those waiting rooms rapidly); and working-age folks back home employed their considerable reserves of ingenuity to beat the system any way they could.

In the historical blink of an eye, we went from a self-reliant and spirited society to a nation of cattle satisfied with a government-filled trough.

Another tragic aspect of this cancerous transformation was that the social reformers of the 1960s, as well as many professional leftists today, had and have humane, idealistic intentions: They sincerely want to do good to less-privileged citizens. The problems arise, first, because few of these elite do-gooders actually know any working men or women paid by the hour, and, second, a healthy society, like God, helps those who help themselves. The crusaders for “social justice” not only destroyed individual pride in work and the family’s longing for the community’s respect, but established something-for-nothing as the new societal norm. Utterly misunderstanding the nature of pride, they told themselves that “having” was the same as “earning.” But it is not.

Another transformative moment for me came when I was a captain in the Army. Stationed at Ft. Hood, I pursued a master’s degree on weekends and, when the all-too-short evenings were not consumed with studies or field duties, I worked on a novel about the Soviet military. I wrote it because I was frustrated by the dreary nature of our training manuals and the sleeping-pill briefings inflicted on our soldiers. I grasped that the only way to communicate Soviet organization and tactics effectively was to humanize them, to tell stories with human characters that would illustrate how Soviet doctrine was meant to work. It wasn’t much of a novel (although, to my astonishment, it would become a bestseller), but it was one hell of a training tool.

I considered donating the book to the Army for issue as a manual. Two things stopped me. First, I knew that so many bureaucratic mitts would be laid upon it that any value would quickly disappear from the red-ink-raped text. Second, and more important still, was my experience of soldiers. Given something for free—a training circular, for example—they placed no value on it and soon discarded it. But if they paid a few dollars (back then) for a paperback, they’d share it and hold on to it. Even a token charge assigned real value. So I published the book commercially, which resulted in it being taken seriously.

Meanwhile, our society underwent expectations creep as I marched along in uniform. Limited reforms in the 1990s trimmed some of the welfare system’s worst abuses, but the sense of entitlement on an increasing number of fronts crept upward from the Lumpenproletariat, through the blue-collar class, into white-collar realms. Simultaneously, we underwent a one-off economic expansion that permitted Congress to lavish money on select constituencies, while the medical world innovated and invented its way to stunning capabilities—and staggering costs. With disorienting speed, we went from a country that knew it had to pay its medical bills to one in which relatives believed it was their right to keep a comatose elder with no chance of recovery on life-support systems for weeks and months at a cost of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. And why not? For that family, there were no trade-offs, no calculations of relative value. Health-care was already, essentially, free. A society that doesn’t have to make choices, won’t make choices.

For their disgraceful part, Democrats appear determined to turn unemployment benefits into a new welfare system, with endless payments and no personal responsibility to find work—indeed, for low-skilled blue-collar workers, unemployment’s often a better deal than a job. Well, we could trim those unemployment rolls sharply, were we to learn from the left’s beloved FDR: In the 1930s, my uncles had to work for the pittance they received from the Civilian Conservation Corps—and they were glad to do it. Today, anyone who has collected more than 52 weeks of unemployment benefits should have to work four full days a week—with one day free for job-hunting--on urban clean-up, infrastructure rehabilitation, health services and environmental restoration projects—and the work involved should be serious labor, not typical “government work” that involves hanging out with a bored supervisor. If the unemployed lack skills, this is a good way to impart them.

Of course, Democrats would never support such a program, because unions would oppose it. And Democrats will gladly destroy millions of jobs among the constituents they claim to champion, as long as corrupt labor unions are protected and happy.

And Democrats have lied wildly about virtually every aspect of Obamacare. This isn’t “wealth redistribution,” it’s poverty redistribution, taking from the productive members of society to reward the unproductive and unwilling—The Great Entitled. In the end, we’ll all get less, and those of us who work will work harder for it.

In the 58 years during which I have been privileged to be an American citizen, I’ve witnessed many destructive trends initiated or accelerated by my self-absorbed generation, the children of the Great Society. But none of those trends — not our moral fracturing, the collapse of civility, nor even our addiction to debt — so disheartens me as our mass flight from a credo of personal responsibility for our actions.

Today, everyone is entitled to something; criminals are all victims; patients who abuse their health are entitled to my tax dollars; and hard work is regarded as, at best, a sometimes-necessary evil (when the government can’t be persuaded to send us a check). In the ‘sixties, Madison Avenue told us we deserved new cars. Today, our politicians tell us we’re entitled to eternal life, with all expenses paid. I’ve always regarded Ayn Rand as a bit too categorical and heartless, but she came closer to diagnosing the dangers to our society than any of the lauded and beautifully educated theorists who made poverty and sloth desirable.

A morally healthy society needs pride. And real pride comes from self-reliance, not charity. While an ethically sound society allows for the legitimate needs of the truly incapable, it does not reward the capable-but-feckless. Government only rarely should be the first answer to our problems (it owes us nothing beyond security against foreign intruders and domestic criminals, and the protections detailed in the Constitution).

Pride is essential to individual well-being and good citizenship. And pride comes from work and achievement, from respect for our God-given bodies and self-discipline, from debts paid and obligations honored—but it does not derive from hand-outs. We live in a paradoxical age in which artificially inflated self-esteem has been decoupled from self-help, in which rewards are redistributed from the productive to the willfully parasitical in the name of “justice.”

I consider myself neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but an independent conservative. That means that I value work, honesty, reliability, personal responsibility, conservation of our natural heritage (I have never understood why conservatives aren’t for conservation), good craftsmanship in my trade, individual freedom, patriotism that isn’t just about scoring points, and the personal integrity from which the citizen’s virtues flow. I love my country, even as I despise what our corrupt cartel of political parties has done to it. I would die for it.

We all know—and the best citizens honor—the observation that “Freedom isn’t free.” But when it comes to government hand-outs, free isn’t freedom. On the contrary, the more dependent the citizen becomes upon government for his or her personal needs and wants, the more enslaved that individual becomes (I’m bewildered by those who demand “reparations” for slavery, while advocating enthusiastically the new slavery of unearned benefits--an addiction every bit as destructive to the soul as crack or meth is to the body). If government rewards anyone, it should be those who work the hardest and contribute the most, not those who shout the loudest and do nothing. If I have the ability to work and won’t, I don’t even have a right to a scrap of bread.




Political opportunism never lets a crisis go to waste: "All of this angst over political rhetoric is so overwrought and overblown as to be laughable. There has never been a time in the history of this land that the language hasn’t been rough or partisan. Never. Pretending this is the worst it has ever been is simply historically inaccurate. It may be more obvious now because of mass communications and the democratization of opinion, but it isn’t at all any different than it ever has been."

Americans resist blame game over Arizona shooting, poll suggests: "Most Americans aren’t blaming a 'harsh political tone' for the horrific January 8 shooting in Arizona, in which a lone and seemingly deranged gunman allegedly shot a member of Congress and a handful of people nearby, killing six people. Despite efforts by some political talking heads to blame Republicans or conservatives for the actions of the shooter, it’s a relief that a majority of Americans aren’t buying that bull. Sixty percent of those polled by CBS News said the shootings were not related to any 'harsh political tone.'"

Two toxic bubbles in one: "Goldman Sachs’ $2 billion deal for Facebook, valuing the social networking site at $50 billion, combines the worst elements of the 1997-2000 and 2004-07 bubbles. It sets a grossly excessive valuation on an Internet company with modest revenues and prospects. It also involves an investment bank structuring a complex deal to maximize its own fees, while driving a truck through two major elements of financial services regulation. Add a third element, that it places a company controlling personal information on 500 million users in close business partnership with a Russian billionaire with a criminal record and you can see the deal is truly groundbreaking. It should also raise important red flags about current market conditions."

Iran: Regime rounds up Christians in crackdown: "Iran has arrested about 70 Christians since Christmas in a crackdown that demonstrates the limits of religious tolerance by Islamic leaders who often boast they provide room for other faiths. The latest raids have targeted grass-roots Christian groups Iran describes as 'hard-liners' who pose a threat to the Islamic state."

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 January, 2011

In the Climate of Hate, Palin and Tea Party are the Targets Not the Source

Those who purport to care about the tenor of political discourse don't help civil debate when they seize on any pretext to call their political opponents accomplices to murder


Shortly after November's electoral defeat for the Democrats, pollster Mark Penn appeared on Chris Matthews's TV show and remarked that what President Obama needed to reconnect with the American people was another Oklahoma City bombing. To judge from the reaction to Saturday's tragic shootings in Arizona, many on the left (and in the press) agree, and for a while hoped that Jared Lee Loughner's killing spree might fill the bill.

With only the barest outline of events available, pundits and reporters seemed to agree that the massacre had to be the fault of the tea party movement in general, and of Sarah Palin in particular. Why? Because they had created, in New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's words, a "climate of hate."

Pima County, AZ Sheriff Clarence Dupnik held a press conference during which he blamed vitriolic political rhetoric for provoking the mentally unstable, and lamented Arizona's becoming the "mecca of prejudice and bigotry." Video courtesy of AFP.

The critics were a bit short on particulars as to what that meant. Mrs. Palin has used some martial metaphors—"lock and load"—and talked about "targeting" opponents. But as media writer Howard Kurtz noted in The Daily Beast, such metaphors are common in politics. Palin critic Markos Moulitsas, on his Daily Kos blog, had even included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's district on a list of congressional districts "bullseyed" for primary challenges. When Democrats use language like this—or even harsher language like Mr. Obama's famous remark, in Philadelphia during the 2008 campaign, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun"—it's just evidence of high spirits, apparently. But if Republicans do it, it somehow creates a climate of hate.

There's a climate of hate out there, all right, but it doesn't derive from the innocuous use of political clichés. And former Gov. Palin and the tea party movement are more the targets than the source.

Jared Lee Loughner, the man suspected of a shooting spree that killed a Federal Judge and critically wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, had left a trail of online videos in which he railed against the government. WSJ's Neil Hickey reports.

American journalists know how to be exquisitely sensitive when they want to be. As the Washington Examiner's Byron York pointed out on Sunday, after Major Nidal Hasan shot up Fort Hood while shouting "Allahu Akhbar!" the press was full of cautions about not drawing premature conclusions about a connection to Islamist terrorism. "Where," asked Mr. York, "was that caution after the shootings in Arizona?"

Set aside as inconvenient, apparently. There was no waiting for the facts on Saturday. Likewise, last May New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and CBS anchor Katie Couric speculated, without any evidence, that the Times Square bomber might be a tea partier upset with the ObamaCare bill.

So as the usual talking heads begin their "have you no decency?" routine aimed at talk radio and Republican politicians, perhaps we should turn the question around. Where is the decency in blood libel?

To paraphrase Justice Cardozo ("proof of negligence in the air, so to speak, will not do"), there is no such thing as responsibility in the air. Those who try to connect Sarah Palin and other political figures with whom they disagree to the shootings in Arizona use attacks on "rhetoric" and a "climate of hate" to obscure their own dishonesty in trying to imply responsibility where none exists. But the dishonesty remains.

To be clear, if you're using this event to criticize the "rhetoric" of Mrs. Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you're either: (a) asserting a connection between the "rhetoric" and the shooting, which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie; or (b) you're not, in which case you're just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. Which is it?

I understand the desperation that Democrats must feel after taking a historic beating in the midterm elections and seeing the popularity of ObamaCare plummet while voters flee the party in droves. But those who purport to care about the health of our political community demonstrate precious little actual concern for America's political well-being when they seize on any pretext, however flimsy, to call their political opponents accomplices to murder. Where is the decency in that?



A Federal Judge is furious at the way a Liberal Sheriff and Media are Exploiting the shooting

"He should be strung up." The speaker: one very angry federal judge furious at the cynicism displayed by both Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and the mainstream media in the shootings that took the life of one federal judge, wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and killed or wounded 17 others.

The judge, a personal friend of the murdered federal judge John Roll, declined to be cited by name but was brimming with anger at what he termed the "cynicism and downright evil" of the liberal media's "cynical attempt" to blame conservative talk radio and television for the murder of the only public official not to survive the shootings -- the conservative Catholic Roll, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush.

The judge, who assigned blame for the shootings to "a lone nut," was bitter over Dupnik's much televised departure from his job as sheriff to relate the facts of the shooting and instead start "grabbing the limelight for publicity."

Said the furious judge: "And though terribly tragic though all of this is, how ironic that the one constitutional officer to die was a conservative, Republican-appointed federal judge. Will anyone point out the hypocrisy of liberal media on that one? Or is it a fact that is just too inconvenient?"

Roll was described by his grief-stricken friend and colleague as "a conservative, values type Catholic who attended mass almost daily. When John and I first met, we discussed religion and culture at dinner. Just the two of us. I introduced him to Richard John Neuhaus's First Things, and he later subscribed."

The judge's fury comes as both Sheriff Dupnik and the liberal media are trying to blame everyone from the Tea Party to Sarah Palin to, in Dupnik's words, "the crap that comes out on radio and TV" for the murders. Meaning, of course, conservative talk radio and Fox News. While Arizona Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva tries to say that Palin was responsible for the "political tone and tenor" that led to the rampage, the judge says that in fact federal judges receive threats all the time ranging from "disappointed litigants and prisoners" to "nuts."

The judge believes the alleged Arizona killer, Jared Lee Loughner, repeatedly described by those who knew him as mentally unstable, was decidedly in the latter category and therefore the kind of person who poses a special threat to federal judges or any public official -- the "lone nut who doesn't make a specific threat."

The judge sees Dupnik, the man Politico identifies as "the liberal sheriff," disgracefully using his time in the tragedy's spotlight not to do his job but gain publicity by helping the liberal media exploit the killings by a "nut" to exploit a liberal political agenda -- gliding over the hard news fact that the only constitutional officer to die in the attack was a conservative Republican.

It was noted that during the controversy over the passage by Arizona of a bill enforcing federal immigration law, Dupnik sought out national media to essentially call the state's governor and legislature racists

The judge's angry remarks mean one thing: it's time for plain talk:

LEFTIST POLITICAL philosophy -- whether at its Communist extremes or with its weakest American liberal strains -- is about one thing and one thing only: man's domination of other men. Control. And in the relentless drive to dominate, leftists have a brutal, well-on-the-record history of two things.

First, deliberately and willfully committing political violence in the name of a leftist cause.

Second, blaming that violence on others -- the "somebody else made me do it" defense. Or, if the violence was perpetrated by a non-political crazy -- a "lone nut" in the judge's words -- cynically ascribing this violence to the favorite leftist political target -- and yes, target is the word -- of the moment.

How does the leftist political violence addiction work? Let's list a few examples.

• Racial Violence: Yes, those were leftists underneath the hoods and robes of the Ku Klux Klan. As mentioned in this space repeatedly, the Klan was founded as what liberal Columbia University historian Eric Foner called a "military force serving the interests of the Democratic Party…It aimed to…reestablish control of the black labor force, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life." Using the Klan as a power base, the left elected hundreds of state legislators, congressmen, U.S. Senators and governors -- Democrats who in turn took a "progressive" stance on issues of labor and economics for the so-called "working man." All in the interest of controlling blacks.

With the rise of the Civil Rights movement, not all African-Americans were enamored with the non-violent protests of Dr. Martin Luther King. Others turned to violence, to seeking control just as the white Klan did. Yet as with the Klan, these black activists stayed within the political framework of leftist politics -- in this case the politics of control as advocated not only by Malcolm X and radical activists Stokely Carmichael, but by the writings of James Cone.

Cone, portrayed as a distinguished academic by the left because of his teaching position as Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary, came to broader fame with the emergence of President Obama's infamous pastor Jeremiah Wright, a Cone disciple. In his new book Radical-In-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism, journalist Stanley Kurtz cites Cone's call for the goal of black intellectuals to "aid in the destruction of America," a challenge to violence Cone presents in Black Theology and Black Power.

Gone is King's famous rhetoric about the importance of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and judging all men by the content of their character. Instead Cone uses the rhetoric of violence, referring to whites as "the oppressor" or "whitey." These indeed were the sentiments behind racial riots in the African-American sections of Los Angeles in 1992, most famously captured on video when white truck driver Reginald Denny was pulled from his truck by four blacks and almost beaten to death.

Kurtz cites the work of black Marxist Marable Manning and his determination to tie race and class issues together, resulting in the need for blacks to reject the "legitimacy of the State" …which is exactly what was happening when Reginald Denny drove his truck through South Central Los Angeles in 1992.

Arizona is famously ground zero in the illegal immigration fight -- and leftist violence is ruling the day. This time the cause in which violence is given a pass by the left belongs to Latinos -- and the repeated murders that have now resulted in U.S. government signs in southern Arizona warning Americans there own country is no longer safe is a perfect example of the "so-what" attitude the left has about political violence. The Obama administration could do something about this immediately by sealing the border -- yet consistently refuses for political reasons. Political violence when leftist race goals are at stake? No problem.

• Labor Violence: "We kind of agree with Mao that power comes largely from the barrel of a gun," says Obama "Manufacturing Czar" Ron Bloom. Bloom is, surprise, surprise, a former SEIU and United steelworkers official. Long before Mao, however, American labor was practicing political violence well-admired by the American left. From the Chicago Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which a bomb was exploded killing eight policemen during a strike, plus an unknown number of civilians, all the way down the years to the disappearance of Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa in 1975 -- through to ex-SEIU chief Andy Stern's famous vow on how to bring about political change (""[W]e prefer to use the power of persuasion, but if that doesn't work we use the persuasion of power") violence or the threat of it has been a regular feature of the American left.

• Student Violence: A classic example from the 1960's was the confrontation between then-Governor Ronald Reagan and radical leftists who had forcibly taken over a park owned by the University of California at Berkeley. The university, which owned the property, planned to build a sports field. The leftists had another idea -- a park. A standoff resulted, with the leftists making it plain they intended to stay and simply appropriate the land. Reagan saw this as an issue of property rights -- the university had duly bought and paid for the property and were free to develop as they wished.

Eventually almost 800 sheriff's deputies and law enforcement personnel faced off against some 6,000 leftists, the latter sending a shower of bricks, rocks and bottles down on the authorities. The deputies answered the violence with buckshot and nightsticks. One student was killed, another blinded.

These type of confrontations were a regular feature of the 1960s, with leftists repeatedly employing violence in marches against everyone from college officials to the Pentagon, where one student set himself on fire.

Much more HERE


Two Leftist writers (below) are dubious about the Leftist hate speech resulting from the Giffords shooting

The paucity of hope: "This tragedy has prompted not reflection but just another round of sparring. Some liberals quick to point the finger are linking 22-year-old shooter Jared Loughner to the Tea Party — showing the same lack of restraint and tendency to demonize their ideological opponents that they accuse the right of having. Some conservatives, meanwhile, were more concerned with the political consequences of this tragedy than with the possible impact of their rhetoric. Is this a moment for the president to give a big speech? The suggestion feels old-hat."

The Arizona shooting is not a product of right-wing rage: "Conservatives are furious that the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords is being pinned on them. Their indignation is justified. The mania of Giffords' would-be assassin may be slightly more right-wing than left-wing, but on the whole it is largely disconnected from even loosely organized extreme right-wing politics. The rhetorical attempts to connect Jared Loughner to mainstream politics take two forms, neither convincing."



In defense of inflamed rhetoric: "For as long as I’ve been alive, crosshairs and bull’s-eyes have been an accepted part of the graphical lexicon when it comes to political debates. Such 'inflammatory' words as targeting, attacking, destroying, blasting, crushing, burying, knee-capping, and others have similarly guided political thought and action. Not once have the use of these images or words tempted me or anybody else I know to kill. I’ve listened to, read — and even written! — vicious attacks on government without reaching for my gun."

Politicians miss no opportunity to exploit Tucson shooting: "Basically, Loughner’s crime can’t be blamed on anybody but himself, and his writings and actions lay quite a solid groundwork for a criminal insanity defense. But never doubt the readiness of the usual suspects to piggyback favorite pre-packaged authoritarian bills on the emotional reaction to the shooting."

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)


10 January, 2011

Was it immigration policy that got Rep. Giffords shot?

Based on zero evidence, there have been many attempts to link the Giffords shooting to Arizona's policies towards illegal immigration. Some such attempts are reported in the excerpts below

The final paragraph is true in a way that its speaker probably did not intend. He is right that America is currently "practicing the politics of division and subtraction, not multiplication and addition", but who is to blame for that?

It wouldn't be a Democratic party that pushed through a vast healthcare bill that was clearly unwanted by the majority of Americans (something confirmed on Nov. 2 last year) and a party that has not shown one sign of that "reaching across the aisle" which Obama promised in his election campaign, would it? It took the defeats of last November to wring the first compromise out of them.

And which party tried its damnedest to push through the DREAM act when at least two thirds of Americans are opposed to any form of amnesty for illegals?

Another blogger makes similar points but at greater length. And, as noted here Giffords was in fact closer to the GOP policy on illegal immigration than she was to mainstream Democrats. It was a "secure the borders" politician who was shot -- JR

Even before the shooting of a U.S. congresswoman Saturday, the state of Arizona was in the throes of a convulsive political year that had come to symbolize a bitter partisan divide across much of America.

The motives of the alleged shooter, who wounded Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people in Tucson, are not known and they may not be political.

But after an acrimonious election in November that followed months of bitter exchanges, politics looms large in the wake of the shooting and a local sheriff pointedly blamed hateful political rhetoric for inciting violence.

"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government," Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told a news conference.

"The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

The spark in Arizona's political firestorm was the border state's move to crack down on illegal immigration last summer, a bill proposed by conservative lawmakers and signed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer.

The law known as SB 1070 "superheated the political divide more than I've ever seen it in Arizona," said Bruce Merrill, a longtime political analyst and pollster at Arizona State University.

A majority of Arizonans supported it, but opponents and many in the large Hispanic population felt it was unconstitutional and would lead to discrimination.

As the law went into effect, U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and opponent of SB 1070, closed a district office in Yuma after staff found a shattered window and a bullet inside.

Giffords favored a softer approach to illegal immigrants and was expected to push for comprehensive immigration reform in the Congress that was sworn in this week in Washington....

Art Hamilton, who served 26 years in the state House and 18 years as its Democratic leader, said there is "no question" that Arizona is at a low point in its governance. "I do believe we see a point in the history of this state that we're practicing the politics of division and subtraction, not multiplication and addition," Hamilton said.



The Left Hypocritically Exploits Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' Shooting

The fact that the shooter is an atheist will burn them up, though. If Christians were as dishonest as the Left, they would be blaming the shooting on the white-anting of community morality by the anti-religious Left -- JR

Just hours after Saturday’s tragic shooting incident in Tucson, Arizona, numerous news sources on the left from CNN to the Huffington Post were casting blame upon Sarah Palin, Tea Parties, and Second Amendment supporters. Hoping the shooter had right-leaning views, the Left immediately started portraying Jared Lee Loughner as a right wing nut. Even as information trickled in revealing Loughner had some left-leaning political views, the left ignored it and ran with their own spin, labeling him a product of the right.

Loughner is far from a right winger. A former high school classmate of Loughner’s described him as “…left wing, quite liberal...a pot head and into rock, like Hendrix, The Doors, Anti-Flag.” Loughner’s list of favorite books on his MySpace page include The Communist Manifesto, Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Two YouTube videos he posted include numerous rants about the government and mind control, and reveal he does not believe in God. In one video he states, “No! I won’t trust in God!” Another of his 'favorite' videos shows a masked man burning the American flag.

Ignoring these facts about his political persuasions, the Left instead has tried to turn the focus of the shooting to blaming the right and Sarah Palin, trotting out a map Palin created last year “targeting” incumbent Congressional candidates. This is outrageous. There is no comparison whatsoever between “targeting” members of Congress for defeat in elections and attempting to murder them. Right-leaning politicians and activists do not approve of murder. There is also no indication Loughner was inspired by Palin’s map, considering his political leanings come from the anarcho-left.

In order to justify that desperate stretch, the left ignores the fact that one of their own, defeated Arizona Democrat Congressman Harry Mitchell, ran a campaign ad against JD Hayworth in 2006 featuring Hayworth in the crosshairs of a rifle.

The Democrat Sheriff of Pima County, Clarence Dupnik, a partisan who has long fought with conservatives over enforcing illegal immigration laws, implied Saturday that the actions of Loughner were akin to Arizona’s stance on SB 1070 and illegal immigration. "We have become the capital, the mecca for prejudice and bigotry," Dupnik told reporters. He also said some of the anti-government sentiments in the media may have influenced Loughner.

The Left embraced Dupnik’s politically motivated smear of right-leaning viewpoints, using it to associate Loughner’s shootings with Tea Party activism. The liberal blog Blue Wave News posted an article entitled, “Tea Party Rhetoric: Nothing better than a dead liberal,” using one lone woman’s inappropriate remarks on video to justify lumping the entire Tea Party movement in with Loughner’s shootings. In actuality, Loughner has little in common with the Tea Party. His dislike of the American flag, his choice of The Communist Manifesto as a favorite book and his anarchist ramblings all point to someone on the other side of the political spectrum. The Tea Party’s biggest issues have been government spending and Obamacare, and Giffords was regularly protested by Tea Parties for her support of Obamacare. There is zero evidence that Loughner had any concern about those issues.

The left is using the shootings to call for stricter gun control laws, placing blame on Arizona’s strong pro-Second Amendment laws for the shootings. At this point, it is not fully confirmed whether Loughner broke any gun laws, so it is premature to assume that stricter gun laws would have stopped him. He has a history of arrests and convictions for various criminal activities, and was removed from community college for disruptions. There is no reason to believe he would have respected gun laws.

Most likely the real story is that Loughner is a seriously disturbed individual who fits the profile of a psychopath and was motivated by a number of factors, none of them being conservative ideology. Did the values pushed by the left of moral relativism, self-indulgence promoting acceptance of his imbibing of illicit drugs, and “tolerance” of hate-filled totalitarian books like The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf while dismissing the teachings of the Bible contribute to Loughner’s delusions? Perhaps.

Loughner is behind bars, so we may find out someday. Meanwhile, as more evidence comes out revealing Loughner has ties to the left, not the right, expect the left to suddenly blame his actions on mental illness.



Left-Wing Blame Game Won't Work With Arizona Tragedy

Carol Platt Liebau

As the nation reeled from news that a gunman had shot a group of Arizona citizens including Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, an all-too-predictable response emanated from some on the left. Despite news reports suggesting that the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, was simply insane – a devotee of Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler, who believed in mind control and “conscience dreaming,” and who was convinced he would become the treasurer of a new currency – many left-wingers sought to attribute his despicable acts to a conservative political agenda.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote, “We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was.” Democrat Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey denounced “an aura of hate” fed “by certain people on Fox News.” The National Democratic Jewish Council insisted that “building levels of vitriol in our discourse . . . have surely contributed to the atmosphere in which this event transpired.” ....

Those playing the blame game against all facts and logic are following a well-worn precedent. Anyone who remembers the Clinton years will recall that the then-President used the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal courthouse in April of 1995 as a way to discredit conservative talk radio – the voices that had just played a central role in helping Republicans retake the House of Representatives for the first time in forty years.

In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, President Clinton condemned “loud and angry voices” in talk radio for “spreading hate and leaving the impression by their very words that violence is acceptable.” Thereafter, the Detroit Free Press published an interview with the President urging talk radio how hosts to reject all rhetoric “fostering hate and division and encouraging violence.”.....

This time, however, the Left is destined to fail. Here’s why:

First, now there is Fox News and the conservative blogosphere, neither of which existed in April of 1995. They enable the widespread dissemination of information rebutting efforts to equate Loughner with garden-variety conservatives or Tea Partiers – or blame his acts on the statements of public figures. For example, when left-wing bloggers invoked a bulls-eye graphic that had appeared on a year-old campaign map from Sarah Palin as a reason for the violence, right-learning bloggers like VerumSerum were quick to point out that similar graphics have been used by the Democratic Leadership Council. Liberals no longer have the media playing field all to themselves.

Second, at least some respected media figures have wearied of the ongoing efforts to use national tragedies for partisan political gain. Howard Fineman and Howard Kurtz – neither of them conservatives – have called a halt to “opening rhetorical fire,” as Kurtz put it, in the wake of such attacks.

Third, almost 16 years after Oklahoma City – and after seeing similar gamesmanship in the wake of crimes like the Holocaust Museum shooting -- Americans have become skeptical of cynical efforts to stigmatize entire ideologies based only on the actions of lone, clearly deranged criminals. That’s especially true where, as here, there’s no real evidence that the suspect actually subscribed to any coherent political creed.

Finally, the political climate has changed, drastically, since 1995. Many (if not most) Americans have just endured two years in which a liberal majority has governed against their own expressed wishes. By doing so, liberal politicians – from the President on down -- have aroused widespread, deep-seated opposition among the electorate to an unprecedented degree. In such a climate, people will find it easier to distinguish between insane criminals and law-abiding dissenters from government policy, because they are likelier than ever to be dissenters themselves.

Given all of this, those on the left would be best advised to avoid cheap blame-seeking for political gain. If they persist in the dishonorable effort to discredit the beliefs of millions of Americans based on the criminal actions of just one, ironically, they may hurt their own cause most, further convincing Americans of what so many already know: That the left is simply out of touch.




AZ: Shooting suspect charged: "The United States on Sunday charged Jared Lee Loughner, the man suspected of killing six people and wounding a congresswoman in Arizona, with five criminal counts, including attempted assassination. Loughner, 22, faces one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress; two counts of killing an officer of the United States; and two counts of attempted killing of an officer of the United States." [Apparently the nine-year-old girl who died, not being a member of the political class, wasn't important enough to bother with charging him over]

NJ: Christie targets Medicaid, benefits as deficit looms: "New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may propose cutting Medicaid spending and employee benefits to help close a $10.5 billion budget deficit, even as he considers contributing $512 million to the state’s underfunded pension. ... New Jersey has run consecutive annual deficits for a decade. The governor told reporters last month that balancing the next budget will be even tougher than with the current plan."

CA: Brown to unveil “painful” budget: "Gov. Jerry Brown has told Californians to sit down, fasten their seat belts and brace themselves for the budget proposal he will unveil Monday to address a deficit that could top $28 billion. ... Brown has offered no specifics on his budget proposal and would not confirm that he would seek an extension of tax increases when asked by reporters. Budget insiders and many others at the Capitol said they expect him to do so, and they also expect him to propose many of the same deep cuts to services like health care and welfare that were backed by Schwarzenegger the past few years."

Limited government? Keep an eye on Florida: "With both the federal and state governments in the United States seemingly headed the way of Greece, Florida appears to have the best prospects among the states for limited government. Florida already is among the lowest in per capita state government spending, and in state government employees per capita, and is one of the few states without a personal income tax."

Nixin’ Kennedys: "Ted Kennedy is gone, but the late senator’s family’s political power is alive and well. The History Channel has cancelled an eight-part miniseries, starring Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy, after lobbying by the Kennedy clan, upset with their portrayal, the L.A. Times reported."

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 January, 2011

The shooting of Rep. Giffords

Rep. Giffords appears to be one of the more decent people in the Democratic party and I join with many others in deploring what happened to her. I made my comments on the issues raised by the shooting earlier today (below)


Horrors! A conservative GOP!

I hope the writer below is right but I am not so sure. Were the Nov., 2010 election results an endorsement of Tea Party ideas by a majority of Americans? I greatly doubt it. I think that in 2010 a yellow dog could have defeated the Democrats after their many unpopular moves -- but most centrally, their failure to bring unemployment down. In British and Australian politics there is a saying that opposition parties don't win elections, governing parties lose them. I think that was true in the USA of Nov. 2010. The one comfort is that Obama and his party show no signs of learning from their setback, so should still be unpopular in Nov. 2012 -- JR

An alarm has been sounded for Republicans who advocate big-government, abortion, gay marriage, and gun control: Take heed! The GOP is being taken over by (gasp!) actual conservatives!

Offering a review of Monday's debate between the four individuals vying for the mantle of RNC chair, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank first belittled, then bemoaned, the lack of ideological diversity among the candidates:

"There were two white women, two white men and the African American incumbent on the dais, but not a shade of ideological diversity. As a debate, it was about as successful as Carlson's time on Dancing With the Stars. As a cultural indicator, it was extraordinary. [Grover] Norquist and [Tucker] Carlson, serving as cardinals of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, administered a long series of loyalty checks, and the candidates were nearly dissent-free. Abortion? All opposed. Lower taxes? All in favor. Gay marriage? All opposed. Cutting spending? All in favor."

It is clear from Milbank's article that he expects his readers to be as shocked and dismayed as he is by the ideological homogeneity that seems to have infected the GOP. The question is, why? Why should Milbank or anyone else be surprised – in the wake of a staggering electoral victory fueled in no small part by a grassroots movement pushing back-to-basics constitutional conservatism – that aspiring leaders of the GOP all agree upon basic conservative principles like limited government, fiscal discipline, and support for traditional family values? The whole idea behind the party system, after all, is to provide a forum for like-minded individuals to work together in the pursuit of shared ideals, and to help the voting public discern which party best represents their own views, interests, and policy goals.

Unfortunately, in recent years this has rarely been the case. Hypocrisy – while certainly nothing new in human affairs – had badly infected the Republican Party. The party of limited government and fiscal discipline had aided and abetted an explosive growth of the size of government and the national debt, and the self-appointed guardian of traditional family values had been decimated by a string of shameful scandals.

It is largely due to this hypocrisy that the American people were so hungry for change in 2008. Even many who would normally not agree with Mr. Obama's policy positions felt that something different was needed in Washington; any change had to be better than more of the same. Thus the American people elected a man with unwavering faith in the superior capability of Big Government, a man who believes in the redistribution of wealth and supports abortion on demand, a man who is a reliable friend to organized labor and the environmental lobby, and a proponent of nationalized health care. In short, the American people elected a Democrat.

If Obama had won the Presidency under this mantle only to slash entitlement spending, appoint an anti-Roe justice to the Supreme Court, ignore his Speaker's cry for comprehensive health care reform, and backpedal on the push for cap-and-trade legislation, he would have been painted as a hypocrite and a disgrace to his party. There are assumptions that people make about what it means to be a Democrat, and the agenda that a Democrat is likely to pursue while in office. The same is true of Republicans. This is why political parties go to the trouble of drafting a party platform in the first place, to clarify what they stand for, what principles guide their leadership and inform their decisions, and how they view the relationship between citizens and their government.

How one answers these questions determines (in America, anyway) on which side of the aisle one falls politically. But for far too long there has been little to no correlation between what GOP said it stands for and what it actually does. Thus this "ideological cleansing" of which Milbank complains may actually help eliminate the cognitive dissonance that the American people have experienced as a result of Republicans saying one thing and doing another.

If the GOP is successful in achieving basic ideological unity within its party, then the American people will have an easier time determining if the conservative approach to government is something they support, and the charlatans inside the Beltway will have a harder time gumming up the works with politics as usual.



Advice for the new Congress from the original conservative insurgent

By Marc A. Thiessen

This week, as conservative insurgents take their seats in Congress, I can't help but think that my old boss, the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), would be thrilled. Before there was a Tea Party there was the New Right, and Helms was its most successful leader. He turned his surprise election in 1972 into a three-decade run driving the Washington establishment crazy. Were Helms still alive, he would have some advice for the GOP class of 2010.

* Ignore the national media. Once when the New York Times wrote a nasty editorial about Helms, I drafted a vigorous rebuttal. Helms smiled at me kindly and said, "Son, just so you understand: I don't care what the New York Times says about me, and nobody I care about cares what the New York Times says about me." The liberal elites were powerless over Helms because he simply did not care what they said. Neither should you.

* Embrace obstruction. Before they dubbed Republicans the "Party of No," the Left dubbed Helms "Senator No." He wore the moniker as a badge of honor. He was unafraid to block bad nominees, bad legislation and bad treaties. If you do the same, the federal bureaucracy will come to fear you - and you will stop bad things from happening without lifting a finger. One State Department official reportedly kept a picture of Helms on the wall behind his desk - a reminder that "that S.O.B. is always looking over my shoulder."

* Helms understood that some ideas before the Senate are irredeemably flawed and need to be killed. But Helms also practiced "constructive obstruction" - such as the time he blocked the confirmation of all U.S. ambassadors until the Clinton administration agreed to negotiate on his State Department reform legislation. Eventually the administration got its ambassadors and Helms got the dismantlement of the U.S. Information Agency and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Learn to obstruct constructively.

* Learn the rules. Helms was able to say no because he mastered the rules. If you do the same, you can tie the Senate in knots and force important votes. Once, Helms was doing just that in late December, when a senator approached him and said "Jesse, if you don't relent we're going to be here singing 'Silent Night.' " Helms replied, "If I don't get my vote, we're going to be singing 'Auld Lang Syne.' " He got his vote.

* Don't be afraid to wage losing battles. Helms often said, "The good Lord does not expect you to win, he just expects you to try." At times you might find yourself a minority not just in Congress, but within your own party. Who cares? Do what you believe is right. Like Helms, you will find that if you stand on principle, many battles you lose today you will win years later as the country moves your way.

* Be a happy warrior. Helms was once asked by a reporter if he would allow Massachusetts Gov. William Weld to be confirmed as ambassador to Mexico. Helms winked and replied: "No way, Jose." Take tough stands, but do it with a smile instead of a scowl.

* Be kind. Helms was hated by the left but beloved in the U.S. Senate. He always invited the Senate pages for ice cream in the senators' dining room, and he would keep the king of Jordan waiting if he saw a group of tourists in the Capitol who looked lost ("Have you come to visit your money?" he would ask). He was kind to liberals and conservatives, senators and elevator operators, and especially to his own staff, whom he referred to as his "Senate family." A reputation for kindness will serve you well - especially when you are forcing colleagues to take uncomfortable votes or miss their flights home.

* Focus on constituent service. The people of North Carolina gave Helms the freedom to fight for his beliefs, even when they disagreed, because they knew that no one would fight harder for them when they needed him. You won't be around long to oppose runaway spending if you don't making helping your constituents your top priority.

* Don't forget values. Helms was a spending hawk, but he also believed that "we will not long survive as a nation unless and until we restore the moral and spiritual principles that made America great in the first place." As you fight for fiscal responsibility, don't forget to fight for the unborn and the traditional family, which is the foundation of our society.
Jesse Helms was the original conservative insurgent. Follow his example, and you will leave a lasting mark in Washington. You may even shut down a government agency or two.



Government causes Conflict

Human differences such as race, ethnicity, religion, and language have always been sources of conflict. Despite arguments to minimize the importance of these differences, people still exhibit preferences in these areas when choosing a spouse, friend, business partner, employee, neighborhood, and other associations. People do not associate randomly. Efforts to deny such assortative behavior in the name of political correctness are foolhardy.

Far more worthy of our efforts is to acknowledge, not necessarily sanction, assortative behavior as natural. We should ask: How can we minimize the probability that such preferences will produce conflict?

The Marriage Market

Examination of marriage can provide concrete insights for our discussion. Like many other transactions, marriage is a contractual relationship where goods and services are exchanged under mutually agreeable terms. Most people tend to seek marriage partners similar to themselves in race, ethnicity, religion, language, and socioeconomic status. It may be tempting to dismiss marriage choices as trivial but, given their impact on society, that is utterly erroneous.

Highly educated people tend to marry other highly educated people. High-income people (or those with prospects for high income) tend to marry other high-income people. Just these two aspects of choice create an income distribution more skewed than would be the case if high-income and highly educated people chose opposites as partners. Thus marriage decisions have an important impact on society.

Despite the widespread use of race, ethnicity, religion, and other characteristics as criteria in mate selection, there is very little social conflict or controversy in the matter. It is such a nonissue that people hardly ever think of the marriage contract as an activity rooted in discriminatory choice. Moreover, if the discriminatory features of marriage were brought to people’s attention, they would probably respond, “So what!”

One suspects that marriage decisions pose few social problems because they are voluntary. Other than sanctioning the contract once it has been made, government plays only a trivial part unless there is a dispute. Interestingly enough, we only observe conflict in the marriage market when people use government or quasigovernment institutions, like the church, to impose restrictions according to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or religion.

Different Preferences, No Conflict

Freedom of choice can be found elsewhere. Just as people have strong preferences in race, ethnicity, and religion, they have strong preferences in goods and services. Some people strongly prefer Cadillacs while others prefer Volvos. Despite those differences, we seldom hear of conflict between the two groups. People simply purchase the cars they prefer.

In fact free markets are a great leveler of men; personal attributes have less importance. When a person buys a Cadillac or Volvo, his least concern is the race, ethnicity, or religion of the workers who produced the car. The person’s greatest concern is likely to be whether he has gotten the highest quality car for the lowest possible price.

Whenever government allocates resources, there is increased potential that preferences will give rise to conflict. Education is a good typically financed and produced by government, and as such it has been the focal point of considerable conflict. Some parents prefer that their children have a morning prayer in school. Other parents have the opposite preference. Both preferences appear to be legitimate exercises of parental prerogatives.

The problem arises because when schools are publicly produced, they will either have prayers or no prayers. Parents who prefer morning prayers must enter into political conflict with those who do not. There is a lot at stake. Parents who lose will have their kids in a public school not to their liking. Then the alternative is for parents to bear the financial burden of tuition at a nonpublic school, plus be forced through property taxes to pay for public school services for which they have little use.

A conflict-reducing method, if education is publicly financed, is to have it privately produced. Each parent could be given a voucher equivalent to the per capita expenditure on education. Parents who wished for their children to have a morning prayer would simply enroll them in such a school, and parents who preferred otherwise would enroll their children in an appropriate school. There would be little scope for education conflict between the two groups of parents. Instead of adversaries, they could be friends.

The primary reason government allocation of resources enhances the potential for conflict is that most government activity is a zero-sum game whereby one person’s gain can only be achieved through another person’s sacrifice. Parents who win the political struggle for prayers in school would benefit at the expense of those who were against prayers in school, and vice versa. By contrast, with market provision of goods and services we have a positive-sum game where everybody wins. This applies to any good or service. If the choice between Cadillac and Volvo were decided collectively, we would witness the same kind of conflict that arises over school prayer. Instead of people with differing tastes in automobiles getting their way and living in harmony with one another, those with strong preferences for Volvos would have to organize with like-minded people against those who had strong preferences for Cadillacs.

Race and Ethnicity: Government versus Markets

People have racial or ethnic preferences and will seek to indulge them. They will do so whether there is market or government allocation of resources. However, there is a key distinction. With government allocation part of the costs of preference indulgence tends to be borne by people other than the decision maker. With preference indulgence under market allocation, the decision maker tends to bear a greater proportion of the cost.

Suppose for purposes of simplicity that a black worker has the same productivity as a white worker, but the black worker offers his services for $5 while the white worker demands $8. If the decision maker is a government bureaucrat, the indulgence of his discriminatory preferences for the white worker is virtually free. It is taxpayers who bear the burden of paying $8 rather than $5; the bureaucrat takes home the same pay whether he discriminates or not; his cost of indulging his racial preferences is zero.

By contrast, in the private sector, the owner paying $8 for the work that could have been done for $5 an hour means a lower residual claim of $3. The cost of racial preferences is directly borne by the decision maker. Basic economic theory postulates that the higher the cost of doing something, the less it will be done. Therefore, it follows that we expect to see less racial discrimination in the private sector than the public sector. Similarly, when the political atmosphere changes to favor discrimination in favor of blacks, we expect to see more of it in the public sector.

The fact that it costs something to discriminate explains why those who wish to engage in it typically seek some form of government intervention. Intervention makes discrimination less costly to the discriminator than otherwise. The essential ingredient of intervention that makes discrimination less costly is restriction of peaceable, voluntary exchange.



The gunman was a paranoid schizophrenic

That's a diagnosis that anyone with a knowledge of psychoses would make with ease from the following details about him. The "mind control" mention is particularly diagnostic. There is already some attempt to portray him as a Tea Party sympathizer but how many Tea Party supporters are flag-burning atheists? Any attempt to draw any political conclusions from the actions of a madman is truly desperate

Gunman Jared Loughner posted a picture of a handgun on his MySpace page before the attack. The 22-year-old, who claims he was recently recruited by the US Army, positioned a photo of the White House behind the weapon. The words ‘United States History’ also appear.

In a series of ramblings, Loughner bragged that he could create a ‘new currency’ and ‘new language’ and accused the American government of ‘mind-control’ and ‘brainwashing.’

Depicting himself as an angry and sleep-deprived anti-government activist, he added that ‘terrorism’ could bring about these reforms. ‘A terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon . . . You don’t have to accept the federalist laws,’ he wrote on the MySpace page.

‘The government is employing mind-control and brainwashing on the people by controlling grammar . . . I can’t trust the current government. No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver. No! I won’t trust in God.’

Loughner, who attended Pima Community College in Arizona, added: ‘My favourite interest was reading, and I studied grammar. Conscience dreams were a great study in college!’ He suffered from insomnia, according to the MySpace page, and was a sleepwalker: ‘Jared is in need of sleep,’ he wrote. He listed his favourite books as Mein Kampf, Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of Oz and Aesop’s Fables. He also says he studied the Communist Manifesto.

On MySpace, Loughner complained that when he joined the military, he was given a ‘mini-Bible’ despite telling a recruiter that he was an atheist.

On YouTube, Loughner apparently posted a video on October 2 last year which was shot in the desert. The seven-minute long film shows a US flag planted in the ground. A hooded figure wearing a long plastic skirt walks towards the flag before turning around. The face of the figure is obscured by a home-made mask. The figure then holds the flag aloft for a short period before setting it alight.

Last night police surrounded Loughner’s house in North Soledad Avenue in Tucson, a few miles from the scene of the shooting.

One former classmate said Loughner was expelled from a maths course after frequent outbursts. Lynda Sorenson said: ‘He was obviously disturbed.'



Bob McCarty on the Giffords shooting:

If the shooter turns out to be a right-wing conservative, I fully expect members of the liberal media to attempt to portray the shooter as a typical member of the Constitution-loving side of the political fence. In addition, they will use the event as another reason to clamp down on gun rights.

If the shooter turns out to be an illegal immigrant, those same media outlets will paint the person as a victim of his circumstances and gloss over the “elephant in the room” that is the lack of real security at our nation’s borders.

If the shooter turns out to be an Islamic extremist, they will downplay his religious affiliations and spin the Muslim shooter’s actions as criminal but not an act of terrorism.



8 January, 2011

Nicolas Sarkozy says Christians in Middle East are victim of 'religious cleansing'

Christians in the Middle East are the victims of "religious cleansing", President Nicolas Sarkozy of France warned yesterday following a string of attacks on churches in the region.

Mr Sarkozy made the statement while giving his annual address to religious leaders as Coptic Christians were due to celebrate Christmas yesterday, according to the eastern Orthodox church calendar.

"We cannot accept and thereby facilitate what looks more and more like a particularly perverse programme of cleansing in the Middle East, religious cleansing," said the French president.

An attack on a Coptic church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria on January 1 killed 21 people. While no-one has claimed responsibility, it followed online threats against Copts from an al-Qaeda-linked group which had said it was behind an attack on a church in Baghdad in October. Some 68 people died in the attack on a Syriac Catholic church, one of a number of strikes against Christians in Iraq.

Those who died in Alexandria and Baghdad were "collectively our martyrs", said Mr Sarkozy. "They are the martyrs of the freedom of conscience." "The rights that are guaranteed in our country to all religions must be reciprocally guaranteed in other countries," he said.

Police in France and other European countries including Britain have bolstered security at Coptic churches in the run-up to Christmas. French security sources launched a terror investigation this week after a priest received online threats against his Coptic church in France.

"The threats that targeted the Coptic churches in France are unacceptable and I have asked the government to take them very seriously," Mr Sarkozy said. "The Muslim community in France is horrified by these crimes committed in the name of Islam," he said. "Fundamentalist terrorism also kills Muslims."

Mr Sarkozy also defended the concept of freedom of religion, a sensitive subject in staunchly secular France, which last year enacted a law banning wearing face-covering veils, including the full Islamic garment, in public. "A secular republic keeps constant dialogue with religions to be able to hear them and sometimes, why not, listen to them". But he added: "(France) will never let any religion impose its law".

The Conference of Faith Leaders in France, a multi-faith group, issued a statement yesterday saying: "This violence committed 'in the name of God' against other believers not only wounds a religion but all humanity."

Mr Sarkozy then apparently responded to recent controversial comments by Marine Le Pen of the far-Right National Front, who likened Muslims praying in French streets outside mosques to the Nazi occupation. "(France) cannot accept that religion takes over public space without authorisation," he said. "But that clearly implies that the republic also must keep its promise to allow everyone to have a decent place to pray."

An estimated 20,000 Coptic Christians live in Britain, compared to around 45,000 in France. The General Bishop for the Coptic Church in the UK, Bishop Angaelos, said the police were keeping a “very close eye on the situation” in the run-up to Christmas. The Coptic church is one of the oldest churches in the world – founded by St Mark the Apostle just decades after Jesus’ crucifixion.



Liberal distaste for the Constitution

The Constitution was read at the opening of the new session of the House of Representatives yesterday. What was most remarkable about this was the almost hysterical opposition from congressional Democrats and left-wing commentators. In what should have been a united celebration of the nation's foundation document in a period of partisan rancor, liberals instead reinforced the view that they are profoundly uncomfortable with the essential truths underlying American freedom.

Some leftists smugly observed that the literal reading of the document does not convey its full meaning, which has been defined, redefined and sometimes misdefined by successive generations of courts. This argument fit neatly into liberal talking points about the new congressional majority being composed of naive bumpkins who know little of the sophisticated workings of government. Yet Washington's corrupting climate is the very basis of the conservative critique.

The country has strayed far from the artful simplicity of our original founding document. Congress, the executive and the courts all assume powers they never were intended to have. The most recent Congress interpreted the Commerce Clause - which simply was supposed to prevent states from throwing up internal tariff barriers - to give government the right to compel Americans to spend private monies on health insurance. If this power stands, there truly are no limits to the power of the bureaucratic leviathan.

Liberals believe the Constitution is infinitely elastic, but it cannot be a blueprint for unlimited government. In Marbury v. Madison (1803), Chief Justice John Marshall noted that the very purpose of a constitution is to limit power, not to grant unlimited license. "Between these alternatives there is no middle ground," he wrote. "The Constitution is either a superior, paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and like other acts, is alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it." If Congress may do as it pleases, "then written constitutions are absurd attempts, on the part of the people, to limit a power in its own nature illimitable."

Some left-wingers accused the Republican leadership of fetishism for having the Constitution read in Congress. Rep. Jerry Nadler, New York Democrat, called the "ritualistic reading" of the Constitution "propaganda" and lectured against reading the document like a "sacred text." His critique accurately expresses the crisis of legitimacy our government is facing.

Legislative and executive abuses of the past two years have generated a cynicism about government not seen since the days before the Civil War. In 1838, Abraham Lincoln observed, in words that could apply today, that, "if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections from the Government is the natural consequence." The solution to these ills was "simple," Lincoln said. Let reverence for the laws "become the political religion of the nation" where all would "sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars."

Today, Lincoln's vision of reverence for the laws is needed more by the government than by the people. The point of reading the Constitution on the floor of Congress is to remind those who tread the marbled halls of power that they are not philosopher kings sent to Washington to give life to their every pet theory, every caprice, every whim. If the United States is to survive as a free nation, the government must return to first principles.




For decades, Democrats and Republicans fought over who owns the American flag. Now they're fighting over who owns the Constitution.

Americans are in the midst of a great national debate over the power, scope and reach of the government established by that document. The debate was sparked by the current administration's bold push for government expansion - a massive fiscal stimulus, Obamacare, financial regulation and various attempts at controlling the energy economy. This engendered a popular reaction, identified with the Tea Party but in reality far more widespread, calling for a more restrictive vision of government more consistent with the Founders' intent.

Call it constitutionalism. In essence, constitutionalism is the intellectual counterpart and spiritual progeny of the "originalism" movement in jurisprudence. Judicial "originalists" (led by Antonin Scalia and other notable conservative jurists) insist that legal interpretation be bound by the text of the Constitution as understood by those who wrote it and their contemporaries. Originalism has grown to become the major challenger to the liberal "living Constitution" school, under which high courts are channelers of the spirit of the age, free to create new constitutional principles accordingly.

What originalism is to jurisprudence, constitutionalism is to governance: a call for restraint rooted in constitutional text. Constitutionalism as a political philosophy represents a reformed, self-regulating conservatism that bases its call for minimalist government - for reining in the willfulness of presidents and legislatures - in the words and meaning of the Constitution.

Hence that highly symbolic moment on Thursday when the 112th House of Representatives opened with a reading of the Constitution. Remarkably, this had never been done before - perhaps because it had never been so needed. The reading reflected the feeling, expressed powerfully in the last election, that we had moved far, especially the past two years, from a government constitutionally limited by its enumerated powers to a government constrained only by its perception of social need.

The most galvanizing example of this expansive shift was, of course, the Democrats' health-care reform, which will revolutionize one-sixth of the economy and impose an individual mandate that levies a fine on anyone who does not enter into a private contract with a health insurance company. Whatever its merits as policy, there is no doubting its seriousness as constitutional precedent: If Congress can impose such a mandate, is there anything that Congress may not impose upon the individual?

The new Republican House will henceforth require, in writing, constitutional grounding for every bill submitted. A fine idea, although I suspect 90 percent of them will simply make a ritual appeal to the "general welfare" clause. Nonetheless, anything that reminds members of Congress that they are not untethered free agents is salutary.

But still mostly symbolic. The real test of the Republicans' newfound constitutionalism will come in legislating. Will they really cut government spending? Will they really roll back regulations? Earmarks are nothing. Do the Republicans have the courage to go after entitlements as well?

In the interim, the cynics had best tread carefully. Some liberals are already disdaining the new constitutionalism, denigrating the document's relevance and sneering at its public recitation. They sneer at their political peril. In choosing to focus on a majestic document that bears both study and recitation, the reformed conservatism of the Obama era has found itself not just a symbol but an anchor.

Constitutionalism as a guiding political tendency will require careful and thoughtful development, as did jurisprudential originalism. But its wide appeal and philosophical depth make it a promising first step to a conservative future.



Obamacare Ends Construction of Doctor-Owned Hospitals

Under the headline, "Construction Stops at Physician Hospitals," Politico reports today that "Physician Hospitals of America says that construction had to stop at 45 hospitals nationwide or they would not be able to bill Medicare for treatments." Stopping construction at doctor-owned hospitals might not seem like the best way to boost the economy or to promote greater access and choice in health care, but that exactly what Obamacare is doing.

Kenneth Artz of the Heartland Institute explains, "Section 6001 of the health care law effectively bans new physician-owned hospitals (POHs) from starting up, and it keeps existing ones from expanding." Politico adds, "Friday [New Year's Eve] marked the last day physician-owned hospitals could get Medicare certification covering their new or expanded hospitals, one of the latest provisions of the reform law to go into effect."

This little-noticed but particularly egregious aspect of Obamacare is, by all accounts, a concession to the powerful American Hospital Association (AHA), a supporter of Obamacare, which prefers to have its member hospitals operate without competition from hospitals owned by doctors. Dr. Michael Russell, president of Physician Hospitals of America, which has filed suit to try to stop this selective building-ban from going into effect, says, "There are so many regulations [in Obamacare] and they are so onerous and intrusive that we believe that the section [Section 6001] was deliberately designed so no physician owned hospital could successfully comply."

Artz writes, "According to Russell, the AHA, along with Sen. [Max] Baucus (D-MT) and Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA), are responsible for the language in Section 6001." But the responsibility for all aspects of the overhaul primarily lies with outgoing-House speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, and, particularly, Obamacare's principal champion, President Barack Obama.




New U.S. jobs data disappoint: "The US economy created fewer jobs than forecast last month, disappointing investors who in recent weeks have seen signs that the recovery is strengthening. Companies hired 103,000 people in December, the Labor Department said on Friday, compared with an expectation of about 150,000. The unemployment rate dropped to 9.4pc from 9.8pc in November, though some of that was down to a number of jobseekers giving up the hunt for work. The economy usually needs to create at least 125,000 jobs a month to keep the unemployment rate from rising, but a faster pace might be needed now since so many discouraged workers are sitting on the sidelines. As job growth picks up, these workers could re-enter the labour force, keeping upward pressure on the jobless rate."

Federal Agency's Claims of Jobs Saved by Stimulus Were 'Unclear and Misleading,' Says Inspector General: "The Small Business Administration, which was given $730 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to increase the availability of credit to small businesses, is making claims about the number of jobs saved that are "unclear" and "misleading" and which cannot be verified, according to a report issued by the agency's inspector general. "The lack of a definition for ‘jobs retained' and the discrepancy in the forms used to collect job statistics from 7(a) borrowers and lenders has resulted in a performance metric with questionable clarity and transparency," the inspector general said..."

Obama's Leftist friends in Central America: "On October 21st, 2010, Nicaragua invaded and to date occupies Calero Island in the San Juan River belonging to U.S. ally, Costa Rica. The communist dictatorship absurdly claimed that Google Maps showed the territory belonged to them, and seized the island. In fact, according to the official maps of both countries, the land has always been Costa Rican. It is in fact an illegal invasion by Nicaragua of Costa Rica, an historically peaceful country which has no standing military. Unfortunately for the people of Nicaragua who yearn to be free from Marxist rule, [Obama appointee] Valenzuela does not appear to be equipped with either the capability or the will to do anything about it. Instead, within a week after the invasion began, Valenzuela went to Nicaragua to meet with Ortega to discuss “bilateral cooperation in democratic governance”"

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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)


7 January, 2011

The Liberal Press Meets the Law That Governs Government

MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell asked her "favorite wonk," liberal Washington Post child writer Ezra Klein, whether the GOP's opening the 112th Congress by reading the Constitution aloud is a gimmick.

Klein said that of course it was a gimmick because reading the Constitution aloud "has no binding effect on anything." Besides, Klein told O'Donnell, "the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago."

Thus, before the Constitution was read aloud on the floor of the House for the first time in history, Mr. Klein said aloud what many of us had long suspected what the left thinks about the Constitution. To them, it's hot air like so much of what is said on the floor of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

In the twisted political world of Washington, the law that governs government -- the Constitution -- is malleable and negotiable like everything else that takes place in that town.

That is why it is important for constitutional conservatives to emphasize one point over and over. The Constitution isn't just a compact or a set of guiding principles. The Constitution is the law that governs government.

Those in government who seek to evade the Constitution seek to evade the law that binds them. Call them what you will: statists, ruling-class elites, bureaucrats, politicians. In a sense, however, they are every bit the miscreant lawbreakers as low-level hoodlums and high-level con artists, except they are lawbreakers who have been rewarded, not punished, for their lawbreaking.

The anti-constitutional left is in a quandary because the Constitution is now being forced on them. They are resorting to demagoguery against constitutional proponents. They may as well be attacking motherhood and apple pie, which they would if motherhood and apple pie threatened their political belief system.

In that regard, the Tea Party is like the new sheriff in town. Like a town run too long by the wrong element and gone bad, it's going to take some cleaning up, but the law that governs government will be enforced. And how will the liberal press handle all this, which is a threat to its own power base? As they say, stay tuned.



Welcome Aboard

Oliver North

Congratulations, Speaker Boehner, to you and the members of your new majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. The gracious humility of your acceptance remarks was a vivid contrast to your predecessor's ill-mannered comments as she handed over the speaker's gavel. She clearly does not intend to be held accountable for the disastrous performance of her party in last November's elections.

Though former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's long-winded rudeness is an indication of the challenges you and other responsible members of the 112th Congress will face in the days ahead, your arrival on Capitol Hill is already having a positive effect in Washington. Shortly before you became speaker of the House, the Obama administration announced it is withdrawing its new regulation requiring "end-of-life counseling" for Medicare recipients. In short, there will be no "death panels." Then, just hours after you gaveled the new House to order, President Barack Obama's confrontational spokesman, Robert Gibbs, announced his resignation as White House press secretary. Now the hard work begins.

You already have received much advice in the month since we last spoke. Most Americans are aware you and your new 242-193 majority intend to vote next week on repealing "Obamacare." We also know Republican priorities include holding the line on tax increases, cutting federal spending, decreasing the deficit, and regulatory reform to stimulate the U.S. economy. All of those are important -- but none more so than protecting our nation's people and territory.

Though the president is the commander in chief of our armed forces and the day-to-day conduct of our foreign policy is the purview of the executive branch, there is much that must be done by Congress to protect our homeland and our people better. Here are five national security issues in urgent need of congressional attention:

--Secure America's borders. American citizens on our southern frontier say they are "under siege" from drug cartels and contraband traffickers. They are. Last year, the 111th Congress allocated $600 million to federal agencies for improved border security -- but not one cent went to state and local officials. New Drug Enforcement Administration agents, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and Border Patrol personnel and equipment, such as unmanned aerial vehicles and sophisticated surveillance devices, are essential. But so is state and local law enforcement -- now going broke -- because many illegal entrants commit serious crimes once they have crossed the border. State and local officials need the resources and means to coordinate with federal agencies for the protection of our citizens. President Obama refuses to visit the Arizonan border. You should.

--Maintain America's military strength. The O-Team plans to make dramatic cuts in military spending based on the anticipated departure of all U.S. troops from Iraq and a cut in U.S. forces in Afghanistan -- even with 1,400 additional Marines being dispatched in the coming days to Kandahar province. Obama says withdrawals will be "conditions-based," but the only condition that makes sense in Afghanistan is winning. The 112th Congress should define victory as a representative government in Kabul that respects the human rights of the Afghan people, can defend itself against internal and external threats, and is a friend to the West.

Though "earmark" is now a four-letter word in Washington, Congress must prevent the Obama Pentagon from defunding new weapons systems, such as the Marines' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and the vertical takeoff and land variant of the F-35 strike aircraft. If we lose our ability to project military power, we invite attack.

--Counter terror. Obama insists on describing radical Islamic terrorists as "extremists" and treating them as common criminals. They are not. Radical Islamists are enemy combatants. Congress already is using the power of the purse to prevent the O-Team from transferring terror suspects from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. for trial in civilian courtrooms. The 112th Congress should vote to make this restriction a permanent matter of law. Let Obama veto the bill if he dares.

--Make energy independence a national priority. The Obama administration is abusing its regulatory authority to increase the price of hydrocarbon fuel. By making it nearly impossible to build nuclear power plants and refineries or exploit our own reserves, the O-Team has increased our reliance on foreign energy, making us more vulnerable to adversaries like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while sending billions of petrodollars to places that fund radical Islam. Freeing up America's energy reserves is crucial to our national security and essential to economic recovery.

--Support democracy movements. The Obama administration purports to be concerned about Iranian efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, North Korean aggression, Somali piracy, slavery in Sudan, and Yemen's harboring terrorists. Though Obama has traveled around the world apologizing for America, he has shamefully abandoned support for democracy movements and human rights organizations. The 112th Congress must restore funding for democratic institutions overseas. This pillar of U.S. national security policy is much less expensive than other forms of foreign aid -- and far more effective than contrition.



The top 10 political lies of 2010

OK, we're game. Here, in no particular order, are the top 10 political lies of 2010.

1. Ninety-five percent of "working families" received a tax cut.

No. The bill gave tax cuts to those who pay taxes -- and gave money, "tax credits," to those who pay little or nothing in taxes. We used to call this welfare.

2. The General Motors bailout "worked."

Did it? Tell that to GM's bondholders. CNBC's Larry Kudlow wrote: "The GM bondholders own $27 billion and they're getting 10 percent of the common stock in an expected exchange. And the UAW owns $10 billion of the bonds and they're getting 40 percent of the stock." What would have happened had the government stepped aside and let the private sector take over -- a natural and necessary consequence of running a business into the ground? What about "moral hazard" -- shielding a company from the effect of its poor decisions -- which, in turn, encourages negligence and sloth on the part of other companies deemed "too big to fail"?

3. ObamaCare will "bend the cost curve down."

The alleged "savings" occur only by assuming politically unlikely and unpopular cuts in Medicare. Then there are sub-lies, including: "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor." Obama later admitted, "I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge."

4. The tea party is "racist."

The proof? The head of the NAACP told CNN's Anderson Cooper that tea partyers used the racially coded rallying cry "take our country back." Unfortunately, Cooper ran a montage of Democrats like Bill Clinton, Howard Dean and John Kerry rousing supporters by demanding that they "take our country back." Yes, a handful of idiots held up stupid signs. And no, they weren't impaled and set on fire. Quick, somebody call Sharpton!

5. The $800 billion "stimulus" funded millions of "shovel-ready" jobs.

Vice President Joe Biden's June "Summer of Recovery" report claimed that "shovel-ready" projects created jobs. "Between ... tax relief, direct aid, and shovel-ready projects, the Recovery Act has ... created or retained between 2.2 and 2.8 million jobs." Even Obama, in October, admitted, "There's no such thing as 'shovel-ready projects.'" Oh.

6. Stimulus "saved or created" 3.5 million jobs.

The administration had predicted that 90 percent of the "saved or created" jobs would be private sector. Reason columnist Veronique de Rugy writes, "Four out of five jobs created were created in the public sector. (Two years into the stimulus) 682,370 jobs were reported created, not 3 million, and over 510,000 of these were in the public sector."

7. There is a "consensus," according to the White House website, that the stimulus plan "pulled us back from the brink of economic disaster."

Consensus? A poll by the Pew Research Center found that nearly two-thirds of Americans thought the stimulus did not contribute to job creation.

8. The 111th Congress was the "most productive" since -- pick one -- the New Deal, LBJ's Great Society or the beginning of the republic.

Define "productive." The deficit tripled from the '08 budget. The past two years produced almost $4 trillion in new debt, more than any Congress in history. This congressional "productivity" cost the Democrats their House majority and their Senate supermajority.

9. Bush-era "deregulation" caused the Gulf oil spill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Bush placed "the employees of Big Oil in charge of regulating their own industry." The oil extraction business remains heavily regulated. Obama's administration, not Bush's, approved the Deepwater Horizon project.

10. Guantanamo Bay will be shut down in 2010.

Obama promised a closure in the first, and then the second, year of his administration. Gitmo exists for a reason. It confines Islamofascists who want to kill American "infidels." No other country that we can trust to keep the would-be killers confined wants them. "I'm going to close down Guantanamo" is yet another I'm-not-Bush promise that crashed-landed onto the mean streets of the real world. OK, technically not a "lie." But, whatever.




French airport security a joke too: "Security staff at two busy French airports failed to spot a handgun hidden inside the luggage of two reporters. The undercover journalists from state-run France 2's Envoye Special program boarded planes at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Marseille airport with the 9mm semi-automatic pistol. The guns had been dismantled into two pieces, inside their cabin bags, and then reassembled in the toilets mid-flight by one of the reporters. The program set out to prove perceived weaknesses in screening routines at French airports. One of the journalists, Linda Bendali, told France Info radio that a lack of attention was not the problem, rather "a lack of understanding of what they were supposed to be looking out for. They are not very familiar with dangerous weapons."

Confused thinking? "Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to send an additional 1,400 Marine combat forces to Afghanistan, officials said, in a surprise move ahead of the spring fighting season to try to cement tentative security gains [sic] before White House-mandated troop reductions begin in July. The Marine battalion could start arriving on the ground as early as mid-January."

Pentagon announces plans to rein in spending: "For the first time in more than a decade defined by costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Pentagon announced plans Thursday to freeze its ballooning budget, forcing the services to shrink the Army and Marines and increase health care premiums for military retirees and their families. The Pentagon says it can stop asking for annual budget increases in 2015, adjusting its spending only for inflation. The last time the Pentagon's budget went down was in 1998."

Obama still angry at Honduras for ousting its Leftist dictator: "The U.S. says it is not renewing a $215 million aid program in Honduras. The U.S. Embassy did not give a reason in a statement announcing the decision. But Honduran officials claimed Thursday that it was because of corruption under the government of former President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a June 2009 coup."

CA: Police issue warning about buying and selling gold: "With gold selling for more than $1,400 per ounce, officials remind the public that there are laws governing the buying and selling of gold, Pasadena police said in a written statement. 'The Pasadena Police Department would like to inform the public that buying gold is against the law unless you are licensed by the California Department of Justice,' the statement said."

CA: Blue Shield seeks rate hikes of as much as 59%: "Another big California health insurer has stunned individual policyholders with huge rate increases — this time it's Blue Shield of California seeking cumulative hikes of as much as 59% for tens of thousands of customers March 1. Blue Shield's action comes less than a year after Anthem Blue Cross tried and failed to raise rates as much as 39% for about 700,000 California customers. San Francisco-based Blue Shield said the increases were the result of fast-rising healthcare costs and other expenses resulting from new healthcare laws."

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 January, 2011

The Left Have Their Own Version of Chess

And they treat people like pawns in a game

For all of its hype and bluster, Liberalism is steeped in impatience, the here and now, finding the easy way, delusion and fanciful thinking, excuses and pointing fingers at others, cheating and bending the rules, selfishness, mocking tradition and history, ignoring mistakes and not letting the truth get in the way of propaganda, demonizing and destroying opponents, and giving value to [chess] pieces based on what they can do instead of their own unique, inherent qualities.

One only need look at the way the Left rushes forth half-baked, poorly defined, selfishly motivated legislation such as the Dream Act and the Fair Use Doctrine. These people slap together a few social good mantras, prop up a handful of weeping families with tearful tales, wave a few signs displaying clever accusations and supposedly profound insights, add a few violins and pathetic strips of patriotism, and expect the sea to divide, mountains to spread, and the populace to either bow at their feet or roll over and play stupid. Typically, the Left’s definition of strategy is to run over, mock, demonize, terrorize and/or ignore the opposition, which is proclaimed to be and painted by their pet media as ignorant, intolerant, stupid, and/or dangerous.

The Left’s impatience is most probably born from the fact that even they realize that their ideas, insights, and pet agendas have the shelf life of vanilla ice cream under a hot July sun. They cannot plan a few moves ahead because they either do not care what is around the bend or figure that the car wreck they will eventually cause is not something they want to foresee. One does not push myopia while offering glasses, telescopes, or microscopes.

Likewise, being realistic and taking responsibility is not how the Left rolls. Theirs is a world of illusions, delusions, excuses, and pointing fingers which, consistent with the Left’s genetic makeup, are incapable of pointing inward. In addition, liberals treat history and tradition like annoying, vile weeds to be pulled from the ground and flipped into the trash bin.

Rules, unselfishness, mistakes, and the truth are all similarly annoying thorns in the Left’s side which more often than not get in the way of their agenda, mission, crusade, and fanciful march toward the kind of society they envision while admiring images of Marx or Bill Clinton. Lastly, Liberals often believe in the motto that if someone is not on their side, that someone must be an idiot, hick, religious fanatic, intolerant moron, or any combination of the above. Any valid voice or reasoned disagreement is often drowned by the constant drone of patronizing mockery or smug accusation.

Liberals pretend to respect and value their pawns but, more often than not, they use and perceive those pawns as mere ends to a means, tools for a task, marketing dummies for a store front, or collateral damage to a greater cause which just happens to be their cause of the week. African-Americans, Latinos, women, pets, trees, children, the physically challenged, the poor, natural disaster survivors, war civilians, and those who enter this country illegally have all been and will continue to be used by liberals as their pet pawns of the week or month to further their own selfish agenda. Like logs to a fire, these pieces are only valued for how they can be used to further the larger liberal plan, typically with no concern for their own individual welfare.

Liberals play a different form of chess in our society. It is based on bullying, mocking, patronizing, manipulating, and demonizing others and pretending, excusing, and ignoring away reality and the truth. Rules are either twisted, bent, ignored, or created to serve the greater agenda, and those who break the rules are glorified, coddled, and served. Welcome to the Left’s version of chess, where rules are decorations, people are pieces to manipulate, and the only things that apparently matter are personal comfort, finding shortcuts, and playing the victim. For the sake of our children and our country, we need to take the chess board away from these toddlers before they checkmate our future.



Dependence Day has arrived in Britain and is heading for America

On the erosion of personal liberty in both America and Britain -- and Britain's abandonment of its behavioral heritage. Just a few excerpts below from an article by Mark Steyn that is well worth reading in full

If I am pessimistic about the future of liberty, it is because I am pessimistic about the strength of the English-speaking nations, which have, in profound ways, surrendered to forces at odds with their inheritance. “Declinism” is in the air, but some of us apocalyptic types are way beyond that. The United States is facing nothing so amiable and genteel as Continental-style “decline,” but something more like sliding off a cliff.

Insofar as the world functions at all, it’s due to the Britannic inheritance. Three-sevenths of the G7 economies are nations of British descent. Two-fifths of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are—and, by the way, it should be three-fifths: The rap against the Security Council is that it’s the Second World War victory parade preserved in aspic, but, if it were, Canada would have a greater claim to be there than either France or China. The reason Canada isn’t is because a third Anglosphere nation and a second realm of King George VI would have made too obvious a truth usually left unstated—that the Anglosphere was the all but lone defender of civilization and of liberty. In broader geopolitical terms, the key regional powers in almost every corner of the globe are British-derived—from Australia to South Africa to India—and, even among the lesser players, as a general rule you’re better off for having been exposed to British rule than not: Why is Haiti Haiti and Barbados Barbados?

And of course the pre-eminent power of the age derives its political character from eighteenth-century British subjects who took English ideas a little further than the mother country was willing to go.

Continental Europe has given us plenty of nice paintings and agreeable symphonies, French wine and Italian actresses and whatnot, but, for all our fetishization of multiculturalism, you can’t help noticing that when it comes to the notion of a political West—one with a sustained commitment to liberty and democracy—the historical record looks a lot more unicultural and, indeed (given that most of these liberal democracies other than America share the same head of state), uniregal. The entire political class of Portugal, Spain, and Greece spent their childhoods living under dictatorships. So did Jacques Chirac and Angela Merkel. We forget how rare on this earth is peaceful constitutional evolution, and rarer still outside the Anglosphere....

One of my favorite lines from the Declaration of Independence never made it into the final text. They were Thomas Jefferson’s parting words to his fellow British subjects across the ocean: “We might have been a free and great people together.” But in the end, when it mattered, they were a free and great people together. Britain was eclipsed by its transatlantic offspring, by a nation with the same language, the same legal inheritance, and the same commitment to liberty.

It’s not likely to go that way next time round. And “next time round” is already under way. We are coming to the end of a two-century Anglosphere dominance, and of a world whose order and prosperity many people think of as part of a broad, general trend but which, in fact, derive from a very particular cultural inheritance and may well not survive it.

When a society loses its memory, it descends inevitably into dementia. As I always try to tell my American neighbors, national decline is at least partly psychological—and therefore what matters is accepting the psychology of decline. Thus, Hayek’s greatest insight in The Road to Serfdom, which he wrote with an immigrant’s eye on the Britain of 1944:

There is one aspect of the change in moral values brought about by the advance of collectivism which at the present time provides special food for thought. It is that the virtues which are held less and less in esteem and which consequently become rarer are precisely those on which the British people justly prided themselves and in which they were generally agreed to excel.
The virtues possessed by Anglo-Saxons in a higher degree than most other people, excepting only a few of the smaller nations, like the Swiss and the Dutch, were independence and self-reliance, individual initiative and local responsibility, the successful reliance on voluntary activity, noninterference with one’s neighbor and tolerance of the different and queer, respect for custom and tradition, and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

Within little more than half a century, almost every item on the list had been abandoned, from “independence and self-reliance” (some 40 percent of Britons receive state handouts) to “a healthy suspicion of power and authority”—the reflex response now to almost any passing inconvenience is to demand the government “do something.” American exceptionalism would have to be awfully exceptional to suffer a similar expansion of government without a similar descent, in enough of the citizenry, into chronic dependency.

Why be surprised that legions of British Muslims sign up for the Taliban? These are young men who went to school in Luton and West Bromwich and learned nothing of their country of nominal citizenship other than that it’s responsible for racism, imperialism, colonialism, and all the other bad -isms of the world. If that’s all you knew of Britain, why would you feel any allegiance to Queen and country? And what if you don’t have Islam to turn to? The transformation of the British people is, in its own malign way, a remarkable achievement. Raised in schools that teach them nothing, they nevertheless pick up the gist of the matter, which is that their society is a racket founded on various historical injustices. The virtues Hayek admired? Ha! Strictly for suckers.

Permanence is the illusion of every age. But you cannot wage a sustained ideological assault on your own civilization without profound consequence. Without serious course correction, we will see the end of the Anglo-American era, and the eclipse of the powers that built the modern world. Even as America’s spendaholic government outspends not only America’s ability to pay for itself but, by some measures, the world’s; even as it follows Britain into the dank pit of transgenerational dependency, a failed education system, and unsustainable entitlements; even as it makes less and less and mortgages its future to its rivals for cheap Chinese trinkets, most Americans assume that simply because they’re American they will be insulated from the consequences.

There, too, are lessons from the old country. Cecil Rhodes distilled the assumptions of generations when he said that to be born a British subject was to win first prize in the lottery of life. On the eve of the Great War, in his play Heartbreak House, Bernard Shaw turned the thought around to taunt a British ruling class too smug and self-absorbed to see what was coming. “Do you think,” he wrote, “the laws of God will be suspended in favor of England because you were born in it?”

In our time, to be born a citizen of the United States is to win first prize in the lottery of life, and, as Britons did, too many Americans assume it will always be so. Do you think the laws of God will be suspended in favor of America because you were born in it? Great convulsions lie ahead, and at the end of it we may be in a post-Anglosphere world.



America needs a new national debate on the Constitution

It might seem unlikely that a lone law professor could spark a national discussion about the kind of government Americans want in the 21st century, but that's exactly what Georgetown Law School's Randy E. Barnett hopes to do with his modest proposal known as the Repeal Amendment. You can read Barnett's description of the plan and his response to critics of it like the New York Times here.

Under the plan, measures approved by Washington could be repealed if both houses in two-thirds of the state legislatures vote to do so. Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is among the proposal's most significant supporters, which means it will receive serious attention during the 112th Congress convening this week. Whatever one's view of the propriety of amending the U.S. Constitution in the manner proposed by Barnett -- and for the record, we think the Repeal Amendment is a dandy way to restore the proper balance to our federal system -- the professor's idea could not be more appropriately timed.

For the last decade, presidents and Congresses representing both major political parties have caused federal spending, regulation, and debt to explode as never before, with a result that the central government is in truly dire financial shape even as its power to control the most minute details of American daily life has never been greater. This fact is central to understanding why the vast majority of Americans -- 64 percent, according to Rasmussen Reports' Dec. 29 survey -- think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

For the same reason we regard the Repeal Amendment as a positive development in the current public policy dialogue, we think incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner has been unjustly criticized in some, mostly liberal, precincts for his decision to open the 112th Congress with a public reading of the Constitution. Aside from the sad fact that the reading will likely be the closest encounter many lawmakers have ever had with the actual words of the document, the occasion will be a happy one because it will also provide citizens across the country with an opportunity to join Congress in examining and discussing the words of our founding document.

Comparing the words of the Constitution to the actions of our leaders in recent years will surely make clear the enduring wisdom of James Madison's warning that "there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." Talking seriously about this condition is the first step to remedying it, just as Madison and the rest of the Founders intended.




Obama signs legislation to bureaucratize food production even further: "President Obama signed into law Tuesday legislation that represents the first major overhaul of the nation's food-safety infrastructure since 1938, but the presumed incoming Republican chairman of the agriculture subcommittee says he may not fund it."

Progressivism is not progressive: "The euphemistic usage of 'progressive' is merely one contemporary example of governmental manipulation of language. Notice also how often members of the authoritarian elite, especially of the leftist persuasion, cloak justifications for the warfare state in the language of peace, and for the welfare state in the language of freedom."

Old Dems and Whippersnapper Republicans: "Curious fact, unearthed by Gerald Seib of The Wall Street Journal. The average age of Republican House members in the new Congress convening this week is 54.9, younger than the Republicans' average age in the previous Congress, 56.5. But the average age of House Democrats has risen, from 58 to 60.2. That can be explained partly by the high turnover in the 2010 election. Many younger Democrats, first elected in 2006 or 2008, fell by the wayside. The old bulls from 65 percent-plus Democratic districts survived. Meanwhile, many young Republican challengers won."

Obamacare: An unacquired taste: "Throughout the debate over health-care reform, Democrats constantly told us (and themselves) that if only they could explain the bill better, Americans would come to understand how good it was for them. So President Obama went out and gave more than a hundred remarks, speeches, press conferences, and town-hall orations. But somehow voters resisted the president’s silver-tongued oratory. The more the president talked, cajoled, and explained, the greater public opposition to the bill grew."

The French find a free-market solution to historic preservation: "Turning Versailles into a hotel will have many positive consequences. More people will be able to enjoy the building than they do in the status quo, or if it were in ruins. Additionally, taxpayers won’t be forced to pay for the restoration, nor will the restoration compete with other government programs for funds. Another positive consequence is that the building and its history will be preserved."

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 January, 2011

Interwar Presidents and the Fantasies of Historians

by Robert Murphy

It is understandable, though still harmful, when economists completely mischaracterize the policies of the Herbert Hoover Administration. But in his recent Salon piece on Sarah Palin's new book, historian David Greenberg distorts the legacies of both Calvin Coolidge and his ill-fated successor, Hoover. To set the record straight, it's worth pointing out exactly where Greenberg goes wrong.

Coolidge versus the Progressives

Greenberg finally gets down to business:
Coolidge's vogue on the right goes beyond the conservative principles he extolled; it lies in his conception of the presidency. He took office at a time when Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson had transformed the executive branch, actively using their powers to restrain big business and secure a measure of fairness in economic life. Coolidge, in contrast, believed in a small federal government, a passive executive and light regulation of business. "If the federal government were to go out of existence," he said, "the common run of people would not detect the difference." The main legislative battles of his presidency were to implement the tax cuts favored by his plutocratic Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon. He even balanced the budget.

In the first place, it is always interesting that the historians who are ostensibly concerned about "the little guy" revere US presidents in almost exact proportion to how many people were killed by their subordinates. Beyond Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson's wars, however, is their dismal record of economic interventionism.

It is a myth that antitrust legislation, "trust busting," was a vehicle to protect consumers and workers from rapacious big businessmen, as Tom DiLorenzo explains in this lecture. And Woodrow Wilson enjoys the dubious distinction of having ushered in both the Federal Reserve and the federal income tax. Adherents of the Austrian theory of the business cycle know that the Fed fueled the 1920s stock bubble (as well as the housing bubble in our own times), and so can hardly be seen as a promoter of "fairness." But even using empirical mainstream research, one can see that the Fed has been a source of economic instability -- as Selgin et al. demonstrate in this article.

As far as federal income-tax rates, it's true that Coolidge took the advice of his Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, to cut them. But that was because they had been raised to an absurd level during World War I. As this history shows, even the rate on the lowest bracket jumped from 1 percent in 1913 to 6 percent by 1918. Moreover, someone who made $20,000 in 1913 paid 1 percent in federal income taxes, but because the brackets were redefined, someone earning the same money income in 1918 paid a whopping 20 percent in federal tax. (Note too that from June 1913 to June 1918 the Consumer Price Index rose 50 percent, so that a given money income purchased far less in actual goods and services.)

In contrast to this onerous burden created under Woodrow Wilson, during the Coolidge years the bottom bracket's tax rate was brought down to 1.5 percent by 1926, while an upper-middle-class (though hardly "filthy rich") household earning $20,000 saw its tax rate slashed to 9 percent.

As far as fiscal responsibility, Coolidge was superlative, perhaps second only to Andrew Jackson, who literally paid off the national debt (as well as slew the central bank). Coolidge had a much more modest success, in that he ran budget surpluses every year he was in office.[1]

The Myth of the Do-Nothing Hoover

Although I have disagreed with Greenberg's remarks on Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson, and Coolidge, the disagreement largely stems from our differing views on economic theory. But when it comes to the Hoover record, Greenberg simply invents history:
There is another reason, of course, that Coolidge -- and not Warren Harding or Herbert Hoover, the other conservative Republicans of the interwar years -- has become a hero to the contemporary right. Harding, who was probably more conservative than Coolidge, was discredited by the Teapot Dome affair. ... Hoover, who put the small-government philosophy into effect at an hour of crisis, saw it fail utterly. They do not appear in Sarah Palin's new book.

This is demonstrably false; it would be akin to saying that George W. Bush sat back and did nothing in response to the collapse of Lehman Brothers. It's true, a die-hard interventionist could say Herbert Hoover didn't do enough, but it is simply not true to claim that he "put the small-government philosophy into effect."

Before looking at specifics, consider the broader picture. If it's really true that Herbert Hoover did nothing, and that's why the stock market Crash of 1929 devolved into the Great Depression, then what happened during all the previous crises in American capitalism? After all, there was no New Deal implemented during the panic of 1907, and yet the United States wasn't plunged into double-digit unemployment for a decade. And by many measures, the first year of the 1920—1921 depression was worse than the Great Depression; yet the economy bounced back quickly under the postwar budget slashing of Wilson and then Harding.

As I document in my book on the Depression, Hoover was in fact a big-government conservative. Perhaps his most fateful mistake was pressuring businesses to prop up wage rates after the stock-market crash. Coupled with the ensuing monetary and price deflation, this was a disastrous policy that raised the real wages of labor and contributed to the record levels of unemployment in the early 1930s. Yet here is Hoover's Secretary of Labor, James Davis, congratulating his boss's "accomplishment" in May 1930:
There never has been a crisis such as we have had as the stock market crash that threw . . . millions out of employment that there wasn't a wholesale reduction in wages. . . . If Hoover accomplishes nothing more in all of his service to the government, that one outstanding thing of his administration -- no reduction in wages -- will be a credit that will be forever remembered not by the working classes alone but by business men as well, because without money in the pay envelope business is the first to suffer.[2]


When recoiling against a leftist professor's praise for Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, there is a dangerous tendency to lavish hosannas on "right-wing" presidents. Although Calvin Coolidge was a fantastic president compared to his peers, he obviously was at least partially to blame for the massive stock bubble that developed in the final years of his administration.

Even so, David Greenberg, as a history professor and author of a book on this period in US history, should know better than to recycle the myth that Herbert Hoover was a laissez-faire ideologue. Even one of FDR's subordinates admitted -- years after -- that the New Deal had simply extended the pioneering interventions of the Hoover years.

If one wants to draw a straightforward lesson from Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, it is this: tax cuts and budget surpluses go hand in hand with phenomenal economic growth, while tax hikes, budget deficits, and radical growth in government go hand in hand with economic disaster.

More HERE (See the original for links)


'Saving' the Housing Market

Thomas Sowell

"Housing Market Setback Forecast," the newspaper headline said. A recently released report on housing says that home sales are down more than 25 percent and the inventory of unsold homes is about 50 percent higher than it was the same time last year.

This is just one of innumerable stories about the woes of the housing market. We all understand about human beings having woes. But how can a housing market have either setbacks or woes? Moreover, why should politicians be riding to the rescue of the housing market with the taxpayers' money?

We hear all sorts of sad stories about people whose homes are "under water" or who are facing foreclosure. But why should our attention be arbitrarily focused on these particular people, rather than on the many other people who would benefit from being able to buy those same houses, if the prices came down? The government is artificially keeping the prices up with subsidies and with pressures on lenders to accommodate the current occupants.

Can we not walk and chew gum at the same time? Is our attention span so limited that we can only think about one set of people that the media and the politicians have chosen to highlight?

Do other people count for less just because the media don't put their pictures in the paper or on the TV screen? Or because politicians are ignoring them?

Sometimes we are more concerned about some people because they are especially deserving. But this cannot be said about those who borrowed money to buy homes that they could not afford, or who borrowed against the equity in their homes, and now find that what they owe is more than the home is worth.

If anyone is especially deserving, it is those who had the common sense to avoid taking on bigger financial obligations than they could handle, but who are now expected to pay as taxpayers for other people's irresponsibility.

No doubt some people who are facing foreclosures might have been able to continue making their mortgage payments if they had not lost their jobs. But since when were we all guaranteed never to lose our jobs? People used to put money aside "for a rainy day." But now people who have spent like there are no rainy days are supposed to have the taxpayers pay to give them an umbrella.

What about the people who saved and put their money in a bank? Those who blithely say that the banks ought to modify the mortgage terms to accommodate people who are behind in making their monthly payments forget that, however "rich" a bank may be, most of its money actually belongs to vast numbers of depositors, most of whom are not rich.

Those depositors deserve to get the best return on their money that supply and demand can offer. Why should people who save be sacrificed for the benefit of those who spent more than they could afford?

Why are politicians so focused on one set of people, at the expense of other people? Because "saving" one set of people increases the chances of getting those people's votes. Letting supply and demand determine what happens in the housing market gets nobody's votes.

If current occupants are put out of their homes and the prices come down to a level where others can afford to buy those homes, nobody will give politicians credit-- or, more to the point, their votes. Nor should they.

Rescuing particular people at the expense of other people-- whether the others are taxpayers, savers or prospective home buyers-- produces votes. It also produces dependency on government, which is good for politicians, but bad for society.

That is why politicians give what Adam Smith called "a most unnecessary attention" to things that would sort themselves out better and faster without heavy-handed government intervention.

Why do the media fall in with this arbitrary focus on particular people who are having trouble holding on to homes they cannot afford? Partly because it makes a good story and partly because too many people in the media simply go with the politicians' talking points. That is a lot easier than thinking.

But the rest of us have no excuse for not thinking-- or for letting ourselves be stampeded by rhetoric about "saving" the housing market.




FL: Professor busted for “suspicious” bagel on plane: "A Florida professor was arrested and removed from a plane Monday after his fellow passengers alerted crew members they thought he had a suspicious package in the overhead compartment. That 'suspicious package' turned out to be keys, a bagel with cream cheese and a hat. Ognjen Milatovic, 35, was flying from Boston to Washington D.C. on US Airways when he was escorted off the plane for disorderly conduct following the incident."

TSA: I just don’t think most people get it: "And I just don't think most people got it. If you will tolerate having yourself and your family photographed in all their glory with very possibly cancer-causing X-rays and/or having yourself and your family groped from head to toe — naughty bits included — in the name of 'national security' what won't you tolerate?

No comfort and joy over holiday gas prices: "It wasn't a very merry Christmas for America's motorists, as pump prices averaged $3 per gallon nationwide for the first time since 2008. President Obama's holiday gift to car and truck owners -- new proposals to clamp down on domestic oil drilling and ratchet up refining costs -- will only make matters worse in the years ahead."

Why America should ride the anti-drug-war wave: "It’s one thing that the United States will soon be taking orders from China (or already is). But what about when we’re becoming less forward-thinking than England? That’s the only possible reading of the fact that there, the former top drug official Bob Ainsworth has addressed the House of Commons and argued for the legalization of all drugs."

The day Social Security fails: "Those who fervently believe in government, in spite of all the evidence, are convinced that there will not be a problem until 2038 (previously 2042) because the Treasury Bonds that comprise the Trust Fund will be cashed in. Everyone else considers 2016 to be the day the program goes bankrupt."

Does sexual fare cause sexual violence?: "In the 1980s, conservatives and feminists joined to fight a common nemesis: the spread of pornography. Unlike past campaigns to stamp out smut, this one was based not just on morality but on public safety. They argued that hard-core erotica was intolerable because it promoted sexual violence against women. ... in the past two decades, we have essentially conducted a vast experiment on the social consequences of such material. If the supporters of censorship were right, we should be seeing an unparalleled epidemic of sexual assault. But all the evidence indicates they were wrong."

FDIC seeks $2.5 billion from failed bank honchos: "Three years after the financial meltdown started, bank watchdogs are promising taxpayers will have their day in court. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday it has approved lawsuits targeting 109 former directors and officers of failed banks in actions that seek $2.5 billion in damages."

Labor, math and love: "The transition back to a free America doesn’t have to hurt anybody. Income redistribution programs could be phased out over a period of a few years, on a strict schedule. Or they could even be wiped out overnight in exchange for a fixed lump sum payment. Would you agree to never receive any Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare, public education, unemployment insurance, etc., for a one-time payment of $100,000 and guaranteed tax-free status for all income you or your children or their children ever earned? Even if every American household jumps at that proposal, that would still cost far less than running our government in the same bloated way we have been for the past few years."

Re-entering home ownership: "The confluence of 4.75% interest rates and a short sale of $125,000 on a place once valued at $195,000 got us on the paper processing path. ... A wonderful treat in this change is going from $800 per month rent (plus) to a $788 mortgage that includes taxes and insurance."

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 January, 2011

Boost your chances of getting a job or passing an exam... by thinking about your ancestors for five minutes

I don't have a lot of confidence in this finding but it is conservatives who are more likely to respect the past so it may be a straw in the wind

It seems an unlikely route to the top. But researchers have discovered that spending a few minutes thinking about your ancestors before an exam or job interview can significantly boost your chances of success. The so-called 'ancestor effect' appears to work by acting as a reminder to the brain that seemingly impossible hurdles can be overcome.

Psychologists think the effect may be rooted in the fact that those who familiarise themselves with their family history - such as in the hit TV series Who Do You Think You Are? - appear to gain a stronger sense of identity and self-esteem, which somehow boosts intellectual performance.

In intelligence tests on 80 volunteers, scientists found a marked improvement among those who, prior to the tasks, were asked to spend a short while considering what previous generations of their families had endured. Those who simply had to recall a more mundane memory, such as a recent shopping trip, did not fare as well.

The findings, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, suggest remembering the hardships of grandparents, great grandparents and even long forgotten ancestors, seems to have a direct benefit on the brain's ability to cope with demands on its intelligence.

Dr Peter Fischer, from the University of Graz in Austria and a member of the research team, said: 'Our ancestors managed to overcome a multitude of problems, such as severe illnesses, wars, loss of loved ones or severe economic declines. 'So when we think about them, we are reminded that humans who are genetically similar to us can successfully overcome a multitude of problems and adversities.'

More here. Journal abstract here. The tests used do not appear to have been IQ tests but rather ad hoc tests of some sort.


Personal Well-Being Overshadows Income Inequality

Consider one conundrum in American politics. Income inequality has been increasing, according to standard statistics. Yet most Americans do not seem very perturbed by it.

Barack Obama may have been elected president after telling Joe the Plumber that he wanted to spread the wealth around. But large majorities in polls approved when Obama and congressional Democrats abandoned oft-repeated campaign promises to raise taxes on high earners in the lame duck session.

One reason is that economic statistics can miss important things that affect people's lives. Wages may not have risen much since 1973, but that's partly because the tax code encourages increased compensation in the form of benefits, including health insurance. And it's partly because the Consumer Price Index overstated the effect of inflation in the 1970s, making 1973 wages look higher in "real dollars."

Another is that inflation indexes can't fully account for product improvement and technological progress. I bought my first electronic calculator in 1970 for $110. Today you can buy the same gadget for $1.99 at your local drug store. The consumer electronics widely available today at declining prices simply didn't exist in the 1980s.

In addition, as George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen writes in The American Interest, "The inequality of personal well-being is sharply down over the past hundred years and perhaps over the past 20 years, as well." Bill Gates may have a bigger house than you do. But you have about the same access to good food, medical care and even to the Internet as he does.

Or consider something as prosaic as food. The supermarkets of the 1960s and 1970s didn't come close to matching the amazing selection of produce, meats and exotic foods as you find in supermarkets today -- and not just in high-income neighborhoods, but in modest-income places all over the country.

Or clothing. Firms like Walmart, Target and Kohl's have good quality clothes at astonishingly low prices -- you can outfit a kid in school clothes for $100 or so a year. Presidential candidate John Edwards claimed to have seen a little girl shivering in the winter because her parents could not buy a coat; you can get one for $5 at the Salvation Army.

It's a widespread assumption in some affluent circles that ordinary Americans are seething with envy because they can't afford to shop regularly at Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue. My sense is that most Americans just don't care. They're reasonably happy with what they've got, and would like a little more.

So I am inclined to agree with Cowen when he writes, "The broader change in income distribution, the one occurring beneath the very top earners, can be deconstructed in a manner that makes nearly all of it look harmless."

Cowen is worried that high earners in financial industries benefit hugely when they bet correctly but are sheltered from losses by government bailouts when they bet wrong. It's a problem that the financial regulation bill passed by the outgoing Congress addressed but, in his opinion and those of many others I respect, did not solve.

But there's little evidence that most Americans begrudge the exceedingly high earnings of the likes of Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg or J.K. Rowling. We believe they have earned their success and don't see how taking money away from them will make the rest of us better off.

We already take quite a bit. Current tax rates mean that the top 1 percent of earners account for 40 percent of federal income tax revenue -- a higher percentage than in many Western European countries. Higher tax rates would probably produce more tax avoidance -- rich people can adjust their affairs -- and lower revenues than forecast by static economic models.

Of course, not everyone is well off in a nation where unemployment has been 9.4 percent or higher for the last 19 months. And I suspect that most Americans would be thrilled to get a 13th month of pay. But they're not seething with envy at those who are better off.

So who does? One example is the cartoonist and author Garry Trudeau, a college classmate of George W. Bush, who has been spewing contempt for the Bushes for 40-some years. The strongest class envy in America, it turns out, may be the resentment of those who were one club above you at Yale.



The ObamaCare Fraud

The law will penalize doctors to pay patients and penalize patients to pay doctors

There are a great many things wrong with Obamacare, but the biggest is perhaps one that neither party is paying any attention to: It is one huge entrapment scheme that will turn patients and providers into criminals.

The most blatant example of this is in the “doc fix” that Congress passed with major bipartisan support earlier this month, saving doctors from a nearly 23 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement that they would have otherwise faced this year. Congress has been passing this fix every year since 1997, but this time, in an effort to offset its $20 billion price tag, it has included a little twist to squeeze working families called “exchange recapture subsidy.” Under this provision, the government will go after low-wage families to return any excess subsidies they get under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

When the government hands out subsidies, it will use a household’s income in the previous year as the basis for guessing what the household is qualified to get in the current year. But if the household’s income grows midyear, the subsidy recapture provision will require it to repay anywhere from $600 to $3,500, compared to the $450 that the law originally called for.

This will make it very hazardous for poor working families to get ahead. In the original law, the loss of subsidy with rising income already meant absurdly high effective marginal tax rates—the implicit tax on every additional dollar of income earned. How high? The Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon puts them at 229 percent for families of four who increase their earnings by an amount equal to 5 percent of the federal poverty level or $1,100. In other words, a family that added this amount to an income of $44,700 would actually see its total income fall by $1,419 due to the loss of subsidies.

The subsidy recapture provision—essentially a tax collection scheme—means that low-wage, cash-strapped families will have no escape from these perverse tax rates. Many of them will find themselves owing the government thousands of dollars in back taxes. Since it is unlikely that they will have this kind of money sitting around, they will face a massive incentive to either fudge their returns or work for cash to avoid reporting additional income. Either way, Uncle Sam will come after them, just as it does with recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the negative income tax scheme that is the inspiration behind Obamacare’s subsidies. In 2004, EITC recipients were 1.76 times more likely to be audited than others, no doubt because it is easier for the government to recover unpaid taxes from poor people than “lawyered up” rich people. In other words, Obamacare will first create the temptation for low-income families to commit fraud, and then penalize them when they do.

But just because Obamacare sticks it to families doesn’t mean that physicians will have it good. They’ll face their own—even more draconian—crackdown. Indeed, just as Obamacare goes after working-class families to pay doctors, it goes after doctors to pay working-class families, putting everyone at war with everyone else.

The government loses about 10 percent of its total health-care spending—or about $60 billion—to “fraud” annually. Some of this is genuine fraud involving physicians—or people posing as physicians—submitting claims for services or equipment never delivered and indefensible therapies that have nothing to do with patient care. But the most common fraud allegedly involves “overbilling” by providers. Medicare’s billing codes are a complicated, convoluted mess and deciphering them can sometimes be more art than science. Naturally, doctors try and interpret them to extract the best possible payment from Uncle Sam. Both Republicans and Democrats huff and puff against “waste, fraud and abuse” in Medicare. And they have already enacted Stasi-style laws such as the False Claims Act offering nurses, patients and other whistleblowers 15 percent to 30 percent of any money recovered if they report improper billing practices by providers. But the Obama administration has attacked the matter with renewed zeal because it is a key element in funding Obamacare’s generous new entitlements.

It has created a new interagency task force called HEAT (Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team) under which health-care officials will collaborate with the FBI to go after Medicare fraud. In addition, it has expanded to several cities the Medicaid Fraud Strike Force that authorizes FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency agents to jointly analyze Medicare claims data in real time to detect and investigate irregularities by area doctors.

More chillingly, however, the administration is defining Medicare fraud down to include “unnecessary” and “ineffective” care. And to root this out, it plans to make expanded use of private mercenaries—officially called Recovery Audit Contracts—who will be authorized to go to doctors’ offices and rummage through patients’ records, matching them with billing claims to uncover illicit charges. What’s more, Obamacare increases the fine for billing errors from $11,000 per item to $50,000 without the government even having to prove intent to defraud.

This is utter insanity. And it has been caused by the transformation of health care into a government-controlled industry where the natural, self-regulating forces of the market have been badly subverted. There is nothing left but the coercive apparatus of the state to keep patients and doctors in line. This would be unimaginable where the customers receiving or contracting for services are actually the ones paying for it. If Whole Foods “overbilled” its shoppers, they would just go to Trader Joe’s. No one would think of summoning the police. If a mechanic submitted unjustified bills to All State Insurance for car repairs, All State would contract with someone else. There would be no need for an FBI stakeout.

ObamaCare is pushing America down the road to serfdom, but neither its opponents nor advocates seem to have noticed. It is time for civil libertarians in both parties to wake up and strangle it before it strangles what’s left of American freedoms.




TN: TennCare funding problem persists despite overhaul: "Eight years ago, Phil Bredesen successfully campaigned on his pledge to fix TennCare or end it. Since then, the governor has steered the state's public healthcare program through the most turbulent changes of any of the 50 state Medicaid programs, drastically cutting enrollment, limiting benefits and reining in spending. Rising healthcare costs and new federal policy mean the Bredesen administration's eight-year effort to bring the TennCare budget under control has only bought Tennessee time."

Obama’s “comeback” — more like 1800 than 1994: "The lame-duck enactment of much of President Obama’s agenda has induced some to credit Obama with a comeback comparable to Bill Clinton’s triumphs after the electoral defeat of 1994. Not so fast. A better historical parallel than 1994 may be 1800, when lame-duck arrogance by a defeated party turned minor short-term victories into permanent defeat."

White House: “Catastrophe” if Congress cuts up the administration's credit card: "The White House's chief economist is warning there'll be a worse catastrophe than the 2008 financial meltdown if Congress doesn't increase the government's credit limit. 'I don't see why anybody's talking about playing chicken with the debt ceiling,' said Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers." [Maybe a catastrophe for the big spenders but a win for America]

Report: FEMA hasn’t tried to recoup $643 million: "The Federal Emergency Management Agency hasn't tried to recoup about $643 million in improper payments made to victims of Hurricane Katrina and other disasters in the wake of a judge's order more than three years ago, according to a government audit issued Monday. The improper payments have gone uncollected for more than three years because FEMA hasn't given its final approval to a new process for recovering the money, auditors found in a report by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general's office."

Pathetic: New Jersey trying to seize unused gift card balances: "New Jersey residents with unused gift cards might want to make that trip to Target or Home Depot soon. The state legislature voted to seize the unused balances of all gift cards and traveler’s checks issued in the state before a certain date. A judge struck down the law, but the state is appealing the ruling. By stealing the gift card balances from their owners, the state could raise up to $80 million."

MA: Many toast liquor tax repeal: "For some Central Massachusetts imbibers, it was not the money that bothered them, but the principle of the sales tax on alcoholic beverages, which ended yesterday. 'It was a double tax,' said Ron Mason of Rutland. He and his wife, Angie Mason, voted in the November election to repeal the 6.25 percent sales tax that was imposed by the state a year ago."

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)


3 January, 2011

In Leftist Massachusetts, corruption is regarded as normal -- and even commendable

JOE DENUCCI, a onetime prizefighter turned Massachusetts politician, steps down this month after 34 years on Beacon Hill: 10 years as a state representative, followed by 24 years as state auditor. He is being celebrated in some circles as the last of a political breed -- an unpolished, down-to-earth, working-class guy who made good, had a big heart, and took care of his pals.

"To the end, championing others," ran the headline over a Boston Globe story last week marking the end of DeNucci's long run in politics. The retiring auditor "is of the old school and makes no apology for that," the Globe observed. "He is the product of a culture that prized helping those around you, which has permeated Massachusetts politics for as long as anyone can remember, but is under attack now." The story makes clear that DeNucci sees nothing wrong with patronage. "We all did it," he says. "It was about helping people; some I knew, some I didn't."

A lot of people have a soft spot for DeNucci; there's no denying he has a certain rough-around-the-edges charm. On the whole I imagine that Massachusetts state government would be a little less fetid if it contained fewer glossy lawyers and consultant-crafted professional operators, and more unpolished, down-to-earth, former boxers.

But frankly, state government would be a lot less fetid if it weren't for that "old school" mindset that sees something commendable in using public office and public payrolls to hand out favors to supporters and friends. DeNucci may not be the worst offender, but who in Massachusetts politics should be held to a "Caesar's wife" standard of integrity if not the auditor, the state's top fiscal and ethical watchdog? Yet the conviction that public office is a public trust has scarcely been the lodestar of DeNucci's political career.

Consider Gaetano Spezzano, hired by DeNucci as a "fraud examiner" in 2008, though no such position was vacant and no other candidates were considered for the job. "Spezzano did not have the skills or knowledge required of a fraud examiner," the State Ethics Commission charged in September, and hadn't even completed the second half of a two-page job application. The 75-year-old Spezzano had worked as a musician and a meat salesman -- honorable work, but not much of a preparation for rooting out fraud in state government. The only reason he was hired, according to the commission, is that he and the auditor are related. "I'm his only cousin, his only family," DeNucci told the Boston Herald. "He's all by himself, except for me."

Concern for family members is a fine thing, and who wouldn't admire DeNucci had he reached into his own pocket to help his cousin out? But he didn't. He reached into our pockets -- into the pockets of the Massachusetts citizens whose interests he was elected to protect. He did the same a few months ago when he handed out across-the-board 5 percent raises to everyone on his staff: a slap in the face to Bay State taxpayers at a time when 300,000 of them are out of work, and hundreds of thousands of others have been forced to absorb pay and benefit cuts.

Go through the clips of the DeNucci years, and you come across so much of this stuff.

Here's DeNucci in 1998, collecting campaign contributions from a rogue's gallery of convicted criminals and disgraced politicians. ("This is America," his political adviser tells the press. "You can contribute to anyone you please.") Here he is in 1995, the subject of a newspaper exposé on "No-show Joe," documenting his practice of working three-day weeks, and of hanging out on the golf links when his official schedule has him in his State House. ("I don't keep a schedule," DeNucci explains. "I work out of my hip pocket, OK?") Here's the auditor in 1990, the Globe reports, lobbying the state treasurer -- in the midst of an audit! -- to give his son-in-law a job.

"Old school" politics as usual? Maybe. But multiplied by all the politicians who see nothing wrong with it, across all the years they've been doing it, and it adds up to Beacon Hill's detestable, seemingly ineradicable, culture of corruption. What is the Probation Department scandal, if not the Spezzano case write large? "Hey, this is patronage," DeNucci told the Globe back in 1983, after pulling strings to get another ex-boxer a State House job. "I'm trying to help a friend."

They pick our pockets and pat themselves on the back, then wonder why so many of us are disgusted. DeNucci was far from the worst. More's the pity.



The Moral Mush of Pacifism

By Jonah Goldberg

Colman McCarthy has a really exasperating op-ed in the Post today arguing that ROTC must remain banned from campuses, even after the DADT repeal. As I briefly mentioned in my column yesterday, the lifting of DADT is really inconvenient for peaceniks and other folks who hold anti-military views because it lends credibility to the military (among liberals and leftists).

If the point of the column was simply to honestly admit this, I’d find it admirable. But it gets worse. McCarthy adds this:
To oppose ROTC, as I have since my college days in the 1960s, when my school enticed too many of my classmates into joining, is not to be anti-soldier. I admire those who join armies, whether America’s or the Taliban’s: for their discipline, for their loyalty to their buddies and to their principles, for their sacrifices to be away from home. In recent years, I’ve had several Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans in my college classes. If only the peace movement were as populated by people of such resolve and daring.

ROTC and its warrior ethic taint the intellectual purity of a school, if by purity we mean trying to rise above the foul idea that nations can kill and destroy their way to peace. If a school such as Harvard does sell out to the military, let it at least be honest and add a sign at its Cambridge front portal: Harvard, a Pentagon Annex.

This is a riot of intellectual and moral confusion. First of all, the idea that any of the Ivies currently enjoys something that might be called “intellectual purity” is a compliment unearned (but such flattery will no doubt be eagerly accepted). Second, the notion that intellectualism is somehow at odds with military values or ethics is willfully dishonest (paging VDH!). Since when has “intellectual purity” or intellectualism of any kind been defined by its antipathy to the military? Third, the idea that nations cannot wage war for peace is one of the most easily disproved and transparently silly utopian notions out there. The post-WWII peace was bought with a lot of killing and destroying, not with a seminar.

And, last, there’s this execrable bit of moral equivalence: “To oppose ROTC, as I have since my college days in the 1960s, when my school enticed too many of my classmates into joining, is not to be anti-soldier. I admire those who join armies, whether America’s or the Taliban’s: for their discipline, for their loyalty to their buddies and to their principles, for their sacrifices …”

This is the sort of obtuse even-handedness that drove Orwell crazy. Moreover McCarthy clearly doesn’t even believe it. Of course he’s anti-soldier. He believes they dedicate themselves to a “foul notion.”

Er, no. In America, they dedicate themselves to protecting America, her liberties and her Constitution. The Taliban’s priorities are very different and one cannot wave them away by prattling on about the “discipline” and “loyalty” of Jihadist murderers.



America's slide into Fascism

If much of human action is economic activity, is there then no limit on what the federal government can mandate regarding human behavior? Apparently not, for now we have before us a mandate to purchase a private product, health care insurance, whether we wish to have that product or not. Under the new health care reform act passed by Congress and signed by the President, even economic inactivity is to be labeled an economic decision to be regulated under the Interstate Commerce Clause. If the courts allow this to stand, there is little human action that our federal government could not label as economic and find the authority to control.

The oft-repeated allegations that government intervention in health care and other market exchanges is socialism are off the mark. Socialism, by definition, is a political economy where the government owns and operates the means of production and manages the investment capital needed for economic growth. This definition does not accurately describe the developing economic trend in the United States. A more fitting description is another type of political economy that also relies on a symbiotic relationship between the government and business. This political economy is characterized by a government that pays lip-service to individual market exchange, private business and private property but extensively regulates and controls all economic activity for the “common good.” This is partially accomplished by forming partnerships and/or cartels linking government, business and, often, labor. (Think General Motors and the health care insurance industry.) This type of economy has a different name. It is called fascism.

Put aside for just a moment the visions of goose-stepping soldiers and horrific crimes against humanity, for at its core fascism is a type of political economy which, as was the case in fascist Italy, does not have to feature a landscape dotted with crematoria. As with pure socialism, however, fascism must become more and more authoritarian with harsh penalties for those who don’t comply or who challenge the status quo, for an economy can be controlled only by controlling people.

Be cautioned, without intervention, our government’s ever-expanding definition of economic activity requiring regulation will incrementally direct most human activity until we become mere serfs forced to serve the blossoming cartels springing up like noxious weeds on Uncle Sam’s Estate.



What Is 'American Exceptionalism?'

Most Americans believe in “American Exceptionalism,” even when they have never heard the term. This means that the history of the United States is unlike that of most of the world; we have neither hereditary nobility, king or dictator, nor a state-supported ethnic or religious identity.

One becomes American by birth or by choice (immigrants)—with identical rights. Our constitution is very much alive—changing as conditions in our world change, providing an adaptability very rare in the world. These factors, including two oceans to separate us from the old worlds of Europe and Asia, have kept us unusually safe. We also had a vast continent to settle and a homestead program that provided land ownership to those willing to work for it.

But of late, the term “American Exceptionalism” has been questioned by some who believe that America is not exceptional at all—and that those who think it is are right-wing political bigots. They remind us that our history included slavery, imperialism, the dreadful mistreatment of our Native Americans, and ask how that jibes with “exceptionalism.”

Even President Obama, when asked if he believes in American exceptionalism said yes, just as the French and British believe in their own exceptionalism. And this remark raised the hackles of those who believe that with all our flaws, we have managed to be exceptional in almost every way—including the constant effort to admit and correct our shortcomings.

A fascinating book has just come out that jumps into this fray: Intellectual Curiosity and the Scientific Revolution, by professor Toby E. Huff. This book answers the most basic question: why has the West (Western Europe and its American and Australian offspring) dominated the world for the past four centuries while the other great civilizations declined?

Jared Diamond, in Guns, Germs, and Steel, was asked that question by a New Guinea native who wanted to know why White Men have “cargo” but his people do not. He wanted to know if there was something that White people had that made them superior. Diamond thought a lot about this—and in his book, he showed that geography matters, and those lucky enough to come from places with temperate climate; an east-west axis of travel, trade, and diseases (developing immunities); and the right plants and animals to be domesticated; have more “cargo” (success and wealth).

Now Toby Huff adds to this explanation that the geography, history, legal practices, and religions of Western Civilization from Ancient Greece through the 17th century all provided the basis for the scientific revolution that made the West the great power it has been for the past four centuries.

He compares the intellectual curiosity of the West with the notable but static achievements of the three other great societies of the 17th century: China, India, and the Ottoman Turks. It turned out to be no contest.

Although there were brilliant Chinese, Indian, and Arab scholars, including inventors, their findings never made it into their school systems, which resisted the new knowledge, nor gained the support of their absolute monarchs. Even when the telescope found its way to China and India, it was gladly used—but neither improved nor spawned further inventions.

For a scientific revolution to happen as it did in the west, you would need continent-wide scholars who communicated and shared findings; the printing press and its spread of literacy; a school system that taught the new sciences; and a legal system that protected property and was the basis for economic expansion. None of these institutions thrived in imperial China, Moghul India, or Ottoman Turkey. Chinese schools were hidebound Mandarin, resistant to any changes. The Muslim madrassas taught (and still teach) memorization of the Koran, shunning other subjects. By the 20th century, all three great empires were backwaters.

Europe’s exceptionalism and scientific revolution spread to the United States, where it has gone even further. Huff shows us that this was no fluke, but was the consequence of good institutions and a civilization that supported intellectual curiosity.




Government employees face wrath of strapped taxpayers: "Across the nation, a rising irritation with public employee unions is palpable as a wounded economy has blown gaping holes in state, city, and town budgets and revealed that some public pension funds dangle perilously close to bankruptcy. In California, New York, Michigan, and New Jersey, states where public unions wield much power and the culture historically tends to be pro-labor, even longtime liberal political leaders have demanded concessions -- wage freezes, benefit cuts, and tougher work rules."

Low-cost, private-sector rival puts heat on NASA: "Early last month, a private company called SpaceX launched an unmanned version of its Dragon capsule into orbit, took it for a few spins around Earth, and then brought it home with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. The total cost -- including design, manufacture, testing and launch of the company's Falcon 9 rocket and the capsule -- was roughly $800 million. In the world of government spaceflight, that's almost a rounding error. And the ability of SpaceX to do so much with so little money is raising some serious questions about NASA."

Air Force doubles manpower for Afghan attacks: "The Air Force has more than doubled the number of airmen in Afghanistan who call in airstrikes, as the use of bombs, missiles and strafing runs has spiked to its highest level since the war began. The Air Force has increased the number of joint terminal attack controllers — the airmen who work with soldiers to coordinate airstrikes — to 134 last year in Afghanistan, up from 53 in 2009, said Maj. Ike Williams, an operations officer at Air Combat Command in Langley, Va."

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 January, 2011

Leftist Media Ignored GM Recall Issues at Toyota’s Expense

Bob McCarty

I disagree with the staff at Automotive News and their selection of the Toyota recall story as the top automobile-related news story of 2010. The story that deserves at least as much attention has to do with how members of the state-run media ignored recall issues at GM (a.k.a., “Government Motors”) at Toyota’s expense.

I covered the Toyota recall story thoroughly in three early-February posts:

In my first post Feb. 5, I examined the number of campaign contributions made by Toyota executives to Barack Obama since Jan. 1, 2007, and found that only two of 151 executives listed on the Toyota web site gave a combined total of $2,500 to Obama for America;

In my second post Feb. 5, I speculated about the possible reasons why the Obama Administration would want to bully Toyota; and, finally,

In a Feb. 8 post, I wondered why the federal government had not yet issued a recall for the Chevrolet Cobalt despite the fact that, according to a Feb. 2 Los Angeles Times report, 905,000 2005-’09 copies of the “Bow-Tie” vehicle, including the Cobalt SS, were the subject of a new investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration due to complaints of electric power steering failure.

It was in the latter post that I revealed the disturbing results of some simple math calculations:

During the days that followed, Edmund’s Inside Line, The New York Times Wheels blog and two other publications reported the same basic story, informing readers that the investigation was launched after more than 1,100 consumer complaints were received.

According to a Chicago Tribune report Jan. 26, the Toyota recall was based upon some 2,000 complaints related to 2.3 million vehicles sold.

In doing the math related to these recalls, I found the following:

• Only 1 in 1,000 (.001) consumers complained about the Chevrolet product; and

• Fewer than 1 in 1,000 (.00009) consumers complained about the Toyota product.

In short, the Chevrolet product has received more complaints per car sold than the Toyota products! So why hasn’t the federal government issued a recall on the Cobalt? Probably because Chevrolet is owned by General Motors (a.k.a. “Government Motors”), a taxpayer-owned company that stands to benefit greatly from having its foreign-owned competitors struggle with the public relations nightmares related to product recalls.

Did Toyota’s recall problems warrant selection as the “Top News” story of 2010? Perhaps. But the state-run media/government treatment of Toyota certainly deserves at least as much attention.



Could France Go Even Further Right?

With less than a year and a half to go before the next French presidential election, and current President Nicolas Sarkozy at 35% popularity, could France end up shifting further to the right?

The possibility is a good one. Sarkozy won the 2007 race by largely borrowing from the right-wing Front National party’s platform on everything from immigration reform to national security. Keeping in mind that French presidential elections usually consist of two rounds of voting (if no one party gets 50% of votes in the first round), with other parties throwing their weight behind one of the remaining two parties in exchange for concessions and government positions, Sarkozy beat Socialist Segolene Royale in 2007 because he nabbed right-wing and centrist party votes after the first round, which put him over the top in the second and final vote.

The advantage Sarkozy had in 2007 is that he had never been given the chance to be in charge. He always had to dodge the long shadow of his party’s leader, Jacques Chirac, whom few outside of France (or even in France) could ever legitimately label right-leaning or laissez faire. Chirac spent his mandate importing his beloved Africa into France one Muslim immigrant at a time, appreciating the various resulting cultural manifestations such as bar-b-cueing Citroens as a form of public debate, and taking advantage of various sanctions imposed by the world community on dodgy regimes like Saddam Hussein’s to enjoy market monopoly free of any legitimate competition.

Sarkozy was supposed to be a break from all that. But then something got in the way: France. The Economist, having hailed Sarkozy as the new Napoleon, recently called him the “incredible shrinking president”, and criticized him for not following through on his good ideas. The criticism came from the right, not from the left. The result of gridlock or inaction is maintenance of the status quo, which in France is nanny-state left. And this isn’t what a majority of French voted for when they elected Sarkozy.

A summary of the disappointments:

*Sarkozy pushed DNA testing legislation through parliament to ensure actual relation between family reunification immigrants. But when the bill had passed and was ready to be signed, he told his minister not to.

* After running a campaign emphasizing cultural integration and the secular nature of the French state, Sarkozy sent his prime minister – the head of French government -- to open a new mosque during which he made warm declarations about Islam.

* While the value of the Euro is on a roller-coaster ride because some member countries can’t sort out their own messes to the point of just failing and requiring a bailout from others, Sarkozy has been spending his time strong-arming German Chancellor Angela Merkel into coughing up German productivity to help out the deadbeats. Some French don’t understand why they should be forced to pay for Greeks to riot.

* A presidential campaign emphasizing meritocracy has given way to parachuting friends and relatives, and firing critics in both the private and public sectors. The fact that Sarkozy has referred to himself, in various contexts, as the “head of human resources” probably doesn’t help.

* French companies and factories are disappearing from the landscape and setting up shop overseas. Rather than reducing taxes and gold-plated benefits all around and explaining to people that not doing so will choke off their livelihood entirely, Sarkozy just offered the companies goodie-bags* (*cash). Most normal people can’t fathom handing over a wad of money to their significant other without being considered crass, so imagine the reaction of an entire population when money is given to big business – and the money doesn’t come from the giver but rather from other people’s pay checks. “The French should be used to that,” you might say. But no, the French aren’t used to seeing it done that overtly. When their pay checks are stolen from them by the State, it is done underhandedly in the interest of “benefits”, making them think they’re getting something back, or at the very least that it’s going to their employer: the government. In this case, it’s just shooting down a tube directly into other people’s hands.

This is not to say that Sarkozy hasn’t made a dent. He’s planted the seed of change in France, such as getting the French used to the idea of working two years longer – which shut down the country in itself. But the change promised in 2007 hasn’t yet become a reality to the extent it was perhaps anticipated by voters.

So what are these voters to do? Well, this time, they have an alternative that’s as right-leaning as Sarkozy’s UMP party in theory, and perhaps may actually be more so in practice: therein lies the real difference between the two. The Front National party, led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, is set to be taken over in the coming weeks by his 42-year old lawyer daughter, Marine: a smart, tough, articulate lawyer and mother with a knack for leading debate and appealing directly to the people over the heads of the elites. In a recent example, she criticized Muslims who flood into the streets and jam entire blocks of public space to conduct their prayers to Allah as “occupying”. A flood of denouncements came from all other parties, along with threats from various minority and ethnic interest groups to take legal action against the remark. A Socialist Party leader conceded that the phenomenon is indeed a problem – while everyone else living in the real world and having to manoeuvre around these sessions can actually see that it is. French people are now supporting Marine Le Pen in record numbers (27% versus Sarkozy’s 35%).

So let’s imagine a scenario that could very well occur if Sarkozy’s popularity continues to decline or remain low. If, in the first round of 2012 presidential voting, Sarkozy’s right-leaning base votes against him and in favour of the Front National (in protest or otherwise), the centrists vote for their own various candidates and divides the center-right, and the left rallies around the Socialist Party, this could result in a second round race between the Front National and the Socialist Party. And while centrists may side with the Socialists, the right and traditional UMP voters would rally around the Front National.

In a country where a presidential candidate can go from 65% popularity to tanking with 18% in the first round of voting (Prime Minister Edouard Balladur in 1995), it’s not unfeasible to imagine the possibility of France now moving further right.



Japan population shrinks by record in 2010

Only the Japanese can do anything about it but this is nonetheless something we should all view with some concern. The shrinking of such a creative and productive population is a loss for us all

Japan's population fell by a record amount last year as the number of deaths climbed to an all-time high in the quickly aging country, the government said Saturday.

Japan faces a looming demographic squeeze. Baby boomers are moving toward retirement, with fewer workers and taxpayers to replace them. The Japanese boast among the highest life expectancies in the world but have extremely low birth rates.

Japan logged 1.19 million deaths in 2010 — the biggest number since 1947 when the health ministry's annual records began. The number of births was nearly flat at 1.07 million.

As a result, Japan contracted by 123,000 people, which was the most ever and represents the fourth consecutive year of population decline. The top causes of death were cancer, heart disease and stroke, the ministry said.

Japanese aged 65 and older make up about a quarter of Japan's current population. The government projects that by 2050, that figure will climb to 40 percent.

Like in other advanced countries, young people are waiting to get married and choosing to have fewer children because of careers and lifestyle issues. Saturday's report showed 706,000 marriages registered last year — the fewest since 1954 and a sign that birth rates are unlikely to jump dramatically anytime soon.

Japan's total population stood at 125.77 million as of October, according to the ministry.



Obama's do-gooder credit card laws are hurting both the rich and the poor -- but mostly the poor

Last year, Congress passed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act. It was supposed to really end the alleged abuses perpetrated by the credit card companies. The law forbids some penalties and interest-rate increases on existing balances.

It is one of President Obama's proudest achievements. "Enough's enough," he said. "It's time for strong, reliable protection for our consumers." Reform, he said, would not come at the expense of honest businesses. "Unless your business model depends on cutting corners or bilking your customers, you've got nothing to fear."

Finally! Protection! A new bureaucracy will stop greedy credit card companies from unfairly penalizing you. And it won't threaten the credit business. Yippie!

How has it worked out? Not so well. George Mason University Law Professor Todd Zywicki points out that the new restrictions hurt more consumers than they help.

Since the Card Act passed, mortgage and Treasury bill rates have dropped a little, but credit card interest went up -- from 13 percent to nearly 15 percent. Some banks also stopped offering credit to some people. JPMorgan Chase cut off 15 percent of its customers.

So the real result of this "consumer" regulation? "Hundreds of thousands of people can't get cards who used to be able to have cards, and all the rest of us now have to pay more," Zywicki said.

But maybe the people who can't get credit cards are better off because they couldn't handle credit wisely? "Just to say they don't have a credit card doesn't mean that they don't have credit," Zywicki retorts. "They'll just go to more expensive places -- the local payday lender or the local pawn shop."

And pay a lot for credit. Payday lenders make small short-term loans, sometimes just till payday. But the annual interest is nasty -- often more than 500 percent. Several states have outlawed payday lenders. The politicians say they do it to help low-income people. But again, their "help" harms. The lenders' former customers complain that the payday lenders were their only way to avoid missing a bill payment -- and maybe having the lights shut off. "It's not just a matter sometimes of saving money," one borrower told us. "It's a matter of saving yourself grief."

Maybe they should get a credit card. Then they'd have lower interest payments. But of course Congress just made that tougher.

"People who have limited choices when it comes to credit are not likely to have their situations improved by taking away some of those limited options that they have," Zywicki says.

This is a lesson the elitist reformers are determined never to learn. Or maybe the elite like creating new problems. It gives them new chances to ride to the rescue and pose as great humanitarians. Someone likened this to breaking people's kneecaps, then compassionately providing crutches.

Without regulation, wouldn't banks charge monster fees and high interest? "Certainly they would," Zywicki said. "The problem is they can't. I've got four credit cards in my wallet. As I sit here talking to you, my credit cards are competing for my business. If one tries to rip me off, or charge me too much, I'll switch to another."

The law of unintended consequences is never more clear than in the capping of interest -- so-called usury laws. Arkansas once capped interest rates at 10 percent. "Very few people could get a credit card in Arkansas as a result," Zywicki said. Arkansas then became known as the pawn shop capital of America. Pawn shop interest can be 250 percent.

To Sen. Chris Dodd, President Obama and all the credit "reformers," Zywicki says this: "In the 1960s, the second biggest revenue source of organized crime was illegal lending. Is that the world we want to go back to, where we get rid of payday lending, and we're so morally outraged that we're going to put people in the hands of the leg-breakers and the loan sharks? They charged an interest rate that was well over 1,000 percent, and their collection techniques were a lot tougher than your local pawn shops."

When will the political do-gooders realize that the most vulnerable people in society can't take any more of their kindness?


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 January, 2011

Was the first human being an Israeli?

Could this be seen as theologically significant?

It has long been believed that modern humans emerged from the continent of Africa 200,000 years ago. Now Tel Aviv University archaeologists have uncovered evidence that Homo sapiens roamed the land now called Israel as early as 400,000 years ago -- the earliest evidence for the existence of modern humans anywhere in the world.

The findings were discovered in the Qesem Cave, a pre-historic site located near Rosh Ha'ayin that was first excavated in 2000. Prof. Avi Gopher and Dr. Ran Barkai of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology, who run the excavations, and Prof. Israel Hershkowitz of the university's Department of Anatomy and Anthropology and Sackler School of Medicine, together with an international team of scientists, performed a morphological analysis on eight human teeth found in the Qesem Cave.

This analysis, which included CT scans and X-rays, indicates that the size and shape of the teeth are very similar to those of modern humans. The teeth found in the Qesem Cave are very similar to other evidence of modern humans from Israel, dated to around 100,000 years ago, discovered in the Skhul Cave in the Carmel and Qafzeh Cave in the Lower Galilee near Nazareth. The results of the researchers' findings are being published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Qesem Cave is dated to a period between 400,000 and 200,000 years ago, and archaeologists working there believe that the findings indicate significant evolution in the behavior of ancient humans. This period of time was crucial in the history of humankind from cultural and biological perspectives. The teeth that are being studied indicate that these changes are apparently related to evolutionary changes taking place at that time.

Prof. Gopher and Dr. Barkai noted that the findings related to the culture of those who dwelled in the Qesem Cave -- including the systematic production of flint blades; the regular use of fire; evidence of hunting, cutting and sharing of animal meat; mining raw materials to produce flint tools from subsurface sources -- reinforce the hypothesis that this was, in fact, innovative and pioneering behavior that may correspond with the appearance of modern humans.

According to researchers, the discoveries made in the Qesem Cave may overturn the theory that modern humans originated on the continent of Africa. In recent years, archaeological evidence and human skeletons found in Spain and China also undermined this proposition, but the Qesem Cave findings because of their early age is an unprecedented discovery.

Excavations at Qesem Cave continue and the researchers hope to uncover additional finds that will enable them to confirm the findings published up to now and to enhance our understanding of the evolution of humankind -- especially the emergence of modern man.



Obama Administration Closes Year Paying Off Big Labor

With the White House doling out appointments, regulatory favors and other paybacks, Big Labor must be counting its blessings to have an administration in place willing to ignore the will of citizens and job creators. It does not seem President Obama feels inhibited in paying back union bosses even though his initiatives could not and would not pass in the legislature. Instead, he has taken to using unelected bureaucrats not accountable to voters to enact sweeping changes in labor laws.

All of this takes place in the context of Big Labor having spent half a billion dollars to elect Obama in the first place and hundreds of millions more in the midterm elections just a few, short months ago. So instead of engaging in public dialogue and advancing initiatives in Congress, the Obama Administration has settled on a skewed and secretive rulemaking process largely driven by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Just a year ago, we heard over and over again from union bosses that they would be able to achieve enactment of the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act. Friends of Big Labor in the Senate echoed the sentiment, confident that they would push this job-killing bill through, but small business owners and voters refused to allow it. The bill would remove workers’ rights to a secret ballot in union elections and force government-mandated contracts on employees and employers alike without their consent.

Frustrated with this failed effort, Big Labor turned its sights elsewhere and redirected its focus to the White House where they handpicked advocates to serve on the NLRB and do their bidding. It began with Craig Becker, the former Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) attorney who received a recess appointment after being rejected in a bipartisan fashion by the U.S. Senate and who now refuses to recuse himself from matters directly related to and benefiting his previous employers.

Just this month, the NLRB decided in favor of union bosses in its ruling on the Dana Corporation. In this decision, employers and unions can conspire to identify the workers most easily persuaded into forming a collective-bargaining unit having them sign cards, while leaving the remaining half of the workforce without a voice or vote in the process which affects their wages, benefits and workplace rules.

In addition, the NLRB also pushed this year for electronic voting in unionization elections, which would take voting out of the workplace and introduce a myriad of potential problems – not the least of which would be coercion of workers. Factor in the high potential for fraud and it is easy to see where the NLRB’s loyalties lay – with union bosses, not workers.

As if changing the mode of voting wasn’t enough, the NLRB is now considering reversing a determination that employees have a 45-day window to file petitions for an election after being notified that the employer has recognized a union through a so-called “voluntary” card check agreement. Shortchanging workers by rushing them into a union vote and not giving them ample time to educate themselves before making a decision is just another way this government agency is paying back Big Labor.

And last week, the NLRB stated that it would require companies to publicly alert their employees of their right to unionize under Federal law, requiring postings on bulletin boards, and sometimes even calling for emails to be sent to all staff members. But there was no mention made of the right of employees to remain without a collective bargaining unit or even how to decertify one. Claiming the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 as its justification, the NLRB is taking one more jab at small business as we approach the end of the year.

Job creators will not simply look the other way and will hold to account those who advocate for job-killing policies.



Charge NYC Union Leaders With Negligent Homicide

Well, it turns out that the slow snow removal process in New York City was the act of childish adults protesting budget cuts. According to the New York Post:

"[Unionized city workers] sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important," said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens), who was visited yesterday by a group of guilt-ridden sanitation workers who confessed the shameless plot.

On Wednesday, MYFOXNY.com reported that two people died, including a new born baby, because emergency crews couldn’t navigate the unplowed streets.

Plain and simple: the union leaders who called for the job action should be charged with negligent homicide. Let them prove that their actions did not result in the unfortunate deaths of these New Yorkers. For too long, Big Labor has been allowed to hold taxpayers hostage in order to get their way at the bargaining table. And this time, their utter selfishness may have contributed to the deaths of two innocent people.

Jeopardizing the health and safety of innocent New Yorkers in order to make a cheap political statement is reprehensible, and must be denounced in the strongest possible terms. New York citizens need to know if the willful inaction of municipal employees contributed to nine-hour wait for emergency crews that tragically resulted in the death of a newborn child.

This is America – such behavior cannot be acceptable. Or are we turning into Germany and France and willing to sit idly by as the actions of Big Labor result in death and chaos?




Huge gas find a boon for Israel: "A massive offshore natural gas reserve is poised to give Israel energy security, freeing the desert nation from the threat of boycotts and reshaping the political dynamics of the Middle East. Estimated to contain 16 trillion cubic feet of gas – equivalent to more than a quarter of Canada’s proven reserves and enough to meet Israel’s domestic demand for 100 years – the Leviathan field is believed to be the largest such deepwater gas discovery in a decade. Observers say the windfall, whose size was confirmed this week, could also affect Israel’s relationships not only with its traditional enemies but also with its allies"

Iraq: Gunmen target Christian homes, 2 killed: "Militants attacked at least four Christian homes Thursday night with a combination of grenades and bombs, killing two people and sending fear into the already terrified tiny Christian community. It was the first attack against the country's Christian community since al-Qaida-linked militants last week threatened a wave of violence against them. Christians went so far as to tone down their Christmas celebrations in what was a peaceful holiday, but the attacks Thursday night demonstrated the intent of militants to keep up their deadly pressure on the Christian community."

Chess players’ opt for trial after prosecution for playing in NYC park: "Two New York City men arrested for playing chess in a city park have rejected a plea deal with the city and have insisted on going to trial. Yacahudah Harrison was among six men playing chess at a Parks Department stone table with a chess table built into it on Oct. 20. The table, however, was located inside a children's section of Inwood Hill Park when police rushed them and issued them summonses for failure to obey park regulations."

Single tip now lands you terrorism watch list: "A year after a Nigerian man allegedly tried to blow up an airliner bound for Detroit, officials say they have made it easier to add individuals’ names to a terrorism watch list .... Even though Abdulmutallab’s father had told US officials of his son’s radicalization in Yemen, government rules dictated that a single-source tip was insufficient to include a person’s name on the watch list. Since then, senior counterterrorism officials say they have altered their criteria so that a single-source tip, as long as it is deemed credible, can lead to a name being placed on the list."

Minimum wage hurts workers: "That the minimum wage helps the working poor is a popular policy. Congress recently increased the national minimum from $5.15 an hour to $7.25. A CNN poll found that 86% of Americans supported the change. ... The late senator Kennedy called raising the minimum 'a fairness issue ... If you work … you should not live in poverty.' But as with so many politicians' promises, this one has awful unintended consequences. It hurts workers -- and the least-skilled workers lose the most."

Is big government a myth?: "Lately the supporters of big government have deployed an interesting twist to their arguments, claiming that it is a dirty right-wing lie that government has grown under the Obama administration. Unlike arguments over economic theory, surely this should be an objective exercise in looking up the facts. As we'll see, yes Virginia there is indeed a big — and growing — government in DC, as even that government's own numbers confirm."

Almost everything is a crime in America now: "Doesn't it seem like almost everything is becoming a crime in America now? Americans are being arrested and charged with crimes for doing things like leaving dog poop on the ground, opening up Christmas presents early, not recycling properly, farting in class and having brown lawns. But is it healthy for our society for the police to be involved in such silly things? Every single day the United States inches closer to becoming a totalitarian society."

The real number of uninsured Americans: "Across the health care debate, supporters of Obamacare have tried to inflate the number of uninsured, and too often they have gotten away with it. Yesterday, for instance, a Huffington Post banner headline read, 'Number of Uninsured Americans Soars to Over 50 Million.' But this claim cannot withstand examination."

The right way to balance the budget: "The federal debt is at its highest level since the aftermath of World War II -- and it's projected to rise further, says Andrew G. Biggs, resident scholar, Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies, and Matt Jensen, research assistant, at the American Enterprise Institute. Stabilizing debt levels would require an immediate and permanent 23 percent increase in all federal tax revenues or equivalent cuts in government expenditures, according to Congressional Budget Office forecasts."

Federal real estate swelled despite “push to purge”: "President Obama over the summer signed a memorandum ordering department heads to 'identify and eliminate' unneeded properties, with the goal of saving 'no less than' $3 billion by fiscal 2012. The order followed a similar efficiency pledge made by former President George W. Bush in 2004. While the administration claims it's making serious headway toward that goal, a recent inventory from the Federal Real Property Council showed that 2009 was a banner year for gaining -- not selling -- federal property."

VA: Man protests molestation at Richmond airport, is arrested: "A Charlottesville man who stripped down to his underwear at Richmond International Airport in protest of security screening procedures was charged with disorderly conduct Thursday. ... police reported that when they arrived at the checkpoint, they found Tobey, 'absent of pants and shirt in full public view, exposing language regarding the Fourth Amendment written on his chest and abdomen with marker or crayon.' The message read, 'Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated,' said Bell."

What you pay for Medicare won’t cover your costs: "You paid your Medicare taxes all those years and want your money's worth: full benefits after you retire. Nearly three out of five people say in a recent Associated Press-GfK poll that they paid into the system so they deserve their full benefits -- no cuts. But a newly updated financial analysis shows that what people paid into the system doesn't come close to covering the full value of the medical care they can expect to receive as retirees."

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)

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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